5 Books in Which Superpowers Have Unfortunate Side Effects

I’ve always been drawn to books with characters whose abilities represent a classic double-edged sword, both blessing and curse. Think Incredible Hulk—unbelievably strong, capable of protecting both himself and others, but also out of control, unable to clearly remember who he is or what he’s doing when he’s in that transformed state. When it comes to such powerful characters, the double-edged ability is a great way to explore the dark-side of awesomeness, to render someone who is untouchable painfully relatable. The unfortunate side effects and consequences of special powers also bring balance and tension into a story, where power alone would limit the tale to simple answers and quick resolution.

[Read more]

Listen to the Echoes: The Ultimate Profile of Ray Bradbury

When I decided to write my recent piece about The Bradbury Chronicles, Sam Weller’s biography of Ray Bradbury, I knew I’d also have to write (just a few words) about the book I always think of as its fraternal twin. Not to do so would’ve meant ignoring the other half of Bradbury.

I declared (perhaps rather grandly) that Weller’s subject in 2005’s The Bradbury Chronicles was a portrait of Bradbury as an artist, a narrative about the development of a writer—his “Other Me”—alongside the details and milestones of the life he’d led. What Weller gives us in 2010’s Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews is a portrait of the man behind the typewriter. How does it rate, then, when compared to the earlier volume? I’ll be frank and say that this book is not a “must read” for everyone who read The Bradbury Chronicles.

[Read more]

“This isn’t freedom, this is fear” — Captain America: The Winter Soldier

For a very long time, there was a feeling among a certain segment of hardcore comics fans. When Jean Grey was resurrected in the lead-up to the launch of the X-Factor comic book, it started a flood of character resurrections in Marvel (and DC for that matter). Heck, even Aunt May was revived! (Thus ruining a most powerful character death in Amazing Spider-Man #400.)

To many comics fans, though, there were two people who were likely to stay all dead, rather than be mostly dead: Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and Captain America’s sidekick Bucky Barnes. Those two deaths were too important, too formative to ever be reversed.

And then in 2005, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting did the “Winter Soldier” storyline in Captain America Volume 5 and blew that idea all to hell.

[“There are no prisoners with Hydra, just order. And order only comes with pain. You ready for yours?” “Man, shut the hell up!”]

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

“Where’s my damn red thing?” — Star Trek: Discovery’s “Brother”

The very first Star Trek character that Gene Roddenberry ever wrote was Captain Christopher Pike. As played by Jeffrey Hunter, Pike was a solid, stolid leader in the Hornblower mode, one who was world-weary and thinking about retiring in the flashbacks of “The Menagerie,” using footage from the unaired pilot “The Cage.” As played by Bruce Greenwood in the alternate timeline of the Bad Robot movies, Pike was a wise mentor, an understanding authority figure.

Anson Mount debuted his interpretation of Pike on the second season premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, and it’s a fascinating mix of Hunter and Greenwood, and a role that’s written with the knowledge that it takes place several years after “The Cage.” It’s also a delight, a welcome shot in the arm to the show which delivers its best episode yet.

[This is the power of math, people!]

Robert Jordan’s Never-Before-Seen First Novel is Coming From Tor Books in 2019

Tor Books is honored to announce the forthcoming publication of Warrior of the Altaii, the never-before-seen first novel by epic fantasy titan Robert Jordan.

Warrior of the Altaii is a fascinating formative work by The Wheel of Time creator, offering an abundance of the epic themes that Jordan would continue to develop in The Wheel of Time itself. A standalone fantasy story told with implacable momentum, readers new to Robert Jordan will find Warrior of the Altaii an easy gateway to the author’s artistry.

[Read more]

Gentle Giants: Rescue Dogs, Pet Adoption, and Lessons in Love and Survival

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity.

Nothing prepared me for this.

It was 2011, and there I was, standing in the grass outside a Panera Bread, waiting to meet a woman about a dog. I had wanted this forever: an Italian Greyhound. And now here I was, adopting not one but two of them with my fiancé.

[Read more]

Vigilance and The Test “Near-Future” Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of two near-future thrillers from Tor.com Publishing: Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett, available January 29th, and The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, available February 12th!

From Vigilance:

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize. Read more in our free excerpt.

From The Test:

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice? Read more in our free excerpt.

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 January 17th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on January 20th. 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.

Can You Ever Go Home Again? 9 Stories That Continue After Journey’s End

After fighting in the Trojan War, taking an epic walk to Mount Doom, or communing with the alien Meduse, all the intrepid war hero/quester/intergalactic exchange student wants is to return to the familiar comforts of home. But they’ve changed—maybe they’re missing a finger, have been transformed on a molecular level, or simply had their mind expanded in the figurative sense—and so has home. These nine sci-fi and fantasy tales explore the awkward, anticlimactic, and occasionally antagonistic homecomings, and how sometimes that final hurdle is the most important part of the story.

[Read more]

Andre Norton’s Star Gate Inspired Me Before I Knew I Wanted to Write

One of my absolute favorite books when I was a kid in the 70s was Star Gate by Andre Norton, published in 1958. I found it first in the junior high school library, then managed to buy a used paperback copy—probably secretly; my father didn’t believe in letting me buy books I’d already read, even when they were only $1.00 or so. Even as a kid I was careful with books no matter how many times I read them, and it’s on my shelf today.

It’s one of those books that I didn’t realize was deeply encoded in my writing DNA until I went back and looked at it recently. It’s not like I ever forgot about the book, but it and the others like it were so deep under my skin I forgot there was a time before I read them. They formed my understanding of what SF/F should be. I read Tolkien and other epic fantasies, but Andre Norton got to me first, and planted seeds that eventually grew into mountain-trees.

[Read more]

Fairy Tales for Survivors: The Armless Maiden

One of the most profound influences on my understanding of fairy tales was The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors (1995), edited by Terri Windling, an anthology I discovered quite by chance while browsing a bookstore one day. I picked it up partly because of the title, partly because it had a couple of stories from favorite authors, partly because it seemed to be about fairy tales, and mostly because it had a nice big sticker proclaiming that it was 25% off.

Never underestimate the value of nice big stickers proclaiming that things are 25% off, even if those stickers end up leaving sticky residue all over your book, which is not the point just now.

Rather, it’s how the book changed my understanding of fairy tales.

[Read more]

The Perfect Blend of Adventure and Romance in The Sharing Knife: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

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.

Today I’m taking a look at the work of one of my favorite authors of all time, Lois McMaster Bujold. Instead of the more widely known Vorkosigan series, or her Five Gods and Penric stories, however, I’ll be discussing the first book of her Sharing Knife series—a prime example of how romantic themes can fit well into a science fiction or fantasy setting. A few weeks ago, on Christmas Day, Bujold announced on her blog that “I am pleased to report that I have finished the first draft of a new novella in the world of The Sharing Knife. Functionally a novella, anyway; its length, at the moment, is a tad over 49,000 words, so it’s technically a short novel.” So, to get ready for the new story, let’s look back at the beginning with Book 1, The Beguilement.

[Read more]

The Clarkson Twins Join The Wheel of Time TV Series Writers Room

The writers room for Amazon Studios’ The Wheel of Time TV series is coming together! Showrunner Rafe Judkins has devoted various #WoTWednesdays to introducing different writers as they join the epic fantasy adaptation, and this week he had two introductions to make: twins Michael P. Clarkson and Paul T. Clarkson have joined the staff.

[Read more]

Five SFF Books about Family Drama

Ah, family. Can’t live with them, can’t live without finding ways to avoid THAT cousin on social media. But for all the griping, tales revolving around family drama dominate human story-telling, and science fiction and fantasy aren’t any different. Whether it’s Darth Vader declaring fatherhood or the Lannisters plotting each other’s murder, it’s clear not even fleeing to the stars will let you escape your relatives.

There are innumerable books about scheming families, but for this list I wanted to highlight five recent novels that add a bit more nuance to these kinds of relationships. Family can be complicated enough—add earth-shaking magic and daunting political responsibilities, and things get downright dangerous. Yet even as the characters below find themselves being torn apart, they refuse to stop fighting for each other, suggesting that yes… perhaps the family that plots together, stays together.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Sixty-One

Greetings, fair rereaders, and welcome back to Kholinar! It’s sneaky-time for our intrepid crew, as they take on some unexpected disguises and attempt to make their way into the city without being recognized by the locals or attacked by the Voidbringers. Wish them luck, because it’s weird in this man’s town.

[Be extraordinary, Captain. Nothing else will suffice.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

Bad Influences From Atlantis: H.P. Lovecraft and Adolphe de Castro’s “The Last Test”

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.

This week, we’re reading H. P. Lovecraft and Adolphe de Castro’s “The Last Test,” a revision of de Castro’s original “A Sacrifice to Science,” first published in In the Confessional and the Following in 1893; the revised version first appeared in the November 1928 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

[Read more]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.