music - Tor/Forge Blog



Love is in the Air…and in Our Ears! Check Out Our ‘Bramble’ Playlist

Love is in the air…and on our shelves…and in our ears! To celebrate the launch of our new romantic imprint Bramble, we’re giving you the ULTIMATE romantic playlist, lovingly put together by our staff at Tor Publishing Group. Whether you’re wildly in love, hating on your ex, or living the single life, we’ve got a song just for you. Check out the playlist here and let us know what you’re jamming to this week! 💕

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Dragon Week: Tokyo Drift’s EPIC Dragon-y Entrance Music

We are so sad that Dragon Week: Tokyo Drift is coming to a close, but we think we figured out the best way to say ‘goodbye’ to such a fun week…and ‘hello’ to some EPIC ENTRANCE MUSIC!! We asked our favorite dragon experts (AKA the TDA staff) what tunes they would want as their dragon entrance music and wow, we got some winners here. Check it out below!

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Anna Merz, Publicity Assistant (she/her)

My dragon song would be “Tokyo Drift” by the Teriyaki Boyz. I mean this song is epic and makes me feel like I can do anything.

Honorable mention: A Calabasas Freestyle by Jaden. The song really speaks for itself, but also has two of the greatest line: “Rap is just one of my fetishes, like a dragon that’s pregnant” and “Shadow boxin’ demons, diggin’ ditches for all of these lizards”. Like let our dragon hearts sing baybeee!

a cat, Marketing Coordinator 

“My Shiny Teeth and Me” by Chip Skylark (Kenny Maness). Clearly my prized draconic feature is my massive set of pristine pearly chompers. Ate no less than five vainglorious knights yesterday and three this afternoon without even a chip, and then requisitioned their armor polish to tend my lovely fangs. Their cries echoed throughout my home sweet lava-filled cavern, harmonizing with Chip Skylark as he crooned his ode to perfect teeth from my lair’s sick surround sound speakers. I love being dragon.

Lizzy Hosty, Marketing Intern (she/her)

“Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo. I want this to play as I enter because the song is so hardcore that everyone would be so terrified of me that they would let me have free reign of their village. As they should.

Sarah Pannenberg, Digital Marketing Coordinator (they/them)

“Through Asphodel” from the game Hades. Why kill the Bone Hydra when you can BE the Bone Hydra? (and yes, the Bone Hydra is a dragon, I will not be taking questions at this time.) I would delight in murdering Zagreus over and over again while the sweet sounds of heavy metal music blares in the background. Hades son ain’t got nothin on me and my dramatic dragon entrance music, Asphodel is mine!

Jordan Hanley, Marketing Manager (she/her)

My dramatic Dragon Entrance would be “Children of the Revolution” by T. Rex. Not only is the band a dragon, but the song perfectly encapsulates a hot dog eating song, which I imagine dragons enjoy eating. The strong guitar and drum licks sound rather as if a dragon is walking quickly into a room, or perhaps slithering in, as the case may be. This is also a song from the 70’s, which means this dragon is an Elder Gen X’er, which I am, on the inside.

Caro Perny, Publicity Manager (she/her)

“Careless Whisper” by George Michael. When you think of dragons, you think of a powerfully sensual entity, right? Glistening scales, a razor-sharp danger mouth, muscle and bone working in concert to soar into the heavens, or protect a hoard of treasure with equal grace. Plus, dragons are known saxophone enthusiasts. Every other answer on this list corresponds to lesser dragons, because this is clearly the best dragon entrance music. In my draconic form, I slither into the room and dance so memorably that all my foes have no choice but to proclaim “I am NEVER going to dance again”–that’s right! Their guilty feet have got no rhythm, but my CLAWS surely do! And, “Careless Whisper” works no matter what the situation is: am I entering an arena, wherein I shall set my enemies quite literally on fire? Perfect–I want George Michael to be the soundtrack to my victory. Am I walking into my treasure-cave, where I shall be greeted by my many adopted cryptid children? Excellent, this song represents the sounds of comfort and home. Or perhaps I flying to the dragon bar, where I will be setting some draconic loins on metaphoric fire–in that case, pack it in, because it’s all over for you bitches.

Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager (she/her)

“Golden” by Harry Styles. Not only is this a certified bop, but the title shows off my main dragon priority, gold. Plus, I think this would be a fun song to dance into a room to, putting all attendees at ease before surprising them with any dragon-y rampages.


Listen to the South of the Buttonwood Tree playlist!

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Heather Webber, USA Today bestselling author of Midnight at the Blackbird Café and the upcoming South of the Buttonwood Treetakes a lot of inspiration from music while she’s writing.

To celebrate the upcoming release of  South of the Buttonwood Tree, Heather is back with another curated Spotify playlist for your listening enjoyment! Grab yourself a cup of tea and get ready to be transported to the charming, small-town Buttonwood, Alabama.

If you need more bookish inspired playlists to pass the time, revisit our playlist based on Midnight at the Blackbird Café here!

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Get in a Dragon Fighting Mood with the Blood of an Exile Playlist

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We love reading and rereading our book faves, but sometimes we just want a quick hit of the moments and the mood that made the book feel special. Enter our new bookish obsession: Book-inspired playlists.

Blood of an Exile isn’t out for you to read and reread yet (August can’t come soon enough!), but one of our editors already captured some of the bold and metal vibe so you can get pumped while you wait.

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Listen to the Midnight at the Blackbird Café Playlist

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The initial inspiration for Midnight at the Blackbird Café came to Heather Webber the Beatles’ song “Blackbird.” The first time she heard it, she played it over and over again, unable to stop thinking about the words and the story behind them.

That spark eventually led to Midnight at the Blackbird Café, but it took a while to get there.

So how did she keep the momentum going after the first surge of excitement wore off, and the day-to-day task of writing set in? With more music, of course! And you can get into the momentum too with this Spotify playlist curated by Heather herself.

We recommend listening with a steaming mug of tea, a delicious slice of pie, and of course, a copy of Midnight at the Blackbird Café open in front of you.

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Tor’s October Playlist: Sharp-Edged Women and Subwoofers in Space

Another month, another Tor Books themed playlist from Lauren Jackson!

Written by Lauren Jackson

I spent most of last month thinking about important women… women in the news and in my life. I thought about my favorite women in literature and how their characters have evolved over time to become more complex… and how far yet we have to go. Tor author (whose debut novel, ZERO SUM GAME, is out this month) SL Huang (@sl_huang) wrote a killer essay for the blog called “Sharp Edges.” Here’s what she had to say on fictional characters who aren’t cis men:

“I want women with sharp edges. Female characters who are risky, extreme, gross, strange…Female characters you remember even if you don’t like them.”

Don’t get me wrong; princesses are great. But you know what’s more impactful than a princess? A sword-wielding power hungry antiheroine princess who readers can just as easily despise as they can adore. Know why? Because little girls regardless of race, class, or assigned gender at birth should know that it’s okay not to be perfect, inoffensive, and morally righteous all the damn time. They should know that those traits aren’t qualifications they need to be the heroine of their own stories. So, I present the first half of Tor’s October playlist: Sharp-Edged Women from the Future.

But, on a completely different note, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention epic space battles this month, right? Don’t worry, I have some shiny, space operatic tunes, too. If you haven’t read Jason Heller’s (@jason_m_heller) Strange Stars yet, I highly recommend it for all fans of speculative fiction, especially those who delight in the crossover of their favorite books into film and music and vice versa. Heller’s book heavily influenced my soundtrack to space opera. But, while my love of Bowie, Rush, Led Zeppelin, and Hawkwind is well-documented (check my Xanga) and long-enduring, I was entirely ignorant of Afrofuturism before reading his book. And, honestly, I was a little horrified at how whitewashed my knowledge and taste in sci-fi music was. So, here exists my on-the-record shout out of thanks to Heller for expanding my horizons and giving me a mind-blowing new subgenre to learn about and love. And here I present the second half of my playlist: Subwoofers in Space.

And, of course, what’s an October playlist without one Halloween song? Enjoy and #stayspooky.

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Four Songs for Stealing Planets

Four Songs for Stealing Planets

The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos

Written by Dan Krokos

I’m lucky enough to have my dream job. But even though I make up stories for a living, I still seek inspiration outside of books. Music gets me inspired more than anything. I like everything (except for some things). My favorite band is TOOL, but I will rock out to Rihanna. I’d prefer some NIN, but you know what? That Katy Perry song “Who Am I Living For?” is pretty good. It’s actually really good. Don’t look at me like that.

Whenever I sit down to write or revise The Planet Thieves or its sequel, The Black Stars, there’s a core list of songs that keeps me going. When I don’t see what I’m supposed to write next, I’ll throw on one of these songs and they help me sink back into Mason Stark’s world.

Leaving Earth – Clint Mansell


I’m a gamer. My favorite series of all time is Mass Effect. It’s one of the greatest SF stories ever told, and also happens to be an enormous inspiration for The Planet Thieves. This music plays after the first level of the final game. Earth is being invaded; there’s destruction everywhere from machines as tall as skyscrapers. Watch the sequence of Commander Shepard leaving Earth. If you don’t get chills, check your pulse.

I’ve never heard something so sad and full of hope at the same time. When I listen to this, I can’t help but slip into that mindset, no matter what I was feeling before. At the end of this sequence, I sat in front of my computer, completely stunned. The game had barely started.

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons


This song is special because I don’t like anything else by this band. When I listen to it, I see a movie trailer in my head consisting of the most exciting parts of my book. If I listen to it a few times in a row, I might add something to that trailer, which I can either discard or keep if it fits into the story.

Lyrics usually don’t matter so much, but these really resonate with me regarding Mason Stark’s path.

Primavera – Ludovico Einaudi


This song is here because it’s timely. I was listening to it just yesterday on a crowded subway, plotting the final moments of The Black Stars with the notes app on my phone.

I am grateful to this song for allowing me to crack something that had been troubling me for a year. This is one I can put on and just let my mind wander. It makes me see new things, and it’s one of the few songs that doesn’t just supply images, but the emotions attached to those images.

I first heard this song while watching a seven minute fan-made trailer for the TV show Fringe, one of my all-time programs. I immediately added the song to my library, and it has never let me down.

Lateralus – TOOL


I have said this before: “Lateralus” is my favorite song of all time, it doesn’t matter what I’m writing. This video is pretty cool. It explains why TOOL is the best band in the world and it shows the lyrics to the song. Just listen to it. It’s almost ten minutes long, so if you want to, you can start at the 5:00 minute mark. This is widely regarded as TOOL’s most important/emotional/complex song. Fans of TOOL have been waiting for a new album since 2006. Take pity on us. Enjoy.

Journey to the Line – Hanz Zimmer
Injection – Hanz Zimmer
What If We Could? – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross


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Journey to Planet JoCo: “Todd the T1000”

Redshirts by John Scalzi

An interview between John Scalzi and Jonathan Coulton

For the past two weeks, John Scalzi has been interviewing Jonathan Coulton about the intersection of geek and rock on Now, just for Tor/Forge newsletter readers, we have one more Scalzi/Coulton interview. Enjoy the following look at Coulton’s song “Todd the T1000.”


SCALZI: Hello folks. This is John Scalzi for, with a Jonathan Coulton extra. We’re going to talk about one of the deepest of deep cuts for him, a song called, “Todd the T1000.” Now, “Todd the T1000.” The T1000 is the Terminator number, right?

COULTON: Yes. I don’t think I realized that. I thought I had made it up.

SCALZI: When I was working at the Fresno Bee, which was a newspaper, back in the early 1990s there was a portable laptop called the Toshiba T1000, so every time the Terminator stuff came around, it would be called the T1000. I would just laugh, and no one would know why.



COULTON: There was also the TI-1000 was a…what?

SCALZI: Texas Instruments calculator.

COULTON: A calculator. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.

SCALZI: So many T1000s, so little time. Now this was actually for Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms, which was like an EP you did for Popular Science, right?

COULTON: Yeah, that’s right. They commissioned me to write five songs to go with a single edition of their magazine. And the magazine had a theme of the future of the body, so there were a lot of articles in there about artificial muscles and genetic engineering and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, this one was sort of meant to springboard off of an article about artificial muscles, but, of course, I made it about robots, which was not what the story was about. So…but you know. How far are you going to go with artificial muscles before you run headlong into the concept of robots? Not very far.

SCALZI: That’s true. It’s a very short hop, skip, and jump, as it were.

COULTON: Indeed.

SCALZI: And working with Popular Science, was that actually kind of a cool thing to do?

COULTON: Oh, it was great. They were great people and they were such fun geeks. And it was the kind of environment where you’d go into the magazine offices and meet everybody and it was just a bunch of nerds getting to try out cool gadgets and write about them and compare: see if learning to race cars in a video game was the same as racing cars in real life. And it was just an office filled with enthusiastic people doing enthusiastic things and it’s really—I think it would be fun to work at a magazine like that.

SCALZI: Yeah. Now, Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms is almost like, I don’t want to say it’s like the lost JoCo EP or something like that, but I don’t think it is one that is generally as well known as the rest of your stuff.


COULTON: Yeah, it’s true. There are a couple of songs on there that have made their way into the canon but, yeah most of them. Well, there’s only five of them.

SCALZI: Right.

COULTON: But “I Feel Fantastic,” of course, has become a big important part of the canon, but the others are, I would say, B-sides or even C-sides.

SCALZI: Especially now that we don’t actually have sides to it. It’s all one MP3 or another.

COULTON: Yeah, exactly.

SCALZI: Just to go quickly off tangent, it almost feels like—and I’m not one of those people who’s like, things were better when we had reel-to-reel or anything like that—but, they do lose a little bit of something that you don’t have songs that are specifically mentioned as B-sides anymore. The whole idea of, “Here’s our hit. Now here’s a little bit of something else that we’re going to do. It’s going to be a little bit weird, but if you don’t like it, it doesn’t matter because you bought the hit anyway.”

COULTON: Yeah, it’s true. That was a nice tradition, that you were allowed to do something a little different. And nobody was going to say, “Hey, this is different.”

SCALZI: Yeah, so. I think that that’s in your future, an entire of album just called B-sides, or something like that.

COULTON: All B-sides.

SCALZI: All B-sides.

COULTON: They’re all not really worth the money.

SCALZI: All right. We are going to cut here. And then, thanks all for listening. For this is John Scalzi.


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