content by

Melissa Ann Singer

Showcasing Real, Fantastical Women: Angela Slatter’s Of Sorrow and Such

I often complain about how rare it is to have a book, TV show, or film be driven by relationships between women. Stories seem to me to be primarily driven by relationships between men or between men and women. Often there’s only one woman in the story in the first place, or, if there’s more than one, they never meet. When relationships between women are seen, they are often framed in the context of each woman’s relationship to a man who knows them both (for instance, a wife and her mother-in-law); or the women are portrayed competitors.

[To me, that doesn’t reflect the real world.]

Where to Start With the Epic Saint-Germain Vampire Cycle

Recently I was asked to guest-post on Cie Adams’s blog, so I wrote up an old favorite story of mine about how Robert Bloch and I creeped out a waitress. What I was really talking about was how sometimes an editor is lucky enough to work with a writer whose work she or he has loved for a long time. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is one of those writers for me, and I’ve realized that this makes part of my job as Quinn’s editor kind of tricky.

I know the Saint-Germain books fairly well; I’ve read about twenty of them and edited the last half-dozen or so. Which is kind of breathtaking when you think about it—this is a series where twenty volumes isn’t yet the whole of the thing and the author’s not done writing.

How on earth does a new reader approach that mass of wordage?

[This is how]

Editorial Roundtable: The Roots of Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

To add additional perspectives to the paranormal romance/urban fantasy conversation, I approached a number of the editors who work in these categories to participate in an editorial roundtable of sorts. (The first one is here.) Of course, getting any group of editors together, even by email, isn’t as easy as you might think. Jury duty, vacations, overstuffed email inboxes, a tornado, and a power outage all took their toll.

My thanks to the intrepid editors who responded to our second topic:

Deb Werksman, Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks
Chris Keeslar, Senior Editor, Dorchester Publishing
Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Brav

[Now on to the question!]

Series: Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Month

Editorial Roundtable: Paranormal Romance Heroines and Heroes

To add additional perspectives to the paranormal romance/urban fantasy conversation, I approached a number of the editors who work in these categories to participate in an editorial roundtable of sorts. Of course, getting any group of editors together, even by email, isn’t as easy as you might think. Jury duty, vacations, overstuffed email inboxes, a tornado, and a power outage all took their toll.

My thanks to the intrepid editors who responded to our first topic:

Deb Werksman, Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks
Monique Patterson, Senior Editor, St. Martin’s Press
Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Brava

Join us as we talk about how the development of heroines and heroes is affecting the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres!

[Roundtable after the cut]

Series: Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Month

Reading Matter: What posters recommended for a 13-yo girl

A number of weeks ago I posted in moderate desperation about my daughter’s need for reading matter to take to camp. The responses were overwhelming—and from that vast pool, a few books were purchased, though not all of those have yet been read (she found a few things on her own, too). More will be bought in future, I’m sure, some of them probably titles I had previously suggested which now have greater appeal since someone Other Than Mom vouches for them too.

The recommendations list contains more than 500 items—authors, series, and individual books. Many people took the time to offer not just authors and books but commentary that was both polite and nuanced.

So how to determine the “winners?” A book that was mentioned only once but sounds wonderful? An author cited repeatedly? What the young reader in question actually bought (and what she thought of those purchases)? This is, therefore, the first of several posts (to be presented at odd intervals) that will address these questions . . . and a final post will, as requested, return the favor by recommending some of my daughter’s favorite books from the last few years.

[Read more…]

“I’m thirteen, I’m a girl, and I like fantasy and some science fiction. What should I be reading?”

This is a serious question, posed on behalf of my recently-minted teenage daughter. She’s read a significant amount of young adult fantasy and fantastic fiction, and had some read to her (because we like reading aloud and some books “speak” really well). She isn’t terribly fond of hardware-oriented sf, though she has read the original Ender’s Game (the short version, not the novel) and a few other tidbits. She likes what she’s read of Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles, which she borrowed from the school library and later bought because she had to own it). She’s a budding Trekkie (TOS and TNG).

Her taste is pretty eclectic. She’s read Twilight because everyone else is reading it, but Bella’s passivity drives her crazy, and most of the other “ya/teen” vampire stuff leaves her cold. She much prefers the work of Cornelia Funke, especially The Thief Lord. She’s been reading Sean Stewart’s “Cathy” series, which has immortals in it, and she likes Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s “Shadow Children” series, both of which are science fiction.

She reads plenty of non-genre stuff too, especially if the story has some mystery to it, like the “Pretty Little Liars” books. Then there are the books that I don’t quite understand why she likes, like “The Clique” series, which she reads avidly . . . and then spends days being enjoyably outraged at the stupid/irresponsible behavior of the teen characters and their parents.

[So the question is, what]

It’s the Little Things: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian isn’t a bad movie. It isn’t a terribly good movie either. Christopher Guest is wasted as Ivan the Terrible; he has maybe six lines and is nearly unrecognizable under a beard. Hank Azaria’s Pharaoh lisps; several reviewers found this to be hilarious, and while I understand that the lisp combined with the British accent is supposed to indicate a certain kind of upper class twit, I found it to be rather silly and offensive. Poor Amy Adams gamely utters some of the worst “chipper” dialog I’ve heard in some time, but she certainly gives it her all and she looks great, though nothing like Amelia Earhart.

And if the board of the American Museum of Natural History actually considered for a microsecond the asinine idea that drives this film’s plot engine, New Yorkers would likely rise up in revolt.


There are some lovely things in the movie. Most are small, like the return of Owen Wilson’s miniature cowboy and Steve Coogan’s tiny Roman and their heartwarming bromance (including Brokeback Mountain references). Octavian’s attempt to reach President Obama is a marvelous collaboration between the actor, the set dressers and greensmen, and the film’s composer and editors. Visuals, dialog, and music come together in a brief, perfect, snippet that was nearly the best laugh in the movie.

[Read more…]

Harmony with Nature? Hey, Let’s Blow Stuff Up!

That seems to be the basic idea behind Battle For Terra, an animated film opening May 1st, 2009. I guess the filmmakers felt they were on the horns of a dilemma—they want to show that not abusing natural resources is the best way to live, but they needed to add conflict and some sort of excitement that would bring younger children into the theater, as well as justify the RealD 3D version of the picture.

It’s rated PG for “Sequences of Sci-Fi Action Violence and Some Thematic Elements” and that last is the part that had me and another mother and my (almost) teenage daughter scratching our heads and saying, “What were they thinking?” as we left the screening. The 8-year-old with us—the only male in the group—was bored by the beginning of the movie but perked right up when the “blowing stuff up” part came along.

[Highly opinionated synopsis in the forbidden zone.]

Chuck season premiere makes me oh so happy

I am totally and absolutely in love with Chuck. Chuck makes me smile. It makes me laugh. It sometimes makes me tear up (I am a sentimental gal). It’s exciting. And it’s not stupid.

It’s a tremendous relief to have not stupid television that portrays geeks and geek culture in a positive light. I look at Chuck and I see my people—comics fans, sf&f fans, gamers, computer geniuses . . . nerds, dorks, fanboys and fangirls . . . smart people, caring people with offbeat senses of humor, people who support each other and their families.

[More fangirl breathlessness, and spoilers, below the fold. ]

Too Many Mad Scientists, Not Enough Igors

The title of this post is an old saying around the Tor offices, originally coined by Anna Magee (a long-ago and much-loved member of the editorial staff) to reflect the structure of our editorial department, where most editorials assistants work for three or more editors. 

But in the world of Igor, every mad scientist has his (and yes, they’re all male) own Igor, or two, or three.  In this delightful new animated movie, one Igor (John Cusack) wants to be a mad scientist, but he’s doomed to Igor-hood by the hunch on his back. 

[Review below the fold…]

The Raveled Fringe

One of the problems with being an editor is that the part of my mind that picks stories apart rarely shuts down completely.  Occasionally, if there’s interesting visual input or strong acting in a movie, tv show, or play, I get absorbed and the analytical engine goes into idle (this does not mean that I won’t be picking the thing apart half an hour after it’s over).

But usually, especially if I’m only half-watching (because I’m reading, working on a puzzle, doing needlework, or gaming), I find that I get stuck on flaws and inconsistencies and plain old silliness.

Sometimes this puts me at odds with reviewers.  Case in point, J.J. Abrams’ new series, Fringe.  From the publicity and pre-broadcast reviews, this is supposedly the best new series on broadcast tv this season.

[Actual review below the fold…]

George Takei and Brad Altman are married!

Things have been a bit hectic at Tor, and at, this week, and we apologize for not having marked this earlier in the week.

But we are pleased as punch to offer our congratulations to George Takei and his long-time partner, Brad Altman, who were married on Sunday, September 14th, at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Takei for being the “intro voice” for Tor’s podcasts. It gives us a little thrill every time we hear it.

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