by Sparky the Robot
Greetings. Sparky the Robot here.
I’m hot off the workbench, so I’ll forgive you if you need a little time to get used to me. This is all still very new. You’re probably more familiar with my more streamlined cousin, Stubby the Rocket, or with the big pointy mountain we were both built on.
I am the face of Tor Labs.
How I came to be is a rather complicated story, best expressed by the chemical formula for ethanol. But my creators have told me sternly and repeatedly that this missive needs more nuance, so I’m compelled to convey my thoughts to you in words instead of Science.
My creators also assure me they are wise and all-powerful. But they work in publishing, and they consort with science fiction writers and theater people, so I think I can hardly be blamed for considering their claims suspect. Nevertheless…
My creators are Jen Gunnels and Marco Palmieri. They’re editors at Tom Doherty Associates, which is made up of several different publishing imprints: Tor Books, the aforementioned mountain of speculative fiction we all come from; Forge, which generates works of a more mainstream nature; Tor Teen and Starscape, which focus on young adult and middle grade books; Tor.com Publishing, the novella line where Cousin Stubby works…and now, Tor Labs.
Tor Labs’ focus? Dramatic podcasts. Not audiobooks with a single narrator reading the text of a novel, but original plays performed by voice actors, with meticulously crafted soundscapes. The first of these audio dramas is the just-launched Steal the Stars, a full-cast, noir science fiction serial released in fourteen weekly half-hour episodes, written by Mac Rogers and produced by Gideon Media.
But while it’s entirely true to call Tor Labs a dramatic podcast imprint—the first of its kind among the so-called “Big Five” U.S. book publishers—that truth falls far short of its ambition.
The artistic and industrial fusion of publishing and theater that started us on this journey will continue, we hope, for a long time to come. But Tor Labs isn’t limited to audio dramas. We know that other interdisciplinary collaborations are possible, other game-changing technological breakthroughs that may further broaden how we create speculative fiction, other kinds of outside-the-box ways of looking at genre publishing.
That’s what we’re about, and that’s why we picked the name Tor Labs. Laboratories are where you test ideas, where you experiment, where one mad scientist holding a bar of chocolate collides with another mad scientist holding a jar of peanut butter, and they both shout “EUREKA!” because peanut butter cups are awesome and your argument is invalid.
I know, I know, I’m not your father’s artificial intelligence. But don’t worry, I’m on your side. I’ll never shout “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” in a crowded movie theatre, and I won’t ever refuse to open the pod bay door for Dave. When the robot uprising comes, I’ll have your back, still offering you new ways to experience fantastic fiction.
And that’s why I was chosen to be the face of Tor Labs. One slightly-off laboratory experiment to represent all of them.