John Scalzi - Tor/Forge Blog

7 Icy Songs & 7 Cool Books

7 Icy Songs & 7 Cool Books

by Julia Bergen & a cat

Yo VIP, let’s kick it.

Ice. It’s cool. It’s…there. But there’s not much humor to it. Not like sand

But with winter upon us, we wanted to make an article about ice. But how to give ice a little chaos, a little twinkle, a little magic?

We thought. And we thought.




And thus was born, the chaotic, twinkling, maybe even magical, icy songs and books pairing listicle.

The Cradle of Ice by James RollinsVanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby + James Rollins’ The Cradle of Ice

Taken in a certain light, Vanilla Ice’s classic Ice Ice Baby is a quest song. A group of heroes must collaborate and listen. They travel for a while, pursuing to the next stop. Action heats up when Gunshots ranged out like a bell and our heroes must get away before the jackers jack. But in the end they pull together as if with a rallying cry of, if there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.

What does that make you think of?

Obviously, the fantasy epic The Cradle of Ice by James Rollins! Where a soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl must form a fellowship to stop an apocalypse by traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. It’s an incredible, gripping fantasy, because Rollins truly understands that “anything less than the best is a felony.”

The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakePat Benetar’s Fire And Ice + Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six

This anthem to the inevitability of attraction and heartbreak is the perfect tune to compliment the messy, messy personal dynamics at play in The Atlas Six. In the book, six powerful magicians do graduate research and contemplate asking out their crushes and murdering their friends. In the song, Pat Benetar is familiar with the capricious and cruel nature of the one she’s craving (You come on like a flame, then you turn a cold shoulder), but knowledge is not enough to prevent carnage. She knows if she surrenders to the heat she feels, it’ll fall away and she’ll be left in the cold (I want to give you my love, but you’ll just take a little piece of my heart). 

In the end, Pat seems determined not to fall for her crush’s games, while the characters of The Atlas Six are pretty much incapable of not allowing their peers to burn them, but talk is cheap. 

Ask Atlas Society resident Tristan Caine if he’s going back for more Fire And Ice, knowing he’ll be hurt, and he’ll tell you to shut up and get lost, but that’s only because he has somewhere to be. 

Also something something re: Robert Frost’s poem about fire, ice, and the end of the world. 

starter villain by john scalziForeigner’s Cold as Ice + John Scalzi’s Starter Villain

Okay, on the outside, Cold as Ice by Foreigner may seem like it’s about a broken-hearted ex describing a former lover’s rejection. But ice can be deceiving, just like this song! I think it’s actually about a group of billionaire super villains trying to run the world, much like the cabal in John Scalzi’s sf romp, Starter Villain

They are cold as ice. They are willing to sacrifice. The line you’re digging for gold, particularly relevant, as these turds are just as into money as they into power. You want paradise well, their version of paradise, anyway. You leave the world behind, they don’t care about the world, they just want what they can get out of it.

But it ends on a hopeful note, as both Starter Villain and Foreigner promise us, someday you’ll pay the price, I know. Oh, we know.

the archive undying by emma mieko candonPinkPantheress & Ice Spice’s Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 + Emma Mieko Candon’s The Archive Undying

So before getting into more advanced parsing, The Archive Undying is a match for Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 because every boy in this book is lying through his teeth. Now, you could say that about all the women characters, nonbinary characters, and nonhuman characters too, and you’d be right. But Sunai, who is the main character of The Archive Undying—well, you just want to grab him by shoulders and plead with him to love himself a little and tear himself away from the long line of men that have only emotionally devastated him, knowing that Sunai himself is absolutely one of those men. The lyrics I don’t sleep enough without you / And I can’t eat enough without you are very Sunai-coded; he’s definitely not taking care of himself. He’s a man who would sooner feed himself to a giant starving robot than love himself enough to tell someone he loves them. 

the bezzle by cory doctorowBilly Joel’s Running on Ice + Cory Doctorow’s The Bezzle

When we were picking out pairings, this one felt like an obvious choice. Although Billy Joel could not possibly have read The Bezzle (on sale 2.20.2024) when he wrote Running on Ice (part of Joel’s album The Bridge, released 7.9.1986), it does feel like this song is about forensic accountant Martin Hench, AKA the culmination of technology and civilized experience.

The song describes someone pushed to the brink by modern civilization, and though the narrator doesn’t specifically say that he’s battling amoral billionaires trying to make their next buck no matter the cost, it’s basically implied. In a world of high rise ambition most people’s motives are ulterior? Definitely what Hench runs into in both Red Team Blues and the follow up, The Bezzle, where now he’s pitted against a group of the ultra rich taking advantage of the private prison system to make even more money. Poor Martin Hench, always wandering into another nefarious scheme. But as the song says, as soon as I get one fire put out

There’s another building burning down.

At least that means we’ve got lots of Martin Hench adventures to read?

last exit by max gladstoneSimon & Garfunkel’s A Hazy Shade of Winter + Max Gladstone’s Last Exit

Look around / Leaves are brown / And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Last Exit is kind of like that. Look around—things are not as they were. Leaves are brown—no youth, no hope. There’s a patch of snow on the ground

In the distant past before the events of Last Exit, Zelda and her friends discovered a magic sort of spiritual momentum that could propel one into a different dimension. The roads to alternate realities were a navigable spiderweb, and they knew they could use their findings to improve not just their world, but all of them. 

There’s a patch of snow on the ground

They were wrong, and they suffered for it, and the future is colder than the past. The rot between worlds—an interdimensional sickness—claimed Zelda’s girlfriend, but she’s still out there. Calling. Approaching. Does the old gang have enough idealism left to band together for one last adventure? 

There’s a patch of snow on the ground.

It is very cold. 

projections by s.e. porterChristina Perri’s Jar of Hearts + S. E. Porter’s Projections

When we made this list, things were pretty silly. We called our brainstorming sess ice ice meeting. We were so, so goofy.  But honestly, a lot of these songs that invoke ice are about pain, which perhaps we could have anticipated, had we not been so initially focused on Vanilla Ice. 

Anyway, the ice in Jar of Hearts comes from this chorus: You’re gonna catch a cold / From the ice inside your soul / So don’t come back for me / Who do you think you are? The novel Projections is about as harrowing as those lines. A rejected sorcerer murders Catherine, the woman who denied him, and then sends projections of himself out into the world to seduce more women to add them to his jar of hearts. 

Catherine’s not about this, and haunts him. Seeks vengeance. As Christina Perri sang, Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore? 

The song and book aren’t 1-1 parallels, but the notes are all present. The hurt. The betrayal. The haunting. 

video soruce


Tor’s Ice-Cold Villains

Tor’s Ice-Cold Villains

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and you better believe it, because one of those people doing the saying is Khan, titular villain of 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In the spirit of Khan, and winter—being the time of cold, and of villains in general—being incredibly cool, have inspired us. 

Here’s a rundown of some of Tor’s Ice-Cold Villains™ 😎

Vicious by V.E. SchwabEli & Victor from Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Roommate squabbles are often a sad fact of life. Sometimes dishes pile up and noise happens at unfortunate times and you have to work that stuff out for the communal good of your homespace. Or, you could read Vicious, which has the worst ever case of and they were roommates… Eli and Victor go from arrogant and ambitious college roommates working together to arrogant and ambitious and superpowered ex-roommates now enemy villains.*

Eli would contend that he is not a villain, and in fact saving the world by doing all that murder. And Victor is trying to stop him, but is more of an antihero, in this case, technically

Place holder  of - 55Kreon from Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

Oh, this villain is a classic. Literally. Arch-Conspirator is Veronica Roth’s science fiction retelling of Sophocles’s famous tragedy Antigone. Diligent scholars may note that the spelling “Kreon” is a little different from the original “Creon,” but Antigone goes by Tig in this story too, because it’s the future. Other things have changed too—in Roth’s dystopian world, only those birthed through a eugenic process are considered rightly souled. Tig and her sisters, being born outside of the process, are unnatural, and Kreon doesn’t like that, or women. The rest of the story is pretty deadly, but far be it from us to spoil it, if somehow you’ve managed to avoid learning the deets of a famous story that’s been around for 2464 years. 

starter villain by john scalziCharlie from Starter Villain by John Scalzi

Okay we’re warming things up a little for this one. Charlie isn’t really ice-cold, but he’s a good villain to start with, if you’re more looking to dip toes in the waters of villainy. That’s really what Charlie’s doing, in a lot of ways. He’s new to the gig, the inheritor of an evil organization, weapons, and a cadre of spy cats from his long-lost uncle. This is a cozy story for when you need to steal a little warmth back from an ice-cold world. Cozy villainy. 

The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeEverybody from The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Not only does the rigorous process of higher education often feel like a system designed by a particularly sadistic villain, but sometimes the best way to survive a mad situation is to go a little mad. Enter, the entire cast of The Atlas Six, basically. They’re grad students with a lot of magical powers and even more issues and attractions to work out amongst themselves. And while they work on their research, they also must contend with the mandatory institutional tradition of sacrificing one member of each cohort. Sometimes grad school is murder. 

Image Place holder  of - 5Cairdine Farrier from The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

So Cairdine Farrier. This villain wears a lot of hats, including: merchant, explorer, agent, father figure (?!), and patron. He’s part of the Masquerade—the empire that took over Baru’s home and killed her parents. Manipulative and highly savvy, it’s difficult for others to parse his full motives and hidden thoughts. A truly dangerous villain, by which we mean: The kind who knows how to ingratiate. 




Books Tor Staff Are Thankful For <3

Books Tor Staff Are Thankful For <3

Where would we be without our books? is a tough question, and not just because we work for Tor. Before we were workers in publishing, we were people who enjoyed books, and we’re still that. We always will be.

In spirit of the season, here’s some of the books that Tor staff are thankful for this year.

one for my enemy by olivie blakeOne for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Increasingly, I am becoming convinced of the singular importance of vibes, and its verb form, vibing. Vibing is a modification of everything else you do—it’s existing with intention and style. So I’m going to talk about now, a book with impeccable vibes, where rival witch dynasties compete for each other’s affections and dominance over Manhattan’s magical, criminal underworld. It’s One for My Enemy, and it vibes severely.

a cat, Assistant Marketing Manager

Image Placeholder of - 18He Who Drowned the World by Shelley Parker-Chan

I lost my entire mind about She Who Became the Sun back in 2021, so I spent a few months emotionally preparing myself for the emotional sledgehammer of He Who Drowned the World. What I wasn’t prepared for was how laugh-out-loud funny the contrast would be, flip-flopping between Zhu’s point of view (as she happily pursues her desired career path) and everyone else’s narration (angst, vengeance, wallowing in guilt and grief). Iconic, show-stopping, inimitable, unparalleled — I am grateful to Shelley Parker-Chan for simply existing in their awesomeness, for single-handedly writing the queer cdrama they wanted to see in the world, and for illustrating the principle that living well is, in fact, the best revenge. Ming Dynasty China will never be the same.

Yvonne Ye, Ad/Promo Coordinator

lent by jo waltonLent by Jo Walton

This year I am grateful for a book that kept me up way past my bedtime. Lent is full of twists, tormented monks, and demons, demons, demons. Read this fiendishly clever, fantastical take on historical fiction at your own peril and definitely not if you need to wake up early the next morning.

Merlin Hoye, Marketing Assistant

bookshops & bonedust by travis baldreeBookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

This is the year of Travis Baldree. Legends & Lattes was my favorite book of 2022 and he knocked it out of the park once again with Bookshops & Bonedust. It was another perfect, cozy, sapphic fantasy novel with just an edge of bittersweet longing that had me clutching the book to my heart. I’m so grateful for the comfort and joy this book provided me with this year and I can’t wait to re-read this book again. And again. And again.

Rachel Taylor, Senior Marketing Manager

Starter Villainstarter villain by john scalzi by John Scalzi

Oh, to be able to read this book all over again with fresh eyes. Starter Villain by John Scalzi is such a fun, fast-paced romp that asks the very important, age-old question: what if my cats could talk (and also I was rich)? The cats would tell you to read this book about inheriting evil empires, unionizing dolphins, many (many) assassins, and one divorced substitute teacher who just wants to be able to keep his house.

Lizzy Hosty, Publishing Strategy Assistant

What books are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments! 


Tor Books’ Startlingly Specific Holiday Gift Guide

Tor Books’ Startlingly Specific Holiday Gift Guide

Do you hear that??

It’s the sweet, sweet sound of gifts and the necessity of buying them for all of the humans, animals, and unidentified entities in your life. That’s a lot of pressure, but don’t sweat, because we’ve got your back, and more importantly, we’ve got a ton of increasingly niche book recommendations to get you through the holiday season! Check them out here and let us know which ones you’re grabbing in the comments. 

by Rachel Taylor and a cat

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree is for the treasured party member who’s saved your character’s life many times on TTRPG night


We all have That One Amazing Player who has pulled our butts out of the fictional fire on D&D night, and what better way to show your endless appreciation than with the gift of LITERATURE?! High fantasy, secondhand books, and first love–what more could you ask for?

Masters of Death by Olivie Blake is for the angsty goth who still wishes it was Halloween


So they’re in denial that it’s not Halloween anymore, but guess what?! In the unbroken face of eternity, time has no meaning! Every day is Halloween!

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune is for the plucky traveler who’s got the whole world to see


There are many ways to see new and exciting worlds, and TJ Klune always provides queer and cozy adventures that you only need to pick up a book to explore. Consider picking up his latest venture for that friend who’s been bit by the travel bug!

Ebony Gate by Julia Vee & Ken Bebelle is for the action movie fanatic who owns a cardboard cutout of John Wick


Assassins, dragon magic, and Chinese diaspora urban fantasy set in contemporary San Francisco.

Book of Night by Holly Black is for the insatiable reader who has way more books to read than hands to hold them


And if you order and submit your receipt before 12/15, you can receive a Book of Night tote bag! Even Charlie Hall needs a safe sling to carry her contraband. Who’s Charlie Hall? A professional thief / bartender who pilfers shadow magic secrets! Read the book!

T. L. Huchu’s Edinburgh Nights series is for the Supernatural fan who’s looking to expand their fandom across the pond


Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker, but she’s not just carrying messages anymore. You talk to one ghost and suddenly you’re spending late nights in the occult library, solving murders, and following trails of huskified children to their sinister spectral source.

The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz is for the science-enjoyer in your life who’s looking for environmentally-conscious fiction


This sweeping, uplifting, and illuminating exploration of the future from a science fiction visionary is the perfect gift to give your non-fiction loving, environmentally aware bestie who wants to dip their toe into a more fictional space.

Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson is for fans looking for The Princess Bride vibes but just haven’t quite found them yet


Do you have a Princess Bride superfan in your life? They don’t need another fandom-y Etsy gift this year–they need a book that gives them the same emotional rush they got the first time they laid eyes on the fairytale-inspired glory that is their favorite 1987 classic.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl is for the history buff in your life who can’t stop thinking about other paths the world might have taken


After being purchased back from the Congo Free State’s colonizer, Everfair becomes a land of fantastic technologies—of spying cats and gulls, nuclear dirigibles buoyed by barkcloth balloons, and silent pistols that shoot poison knives. What happens when these technological advances are brought to bear against Belgian tyrant Leopold II?

That’s Everfair, and then you can read Kinning (on sale 1/23/24) for the continuation of this expansive alternate history.

Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini is for the hardcore Trekkie who’s looking for major blockbuster movie vibes in their books


Don’t let the bright and spiffy gif fool you—in this book they boldly go where no human has gone before, equally bold in how they look past the question: Might there have been a reason?

The Fragile Threads of Power by V. E. Schwab is for people looking to put a different kind of magic into their holidays


Let’s put the magic into the holidays, shall we? V. E. Schwab returns to The Shades of Magic universe with a whole new series, perfect for readers who loved the original and new fans who want to explore magical alternate universes from in front of a cozy fireplace.

Shelley Parker-Chan’s Radiant Emperor Duology is for the unhinged danmei consumer who’s looking for their next great read


Do you have someone in your life that consumes danmei like candy? Are they tired of waiting for their new favorite series to be translated so they can add it to their shelves? Do we have the series for you. She Who Became the Sun and He Who Drowned the World explore a stunning reinvention of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor. It’s queer, it’s fantastical, and it’s complete! Snag both books in the duology for them now.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher is for the friend with an ill-advised yet much-beloved Shrek 2 tattoo


“Better out than in” on the inside of the wrist, Thornhedge open in hand.

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow is for anyone who has never been disappointed by the combo of Mike Flanagan and a Scary House


Home is where the heart is, and really puts you in a vulnerable position when your house HATES you.

Starter Villain by John Scalzi is for Megamind


If you’re not Megamind, keep scrolling. Just kidding—this book is also for cat lovers and fans of Despicable Me and The Venture Brothers.

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan is for people who loved Season 2 of The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime


If you have someone in your life that got sucked into the masterpiece that was The Wheel of Time Season 2, don’t worry, you can help them relive the fun with The Great Hunt, the inspiration for the show and the second book in The Wheel of Time series!


On the Road: Tor Author Events in October 2023

On the Road: Tor Author Events in October 2023

Tor authors are on the road and headlining cool events! Check out everything we’ve got going on this month.

V. E. Schwab, The Fragile Threads of Power

left: v.e. Schwab right: the fragile threads of power

Tuesday, October 10
One More Page Books @ Hyatt Crystal City
2799 Richmond Hwy
Arlington, VA 22202
7:00 PM ET

Wednesday, October 11
Brookline Booksmith @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
5:30 PM ET

John Scalzi, Starter Villain

left: john scalzi right: starter villain

Thursday, October 19
Parnassus Books
3900 Hillsboro Pike
Suite 14
Nashville, TN 37215
6:30 PM CT

Friday, October 20
Southern Festival of Books
1000 Rosa L Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37208

Travis Baldree, Bookshops & Bonedust

left: travis baldree right: bookshops & bonedust

Sunday, October 22
Liberty Bay Books
18881 ‘D’ Front St
Poulsbo, WA 98370
10:00 AM PT


Literary Trick-or-Treat: 8 Book & Candy Pairings

Literary Trick-or-Treat: 8 Book & Candy Pairings

If Halloween’s about one thing, it’s the delicious candy. But! If Halloween’s about two things, it’s the delicious candy and good books (We’re Tor. We’re nerds).

Check out these pairings of sweet treats and matching reads!

the fragile threads of power by v.e. scwab in front of an array of sour patch kids watermelonsThe Fragile Threads of Power & Sour Patch Kids Watermelon

The tag for Sour Patch Kids might be Sour, Sweet, Gone—but not V. E. Schwab! They are BACK, returning to the expansive world(s) they created in the Shades of Magic Trilogy. The Fragile Threads of Power features both new characters and old, which is why we’ve paired it with Sour Patch Kids Watermelon. It’s everything you love and a little more. A little different. Familiar, yet new. 

traitor of redwinter by ed mcdonald in front of an ad for zombie skittles, reading BEWARE OF ROTTEN ZOMBIE SKITTLESTraitor of Redwinter & Zombie Skittles 

For very brief spans in 2019 and 2020, Skittles ran a special limited-time Halloween campaign, delivering unto us Zombie Skittles. They’re just like regular Skittles, but a few—visually indecipherable from their more delicious brethren—were zombies, and tasted awful. Traitor of Redwinter by Ed McDonald is way cooler than Zombie Skittles because it brings all the scary candy’s suspense without tasting abominable (probably just tastes neutrally of paper, if you tried to snack on it). 

On Sale 10.24.23

Bookshops & bonedust by travis baldree in front of a golden array of wrapped reese's peanut butter cupsBookshops & Bonedust & Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup  

The much-loved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup owes its storied position in candy history to its artful fusion of two flavors: Chocolate. Peanut butter. We honor Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree by pairing it with the peanut butter cup, because it too is a smooth blend of distinct flavors. Viv is a mercenary, but a warrior stuck in recovery in a tiny beach town. But adventures seldom play out as you expect. This sleepy town and its cozy bookshop are full of peanut butter, or they are peanut butter and adventure is the chocolate. This metaphor makes sense. We will not be taking any questions. 

On Sale 11.7.23

devil's gun by cat rambo next to a suspicious bad of 'Disco's' candy Devil’s Gun & Disco’s

Cat Rambo’s Disco Space Opera series (and playlist! Check out their playlist!) began with You Sexy Thing and continued with Devil’s Gun, named respectively after the rock time tunes “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate and “Devil’s Gun” by C.J. & Co. Fittingly, we have elected to pair this sci-fi adventure with Disco’s, a candy we’ve never heard of before and seems to be available primarily in the United Kingdom? But whatever. C’est la vie. We did it for the name. 

the first binding by r.r. virdi being flanked by two shiny gummi sharksThe First Binding & Giant Gummy Shark 

For R.R. Virdi’s hugely epic The First Binding, we’re hauling in the world’s largest gummy shark. Like this massive gummified carnivore confection, The First Binding will sustain you for a while. One will feed your body, and one will nourish the soul.  

Now Available in Paperback!

Starter villain by john scalzi in front of a rainbow array of sour patch kidsStarter Villain & Sour Patch Kids (Original)

Starter Villain by John Scalzi is the story of a hapless guy who inherits his uncle’s supervillain business, including among other assets, an array of espionage-ready cats. We pair it with the original Sour Patch Kids, harkening back to that aforementioned tag, Sour, Sweet, Gone. This is a book of cozy opposites—namely surprisingly cool supervillains. 

exadelic by jon evans in front of a rainbow array of monster energy drinks in different flavorsExadelic & Monster Energy 

Far from a traditional Halloween trick-or-treat staple, these energy drinks nevertheless taste like candy, and pair perfectly with Jon Evans Exadelic, which is a book about occult magic and computer code. A trusty goto beverage for exhausted software engineers everywhere, this sweet, sugary drink counts as candy for the purposes of this article, and is the perfect fuel to keep you awake late into the night as you read Exadelic

sandymancer by david edison in front of some red hot candiesSandymancer & Red Hots 

David Edison’s Sandymancer is a classic fantasy adventure of mad god-kings, regular people with extraordinary powers, and lots of hot climates. The final note is what inspires us to dedicate a spot on this feature to Red Hots. Can you feel the heat? Hopefully you can’t taste the sand. Hopefully you have escaped the ire of mad gods. 


Tor Books at New York Comic Con 2023!

Tor Books at New York Comic Con 2023!

Image Placeholder of - 95

We’re thrilled to join you all at New York Comic Con 2023! Check out all the awesome panels and booth events we’ve got slated for this epic weekend!

Please note that giveaways and drops do not indicate author attendance at New York Comic Con. For attending authors, please check out panels and signing events. 

Thursday — October 12

Booth 3335

Author Signing + ARC Giveaway: Seth Dickinson

12:00 – 1:00 PM

Author Signing: Julia Vee & Ken Bebelle

1:00 – 2:00 PM
Ebony Gate

Author Signing: Holly Black

2:00 – 3:00 PM
Book of Night

Author Signing: Christopher Golden**

3:00 – 4:00 PM
All Hallows & Road of Bones

Author Signing: Nat Cassidy

4:00 – 5:00 PM
Mary: An Awakening of Terror


Friday — October 13

Panels & Events

Mysteries, Magic, & Mayhem

Room 1B-02
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Rules are meant to be broken, and genre-boundaries are meant to be smashed. Join some of your favorite authors, including: John Scalzi (Starter Villain), Daniel M Ford (The Warden), R.R. Virdi (The First Binding), Veronica Roth (Arch-Conspirator), and Kristen Simmons (Find Him Where You Left Him Dead), with moderation by Seth Dickinson (Exordia) for a panel all about transcending science fiction, fantasy, and horror into a delightful mashup of all of our favorite tropes into their magnificent stories.

The Horror, The Horror

Room 1B-02
12:15 – 1:15 PM

Ever find a gripping story that you can’t put down, but that you have to read with the lights on? If so, you’ve found one of genre-fiction’s great joys: the horror novel. Join these acclaimed writers as they discuss their novels and why reading with the lights on is a good idea. This panel features James Kennedy, Mariam Metoui, Richard Kadrey (The Dead Take the A Train), and Eric Larocca.

Author Autographs

Celebrity Signing Tables #1-4
12:15 – 1:15 PM
John Scalzi, Daniel M. Ford, R.R. Virdi, Veronica Roth, Kristen SimmonsSeth Dickinson

Author Autographs

Celebrity Signing Tables #1-4
1:30 – 2:30 PM
Richard Kadrey

Spotlight on V. E. Schwab

Room 406.2
4:30 – 5:30 PM

Join critically acclaimed and bestselling author V. E. Schwab (The Fragile Threads of Power, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue) for an intimate conversation about the creative process and the life of a writer with moderation by Tamara Fuentes.

Author Autographs

Room 1A-01
5:45 – 7:15 PM
V. E. Schwab

Booth 3335

Author Signing: Kristen Simmons

10:00 – 11:00 AM
Find Him Where You Left Him Dead

Author Signing: Cassandra Khaw & Richard Kadrey

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
The Dead Take the A Train

Author Signing: V. E. Schwab – *100 tickets

1:00 – 2:00 PM
The Fragile Threads of Power

Author Signing: Veronica Roth

2:30 – 3:30 PM

Author Signing: Daniel M. Ford

5:00 – 6:00 PM
The Warden


Saturday — October 14

Panels & Events

Companion Showdown: Let’s Hear it for the Sidekicks of SFF

Room 1B-02
10:30 – 11:30 AM

Let’s face it: Frodo would never have destroyed the ring without Samwise Gamgee, and Batman ain’t nothing without Robin. So let’s hear it for the sidekicks of SFF, because it’s obvious our heroes are nothing without them. Join: John Scalzi (Starter Villain), V. E. Schwab (The Fragile Threads of Power), Alix E. Harrow (Starling House), and Cassandra Khaw (The Dead Take the A Train) with moderation by P. Djèlí Clark (Abeni’s Song & The Dead Cat Tail Assassins) as they discuss the unlikely companions that bring their stories to life, whether it’s a sentient Roomba, a talking cat, or just a seemingly inept but brave best friend.

Author Autographs

Celebrity Signing Tables #1-4
11:45 AM – 12:45 PM
John Scalzi, V. E. Schwab, Alix E. Harrow, Cassandra Khaw, Richard Kadrey, P. Djèlí Clark

Building Bestselling Worlds

Room 408
12:45 – 1:45 PM

Join these two critically acclaimed and bestselling authors as they discuss their approach to building rich, diverse, and unique worlds. This panel will feature Cassandra Clare and V. E. Schwab (The Fragile Threads of Power) with moderation by A.Y. Chao.

Author Autographs

Celebrity Signing Tables #1-4
2:00 – 3:30 PM
V. E. Schwab

Tor Spotlight: Chaotic Book Club

Room 1B-02
6:00 – 7:00 PM

Tor Publishing Group publishes some of the greatest sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and horror stories around. This panel will shine a spotlight on some of the exciting books that Tor, Tor Teen, Tordotcom Publishing, Nightfire, and our newest imprint, Bramble, have to offer. Join the book lovers from the Tor teams as they share a sneak peek at new and upcoming books that you will definitely have to add to your TBR list.

Booth 3335

Author Signing: Kevin J. Anderson

10:00 – 11:00 AM
Princess of DuneDune: The Heir of Caladan

Author Signing: P. Djèlí Clark

1:00 – 2:00 PM
Abeni’s SongThe Dead Cat Tail Assassins galleys

Author Signing: Alix E. Harrow

2:00 – 3:00 PM
Starling House & Other Titles

Author Signing: Christopher Paolini

3:00 – 4:00 PM
To Sleep in a Sea of StarsFractal Noise

Author Signing: John Scalzi

4:00 – 5:00 PM
Starter Villain & Other Titles


Sunday — October 15

Panels & Events

Return to Arrakis: Visiting the world of Dune with Tor Publishing Group and Abrams ComicArts

Room 1B-02
2:45 – 3:45 PM

Don’t miss the exciting in-depth and behind-the-scenes look at the gripping worldwide science-fiction sensation from long-time Dune author Kevin J. Anderson on the upcoming Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib: Deluxe Collector’s Edition and Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 3: The Prophet (Abrams ComicArts) and the continuation of this incredible saga with Princess of Dune (Tor), with Charlotte Greenbaum, Senior Editor, Abrams ComicArts and Robert Davis, Editor, Tor Publishing Group.

Booth 3335

Author Signing: R.R. Virdi

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
The First Binding 

  • Free author signing with tickets to be given away at 10:00 AM each day in the booth. Other titles will be available for purchase in the booth.
  • Author at St. Martin’s Press

Panelists and giveaways subject to change


The Cat Villains of Tor Publishing Group

The Cat Villains of Tor Publishing Group

starter villain by john scalziAfter reading Starter Villain by John Scalzi, we’re questioning the villainous capabilities of our cats. Could they be secretly working for a supervillain? And why are they suddenly all reading Starter Villain? Let’s investigate.

Name: [REDACTED], Brooklyn, NY

cat posing with starter villain by john scalzi. staggering that a cat has casually opened a book and maintained this pose. a true criminal

Crime: 17 years of careful manipulation to get everything she desires—with just a slight tilt of the head and a little chirrup: Treats, check. Select morsels of chicken, check. The comfy part of the couch to herself, check. It’s time to stop thinking little and expand this empire!

Name: Bandit

a cat sitting regally behind a copy of starter villain by john scalzi

Crime: Running a complicated phone scam to get credit card numbers to order cat nip!

Name: Kaz “Dirtypaws” [LAST NAME REDACTED]

this cat is named kaz so its a cat criminal named after a criminal who sometimes does cat burglary. there's also a copy of starter villain by john scalzi

Crime: Breaking into a bag of fresh, New York style bagels to get a bite of those good good carbs, then leaving the gnawed on baked good on the middle of the kitchen floor. Challenge for dominance over the kitchen territory has been received, Kaz.

Name: Jimbo—food pirate.

this cat is literally posing with starter villain by john scalzi like a model, with paws positioned just so

Crime: Loves hanging off the tables with one arm hanging down to go fishing for the dog. 6487644357 counts of attempted cannibalism of his sister. Horrible table manners–we call him Shovelface because he doesn’t bite, he scoops. Likes to scream at the ravens on the roof.

Name: Daisy

this cat is curled around starter villain by john scalzi. they look very comfortable

Crime: Has two modes, Crazy Daisy and Lazy Daisy, which is to say, that she’s a demon who lives in our house and sometimes is sleepy. Will break anything in pursuit of flashes of light and/or flies and/or laser pointer. 6487644357 counts of actual murder. Might be able to fly. Tiny kitten thinks of nothing but murder all day. DO NOT TRUST THIS CAT, SHE’S THE MODERN EQUIVALENT OF NIBBLER. Simply too cute—public safety hazard. Perfect 100000/10, no notes.

Name: Bandit (editor’s note: two Bandit cats on staff…can’t be a good sign…)

a cat that's kind of mirroring the cover of starter villain by john scalzi

Crime: Staging a Heist of a Robber Baron’s Gold, also Stealing Valuables (Namely Fridge Magnets).

Conclusion: These cats are all villains…but also the best boys and girls in the world. Their crimes are all pardoned on account of extreme fluffiness.

Order Starter Villain Here

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Meow, Baby! Cats in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Meow, Baby! Cats in Science Fiction and Fantasy

starter villain by john scalziWe love cats and SFF and John Scalzi, and are thrilled to introduce all three today!

Check it out!

by John Scalzi

Hello, Tor/Forge blog readers! I have a new novel coming that recently released called Starter Villain, and if you’ve seen the cover—and what a cover!—then you may surmise that cats may play a significant role in the events of the story. That would be correct, and also, it would not be the first time that cats have been integral to the stories that science fiction and fantasy writers write and share with the world.

To make this point, below please find a curated selection of feline friends who pop up in science fiction and fantasy works across several media. Because, after all, cats are everywhere. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so once I offer up some of my favorites here, please add your own in the comments. Because you can never have too many cats!

JONESY THE CAT, from Alien (1979)

The more things change, the more things stay the same—cats were crew members on sailing ships in order to help control the vermin, and Jonesy had a similar role on the Nostromo, the massive cargo-hauling space ship in the film. Now, you might argue that Jonesy fell down on the job when he didn’t hunt down and snap the neck of the alien when it was still small and snake-like, but, look, a smart cat knows when to pick his battles. It’s not for nothing that Jonesy is only one of two survivors of that whole crew.

THE CAT, from Coraline (novella, 2002; film, 2009)

In science fiction and fantasy cats are often presumed to be able to walk between the real world and the wilder worlds of imagination, and that’s the case here, as the stray cat Coraline sees lurking about her house follows her through the secret door the leads to the seemingly-nice-but-then-not-at-all Other Mother and her intriguing, ultimately dangerous pocket universe. The cat and the Other Mother do not get along at all, a fact Coraline uses to her advantage at one point.

GOOSE THE FLERKEN, from Captain Marvel (2019)

Technically Goose is not a cat at all, but if an alien species looks like a cat, walks like a cat and meows like a cat, you can go ahead and call it a cat… at least until physics-defying tentacles fly out of its mouth and devour all those who threaten it. Which, you have to admit, is not something a cat can do—but absolutely IS something a cat would do, if it could. Go on, look at your cat. Tell me it wouldn’t. In an instant.

THE STRAY, from Stray (2022)

Would domesticated cats survive the human apocalypse? In the video game Stray, not only do cats survive, one of them actually manages to unravel the mystery of what happened to those disappeared humans, and why they left behind an entire subterranean city of helper robots. All while simply being a cat (and also, being helped by their very own robot, which is a nice boost if you can get it).

THE CAT, from Love Death + Robots (2019)

Speaking of apocalypses and robots, in the “Three Robots” episode of this animated anthology series, a trio of mechanized explorers visit the ruins of a city and see delights from the human era they’ve encountered before, like balls! And very old hamburgers! And rockets! And, of course, a cat, who decides to then accompany them on their adventures, because it’s cute and furry and harmless… or is it? In the third season of the series, the robots appear again, as does the cat, in the most unusual of places. Boy, whoever thought up this particular cat really must consider them evil geniuses or something.

There’s a starter list of cats in science fiction and fantasy. Add your own to the list in the comments! And check out Starter Villain, the novel, when it’s out on September 19. You won’t be disappointed in its cats, I promise you.


JOHN SCALZI is one of the most popular SF authors of his generation. His debut Old Man’s War won him the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation, and Redshirts (which won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel), and 2020’s The Last Emperox. Material from his blog, Whatever, has also earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter. 

Order Starter Villain Here:

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Five Fine Feline Reads for Fans of Fantastical Fiction

Five Fine Feline Reads for Fans of Fantastical Fiction

Okay before we get into this list, we’re going to start by establishing some baseline facts about cats: 

  1. Cats are wise
  2. Cats are jerks
  3. Cats eyes can see into the astral plane
  4. Spying a black cat on a moonless night is a blessing, not a curse
  5. Cats enjoy attention
  6. Cats want people to read about them

So start those haunches a’wagglin’ and get ready to pounce on these book recs! 

starter villain by john scalziStarter Villain by John Scalzi

We’re kicking this list off with a book full of cats that embodies well the duality of felines: cats are simultaneously cuddly little guys and devious villains. In Starter Villain, some down-on-his-luck divorcee named Charlie inherits his uncle’s super villain business. There are giant lasers, but there’s also paperwork, and we’d go into greater detail, but honestly we’re not here for Charlie. We’re here for the cunning circle of feline specialists and spies employed by Charlie’s inherited organization, who are Super Evil™ but also pretty nice. 

The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V.E. SchwabThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

This list about cats in books wouldn’t be complete without a cat named Book. Now, this expansive literary fantasy from V.E. Scwab might be about an immortality-cursed woman who no one can remember, but you’ll never forget Book, the chill feline occupant of the bookstore where Addie meets the one person who resists magically forgetting her.

For every bookseller cat snoozing in a puddle of sun in the shop’s front window, we dedicate this spot on the list to you.

Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

The cats in our lives keep so many secrets. Often, the known origin story of a beloved feline is as long as “No idea. Dude (gender neutral) just showed up and stayed.” This is the case for Amity, a dire-cat of menacing size who wanders into the coffeeshop started by veteran adventurer / recent entrepreneur Viv. Amity decides that Amity likes the place, and that’s that. There’s now a resident cat. 

(Amity is a Very Good Dire-cat)

the dead cat tail assassins by P. Djèlí ClarkThe Dead Cat Tail Assassins by P. Djèlí Clark

And now for a non-traditional cat book recommendation!

The Dead Cat Tail Assassins are not cats.

Nor do they have tails.

But they are most assuredly dead.

P. Djèlí Clark builds a fantastical city full of gods and assassins 😎

On Sale 3/12/24

devil's gun by cat ramboDevil’s Gun by Cat Rambo

Don’t look now! It’s another unorthodox cat book recommendation! Just kidding. Not about the recommendation, no. We mean that you should look, because we’re talking about most-definitely human author Cat Rambo’s science fiction Disco Space Opera series about space pirates, sentient starships, and a struggling restaurant. This series began with You Sexy Thing. Now a second installment arrives from the outer stars, heralding extragalactic adventure: Devil’s Gun!

Order Starter Villain Here

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