Seanan McGuire Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Seanan McGuire’s Deadlands: Boneyard is now available from Tor Books, and to celebrate, we want to send you a copy of it, along with a copy of each of her Tor.com Publishing books! (And a pack of candy corn, just for good measure.)

In Deadlands: Boneyard, Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past . . . and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect. Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. The Clearing has it secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter—and the circus—from both.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is a standalone urban fantasy about Jenna, who blamed herself for her sister’s death—and her own. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline. But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Two books in McGuire’s Wayward Children series are now available—Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones. The third, Beneath the Sugar Sky, follows Rini, who discovers that her mother died years before Rini was even conceived. If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…

One lucky winner will receive copies of Deadlands: BoneyardDust or Dark or Dawn or DayEvery Heart a Doorway, and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and a galley copy of Beneath the Sugar Sky!

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 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 23rd. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 27th. 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.

Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapter 12

Last week, I included Miles’s birthday correspondence in my discussion of chapters 10 and 11. That doesn’t actually happen until the beginning of chapter 12—oops.

It’s an easy mistake to make because Memory tends to suck you in. I plan to read a couple chapters, just to make sure I’ve nailed down the boundaries of the next blog post, and the next thing I know someone is having brain surgery.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Good Retcons and Bad B-Plots — Star Trek Discovery’s “Lethe”

One of the most challenging things one can do when creating serial narrative is retroactive continuity, or retcon: filling in a gap or establishing something about a character or situation that was previously unknown.

When done properly, it can bring an entire character into focus. (To use a comic book example, when Magneto was established as a Holocaust survivor.) When done improperly, of course, it can be disastrous. (To use another comic book example, establishing that Norman Osborn raped Gwen Stacey, and she mothered children from that.)

Star Trek has, over five decades, engaged in such retcons any number of times (my three favorites are establishing that Worf accidentally killed someone as a teenager, that Bashir was genetically enhanced, and that Troi had a baby sister who died), and in “Lethe” we have one of their most successful.

[“Computer, add salsa.”]

Let It Go: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

“After writing a couple seven-hundred-page novels back-to-back,” Joe Hill has it in the afterword to his electric new collection, “it felt particularly important to get lean and mean,” and Strange Weather is exactly that: it’s not long, and damn it, it’s nasty.

A striking selection of novellas ranging from the playfully apocalyptic to the wickedly political, Strange Weather starts with an actual flash in “Snapshot,” the unsettling story of a boy who crosses paths with a man in possession of a magical camera. This old Polaroid captures more than just those Kodak moments, of course: it captures the very memories of those moments, in sum leaving its subjects with holes in their souls.

Michael Figlione is just a kid when “Snapshot” begins, so when he sees his old babysitter Shelly Beukes walking around the street they share, barefoot and swearing, he assumes she’s simply senile. As a decent human being he does the decent thing and takes her home to her husband, who gives Michael ten bucks for his trouble. It’s only when he goes to the local truck stop to spend his earnings and sees a creepy guy pointing a camera like a pistol that Shelly’s seemingly insane story—about a man who’s been stealing her essential self, picture by painful picture—starts to make sense.

[Read more]

The 13th Doctor Might Have Three New Companions!

In an announcement over the weekend, it was revealed that the Thirteenth Doctor—played by Jodie Whittaker—will be accompanied by three series regulars in Doctor Who’s new season. There is no word on whether any of this trio will travel in the TARDIS (giving them the sacred “companion” title), but it seems safe to assume we’re headed in that direction. So who are these lovely folks and how will they fit into the tapestry of Whovian history?

[Read more]

Farewell to the Witch World: Norton and Crispin’s Songsmith

I’m glad I let myself be talked into reading Songsmith. It’s a nice coda for the Witch World books, and it was a good, fast read, with engaging characters and some enjoyable reunions.

Andre Norton and A.C. Crispin make a good writing team. Norton’s distinctive worldbuilding meshes well with Crispin’s skillful characterization (and horse details!) and lovely prose.

[Read more]

Primal Fears and Haunted Paths: The Thin Line Between Fairy Tales and Horror Stories

In Through the Woods, Emily Carroll’s 2014 collection of comics, the narratives being told feel timeless. They echo the fairy tales of ages past; they feature dwindling families, majestic homes containing awful secrets, and ominous figures biding their time in order to carry out horrific deeds. Told one way, Carroll’s tales could be the sort of story one tells drowsy children as a kind of moral instruction or cautionary tale. Told the way they are in this book, with immersive images, distorted figures, and monstrous forms enveloped in the landscape, the effect is much closer to outright horror. It’s magnificently unnerving, meticulous in its storytelling, and a harrowing example of how hard it can be to discern the line between fairy tale and horror story.

[Read more]

Travel Along with Mad Max: Fury Road in an Illustrated Map

Oh what a day, what a lovely day!

After tackling the world of literature in Plotted: A Literary Atlas, artist Andrew DeGraff has set his sites on movies with Cinemaps—visualizing the stories of 35 films as singular landscapes, charting the progression of their characters throughout. The results are beautiful maps that enhance classic films like North by Northwest and Fargo, as well as genre favorites from King Kong to Back to the Future.

We were especially thrilled by this glorious take on Mad Max: Fury Road. Witness!

[Read more]

Check Out the Stunning Endpapers in Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer

Readers of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive epic got a lush visual treat for the hardcover release of Words of Radiance: vibrant endpapers depicting more characters from Sanderson’s fantasy series! For those who are wondering if that practice will continue for Oathbringer, the forthcoming third Stormlight volume, the answer is: yes!

[Read more]

Series: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

SFF Authors Share How Star Wars Inspired Them “A Long Time Ago”

“[L]et’s be honest: we never had Star Wars,” Amberlough author Lara Elena Donnelly writes on Unbound Worlds. “We had all the ephemera that unfurled from the ineffable magic of those first three films. Star Wars was—and remains—critically important in nerdy millennial circles. It’s a touchstone by which we immediately recognize our people. It’s a way of connecting with older generations, including our parents, and newbie nerds like our younger siblings, our students, and our children. But it was never ours.”

Until, that is, she saw The Force Awakens in theaters two years ago.

[Read more]

Tor Teen Acquires “Coming of Age in Outer Space” Trilogy from Charlie Jane Anders

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author and io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders mashed up technology and witchcraft in her debut novel All the Birds in the Sky. Now, in her latest project, she’ll be journeying into space and delving into the teenage psyche, in a new young adult science fiction trilogy recently acquired by Tor Teen.

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Crafting a Shardblade for Brandon Sanderson

During Brandon Sanderson’s book tour for Words of Radiance, super-fan Val Alston traveled from Mexico to attend a signing event at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona in order to meet the author and present him with this amazing homemade Shardblade!

We reached out to Val to get the full scoop on the design and creation of the Shardblade, and he was nice enough to share his story. Check out Val’s process below, including some in-progress photos!

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Deadhouse Landing

Returning readers to the turbulent early history of what would become the Malazan Empire, Deadhouse Landing is the second chapter in Ian C. Esslemont’s thrilling new epic fantasy sequence—available November 14th from Tor Books.

After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To do so they join forces with a small band of Napans who have fled a civil war on their own home island. The plan, however, soon goes awry as Kellanved develops a strange and dangerous fascination for a mysterious ancient structure found on the island.

Dancer faces a hard choice: should he give up on his partnership? Especially when the fellow’s obsession with shadows and ancient artefacts brings the both of them alarmingly close to death and destruction. After all, who in his right mind would actually wish to enter the Deadhouse?

[Read an Excerpt]