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nicolag July 29 2014, 23:43

HILD on Not the Booker Prize long list


Hild is on the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize long list. And i's a very long list. I'd say over 90. There's some good stuff, also some rubbish—mileage really does vary—including a couple on the official Booker Prize long list.

Only six books will be shortlisted. And here's the thing, you, yes you, the readers, get to decide which. To vote, you choose two of the long-listed novels (make sure they're from different publishers) and write a review for both in the comments on the post linked above. The more thoughtful the review, the better; the Guardian wants "something over 100 words."

The deadline is midnight (UK time) on Sunday, August 3.

As my publisher says: this will help build conversation around all the good books out there. Her favourite part of the terms and condition is 12. The author of the winning book will receive a Guardian mug. They may not want it, but there's nothing we can do about that. So go take a look. I wouldn't mind one of those mugs...
tordotcom July 29 2014, 21:31

Fiction Affliction: August Releases in Science Fiction



fiction affliction new releases scifi AugustAliens are busting out all over, with twenty-six new releases in science fiction this month. (Missing a favorite? Check tomorrow’s “Genre-Bender” column.) Look for new series releases from, among others, Whitley Strieber (Alien Hunter), John Varley (Thunder and Lightning), John Ringo (Black Tide Rising), Charles E. Gannon (Tales of the Terran Republic), Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Hellhole Trilogy), James Rollins (Sigma Force), Ann Aguirre (Dred Chronicles), and Pittacus Lore (Lorien Legacies).

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read about this month’s releases]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 21:01

Diversity Beyond Borders: A Conversation with Charles Tan



Charles Tan Lauriat It’s been great to see a renewed media and reader focus on diversity in literature lately, but when we talk about diversity in the United States we typically focus on writers based in the US and UK.

I talked with writer and editor Charles Tan, who lives and works in the Philippines, about what issues around diversity look like from an international perspective.

[Read more...]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 21:01

Rothfuss, Hobb, Abercrombie, and More Put the Epic in Epic Fantasy!



The “Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy” panel at San Diego Comic-Con brought some of our greatest fantasy names together! Brent Weeks moderated, with authors Django Wexler, Sam Sykes, Joe Abercrombie, Robin Hobb, Morgan Rhodes, Raymond E. Feist, and Patrick Rothfuss discussing influences (GRRM comes up...), “sketchy Dumbledore” scenarios, and the conventions of banking in Hyrule. Check out the full panel below!

[Why does everyone store their money in pots?]

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jedediah July 29 2014, 20:32

Hugo rec: Six-Gun Snow White


The deadline for Hugo voting is the day after tomorrow, so I'd better finally post a couple of the things I've been meaning to post.

In this post: My thoughts about Catherynne Valente's novella “Six-Gun Snow White.”

Short version of my reaction to the story: Wow. Lovely language, lovely images, lovely powerful metaphors. A couple bits that took my breath away. All-around good.

Definitely gets my #1 vote in the novella category; in fact, I think it's my favorite piece in all three short-fiction categories. (There are other stories on the ballot that I like plenty, but I think I like this one best.)

In addition to finding the language stunning, I also thought the whole story was remarkably rich, tying together a bunch of different stuff in interesting and unexpected-to-me ways. And I liked the politics, too. I didn't love the ending, but most of the rest of the story worked so well for me that that was fine.

Spoilery discussion follows.

Most of my comments down below focus on stuff that didn't work so well for me, because my reaction to the stuff that did work for me wasn't terribly analytical, just a lot of the abovementioned “wow.”

But I will say this specific positive thing first: a bunch of other things I've been reading lately have annoyed me in one way or another; in particular, I've been seeing a lot of clunky sentences lately. So it was a delight to be reminded, by this story, of how much I like it when language is this smooth, when a viewpoint voice is this strong. “The ladies wore dresses like springtime and egg whites.” The champagne fountain “looked like starlight you could drink.” And this about how she got her name:

Mrs. H called me something new. She named me cruel and smirking, she named me not for beauty or for cleverness or for sweetness. She named me a thing I could aspire to but never become, the one thing I was not and could never be: Snow White.

Here are a few notes on things that didn't work so well for me:

  • I don't get the chapter titles. Are they all titles of traditional Coyote stories? Some of them seem like kind of a stretch. I found some of them intriguing, but enough of them felt a little forced that I felt that Valente wasn't as fully in control with them as she was with some other aspects.
  • Why the shift from first person to third? I guess just so she can introduce the deer-boy POV later, but that shift felt a little weak to me.
  • I was mildly annoyed at the Schrödinger's Cat chapter; I was worried that that was going to be the end, and that would've felt like cop-out to me. So I'm glad Valente didn't go with that option.
  • Snow White's desire for suicide was my least favorite part of the story; it kind of bugged me. I feel like there's a thread of self-hatred going on there, but I'm not entirely clear why or where it came from, and it feels out of character to me from what we've seen of her up to that point. I love the portrayal of the complicated relationship between the two of them, Snow White's twisted understanding of love as being what Mrs. H offered her; but I also wanted her to have learned, since leaving home, that that wasn't really love. I think there's a lot of unresolved anger and fear and despair going on in her head. But I'm still not quite following the connection between the emotional spaces that she goes through in that sequence. Obviously Valente needed some kind of a way to address the poisoned-apple-puts-Snow-White-to-sleep part of the fairytale, and this way Snow White has agency; she isn't just duped, she understands what's going on and chooses it. But I don't really understand why.

Anyway. So I didn't feel that the story was entirely perfect. But overall, I really liked it a lot.

(Side note, while I'm here: At first I assumed Mr. H was entirely fictional. Then at the very end I wondered if he was meant to be William Randolph Hearst, but too much didn't fit. Then weeks after reading the story, I happened across a mention of George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, whose biography fits a whole lot better. So I'm now thinking that Mr. H may've been intended as a fictionalized version of George Hearst. A review of the story takes that for granted, so maybe it was obvious to some readers, but I had never heard of Hearst père.)

(See also Facebook thread for this post.)

tordotcom July 29 2014, 19:31

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “In the Cards”



Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: In the Cards“In the Cards”
Written by Truly Barr Clark & Scott Neal and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Michael Dorn
Season 5, Episode 25
Production episode 40510-523
Original air date: June 9, 1997
Stardate: 50929.4

Station log: Dinner at the Sisko cabin is a morbid affair. The U.S.S. Tian An Men has gone missing, the latest in a series of ships to disappear near the Cardassian border. Sisko’s attempts to change the subject are an abject failure. The mood is oppressive and awkward and depressing and maudlin, and the cherry on top of the whole thing: after everyone leaves, Sisko is informed that Winn is coming to the station in the morning.

Jake, meanwhile, is worried about his father. Usually the captain is the one who cheers everyone up when they’re down, but he’s just as worried about the Dominion as everyone else.

[Maybe the soulless minions of orthodoxy finally caught up with him.]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 19:31

Now You Can Read Lev Grossman’s Annotations on The Magician King



Lev Grossman annotations The Magician King excerpt The Magician's Land pub date August 5 Lit Genius

Have you heard of Genius? It’s a cool website with the tagline “Annotate the world”—where users can annotate rap lyrics, videos, and (of course) novels. Consider it an even more hyper-focused version of Wikipedia, where you’re getting down to the granular level in discussing the inspirations and meanings behind all manner of text.

Where Genius differs from Wikipedia is in how a given excerpt—like, say, Lev Grossman’s novel The Magician King—can include notes and asides from readers and published authors. Like, say, Grossman himself.

[Read more]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 19:31

Magic Breaks Sweepstakes!



In a world filled with werewolves, witches, necromancers, and mercenaries, Kate Daniels is still one of the most dangerous people around. Unfortunately, her father is even more dangerous and now that he knows about her existence, he’s coming for her. Kate has to balance this threat to her life and her pack against the murder of a Master of the Dead at the Conclave, a gathering of supernatural leaders in Atlanta. Kate’s been given twenty-four hours to track down the murderer. If she fails at either task, Kate finds herself on the brink of a war that will destroy everything that she holds dear. 

Out now from Ace, we have three copies of Magic Breaks that we want to share with you! Comment in the post to enter! 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on July 29. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 2. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 19:00

Finally, Stephen Colbert’s SDCC Super-Fan Hobbit Speech in Full



Stephen Colbert The Hobbit panel San Diego Comic-Con read transcript watch video

You do not mess with Stephen Colbert when it comes to knowing his Tolkien. (James Franco learned that the hard way.) It made perfect sense, then, that the Colbert Report host would moderate San Diego Comic-Con’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies panel.

That he did it dressed up as his Middle-earth character the Laketown Spy was even sweeter. And now you can watch a video of the event and read Colbert’s entire pre-panel speech—which will touch all fannish hearts—in its entirety.

[“If only I could go back in time and show this to my 13-year-old self!”]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 19:00

Post-Binary Gender in SF: Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson



Jeanette Winterson Written on the BodyThis book is beautiful. I could sink into its words.

“I cannot think of the double curve lithe and flowing with movement as a bony ridge, I think of it as the musical instrument that bears the same root. Clavis. Key. Clavichord. The first stringed instrument with a keyboard. Your clavicle is both keyboard and key. If I push my fingers into the recesses behind the bone I find you like a soft shell crab. I find the openings between the springs of muscle where I can press myself into the chords of your neck. The bone runs in perfect scale from sternum to scapula. It feels lathe-turned. Why should a bone be balletic?”

Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body returns to a question raised in a previous post: what does it mean to leave a character’s gender unknown?

[The narrator could be either gender. The question is: could the narrator be neither?]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 17:30

Introduction to the H. P. Lovecraft Reread



The Lovecraft Reread

Welcome to the H. P. Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories. We hope to explore both the awesome and the problematic, both the deliberately and accidentally horrific. Reading order will be more or less random. As the Great Race of Yith would point out, if they cared enough to do so, linear time is merely an illusion anyway.

We’ll start today with a discussion of what drew us to Lovecraft in the first place, and what we’ve found there since.

[Read more...]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 17:30

Holy Nostalgia! Harlan Ellison Wrote an Episode for Adam West’s Batman



Adam West Batman Harlan Ellison

If you’re a fan of alternate universes that specifically relate to pop culture, then you know Harlan Ellison is a very important figure when asking the question “what if?” From Star Trek, to I, Robot, to the infamous “Starlost,” Ellison’s filmed projects are sometimes equally as famous as his unfilmed ones. Now it turns out that Ellison wrote an episode for the light-hearted 1960s Adam West Batman that would have introduced Two-Face and…Clint Eastwood?

[Na na na na na…Ellison!]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 17:00

Short Fiction Spotlight: The Man Who Was A Monster



Stephen Volk Whitstable

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

Seems like Spectral Press has been in the news a whole lot lately; at least, the news I read—and write. A few Focuses ago we heard about The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, an exciting new anthology inspired by the cult classic Pan and Fontana annuals of the 60s and 70s. Simon Marshall-Jones’ indie outfit was also acknowledged by the British Fantasy Society with a number of award nominations, most notably for Best Small Press—this for the third time in a row, I think—but also for several stories by Steven Volk.

You might not know the name—he hasn’t written a whole lot of prose fiction—but Brits in particular will be familiar with his notorious Halloween hoax show, Ghostwatch, as well as the tremendous ITV series Afterlife. Afterlife’s cancellation was a Bad Thing, believe you me, but it did come with something of a silver lining: in the aftermath, Volk took to the short fiction form like a fella possessed. To wit, this week, we’re going to be reading Whitstable, his British Fantasy Award-nominated novella.

[Read More]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 16:30

Fiction Affliction: August Releases in Fantasy



Fiction Affliction fantasy new releases august

Twenty-five new fantasies bring war and magic to imaginary worlds this month, including series additions from, among others, Ian C. Esslemont (Malazan Empire), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Irene Radford (Children of the Dragon Nimbus), Daniel Abraham (The Dagger and the Coin), Brent Weeks (Lightbringer), and James Maxwell (Evermen Saga).

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read about this month’s releases.]

Read the full article

tordotcom July 29 2014, 16:30

Witness the Alternate Reality Where We Got Deadpool Instead of Green Lantern



Deadpool movie test footage Ryan Reynolds break the fourth wall meta

Ever since Deadpool had a bit part in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, there have been rumors of the “Merc with a Mouth” getting his own film. The movie has languished in development hell for years, likely due in part to fans’ negative reaction to X-Men’s portrayal of Deadpool as very different from the comics, then how much X-Men Origins and Green Lantern kind of stunk...

Some test footage from the Deadpool film has leaked, and we’re here to tell you—this is the Deadpool you fell in love with oh those many years ago. The character’s personality, and especially his propensity to break the fourth wall, come through loud and clear.

[Watch the footage before it gets yanked]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 16:00

Sleeps With Monsters: Vampire Academy (2014) and Byzantium (2012)



Vampire Academy Byzantium

Vampire Academy and Byzantium have two things in common. Each of them centres around a strong, vital relationship between two women: in Vampire Academy, this relationship is between adolescent best friends Rose and Lissa, while in Byzantium the central thread is the relationship between mother-daughter pair Clara and Eleanor Webb. They are also both films about supernatural creatures who require blood to survive—vampires, although Byzantium never uses the word.

[Read More]

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tordotcom July 29 2014, 16:00

Alien: Isolation Scuttles Through the Air Vents and Into SDCC



Alien Isolation SDCC

Developer The Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation made an eye-catching appearance at Comic Con this past weekend, drawing not only crowds of hopeful gamers but also throngs of intrigued spectators who couldn’t help but stop to watch the carnage unfold as each and every player met a grisly demise at the hands of the Alien. Not wanting to feel left out, I too joined the line to await my impending death and to see how the Alien franchise’s latest offering was shaping up a few months prior to release.

[You can run. But I really wouldn’t recommend it.]

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kristincashore July 29 2014, 14:51

Locating the Moon


There are stretches of time in my writing life when I wake up eager to work and have one productive day after another. Then there are stretches like this week, when I wake up feeling like it's intolerable to be on page 12 of a difficult 400-page revision, and am I really supposed to be in charge of making all these decisions? Is it really up to me and only me to decide what's best at every moment? To figure out the solution to a lot of complicated problems? By myself, in this room today for hours?

It becomes difficult to keep my focus small. Instead of the group of pages that are my small task for today, with a small list of objectives, I start thinking about all the changes the book needs as a whole, and I get overwhelmed. I start thinking about how many days this big revision is likely to take, while my editor and other people are waiting, and I get overwhelmed. My friends might find me to be a little bit glum, because during these times, I tend to see the world through revision-colored glasses. Honestly, I feel like I'm five years old and scared and need hugs.

All of this is why this morning, I went online to find out the state of the moon. Here in the Boston area, the moon is a tiny waxing crescent today that sets at 9:13 PM. This explains why haven't seen the moon for ages: it's been up during the day, and very small. But I'm going to make a point of finding it today. One of the things that kicks me out of this rotten feeling about my revision – consequently making it easier for me to sit down and do the actual work – is to step back, far, far back, and get some perspective on how little this revision actually matters. For example, how much would this revision matter if someone were looking at it from the moon?

The funny thing is that two opposite answers exist at the same time. It would matter hardly at all; look: it's so, so small when seen from the moon. Often I like to back up even further, get myself out into the further reaches of the galaxy, so that the sun is just a dim dot. None of the things that feel overwhelming to me here in my office feel overwhelming to me if I'm looking at them from some other part of the galaxy. I find it intensely relieving to be reminded of how small we all are and how little it all matters. My life is a tiny little speck of a thing.

Yet it also clarifies how important every tiny thing is. The universe is a big mystery made up of tiny things. We are tiny, but our lives are intense dramas that matter. This revision doesn't matter, but it matters a whole lot to me.

I'm not sure why, but every time I'm able to get this kind of perspective, it becomes easier to sit down and work.
tordotcom July 29 2014, 14:30

You Will Believe A Tree Can Steal Your Heart. Guardians of the Galaxy



Guardians of the Galaxy movie review

First of all, I would like to point out that I did in fact resist the urge to write this entire review in Grootspeak, which I think should count for something.

In case you’ve been living under a rock pile of vintage analog audio equipment, Guardians of the Galaxy is the latest offering from Marvel Studios. The movie follows the adventures of Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord and a bunch of other obscure Marvel characters that are almost too weird to be real but are in fact quite indicative of Marvel’s 70s output. Which is appropriate, considering the movie’s anachronistic soundtrack (as evidenced by the overuse of Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”) in the advertising campaign. But if you’re anything like me, and somehow haven’t gotten sick of the ironic juxtaposition of 70s pop music set against the backdrop of a technicolor Mos Eisley, I’m here to tell you that Guardian’s of the Galaxy is the greatest remake of Footloose that you will likely ever see.

[Read more]

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