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Books That Helped the Tor Staff Survive 2020

We are so, so close to 2020 being over and while we can’t wait to finally escape the dumpster fire that was this year, we’re also taking the time to look back at the books that helped get us through. Check out which books we are most grateful for here.


book-jordan-hanleyJordan Hanley, Marketing Manager

Tor.com Publishing novellas have really pulled me through 2020. They’ve also saved my Goodreads reading challenge! Here’s a few short novellas I’ve read that kept my passion for reading good horror alive:

I still have quite a few horrific Tor.com Publishing novellas on my TBR, including Ring Shoutby P. Djèlí Clark. These slender volumes keep me turning pages long into the night and have kept my 2020 reading challenge alive (or, perhaps, undead!)

book-system-redLauren Anesta, Senior Publicist

I, personally, think The Murderbot Diaries (by Martha Wells) is the #1 science fiction series ever published. I stand by this bold claim because it has been absolutely the only thing I’ve been able to read for pleasure since March 8, 2020, the day my attention span officially died. Murderbot, a mascot for socially anxious people everywhere, feels somehow even more relevant at a time when we’re all isolated. Like Murderbot, I’ve fully retreated into the comfort of my favorite TV shows and have lost my ability to maintain a conversation with people IRL. Murderbot has Sanctuary Moon, I have 21 seasons of Midsomer MurdersMurderbot is often angry and frustrated and doesn’t want to stop watching TV, but it gets up and gets the job done anyway, because people rely on it. I know I’ve certainly needed that reminder more than once in the past year, and Murderbot does that for me—but gently, and cushioned in pages full of high-intensity space battles, heist action, and technobabble.

book-9781250229861Libby Collins, Publicist

WHAT A YEAR, AM I RIGHT. Books were the most (only?) consistent thing in my 2020, and I’m grateful for so many of them. I took special comfort in some amazing TDA titles, including The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. What a timely testament to the beauty of being alive, even during the hard times. This was also the year I *finally* made myself acquainted with Murderbot, and I am extremely in love. Martha Wells’s novella series, The Murderbot Diaries, were a source of comfort and I can’t wait to get to the novel, Network Effect. Two others that provided a different sort of comfort were Lavie Tidhar’s By Force Alone and Matt Goldman’s Dead West. The former is an Arthurian myth reimagined with Scorsese-type gangster characters—very bloody, very profane, very fun. The latter is a mystery, the fourth in Goldman’s Nils Shapiro series, with a well-rounded, funny, very lovable Midwesterner visiting LA for the first time to solve a Hollywood murder. I have to mention an upcoming title from the one and only Catherynne M. Valente, called The Past is Red. It’s a sharp, satirical, dystopian novella rooted in environmentalism featuring one of the most enjoyable main characters I’ve read recently. And finally, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. This one also doesn’t come out until 2021 (July 20, 2021, in case anyone wants to jot that date down so they can run to their nearest bookstore or pre-order the heck out of this one) but I read it in 2020 and wow, did I love it. I felt consumed by this book while I was reading it, and all the moments I wasn’t reading it were spent basically thinking about it and the characters in it. Here’s to another year and an endless pile of new books to get us through.

book-9781250217288Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager

So I don’t know about y’all, but I kicked off this year thinking I was going to CRUSH my Goodreads challenge. But then…2020 happened and my attention span went straight out the window. But suddenly, TJ Klune was there to save the day. The House in Cerulean Sea was one of the first books I read after starting at Tor and I devoured it in a single day. It was the warm, comforting read I needed this year and it truly saved me in the early days of the pandemic. I spent most of the year anxiously hovering, waiting for Under the Whispering Door, TJ’s next adult book with Tor, to come in. Though it’s not publishing until September 2021, I was lucky enough to read it early and once again was completely absorbed. This is a must-read for 2021 and I personally can’t wait for more people to get their hands on the book so we can scream about it together.

book-9781250214751Giselle Gonzalez, Publicity Assistant

There’s so many books that I’m so greatful to have read in 2020, but if I had to narrow it down, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi would definitely be at the top of my list. Riot Baby was the first work I’ve read by Tochi and it is absolutely essential reading. It is powerful, eye-opening, moving, and nerdy-as-heck. A book I will never forget and will recommend to everyone! Another novel that I’m grateful to have read this year is Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. As a Cuban American woman it’s rare that I find a book that portrays my experience and that of the women in my family, but this novel felt like coming home. It’s a story of family, women, immigration, loss and it’s absolutely stunning, fierce and left me in a puddle of tears. It was one of the first times I saw myself and my family in a book and it holds a special place in my heart.

book-9781250229793Leah Schnelbach, Staff Writer, Tor.com

Two of my favorite reads this year were, on the surface, quite different: Drowned Country, Emily Tesh’s sequel to her lovely Silver in the Wood, and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.

Drowned Country is a funny, ache-y return to characters I loved. Henry Silver and Tobias Finch are one of my favorite literary couples (honestly, my only quibble with these books is that they’re not giant fantasy doorstoppers because I want to spend more time with those two) and Henry’s monster-hunting mother is hilarious. But what’s great about Drowned Country is that it takes this trio and deepens them. The narrative hops around in time, stranding us in terrible memories before dropping us back in the present, creating a palpable sense of Henry’s grief. By letting Henry’s neediness shade into real selfishness, Tesh is able to explore the consequences and put the poor, silly boy through more of an emotional wringer. Meanwhile, Tobias’ taciturn nature very nearly ruins everything, until the moment when he allows himself to act on impulse (and thus saves the day), and Adela Silver is older now, and has vulnerabilities of her own. Plus there’s a terrifying quest? And a whole new fantasy country? And a new character, Maud Lindhurst, who holds her own even with Henry’s mother? The book gently worries at the idea of past mistakes echoing up into the present—both personal failings like Henry’s, and the giant, world-shattering choices that led to the Drowned Country in the first place.

Now, Gilead is again, on the surface, quite different. The engine of the book is that Reverend John Ames, a septuagenarian father, is writing letters for his seven-year-old son. The Reverend has a heart condition. He could go at any time. The letters may be the only way the boy will know his father, so Rev. Ames knows he has to get them right. This is a slow, quiet, meditative book about the different shapes love can take. It spends pages and pages turning over one idea, one memory. It also talks, beautifully and at length, about John Brown’s fight against slavery, and the ultimate moral failure of the nice white people who refused to back his fight. The threads of personal history and national catastrophe weave together beautifully to add up to a book that is, at its heart, about the need to connect across time.

In both cases, these books allowed me to slow down and spend time with characters who became quite real. They gave me space to think about the past as both personal and political, and to read about people who are brave enough to drop their defenses and be honest with each other in order to heal sins of the past.

book-AnnelieseAnneliese Merz, Publicity Assistant 

I’ve been immensely grateful for so many books this year, but I think that if I had to choose (help, Tor is making me!), I would say The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune was the perfect pick me up and feel good book that I needed in this god awful year that is 2020. I would also say, I finally read the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo in preparation for the show coming to Netflix in April 2021 and my body and mind is SO ready!

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WTF? Or, The Knights Who Say F*ck (A Lot)

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How much swearing is TOO much swearing? Is there even such a thing as too much swearing?! Lavie Tidhar, author of By Force Alone, on sale now, dives into that question, and what “bad” language means to our concept of speech in the article below. Check it out!


I once wrote a picture book called Going to the Moon, about a boy with Tourette syndrome who wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. It starts, “This is Jimmy. Jimmy goes to the FUCKING school. Jimmy has Coprolalia. It makes him use socially-unaccepted words. Like FUCK.”

(I may have been stoned when I wrote it. It really was a long time ago).

The thing is, Going To The Moon – a book about words and what happens when you can’t control them, about bullying and dreams – might actually be the best thing I ever wrote. It was illustrated by Paul McCaffrey, who went on to be my partner on the comics mini-series Adler (issue #3 out now!), and I think only thirty people ever bought one (the publisher lost the second box of copies).

What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is that if language matters, “bad” language, or swearing, matters too. It is the sort of thing we try to teach children not to use while, most often, using it ourselves. It’s everywhere, in music, in films, graffitied on walls. And it’s old.

I suppose some readers have the quaint notion people never used to swear. The c-word, so offensive we call it “the c-word”, was used by Chaucer and Shakespeare. Shakespeare in particular takes absolute delight in working in rude puns into his plays, reminding us that Elizabethan theatre was set in the veritable den of vice that was Southwark, a stone throw from the brothels and the bear pits. And swearing was hardly restricted to the barbarous English. The Romans, whose absence haunts the pages of my recent book By Force Alone, swore like troopers. Just in Latin.

So when writing historically-set novels, even if they occasionally feature a leprechaun or a dragon (or Jewish kung-fu masters, or aliens), the question becomes not, “Did they swear?” but rather, “How much did they swear?”

My first novel, The Bookman, an almost young-adultish novel really, originally had exactly one instance of the word “fuck” in it – because, in American movie ratings, one instance is allowed and I thought it was funny (I cut it out in the end but I still like the joke). And I am not a huge fan of swearing for its own sake. I’ve taken to removing instances of swearing from my work unless explicitly called for. I also, as it happens, write children’s books (The Candy Mafia is out this September), and I couldn’t even use the word “fat” as a description (or, indeed, mention in passing the smell of cigarette smoke). Words and their use change over time. Where Roald Dahl takes awful delight in tormenting Augustus Gloop and his parents (Dahl’s inherent cruelty is never more evident than when he targets overweight people), today’s children’s authors must do better (and I always felt bad for Augustus, a happy child finding utter joy in food and tormented for no good reason by that awful Mr. Wonka).

I suppose I only discovered the sheer joy of sweary abandon when I got to write the character of “Wolf” (a down-at-heels Adolf Hitler who never rose to power) in A Man Lies Dreaming. Wolf’s rage, hate, and frustration were incredibly liberating! As his life gets worse and worse, the expletives come pouring out with greater savagery and emphasis. In the second half of the novel the exclamation marks multiply! It was great fun! At least for me! (I don’t think many people ever bought that book, either, though it has its fans).

So when setting down to write By Force Alone, a book about terrible people doing terrible things (which is the history of Britain in a nutshell, really), how else could they possibly speak? I may have somewhat overused the c-word, I must admit, though modern Brits do use it more freely than their American counterparts. The knights are gangsters, and gangsters (at least, movie gangsters) make poetry out of obscenity, a fact that owes a debt of gratitude to Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pileggi more than most. Pileggi makes “fucks” sing.

In his influential essay “The Simple Art of Murder”, Raymond Chandler set down the idea plainly. How should his hero speak? “He talks as the man of his age talks,” Chandler says, “that is, with rude wit [and] a lively sense of the grotesque.”

I can’t promise I delivered on the wit, but I certainly did on the rude parts, and I’m pretty sure I did ok on the grotesque. As one rather confused Goodreads reader put it, “Swearing, some sexual scenes, violence and graphic descriptions do not make it suitable for a younger age group.” You’d think the blood dripping sword on the cover might have been a clue, too, but fuck that.

Swearing for its own sake is a pointless exercise, and you should go wash your mouth with soap (as people used to say. Do people still say that? Did it ever work? I rather doubt it). But used well, there is a wonderful theatricality to swearing, a slapstick joy like a custard pie in the face.

And if someone doesn’t like it, then fuck it.

Order By Force Alone Here:

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Excerpt: By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

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Poster Placeholder of - 10A retelling of Arthurian myth for the age of Brexit and Trump, from World Fantasy Award-winner Lavie Tidhar, By Force Alone.

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster.
Merlin? An eldritch parasite.
Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer.
Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

A savage and cutting epic fantasy, equally poetic and profane, By Force Alone is at once a timely political satire, a magical adventure, and a subversive masterwork.

Please enjoy this excerpt of By Force Alone, on sale 08/11/2020.


1

Kay steals a glance. He watches Arthur, watching the gathered dignitaries. He knows—he thinks he knows—what Arthur thinks. How he hates them all and how he longs to be like them. To be a made man. To be a knight.

It’s the highest honor they can give you, it means you belong. Arthur could never be one of them, he could never be made. To be a knight is to have family. It’s to be known. They’re all here today, to see Kay knighted. The Frankish Mob and the Wolves and the Knights of Bors. He tries not to look to where Young Bors is standing. To Kay, all this just means his dues. He was always going to be knighted. But for Arthur it means something deeper, it means no one can fuck with you and you can fuck with anybody, long as they’re not also a knight.

But this is Kay’s day today.

“Well, come closer,” the Guv’nor says. Kay does, obediently.

“Kneel.”

He kneels.

Sir Carados, the Guv’nor, shuffles forward. His smell is rather overpowering. Like ripened cheese and something that’s been dead too long down in a ditch. Plus cooked chicken.

“My sword?”

“Here, lord.”

The flat of the blade lands on Kay’s shoulder. He tries not to wince. The sword rises. The Guv’nor’s hands are not the steadiest. The sword descends again, touches Kay lightly on the other shoulder, then withdraws.

“Rise, Sir Kay,” the Guv’nor says.

Kay rises. Everyone cheers. Suddenly he’s surrounded by well-wishers, clapping him on the back, shaking his hand in the manner of the Greeks, voicing congratulations. The Guv’nor sits back with a grunt. Waves his hand—it is done.

Kay finds Arthur. The boy is always so still. They hug.

“Sir Kay,” Arthur says.

Kay grins.

Servants bring in food. The knights descend on the offerings like starved orphans. There’s chicken and pheasant and boar. There’s wine and beer, breads, cheeses. There’s asparagus and radishes and plenty of fish.

On the other side of the court, Kay catches Young Bors’ eye. Bors gives the tiniest nod.

Arthur and Kay slip into the shadows. They find themselves next to that curious rock with the sword in the stone. Kay, on a whim, tries to pull it out, but it’s stuck fast.

“Well?” Arthur says.

Kay says, “Day after tomorrow.”

Arthur nods. They watch the assembled dignitaries gnawing at the food. The music crescendoes and grows wild. Dancing girls emerge into the courtyard in flimsy robes. The robes fall down. Kay blushes. The knights and lords reach for the girls with greasy hands. Wine amphorae crash to the ground. The air is filled with the smell of spilled wine, bad breath, men’s sweat, women’s perfumes. The knights copulate with the whores like pigs in a litter. Kay watches Arthur.

“Look at them,” Arthur says. “They are like dogs tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes.”

It occurs to Kay that his friend is quoting Cleanthes, the Stoic. It is not that Arthur is entirely free of the passions of the body. But rather that mere animal sex is not enough to arouse him. He lusts not for women but for naked power. Sharing room and bed together as they do, Kay knows his friend does not even perform self-release on himself. And Kay thinks, He must be wound so tight, it can’t be healthy, not to let out your seed. Sir Hector’s always mocking Arthur; he once sent his wenches to try and seduce him, but Arthur politely turned them away.

So Arthur only watches, with distaste, the other knights. Kay knows he thinks them weak. And as for Kay, there’s nothing here he wants. His interests lie elsewhere.

They slip away. No one will miss them. Outside the palace it is night, the witching hour. But Kay’s a knight now. He’s not afraid, for once he’s not afraid of puckles or cutties or nickers or trolls.

And so he doesn’t even notice, in the shadow of a wall, the figure watching them, a youth wrapped in the silver haze of moonlight, with eyes like a lizard’s. Merlin, the watcher, hisses, and his tongue darts out and he tastes for something nebulous, like a Greek wine taster at court. And whatever it is Merlin finds, he finds it well, for he smiles.

It is the real thing, he thinks.

He walks inside the governor’s palace. The guardsmen start, yet move aside for him. Merlin’s not unknown here, at the court of Sir Carados. He helps himself to a piece of fruit from the food tables, and skins it halfheartedly with a small silver knife. He watches the fornication. It makes him miss his old master, how fond Uther was of fucking. It was his downfall.

There’s power here, in this room, but it’s hard to taste over the stench of body odor and semen. These men are like humping dogs, they’re quickly spent. It’s not much of an orgy, Merlin thinks. A young man stumbles past him and pukes onto the ground, just missing Merlin’s feet. Merlin kneels and gently pulls his head so he could throw up more comfortably.

“You’re Bors the Younger, aren’t you,” he says.

“I know you?”

“I know you,” Merlin says, with unassailable logic.

“Get your fucking hands off me, man,” Bors says. Then he retches again. Merlin takes a step back, looking at this young knight crouched naked on the ground, his bare back shining with sweat. The short-cropped hair, the wicked arms, that flaring temper. He nods.

Then he goes and finds the Guv’nor, who has fallen asleep in his stone throne. He shakes him awake, none too gently this time.

“What? What!” Carados says. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Did you tell them?”

“About your stupid stone?” A look of cold amusement suffuses the Guv’nor’s eyes. “Not yet.”

Merlin scans the courtyard. Notices the new wood cross erected in the earth. He shudders.

“What’s that?” he says.

“It’s a cross, Merlin. What does it fucking look like?”

Why do you have a cross, Carados?”

“Had some fellows over here a couple years back, wine merchants from the Old Country. You still get traders willing to make the passage even out here to the back of beyond. Christians, apparently that’s the height of fashion in the Empire these days. Figured, what’s the harm, right? Do as the Romans do, and all that. What! Don’t look at me like that. They said this Jesus of theirs came here, of all places, after he died.”

“Well, that’s a likely story,” Merlin says. He claps his hands. One last knight gives a shuddering thrust and the rest are already pulling up their pants and reaching for drinks.

“Listen up!” Merlin says. “Listen up, you fucking degenerates.”

“What did you just call us?” one of the Frankish Mob shouts, confused.

“I said listen up, good sirs and knights,” Merlin says. There’s something so calming in his voice, like a murmuring brook in your memories of childhood. Like Mother’s voice as she lulls you to sleep. Like the chirping of birds in an enchanted forest, full of light.

It works. They all calm down, turn expectant eyes on him. For just a moment, these ruthless, savage men are vulnerable like children.

And so he delivers it upon them: the prophecy. It is the oldest grift in the book, and still one of the best. He thinks of that Hebrew wizard, Moses, who learned his magic in the temples of Anubis and Ra. Those Egyptians, he thinks, had a neat line in sorcery, like the old staff-to-snake transformation routine.

Merlin would have loved to go there.

Yet Merlins are not great travelers, as a rule. Too much binds them in place, to the land and its memories, like some sort of spiritus loci.

But this Moses, anyhow, had the whole prophecy gig down pat; and when Merlin was a kid being shunned and tormented by his peers, had not the power of prophecy rescued him, allowed him to become the king’s own man?

So he lays it on them, and he lays it on thick.

“The Empire has fallen,” Merlin says. “And for too long have the people of this land fought each other, like rats scrabbling for scraps at their dead master’s table. Now a new threat is coming, from beyond the sea. Foreigners coming to take our land, our livelihoods—our wives!”

“Our whores!” someone shouts. Merlin ignores him. He scans the crowd. They’re listening, he sees. They’re nodding in agreement. They’re starting to mutter.

It occurs to him that this sort of patter will never quite fail. Perhaps in centuries hence, a millennium from now, this sort of crap would still light up people’s hearts. Hatred, after all, is so very comforting to have.

“Foreigners!” he says, savoring the words and their effect on his captive audience. “Angles and Saxons, coming over here, to fight and pillage and— and rape!”

Even the Frankish Mob guys are nodding. They may have been Germanic originally but by Nodens these guys are Londinium born and bred.

“I was King Uther’s wizard,” Merlin says, and he can see them exchanging looks, can see them shifting, these half-denarius strongmen. They know power, he thinks. They know Uther.

“He died. He died nobly—”

Died shitting himself, what other way was there to die, Merlin thinks but doesn’t say.

“Died nobly to unify this land, to bring it back to—glory! I had seen this, I had delivered this very same prophecy onto King Vortigern, the usurper— yes, I see you nod, yes, I see you know the truth of what I say. I had told him a true king will be born. A true and royal king will rise, to unify this warring land, one king for all of Britain!”

He has their full attention now. One guy had not even remembered to shove his cock all the way back in his trousers. It still drips a little bit of cum. Merlin magics light, a little ignis fatuus or will-o’-the-wisp, and it floats over the enraptured audience to the rock with the sword in it.

He watches them, how they follow the foolish fire. Like a conjurer he turns their attention where he wants. Good, good, he thinks. For all the while they’ll be busy here, while the real magic trick takes place elsewhere.

“Behold!” he bellows. “Behold the sword! Behold the sword in the stone!”

“What make is it?” someone asks.

“Is it a gladius?”

“The workmanship is very nice on the grip,” someone says.

“Why is there a bloody sword stuck in a bloody stone?” someone else says, one of the Bors boys, he thinks.

“This is the true king’s sword!” Merlin bellows. He has to sell it. This is the hard part now. “For so it has been prophesied—”

By me, he thinks, but doesn’t say.

“It has been prophesied, that only the true king shall have the power to pull the sword, and in so doing, declare himself to one and all the king!”

He looks at them. He watches them closely. And he knows that they want to believe him. This is how true magic is made, in letting people see what they want to see.

In the shadows, under the crumbling arches of the old palace, a street cat watches him with cold, amused eyes. She licks a paw, delicately. She sticks her tongue out at him.

Fucking Morgan, he thinks, but doesn’t say. Don’t spoil this right now for me.

“But . . . but who’s the king?” a knight shouts. One of Sir Hector’s crew.

“It sure ain’t you, Lucan!” one of the Frankish Mob says, and someone sniggers.

“Only one way to find out!” this Lucan says. Emboldened by drink or the crowd’s attention he strides to the stone and lays his hands on the pommel of the sword. He pulls. Then pulls again, harder this time, then grips with two hands and strains against the rock, one foot against the stone, pulling so hard that he ends up flat on his arse.

And that’s how it’s done, Merlin thinks. Then they’re all at it, each trying their luck, and when Merlin next looks to the shadows, the watching street cat is gone.

He kneels beside Sir Carados’ throne. The old fat man shakes his head.

“A sword in a stone,” he says. “That is the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard, Merlin.”

Then he grins, and pats Merlin’s hand.

“Nice one,” he says.

Copyright © Lavie Tidhar 2020

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Every Tor Book Coming This Summer

It’s almost time for summer weather and that means…SUMMER BOOKS! Due to COVID-19, we shuffled some of our on sale dates around, so check here for the most up to date list of when you can get your hands on some of the most highly anticipated books of the season:

June 16

The Unconquered CityPoster Placeholder of - 22 by K. A. Doore

Seven years have passed since the Siege—a time when the hungry dead had risen—but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Though she was trained to be an elite assassin, now the Basbowen clan act as Ghadid’s militia force protecting the resurrected city against a growing tide of monstrous guul that travel across the dunes. Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger. How much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

GloriousImage Placeholder of - 14 by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. Tasked with exploring this brave, new, highly dangerous world, they must also deal with their own personal triumphs and conflicts.

June 23

Place holder  of - 69The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent. Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

June 30

Image Place holder  of - 96Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person, his personality an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human. As such, Smithe can be loaned to other branches. Which he is. Along with two fellow reclones, a cookbook and romance writer, they are shipped to Polly’s Cove, where Smithe meets a little girl who wants to save her mother, a father who is dead but perhaps not. And another E.A. Smithe… who definitely is.

July 7

Placeholder of  -26Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott

Princess Sun has finally come of age. Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared. But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead.

Or What You Will by Jo Walton

He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god. But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.

Little Brother & Homeland by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow’s two New York Times-bestselling novels of youthful rebellion against the torture-and-surveillance state – now available in a softcover omnibus

 

July 14

In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows by Stephen R. Lawhead

Conor mac Ardan is now clan chief of the Darini. Tara’s Hill has become a haven and refuge for all those who were made homeless by the barbarian Scálda. A large fleet of the Scálda’s Black Ships has now arrived and Conor joins Eirlandia’s lords to defeat the monsters. He finds treachery in their midst…and a betrayal that is blood deep. And so begins a final battle to win the soul of a nation.

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowl

Elma York is on her way to Mars, but the Moon colony is still being established. Her friend and fellow Lady Astronaut Nicole Wargin is thrilled to be one of those pioneer settlers, using her considerable flight and political skills to keep the program on track. But she is less happy that her husband, the Governor of Kansas, is considering a run for President.

July 21

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything—not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams. Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late—is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

 The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few. It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her.

Quantum Shadows by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. 

On a world called Heaven, the ten major religions of mankind each have its own land governed by a capital city and ruled by a Hegemon. That Hegemon may be a god, or a prophet of a god. Smaller religions have their own towns or villages of belief. Corvyn, known as the Shadow of the Raven, contains the collective memory of humanity’s Falls from Grace. With this knowledge comes enormous power. When unknown power burns a mysterious black image into the holy place of each House of the Decalivre, Corvyn must discover what entity could possibly have that much power. The stakes are nothing less than another Fall, and if he doesn’t stop it, mankind will not rise from the ashes.

Uranus by Ben Bova

Humans can’t live on the gas giants, making instead a life in orbit. Kyle Umber, a religious idealist, has built Haven, a sanctuary above the distant planet Uranus. He invites ”the tired, the sick, the poor“ of Earth to his orbital retreat where men and women can find spiritual peace and refuge from the world. The billionaire who financed Haven, however, has his own designs: beyond the reach of the laws of the inner planets Haven could become the center for an interplanetary web of narcotics, prostitution, even hunting human prey.

I Come With Knives by S. A. Hunt

Robin – now armed with new knowledge about mysterious demon terrorizing her around town, the support of her friends, and the assistance of her old witch-hunter mentor – plots to confront the Lazenbury coven and destroy them once and for all. Robin must handle new threats on top of the menace from the Lazenbury coven, but a secret about Robin’s past may throw all of her plans into jeopardy.

July 28

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…Or they could do the impossible: team up.

The Baron of Magister Valley by Steven Brust

The salacious claims that The Baron of Magister Valley bears any resemblance to a certain nearly fictional narrative about an infamous count are unfounded (we do not dabble in tall tales. The occasional moderately stretched? Yes. But never tall). Our tale is that of a nobleman who is betrayed by those he trusted, and subsequently imprisoned. After centuries of confinement, he contrives to escape and prepares to avenge himself against his betrayers. A mirror image of The Count of Monte Cristo, vitrolic naysayers still grouse? Well, that is nearly and utterly false.

Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz

Meet Mat, a tortured mercenary who has become the perfect shot, and Silvia, and idealistic woman genetically engineered to murder you to death. Together they run for the shadiest corporation in the world… and realize their messed-up brain chemistry cannot overpower their very real chemistry.

August 4

The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

In a Midwestern trailer park, a Black teenage girl and a Muslim immigrant battle newly-risen friends and family. On a US aircraft carrier, living sailors hide from dead ones while a fanatic makes a new religion out of death. At a cable news station, a surviving anchor keeps broadcasting while his undead colleagues try to devour him. In DC, an autistic federal employee charts the outbreak, preserving data for a future that may never come. Everywhere, people are targeted by both the living and the dead. We think we know how this story ends. We. Are. Wrong.

Space Station Down by Ben Bova and Doug Beason

When an ultra-rich space tourist visits the orbiting International Space Station, NASA expects a $100 million win-win: his visit will bring in much needed funding and publicity. But the tourist venture turns into a scheme of terror. Together with an extremist cosmonaut, the tourist slaughters all the astronauts on board the million-pound ISS—and prepares to crash it into New York City at 17,500 miles an hour, causing more devastation than a hundred atomic bombs. In doing so, they hope to annihilate the world’s financial system.

Sorcery of a Queen by Brian Naslund

Driven from her kingdom, the would-be queen now seeks haven in the land of her mother, but Ashlyn will not stop until justice has been done. Determined to unlock the secret of powers long thought impossible, Ashlyn bends her will and intelligence to mastering the one thing people always accused her of, sorcery. Meanwhile, having learned the truth of his mutation, Bershad is a man on borrowed time. Never knowing when his healing powers will drive him to a self-destruction, he is determined to see Ashlyn restored to her throne and the creatures they both love safe.

A Chorus of Fire by Brian D. Anderson

A shadow has moved across Lamoria. Whispers of the coming conflict are growing louder; the enemy becoming bolder. Belkar’s reach has extended far into the heart of Ralmarstad and war now seems inevitable. Mariyah, clinging to the hope of one day being reunited with Lem, struggles to attain the power she will need to make the world safe again.Lem continues his descent into darkness, serving a man he does not trust in the name of a faith which is not his own. Only Shemi keeps his heart from succumbing to despair, along with the knowledge that he has finally found Mariyah. But Lem is convinced she is being held against her will, and is determined to free her, regardless the cost.

August 11

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Baru’s enemies close in from all sides. Baru’s own mind teeters on the edge of madness or shattering revelation. Now she must choose between genocidal revenge and a far more difficult path—a conspiracy of judges, kings, spies and immortals, puppeteering the world’s riches and two great wars in a gambit for the ultimate prize. If Baru had absolute power over the Imperial Republic, she could force Falcrest to abandon its colonies and make right its crimes.

The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock

Isabelle and Jean-Claude undertake an airship expedition to recover a fabled treasure and claim a hitherto undiscovered craton for l’Empire Celeste. But Isabelle, as a result from a previous attack that tried to subsume her body and soul, suffers from increasingly disturbing and disruptive hallucinations. Disasters are compounded when the ship is sabotaged by an enemy agent, and Jean-Claude is separated from the expedition.

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster. Merlin? An eldritch parasite. Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer. Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

The Shadow Commission by David Mack

November 1963. Cade and Anja have lived in hiding for a decade, training new mages. Then the assassination of President Kennedy trigger a series of murders whose victims are all magicians—with Cade, Anja, and their allies as its prime targets. Their only hope of survival: learning how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.

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. Inside, however, Sir Able remains a boy, and he must grow in every sense to survive what lies ahead…

August 25

The Memory of Souls by Jenn Lyons

Now that Relos Var’s plans have been revealed and demons are free to rampage across the empire, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies—and the end of the world—is closer than ever. To buy time for humanity, Kihrin needs to convince the king of the Manol vané to perform an ancient ritual which will strip the entire race of their immortality, but it’s a ritual which certain vané will do anything to prevent. Including assassinating the messengers.

Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne

Terminally ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she’ll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and find a cure. When her crew salvages a genocidal weapon from a ravaged starship above a dead colony, Ash uncovers a conspiracy of corporate intrigue and betrayal that threatens to turn her into a living weapon.

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Download a Free Digital Preview of By Force Alone

Poster Placeholder of - 92Start reading Lavie Tidhar’s By Force Alone with a free digital previewBy Force Alone hits shelves everywhere on 8/11.

About By Force Alone:

A retelling of Arthurian myth for the age of Brexit and Trump, from World Fantasy Award-winner Lavie Tidhar, By Force Alone.

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster.
Merlin? An eldritch parasite.
Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer.
Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

A savage and cutting epic fantasy, equally poetic and profane, By Force Alone is at once a timely political satire, a magical adventure, and a subversive masterwork.

Download Your Free Digital Preview:

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Every Tor Book Coming This Spring

We’re poking out our heads from our winter hibernation to yell about TOR SPRING BOOKS! We are more than ready for the weather to get warm so we can drag this big ol’ stack of books outside. Here’s EVERYTHING coming from Tor this spring:

March 24

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The Poet King by Ilana C. Meyer

After a surprising upheaval, the nation of Tamryllin has a new ruler: Elissan Diar, who proclaims himself the first Poet King. Meanwhile, a civil war rages in a distant land, and former Court Poet Lin Amaristoth gathers allies old and new to return to Tamryllin in time to stop the coronation. For the Poet King’s ascension is connected with a darker, more sinister prophecy which threatens to unleash a battle out of legend unless Lin and her friends can stop it.

 

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A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff

Barely surviving her ordeal in Oromondo and scarred by its Fire Spirit, Cerulia is taken to a recovery house in Wyeland to heal from the trauma. In a ward with others who are all bound to serve each other, she discovers that not all scars are visible, and dying can be done with grace and acceptance. While she would like to stay in this place of healing, will she ever be able to the peace she has found to re-take the throne?

 

April 7

The Glass MagicianPoster Placeholder of - 8 by Caroline Stevermer

Thalia Cutler doesn’t have prolific family connections. What she does know is stage magic and she dazzles audiences with an act that takes your breath away. That is, until one night when a trick goes horribly awry. In surviving she discovers that she can shapeshift, and has the potential to take her place among the rich and powerful. But first, she’ll have to learn to control that power…before the real monsters descend to feast.

 

April 14

Image Place holder  of - 72Queen by Timothy Zahn

Nicole Hammond is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with a strange alien ship called the Fyrantha. However, Nicole and all other sentient creatures are caught up in a war for control between two competing factions. Now, the street-kid turned rebel leader has a plan that would restore freedom to all who have been shanghaied by the strange ship.

 

Image Placeholder of - 45The Last Emperox by John Scalzi

Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of the empirical collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough. Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?

 

April 21

You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript. Then again, there are enough bodies in her past.

Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare…

 

The Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff

The true queen of Weirandale has returned. Cerulia has done the impossible and regained the throne. However, she’s inherited a council of traitors, a realm in chaos, and a war with Oromondo. Now a master of her Gift, to return order to her kingdom she will use all she has learned—humility, leadership, compassion, selflessness, and the necessity of ruthlessness.

 

April 28

Critical Point by S. L. Huang

Math-genius mercenary Cas Russell has stopped a shadow organization from brainwashing the world and discovered her past was deliberately erased and her superhuman abilities deliberately created. And that’s just the start: when a demolitions expert targets Cas and her friends, and the hidden conspiracy behind Cas’s past starts to reappear, the past, present, and future collide in a race to save one of her dearest friends.

 

May 12

Deal with the Devil by Claire Eddy

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…Or they could do the impossible: team up.

 

May 19

I Come With Knives by S. A. Hunt

A dangerous serial killer only known as The Serpent is abducting and killing Blackfield residents. An elusive order of magicians known as the Dogs of Odysseus also show up with Robin in their sights. Robin must handle these new threats on top of the menace from the Lazenbury coven, but a secret about Robin’s past may throw all of her plans into jeopardy.

 

Uranus by Ben Bova

On a privately financed orbital habitat above the planet Uranus, political idealism conflicts with pragmatic, and illegal, methods of financing. Add a scientist who has funding to launch a probe deep into Uranus‘s ocean depths to search for signs of life, and you have a three-way struggle for control.

 

May 26

Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz

In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He’s your solider’s solider, with military-grade weapons instead of arms…and a haunted past that keeps him awake at night. On a mission that promises the biggest score of his life, he discovers that the top secret shipment he’s been sent to guard is not a package, but a person: Silvia, genetically-altered to be the deadliest woman on the planet—her only weakness is her panic disorder.

 

June 2

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything—not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams. Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late—is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

 

June 9

The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

A pair of medical examiners find themselves battling a dead man who won’t stay dead. In a Midwestern trailer park, a Black teenage girl and a Muslim immigrant battle newly-risen friends and family. On a US aircraft carrier, living sailors hide from dead ones while a fanatic makes a new religion out of death. At a cable news station, a surviving anchor keeps broadcasting while his undead colleagues try to devour him. In DC, an autistic federal employee charts the outbreak, preserving data for a future that may never come. Everywhere, people are targeted by both the living and the dead.

 

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The hunt is over. After fifteen years of lies and sacrifice, Baru Cormorant has the power to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest that she pretends to serve. The secret society called the Cancrioth is real, and Baru is among them. But the Cancrioth’s weapon cannot distinguish the guilty from the innocent. If it escapes quarantine, the ancient hemorrhagic plague called the Kettling will kill hundreds of millions…not just in Falcrest, but all across the world. History will end in a black bloodstain.

 

The Shadow Commission by David Mack

November 1963. Cade and Anja have lived in hiding for a decade, training new mages. Then the assassination of President Kennedy trigger a series of murders whose victims are all magicians—with Cade, Anja, and their allies as its prime targets. Their only hope of survival: learning how to fight back against the sinister cabal known as the Shadow Commission.

 

June 16

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

Everyone thinks they know the story of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. The fact is they don’t know sh*t.

Arthur? An over-promoted gangster.
Merlin? An eldritch parasite.
Excalibur? A shady deal with a watery arms dealer.
Britain? A clogged sewer that Rome abandoned just as soon as it could.

 

Glorious by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. Tasked with exploring this brave, new, highly dangerous world, they must also deal with their own personal triumphs and conflicts.

 

The Unconquered City by K. A. Doore

Seven years have passed since the Siege—a time when the hungry dead had risen—but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger. In her search for the source of the guul, the general exposes a catastrophic secret hidden on the outskirts of Ghadid. Illi must travel to Hathage and confront her inner demons in order to defeat a greater one—but how much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

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