Tor.com content by

Charlie Jane Anders

Fiction and Excerpts [16]
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The Bookstore at the End of America

Tor.com is thrilled to reprint “The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders, as featured in her forthcoming short fiction collection Even Greater Mistakes, out on November 16, 2021.

The story first appeared in the anthology A People’s Future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams.

In the words of the author:

Bookstores are my favorite places to hang out. Browsing through shelves and shelf-talkers never fails to cheer me up, even when the world is bleak AF—everything about a bookshop lets you know that you’re in a place where stories are celebrated, and you can never run out of discoveries. So when Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams asked me to contribute to A People’s Future of the United States, an anthology of stories set in a future USA, I knew I wanted to write about a bookseller struggling to hold things together. “The Bookstore at the End of America” came just a few months after I wrote “Don’t Press Charges,” and it’s another story that grapples with political nightmares—in this case, the slow dissolution of the United States into two countries that despise each other. But this story ended up being a lot less scary, because I can’t write about bookstores without nurturing a spark of hope in the midst of hopelessness.

Heads up: this story contains racism, violence, and implied transphobia.

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How “Bending the Landscape” Helped to Queer Speculative Fiction Forever

It’s been nearly 25 years since the first volume of the Bending the Landscape anthology series came out. (My copy says “copyright 1996,” but I guess it actually came out in early 1997.) And it’s hard to remember just how ground-breaking a whole anthology of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction stories felt at the time, now that we’re living with a wealth of queer SFF content. Editors Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel edited three Bending the Landscape volumes, separately devoted to fantasy, science fiction and horror, and along the way they launched authors’ careers and garnered tons of award nominations. Here’s the inside story of how a scrappy anthology series helped to change speculative fiction forever.

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12 Authors Answer the Question “How Do You Write in Tough Times?”

When the world gets bleak, that’s when we need the power of story more than ever. But during the really horrendous times, such as a global pandemic, generating all that storytelling goodness can become way more difficult. Bad news can drown out that inner voice that creative people need to listen to, and it’s easy to get demoralized. So to celebrate the upcoming release of my book Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories, I asked a dozen of my favorite writers how they manage to keep creating during the awful times we’ve been living through.

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To Survive a Year of Covid, Indie Booksellers Had To Reimagine What it Means To Be a Bookstore

Like many other booksellers, Margaret (not her real name) was forced to shut down her store a year ago. When she reopened, she mostly sold books online, allowing customers to come by and pick them up. But when the number of new covid-19 cases in her area started to decline, she decided to let in one household at a time for in-store browsing—and within two weeks, she had contracted covid-19.

This past year has been an unprecedented challenge for physical bookstores, which have had to find ways to keep their relationship with their communities alive during social distancing and lockdowns. It’s a heartbreaking paradox: more people than ever have been reading, and publishers reported record profits in 2020, but bookstores have struggled to make ends meet. To survive, owners and staff have had to come up with new answers to the old question: What makes a great bookstore? But also: when things that seemed central to the bookselling experience, like browsing and hand-selling, become impossible, what’s left?

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7 Wrong Lessons That Creators Learned From Game of Thrones

Hard to believe we’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of Game of Thrones’ premiere on April 17, 2011. I can still remember when Thrones reigned over pop culture, and I used to spend my Sunday nights staying up until two in the morning trying to craft the perfect recap of each episode. I kind of agree with the many people who have said Game of Thrones was the last television show to dominate the conversation, before everything became fragmented into a hundred streaming services and countless niche options.

Like a few other pop-culture behemoths, Game of Thrones cast a huge shadow and spawned many would-be imitators. The Marvel Cinematic Universe led to a dozen copycat “cinematic universes”; Lost spawned a ton of TV shows that went down endless cryptic rabbit holes; The Dark Knight cursed us with a decade of “chaotic-evil dude who has magic blow-everything-up powers and gets caught on purpose” movies. The thing is, people always take the wrong lesson from these successes—they focus on the froth rather than the churn, the tip rather than the iceberg, and what a popular thing turned into over time, rather than what made it popular in the first place.

Here are seven of the wrong lessons that everyone learned from the phenomenal success of Game of Thrones—one for each of the Seven Kingdoms. (I miss writing listicles, can you tell?)

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Never Say You Can’t Survive: Write The Book That Only You Could Have Written

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twenty-fifth chapter, “Write The Book That Only You Could Have Written” You can find all previous chapters here. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: Irony Doesn’t Have To Be the Enemy of Feels. They Can Team Up, In Fact!

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twenty-fourth chapter, “Irony Doesn’t Have To Be the Enemy of Feels. They Can Team Up, In Fact!” You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: When the World Goes Loopy, You Can Become a Master of Time and Space

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twenty-third chapter, “When the World Goes Loopy, You Can Become a Master of Time and Space”. You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: A Strong Narrator Can Help You Weave a Spell of Protection

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twenty-second chapter, “A Strong Narrator Can Help You Weave a Spell of Protection”. You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: Find Your Voice and Make It LOUD

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twenty-first chapter, “Find Your Voice and Make It LOUD”. You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: When Is It Okay To Write About Someone Else’s Culture or Experience?

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the twentieth chapter, “When Is It Okay To Write About Someone Else’s Culture or Experience?” You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: Weirdness Gives Me the Strength To Keep Going

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the nineteenth chapter, “ Weirdness Gives Me the Strength To Keep Going.” You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: The Unexamined Story Is Not Worth Writing

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the eighteenth chapter, “The Unexamined Story Is Not Worth Writing.” You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Never Say You Can’t Survive: Good Worldbuilding Shows How Things Could Be Different

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the seventeenth chapter, “Good Worldbuilding Shows How Things Could Be Different.” You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

[Read more]

Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

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