It’s Not Pain, It Just Feels Like Pain: Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski

Do you know a writer? Give them this book. Are you now, or have you ever been, a writer? Get this book.

J. Michael Straczynski’s memoir Becoming Superman takes us into his grandparents’ and parents lives, through his own impoverished, deeply messed-up childhood, through his early life as a writer, and finally into the ups and downs he’s faced making a career in Hollywood. Along the way he meets Rod Serling, becomes friends with Harlan Ellison, joins the Jesus Movement (briefly), writes for everything from The Twilight Zone to The Real Ghostbusters, completely revolutionizes the way stories are told on television with Babylon 5, and creates one of the best-ever Netflix originals with Sense8. All while trying to solve a real-life murder mystery in his family’s past, and giving us a detailed look at the pathology of abuse.

And he dispenses solid writing advice throughout the book.

Maybe most important, though, he’s given us a book whose animating principle is a consideration of choice. How does a person raised without a sense of morality make decent choices? Can they change, and if so, how? How does a desperately poor, abused kid learn how to make moral and artistic choices he can be proud of?

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Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rise of Kyoshi Sweepstakes!

F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar – and we want to send you a copy!

The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

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Uncovering Real Facts for Fantasy Stories

A while back, I was on a panel with five other science fiction and fantasy authors. When it was opened up for audience questions we were asked, “What is the strangest thing you had to research for your books?”

We laughed in unison. Our answers were all slightly different but most involved ways to kill people—we’re fantasy authors after all! And not surprisingly, there are a lot of ways to do it. Combine that bit of research with some of the other things we need to know about like explosives, poisons, arson, theft—you know, the things your grandmother didn’t teach you (or maybe she did!)—and all of us were fairly convinced we were on some big bad Watch List somewhere. (Is that why I was detained on my last international trip?)

But besides learning the most surefire way to kill someone with a knife and the ingredients for a variety of explosives, over the course of writing five books plus a novella in the Remnant World, I learned a lot of other fascinating things too. So much of it never ends up on the page, but small details about the planting seasons for various foods, the height of the Washington monument, army formations and battle strategies (you never know when a reverse slope defense might come in handy, right?), medieval architecture, and the erosion rate of various materials all add up to help make the world and characters seem more real. That’s my job, to suspend disbelief, and the more I can round out my fantasy world with real details, the more I can make it believable to the reader. Plus, some of these details are just plain fun to read about.

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Rereading The Ruin of Kings: Chapters 50 and 51

Hey howdy hay, Tor.commers, it’s another RROK!

This blog series will be covering The Ruin of Kings, the first novel of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 50, “The Lord Heir’s Wife”, and Chapter 51, “The Rock Garden.” Please note that from this point forward, these posts will likely contain spoilers for the entire novel, so it’s recommended that you read the whole thing first before continuing on.

Got that? Great! Click on for the rest!

[When they talk about being a pillar of the music industry that’s NOT WHAT THEY MEAN, Old Man]

Seanan McGuire’s Personal Top Ten Urban Fantasy Books For Adults

I like urban fantasy. A lot. I write it, so it’s a good thing that I enjoy it, but I’ve been reading it since it really began to become a thing, and have a fairly broad knowledge of the genre. I was asked, after a Twitter thread about awesome urban fantasy authors, whether I would be interested in writing up a recommendation post. Well, sure; any excuse to talk about the books I love! But first, a few caveats:

  • This is not a list of the very best, you must read this, absolutely essential urban fantasy books. This is a list of urban fantasy I would personally recommend.
  • By the same measure, if something is not included, I didn’t forget it, I didn’t include it. Now maybe that means it’s something I didn’t read. Or maybe it means it’s something I didn’t enjoy. Since this is not “Seanan starts a feud within her genre,” I will not be specifying which is which. When reading and enjoying this article, if moved to comment, please don’t comment with “BUT YOU FORGOT…” I assure you, I did not.

And now, with no further ado, I present to you,

Seanan’s Personal Top Ten Urban Fantasy Books For Adults (Because There’s So Much Awesome YA That We’d Be Here All Week)

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The 2019 British Fantasy Awards Shortlist Has Been Announced

The shortlist for the 2019 British Fantasy Awards is out! The finalists go through two rounds of nominations and votes from the members of the British Fantasy Society and FantasyCon. We’re honored that three Tor.com titles—Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor, “Breakwater” by Simon Bestwick, and The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander—have made the cut, as well as work from Tor.com contributors Jen Williams, Robert Jackson Bennett, R.F. Kuang, Aliette de Bodard, Carole Johnstone, Priya Sharma, Catherynne M. Valente, N.K. Jemisin, Alasdair Stuart, and Tor.com short fiction editor Ellen Datlow.

Click through to see the full short list. Congratulations to all the nominees!

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When Stories Shape Our Histories: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Since the original conquests and subsequent waves of colonization, it has been a struggle for pre-Hispanic indigenous communities to keep their traditional stories alive; as elders pass on, oral stories can die with them. Most people outside of these communities will not hear of these stories outside of anthropology or world literature textbooks. Yet sharing these stories with others, while mixing in historical context and her own fantastical elements, is exactly what author Silvia Moreno-Garcia is doing in her latest novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow. 

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Birds of Prey’s Black Mask Highlights the Problem with Queer Villains

When the news broke that Warner Bros’ upcoming Birds of Prey film would feature a male villain who would have “palpable sexual tension” with another male villain, Victor Zsasz, eyebrows were raised—especially considering the rumors that his character arc will include the release of racy photographs. It is true that fans have been hoping to see a queer character in the DCEU, not to mention within the oeuvre of superhero media. But is this what fans are asking for? Another queer villain? Another queer male villain? Another queer male villain who is played by a straight actor? (This time, Ewan McGregor.) The fans sighed; the tweets flew fast and furious. It’s not that there can’t be queer people who are bad, we argued. But we are a sick of them only getting to be bad. Aren’t we?

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Reading the Wheel of Time: Mat Discovers a Trap, and So Does Faile in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 22)

Good morning and welcome to week 22 of the Read of The Dragon Reborn. This week, Thom is a stubborn ass for no reason, Mat seeks a remedy and finds the thing he was searching for all along, and Perrin starts to make some choices about his abilities and what they can be used for.

[That is what they call a Wisdom here—a Wise Woman. Wouldn’t Nynaeve like that!]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Discovery Channel Sending Authors Myke Cole and Michael Livingston to Analyze Evidence of Alien Contact

It is a question that has plagued humanity since the first science fiction novel was set down on paper: When are we going to send authors Myke Cole and Michael Livingston to find aliens?

Now, the Discovery Channel hopes to find some sort of conclusive answer. [Read more]

SFF Horse Breeds: Justin Morgan’s Horse

Most horse breeds start within a geographical area, from stock that evolved for the conditions of that region. People breed what’s available nearby—the mare up the hill, the stallion down the road. Over time, the local horses take on a particular look and shared characteristics, as breeders gravitate toward specific types and functions.

Hence the Arabian, evolved in and for the desert and prized for its beauty, its speed and stamina, its fire. The Belgian draft horse, big and tremendously strong, famed for its pulling power. The Icelandic horse, bred in isolation for a thousand years, with its full-bore adaptation to the climate and terrain of Iceland.

Other breeds evolve out of a need or a fashion, and serve a specific function. The American Quarter Horse, originally a quarter-mile racer. The Thoroughbred, the king of the middle-distance race. The Standardbred, bred to meet a minimum standard of trotting speed.

Rarest of all is the breed that traces back to a single individual.

[Read more]

Evan Winter Explains How His Self-Published Book Was Picked Up By Orbit Books

To celebrate his debut novel, The Rage of Dragons, author Evan Winter dropped by r/fantasy for an AMA. Described as “Game of Thrones meets Gladiator,” and inspired by the Xhosa culture, The Rage of Dragons began as a self-published book before it was picked up by Orbit, later soaring to a #1 best-seller spot on Amazon. In his AMA, Winter breaks down how this came to be, as well as his influences, process, inspirations, author recommendations, and more. Check out the highlights below!

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Cold Storage Sweepstakes!

For readers of Andy Weir and Noah Hawley comes an astonishing debut by the screenwriter of Jurassic Park: a wild and terrifying adventure about three strangers who must work together to contain a highly contagious, deadly organism – and we want to send you a copy!

When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction. He contained it and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository.

[Read more]

The Lion King Is Just Sad, and We Have No One to Blame But Ourselves

The Lion King was a big deal for Disney because when it was originally conceptualized, no one thought it would make a dime. It proceeded to be one of the company’s most profitable films, and then went on to fuel an extremely successful international hit musical. But the concept of a “live action” CGI driven Lion King has had many fans scratching their heads, and wondering if this was perhaps a bridge too far for Disney.

And indeed, the bridge was very far.

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Revealing The Unspoken Name, an Epic Fantasy Adventure from A.K. Larkwood

Earlier this year we announced a new three-book series from debut author A.K. Larkwood—an epic coming-of-age fantasy with a modern sensibility, featuring ruthless mages, hungry gods, ancient tombs, and rival sorcerers. Now we’re thrilled to share the cover for the first book, The Unspoken Name, publishing in February 2020 with Tor Books!

[Read more]

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