Destiny’s Conflict, the tenth and penultimate novel in Janny Wurts’ stunning Wars of Light and Shadows series, has just been released, making this an excellent time to take a look at the career of one of the great (and, in my opinion, most under-appreciated) novelists working in fantasy. Wurts has published nearly 20 novels with major publishers over the course of her three decade career, but still, somehow her name rarely comes up whenever someone asks for epic fantasy recommendations. Since I happen to believe that, once it’s completed, her Wars of Light and Shadow series will be counted among the great enduring classics of epic fantasy, I thought I’d take this opportunity to spread the word a bit.
When someone asks me for my personal favorite fantasy series, I usually hem and haw for a while and try to sneak at least two or three extra series into my answer. But if you were to force me, under threat of violence, to trim it down to just one, it would be Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series. Vallista, the fifteenth novel in the long-running series, is due out on October 17th, making this an excellent time to try and convert some new readers to the Gospel of Taltos.
Explaining what exactly is so wonderful about this series is tricky, partly because it’s so unique and partly because it’s hard to do without including huge spoilers, but at its heart it’s the story of Vlad Taltos, a human assassin living in the Dragaeran Empire, as well as the story of the Dragaeran Empire itself.
The first novel by Cory Doctorow I read, some time in the early 2000s, was Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I read it, believe it or not, on a PalmPilot. I’m not bringing this up because that was Singularity-level technology for me at the time (even though it was!) but rather to illustrate just one of the reasons why Doctorow gained a loyal fan base early on in his career: he’s been releasing his books under Creative Commons licenses since the very beginning, meaning you can head to his website right now and download one or more of his novels or collections.
It’s also an illustration of what may be Doctorow’s most defining characteristic as an author: he wears his politics on his sleeve. Fiction or non-fiction, long form or short, Doctorow will work his opinions about copyright law or digital privacy or economic injustice into the text. For better or worse, whether you like it or not, these books come with a message, and Doctorow will make 100% sure that you get that message and then some. (It’s one of the main reasons why some readers don’t click with his fiction; I’ve heard people say they may as well read his Boing Boing columns, which often deal with the exact same issues.)
To each their own: I’ve always enjoyed Doctorow’s novels, because they’re fast-paced, funny, and full of interesting (if occasionally somewhat interchangeable) characters. Even if you happen to disagree with his opinions, at least they’re expressed clearly, intelligently, and out in the open, rather than hidden in the subtext. (They’re about as far removed from hidden in the subtext as possible, actually.)
Welcome back to the Tor.com eBook Club! December’s pick is The Towers of the Sunset, the second book in L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s epic fantasy series The Saga of Recluse. Below, please enjoy a conversation between Modesitt and Tor publisher Tom Doherty, originally published in December 2012.
Who better to interview a living legend than another living legend? In our “Talking with Tom” series, Tor publisher Tom Doherty chats with some of the many authors whose careers he helped launch and shape. Please enjoy this fascinating conversation between Tom and L.E. Modesitt Jr., two of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy, each with multiple decades of experience in the field. Or, as Tom says at one point: “Boy, we go back a ways, don’t we?”
In the near future, time travel technology allows a wealthy real estate magnate to open a huge passageway to the 19th century. Five stories tall, the “Mirror” can be used to transfer not only people but even heavy equipment to the past. The result is the city of Futurity, an outpost of the 21st century on the plains of 1876 Illinois. Equal parts colony and tourist destination for curious visitors from the future, Futurity is the crossroads where two versions of America meet.
Jesse Cullum works security in Futurity’s Tower Two, which is the part of the city open to 19th century “locals” who want to experience 21st century wonders like air conditioning and heated swimming pools or get a look at the dioramas giving a carefully edited glimpse of the future world. After Jesse foils an attempt to assassinate the visiting U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant, Futurity’s management asks him to help in the subsequent investigation. The would-be assassin’s weapon was a Glock, which could only have come from the future. Jesse and his partner Elizabeth, a 21st century woman, must work together to figure out how a gun from the future ended up in the hands of a 19th century assassin…
Welcome back to the Tor.com eBook Club! November’s pick is Spin, the first book in a sci-fi trilogy from Robert Charles Wilson. The following essay, originally published August 2011, is a review of Vortex, book three in the trilogy, so beware of possible spoilers! You can also head back and read Stefan’s thoughts on Spin.
Vortex is the long-awaited third novel in Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin Cycle. The first book, Spin, won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Its sequel Axis met with a much cooler reception. So, is Vortex as good as Spin? Well, not quite, but it’s considerably better than Axis. All in all, Vortex is a great novel, a worthy closer to the Spin Cycle, and a book you’ll definitely want to read if you enjoyed the previous two volumes.
Welcome back to the Tor.com eBook Club! November’s pick is Spin, the first book in a sci-fi trilogy from Robert Charles Wilson. The following essay, originally published July 2011, is an in-depth reread of Axis, book two in the trilogy, so beware of major spoilers! You can also head back and read Stefan’s thoughts on Spin.
Many readers expressed disappointment about the long-awaited sequel to Spin. Looking back now, it’s understandable that people felt let down. Expecting a better novel than Spin was probably unrealistic. Even expecting something just as good was, in retrospect, on the hopeful side, given how high Robert Charles Wilson set the bar with the first novel. Regardless, I feel that Axis is a good—if not great—novel that adds a new dimension to the Spin universe and builds a solid bridge to the third volume, Vortex.
What follows contains huge spoilers for Spin and Axis, but nothing about Vortex.
Welcome back to the Tor.com eBook Club! November’s pick is Spin, the first book in a sci-fi trilogy from Robert Charles Wilson. The following essay, originally published July 2011, is an in-depth reread of Spin, so beware of major spoilers!
With the recent publication of Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson, I decided to re-read the first two books in the trilogy, Spin and Axis, to warm up for the long-awaited new novel and to refresh my memory. Like every truly excellent novel, it turns out that Spin is better and more rewarding on the second read-through. What follows below contains huge spoilers for Spin, but nothing about Axis or Vortex. Seriously, don’t read this if you haven’t read Spin yet.
In this week’s installment of the Kage Baker Company Series Reread, we’ll finish up the final sections of The Graveyard Game, from the end of last week’s post up until the very end of the novel.
As always, previous posts in the reread can be found on our lovely index page. Also as always, please be aware that this reread contains spoilers for the entire Company series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet!
And with that we’re off for our final post about The Graveyard Game!
Series: Rereading Kage Baker
Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series reread at Tor.com! I was planning to get through the rest of The Graveyard Game in this post, but in the end there was too much to discuss in the chapters set in 2225, so that’s what we’ll cover today, saving the final set of chapters for next week.
As always, you can find all previous posts in the reread on our index page, a document of such rare and surpassing beauty that small children in distant lands have been known to memorize and recite it while at play. Also as always, please be aware that this reread contains spoilers for the entire series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet!
Series: Rereading Kage Baker
At the start of Faller, the new SF novel by Will McIntosh, a man regains consciousness lying on a city street. He doesn’t remember his name, the name of the city, or how he got there. In fact, his mind is almost completely blank, just like all the other people who are waking up in complete confusion around him. What’s even stranger, the world appears to end a few city blocks from where the man woke up. Rather than more streets and buildings, there’s just a chasm looking out over empty sky, as if this fragment of a city was torn from a larger whole and then tossed into the air. This feels odd to the man, somehow, even though he has no recollection of what a city is supposed to look like.
The man finds three objects in his pockets: a toy soldier with a plastic parachute, a mysterious map drawn in blood (and since his finger is cut, he assumes he drew the map with his own blood, suggesting it must be important), and a photograph of himself with a woman he doesn’t recognize. Since clues are the only thing he has, and he doesn’t recall his name, he decides to go by the name Clue.
Eventually, inspired by the toy soldier in his pocket, Clue decides to construct a parachute. That’s how he discovers that the floating city fragment on which he regained consciousness isn’t the only one. Taking the new name Faller, he embarks on a quest to find the mysterious woman on the photograph…
The Temporal Concordance for October 25, 2016 tells us that a new post in the Kage Baker Company Series Reread should appear on Tor.com today, and we all know history cannot be changed so… Here we go! In today’s post, we’ll go back to The Graveyard Game, covering the chapters set in 2142 and 2143, so from the end of last week’s post and ending on the chapter set in Regent’s Park.
As always, you can find the previous posts in the reread on our lovely index page. Also as always, please be aware that this reread contains spoilers for the entire series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet!
Series: Rereading Kage Baker
Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series reread! In this week’s post we’ll cover the section of The Graveyard Game that’s set in 2025 and 2026, so from the end of last week’s post to the end of the second Yorkshire chapter.
As always, you can find all previous posts in this reread on our wonderful index page. Also as always, please be aware that this reread contains spoilers for the entire series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet!
Series: Rereading Kage Baker
Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series reread at Tor.com! Today, we’re getting started on one of my favorites in the entire series: The Graveyard Game.
Quick note on how we’ll divide this one up: Like Mendoza in Hollywood, The Graveyard Game doesn’t have numbered chapters. However, the novel is divided in five separate sections that are set anywhere from a few decades to over a century apart. The sections are also conveniently separated by the confessional “Joseph in the Darkness” mini-chapters. To make things as easy as possible, we’ll just cover one of those sections every week, beginning today with the one set in 1996, next week the one set in 2025/2026, and so on.
You can find all previous posts in the reread on our index page. Spoiler warning: this reread will contain spoilers for the entire Company series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet!
Series: Rereading Kage Baker
Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series Reread! Can you believe we’re already finishing up another novel this week? In today’s post, we’ll cover the final five chapters of Mendoza in Hollywood, so from the end of last week’s post to the end of the novel. I’m not going to separate the commentary by chapter this time because this section focuses exclusively on Mendoza and Edward, rather than skipping around between the different characters and subplots.
All previous posts in the reread can be found on our handy-dandy index page. Important: please be aware that the reread will contain spoilers for the entire series, so be careful if you haven’t finished reading all the books yet!
The soundtrack for this week’s post should really be Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control, but since that’s hardly period-appropriate I’ll go back to El Amor Brujo, which makes a second appearance in this set of chapters.
Series: Rereading Kage Baker
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