A Deeper Shade of Purple Prose: The Legion of Space by Jack Williamson

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

Science fiction was born in the days of the pulp magazines, a time when those magazines were all competing for the attention of readers (and their nickels and dimes). The stories were designed to grab and hold the attention of a reader, and they did this with fast-paced adventures, lurid descriptions, and simplistic plots. One of the classic tales of this era was Jack Williamson’s The Legion of Space, where the first trip to another star leads to a first contact situation. The aliens immediately decide to remake the Earth to their own specifications, even if that requires the eradication of the entire human race. Only a single ship and a handful of Legionnaires stands between humanity and genocide!

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The Pink Cloud Looks Eerily Familiar

The Pink Cloud is not technically a pandemic movie. A title card partway through this trailer says, “This film was made in 2019. Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental.”

But the resemblance is certainly there, as a pink cloud descends over the a city, forcing everyone into their homes. Zoom birthdays? Drinking? Boredom? Misery? It’s all here. As The Verge put it, “It has no purposeful connections to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s impossible not to draw parallels between The Pink Cloud and our current reality.”

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Beyond Dune and Foundation: Golden Age and New Wave SF Classics That Should Be Adapted Right Now

This fall has been an exciting time for fans of classic science fiction, given the big-screen success of Dune and the new small-screen adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. It’s rather fitting that Foundation had to wait 80 years following its first appearance in a pulp magazine to be adapted, and while some purists have been unhappy with the modern retelling, personally, as a lifelong fan of the novels, I thought that David Goyer and Josh Friedman made several smart choices to update the story while remaining faithful to the source material and themes.

For me, the most exciting aspect of these new adaptations was the chance to see stories come to vivid life and hear the names of characters that I’ve been thinking about for decades finally spoken aloud.

[What Golden Age and New Wave properties should be adapted next?]

What Makes an Unreliable Narrator: “Severian’s” Voice in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun

A few months ago, I wrote for Tor.com about the first time I encountered Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun and how it struck me in a way that very little fiction, whether genre or literary, had done before. I’ve read The Book of the New Sun a number of times since, and have spoken about it frequently, and yet when someone asks me what it is about the tetralogy that makes it so resonant for me, I often find myself struggling to answer. That’s not due to me not being able to put my finger on what it is so much as finding it hard to pick one strand free of the larger fabric of the book. The Book of the New Sun works in an integrated way in which all the parts of fiction speak to and amplify one another—something that’s rarer than you might think in fiction—and if I try to explain what Wolfe does with one element, I quickly find the discussion shifting to the elements this first element touches. Better, always, just to go read Wolfe himself.

And yet, despite that, I’m going to do my best to focus here on one thing in particular: the way The Book of the New Sun is narrated and why Wolfe’s approach strikes me as distinctive, even unique.

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Guillermo del Toro Wants to Adapt Pet Sematary, a Story That Scares Him ‘A Hundred Times More’ Now as a Dad

Director Guillermo del Toro has brought several films to the big screen, many of which are suitably scary. For those who love his work, the good news is he has lots of other horrifying films he wants to make, such as an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.

In that same interview on The Kingcast podcast (via Collider), del Toro also shared that there’s a Stephen King work he’d love to adapt—the very scary and disturbing Pet Sematary. [Read more]

Hawkeye Behind-The-Scenes Clip Highlights Alaqua Cox, an Amazing Talent Who Never Acted Before Being Cast as Echo

Those who’ve been watched the third episode of the MCU limited series Hawkeye have been introduced to Maya Lopez, aka Echo, aka the head of the tracksuit mafia after Clint Barton (Jeremey Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). What you may not have known, however, is that Alaqua Cox—the actor who plays Echo—had never acted before joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Mysteries and Memories in No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen

Tara Goedjen’s No Beauties or Monsters, as its title and book cover suggest, is compellingly creepy. Unlike many classic creepy tales, however, this story unfolds in a small town on the edge of the Mojave Desert rather than a tiny cabin enshrouded by New England woods.

As the story and all its mysteries unfold in this stark landscape, we follow Rylie, a 17-year-old high school senior who moves with her family back to Twentynine Palms, the aforementioned town in the Mojave Desert where her distant and sometimes-cruel grandfather lived right up until his recent death.

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Five SFF Books in Which Valuable Is Not the Same as Powerful

Sometimes I succumb to nostalgia and look through my collection of roleplaying games from the dawn of the industry. These games were produced by companies now long forgotten and their prospects of being revived are quite remote.  Recently I looked over my edition of SPI’s Universe, whose spectacular star map I referenced in this earlier Tor.com essay. I opined that SPI could have copied GDW’s gambit and used their StarSoldier/Outreach games to provide their Universe game with a more detailed future history. A savvy commenter called my attention to a worldbuilding detail in those boardgames I had either overlooked or forgotten…

[An unfortunate truth: valuable is not the same as powerful.]

The Internal Mysteries of Tamsyn Muir’s Harrow the Ninth

In the lead-up to the 2021 Hugo Awards, we’re taking time to appreciate this year’s best novel Finalists, and what makes each of them great.

Gideon the Ninth waltzed up to the doors of reader expectation, planted plastic explosives around the frames while whistling a jaunty tune, and purposefully walked away in slow-motion, aviators glinting, and blew it all to hell. In a year of incredible genre fiction, Gideon the Ninth spread like wildfire, catching and sparking at every reader who picked it up and challenged them to a sword fight with one arm behind their back. Tamsyn Muir’s star ascended at a rocketing pace and the pressure of what Harrow the Ninth would be continued to grow and grow and grow. And upon release, much like Gideon, it wasn’t what anyone was expecting.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Morgase Seeks Aid and Rumors Abound in Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos (Part 2)

Welcome back to Reading The Wheel of Time, where we say so long to getting through the Prologue of Lord of Chaos in two bits. I like a really meaty chapter but I gotta say, Mr. Jordan, sir, why is this so long? Why is it not chapters? How did you keep track of this many characters?

I did, however, catch a very important detail this week that takes us on quite the journey down memory lane, back to some time April 2018 when I wasn’t even halfway through The Eye of the World yet. I am very pleased with myself about it, and very worried for Morgase. But first, the recap.

[A slow horse does not always reach the end of the journey.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2021

Every year we’re blown away by the consistently amazing book releases in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, young adult, and beyond—and 2021 raised the bar even further. Our reviewers each picked their top contenders for the best books of the year, ranging from hopepunk to fantasy romance, and alternate history to gothic horror. We’ve got high society magicians, retired starship captains, family ghosts, and much more.

Below, Tor.com’s regular book reviewers talk about notable titles they read in 2021—leave your own additions in the comments!

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Announcing the Table of Contents for Some of the Best from Tor.com 2021

We are excited to share the Table of Contents for the 2021 edition of Some of the Best from Tor.com, an anthology of 22 of our favorite short stories and novelettes selected from the stories we have published this year. The eBook edition will be available for free from all your favorite vendors on January 25, 2022. Of course, you can enjoy all of these stories right now at the links below.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Meets The Bourne Identity in Stringers by Chris Panatier

A genius is abducted by an alien bounty-hunter for the location of a powerful inter-dimensional object. Trouble is, he can’t remember a thing…

We’re thrilled to share the cover for Stringers by Chris Panatier! Stringers will be published on April 12, 2022 by Angry Robot Books—and features the publisher’s new logo!

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