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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Oathbringer Reread: Chapters Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven

Alice: Welcome back to the Oathbringer reread—for two chapters this week. First we’ll go back in time with Dalinar in the early years of his marriage, then we’ll rejoin Bridge Four on the Shattered Plains for a series of poignant scenes. (Also known as “In Which Alice Cries a Lot”)

Lyn: (And “In Which Lyn Joins Her And They Are Both Sobbing Messes Together) Also, fair warning, this is a long one, brightlords and ladies. There’s a lot to unpack in these two chapters—a lot of pain, a lot of healing, and a lot of familial love.

[A god of cool drinks and friendly advice.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

The Stars Now Unclaimed Audio Excerpt

Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages. Hot on her trail is the Pax—a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers…

We’re excited to share an audio excerpt from Drew Williams’ The Stars Now Unclaimed, as read by Brittany Pressley.

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A Little Dark Reading: Margaret Irwin’s “The Book”

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 Margaret Irwin’s “The Book,” first published in 1930 in The London Mercury and collected in The Weird (Tor Books, 2012). Spoilers ahead.

[“From among this neat new clothbound crowd there towered here and there a musty sepulchre of learning…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Body Snatchers and Eighties Angst — Wild Cards VIII: One-Eyed Jacks

Welcome back to the Wild Cards reread! We’re picking up with One-Eyed Jacks (Book VIII), which begins the third Wild Cards trilogy. Originally released in 1991, the Tor reprint comes out on August 7th with two new stories. As usual, separate authors wrote the individual chapters, which are tied together by a linking story. For the record, I’m reading this somewhat infamous trilogy for the first time (and I’m using the Tor reprint).

The action starts in 1988 and covers more than a year. The major plot thread is the “Jumper” storyline: A group has the power to jump into other people’s bodies to control, humiliate, and even murder them. These evil-doers also happen to be teenagers—it’s the 80s after all. Stranger Things, indeed.

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Series: George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Reread

Part SF Thriller, Part Bildungsroman: The Million by Karl Schroeder

The Million is the latest work by acclaimed science fiction author Karl Schroeder. It’s related in setting to his 2014 novel Lockstep: the lockstep of that title plays a significant role in The Million.

One million people live on Earth, wealthy custodians of its culture, heritage, architecture and lands. They are the Million, their numbers restricted by treaty, their lifestyles lavish. They want for nothing—but they’re custodians for the ten billion humans who live in the lockstep, who sleep in suspended animation beneath Earth’s cities, waking for a month every thirty years in order to participate in an interstellar society where no faster than light transport or communication exists.

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Not On Your Life: Six Means of SF Transportation I Would Not Use

I was lucky enough to grow up in an age when people weren’t as worried about safety. Especially transportation safety. That’s why:

  • I remember the brief glorious moment of flight when jumping an old beater car over a railway crossing, followed by the thud when the engine falls out on touchdown;
  • I know the exact sound of a windscreen and face collision after an abrupt stop;
  • I know how fast a VW Beetle has to take a corner before the kid riding the running board flies off;
  • I can boast of walking four miles through a blizzard after breaking four ribs in a mid-winter car wreck.

It was a glorious time to be alive.

Science fiction offers even more exotic transportation choices—choices that even I would avoid. Here are six of them.

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Casting Idris Elba as James Bond Would Change the Character in the Best Way

It’s been over ten years since Casino Royale and the debut of Daniel Craig as James Bond, which means we’re overdue for a new 007. The British tabloid the Daily Star published a rumor that Bond producer Barbara Broccoli thought it was time some diversity was brought to the role and director Antoine Fuqua suggested that Idris Elba was his top choice.

Elba himself has publicly campaigned for the role for years, in 2011 saying “I’d not only get in the cab, but I’d take the taxi driver out of the car, hostage. The taxi, jump out while it was moving, jump onto a pedal bike that was just past the door as I got on it, and then get onto a plane—on the wing—land on top of Sony Studios, slide through the air conditioning, and land in the office.” And he further added fuel to the fire on Sunday by tweeting, “my name’s Elba, Idris Elba.”

[There’s been no official announcement, but it’s hard to think of an actor better suited to play Bond than Elba.]

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