Tor.com content by

Christina Orlando

23 Retellings of Classic Stories From SFF Authors

We love a good retelling—whether it’s a favorite fairy tale, ancient myth, or epic tale, it’s always great to see old things made new. Part of the reason we love these stories is because they’re so malleable; with themes that span the breadth of the human experience, tales of love, revenge, and adventure can find a home in any place and time, with characters that feel both familiar and fresh at the same time.

As we started thinking about of favorite retellings of classic stories, so many brilliant adaptations, updates, and re-workings came to mind. Here are just a few that we adore! Please feel free to add your own in the comments.

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Tales From the Lost Desk: A Love Letter From the Books Editor

Once upon a time, there was a glorious city with towers that stretched into the sky, roads that stretched long into the beyond. The city had existed for many many years, and would continue to stand for years after, ancient and forever and steadfast. It was a city that cradled its inhabitants, that vibrated with energy and life.

Within one particular tower was a group of creative, clever people who were working very hard bringing art to the people of the world. This group of people cared so deeply about their work, and about each other. Every day was a joy.

And in a small corner of the tower was a desk covered in books from all corners of the world, each one loved and cared for by the desk’s keeper, who did their best to help brilliant works of fiction reach readers who needed them the most…

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The 25 Most Anticipated SFF Books for the Rest of 2020

It feels like centuries ago that I sat down to write my 25 Most Anticipated SFF Books of 2020 at the end of last year, right before we had our break for the holidays. But things have radically changed. Generally, since then, I’ve taken the stance of escapism—Tor.com is a unique platform on which we can be as nerdy and weird as we want. And I believe it is part of our mission to be a source of joy in the world, where readers and SFF enthusiasts can come to talk about things they love. For a while, I was avoiding The Thing(s). That is now impossible to do. As one of this website’s contributors told me, escapism through science-fiction and fantasy is good until it’s all we have. Personally, I think we can’t be running away from things, but towards something better.

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Creating a Queer Hopepunk Canon: Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, Lil Nas X, and the Visual Narration of Joyful Queer Futurism

The world rots in conflict. Many tribes battle for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica…

Against a desolate landscape, five factions come together to fight. Each group represented by a signature color, they carry weapons and scream at each other in attempts to intimidate. But a new collective enters the battle, dressed in bright pink, carrying a message of hope and joy.

Lead by Lady Gaga, her third eye open, the Kindness Punks are here to fight for love.

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About Time: Fashion and the Space-Time Continuum, an SFF Met Gala

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a large fundraising gala in partnership with Vogue to celebrate the opening of the Costume Institute’s themed exhibit. Dubbed “fashion’s biggest night out”, the Met Gala draws celebrities, socialites, fashionistas, and anyone able to secure a coveted invite from Dame Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue. This year’s event has been postponed, so instead we imagined what the Met Gala would be with all of our favorite fashion-forward characters from fiction.

We humbly present About Time: Fashion and the Space-Time Continuum, a galaxy of fashion, hosted by Master of Ceremonies Cesar Flickerman & Effie Trinket.

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In Pursuit of Visual Escapism: 8 Beautifully Designed Films to Watch Now

A lonesome figure walks down a dark road, dwarfed by the tall buildings of a future metropolis, and around him advertisements play in bright pinks and blues, the light breaking through the dark smoggy night. A blood-covered woman runs through the snow in a billowing white dress, buttoned in lace from toe to chin, the clay turning over under her feet and leaving red footprints in her wake. A beautiful young woman peels away a section of her skin revealing mesh and mechanics underneath.

As humans, we are predisposed to crave beauty in our lives—you know, even in the most dire of circumstances, we seek out spring flowers, blue skies, a dazzling smile. When it comes to film, visual excellence can enhance the story in ways we, as an audience, might not even notice upon first watch. The lighting may shift towards a darker color palette as the plot thickens. The fabrics and dress style of our heroine may indicate something about her character. And then sometimes the camera is fully focused on Harley Quinn’s breakfast sandwich cooking on a bodega griddle and it’s just gorgeous. We can’t explain why, but it is. But all of these elements combine to takes us out of the real world. When it hits right, the movie screen is a portal.

Visuals have the capability to move us in undetectable ways, and sometimes we just want to escape into a beautiful, hyper-realistic world that’s a feast for our eyes. Here are a selection of visually immersive films you can stream now.

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Five Spooky Fiction Podcasts That Go Bump in the Night

Halloween may be eight months away, but we’re declaring Friday the 13th honorary spooky season! It’s time to plug your headphones in to haunted houses, creepy townspeople, and terrifying alien invasions. The music fades in, a soft piano, but maybe just slightly out of tune. The wind blows by your ear. The footsteps of a tall, mysterious figure draw closer and closer. A twig snaps somewhere off in the distance. And suddenly, there are chills racing up your spine.

Ready to get lost? Here are a few great places to start.

[Read more]

23 Retellings of Classic Stories From Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors

We love a good retelling—whether it’s a favorite fairy tale, ancient myth, or epic tale, it’s always great to see old things made new. Part of the reason we love these stories is because they’re so malleable; with themes that span the breadth of the human experience, tales of love, revenge, and adventure can find a home in any place and time, with characters that feel both familiar and fresh at the same time.

As we started thinking about of favorite retellings of classic stories, so many brilliant adaptations, updates, and re-workings came to mind. Here are just a few that we adore! Please feel free to add your own in the comments.

[Read more]

2010-2019: A Decade of Change in Science Fiction & Fantasy

This December brings us to the close of a truly extraordinary and transformative decade for SFF. Epic series like The Wheel of Time finally concluded as A Song of Ice and Fire rose to mainstream prominence on television (with Wheel of Time to follow suit?). Newer stars like N.K. Jemisin rose, while familiar faces like Neil Gaiman published some of their most innovative work yet. We saw the rise of fiction that dealt directly with the ongoing Climate Crisis, works that wrestled with the tumultuous political shifts, cozy space opera, gritty space opera, and literal space opera, with like, actual singing. Zombies faded from favor while orcs and goblins and fishmen found their time to shine. Readers went from celebrating Strong Female Characters to asking for Complicated Female Characters, and the literary landscape became much more inclusive for writers who had previously been marginalized. And, as in every decade, the villains threatened to steal the show entirely.

Four members of the Tor.com fam, Publicity Coordinator Christina Orlando, Tor.com writers Leah Schnelbach and Natalie Zutter, and Tor Books’ Senior Marketing Manager Renata Sweeney sat down for a rollicking, five-hour-long conversation about the decade in genre, discussing trends, favorite books, the heroes and villains who have stuck with them, and even a look forward to some titles that will help define the next decade.

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The 25 Most Anticipated SFF Books of 2020

2019 was a really good year for genre fiction. I mean, really good. Between new epics from Leigh Bardugo, Erin Morgenstern, Chuck Wendig, Sarah Gailey, Paul Krueger, Annalee Newitz, and other favorites, we were given the gift of Tamsyn Muir’s lesbian necromancers in Gideon the Ninth, brought through to new worlds in Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and introduced to several new shining stars in the galaxy of Science-Fiction and Fantasy books. But as the year comes to a close, we’re starting to look forward to the start of a new decade. After all, a to-be-read pile can never be tall enough—our bookshelves might be starting to cave in, but that’s not going to stop us!

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Five Fiction Podcasts That Go Bump in the Night

The medium of radiodrama started back in the 1880s with sketches and short skits written specifically for radio, and became a phenomenon with Orson Welles’ iconic War of The Worlds in 1938. Some of our favorite SFF stories have existed as radio plays, including Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was broadcast in 1978, and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, adapted for radio in 2013. With the popularity of fictional podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale, The Bright Sessions, and The Message, fans of riveting fiction experiences now have tons of stories available to them. The act of listening becomes an immersive experience—with a great sound designer, a few top-notch voice actors, and a great script, fictional podcasts provide a new way to escape the real world.

Now that it’s spooky season, it’s time to plug your headphones in to haunted houses, creepy townspeople, and terrifying alien invasions. The music fades in, a soft piano, but maybe just slightly out of tune. The wind blows by your ear. The footsteps of a tall, mysterious figure draw closer and closer. A twig snaps somewhere off in the distance. And suddenly, there are chills racing up your spine.

Ready to get lost? Here are a few great places to start.

[Read more]

Not Another Race Panel: “Geeks of Color” Celebrates Fandom Joy at NYCC

The fact of the matter is that we’re all sick of diversity panels focused on how people of color are othered. We’re tired of sitting on panels talking about race, gender, sexuality, disability, and all the many ways we feel ostracized from our industries and the SFF community. It just makes people of color feel even more like our identities separate us out from the majority, like we’re invited to do diversity panels but not invited to take part on panels for our fandoms. It feels like we’re here to share our traumas, not our joys.

The Geeks of Color panel at NYCC is in its seventh iteration this year, so moderator Diana M. Pho (Hugo-Award nominated editor for Tor Books) had an idea. What if a diversity panel didn’t talk about race at all, but instead was given the opportunity to talk about the work they do and the fandoms they enjoy?

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Five Wheel of Time Fan Podcasts to Plug Into

It’s pretty safe to say there’s no shortage of fandom content for Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. Trust us, we’ve seen it all—art, fanfic, games, t-shirts, jewelry, cosplay, and everything else you could possibly think of. Like any good fandom, Wheel of Time fans put in the work to show just how much they love their favorite series. And that includes spending hours poring over the details, working through themes both large and small, finding holes in the plot to poke at, and going over every little decision their favorite character has made.

Podcasting offers the perfect way for fans to share their enthusiasm in a more engaging way—listening to a great literary podcast feels like hanging out with your friends and talking about your favorite books, exploring the stories we hold so dear. And as the television adaptation draws nearer, more and more readers are finding and rediscovering The Wheel of Time. Good news is, with these podcasts, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re new to the series, coming back to it after a long time away, or maybe re-reading it for the millionth time, there’s a podcast to connect to. Here are five great discussion-style podcasts for you to get your geek on with.

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Traveling Between Genders in V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic

I am fifteen. I am in a white, floor-length beaded dress that corsets at the back. My hair is curled, set with hairspray, with flower-shaped crystal clips set in. For the first time in my life I have fake acrylic nails, squared off at the tip, with a delicate floral pattern painted on the ring finger. My mother has loaned me her jewelry, a delicate diamond necklace that sits just over my collarbone. I am on my way to my first prom.

Lila Bard is nineteen. She is in Calla’s clothing shop in Red London surrounded by finery. She picks up a black half-mask with two horns spiraling up from the temples. Forgoing the available dresses, she wears a black tunic, fitted trousers, and a pair of black boots made of soft, supple leather. She selects a dramatic high-collared black velvet coat with a half-cloak over her shoulders and glassy red clasps. She is on her way to a masquerade at the palace.

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