Tor.com content by

Genevieve Valentine

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Persona (Excerpt)

|| In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country.

Flashbulb Diplomacy: Image, Fashion, and Politics in Persona and Icon

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art holds a gala fundraiser for its Costume Institute with the fashion party of the year. Industry elite are invited to attend; in recent years, celebrity guests have increasingly joined them. It’s made the carpet a little more populist, for versions of “populist” that let the public gather behind barriers across the avenue to guess who’s in the giant silver ballgown. The evening is a crowning glory of the fashion world, the jewel of the Met crown—and an achievement for the Hollywood set who get invited. Being on the red carpet at the Met Gala is a power move. And Anna Wintour personally decides who goes, and when they’re allowed to arrive.

That seems vaguely ludicrous. But this party is a high-stakes event, and there’s a palpable hierarchy that’s understood—and being constantly negotiated—by everyone on the inside. Anna Wintour is just a visible figurehead of a process that’s usually refracted across dozens of event runners and publicists. The Best Actress ringers don’t show up in the opening hour of the Oscars carpet; the Hollywood inner circle shows up at the Met Gala after the models are gone. We’ve seen the patterns play out to the point we understand the rhythms. Show up too early and everyone knows you’re the opening act: your photos get buried in real-time slideshows. Show up later, and the burden’s on you to interpret the theme better than everyone around you—while hitting a red carpet grace note that has that Met edge. (The year the Met did its China Through the Looking Glass exhibit, Rihanna showed up in an embroidered Guo Pei coat it took three people to carry.)

[That level of image fascinates me.]

Persona (Excerpt)

In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country in Persona, a near-future political thriller from Genevieve Valentine—publishing March 10th from Saga Press.

When Suyana, Face of the United Amazonia Rainforest Confederation, is secretly meeting Ethan of the United States for a date that can solidify a relationship for the struggling UARC, the last thing she expected was an assassination attempt.

Daniel, a teen runaway turned paparazzi out for his big break, witnesses the first shot hit Suyana, and before he can think about it, he jumps into the fray, telling himself it’s not altruism, it’s the scoop. Now Suyana and Daniel are on the run—and if they don’t keep one step ahead, they’ll lose it all.

[Read an Excerpt]

The Insects of Love

“The Insects of Love,” by Genevieve Valentine, is a dream-like science fiction/fantasy puzzle about two sisters and several possible realities. The only certainty is that one sister gets a tattoo and disappears into the desert. The surviving sister is obsessed with insects and believes her sister has left her clues as to her disappearance.

This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by consulting editor Ellen Datlow.

[Read “The Insects of Love,” by Genevieve Valentine]

Terrain

“Terrain,” by Genevieve Valentine, is a steampunk western about six diverse people living and working together on a farm outside a small town in Wyoming. The encroaching Union Pacific railroad wants the land, threatening their home and their livelihood, running a unique message service with mechanical “dogs” (actually looking more insectile) that can climb up mountains where the Pony Express cannot.

This short story was acquired for Tor.com by consulting editor Ellen Datlow.

[Read “Terrain”]

Review: Inception

The previews before a movie can be telling: they reveal what sort of audience marketers expect the movie to attract, and are ideal for plugging upcoming movies in a similar vein to the feature presentation.

The previews before Inception seemed as if they’d been chosen at random, since there’s no movie this year that’s enough like Inception to promote alongside it. (Maybe you’d enjoy a Robert Downey, Jr. road-trip comedy? No? Here, we’re remaking Tron!)

And at times, Inception, while it wholeheartedly subscribes to the theory of Go Big or Go Home, isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. It is by turns a character drama, a science-fiction exposition-fest, and a heist. At some of these things it’s better than at others, but there’s no denying that the movie is largely gripping, often interesting, and occasionally awesome.

[Spoilers left and right in here!]

Launchpad Workshop Recap: Four Fun Things About the Universe

As Launchpad continued apace this last week, every day brought new, hilarious and terrifying information about our universe. But sometimes, in the ocean of information, there was an anecdote so beautiful and/or grisly that you just felt the need to share, you know?

Under the cut, four fun things about space, the stars, and you.

[Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do…]

Blogging from Launchpad Workshop: Science!

All this week, I’m one of the participants in Launchpad Workshop, a week-long intensive astronomy course in Laramie, Wyoming, designed to put the science back into science fiction, a handful of creative types at a time. Launchpad is a mixture of astronomy lectures, hands-on labs, stellar observation, and every other science concept that ever scared an English major. (For me, that would be all of them.)

I’ll be checking in every few days with some conceptual highlights, resources for the curious, and fun facts about things like the Kepler supernova. (It exploded on October 9, 1604 and is still going strong; by now it’s 14 light years wide and expanding at 4 million miles an hour. Science!)

[The good, the bad, and the misunderstood.]

Eclipse: The Decline and Fall of the Twilight Empire

Last night was the release of Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight franchise. Theaters were packed; Team Edward/Jacob loyalties ran high; anticipatory squeals filled the air.

The movie that unfolded wasn’t worth any of it.

This has gone beyond cinematic “worth” in the context of inscrutable teen tastes, or a shift in the zeitgeist, or any of the other trends that set their intended audience alight while mystifying everyone outside their demographic. This is about a two-hour movie that has to pull its bookend voiceover into the film to explain plot points it never shows, as the camera pans over a lengthy establishing shot of a forest.

…More than once.

[All the spare jean cutoffs in Forks can’t cover up a mess this big. WARNING: Spoilers ahead!]

Inception: Sci-Fi’s Last, Best Box-Office Hope?

This week, Christopher Nolan and company released 14 new stills from his sci-fi thriller Inception.

These photos might require a spoiler warning, but honestly, it’s not as if we’d know. Nolan has been tight-lipped about the project from the beginning. For months after its announcement, he would say only it was set “within the architecture of the mind.” Early promotional material was equally vague.

More recently, a set of character posters have given us a lineup straight out of a film-noir caper (with titles like Point Man, Shade, Forger, and Mark), and theatrical trailers have inevitably begun to give hints as to the plot.

[Read more…]

Review: Jonah Hex

Missing from photo: Josh Brolin making Pew pew! noises.

If this year’s speculative-cinema offerings have taught us anything, it’s that many speculative movies are bad. Many of them are very bad. But every once in a while, a movie comes along that is so gleefully bad, so delightfully awful, so surreally self-serious, that it transcends every rubric of quality and ascends in the camp canon as unintentional comedy gold.

In completely unrelated news, let’s talk about Jonah Hex.

[It’s like a drinking game that hired actors!]

Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Gemma Arterton and Jake Gyllenhaal, making an unsuccessful attempt to escape the set.

The line between action movies and video games is getting thinner. In theory, this isn’t a bad thing; games have increasingly rich world-building and character development, and action movies are combining choreography and CGI to compete with the physically-impossible feats of their avatar muses.

In reality, when a game is made into a movie, it generally falls into the trap of attempting to recreate game play instead of bringing the world and the characters to life in a compelling or coherent narrative.

It’s easy to say that this issue is the big mistake that was made in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. However, that wouldn’t be doing justice to its actual missteps.

I’m just saying, you know a movie has been ambitious in its mistakes when its highlight is Alfred Molina giving a passionate kiss to an ostrich.

[At least that means Molina won the ham-off with Ben Kingsley.]

Nine Hobbits that Could Happen

Ever since TheOneRing.net dropped the newsbomb that Guillermo del Toro was departing The Hobbit (citing production delays that have hamstrung the epic two-parter for nearly a year), speculation has raged. With budget problems, studio delays, and a three-year schedule that’s stretched to six, things don’t sound like they’re going to get any easier.

Who’s going to direct this thing now?

The Hobbit camp has not put forth any names for del Toro’s suggested replacement. As fans, clearly that’s our job.

Below the cut, nine ways this train wreck can go.

[That]

The State of Genre TV

So, the periodic slice-and-dice of show schedules has happened. Fall and midseason schedules are shaping up, and the network-TV roster is more of the same. Perhaps the only surprising element is the dearth of speculative shows that have been picked up.

Just a few months ago, a Push-inspired series was in the works and being shopped to networks, an American Torchwood remake was commissioned by Fox, FlashForward and V were midseason, and all the networks were scrambling to find the show that would replace the departing Lost.

Now, the Torchwood remake has already been scrapped, Push is nowhere to be seen, FlashForward has been canceled, and Heroes has finally been put out of its misery. Someone even came to their senses and canned Ghost Whisperer. Fringe has been renewed, and V just barely scraped by for another season, but neither show has seen much promo support by their networks.  The only new sci-fi shows in the network lineup for this fall are ABC’s maybe-vampire drama The Gates, NBC’s comic-book-noir The Cape and Steven Spielberg’s suspiciously-familiar-looking Terra Nova on Fox.

So, what happened?

[Either a postmortem or a premortem, you tell me.]

Hansel and Gretel are Out For: Blood, at Least One Cullen

On the heels of Warner Brothers’ gothic take on Little Red Riding Hood, Paramount has landed a dark fairy tale of its own. It’s pushing Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters into production, with a projected release in 2011. Producer Adam McKay promises “a steampunk vibe mixed with a little bit of a goth edge and hyper-cartoon violence.”

A dark steampunk retelling of a classic fairy tale? What could go wrong?

In completely unrelated news, McKay also revealed to MTV that producers have approached members of the cast of the Twilight films about starring.

Under the cut, some wild speculation. (The nice thing about a cast of three hundred people under 25 means you can get a pretty decent betting pool going if you put your mind to it.)

[No fair picking Michael Sheen before I do!]