David Drake - Tor/Forge Blog



New Ebook Bundles: 11/13/2018

Here are the new ebook bundles that went on sale today!

The Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card

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From the author of Ender’s Game, an unforgettable fantasy tale about young Alvin Maker. In this alternative history of frontier America, folk magic actually works—dowsers find water and second sight warns of true dangers—and that magic has colored the entire history of the colonies. Alvin, the seventh son of a seventh son, is a Maker, the first to be born in a century. He must learn to use his gift wisely. But dark forces are arrayed against Alvin, and only a young girl with second sight can protect him.

This discounted ebundle includes: Seventh Son, Red Prophet, Prentice Alvin, Alvin Journeyman, Heartfire, The Crystal City.

The Lord of Isles Series by David Drake

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David Drake’s The Lord of the Isles series is a towering and complex epic of heroic adventure in an extraordinary and colorful world where the elemental forces that empower magic are rising to a thousand-year peak. In the days following an unusually severe storm, the inhabitants of a tiny seaport town travel toward romance, danger, and astonishing magic that will transform them and their world.

This discounted ebundle includes: Lord of the Isles, Queen of Demons, Servant of the Dragon, Mistress of the Catacombs, Goddess of the Ice Realm, Master of the Cauldron.

Saga of Recluce: Books 6-9 by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

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A world of warring magical forces: black order, white chaos, and shades of gray.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s bestselling fantasy novels set in the magical world of Recluce are among the most popular in contemporary fantasy. Each novel tells an independent story that nevertheless reverberates though all the other books in the series, to deepen and enhance the reading experience. Rich in detail, the Saga of Recluce is epic storytelling at its finest.

This discounted ebundle includes: Fall of Angels, The Chaos Balance, The White Order, Colors of Chaos.


New Releases: 10/4/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

All Your Wishes by Cat Adams

All Your Wishes by Cat AdamsA client begs Celia Graves—part human, part Siren, part vampire—to help return a genie to his bottle. The attempt makes Celia a target for the currently incorporeal ifrit. If she doesn’t give him her body, he’ll kill everyone she loves. If she does, he’ll use her physical form to free thousands of evil djinn.

Celia’s not going to hand over her body, but her client tries to trick her into it—so that he can kill the ifrit while it’s trapped in her flesh. That doesn’t end well for the client. Celia might not get paid for the gig, but she’s got to get the ifrit re-bottled before all hell breaks loose—possibly literally!

An Irish Country Love Story by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Love Story by Patrick TaylorIt’s the winter of 1967 and snow is on the ground in the colorful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, but the chilly weather can’t stop love from warming hearts all over the county. Not just the love between a man and woman, as with young doctor, Barry Laverty, and his fiancee Sue Nolan, who are making plans to start a new life together, but also the love of an ailing pensioner for a faithful dog that’s gone missing, the love of the local gentry for the great estate they are on verge of losing, or Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly’s deep and abiding love for his long-time home and practice.

Stranded by Bracken MacLeod

Stranded by Bracken MacLeodBadly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. One by one, the men fall prey to a mysterious illness. Deckhand Noah Cabot is the only person unaffected by the strange force plaguing the ship and her crew, which does little to ease their growing distrust of him.

Strong Cold Dead by Jon Land

Strong Cold Dead by Jon LandThe terrorist organization ISIS is after a deadly toxin that could be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. The same toxin holds the potential to eradicate cancer. There is a frantic race to see who can get to it first, even as Caitlin Strong begins to assemble the disparate pieces of a deadly puzzle.

At the center of that puzzle is an Indian reservation where a vengeful tycoon is mining the toxin, disguising his effort as an oil-drilling operation. This is the same reservation where Caitlin’s great-great-grandfather, also a Texas Ranger, once waged a similar battle against the forces of John D. Rockefeller.


Impersonations by Walter John Williams

Impersonations by Walter John WilliamsNebula Award-winning author Walter Jon Williams returns to the sweeping space opera adventure of his Praxis universe with an exciting new novel featuring the hero of Dread Empire’s Fall!

Having offended her superiors by winning a battle without permission, Caroline Sula has been posted to the planet Earth, a dismal backwater where careers go to die. But Sula has always been fascinated by Earth history, and she plans to reward herself with a long, happy vacation amid the ancient monuments of humanity’s home world.


1949 by Morgan Llywelyn

Air and Darkness by David Drake

An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War by Patrick Taylor

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Solar Express by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

This Shared Dream by Kathleen Ann Goonan

White Desert and Port Hazard by Loren D. Estleman


Golden Time Vol. 5 Story by Yuyuko Takemiya; Art by Umechazuke

Magical Girl Apocalypse Vol. 9 by Kentaro Sato

My Pathetic Vampire Life Vol. 1 Story and art by Rose Ishikawa


Sneak Peek: Air and Darkness by David Drake

Air-and-Darkness Both a gripping independent novel and intriguing conclusion to the Books of the Elements (a four-volume set of fantasies set in Carce, an analog of ancient Rome), David Drake’s Air and Darkness is a complex journey through both real and magical places, set in a time when the supernatural is dominant. Battling magicians, spirits, gods, and forces from supernatural realities, soldier Corylus faces deadly dangers in a final battle not between good and evil, but in defense of logic and reality. Please enjoy this excerpt.


“Help us, Mother Matuta,” chanted Hedia as she danced sunwise in a circle with eleven women of the district. The priest Doclianus stood beside the altar in the center. It was of black local stones, crudely squared and laid without mortar—what you’d expect, forty miles from Carce and in the middle of nowhere.

“Help us, bringer of brightness! Help us, bringer of warmth!”

Hedia sniffed. Though the pre-dawn sky was light, it certainly hadn’t brought warmth.



Throwback Thursdays: Space Cadets and Starship Troopers: The Eagle Has Landed

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

In 2010, we published the first of a two volume biography of one of the giants of science fiction: Robert A. Heinlein. At that time, we had an idea: why not ask our authors about their favorite Heinlein novels? Tor editor Stacy Hill was our shepherd for this series, and updates us on our journey. Now that Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 2 has come out, we’re revisiting that series. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back in every other week for more!

Robert A. Heinlein, Vol. 1 by William H. Patterson

From Tor editor Stacy Hill: Regular readers of Tor’s newsletter and our blog know that Tor has recently published an all-new biography of Robert A. Heinlein. Written with the blessing of Heinlein’s late widow, Virginia, the work was many years in the making and contains a wealth of interesting information, including never-before-published excerpts from Heinlein’s correspondence. Even if you thought you knew everything there was to know about the man, I can promise you there are surprises to be found within these pages.

So, in celebration of the man and his works, we asked a number of sf writers to tell us which Heinlein novel is their favorite, and why. We were lucky enough to get a host of great authors, including:

David Brin
David Drake
David G. Hartwell
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Rudy Rucker
Joan Slonczewski
Charles Stross
Michael Swanwick
Vernor Vinge

What’s Your Favorite Robert A. Heinlein Novel, Joan Slonczewski?

Have Space Suit—Will Travel was one of the more important books I read as a child. It starts with a bright teenager obsessed with getting to the moon, like I was. To get there, the teen has to win a space suit and get kidnapped by aliens, and escape with the help of two females—a child genius and an advanced alien—both clearly brighter than he is. Back then, bright females were scarce in any fiction.

In Have Space Suit, Heinlein’s ability to hook the reader draws us through a remarkable introduction in which an entire space suit is described at length. We keep turning pages through the teen’s course selection for senior year, as he takes up Spanish, Latin, calculus, and biochemistry—all of which later help him escape the aliens and worse. The book feels deceptively simple; its opening line consists of seven words of one syllable. Yet Heinlein weaves in concepts of mindboggling depth, from gas exchange in a space suit to linguistic development in the Roman Empire. Through it all, the humor is fresh and obvious to any reader. The Roman soldier even cracks a queer joke—imagine getting that past the juvenile censors in 1958.

From the protagonist’s teenage viewpoint, Earth-bound adults appear distant and preoccupied. The only ones who seem to be having fun are scientists. That, too, seemed familiar to me as the child of a physicist who worked on a Hal-like IBM 360. In the sixties, science was the stagecoach, the mule train heading toward the future’s ever-receding frontier. Have Space Suit was the kind of book that did that, a fictional journey driven by science.

Heinlein’s aliens are completely fantastic, yet somehow as real as a neighbor next door. Even the most advanced creatures are fallible, making mistakes that might doom an entire race. Yet the story begins and ends in small-town Ohio, near the home of the Wright brothers, and near where we raised our two sons. Today, this area still feels about the same. Any day now I expect to see those two alien space ships racing in.

This article is originally from the October 2010 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox every month!

Memory of Light Backpack Sweepstakes

Memory of Light Backpack Sweepstakes

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We are offering the chance to win one of five Memory of Light backpacks! Each backpack will include a copy of Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Lamentation by Ken Scholes, Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter, Spellwright by Blake Charlton, and The Legions of Fire by David Drake. Comment below to enter for a chance to win.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins December 10, 2012 at 10 a.m. ET. and ends December 14, 2012, 12:00 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.


Another Method

Poster Placeholder of - 26By David Drake

Last year when Tor asked me for an essay to accompany the publication of The Legions of Fire, the first of my Books of the Elements fantasy series, I explained that riding a motorcycle focuses my conscious mind and thus frees my subconscious. Plotting isn’t simply an intellectual activity for me. The really subtle, really complex structures come from my subconscious.

For this year’s essay to accompany Out of the Waters, the second book of the series, I’m going to write about how translating Latin helps me plot.

Okay, I know that motorcycles are sexier than Latin translation. Bear with me, though, because where I’m going with this may not be the place you expect.

I like to base my fiction on existing literature and historical events. Because I read Latin (basically to take myself out of the present) I frequently use classical settings. Sometimes I do it directly, as when I turned the Odyssey into the plot for the space opera Cross the Stars, but mostly it’s indirect. For example, Philip the Fifth’s invasion of Southern Greece at the end of the Third century bc became the template for my Military SF novel Paying the Piper.

But that sort of thing is minor: my interest in history and literature isn’t limited to the Classical Period. I based the Northworld Trilogy (an SF—basically space opera—series) on the poems of The Elder Edda, and many other non-classical sources have given me plots and settings.

Because The Books of the Elements are set in a world very similar to Rome in 30 ad, it’s only reasonable to assume that there’d be a direct connection between the plot and the Latin translations I’m working on at the same time. With a tiny exception, though, that hasn’t been the case.

Ovid is the only author I’m translating on my website. Specifically, I’m working with lyric poems from the Amores and also with sections of the Metamorphoses.

The lyrics are witty and often self-mocking. They’re not so much love poems as poems about love (broadly defined). They show the first-person viewpoint character (he certainly isn’t a hero) courting a woman, watching her go off with another man after a night of hard drinking, seducing the woman’s maid, and many similar slices from the life of a man who likes women.

Now, this gives me bits of business for my fiction (and not just my Rome-based fiction). Clearly, though it doesn’t help with plots for the action/adventure stories that I write.

The Metamorphoses is a wonderful ramble of epic length through Classical mythology. The title comes from the fact that the stories generally involve a change of some sort, but Ovid allows himself as much leeway in definition as the editor of a modern theme anthology would. For example, the attempt of Nessus to carry off Deianira, the wife of Hercules, doesn’t involve any change whatever (unless you want to count Nessus changing from centaur to fertilizer).

The Metamorphoses contains many connected narratives of some length. The Hercules Cycle runs for almost three hundred lines, and there are a number of longer threads. Even so, none would serve as the plot for an entire novel.

The unique thing which I gain from translating Ovid over reading an author in English of comparable quality (Kipling, say; or if I were a different person, Henry James) is the concentration which the task demands. When I put translations on line, I’m displaying my level of skill for the world to see–and to mock me if I screw up.

That doesn’t mean I won’t screw up, but it does mean that I’ll put everything I’ve got into the job. I kept working for a week on the description of Arachne’s tapestry until finally I realized that the rainbow wasn’t a literal image: Ovid was using it as a simile for the subtlety with which the weaver blended colors together.

When my conscious mind is focused that sharply on a translation, my subconscious can get on with working out plot problems. That’s how the Hercules Cycle helped me to plot Out of the Waters.

I said there was a tiny direct connection between my plot and the translation I was doing at the time. I needed an opening scene for Out of the Waters to set up the action to come. It occurred to me that I could use a stage show, a lavishly expensive mime of the sort that was popular in the Early Empire… and come to think, episodes from the life of Hercules–though not the same ones as in the Metamorphoses–would work perfectly for the purpose.

And so they did. Thank you, Ovid.


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What’s Your Favorite Heinlein Novel, David Drake?

Cover of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (November 1959), illustrating Starship Soldier by Robert A. HeinleinStarship Soldier

My parents gave me a subscription to an SF magazine for my 14th birthday, September 24, 1959. Rather than to choose the magazine themselves or to spoil the surprise by asking me, they bought the current issue of each SF magazine on the local newsstand and gave them to me so that I could pick the one I wanted. The October, 1959, issue of F&SF was among the options.

October, 1959 was F&SF‘s tenth anniversary issue; possibly the best issue of what I now believe was (during the ’50s) the best SF magazine of all time. There was a lot to like in it, but the first part of Heinlein’s Starship Soldier (the serialized version of Starship Troopers) was what convinced me that I wanted a subscription to F&SF.

In 1973 I was writing what became the first story in the Hammer’s Slammers series. (I didn’t intend it as a series at the time.) I had arrived at opinions about society which were different from those which Heinlein advocated; and I knew things about ground war which Heinlein, whose military service was that of a peacetime naval officer, would never know.

Due to what was probably a subconscious warning, I picked up a paperback copy of Starship Troopers and reread the opening chapter. I then went back over my story to make sure that none of it was flatly plagiarized from Heinlein.

I don’t know how obvious it is to anyone else, but it was extremely obvious to me: I could not have written The Butcher’s Bill had I not read Starship Soldier so long before.

David Drake can be found online at https://david-drake.com


Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve (978-0-7653-1960-9 / $29.99) will be available from Tor Books on August 17th 2010.


Related Links:


The Motorcycle Way to Complex Plotting

The Legions of Fire by David DrakeBy David Drake

Writers use various tools in their work. One of my tools is my motorcycle.

Well, plural: my motorcycles. Bikers learn quickly that if they expect to ride every day, they’d better have two. (And that’s if they’re Japanese, as both of my current rides are. More exotic bikes tend to be two-wheeled versions of owning a Lotus Elan.)

It’s a bit of an overstatement when I say I ride daily, but most weekdays I make a run from our home in the country to my post office box in the center of Chapel Hill, about a 40-mile round trip. My wife has a car and drives it whenever we go somewhere together, but I haven’t driven a car since 1986 or ’87. That was to carry Larry Niven and his luggage to the airport, something I couldn’t do on a motorcycle.

And there’s the real beauty of a bike for a writer: you’re alone. You know how rare it is to be really alone and how valuable that can be.

People who drive cars can do a lot of things that engage their intellects beyond their immediate physical surroundings. Cell phones and texting are modern examples, but fiddling with the CD changer, reading a newspaper (really), and chatting with a passenger (or screaming at the kids/dogs in the back seat) all take you out of the experience. A serious-minded driver can even zone out listening to recorded lectures on Greek philosophy.

A biker can get a helmet with a cell phone (or CB), just as most bikes will carry a passenger…but nobody expects you to do that. Windrush makes even an MP3 player doubtful at best. (My hearing loss from Nam makes it impossible.)

A (surviving) biker is in the moment at all times. Is that car at the intersection ahead going to start across? Will there be a garbage truck stopped around that curve, like there was last week? Is this rain starting to freeze?

Or even: Holy Crap! The woman beside me is pulling into my lane to get around the bus ahead of her!

Even when riding on a lovely day and a familiar road, my conscious mind is wholly focused on my immediate physical surroundings. It’s amazing how much complicated work your subconscious mind gets done under those circumstances. It’s even better than sleeping on problems.

I create complex plots and my prose structure tends to be very tight. Part of the reason I can accomplish those things is that when I pull off my helmet, I suddenly see how to combine three clumsy sentences into two clear ones, or I realize that if I transfer a bit of business from Hedia to Alphena, everything will work.

Hedia to Alphena? They’re two of the four viewpoint characters in my new Tor fantasy, The Legions of Fire. This novel uses a setting very similar to that of Ancient Rome–and by that I mean the real Rome, not the cardboard fakery you get from Hollywood or HBO. I know the background pretty well (you can find my translations of Latin poetry on my website), but fitting my usual considerable amount of action into a world so complicated took all the help I could get. My bikes provided a lot of that help.

But besides those practical reasons, a long sweeping curve on a bright Spring day makes me a much happier writer than I would be otherwise.

The Legions of Fire (0-7653-2078-9; $25.99) is available from Tor this May. David Drake can be found online at david-drake.com.



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