Finding Poetry in Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin

We are the product of the books we read as children and young adults. They shape the vocabulary we use to shape the world we live in: they spark interests and ideas and ideals that we may never be consciously aware of harboring. Sometimes we’re lucky. Sometimes we can point to the exact moment where everything changed.

I was fourteen. I read like books were oxygen and I was in danger of suffocation if I stopped for more than a few minutes. I was as undiscriminating about books as a coyote is about food—I needed words more than I needed quality, and it was rare for me to hit something that would actually make me slow down. It was even rarer for me to hit something that would make me speed up, rushing toward the end so I could close the book, sigh, flip it over, and start again from the beginning.

I liked fairy tales. I liked folk music. When I found a book in a line of books about fairy tales, with a title taken from a ballad, I figured it would be good for a few hours.

I didn’t expect it to change my life.

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Understanding Horses: Winter Dreams, Spring Foals

Every gardener in a temperate climate knows that winter is the fallow season, but it’s also the season of hope. That’s when the seed catalogues start to arrive. The garden is asleep, but once the days start to lengthen, it won’t be too terribly long before it’s time to till and plant.

The same thing happens to horse breeders. With a gestation period of 345 days on the average—eleven months and a week is the rule of thumb for calculating the approximate due date—waiting for a foal can seem like an eternity. The mare goes on about her business for the most part, but sooner or later, she’ll start to show signs that something is going on in there. She may barely round out, or she may become so spherical that observers wonder how she stays up on those spindly legs.

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Stargate SG-1 Alums Bring New Space Drama, The Ark, to SYFY

A new space drama is in the works at SYFY. The network has approved a twelve-episode order for The Ark, a series created by Independence Day and Stargate feature film writer (and Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate SG-1, and Stargate: Infinity, and Stargate Universe writer) Dean Devlin and Stargate SG-1 (pictured above) writer and producer Jonathan Glassner.

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Read Chapter One of Andrea Hairston’s Redwood and Wildfire

At the turn of the 20th century, minstrel shows transform into vaudeville, which slides into moving pictures. Hunkering together in dark theatres, diverse audiences marvel at flickering images…

We’re thrilled to share the first chapter of Andrea Hairston’s alternate history adventure Redwood and Wildfire, winner of the 2011 Otherwise Award and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award. Redwood and Wildfire is available from Tordotcom Publishing on February 1.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Fortunate Son”

“Fortunate Son”
Written by James Duff
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 1, Episode 10
Production episode 010
Original air date: November 21, 2001
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. A low-gravity game of football toss between Captain Keene and First Officer Ryan of the Earth Cargo Ship Fortunate is interrupted by an attack by Nausicaan pirates.

Enterprise’s mission of dropping off subspace amplifiers to permit greater ease of interstellar communication is interrupted by Forrest sending them off course back toward Earth to answer a distress call from the Fortunate. While Archer’s ship is farther away than other Earth ships, they can still get there faster than any other ship in Starfleet.

[“Get down!” “Under the circumstance, I defer to your experience…”]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Our Country: C.S. Lewis, Calormen, and How Fans Are Reclaiming the Fictionalized East

The country of Calormen, located to the southeast of Narnia, appears twice in the seven Chronicles of Narnia books, but not once in the movies. It’s the stage for some of the most exciting parts of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia stories—and also some of the most controversial.

Throughout the only book where characters actually set foot in Calormen, The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis can’t seem to decide how to treat it. He describes it as “one of the wonders of the world” with “orange trees and lemon trees, roof-gardens, balconies, deep archways, pillared colonnades, spires, battlements, minarets, pinnacles…” And yet, the Calormene people “were not the fair-haired men of Narnia: they were dark, bearded men from Calormen, that great and cruel country” who smelled “of garlic and onions, their white eyes flashing dreadfully in their brown faces.”

Finally—and perhaps most ominously for a book series that is transparently a Christian allegory—“they have a god called Tash. They say he has four arms and the head of a vulture.”

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Here’s How Humans Might Beat Other Intelligent Life in a Science Fictional Space Race

Suppose for the moment that one is a science fiction writer. Suppose further that one desires a universe in which intelligence is fairly common and interstellar travel is possible. Suppose that, for compelling plot reasons, one wants humans to be the first species to develop interstellar flight. What, then, could keep all those other beings confined to their home worlds?

Here are options, presented in order of internal to external.

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Introducing Tor.com’s First Guest Editor… R.F. Kuang!

Over the summer of 2020, Tor.com’s editorial team gathered to discuss how we could use the platform to better support SFF writers from historically marginalized communities. As part of our dedication to inclusivity, Tor.com will be expanding our reach and giving space to exciting new voices working in genre to ensure that Tor.com is a place where writers of all backgrounds feel supported and affirmed. Recognizing that the experiences and cultural viewpoints of Tor.com’s editorial staff are not universal, we’ve reached out to some friends to help us continue this project.

Tor.com is excited to announce our first ever guest editor, R.F. Kuang! Kuang is the author of the Poppy War trilogy, as well as a scholar and translator who has been a tour-de-force in the speculative fiction community. She will be curating a limited series of essays to broaden the horizon of voices represented on Tor.com and forge new pathways for the future of SFF. We are thrilled to have her aboard!

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New Star Trek: Picard Trailer Gives Us Whoopi Goldberg, Brent Spiner, and a Whole Lot of Excitement

Just days after we found out Star Trek: Picard’s release date (it’s March 3, if you haven’t marked your calendar yet), we get an amazing trailer that not only sheds light on what season two might be about, but also gives us a look at Whoopi Goldberg reprising her role as Guinan and evidence that Brent Spiner is back!

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12 SFF Tales Told From Second-Person Perspective

Writing in second person—forgoing I or she/he/they of other perspectives in favor of that intensely-close, under-your-skin you—can, ironically, be rather alienating. Often it feels too intimate for the reader, or it distracts them from the story unfolding with questions of who is actually telling it. But when a writer commits to telling a story to you, about you, through you, the result can often be masterful—an extra layer of magic surrounding a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative tale and embedding the reader in the protagonist’s journey more intensely than even the most self-reflective first or closest-third could achieve.

Enjoy these dozen SFF tales, ranging from cheeky epistolary novella to intricate manifestations of grief to choose-your-own-adventure Shakespeare, that take on the trickiest perspective and make you (that’s you, the reader) forget you were ever skeptical.

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