A Collaboration Made in Faerun: The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

The Adventure Zone started as a family endeavor: three grown-up brothers and their child-at-heart dad set out to play a game of Dungeons & Dragons, and to share it with the internet. Magnus the human fighter (Travis McElroy), Merle the dwarf cleric (Clint McElroy), and Taako the elf wizard (Justin McElroy)—and of course their brave and longsuffering DM, Griffin McElroy—took on gerblins, evil scientists, and fashionable ghouls, and in the course of it all became heroes and master storytellers. That (the podcast ; The Balance Arc) was chapter one. Then there were the follow-up campaigns, the fanart, the cosplay, the live shows and the Reddit theories, original music, bonus episodes, and crossover events—a lot for one tabletop-game-turned-podcast. This week, the McElroys, under the care and pen of still another player, artist Carey Pietsch, have added a podcast-turned-comic to the mix. And it does not disappoint.

If you’re here for the goofs, you’ll find plenty of ‘em. If you’re here for metacommentary on RPGs, you’ll find that too. Beautiful new art? Check. Fully-realized characters fighting against fate like it’s their baby brother or son? Check. And if you’re looking for adventure, well, needless to say, you’ll find it in The Adventure Zone .

[Queue intro music]

Anne Charnock is the Winner of the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award

The winner of the 32nd annual Arthur C. Clarke Award was announced today at a special ceremony held at Foyles’ flagship store in London. Anne Charnock was honored with the UK’s most prestigious award for science fiction literature for her novel Dreams Before the Start of Time, a near-future tale that explores the intended and unintended consequences of reproductive technology when infertility is a thing of the past.

“Humanity’s attitudes to reproduction have been core to science fiction at least as far back as Frankenstein,” Andrew M. Butler, chair of judges for the 2018 award, said in the official announcement. “Anne Charnock’s Dreams Before the Start of Time explores the theme with a delightfully rich but unshowy intergenerational novel that demands rereading.” Award director Tom Hunter added: “This is a much-deserved win for a writer whose time has definitely come. Charnock’s multi-generational vision of expanding human reproductive technologies is smart, science-literate fiction that embraces the challenge of humanising big ethical questions, and succeeds by exploring possible future scenarios that feel utterly real.”

[Read more]

Bad Ways to Live Forever Part 397: H.P. Lovecraft and Henry Whitehead’s “The Trap”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re reading H. P. Lovecraft and Henry Whitehead’s “The Trap,” written in 1931 and first published in the March 1932 issue of Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror. Spoilers ahead.

[“And in some outrageous fashion Robert Grandison had passed out of our ken into the glass and was there immured, waiting for release.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Tor.com 10th Anniversary Pint Glass Sweepstakes!

Tor.com turns 10 years old this week, and to celebrate, we want to send you a present! Ten lucky readers will each receive one of these nifty Stubby the Rocket pint glasses—perfect for toasting our birthday (or other happy occasion) and reading the free ebook collection of some of our best articles. With the beverage of your choosing, naturally.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on July 18th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on July 22nd. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

The Black God’s Drums

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air—in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.

P. Djèlí Clark’s immersive debut novella The Black God’s Drums is available August 21st from Tor.com Publishing.

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The Future Tornadoes Want: Twister

When Jan de Bont released Twister in May of 1996, he probably thought he was being sneaky. He probably didn’t expect anyone to figure out that he’d made a horror film in which the monster represents the death of heteronormativity in the American nuclear family structure. He probably thought he got away with it. Well, I’ve got bad news for you, Jan…

(Oh, did you think Jan de Bont was safe from this essay series? Did you think I wouldn’t come after the director of Speed 2: Cruise Control? Did you think that just because he also directed Speed 1: It’s Actually Just Called Speed, I wouldn’t force a too-small hand-knit sweater of literary analysis over the narrow shoulders of one of his summer blockbusters? Welcome to Hell, where the essays are long and the tornadoes are feminists. The only way out is through. Let’s do this. Twister.)

[Read more]

Luke Cage’s Queer Characters Are a Good Starting Point — But We Deserve More

For a connected universe that confidently approaches its violence and criminality bluntly and with little embellishment, the Netflix fraction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is surprisingly big on symbolism and poetics. Luke Cage, a show that wavered in its first season between being so much better and suddenly so much worse than its Netflix peers, has actually become a much more interesting show in its second season.

[Spoilers for Season 2 of Luke Cage follow.]

[Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new season are the character relationships that centre around love]

Announcing a Pair of Solarpunk Novellas from Becky Chambers

In 2014 Becky Chambers burst onto the science fiction scene with her debut novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Nominated for pretty much every major science fiction award, it took the SF world by storm.

We are absolutely thrilled to be able to announce that Becky will be writing a new solarpunk novella series for Tor.com Publishing, though you’re going to have to wait a little while for them (sorry!).

Ever since I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet I’ve wanted to work with Becky. She has a lightness of touch that makes you want to keep turning the page. So, when I contacted her and she suggested we work together on a couple of solarpunk books I was delighted. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, today, and I can’t wait to bring you Becky‘s trademark adventure style, wrapped up in a bundle of positive SF. It’s what we need, right now.

[Read more]

It’s Time to Remake the Star Wars Holiday Special

Box office analysts all over the galaxy have blamed Solo’s disappointing earnings on poor marketing and oversaturation of Star Wars movies. Personally, I believe these theories are (and forgive my French) a whole lot of hooey. The problem with Star Wars these days is that there are too many new ideas, new characters. Why enjoy something fresh and exciting and possibly even challenging, when you can watch the same old thing over and over?

With all this in mind, I’m sure you will agree that what Star Wars truly needs is a remake. Search your feelings. You will know it to be true. You probably already know what film I’m going to recommend that they reimagine, and that is the beloved sequel to A New Hope.

I am, of course, speaking of The Star Wars Holiday Special.

[Read more]

Every Day was Another Body: Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley

Nyxnissa so Dasheem—ex-soldier, ex-assassin—is a disreputable and legally questionable bounty hunter, hurtling toward her own demise by way of as much whiskey and as many poor choices as she can manage. Apocalypse Nyx collects five original stories about her, four of which were previously published on Hurley’s Patreon for subscribers. All of the stories in Apocalypse Nyx take place prior to the events of God’s War (2011) and often gesture toward latter events in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series, sometimes with grim foreshadowing.

The world of the Bel Dame Apocrypha is as compelling as ever: biotechnological warfare, magic-oriented bugs on all surfaces, collapsing social order, matriarchal control, the list goes on. These novellas, however, are more concerned with action-adventure than continued development of the milieu—each follows one job that Nyx takes on for herself and her crew, from start to finish.

[A review.]

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins Sweepstakes!

The graphic novel adaptation of the podcast The Adventure Zone is available today from First Second Books! To celebrate, we want to send you a copy of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins, along with a set of fun postcards and trading cards!

Welcome to the Adventure Zone!

SEE! The illustrated exploits of three lovable dummies set loose in a classic fantasy adventure!

READ! Their journey from small-time bodyguards to world-class artifact hunters!

MARVEL! At the sheer metafictional chutzpah of a graphic novel based on a story created in a podcast where three dudes and their dad play a tabletop role playing game in real time!

Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided (“guided”) by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it’s based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.

With endearingly off-kilter storytelling from master goofballs Clint McElroy and the McElroy brothers, and vivid, adorable art by Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is the comics equivalent of role-playing in your friend’s basement at 2am, eating Cheetos and laughing your ass off as she rolls critical failure after critical failure.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on July 17th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on July 21st. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Kill the Farm Boy

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.
            
This is not that fairy tale.
            
There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.
            
And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.
            
There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

[Read more]

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