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Every Tor Essential in 2020

Every Tor Essential in 2020

We at Tor Books believe the true ‘golden age’ of science fiction and fantasy is now, but we have a lot of love for the SFF published in the past few decades. And thus, our Tor Essentials line was born, reintroducing readers to some of our favorite classics. Need to catch up? Check out this list below for a roundup of every Tor Essentials book that came out in 2020!


Image Placeholder of - 1China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh, introduction by Jo Walton

After the Second Great Depression and the American Liberation War, the US has been left as a satellite state of China. In this somewhat but not entirely regimented world, young New York construction engineer Zhang Zhongshan must find his way in a society that disapproves both of his cultural heritage and his sexual identity. Because not everyone can change the world—sometimes, the ultimate challenge is to find a way to live in it. China Mountain Zhang presents a macroscopic world of microscopic intensity, one of the most brilliant visions in modern science fiction.

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Placeholder of  -51Three Californias by Kim Stanley Robinson

Before Kim Stanley Robinson terraformed Mars, he wrote three science fiction novels set in Orange County, California, where he grew up. These alternate futures—one a post-apocalypse, one an if-this-goes-on future reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, and one an ecological utopia—form a whole that illuminates, enchants, and inspires–collected here as Three Californias.

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Poster Placeholder of - 66Among Others by Jo Walton

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins, but her mind found freedom in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. When her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled—and her twin sister dead.

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Place holder  of - 79Blindsight by Peter Watts

Two months since the stars fell. Two months of silence, while a world held its breath. Now some half-derelict space probe, sparking fitfully past Neptune’s orbit, hears a whisper from the edge of the solar system: a faint signal sweeping the cosmos like a lighthouse beam. Whatever’s out there isn’t talking to us. It’s talking to some distant star, perhaps. Or perhaps to something closer, something en route.

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Image Place holder  of - 51A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

Thousands of years in the future, humanity is no longer alone in a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures, and technology, can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these “regions of thought,” but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

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The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe

A young man in his teens is transported from our world to a magical realm consisting of seven levels of reality. Transformed by magic into a grown man of heroic proportions, he takes the name Sir Able of the High Heart and sets out on a quest to find the sword that has been promised to him, the blade that will help him fulfill his ambition to become a true hero—a true knight.

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The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

In a snowbound inn high in the Alps, four people meet who will alter fate. A noble Byzantine mercenary, a female Florentine physician, an ageless Welsh wizard and Sforza, the uncanny duke. Together they will wage an intrigue-filled campaign against the might of Byzantium to secure the English throne for Richard, Duke of Gloucester—and make him Richard III.

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The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick

Lemabantunk, the Glorious City, is a place of peace and plenty, bejeweled streets and glittering waterfalls. It is also a place of severe justice. Darroti, a young merchant, has been accused of the brutal murder of a highborn woman. Now, in keeping with his world’s customs, his entire family must share in his punishment: exile to the unknown world that lies beyond a mysterious gate.

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Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his backyard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.

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Highlights from Peter Watts’ Reddit AMA

Highlights from Peter Watts’ Reddit AMA

Echopraxia by Peter Watts
In case you missed it, Echopraxia author Peter Watts did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) earlier this week. Here are the highlights from it.

Do you believe the central thesis of Blindsight, that consciousness is an aberration and evolutionary dead-end? Is there a similar theme to Echopraxia?

First question: I didn’t when I wrote the damn thing. I just couldn’t think of anything that an intelligent agent needed consciousness for, and it finally occurred to me that the idea of consciousness as a maladaptive side-effect was an awesome punchline for an SF story. I pretty much knew that about two weeks after release, some actual neuroscientist would condescendingly point out something that had never occured to me (because I generally don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about), and that would be that.

Since then, though, the evidence for the spandrel interpretation has only grown stronger. There are actual peer-reviewed papers out there arguing for the nonessentiality of consciousness. I may have blindly tossed a dart over my shoulder and, purely by accident, hit the bullseye.

Second question: Less than a day after release, and you’re already asking for the Cliff’s notes? I think not.

You are broke and have been offered a wheelbarrow full of cash for the rights to make a Blindsight movie. How would it work?

First of all, I am broke. What part of “midlist science ficton writer” don’t you understand?

Miniseries, but not Syfy: HBO. If we’re lucky we could get the guys who did the Sharknado movies (although personally I thought “Sharktopus” had greater verisimilitude), but those guys are in such high demand we’d probably have to settle for the “True Detective” crew.

Pacing, cuts and edits. Yes. There would be all of those things.

What made you choose the nature of consciousness as a focal point in the Blindsight universe? You can see your biology influence, specifically marine, in the crafting of the aliens, but what made you delve into the mind?

Back in the early nineties I read an essay by Dawkins—it was actually the afterword to a collection of essays on evolutionary ecology whose name I’ve forgotten—in which he mentioned, almost offhandedly, that the functional utility of consciousness was one of the great outstanding biological mysteries, that it was trivially easy to imagine an intelligent agent that could do everything we could without being conscious so what was consciousness good for, in the evolutionary sense?

He obviously wasn’t the first person to ask that question, but he was the first person to ask it within my eyeshot—and once posed, I felt embarrassed that that question had never occurred to me before then. It seemed obvious, a huge dark mystery at the center of our very existence. I wouldn’t say I started obsessing on it necessarily, but from then on the question was always there, niggling away in the back of my mind.

Eventually I got off my ass and wrote a book about it.

What made you decide to return to the Blindsight universe for Echopraxia?

My agent. I actually wanted to write a near-future techno-thriller about genetically-engineered giant squid, and in the wake of Behemoth’s tankage I was especially leery of revisiting any well without enough time to recharge my creative batteries. But I laid out five potential projects for the man, and he opined that what-was-then-called “State of Grace” was head and shoulders above the others.

And here we are.

What authors/movies/etc. influenced the horror aspects of your fiction?

The mandatory answer here is Lovecraft—but honestly, I haven’t read any Lovecraft since high school, and even then only a handful of stories. I liked the Alien movies well enough, but they weren’t especially influential on my own writing. If I dig deep enough, and if I’m brutally honest, I’ll admit that Rorschach may have had its genesis in the space-Rastaferian tree-ship from “Buckaroo Banzai: Adventures Across the Eighth Dimension”.

No, really.

For the rest of Peter’s AMA, head to Reddit.

Book Trailer: Echopraxia by Peter Watts

Book Trailer: Echopraxia by Peter Watts

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Echopraxia by Peter Watts

Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.

It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat’s-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.

Echopraxia, by Peter Watts, publishes on August 26.

Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes – Swag Bag #2

Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes – Swag Bag #2

Tor Books is heading to San Diego Comic-Con!

Image Place holder  of - 38We hope to see many of you there. Stop by Booth #2707 to say hi or to participate in one of our many events and signings.

But for those of you who couldn’t make it out to California, we wanted to offer you the chance to grab some of the same amazing swag and books that we’re promoting at #SDCC. To enter for the chance to win one of these three prize bundles, leave a comment on this post telling us one amazing thing that you’ll be doing this week while you are #NotAtComicCon. Whether you’re training your dragon, building your own TARDIS, or dealing with that pesky deadline at work, we hope you have a wonderful week. Here’s a look at the prize:

SDCC 2014 Swag Bag Prize

And here’s a list of what’s included in each prize bundle:

  • Signed copy of Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • ARC of Lowball: A Wild Cards Novel edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass
  • Audibook of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts
  • Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
  • Dragon Age: The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear
  • Kitty’s Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn
  • The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  • Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson
  • The Thief Queen’s Daughter by Elizabeth Haydon
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • And a tote bag

Plus, one winner will receive this display exclusive – a signed Three Parts Dead booth poster!

Three Parts Dead Poster

And, after you comment below to enter this sweepstakes, head over here to enter for a chance to win our other amazing swag bag!

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, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 or older as of the date of entry. To enter, leave a comment here beginning at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) July 24, 2014. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET July 28, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes – Swag Bag #1

Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes – Swag Bag #1

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We hope to see many of you San Diego Comic-Con! If you are there, stop by Booth #2707 to say hi or to participate in one of our many events.

Can’t make it? You can still get some or our swag when you enter our Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes! Just sign up for our newsletter, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win this awesome swag bag:

SDCC swag bag

This prize includes:

  • Wheel of Time bag
  • California Bones coaster set
  • Lock In keychain
  • Dragon Age poster
  • The Way of Kings magnet set
  • The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts
  • California Bones by Greg van Eekhout
  • Dark Shadows: Wolf Moon Rising by Lara Parker
  • Dragon Age: The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes
  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
  • Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

Sign up for your chance to win today!

And, after you sign up to enter this sweepstakes, head over here to enter for a chance to win our other amazing swag bag!

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, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 or older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete the entry form here beginning at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) July 23, 2014. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 PM ET July 27, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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