A Reminder to Please, Please Vote!

Today, we’re exactly two weeks out from Election Day here in the U.S. Whether you’re voting by mail, in person, or absentee ballot, your vote is so incredibly important, and we’re asking you to please do everything you can to make it count—and encourage everyone you know to do the same!

If you’re eligible to vote, you can find all the resources you need—including instructions, deadlines, voting guides, and personalized ballot information—at VOTE411.org, a nonpartisan website brought to you by the League of Women Voters Education Fund.

As always, thanks for reading, and thank you for making your voice heard this November 3rd!

Proof of an Iron Will: Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (translated by Polly Barton) collects a set of linked short stories reimagining Japanese folktales in contemporary settings, shot through with exceptionally witty societal critique. Silent house-callers who watch over the babies of single mothers, lovers who must be scrubbed free of river mud each night, awkward but eerie saleswomen hawking lanterns, and vulpine shapeshifters to name a few feature in these tales… but rather than vengeful ghosts out to punish the living, Matsuda’s apparitions are complicated people in their own right with histories and interests.

Matsuda writes these tales of spirit(ed) women and dispirited men with impeccable comedic timing and a deceptively urbane tone that also carries biting commentary, while Barton’s translation maintains the rhythm of her prose with grace. The book is described as exuberant on the back cover, and the same word kept occurring to me. Wildness is dangerous but exuberant; these monstrous ladies are the same. At turns each might be kind, stubborn, careful, or cruel—but so might the living people they engage with and the world outside with its pressures around gender, respectability, class, and relationships.

[A review.]

Five SFF Books Built Around Dead People (Or Mostly Dead People)

Usually, plots are populated by the alive or alive-adjacent. (I was going to say “alive and breathing,” but then I remembered that some vampire characters don’t breathe.) Nothing facilitates plot like living people. Most corpses are poor conversationalists and don’t do much besides just lie there. Hence most authors choose to populate their books with the living.

As always, there are exceptions. A few fictional corpses are very interesting. Take, for example, these five dead people…

[Read more]

Never Say You Can’t Survive: A Strong Narrator Can Help You Weave a Spell of Protection

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twenty-second chapter, “A Strong Narrator Can Help You Weave a Spell of Protection”. You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

[Read more]

Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Getting Lost: Sarah Tolmie’s The Fourth Island

Often books are like tides. The plot comes in waves, leaving characters half-buried in the sand. In order to find the seashells, skulls, strangely twisted driftwood amid the seaweed and salt, you must have a keen eye. It might take a few passes across a small, strange stretch of beach or stone or mud but these liminal places are the only place a sea, or a story, willingly lets go of its dead.

The Fourth Island is like a dark tide. It flows in and out of time, history, and myth, creating a picture of the Aran Islands that is deeply enmeshed in Irish culture.

[Read more]

Reading The Wheel of Time: The Tower Must Be Whole, and Other Mysteries in Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven (Part 7)

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, Nynaeve and Elayne encounter a secret signal meant for the Yellow Ajah, almost get kidnapped, and learn a valuable lesson from the experience. We the readers learn a lot too, including that there is a tea that can inhibit one’s ability to channel and that the eyes-and-ears networks of the Aes Sedai aren’t always as competent and cautious as one might wish. Also, Elayne is apparently trying to get with her mother’s former lover?

[Read more]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Downstream From History: What Makes a History ‘Alternate’?

I kept trying to write about alternate history, but the concept turned slippery and strange in my grasp. Alternate history, I thought, over and over, until it became six syllables in an arcane language, a mantra, a riddle. This is just your Covid brain, I thought. I told my editor I’d get it to her in a week. I told her that many weeks ago, and I’m still here, trying to figure out why what ought to be a simple sub-genre label has begun to strike me as a fundamental category error.

It invites a simple definition: alternate history is history that isn’t real. But how is it not real? It diverged from a specific point that we know to be real? It explores history? Or it explores the present through the lens of history? Why do we draw a line between those two things, “present” and “history,” as though there were some clear demarcation between them? If we are living downstream from history, then what is our relationship to imagined history? Is it the same as an imagined present? Are our alternate timelines running alongside us, tumbling forward in our collective memories, yearnings and resentments, constantly reflecting and forming counterpoint to our actual stream?

[Read more]

Download a Free eBook of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark Before October 24!

P. Djèlí Clark returns to the historical fantasy universe of “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, with the otherworldly adventure novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

  • Finalist for the 2020 Hugo Award
  • Finalist for the 2020 Nebula Award
  • Finalist for the 2020 Locus Award

How it works: Subscribers to the Tor.com eBook Club get a free sci-fi/fantasy book at least once a month (lately it’s been much more than that) just by signing up with a valid email address. You’ll get an email when the download window is open.

This week, the Tor.com eBook Club is offering The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark.

[Read more]

Read Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: Chapter Sixteen

On November 17, 2020, The Stormlight Archive saga continues in Rhythm of War, the eagerly awaited fourth volume in Brandon Sanderson’s #1 New York Times bestselling fantasy series.

Tor.com is serializing the new book from now until release date! A new installment will go live every Tuesday at 9 AM ET.

Every chapter is collected here in the Rhythm of War index. Listen to the audiobook version of this chapter below the text, or go here for the full playlist.

Once you’re done reading, join our resident Cosmere experts for commentary on what this week’s chapter has revealed!

Want to catch up on The Stormlight Archive? Check out our Explaining The Stormlight Archive series!

[Read more]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

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