Tor.com content by

Mary Robinette Kowal

Fiction and Excerpts [9]
All

Fiction and Excerpts [9]

Ghost Talkers

|| Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force of the Allies in World War I that can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence. But when she discovers the presence of a traitor in their ranks, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things.

Blending the Impossible: the Many Genres of David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars

Let’s say you like the Regency era, but you also like space opera, and really like Patrick O’Brian. And Mars. Normally, mixing all of these disparate elements together would be a hot mess, but David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars is awesome. I am completely in love with this book and want another one yesterday.

What I love about the book is that it’s smart, and it’s smart without sacrificing forward plot momentum.

[Read more]

Blending the Impossible: David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars

Let’s say you like the Regency era, but you also like space opera, and really like Patrick O’Brian. And Mars. Normally, mixing all of these disparate elements together would be a hot mess, but David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars is awesome. I am completely in love with this book and want another one yesterday.

Where to start… How about Mars? The book opens on Mars and it’s the Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs with vast alien civilizations, but it’s seen through the lens of British colonialism. Wait—that makes it sound dry, and it’s not. Well, I mean, it IS a desert, but the plot is about as far from dry as you can get. What I mean is that Arabella has a nanny, effectively, in the form of Khemel, her Martian protector. They have a genuinely affectionate bond, but the book doesn’t gloss over the way the British Empire created exactly these dynamics here on Earth.

What I love about the book is that it’s smart, and it’s smart without sacrificing forward plot momentum.

[Read more]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Ghost Talkers (Deleted Scene)

We’re excited to share this deleted scene from Ghost Talkers, Mary Robinette Kowal’s upcoming novel that’s set in London during the First World War. In the novel, Ginger Stuyvesant works with the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force of the Allies that can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence. But when she discovers the presence of a traitor in their ranks, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things…

Ghost Talkers is available August 16th from Tor Books!

[Read more]

Ghost Talkers

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force. Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor—but without more to corroborate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers is available August 16th from Tor Books!

[Read more]

Forest of Memory

Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all. But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.

The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest. There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s science fiction novella Forest of Memory is available March 8th from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read an Excerpt]

Designing the Dress for Of Noble Family‘s Cover Image

Author Mary Robinette Kowal played a huge role in designing the cover for her upcoming novel Of Noble Family—she hand-sewed the dress worn by the cover model! Below, Ms. Kowal shares her thoughts on the process, including in-progress photos and early alternate designs. And of course get a look at the full cover image.

Gideon Smith amazon buy linkThe final book of Kowal’s acclaimed Glamourist Histories, Of Noble Family is the magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen walked on the darker side of the Regency—publishing April 2015 from Tor Books.

[Read more]

Valour and Vanity (Excerpt)

Check out Mary Robinette Kowal’s Valour and Vanity, the fourth book in her Glamourist Histories series, available April 29th from Tor Books!

After Melody’s wedding, the Ellsworths and Vincents accompany the young couple on their tour of the continent. Jane and Vincent plan to separate from the party and travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs while en route. It is their good fortune that they are not enslaved, but they lose everything to the pirates and arrive in Murano destitute.

Jane and Vincent are helped by a kind local they meet en route, but Vincent is determined to become self-reliant and get their money back, and hatches a plan to do so. But when so many things are not what they seem, even the best laid plans conceal a few pitfalls. The ensuing adventure is a combination of the best parts of magical fantasy and heist novels, set against a glorious Regency backdrop.

[Read an Excerpt]

How I Beat Pat Rothfuss At Being Pat Rothfuss

I am smug. Really, insufferably smug. Why, you might ask, do I have this excessive sense of pride? I will tell you. First, you should know about #TheRealRothfuss game.

For two weeks, Pat Rothfuss and five impersonators will all try to convince you that they are the real Pat Rothfuss on Twitter.

At the end of the two weeks, fans will be asked to vote for who they think the real Pat Rothfuss is, and the winning Twitter user will receive a $1000 donation to the charity of their choice, donated by DAW Books.

Next you should know that I was one of the five Rothfi impersonating Pat.

[In which Mary Robinette Kowal can be any of us at any time!]

The Lady Astronaut of Mars

Introductory note: Mary Robinette Kowal’s novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” was first published in 2012 as part of RIP-OFF, an original audiobook anthology from Audible.com. It was later published in text form in early 2013 on Kowal’s personal blog, along with a (few) “stage directions” the author had provided to the audio producers.

In the nominating phase of the 2013 Hugo Awards, the audiobook appearance of the story received enough nominations to have been one of the finalists for Best Novelette—in fact, it received the third largest number of nominations. However, the committee overseeing this year’s Hugo process decided that it was ineligible in the “Best Novelette” category but eligible in “Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)”, where, unfortunately, it didn’t actually have enough nominations to be a finalist. It’s our understanding that, without wishing to constrain the committee that will oversee the 2014 Hugo Awards, the people who oversaw the awards in 2013 believe that the author’s 2013 self-publication of the story will make it eligible in 2014.

What we think is that “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” is a fine story, and deserves not merely to be technically eligible for the 2014 Hugo ballot, but also to be read by large numbers of people. So we’re pleased to be presenting it to you here in its definitive, author-preferred text form.

[—Patrick Nielsen Hayden]

[Read “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal]

Where to Find the Doctor in All of My Historical Fantasy Novels

I have had a long standing love for Doctor Who, dating back to middle school when I was watching Tom Baker episodes. The nice thing about a time traveler is that he can turn up anywhere so… in each of my historical fantasy novels—Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and Without a SummerI’ve inserted an unspoken cameo from the Doctor.

My rule is that I can slide these private jokes in only if they don’t interrupt the story.

[Where to find the Doctor in Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and Without a Summer]

Without a Summer (Excerpt)

Have another adventure with Jane and Vincent Ellsworth in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Without a Summer, out on April 2:

Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane’s family, but quickly turn restless. The year is unseasonably cold. No one wants to be outside and Mr. Ellsworth is concerned by the harvest, since a bad one may imperil Melody’s dowry. And Melody has concerns of her own, given the inadequate selection of eligible bachelors. When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to take it, and take Melody with them. They hope the change of scenery will do her good and her marriage prospects—and mood—will be brighter in London.

Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north. With each passing day, it’s more difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, none of which really helps Melody’s chances for romance. It’s not long before Jane and Vincent realize that in addition to getting Melody to the church on time, they must take on one small task: solving a crisis of international proportions.

[Read more]

Sword and Sensibility: Conan Creator Robert E. Howard’s Lesser Known Collaboration

At the time of his death in 1936, thirty-year-old Robert E. Howard had published hundreds of works of fiction across an astonishingly broad swath of genres. His voluminous output, according to Paul Herman of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, is estimated to have been “approximately 3.5 million words of fiction, poetry, letters and articles.” Among those millions of words were the iconic stories of Conan the Cimmerian, a character whose popularity has firmly established Howard’s reputation as the father of heroic fantasy, parallel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s place as father of epic fantasy.

But while Howard was an extraordinarily prolific writer, he was also a somewhat disorganized one and left behind a trunk of unpublished works. The so-called “Howard Trunk” contained thousands of typewritten pages by Howard. These abandoned stories and early drafts were collected and published in 2007 by The REH Foundation Press as The Last of the Trunk.

[One manuscript, however, baffled the Howard estate.]

Glamour in Glass (Excerpt)

The highly-anticipated sequel to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey will reach shelves on April 10! To tide you over, we’ve got an excerpt just for you. Enjoy the first chapter of Glamour in Glass:

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.

[Read more]

We Almost Didn’t Have the Muppets: Four Alternate Points in Jim Henson’s Life

Let me be clear, before we start, that I’m about to geek out on puppetry. Jim Henson is why I’m a professional puppeteer today, even though I never met him. Like many puppeteers, I grew up watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and before I discovered the wider world of puppetry.

Now, I’m also a science fiction writer and here’s the thing… Henson would be a really good subject for an Alternate History story of the “Duck Mr. President” variety, where a single change could affect the entire time line.

I do not exaggerate. The face of modern puppetry would be completely different if not for Jim Henson. Here, let me show you.

[Read more]

Series: Muppet Week

Shades of Milk and Honey (Excerpt)

Chapter One
Jasmine and Honeysuckle

The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect. The Honourable Charles Ellsworth, though a second son, through the generosity of his father had been entrusted with an estate in the neighbourhood of Dorchester. It was well appointed and used only enough glamour to enhance its natural grace, without overlaying so much illusion as to be tasteless. His only regret, for the estate was a fine one, was that it was entailed, and as he had only two daughters, his elder brother’s son stood next in line to inherit it. Knowing that, he took pains to set aside some of his income each annum for the provision of his daughters. The sum was not so large as he wished it might be, but he hoped it would prove enough to attract appropriate husbands for his daughters. Of his younger daughter, Melody, he had no concerns, for she had a face made for fortune. His older daughter, Jane, made up for her deficit of beauty with rare taste and talent in the womanly arts. Her skill with glamour, music, and painting was surpassed by none in their neighbourhood and together lent their home the appearance of wealth far beyond their means. But he knew well how fickle young men’s hearts were. His own wife, while young, had seemed all that was desirable, but as her beauty faded she had become a fretting invalid. He still cherished her from habit, but often he wished that she had somewhat more sense.

And so, Jane was his chief concern, and he was determined to see her settled before his passing. Surely some young man would see past her sallow complexion and flat hair of unappealing mousey brown. Her nose was overlong, though he fancied that in certain lights it served as an outward sign of her strength of character. Mr. Ellsworth fingered his own nose, wishing that he had something more to bequeath to Jane than such an appendage.

[Read more]