The world as they know it is ending; a new one is taking its place. Among the doctors and nurses of a clinic-turned-fortress, Kath is coming of age in this new world, and helping define it. But that doesn’t make letting go of the old any easier. “Where Would You Be Now?” is a prequel to the novel Bannerless, a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.
Fiction and Excerpts 
On International Women’s Day, several of the best writers in SF/F today reveal new stories inspired by the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted”, raising their voice in response to a phrase originally meant to silence.
The stories publish on Tor.com all throughout the day of March 8th. They are collected here.
Series: Nevertheless She Persisted
During the height of NASA’s shuttle program, some commentators occasionally asked the question: Is space travel becoming too routine? Had we stopped paying enough attention? I think they were nostalgic for the heady days of the Apollo program when every flight was an event, every mission marked a milestone, and ticker tape parades for astronauts were the norm. We’ve gotten to a point where orbital missions don’t even make the evening news.
Every time I’ve heard this question—Is space flight becoming too routine?—I think: But that’s exactly what we want! We want space travel to become entirely routine, so we don’t even think of it anymore! Aren’t we aiming for a point where we, the ordinary public, don’t pay any more attention to the launch of an interplanetary ship than we do the daily flights leaving our local airport? Why yes, I’m spending a couple of weeks on holiday on the Moon, I’ve always wanted to try low-gravity hang gliding. Excellent, sounds like an amazing time, upload the pictures. Or, “I’m going to study abroad at Ceres Academy, Mom!” “All right dear, have fun!”
Series: Five Books About…
Most science fiction and fantasy novels have a breaking point past which they would strain suspension of disbelief past bearing. Too many big ideas that don’t quite fit together, too much weirdness to process. Too many boundaries crossed for the fictional world to seem real. Good novels don’t get to that point. Great ones get close without crossing over.
Iain M. Banks’s novels of the Culture don’t actually seem to have that breaking point to begin with. Banks created a universe where the unbelievable and astonishing are part of the world, and suspension of disbelief isn’t needed because believing a constant stream of unbelievable worldbuilding is, in fact, part of the worldbuilding. From giant self-contained, sentient ships with too-whimsical names (the GSV Congenital Optimist) to characters existing in two places at once because cloned doppelgangers are a matter of course to far-out technology and extreme cultures and … actually, a list can’t contain the weirdness and joy of these books.
Use of Weapons isn’t the first of the Culture books I read. (That would be The Player of Games.) But it’s the one that, in Emily Dickinson’s phrasing, took the top of my head off. It’s the one I learned the most from.
The Wild Cards universe has been thrilling readers for over 25 years. In Carrie Vaughn’s “The Thing about Growing Up in Jokertown,” a group of teenage jokers yearn to explore outside the confines of their strange little neighborhood and get a real taste of the Big Apple.
Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the Director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly’s plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth.
Homesick and cut off from her plans for her future, Polly cannot seem to fit into life on Earth. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right—there’s more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.
Carrie Vaughn’s science fiction debut, Martians Abroad, is available January 17th from Tor Books.
The people of Gaant are telepaths. The people of Enith are not. The two countries have been at war for decades, but now peace has fallen, and Calla of Enith seeks to renew an unlikely friendship with Gaantish officer Valk over an even more unlikely game of chess.
The Wild Cards universe has been thrilling readers for over 25 years. In Carrie Vaughn’s “Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza,” ace Ana Cortez discovers that sometimes to be truly healed, you must return to your roots.
This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by George R. R. Martin.
Check out Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn! This sequel to After the Golden Age is available January 7, 2014 from Tor Books.
Like every teen, Anna has secrets. Unlike every teen, Anna has a telepath for a father and Commerce City’s most powerful businessperson for a mother. She’s also the granddaughter of the city’s two most famous superheroes, the former leaders of the legendary Olympiad, and the company car drops her off at the gate of her exclusive high school every morning. Privacy is one luxury she doesn’t have.
Hiding her burgeoning superpowers from her parents is hard enough; how’s she supposed to keep them from finding out that her friends have powers, too? Or that she and the others are meeting late at night, honing their skills and dreaming of becoming Commerce City’s next great team of masked vigilantes?
We are very excited to be able to preview Dangerous Women, a new anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and featuring 21 new stories from some of the biggest authors in the science fiction/fantasy field. The anthology is available on December 3rd from Tor Books!
Every morning until July 30th, we’ll be previewing excerpts from the stories, returning you to the world of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere, and even Westeros itself. Keep an eye on the Dangerous Women index to keep track of them all.
In “Raisa Stepanova,” Carrie Vaughn takes us to the front lines in Russia during the darkest days of World War II for the story of a young woman flying the most dangerous of combat missions, who is de- termined to do her duty as a soldier and keep flying them, even if it kills her—which it very well might.
Series: Dangerous Women on Tor.com
For a New Year’s treat we’ve got a short story from Carrie Vaughn’s anthology of Kitty Norville tales, Kitty’s Greatest Hits. Tor.com wishes you a Happy upcoming New Year! May your parties be delightful and full of merry loved ones! Or at least some really fun new friends!
When Kitty decides to spend New Year’s Eve at a friend’s party rather than wallowing alone, she gets more than she bargained for. So does everyone else at the bash when a strange, vacant woman appears….
JENNIFER DIDN’T KNOW WHERE Tricia was taking her until her friend dragged her out of the subway car onto the 2nd Avenue-Lower East Side platform. She’d spent the last four stops getting more and more worried—past Midtown, past Washington Square Park, past any place that they had any business being, and Tricia kept saying, “No, that’s where we always go, I want to try someplace new, it’ll be fun!”
“Trish, are you crazy? What are we doing here?” Jennifer clung to her friend with both hands and tried to slow her progress to the tiled hallway and stairs up to Houston Street. She looked around, drawing even closer to Tricia. She’d never seen so many jokers in one place. Half the people standing on the platform were jokers. She’d seen jokers before; you didn’t live in New York—even if you never got all that far from Columbia’s campus—without seeing jokers. Most of the time you only saw one or two, and their jokers were mild—they had feathers for hair or maybe rabbit ears. But here whole bodies had been wracked, transformed, made monstrous. A man passed by her and left a trail of slime on the concrete. Jennifer tried not to stare.
Series: Wild Cards
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience with Wild Cards.
A. I started reading Wild Cards when I was in high school, around 1989, so I’m a fan from way back. When I first met George and Melinda, I asked them to keep me in mind when they put together the next Wild Cards project. Happily, they did, and here I am.
It’s been fun seeing the books from the other side, so to speak, and being part of the process to put them together. I’ve gone back to some of the early books to reread them and figure out how they were written, now that I know what the process looks like. I just can’t imagine doing it without email!
As for me, I’ve been writing just about my whole life and have four novels of my own out, with more on the way, and over thirty short stories published. Wild Cards is a great chance to play in another world for a while and work with lots of really smart people.
Q. Tell us about the inspiration behind your story for Inside Straight.
A. I must confess, the whole American Hero thing was my fault. In one of my character proposals, as a throwaway line, I mentioned that the character was a runner up in the first season of the reality show American Hero. Because I just know in the Wild Cards world there’d be dozens of reality TV shows centered around wild carders. (Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire Ace, anyone?) George didn’t take the character, but decided the reality TV idea was too good to relegate to backstory. My story is mostly about the show. It’s about a lot of other things, too. The friendship between my two characters, Earth Witch and Curveball, became important.
Series: Wild Cards
Please enjoy this excerpt from Carrie Vaughn’s After the Golden Age, out on April 12th from Tor Books. On her way home from work, Celia West gets kidnapped. Unfortunately for her, the scenario is all too familiar…
Celia took the late bus home, riding along with other young workaholic professionals, the odd student, and late shift retail clerks. A quiet, working bunch, cogs and wheels that kept Commerce City running.
Only a block away from the office, the person in the seat behind her leaned forward and spoke in her ear:
“Get off at the next stop.”
She hadn’t noticed him before. He was ordinary; in his thirties, he had a rugged, stubbled face, and wore jeans and a button-up shirt. He looked like he belonged. With a lift to his brow, he glared at her over the back of the plastic seat and raised the handgun from his lap. Without moving his gaze, he pushed the stop call button by the window.
Damn, not again.
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