Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson: Chapters 10-12

Start reading Oathbringer, the new volume of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive epic, right now. For free!

Tor.com is serializing the much-awaited third volume in the Stormlight Archive series every Tuesday until the novel’s November 14, 2017 release date.

Every installment is collected here in the Oathbringer index.

Need a refresher on the Stormlight Archive before beginning Oathbringer? Here’s a summary of what happened in Book 1: The Way of Kings and Book 2: Words of Radiance.

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Series: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Emma Newman’s Industrial Magic Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Emma Newman’s second Industrial Magic novella, Weaver’s Lament, is available October 17th from Tor.com Publishing—and to celebrate, we want to send you a galley copy of it, along with a copy of the first book, Brother’s Ruin!

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

In Weaver’s Lament, Charlotte is learning to control her emerging magical powers under the secret tutelage of Magus Hopkins. Her first covert mission takes her to a textile mill where the disgruntled workers are apparently destroying expensive equipment. And if she can’t identify the culprits before it’s too late, her brother will be exiled, and her family dishonoured…

Comment in the post to enter!

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Mirror Dance, Chapters 18-33

Last week’s blog post was a fast pass through a large number of Mirror Dance’s middle chapters, and between that and having now actually reread the entire book, I’m finding it much less terrifying; the torture scenes are still lurking out there, but they are no longer lurking stealthily. It turns out they’re pretty close to the end. But now that I’ve found my peace with it, the truth about Mirror Dance is still that I would like to read something else.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

A Definitive Collection that Defies Definition: Le Guin’s Hainish Novels & Stories

A year after their release of Ursula K. Le Guin’s complete Orsinia works, the Library of America has released a stunning two-volume set collecting the author’s most famous sci-fi works. The Hainish novels and stories do not unravel like a traditional series—the author even chafes at their common designation as a “cycle”—but they are, at least, connected by a shared universe, pieces and fragments of a shared history, and an ethos of exploration and compassion that is arguably the touchstone of Le Guin’s entire oeuvre. The Hainish worlds (including our own Earth, or Terra) were propagated millennia ago by the people of the planet Hain, and are now gradually reuniting under the interplanetary alliance of the Ekumen. From anarchist revolution to myth-inspired hero tales, the stories of the Hainish planets are as wide and variable as their inhabitants. And yet it was only a matter of time that they be collected in one place.

The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, both included in Volume I of the collection, are two of Le Guin’s most widely read, studied, and praised works of fiction. Placed alongside some of her earliest novels and lesser-known stories, the novels are cast in new and stunning light. They become pieces of a story bigger than themselves. Doubt is thrown on their truths and authoritative readings. Where other compendiums and collections might serve to build a more solid and definitive world-building project, Le Guin’s stories become weirder and more complex when placed side-by-side. This strangeness—in a collection whose theme is often uniting under strangeness—is as fitting and thrilling as it is messy.

[More thoughts on authority, plus the Table of Contents]

Brandon Sanderson Remembers Robert Jordan with a Vital Writing Lesson

On September 16, Brandon Sanderson commemorated the tenth anniversary of Robert Jordan’s passing with a heartfelt blog post on his website. Sanderson expressed the difficulty of marking a day of loss, especially that of “a mentor I’d never met.”

Describing the Wheel of Time author as “an almost mythical figure,” Sanderson nonetheless was able to distill Jordan’s legacy into a simple but deep anecdote: “Robert Jordan taught me how to describe a cup of water.”

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Autonomous

Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.

Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understand.

And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?

Annalee Newitz’s science fiction debut Autonomous is available September 19th from Tor Books. Read chapter 3 below, and check out additional excerpts at the Tor/Forge blog and on Boing Boing.

[Read an Excerpt]

Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper Series and the Magic of Social Justice

Every librarian has those select few books they recommend to just about everyone. Books that hit a lot of marks and can appeal to a variety of people even as they tell very specific stories. Books that are well written with evocative layers, truthful and realistic depictions, and characters from diverse backgrounds. I am constantly handing people copies of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti novella series. And inevitably they come back begging for more.

Of course, also high up on that pile of librarian-approved recommendations is Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper series. If ever there was a Must Read about Brooklynite Latinx teenagers using magical graffiti to battle evil, this is it.

[“People always tell you who they are. At some point, you gotta listen.”]

Working Around a Horse’s Death Wish, in Real Life and Fiction

I was going to write about horse breeds and fantasy worlds, but I’ll save that for later, because there’s a more topical topic for us this week. Considering that half the US is burning and much of the other half is underwater, and that whole swaths of the rest of the planet are in similar straits, I think it’s apposite to discuss how equines get through disasters. Or how they don’t.

How does that relate to horses in genre fiction, you ask? Well, if you’re a writer, you’ll be doing terrible things to characters, including your equines, and if you’re a reader, you may be wondering if the equines in the book are acting or reacting as they should (even if, logically speaking, they shouldn’t). [Read more]

The Greatest Adventure: Tolkien’s The Hobbit Turns 80!

In a hole in the ground lived one of literature’s smallest badasses, Bilbo Baggins, who in 1937 burst onto the scene in a ring of smoke. That’s right: 80 years ago this week, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fur-footed, waistcoat-wearing protagonist went there and back again for the very first time when George Allen & Unwin Ltd. published The Hobbit.

When it first landed, The Hobbit was a hit, and early readers understandably compared it to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because it’s not like the literary scene was exploding with dragons just yet. Disney’s animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also came out later the same year, so at least there were some people of the short and bearded persuasion on the scene. Although I think we can agree that Thorin Oakenshield is a lot of things, but he sure ain’t Dopey.

[Read away ere break of day!]

The Future of Infomocracy Will Be Decided in State Tectonics, Coming Fall 2018

In 2016, Malka Older’s Infomocracy proposed a future where voters all over the planet choose which centenal–a group of 100,000 voters–represents them, regardless of origin or geographical placement.

Could this system possibly work? Infomocracy begins to explore that question, while the follow-up book, Null States, out September 19, reveals how states which opt-out of infomocracy function in this interconnected future.

Tor.com Publishing is happy to announce that this story will reach its conclusion in the final volume: State Tectonics, currently scheduled for publication in fall 2018!

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Reshaping Old Stories

As children, we are warned to steer clear of addictive influences. But I can blame my eventual affliction on something on the shelves in my family’s library, two doors down from my room: a book of fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson.

Much of my reading as a child was unsupervised. At night, my grandparents slept two floors above, innocent of my night childhood insomnia. The spine read Fairy Tales, but inside, the stories weren’t like anything I’d been read before bedtime. The endings to Christian Andersen’s signature stories, ranged from the merely unjust to the downright macabre. How could I avoid dreaming adaptations and futures for swan princes and mermaids? My addiction to reshaping narratives has comprised a large part of my writing for many years. But perhaps no other retelling cemented the sort of stories I wanted to write than C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the Psyche and Eros myth.

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Cthulhu Blues

The Wade House has been reduced to ash, but the dreams that plagued Becca Philips and Jason Brooks when they slept in that abomination continue to haunt them. After years of facing trans-dimensional monsters in the service of SPECTRA, a few lingering nightmares are to be expected. But when Becca starts singing in her sleep—an ancient song that conjures dreadful things from mirrored surfaces—she fears that the harmonics she was exposed to during the Red Equinox terror event may have mutated not only her perception, but also her voice. It’s a gift—or curse—that she shares with a select group of children born to other witnesses of the incursion.

While a shadowy figure known as the “Crimson Minstrel” gathers these children to form an infernal choir, something ancient stirs on the ocean floor. And Becca, hearing its call, once again finds herself running from an agency she can no longer trust, into the embrace of cosmic forces she can barely comprehend.

Douglas Wynne’s Cthulhu Blues—book three in the Spectra Files series—is available now from JournalStone.

[Read an Excerpt]

It’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature: Why Things Always Go Terribly Wrong in Star Trek

Don’t you ever wonder why so many Federation starships in Star Trek suffer weirdly-timed meltdowns? Sure, it’s television, but shouldn’t there be a real reason for all the shenanigans? For all that really weird engineering?

There is. And that reason is simple—humans are ridiculous. And wonderful. But also ridiculous.

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Jon Hamm is Joining the Star Wars Universe… As the Voice of Boba Fett

While we wait to find out if there will ever be a standalone Boba Fett movie, the beloved bounty hunter will return to the Star Wars universe in audiobook form, played by Jon “Hamm Solo” Hamm. The Marjorie Prime star is one of ten narrators for Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, the new anthology containing 40 stories of background characters for the 40th anniversary of A New Hope.

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