Has Cloud Atlas Author David Mitchell Given Us The Greatest Writing Tip Of Our Time?

John Hornor Jacobs, author of Southern Gods, Incorruptibles, and Infernal Machines recently met up with fantasy author Sanford Allen, who related a meeting with David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Bone Clocks. Apparently, Mitchell spent a bit of time buying Allen drinks and asking for stories of Allen’s time as a touring musician.

But this was not just a pleasant evening out for two writers talking shop—this was also an opportunity for Mitchell to share the art of “IWATH,” or, to spell it out, “I WAS THERE.”

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The Greatest Dads in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Universe

Parents tend to get shortchanged in dramatic genre stories, but that just makes the inspiring ones all the more noticeable! So today, the Tor.com office is recalling its favorite dads (and others who fill that role) in science fiction, fantasy, and anywhere! You know who they are. They’re the guys who stuck around to serve as inspiration and support to their (often heroic) children… and who managed to survive the dramatic whims of their creators!

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Blurring Reality: The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

When Clare arrives in Havana Cuba for the Festival of New Latin American Cinema—giving a different name to every other new acquaintance and becoming stranger to herself with every displaced experience—it’s nothing new to her, not really. As a sales rep for an elevator company, Clare is used to travel and to interstitial places. She loves the non-specificity of hotel rooms and thrives on random encounters. What she doesn’t expect to find in Cuba, though, is her husband Richard: five weeks dead, standing tall in a white suit outside the Museum of the Revolution.

What follows in Laura van den Berg’s novel The Third Hotel is a reality-blurring rumination on the power of grief and alienation. Interspersed with Richard’s scholarly writings on horror movie tropes, and with Clare’s reflections on her own past and identity, the novel inches further from an explanation of her haunting with every step it takes towards her confrontation with it. Lush in description and psychology alike, The Third Hotel is a literary horror novel that will haunt you long past its final page.

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Weapon Blech — X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine was introduced in 1974 at the end of Incredible Hulk #180 by the late, great Len Wein & Herb Trimpe, inserting himself into a battle between the Hulk and the Wendigo. A Canadian secret agent, codenamed Weapon X, Wolverine spent issue #181 fighting both Hulk and Wendigo, failing to stop either one. A year later, Wein used him as part of his new team of X-Men introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1, and he quickly became the most popular of those new characters; his combination of snotty-brawler personality, tendency to explosive violence, and mysterious past proved to be incredibly compelling, particularly in the hands of Wein’s successor, Chris Claremont, and his longtime collaborator, Canadian artist/co-plotter John Byrne. He became Marvel’s most popular character, matching, if not supplanting, Spider-Man as the company’s flagship hero in the latter two decades of the 20th century.

When the X-Men hit the big screen in 2000, the character did likewise for the growing series of X-films.

[“Are you Remy LeBeau?” “Do I owe you money?” “No.” “Then Remy LeBeau I am!”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Mirage Author Somaiya Daud on Her Moroccan-Inspired Fantasy World

Somaiya Daud’s debut epic fantasy novel Mirage follows Amani, an eighteen-year-old dreamer living in a world controlled by the all powerful Vathek empire. All Amani wants is freedom: freedom to explore, write poetry, and travel to far off places. These dreams are shattered when Amani is kidnapped from her small village and taken to the royal palace, where she must act as a body double for the beautiful, but hated, Princess Maram. Amani’s new life comes with luxury, glamour, and the Princess’s stunning fiance, Idris. But it also comes with the understanding that at any moment, Amani must be prepared to sacrifice her life for the Princess.

Daud stopped by the Macmillan Audio studio to talk everything Mirage: from how her own Moroccan roots inspired this story, to how her writing bridges the gaps between sci-fi, fantasy, and history. She also explained how the audiobook enhances the novel’s poetic language and how Rasha Zamamiri’s narration brings the voices Somaiya imagined for her characters to life.

Listen below!

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When Will SF Learn to Love the Tachyon Rocket?

Readers of a certain age may remember the excitement stirred up when various physicists proposed to add a third category of matter to:

  • A. matter with zero rest mass (which always travels at the speed of light), and
  • B. matter with rest mass (which always travels slower than light).

Now there’s C: matter whose rest mass is imaginary. For these hypothetical particles—tachyons—the speed of light may be a speed minimum, not a speed limit.

Tachyons may offer a way around that pesky light-speed barrier, and SF authors quickly noticed the narrative possibilities. If one could somehow transform matter into tachyons, then faster-than-light travel might be possible.

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NPR Picks The 100 Greatest Horror Stories of All Time

NPR has done us a great service! In honor of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, they asked all of us who love being scared to nominate their favorite horror tales, and assembled a fantastic panel of judges to select the 100 most terrifying. Their picks include everything from classics like Dracula, The Haunting of Hill House, and the aforementioned Frankenstein, to more modern scary stories like Let the Right One In, The Ballad of Black Tom, and Experimental Film. We’re especially excited to see a number of friends-of-Tor in this chilling compilation, including Sarah Monette, Victor LaValle, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nalo Hopkinson, Kai Ashante Wilson, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

Think you can get through all 100 by Halloween?

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Escaping the Default Future When Writing Science Fiction

At one point in my new novella The Million, our hero Gavin is crossing Europe by airship. Gazing out the windows, he sees this:

There were no settlements. Elephants, boars, lions, and the ancient bull of legend, the aurochs, wandered at will. Now and then the zeppelin would pass one of the museum cities. Often, nothing remained but the cathedrals, which had been built to last. Some cities had been tended well, and thousands of years of architectural glory were on display, all of it lovingly tended by the bots that walked their plazas and alleys.

Dusk chased the sun into France and Iberia, and the Alps rolled by. Their peaks were the last to catch the light, and the mountaintops blazed like a thousand bonfires for a few minutes before night fell entirely. Now the land below was invisible, cloaked in a blackness it had not seen while the cities had been inhabited. The sky blazed with stars and the Milky Way bannered across them like a conqueror’s flag.

It’s an empty world. But The Million is not a post-apocalyptic dystopia. On the contrary, The Million could be our best hope, and the Earth’s.

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Queers! In! SPAAAAAACE!!! Emily Skrutskie’s Hullmetal Girls

Aisha Un-Haad is out of options. Her parents are dead, her brother is dying of a terrible disease, and her sister is about to start working in the dangerous dyeworks. Without money, their lives will get exponentially worse. Aisha does the only thing she can: surrender her freedom to become a mechanically enhanced soldier. Called Scelas, they are living weapons for the oppressive regime that rules the fleet of generation ships on which the last humans live.

Key Tanaka has little memory of her life before becoming a Scela or what drove her to undergo the life-threatening procedure. Aisha wants to protect her family, and Key to unlock her missing memories. In order to do that they and their teammates, willful Praava and awkward Woojin, must join the ranks of the Scela elite. But what happens when they’re ordered to kill, maim, and conspire against citizens at the behest of a corrupt leadership? Body horror, issues of consent, and body dysmorphia abound in this tense novel.

[“I was human. You’re better now, the exo insists.”]

Warner Bros.’ Three Merrie and Looney Versions of “The Three Little Pigs”

Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs was an instant legend among animators, then just starting to develop their craft. It also was an instant legend among film studios, who saw that for once, a cartoon could be a bigger draw than the main feature.

Naturally, rival Warner Bros had to get into the action, with three different cartoon takes on the three little pigs.

And equally naturally, their first take was a direct slam and parody of their great rival.

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The Wheel of Time Showrunner Rafe Judkins: “I Plan to Lean Heavily Into The Concept of Reincarnation.”

For the past several weeks, Rafe Judkins, showrunner of Amazon Studios’ The Wheel of Time television series, has instituted #WoTWednesday on social media: He’ll share peeks at scripts (just the episode titles, alas) or his marked-up copies of Robert Jordan’s books, as he and the writing staff embark on the epic undertaking of adapting this beloved fantasy series for the small screen.

This week, Judkins was in Fiji, and so for #WoTWednesday he talked about eastern religions and philosophies, most notably reincarnation.

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Crack Shots! Science! Exotic Locales! — The Don Sturdy Adventures by Victor Appleton

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.

The years spanning the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were a time of adventure. The last few blank spots on the map were being filled in by explorers, while the social science of archaeology was gaining attention, and struggling for respectability. And young readers who dreamed of adventure could read about a boy explorer in the tales of Don Sturdy, a series from the same Stratemeyer Syndicate that gave the world stories about Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys. They were among the first—but far from the last—books I read that are fueled by tales of archaeological discovery and the mysterious lure of lost lands and ruined cities.

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Sapient Elephants, Musical Dogs, and Mercenary Cats: 15 Stories Featuring Anthropomorphic Animals

Warrior mice, revolutionary pigs, scientifically-minded chimpanzees, and radioactive elephants—some of the most memorable (and ironically, the most human) stories feature anthropomorphic animals at their core. Political history, racial allegories, class tensions, and environmental warnings spring to life when ordinary animals are re-cast as, say, Leon Trotsky, or a heartsick sniper fighting an endless war…

Below, we’ve corralled some of the best animal characters genre fiction has to offer. Let us know your favorites in the comments!

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