Tor.com content by

Chris Lough

Download Rocket Fuel: Some of the Best of Tor.com Non-Fiction for Free!

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Tor.com will turn 10 years old.

In that span of time we have published, along with over 700 pieces of award-winning original fiction, more than 30,000 articles. To commemorate this exceptional, intense, unicorn-dappled run of non-fiction, we have assembled Rocket Fuel, a free collection of some of the best feature articles from Tor.com’s 10-year history as an online sci-fi/fantasy literature magazine!

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5 Things I Missed in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Until Now)

You’d think that—1. Having read the entirety of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time fantasy saga. 2. Working at Tor.com, home of Leigh Butler’s amazing Wheel of Time Reread. 3. And writing deep-dives that wonder just how far Aviendha saw into her future—that the very first book in the series wouldn’t hold any surprises for me.

Sylas K. Barrett’s Reading The Wheel of Time has shown me the error in my thinking.

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6 SFF Classics That Would Make Great Video Games

It hit me while checking out Fred Saberhagen’s fantasy classic The Book of Swords: This should be a video game.

The Book of Swords has a great out-of-the-box premise. “For a game the gods have given the world twelve Swords of Power so that they might be amused as the nations battle for their possession. But Vulcan the Smith has had his own little joke: the Swords can kill the gods themselves.”

I would play the heck out of that game. Even more so if there were dual storylines where you could play through as a human hunting down a God-slaying sword, or a God collecting the swords before all the humans can kill you.

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The 8 Best Alternate Realities From Star Trek

A few months ago, Star Trek: Discovery truly made a leap into the unknown. Where are Captain Lorca, Burnham, and the crew now? When are they? We don’t know! This Sunday the show returns with answers to these questions, but until that particular veil is lifted, I thought we should reminisce about the 8 very best times that Star Trek, in its glorious 50+ year history, has surprised us by leaping into intriguing alternate realities.

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Hey, Prospective Authors: You Have Plenty of Time. Just Keep Writing.

Forbes published its annual “30 under 30” list, mere days after the 2017 National Book Awards hosted its annual “5 Under 35” celebration. So it’s safe to say that this week has generated a perfect storm of ANXIETY from prospective writers and artists who feel like they’re already aging out of relevance.

You’re not, though—none of us are. Here’s the proof:

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Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Always Makes Me Think of Final Fantasy

Big Damn Swords, orange blood, gods made of future metal… Brandon Sanderson’s books make use of a great variety of epic fantasy settings and magic systems, and each new series and short tale introduces yet more. In the 12 years since Sanderson’s first fantasy novel Elantris was released, the author has filled the shelves with so many different worlds that the ones that share the same grand universe are dubbed, simply, “The Cosmere.”

This variety of fantasy worlds sharing certain characteristics is not a new construct. (Role-playing games create this solely by virtue of publishing sequels.) But over the course of reading Sanderson’s novels, I started to notice more than a few parallels that the Cosmere has with the classic RPG series Final Fantasy.

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Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence Could Fit Into Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere

It was during the end of Three Parts Dead, with its many reversals and its clash between different and intricate rule-based magic systems, that we both recognized the inner thrill of reading a new Brandon Sanderson story. Except…Three Parts Dead isn’t a Sanderson novel, it’s a Max Gladstone book from a few years back.

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5 Fun Things to Know Before Starting Max Gladstone’s The Ruin of Angels

At its heart, Max Gladstone’s The Ruin of Angels is a story about the rich variety of relationships between women, their families, and the squids that chase them.

One of the perks of Gladstone’s heart-curling Craft Sequence fantasy series is that you can use any of the books as your starting point. That remains true for Ruin of Angels, the sixth novel in the Sequence (the The is silent?). The novel’s main characters are nevertheless bringing in some emotional and contextual baggage from previous novels that enrich Ruin‘s story considerably.

So if this your starting point for Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, what are some fun things to know before diving into Ruin of Angels?

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Mapping Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Raises So Many Questions About His Future Books

In fall of 2016 fantasy author Brandon Sanderson officially revealed in the Arcanum Unbounded collection that almost all of his books take place in a single cosmos, known as the “Cosmere”. Along with charts of each star system known about in the Cosmere (here’s an example), the book hinted that characters from the Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, Elantris, and Warbreaker series had already begun quietly appearing on other worlds (i.e. other books) within Sanderson’s fictional universe.

These “worldhoppers” hold the secret to the larger epic underpinning Brandon Sanderson’s novels and stories, so I got curious…what do we know so far about them?

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How Long Did The Wheel of Time’s “Endless Summer” Last?

One of the many ways the The Dark One attempts to unmake the world in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is by influencing the weather. When the series begins an unnaturally long chill has pressed itself over the land, and it is broken only by the emergence of the series’ savior, The Dragon Reborn. Later on in the series, the world (or at least the part of the world that we see) is beset by an endless summer. Heat pervades, drought persists, and there is no doubt that The Dark One is doing so in an attempt to smother the denizens of the world into submission. The threat is considered so great that the advancing plot of the entire series is eventually called to a halt so that this “endless summer” can be thwarted.

Last year, New York City, and really the entire northeastern United States, experienced the hottest summer in recorded history. This endless steamroom of a season was probably what Rand, Mat, Egwene, and company had to suffer through in The Wheel of Time. As we gear up for another potential four month-long heatwave, I got to wondering: how long did the world of Jordan’s Wheel of Time have to hold out?

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How Much Does the Star Trek: Discovery Trailer Reveal?

Oddly, we don’t actually see the U.S.S. Discovery in the first Star Trek: Discovery trailer!

The absence of the titular ship is just one of many interesting aspects hiding in the first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery, the new Star Trek show coming to CBS this fall. Although light on plot information, there are nevertheless several key visuals that promise a deep exploration of Trek lore for longtime fans of the franchise.

Let’s take a look!

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Okay, Bring Back Firefly…But Not the Crew of The Serenity

Another turn around the sun, another hope for the return of Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly. This year’s tendril of possibility comes courtesy of a statement made by Fox Broadcasting’s President of Entertainment (what a job title!) David Madden at January’s Television Critics’ Association panel, where TV networks typically reveal the ideas they’re working on for the coming year. According to Rotten Tomatoes:

…Madden said he’d be open to a Firefly reboot if Joss Whedon himself wanted to revisit it. Madden suspects Whedon is now too busy with movies, and he would not consider doing Firefly without Whedon.

Sounds great! Except…I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t?

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Sci-Fi/Fantasy Classics That Would Make Great Video Games

It hit me while checking out Fred Saberhagen’s fantasy classic The Book of Swords: This should be a video game.

The Book of Swords has a great out-of-the-box premise. “For a game the gods have given the world twelve Swords of Power so that they might be amused as the nations battle for their possession. But Vulcan the Smith has had his own little joke: the Swords can kill the gods themselves.”

I would play the heck out of that game. Even more so if there were dual storylines where you could play through as a human hunting down a God-slaying sword, or a God collecting the swords before all the humans can kill you.

[Read more]

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