Harry Turtledove - Tor/Forge Blog



Aliens? Aliens! by Harry Turtledove

Placeholder of  -89Do you love aliens in sci-fi? Are you fascinated by all the different ways extraterrestrial life can be brought to the pages of books? So does Harry Turtledove, author of Three Miles Down. Check out his guest post on the topic below!

First contact between humans and aliens is one of the oldest and most enduring tropes in science fiction. The phrase itself goes back to Murray Leinster’s famous “First Contact” (Astounding, May 1945). There, We and They meet in space, in approximate equality. The interpreters on the two ships decide their races will get along with each other pretty well because they amuse each other by swapping dirty jokes. (Yes, everybody’s male. 1945.)

This kind of meeting is one of the three major types SF envisions. The other two are when we go to their worlds to meet them and when they come to Earth to meet us (yes, there are other variants, but these three probably form the bulk of the literature). One thing we often see on Earth is that, when People A can travel to People B but People B can’t visit People A, an encounter between them is likely to produce more influence on and damage to People B than to People A. I’m hard pressed to think of an earthly example where distant folk met in the middle on equal terms. Had Portuguese caravels met Chinese junks on the Indian Ocean in the fifteenth century, that might have come close. But the timing didn’t quite work.

I’ll concentrate here on technologically advanced aliens coming to Earth, because that’s one of the things going on in my upcoming Three Miles Down. Stories where they just conquer us and incorporate us into their political structure are surprisingly rare. This has to be because we don’t like to imagine ourselves defeated–who would? John W. Campbell hardly ever bought that kind of story for Astounding/Analog for that very reason. I’ve done one myself, a novelette called “Vilcabamba”. It takes its title from the town where the Incas kept their rump state for fifty years after the Spaniards overran most of their empire, and where they tried (and failed) to learn how to cope with the overwhelming invaders. Modern humans in my piece have similar problems with the alien Krolp.

Most of the time, though, writers who tackle the theme try to work around conquest. This has been true ever since the days of H.G. Wells and The War of the Worlds, when germs deal with the Martians even though humans can’t. A more recent, and deliciously improbable, take on the invading-aliens theme is Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade. An all-conquering starship lands in a medieval English village, and the locals capture it. One of the aliens then sends it back to his part of the galaxy, with the humans aboard. He’s certain that will finish them forever. Things don’t quite work out the way he hopes, though. It’s a story that will make you laugh your asteroids off.

I’ve worked around conquest by invading aliens a couple of times myself. Two of my stories, “Herbig-Haro” and “The Road Not Taken,” are set in a universe where faster-than-light travel is an easy discovery that shapes a race’s technology forever after–and that humans don’t happen to make. So when the aliens invade us (in “The Road Not Taken”), their spaceships land . . . and out they come, armed with matchlocks and black-powder cannon. We don’t have FTL, but we sure do have a lot of stuff they aren’t looking for. “Herbig-Haro,” on the other hand, is a meet-in-the-middle piece, with humans encountering another species that didn’t quickly find the hyperdrive but did develop electronics and nuclear weapons.

And I’ve written the Worldwar books. The Race sent a probe to Earth 800 years before, and the data it returned showed that humans would make an easy addition to the Empire: the most dangerous Earthly warriors rode animals, carried lances and swords, and wore chainmail for protection against the slings and arrows of outrageous enemies. So the Race, in its leisurely way, readied a conquest fleet and came to Earth . . . in May 1942, when World War II was about as perfectly balanced as it ever was. We turned out to be a little more advanced than they expected. Just a little.

The irony is that, in most historical periods, that 800-year delay wouldn’t have meant much. If the probe surveyed us in 3000 BC and the fleet arrived in 2200 BC–well, so what? Same deal if the probe came in 400 BC and the fleet followed in 400 AD. If the probe checked us in 650 AD and the fleet followed 800 years later, the Race might have been surprised at taking fire from early cannons, but it still would have mopped us up without breaking a sweat (not that the Race, being reptilian, sweats). But walkovers don’t make for interesting plots, so I chose to give us at least a fighting chance.

Which brings me, by easy stages, to Three Miles Down and its aliens. In real history, the Soviet sub K-129 sank north of Hawaii in 1968. We found it on the seabed; the Russians couldn’t. The CIA spent a moon landing’s worth of money building the Hughes Glomar Explorer to raise the sub and examine Soviet missiles and codebooks. In 1974, it . . . partially succeeded: the most interesting piece of the sub broke away as it was being raised.

In Three Miles Down, the K-129 sank because an alien ship already on the bottom of the Pacific sank it. Learning that made the recovery mission even more urgent and even more secret than it really was. Jerry Stieglitz, a grad student in oceanography, is aboard the Glomar Explorer mostly as cover. Life gets even more complicated than he expects. This is 1974. The Cold War and the Watergate investigation are in full swing. Adding beings from another planet could end the world–one way or another. Stay tuned!

Harry Turtledove (he/him) is an American fantasy and science fiction writer who Publishers Weekly has called the “Master of Alternate History.” He has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Hugo Award for Best Novella, the HOMer Award for Short story, and the John Esthen Cook Award for Southern Fiction. Three Miles Down is our from Tor Books now. 

Order Three Miles Down Here:

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$2.99 eBook Sale: June 2022

Hot! Hot! Hot! We’re talking about summer of course, because it’s June, but we’re also talking about eBook deals, because we’re serving up some sizzling discounts this month ⛱🌊🍦

Check it out!

Placeholder of  -23The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove

Since the Big Bubble popped in 1929, life in the United States hasn’t been the same. Hotshot wizards will tell you nothing’s really changed, but then again, hotshot wizards aren’t looking for honest work in Enid, Oklahoma. Jack Spivey’s just another down-and-out trying to stay alive, doing a little of this and a little of that. Sometimes that means making a few bucks playing ball with the Enid Eagles, against teams from as many as two counties away. And sometimes it means roughing up rival thugs for Big Stu, the guy who calls the shots in Enid. But one day Jack knocks on the door of the person he’s supposed to “deal with”–and realizes that he’s not going to do any such thing to the young lady who answers.

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Image Placeholder of - 91The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists. But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side….

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Poster Placeholder of - 77The 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. Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker’s ship….Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans. Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.

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Place holder  of - 2The Sword of Midras by Tracy Hickman & Richard Garriott

Abandoned by the mighty Avatars and their Virtues, the people who remained were left defenseless in an untamed land. That is, until the Obsidians came. Through dark sorcery and overwhelming force the Obsidian Empire brought order to chaos, no matter the cost. Aren Benis is a Captain in the Obsidian Army who has seen enough of what a world without Virtue looks like and is willing to do whatever it takes to establish a lasting peace. But after finding a magical sword that only he can wield, a sword his trusted scout, Syenna, claims is a blade once used by the legendary Avatars, Aren is thrown into a far more unfamiliar battle. One fought with whispered words and betrayal instead of swords and arrows.

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Image Place holder  of - 10My Real Children by Jo Walton

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev. Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton’s My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives…and of how every life means the entire world.

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Every Book Coming From Tor in Summer 2022

Ready to discover the hottest reads of summer? Get ready, because this year, our list is SMOKIN’. Check out everything coming from Tor Books in Summer 2022 here!

June 14

Image Place holder  of - 12The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

As a Witness for the Dead, Thara Celehar can speak to the recently departed: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty to use that ability to ascertain the intent of the dead and to find the killers of the murdered. Celehar’s time in the city of Amalo has brought him both friends and enemies—and no little notoriety. Now, when solving the murder of a marquise raises more questions than it answers, he finds himself exploring Amalo’s dark underside.

June 21

Placeholder of  -34In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out. Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire.

June 28

Image Placeholder of - 86Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Raine can see—and speak—to the dead, a gift that comes with a death sentence. All her life she has hidden, lied, and run to save her skin, and she’s made some spectacularly bad choices along the way. But it is a rare act of kindness—rescuing an injured woman in the snow—that becomes the most dangerous decision Raine has ever made. Because the woman is fleeing from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king, and who will stop at nothing to reclaim what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation force Raine to enter the citadel and live among the Draoihn. She soon finds that her secret ability could be the key to saving an entire nation.

Place holder  of - 45The Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear

The Lotus Kingdoms are at war, with four claimants to the sorcerous throne of the Alchemical Emperor fielding three armies between them. Alliances are made, and broken, many times over—but in the end, only one can sit on the throne. And that one must have not only the power, but the rightful claim.

Poster Placeholder of - 6Sands of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The world of Dune has shaped an entire generation of science fiction. From the sand blasted world of Arrakis, to the splendor of the imperial homeworld of Kaitain, readers have lived in a universe of treachery and wonder. Now, these stories expand on the Dune universe, telling of the lost years of Gurney Halleck as he works with smugglers on Arrakis in a deadly gambit for revenge; inside the ranks of the Sardaukar as the child of a betrayed nobleman becomes one of the Emperor’s most ruthless fighters; a young firebrand Fremen woman, a guerrilla fighter against the ruthless Harkonnens, who will one day become Shadout Mapes.

July 5

Flying the Coop by Lucinda Roy

In the disunited states, no person of color—especially not a girl whose body reimagines flight—is safe. A quest for Freedom has brought former Muleseed Jellybean “Ji-ji” Silapu to D.C., aka Dream City, the site of monuments and memorials—where, long ago, the most famous Dreamer of all time marched for the same cause. As Ji-ji struggles to come to terms with her shocking metamorphosis and her friends, Tiro and Afarra, battle formidable ghosts of their own, the former U.S. capital decides whose dreams it wants to invest in and whose dreams it will defer. The journeys the three friends take to liberate themselves and others will not simply defy the status quo, they will challenge the nature of reality itself.

The Albion Initiative by George Mann

Victorian England comes fully alive in true steampunk fashion, with dazzling inventions and airships flying over the city, while clockwork automatons race across the streets. But there’s a sinister side to all this new technological progress. George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes steampunk series concludes as our special agent heroes discover a plot of empire-changing proportions in The Albion Initiative. 

July 12

The Memory in the Blood by Ryan Van Loan

When her quest to destroy the Gods began, Buc was a child of the streets. Now she is a woman of steel, shaped by gaining and losing power, tempered by love and betrayal, and honed to a fine edge by grief and her desire for vengeance. A perilous, clandestine mission to a hidden library uncovers information that is key to destroying both the Dead Gods and their enemy, the Goddess Ciris. Ciris’s creation, Sin, who lives inside Buc, gives her superhuman abilities and tempts her with hints of even greater power. With that power, she could achieve almost anything—end the religious war tearing her world apart, remake society at a stroke—but the price would be the betrayal of everything she has fought for . . . and the man she loved would still be dead.

Cover of Mythago Wood by Robert HoldstockMythago Woods by Robert Holdstock

The mystery of Ryhope Wood, Britain’s last fragment of primeval forest, consumed George Huxley’s entire long life. Now, after his death, his sons have taken up his work. But what they discover is numinous and perilous beyond all expectation. For the Wood, larger inside than out, is a labyrinth full of myths come to life, “mythagos” that can change you forever. A labyrinth where love and beauty haunt your dreams…and may drive you insane.

July 19

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be? There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.

July 26

cover of A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz MeadowsA Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead. Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock. With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove

It’s 1974, and Jerry Stieglitz is a grad student in marine biology at UCLA with a side gig selling short stories to science fiction magazines, just weeks away from marrying his longtime fiancée. Then his life is upended by grim-faced men from three-letter agencies who want him to join a top-secret “Project Azorian” in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean—and they really don’t take “no” for an answer. Further, they’re offering enough money to solve all of his immediate problems. Joining up and swearing to secrecy, what he first learns is that Project Azorian is secretly trying to raise a sunken Russian submarine, while pretending to be harvesting undersea manganese nodules.

The Eye of Scales by Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott

Aren Bendis, former soldier in the Obsidian army, has managed to protect a rebel city from his former friends and now finds his fate bound to a weapon once wielded by the Avatars themselves. Now, he is being secreted away to the capital of the last alliance of free nations with the hopes that the Hero of Opalis will lead their army against his former masters. What Aren doesn’t know is that his former friend Evard Dirae, a Craft Master of the Obsidian Order, is seeking Aren out. Worried that Aren is being manipulated against his will by the magic of the Avatars, Evard seeks to find the sword and break its hold over Aren once and for all.

August 2

cover of The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanThe Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories. But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

Full House by George R. R. Martin

In hardcover for the first time, Full House brings together the Wild Cards stories that have been previously published on Tor.com, including works from Daniel Abraham, Cherie Priest, David D. Levine, Walter Jon Williams, Paul Cornell, Carrie Vaughn, Caroline Spector, Stephen Leigh, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and more!

August 9

Councilor by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. 

Continued poor harvests and steam-powered industrialization displace and impoverish thousands. Protests grow and gather followers. Against this rising tide of social unrest, Steffan Dekkard, newly appointed to the Council of Sixty-Six, is the first Councilor who is an Isolate, a man invulnerable to the emotional manipulations and emotional surveillance of empaths. This makes him dangerous. As unknown entities seek to assassinate him, Dekkard struggles to master political intrigue and infighting, while introducing radical reforms that threaten entrenched political and corporate interests.

August 16

The First Binding by R.R. Virdi

The first book in this fast-paced, worldbuilding series, The First Binding, tells the story of Ari, an immortal wizard hiding as a storyteller. Ari’s buried villages, killed gods, stolen magic, and knows he is a monster for it. On the run and seeking obscurity in a remote tavern, he and his companion, a singer, soon find their pasts aren’t forgotten, and neither are their enemies.

Dance with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Tobias Richter, the fearsome VP of Security of the TechCorps is dead. The puppetmaster is gone and the organization is scrambling to maintain control by ruthlessly limiting Atlanta’s access to resources, hoping to quell rebellion. Our band of mercenary librarians have decided that the time for revolution has come. Maya uses her wealth of secrets to weaken the TechCorps from within. Dani strikes from the shadows, picking off the chain of command one ambush at a time. And Nina is organizing their community—not just to survive, but to fight back. When Maya needs to make contact with a sympathetic insider, Dani and Rafe are the only ones with the skill-set and experience to infiltrate the highest levels of the TechCorps.


Excerpt: Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove

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Poster Placeholder of - 40From New York Times bestselling author Harry Turtledove, the modern master of alternate history, a novel of alien contact set in the tumultuous year of the Watergate scandal.

It’s 1974, and Jerry Stieglitz is a grad student in marine biology at UCLA with a side gig selling short stories to science fiction magazines, just weeks away from marrying his longtime fiancée. Then his life is upended by grim-faced men from three-letter agencies who want him to join a top-secret “Project Azorian” in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean—and they really don’t take “no” for an answer. Further, they’re offering enough money to solve all of his immediate problems.

Joining up and swearing to secrecy, what he first learns is that Project Azorian is secretly trying to raise a sunken Russian submarine, while pretending to be harvesting undersea manganese nodules. But the dead Russian sub, while real, turns out to be a cover story as well. What’s down on the ocean floor next to it is the thing that killed the sub: an alien spacecraft.

Jerry’s a scientist, a longhair, a storyteller, a dreamer. He stands out like a sore thumb on the Glomar Explorer, a ship full of CIA operatives, RAND Corporation eggheads, and roustabout divers. But it turns out that he’s the one person in the North Pacific who’s truly thought out all the ways that human-alien first contact might go.

And meanwhile, it’s still 1974 back on the mainland. Richard Nixon is drinking heavily and talking to the paintings on the White House walls. The USA is changing fast—and who knows what will happen when this story gets out? Three Miles Down is both a fresh and original take on First Contact, and a hugely enjoyable romp through the pop culture, political tumult, and conspiracies-within-conspiracies atmosphere that was 1974.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Three Miles Down, on sale 07/26/22.


Jerry Stieglitz sat cross-legged in front of the stereo on the bottom shelf of one of the bookcases in his apartment. The thick red shag carpet was nearly as comfortable as the nubby nylon that covered the sofa. His powderblue cord bell-bottoms almost glowed against the crimson and scarlet background, but he was too used to that to notice.

He had two cassette tapes. One came from his advisor. The other he’d bought a couple of days before at the Westwood Wherehouse. Without hesitation, he put the commercial tape in first.

He brushed back his long brown hair so his headphones fit more snugly. Then he turned the volume up. Side two of Pretzel Logic filled his brain. He’d liked Can’t Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy a lot, and the new Steely Dan album was at least as good as the first two. Nice to find a band that didn’t run out of ideas after a couple of records. Too many did.

“Parker’s Band” and “Through with Buzz” . . . Jerry’s head bobbed up and down, enough to make him straighten his wirerimmed glasses on the bridge of his nose. He’d worn cheaters for a long time; sometimes he straightened them even when he wasn’t wearing them. Anna’d caught him doing it once or twice. His fiancée thought that was hilarious. He just thought it was stupid.

After “Charlie Freak” ended, he hit the Stop button and took out the tape. For one thing, he didn’t like the last two tracks as much as the rest of the album. And, for another, he really wanted to hear the cassette Professor Krikorian had given him.

Because Jerry’d been working with Hagop Krikorian for five years now, he had no trouble deciphering the scrawl on the tape’s label. “Humpbacks,” it said. “Northern Pacific, July 1973.” Only the summer before. Hot off the press, or near enough in marine biology.

He turned the volume up some more. Steely Dan was electric guitars and keyboard and drums. Humpback songs—some people called them vocalizations, but Jerry thought songs was more descriptive and more accurate—put him in mind of sad trombones grooving with bassoons. They weren’t, of course, but that was what they reminded him of.

In 1970, a couple of months after Jerry got his B.S. at UCLA, pioneering scholar Roger Payne had released an album called Songs of the Humpback Whale. It became one of the most improbable top sellers of all time. One of the tracks was sped up to fourteen times its actual speed, and sounded astonishingly like birdsong.

Jerry appreciated the accelerated version’s different beauty, but he liked the whale sounds better at their true pace. He tried to find patterns in them, and to work out why the humpbacks sang the way they did. Were males courting females, as birds did with their melodies? Were they talking about where the krill was thickest? Or were they just . . . singing? Nobody knew. Looking for answers, though, was endlessly fascinating—to him, anyhow.

Since he had the headphones on and the volume cranked up, he didn’t hear people coming up the stairs to the second floor—his floor—of the apartment building. He felt the footsteps, though, through his legs and backside. He was too focused on humpback sounds to notice that those footsteps stopped in front of his door.

He didn’t notice the knocks on the door right away, either. But they got louder and more insistent. He glanced at the stereo. When he put on the headphones, he usually remembered to poke the button that took the main speakers out of the loop. But he wasn’t perfect about it. He’d already irked the couple downstairs two or three times. Did they have humpbacks swimming through their ceiling at heart-stopping volume?

As a matter of fact, they didn’t. The knocking kept on anyway. Muttering, Jerry stopped the tape, stood up, went to the door, and opened it.

Three men he’d never seen before stood on the walkway outside his apartment, one in front and two behind. They all wore suits. One of the men in back carried a briefcase. The guy in front was in his fifties, short and burly. He wore his hair in a greased pompadour, as if he’d decided he liked the style in 1946 and never noticed the times had changed.

“You are Jerome Samuel Stieglitz?” he barked.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Jerry answered automatically. “Uh, who are you?” He hoped like hell they weren’t cops—he had a couple of joints stashed in a kitchen drawer.

Instead of answering, the burly man pushed past him and into the apartment’s long, narrow front room. His two buddies followed. As soon as everybody was inside, one of the henchmen closed the door again.

“Who are you people?” Jerry repeated.

As if he hadn’t spoken, the guy with the pompadour said, “I’m gonna need to see some ID, Stieglitz.”

He had a good command voice. That was what Jerry’s friends back from Vietnam called it. Jerry’s hand started for his wallet before he even thought about it. He made the hand stop.

“Hold on, dammit,” he said. “Who the hell are you? You want something from me, show me a warrant.”

The stocky man snorted in annoyance. “You can call me John P. I’m with the CIA.” He bobbed his head toward each of his pals in turn. “This is Fred, and that’s Steve.” Fred was the one with the briefcase. Steve had shut the door.

Things were happening much too fast for Jerry. He stared at John P., and at his friends. “You guys are from the CIA, too?” he blurted.

Fred nodded. Steve said, “Actually, I work for the RAND Corporation.” He was about the same age as John, and looked like a professor. Jerry had no trouble believing he drew a paycheck from the big, fancy think tank in Santa Monica.

“Your ID,” John P. said again. He was not only built like a boulder, he was as implacable as one rolling downhill.

This time, Jerry did pull out his wallet. He displayed his driver’s license. John carefully checked the photo against his face, then gave a grudging nod. As Jerry stuck the wallet back into his left front pocket, he said, “Now let me see something that proves you are what you say you are.”

John shook his head. “Sorry. Not gonna happen. People who work for a secret outfit don’t carry cards that say, ‘Hi, I work for a secret outfit.’ You wanna call the cops, go ahead. We’ll be gone before they get here, and you’ll never find out what this was all about.”

Jerry didn’t call the cops. He’d had his car broken into a couple of years before. The Hawthorne police were no faster than they had to be, and no smarter. Later, he wondered if he should have. But that was later. At the moment, he just asked, “Okay, what is this all about?”

“You are Jerry Stieglitz,” John said. “You are a grad student in marine biology at UCLA. You passed your doctoral exams a few months ago, and you’re working on your dissertation.”

“That’s me,” Jerry agreed. Then a light went on in his head. “Professor Krikorian said somebody was asking questions about me a couple of weeks ago. That was you people, wasn’t it?”

“Could have been,” John answered, deadpan. Then he unbent enough to grin. He looked years younger when he did. He went on, “You speak Russian, too.”

“Not real well. I read it better,” Jerry said.

“Okay. And you know a little Swahili. How did that happen?” John asked.

“I wanted to study a language that wasn’t Indo-European, just to give me a different slant on things,” Jerry replied. “The more I learn about all the ways people talk, the more I can bring to whale songs. I don’t think they’re speech, exactly, but I’m sure they’re more than grunts and barks.”

John glanced at Fred and Steve. Fred looked back with no expression at all. Jerry wouldn’t have wanted to play poker with him. Steve smiled and nodded. Jerry felt as if he’d passed some kind of small test.

He asked, “Why does the CIA need to know all this stuff about me?”

Instead of answering, John went on, “Along with an article, you’ve also published two science-fiction stories, one in Analog, one in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. They have whales in them.”

“Well, yeah,” Jerry said. “I’m writing about what I know about. I’m not gonna talk about lizards or gophers.”

Steve smiled again. Fred just stood there. John said, “Before we go any further, you have to agree to keep what your hear quiet from everybody. Everybody means everybody. Reporters. Friends. Your advisor, Dr. Krikorian. Your father. Your fiancée, Miss Anna Elaine McGowan. If you make that promise and then break it, you’ll wish you’d never been born. Understand me?”

They’d know when he was sleeping. They’d know when he was awake. They’d probably know when he was bad and good, too. Jerry was Jewish, but he’d learned Christmas carols in elementary school along with everybody else. “I understand,” he said slowly.

“All right. Do you agree?”

Jerry had no great love for the CIA. He also couldn’t imagine why they wanted anything from him. That was the problem. His bump of curiosity itched. If he didn’t scratch it . . . If he didn’t scratch it, he’d spend the rest of his life wondering what he’d missed.

He took a deep breath. “Yeah. I agree.”

“Good. Glad to hear it,” John said, and then, “Fred?”

Fred hefted the briefcase, as if looking for somewhere to set it down. His eyes first lit on the table in the dining nook between the front room and the cramped little kitchen. Jerry worked at that table. His typewriter held pride of place. Papers drowned the rest of the tabletop. He had to shove them aside when he wanted to eat. Fred put the briefcase on the coffee table in front of the ugly couch instead.

Jerry didn’t like that table. It bit him in the shin whenever he wasn’t careful. To open the case, Fred worked what looked like a combination lock. He pulled out some papers and handed them to John.

John passed them to Jerry. “Confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement. You can read it before you sign. I already gave you the gist, though.”

Read it Jerry did, or at least glanced through it. “What’s Project Azorian?” he asked.

“It’s what you’re going to keep quiet about,” Fred told him: the first words out of his mouth since he’d barged into Jerry’s apartment. “Keep quiet about the name, too, whether you sign or not. Real quiet.” Both the other intruders nodded.

Project Azorian aside, the agreement was what John said it was. The word felony popped up a dismaying number of times. “Boy, you weren’t kidding, were you?” Jerry said.

“I never kid,” John P. answered. From some people, that would have been a joke. Jerry got the feeling the CIA guy meant it.

Which had nothing to do with the price of beer. Jerry walked over to the kitchen table, grabbed a pen that was sticking out from under some of the papers there, and scrawled his signature on the indicated line. He handed the agreement back to John. “Here you go. What did I just sign my life away for?”

John answered the question with a question of his own: “Have you heard about the ship called the Hughes Glomar Explorer?”

“The ocean-mining ship? Yeah. Funny-looking thing! I saw it on the TV news when it sailed into . . . was it Long Beach or San Pedro?”

“Long Beach,” Fred said.

“Yeah. Long Beach,” John agreed. He glowered at Jerry. “Okay. Now you find out why you signed that paper. The Glomar Explorer doesn’t belong to Hughes. It belongs to us: to the Agency, the CIA. We don’t give a shit if it ever pulls up any manganese nodules off the seafloor. That’s just the cover story for what it’ll really be doing in the North Pacific, which is what Azorian is all about.”

“Riiight.” Jerry let the word stretch. He hated asking the obvious question, but he didn’t seem to have much choice. “What will it be doing there?”

“In February 1968, the Russians lost a submarine in those waters—the K-129,” John said. “It’s a diesel boat, but it was carrying missiles tipped with nuclear weapons, maybe torpedoes tipped with them, too. The ocean there is three miles deep: a little more, actually. They searched for it after they lost contact, but they didn’t know exactly where it went down. They looked for a while. Then they gave up and went home. We found it, though.” He looked and sounded smug.

The next obvious question was, How did you do that? Jerry didn’t ask it. Instead, he said, “SOSUS.”

Fred jerked as if somebody’d stuck him with a pin. “You aren’t supposed to know about SOSUS!” he yipped.

John was cooler. “Relax. He’s a marine biologist, remember? A marine biologist who does whales, no less. He’ll know.”

“’Fraid so,” Jerry said. SOSUS was the acronym for SOund SUrveillance System, the strings of hydrophones the Navy had laid on the ocean floor in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. They were there to listen for Soviet submarines and warn the brass if the Russians tried anything nasty.

They were there to listen for submarines, but they also picked up whale sounds. A lot of the material people like Hagop Krikorian and Jerry Stieglitz worked with came from SOSUS recordings . . . unofficially, but it did. In fact, SOSUS technicians had been the first people to detect low-frequency blue whale and fin whale vocalizations.

“Anyway, that gave us a pretty good location,” John said. “Then we sent out a sub of our own, one with cameras on the ends of long cables, and it gave us the exact position . . . and these.”

He took a big manila envelope out of Fred’s briefcase and gave it to Jerry. Jerry undid the metal clasp. He pulled out a stack of photos. Very detailed, they showed the wreckage of most of a submarine on its side at the bottom of the ocean. It looked cruder, more squared-off, than modern American boats. All the same, the sub seemed amazingly intact. In one picture, a skeleton still in seaboots lay near the hull.

Jerry noticed that the photos began with number 79 and continued through 180. “What’s on one through seventy-eight?” he asked.

“You don’t need to know that,” John said sharply.

“Yet,” Steve added. John sent him a red-hot dirty look. Steve just smiled. A quarter of an inch at a time, John subsided.

“Okay, you found the sub, the, uh, K-129,” Jerry said. “Now what, though? You said it’s three miles down. Not like you can bring it up from there.”

“That’s what the Russians think, too,” Fred said.

“You bet it is,” John agreed. “But they’re wrong. Or we hope they are. We built the Glomar Explorer to hook a giant lifting claw— Clementine, we call it—under that submarine and haul it back to the surface. Missiles to analyze, maybe codebooks to let us read Ivan’s mail . . . Who knows what kind of goodies we’ll find?”

“Wow. Oh, wow,” Jerry said. The first thing that came to him was You’re out of your fucking minds. But they obviously weren’t. The CIA wouldn’t have spent some large number of million dollars and cooked up this elaborate cover scheme if they didn’t think they had at least a decent chance of raising the lost Soviet sub. But . . . “Where do I fit into all of this?”

“We want you to come along,” Fred answered.

“This is supposed to be a research vessel,” John amplified. “While most of the crew will be learning how to bring up manganese nodules, you’ll be learning about whales out in the open ocean. You know, like what’s-his-name on the Beagle.”

“Darwin,” Jerry said faintly.

“Yeah. Him.” John P. nodded. It was somehow perfectly in character that he could call up the ship’s name but not the scientist’s. John went on, “You really will be able to bring on whatever you want and do as much research as you can. You’ll make things look authentic, know what I mean?”

“You get paid, too,” Steve put in.

“That would be nice,” Jerry said. What he made as a teaching assistant barely covered rent, food, and gas. Any expensive emergency and he’d end up moving back in with his old man. They both wanted that like a hole in the head. Anna worked in advertising at a travel magazine. Her paycheck was a good bit bigger than this. When they got married, they’d merge their finances. In the meantime, he scuffled. Scuffling was a grad-school way of life. A beat slower than he might have, he found the right question: “Paid how much?”

Steve didn’t answer. Neither did John. His eyes swung toward Fred. Fred said, “As marine biologist aboard the Glomar Explorer, your monthly salary would be two thousand nine hundred thirtythree dollars. Two months guaranteed, after that as necessitated by the project.”

“Twenty-nine thirty-three?” Jerry wanted to make sure he’d heard right. That wasn’t TA money. Two months of that would be more than he made all year as a TA. It wasn’t junior-faculty money, either. It was full-professor money, maybe even department-head money.

But Fred just nodded and said, “Correct.”

“When do I start?” Jerry asked. He was proud of himself for making it sound like an ordinary question. He wanted to yell and scream and whoop and bounce off the walls and ceiling as if he were in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

“We expect the Glomar Explorer to leave Long Beach harbor on or about June twentieth,” John answered. “There’s only a narrow window in the North Pacific when we hope sea conditions will be calm enough to let us do what we need to do. We want to make sure we can exploit it.”

“June . . . twentieth.” Jerry winced. He’d be done with spring quarter. That wasn’t the problem. “Look, I know you guys will have me checked out nine ways from Sunday. And if you’ve checked me out, you’ll know—

“That you and Miss Anna Elaine McGowan plan to get married on June thirtieth,” John finished for him.

“No, we didn’t know that at all,” Steve said, and chuckled. Of the three of them, he was, if not the Good Cop, at least the Best Cop.

“We can’t delay sailing for anyone’s personal considerations. You have to understand that.” John’s tone said he could go to hell if he didn’t understand it—go to hell and not go on the Glomar Explorer.

“We’ve already made arrangements, though,” Jerry said helplessly. “We’ve spent money. We’ve rented the synagogue. We’ve got the food set up. We’ve booked our honeymoon. We’ve—” He gave up. If he went, Anna wouldn’t want to marry him. She’d want to murder him. He didn’t see how he could blame her, either.

Steve sidled over to Fred and whispered in his ear. Fred looked like a guy who’d just bit down hard on a lemon. Steve gestured to John. They all put their heads together.

“We’ll pay all the expenses involved in delaying your wedding,” Fred said. “That includes covering your rent here for as long as you’re away.”

Jerry didn’t answer right away. They really want me, he realized. The feeling was strange. It went to his head like champagne. Grad students had to be among the most chronically unwanted people in the world.

After a few seconds, he said, “I still don’t think Anna would be real happy with that.”

“Understandable. We’re messing up plans you’ve already made. If we give the two of you, ah, two thousand dollars as compensation for the inconvenience, would that make the lady happier? Would it make you happier?” Steve said. “We can call it a wedding present or something.”

John and Fred both opened their mouths, then closed them again without saying anything. These people have more money than they know what to do with. Literally, Jerry thought. It wasn’t a problem he’d ever needed to worry about before.

“Can I tell her that that will happen?” he asked.

“Go ahead.” John didn’t sound happy, but he gave the okay.

“Call me tomorrow afternoon. I’ll let you know what she says.” Jerry didn’t bother giving his phone number. It was unlisted, but they had to know it anyway.

There wasn’t much talk after that. The three men left as abruptly as they’d pushed their way in. Jerry watched them go down the stairs and out the door to the foyer. As soon as they disappeared, he started wondering if they’d really been there at all.

He wrote that down on a three-by-five card and stashed it in the manila folder he called his idea file. Waste not, want not.

Copyright © 2022 from Harry Turtledove

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New Releases: 8/23

New Releases

Happy New Releases Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Kill Zone by Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason

Place holder  of - 87Deep within a mountain in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a Cold War-era nuclear weapons storage facility is being used to covertly receive more than 100,000 tons of nuclear waste stored across the US. Only Department of Energy employee, Adonia, and a few others including a war hero, a senator, and an environmental activist, are allowed access to perform a high-level security review of the facilities. But Hydra Mountain was never meant to securely hold this much hazardous waste, and it has the potential to explode, taking with it all of Albuquerque and spreading radioactivity across the nation.

This disaster situation proves all too possible when a small plane crashes at a nearby military base, setting off Hydra’s lockdown and trapping Adonia and her team in the heart of the hazardous, waste-filled mountain. Now, the only direction for them to go is deeper into the mountain, through the tear gas and into a secretive area no one was ever supposed to know about.

Rage by Cora Carmack

Poster Placeholder of - 89Princess or adventurer.

Duty or freedom.

Her Kingdom or the storm hunter she loves.

If Aurora knows anything, it’s that choices have consequences. To set things right, she joins a growing revolution on the streets of Pavan.

In disguise as the rebel Roar, she puts her knowledge of the palace to use to aid the rebellion. But the Rage season is at its peak and not a day passes without the skies raining down destruction. Yet these storms are different…they churn with darkness, and attack with a will that’s desperate and violent.

This feels like more than rage.

It feels like war.


The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole

Image Placeholder of - 59In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.

No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.

Through Darkest Europe by Harry Turtledove

Placeholder of  -77Senior investigator Khalid al-Zarzisi is a modern man, a product of the unsurpassed educational systems of North Africa and the Middle East. Liberal, tolerant, and above all rich, the countries and cultures of North Africa and the Middle East have dominated the globe for centuries, from the Far East to the young nations of the Sunset Lands.

But one region has festered for decades: Europe, whose despots and monarchs can barely contain the simmering anger of their people. From Ireland to Scandinavia, Italy to Spain, European fundamentalists have carried out assassinations, hijackings, and bombings on their own soil and elsewhere. Extremist fundamentalist leaders have begun calling for a “crusade”, an obscure term from the mists of European history.

Now Khalid has been sent to Rome, ground zero of backwater discontent. He and his partner Dawud have been tasked with figuring out how to protect the tinpot Grand Duke, the impoverished Pope, and the overall status quo, before European instability starts overflowing into the First World.

Then the bombs start to go off.


New Releases: 9/18/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson

Poster Placeholder of - 55 Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems…for a price.

Through Darkest Europe by Harry Turtledove

Image Placeholder of - 37 Senior investigator Khalid al-Zarzisi is a modern man, a product of the unsurpassed educational systems of North Africa and the Middle East. Liberal, tolerant, and above all rich, the countries and cultures of North Africa and the Middle East have dominated the globe for centuries, from the Far East to the young nations of the Sunset Lands.

But one region has festered for decades: Europe, whose despots and monarchs can barely contain the simmering anger of their people.


The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

Image Place holder  of - 51 In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

The Queen of Crows by Myke Cole

Place holder  of - 23 In this epic fantasy sequel, Heloise stands tall against overwhelming odds—crippling injuries, religious tyrants—and continues her journey from obscurity to greatness with the help of alchemically-empowered armor and an unbreakable spirit.

No longer just a shell-shocked girl, she is now a figure of revolution whose cause grows ever stronger. But the time for hiding underground is over. Heloise must face the tyrannical Order and win freedom for her people.


Captain Harlock: The Classic Collection Vol. 2 Story and art by Leiji Matsumoto

Getter Robo Devolution Vol. 2 Story by Ken Ishikawa and Eiichi Shimizu; Art by Tomohiro Shimoguchi

High-Rise Invasion Vol. 3-4 Story by Tsuina Miura; art by Takahiro Oba

True Tenchi Muyo! Vol. 2 Story by Masaki Kajishima and Yousuke Kuroda


$2.99 Ebook Sale: Beyond the Gap by Harry Turtledove

Place holder  of - 8The ebook edition of Beyond the Gap by Harry Turtledove, an alternate history adventure where the Bronze Age meets the Ice Age, is on sale now for only $2.99! This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today.

About Beyond the Gap: Count Hamnet Thyssen is a minor noble of the drowsy old Raumsdalian Empire. Its capital city, Nidaros, began as a mammoth hunters’ camp at the edge of the great Glacier. But that was centuries ago, and as everyone knows, it’s the nature of the great Glacier to withdraw a few feet every year. Now Nidaros is an old and many-spired city; and though they still feel the breath of the great Glacier in every winter’s winds, the ice cap itself has retreated beyond the horizon.

Trasamund, a clan chief of the mammoth-herding Bizogots, the next tribe north, has come to town with strange news. A narrow gap has opened in what they’d always thought was an endless and impregnable wall of ice. The great Glacier does not go on forever–and on its other side are new lands, new animals, and possibly new people.

Ancient legend says that on the other side is the Golden Shrine, put there by the gods to guard the people of their world. Now, perhaps, the road to the legendary Golden Shrine is open. Who could resist the urge to go see?

For Count Hamnet and his several companions, the glacier has always been the boundary of the world. Now they’ll be travelling beyond it into a world that’s bigger than anyone knew.

Order Your Copy

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This sale ends August 31st.


Books to Give the Fantasy Fan On Your List

Welcome to the procrastinator’s club! We know there are people out there who have already finished their Christmas shopping, but we’re honestly not sure how they do it. We’ve barely started. Luckily, we know the best last minute gift for nearly everyone: books. If you’re like us, and looking for some last minute gifts, never fear–we’re here to help. Here are some recommendations for the fantasy fans in your life. And don’t forget to check out our Science Fiction and Young Adult lists as well!

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

Poster Placeholder of - 57 Do you have a friend or family member that simultaneously wants to escape our current world and resist what’s going on in it? Then give them Amberlough. As twinkling lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, a smuggler, a spy, and a dancer try to survive using any means necessary–including each other.
Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

Image Placeholder of - 52 For the Shakespeare fan on your list, we have Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey’s beautiful retelling of The Tempest. We know the story of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what about Miranda? What about Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero has chained to his will? Carey flips the coin on its head, showing us the rich inner lives of these neglected characters.

Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson

Placeholder of  -71 We all know someone totally obsessed with Stranger Things. Hell, we’re pretty obsessed with Stranger Things. Randy Henderson’s quirky, fun series is the perfect gift for them. Finn Gramaraye was exiled to the Other Realm for the crime of necromancy at the age of 15, in 1986. Now he’s served his time, and is back in the modern world trying to make his way–and to figure out how things changed since his beloved 80s.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Place holder  of - 29 For the literary reader who’s ready for a walk on the weird side, we recommend the Nebula Award-winning All the Birds in the Sky. An ancient society of witches has gone to war with a hipster tech startup, and the result just might be the end of the world. As the battle between magic and science wages in San Francisco, childhood friends Patricia and Laurence must decide if they’re going to choose sides–or stand together and try to save the world.

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Image Place holder  of - 66 Are you looking for a gift for the feminist in your life? Look no further than the badass women in debut author K. Arsenault River’s The Tiger’s Daughter. Divine Warrior Empress O Shizuka and her best friend and partner, Qorin warrior Barsalayaa Shefali must defend the land from demons swarming from behind crumbling border walls. As the world falls apart, two goddesses arm themselves.

The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove

The master of alternative history returns with a tale that baseball fans and history fans alike will love. Set in an alternate Great Depression America full of wild magic, Harry Turtledove’s story of minor league baseball, zombies, and hotshot wizards will enchant you. The world–and baseball–will never be the same.
Wild Cards I: Volume One edited by George R. R. Martin

For the person eagerly awaiting the last season of Game of Thrones and the next book in A Song of Ice and Fire, we recommend Wild Cards I, edited by George R. R. Martin. An alien virus struck the Earth, and in the aftermath humanity is changed–some become Aces, with superhuman mental and physical abilities. Others become Jokers–cursed with bizarre abilities and physical deformities. A shared world, the Wild Cards series features stories from a wide variety of authors, from Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, Melinda Snodgrass, and of course, George R. R. Martin himself.

From the Two Rivers by Robert Jordan

Trying to get someone on your list into epic fantasy? From the Two Rivers is the perfect entry point. This sleek new edition is perfect for fans of the Wheel of Time series as well as newbies to the series. And after you start reading the adventures of Rand and his friends, you won’t want to stop. Luckily, the series clocks in at 14 books, so there’s plenty of adventure ahead! Love the look of this new mini-edition? There are five more of them!

A Darker Shade of Magic Collector’s Edition by V. E. Schwab

Know someone who loves magic? London? Portals to parallel worlds? Characters you can’t help but ship? Then V. E. Schwab is perfect for you! And this new collector’s edition of A Darker Shade of Magic is perfect for newbies to Schwab’s worlds, but even more perfect for her superfans, who will jump for joy at the sight of the new short stories and gorgeous fan art in this edition.

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

Know someone who loves the worldbuilding aspect of fantasy? Look no further than Elizabeth Bear. In The Stone in the Skull, Bear returns to the world she created in her Eternal Sky trilogy, expanding it to even greater breadth and scope. Even as she explores the new territory of the Lotus Kingdoms, a contested territory of warring states, she delves into the close-knit and complex relationships between her vividly realized characters, anchoring epic fantasy in humor and humanity.


New Releases: 8/15/17

We’ve all been there: sometimes you’re peacefully reading your newest novel, only to see a cockroach scuttle by in front of your cozy armchair. Or you’ve got something that needs some light percussive recalibration to fix. Or your cousin has insulted your reading taste at Thanksgiving dinner, and all you have is the book you brought to the gathering to avoid talking to anyone. We’ve all had to use our books as bludgeoning weapons before, so here’s a list of SF/F doorstoppers that you can pitch in a pinch, now updated to include The First Binding by R. R. Virdi—on sale in paperback now!

By Yvonne Ye

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

The Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milan

Image Placeholder of - 10 Humans were abducted eons ago at a god’s whim. Empires have risen and fallen and now men ride into battle on Stegosauruses and their generals lead them on White Thunder T-Rexes. Welcome to Paradise, and the third volume in Victor Milan’s glorious alternate fantasy universe.

The ancient gods who brought mankind to Paradise have returned to judge their human experiment. The Grey Angels, fabled ancient weapons of the gods, have come to rid the world of sin.

Ferocious by Paula Stokes

Place holder  of - 47 When Winter Kim finds out that her sister is dead and that she has a brother she never knew about, only two things matter—finding what’s left of her family and killing the man who destroyed her life. Her mission leads her from St. Louis to Los Angeles back to South Korea, where she grew up.

Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman

Image Place holder  of - 11 A brutal crime. The ultimate cover-up. How do you solve a murder with no useable evidence?

Private detective Nils Shapiro is focused on forgetting his ex-wife and keeping warm during another Minneapolis winter when a former colleague, neighboring Edina Police Detective Anders Ellegaard, calls with the impossible. Suburban divorcee Maggie Somerville was found murdered in her bedroom, her body covered with the dust from hundreds of emptied vacuum cleaner bags, all potential DNA evidence obscured by the calculating killer.


Flying by Carrie Jones

Poster Placeholder of - 1 People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She’s used to being coddled, being an only child, but it’s hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother’s babying gets more stifling than ever, she’s looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while.

But that night, Mana’s life goes haywire.

The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove

Placeholder of  -5 Since the Big Bubble popped in 1929, life in the United States hasn’t been the same. Hotshot wizards will tell you nothing’s really changed, but then again, hotshot wizards aren’t looking for honest work in Enid, Oklahoma. No paying jobs at the mill, because zombies will work for nothing. The diner on Main Street is seeing hard times as well, because a lot fewer folks can afford to fly carpets in from miles away. From Harry Turtledove, “Master of Alternate History,” comes a tale of minor league baseball set in an alternate Great Depression America full of wild magic


The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

Searching for clues about her best friend’s mysterious suicide, Danielle ventures to the squatter, utopian town of Freedom, Iowa, and witnesses a protector spirit — in the form of a blood-red, three-antlered deer — begin to turn on its summoners. She and her new friends have to act fast if they’re going to save the town — or get out alive.


Akuma no Riddle: Riddle Story of Devil Vol. 5 Story by Yun Kouga; Art by Sunao Minakata

Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner Vol. 6 Story by Nanatsuki Takafumi; Art by Risumai href=”https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250796172/thefirstbinding” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>The First Binding by R. R. Virdi-1#1: The First Binding by R. R. Virdi

Volume one of R. R. Virdi’s new Tales of Tremaine series, The First Binding, is a fresh face on the “books large enough to qualify as a two-hand weapon” scene. With 832 pages of epic fantasy contained within, The First Binding is professionally rated to block everything from sword-strikes to gamma lasers, and is guaranteed to OHKO any mortal-class adversary. Use this book to win your next grudge match, and then dive into this exciting and expansive new series with all the time you’ve saved by making it your go-to armament for close combat. Find the paperback in stores now!

#2: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Weighing in at a hefty 1232 pages, this latest installment in the Stormlight Archive will be sure to beat up your feelings while bludgeoning your enemies. Follow the Knights Radiant to war as tactical subterfuge, political maneuvering, and scientific innovation collide to change the very shape of Roshar’s future. For conducting guerilla warfare and internal sabotage in an occupied tower, the hardcover will be sure to deal maximum damage. For a stealth invasion of said tower, we suggest utilizing the paperback for its dexterity and flexibility. Find the paperback in stores now!

#3: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Book three of the Stormlight Archive actually outweighs book 4, coming in at an impressive 1248 pages. Add some psychic damage to your bludgeoning attack by shouting “YOU CANNOT HAVE MY PAIN” at your foes in time-honored Kholin tradition while hurling this brick.

#4: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Fervent collectors of Stormlight hardcover editions noticed that Words of Radiance, despite only having 1088 pages, is actually quite a bit chunkier than Oathbringer. This is because the paper weight dropped from a 45# stock to a 35# stock between printings (we could go on about book production and paper weight, but we’ll spare you for now). At any rate, this book lives up to its working title, The Book of Endless Pages, and comes pre-equipped with the best one-liner in the series (so far): “Honor is dead, but I’ll see what I can do.”

#5: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini 

You thought we were going to go all the way with Stormlight titles, didn’t you? We thought about it, but decided to branch out to Christopher Paolini’s debut adult novel, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. This galaxy-spanning odyssey of first contact and apocalypse earns its hefty page-count with its complexity and scope, and yes, if you were wondering, it outweighs each of the Eragon books at 880 pages. Bonus: you can also get it in paperback to realize your dual-wielding potential!

exordia by seth dickinson#6: Exordia by Seth Dickinson

Clocking in at a chonkin’ 544 pages, Exordia by Seth Dickinson is a double-edged threat as a bludgeoning weapon. Not only will it physically clobber you with it’s rounds-up-to-quadruple-digits page count, but this book will also emotionally destroy you. This book will wreck you body and soul, and for that reason demands to be read.

#7: Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

The longest book in the Wheel of Time series, we think this book could also be a strong contender for any therapeutic smashin’ you might need (goodness knows Rand could use some therapeutic smashin’ throughout this book). But if you’re new to the Wheel of Time series, we recommend starting with the first book, The Eye of the World. We know that media tie-in covers can be somewhat divisive, but with the new edition of The Eye of the World coming in at 784 pages, it is an undisputed tome and thus highly suitable for a spot of bludgeoning when necessary.

the ruin of kings by jenn lyons#8: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Come see the book that Lev Grossman called “rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying” — much like how you will both look and feel if you come to a book fight prepared with Jenn Lyons. With all five of the Chorus of Dragons series on hand, you’ll be well-stocked for either hurling or bludgeoning, or just curling up in a corner and reading all 2,784 pages (cumulative!) while the melee rages about you.

#9: Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

Clocking in at only 608 pages, this series-ender makes up for its lower page count with its absolutely badass title. We recommend this book for the aura of awe it will generate in your foes, along with its special Area-of-Effect abilities of inducing existential dread in your opponents and cautious hope in your allies.

#10: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

At a respectable 512 pages, Harrow is well-suited to fighters of smaller statures, delicate wrists, and a deeply murderous streak. Seriously, look me in the eyes and tell me that you wouldn’t bring a necromancer to a fight.

#11: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

“But wait,” you say. “This is a novella, with only a measly 128 pages!” you scoff. “How can this be a good bludgeoning weapon?” you laugh.

Just as there is a time and a place for every door-stopping saga, one must never underestimate the lethal capabilities of a well-crafted novella, and Cassandra Khaw’s latest is an exquisite weapon for the task. Lyrical, unflinching, dreadful, and vicious, Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a haunted-house novella perfectly-matched for those who are both courageous and deadly. A few well-placed bonks with this novella at high speed might just win your fight, and that book jacket alone may be enough to terrify most opponents into submission.

#12: Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson

We’re not done with Sanderson yet! With Dawnshard’s upcoming release for the first time in hardcover, it felt right to finish this list where we began — with the Stormlight Archive. At a petite 4.25” x 6.7” (and a healthy… 304 pages), Dawnshard may be small but it packs a punch. Its size makes it the perfect handbag bludgeoning weapon, featuring finely-tapered print-over-board corners and some truly earth-shattering Cosmere reveals. And come on — wouldn’t you want the Lopen by your side in a fight?

Disclaimer: Tor does not actually encourage you to use your books as bludgeoning weapons. Please consider deploying your house slipper instead, as we cannot issue replacements should your copy become tragically stained by cockroach innards.


New Releases: 4/19/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

Design for Dying by Renee Patrick Los Angeles, 1937. Lillian Frost has traded dreams of stardom for security as a department store salesgirl . . . until she discovers she’s a suspect in the murder of her former roommate, Ruby Carroll. Party girl Ruby died wearing a gown she stole from the wardrobe department at Paramount Pictures, domain of Edith Head.

Edith has yet to win the first of her eight Academy Awards; right now she’s barely hanging on to her job, and a scandal is the last thing she needs. To clear Lillian’s name and save Edith’s career, the two women join forces.

Unraveling the mystery pits them against a Hungarian princess on the lam, a hotshot director on the make, and a private investigator who’s not on the level. All they have going for them are dogged determination, assists from the likes of Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck, and a killer sense of style. In show business, that just might be enough.

Dust Up by Josh McGoran

Dust Up by Josh McGoran  Detective Doyle Carrick is awakened in the middle of the night by frantic banging on his front door, a sound followed by gunfire. Ron Hartwell, a complete stranger, is dying on his doorstep.

A halfhearted investigation labels the murder a domestic dispute, with Miriam, Ron’s widow, the sole suspect. When Doyle discovers the Hartwells both worked for a big biotech company, he suspects something else is going on, but it’s not his case. Then, in a run-down North Philly hotel, Miriam tells him her story.

As Doyle follows her back to Haiti, and uncovers a web of deceit, intrigue and mass murder. Giant biotech corporations are working to topple the Haitian government. One is spreading a deadly allergy that will make the competitor’s most popular product virtually poisonous and put millions of lives at risk.

To prevent this, Doyle must enlist the help of his most dangerous enemies, and question everything he ever knew about himself and what it means to be a cop.

The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove

The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove Jack Spivey’s just another down-and-out trying to stay alive, doing a little of this and a little of that. Sometimes that means making a few bucks playing ball with the Enid Eagles, against teams from as many as two counties away. And somethimes it means roughing up rival thugs for Big Stu, the guy who calls the shots in Enid.

But one day Jack knocks on the door of the person he’s supposed to “deal with”—and realizes that he’s not going to do any such thing to the young lady who answers. This means he needs to get out of the reach of Big Stu, who didn’t get to where he is by letting defiance go unpunished.

Then the House of Daniel comes to town–a brash band of barnstormers who’ll take on any team, and whose antics never fail to entertain. Against the odds Jack secures a berth with them. Now they’re off to tour an America that’s as shot through with magic as it is dead broke. Jack will never be the same—nor will baseball.

Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson The Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson

The Knights of Crystallia is the third action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. These fast-paced and funny novels are now available in deluxe hardcover editions illustrated by Hayley Lazo.


The Emperor’s Railroad by Guy Haley

The Emperor's Railroad by Guy HaleyGlobal war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…


Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Skies of Ash by Rachel Howzell Hall

Where by Kit Reed


Magical Girl Apocalypse Vol. 7 by Kentaro Sato

My Monster Secret Vol. 2 by Eiji Masuda

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz & The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum; Art by Kriss Sison

See upcoming releases.

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