content by

Ferrett Steinmetz

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

You Don’t Need To Feel Guilty About Books You Haven’t Read Yet

I have yet to read Gideon the Ninth, though my friends have been texting me constantly to chat about it. Despite Reddit constantly recommending him, I’ve yet to read a single Brandon Sanderson novel. Dragonriders of Pern? Nope. Joe Abercrombie? Meant to. And oh Lord, please don’t strangle me when I admit I’ve only read a single book by Ursula K. Le Guin.

At writing workshops, my friends gush about books I meant to read while I sit quietly, encased in total dorkness, wondering how Charlie Jane Anders’ and Robert Jackson Bennett’s and N.K. Jemisin’s latest books still sit atop my to-read pile despite me gobbling down their prior writings like candy, and how am I so utterly ignorant not to have delved James Tiptree’s award-winning stories.

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Five Heart-Pounding Jump Scares in Horror Fiction

It’s relatively trivial to scare someone with a moving image—pan the camera across the darkness, a sudden blur as the witch jumps out at you, cue screams.

But truly talented authors can evoke jump scares using only text—that sudden recontextualization where you’re in the flow and you get to the end of the sentence only to realize holy crap, the call is coming from inside the house.

This list wasn’t hard to devise, because each of these novels are engraved in my memory. There I was, safe in my bed, reading a book with the foolish idea of but words will never hurt me—and then the little suckers leapt out and mugged me.

Then again, why read horror books if you’re not chasing that adrenaline shot?

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Turns Out Hunting Down a Story Can Be Very Satisfying: On the Rise of Lore

“You’re sure to be in a fine haze about now,” says Gehrman in the opening few hours of the videogame Bloodborne. “But don’t think too hard about all of this. Just go out and kill a few beasts. It’s for your own good. You know, it’s just what hunters do!”

And on a surface level, that’s all the narrative you get in Bloodborne: You’ve arrived in a decrepit Victorian town seething with slavering werewolves, mad townsfolk wielding torches, and sickly crows ready to pluck out your eyes. It’s a videogame and the only buttons you can press create murder, so…you murder.

Which raises the question: Why are videogame stories so routinely derivative? Videogames aren’t a new media; they’ve been around for fifty years now. Weren’t we promised narratives that could only exist in videogames, the way we’ve had stories that could only be told in radio and movies and theater?

Why, after fifty years, are so many videogame stories no more complex than “Just go out and kill a few beasts?”

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8 Science Fiction Books That Get Programming Right

I was sitting down with a couple of my fellow programmers after a long day of testing our new online shopping cart, and we asked ourselves a very important question:

Why don’t most science fiction books get the feel of programming right?

If you’re not a programmer, you’ll doubtlessly protest: “There’s a lot of programming in speculative fiction!” But there isn’t, actually. What there is is a lot of is hacking, which is to say breaking into established systems, usually with a lot of muttered techno mumbo-jumbo like “I’m in the mainframe!” while hopelessly-inept thugs spray the area with bullets.

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Read an Excerpt from The Sol Majestic

Kenna, an aspirational teen guru, wanders destitute across the stars as he tries to achieve his parents’ ambition to advise the celestial elite.

Everything changes when Kenna wins a free dinner at The Sol Majestic, the galaxy’s most renowned restaurant, giving him access to the cosmos’s one-percent. His dream is jeopardized, however, when he learns his highly-publicized “free meal” risks putting The Sol Majestic into financial ruin. Kenna and a motley gang of newfound friends—including a teleporting celebrity chef, a trust-fund adrenaline junkie, an inept apprentice, and a brilliant mistress of disguise—must concoct an extravagant scheme to save everything they cherish. In doing so, Kenna may sacrifice his ideals—or learn even greater lessons about wisdom, friendship, and love.

Please enjoy the second chapter of Ferrett Steinmetz’s out of this world science fiction adventure The Sol Majestic, out on June 11th from Tor Books. Chapter One can be found on the Tor/Forge website.

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Five Books with Snarky Sidekicks

Sidekicks are the spice you throw into a novel to liven up a bland hero. Who else is going to contradict your hero’s bold morality, joyfully argue for the benefits incurred by walking away from this noble quest, then pull their fat out of the fire when they get in over their head? Bruce Campbell knew the answer in Sky Highso say it along with me now, children…

But freed from the need to be nice to people, sidekicks get all the best lines. Which is why I’ve rounded up the five snarkiest sidekicks in all of literature to bring you some of the wittiest, most lovable buddies you could ever hope to have at your side.

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Series: Five Books About…

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