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5 SFF Books Featuring Memorable Trips

by Becky Yeager

Buckle up, readers. Do you hear the call of the road? These authors did, except the routes they have planned involve stops that are decidedly elsewhere. Don’t forget to pack your map.


Place holder  of - 84Last Exit by Max Gladstone

Have you ever gone on a road trip, had everything go completely wrong, and then decide maybe it’s worth trying that road trip a second time? Ten years ago, Zelda led a band of merry adventurers whose knacks let them travel to alternate realities and battle the black rot that threatened to unmake each world. The group’s center—its heart—was Sal, Zelda’s lover. On their last mission, Sal was lost. And they all fell apart. A decade later, Sal threatens to return, surrounded by the rot. Zelda cannot face this peril alone and needs to reunite the old band. Which brings us to Road Trip 2.0 where the stakes are higher than ever.

Placeholder of  -48American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow only wanted to go home when he finally got out of prison. Tragedy leads him to accepting a job offer from a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday to become his bodyguard. Together they travel across America on a strange road trip. There’s far more than meets the eye to the places they visit and the individuals they meet.

Image Placeholder of - 10The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R. S. Belcher

Sometimes the road requires protectors. The Brotherhood of the Wheel descended from a small offshoot of Templars. They are a secret group of knights composed of truckers, bikers, taxi hacks, state troopers, bus drivers, and others. Their mission is to defend the roads of the world and to guard those who travel on them. Jimmy Aussapile is one such knight. He’s driving a big rig down South when a promise to a ghostly hitchhiker sets him on a quest to find out the terrible truth behind a string of children gone missing all across the country.

Poster Placeholder of - 43Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston

This is one traveling act you won’t want to miss. Redwood and Aiden are gifted performers and hoodoo conjurors. At the turn of the 20th century they leave behind George and journey to Chicago, going from a haunted swampland to a “city of the future.” Their adventure is both magical and painful as they deal with trauma, a changing world, and the challenges their own abilities present.

Image Place holder  of - 34Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Road trips are so much more challenging when the terrain involves a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Luckily, mercenary librarians are made of tougher stuff. The prospect of access to the long-lost U.S. Library of Congress is enough to convince Nina, Maya, and Dani to work with the Silver Devils, a rogue group of enhanced ex-soldiers. Together they will deal with numerous perils including no-good biker gangs and the secrets they’re keeping from each other. Now if Nina can avoid falling for the leader of Silver Devils then everything might go off without a hitch.

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#ICYMI- A Recap of TorCon 2020

A Recap of TorCon 2020

We are so grateful to everyone who joined us for TorCon 2020, and we hope you had as much fun as we did!

If you’re bummed you couldn’t make it to all of the activities, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. You can see the recordings of almost all of TorCon plus some short recaps below!


On the first day of TorCon, Christopher Paolini (To Sleep in a Sea of Stars) and Brandon Sanderson (Rhythm of War) chatted about writing fantasy and science fiction, writing veeerrry long books, steak, and finding truth in fiction. Their event was only available at TorCon, but you’ll get a chance to see their conversation again this fall!


Later on, V. E. Schwab (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue) and Neil Gaiman (The Annotated American Gods) came together live and in conversation. It was beautiful and inspiring and we stan two legends and we weren’t crying it was just raining directly over our faces.

Rewatch below through Crowdcast:

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Nothing pairs better with brunch than books. So we grabbed a brunch cocktail and joined The Calculating Stars author Mary Robinette Kowal for a balanced brunchfest of book talk…and a sneak peek at her upcoming “Lady Astronauts” novel, The Relentless Moon. Books & Brunch was moderated by Den of Geek contributor Natalie Zutter.

Rewatch now via Crowdcast:

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Authors can take inspiration from anything to write stories, and we got a special inside look into how some of our favorite authors did when WE were the inspiration. At Saturday’s Chaotic Communal Storytime, K. A. Doore (The Unconquered City), S. L. Huang (Critical PointBurning Roses), Arkady Martine (A Memory Called Empire), and Kit Rocha (Deal With the Devil) used audience writing prompts to create a brand new story—filled with MURDER, of course.

Rewatch now via Facebook Live!

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Books are portals to different worlds, or so people say—but what exactly goes into creating those worlds? We joined P. Djèlí Clark (Ring Shout), Charlotte Nicole Davis (The Good Luck Girls), Bethany C. Morrow (A Song Below Water), Tochi Onyebuchi (Riot Baby), and moderator Saraciea Fennell as they discussed worldbuilding, craft, and the fun of creating limitless new universes contained within the pages of their works.

Check it out now via YouTube!

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What better way to enjoy brunch than to pair it with some books? Authors Jenn Lyons (The Ruin of Kings and the upcoming The Memory of Souls) and Nathan Makaryk (Nottingham and the upcoming Lionhearts) joined TorCon for a brunch to end all brunches…complete with MULTIPLE CAMERA ANGLES and dramatic readings from both authors! Books & Brunch was moderated by Den of Geek contributor Natalie Zutter.

Watch it again via Crowdcast:

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Pop culture has shifted its attention to the messy, the morally ambiguous, and the weird, and we’re LOVING IT! We joined some of the genre’s most exciting authors at TorCon to discuss how chaos reigns in their fantasy worlds, the cosmos, and the real world alike. Our panelists included Kate Elliott (Unconquerable Sun), Andrea Hairston (Master of Poisons), Alaya Dawn Johnson (Trouble the Saints), and Ryan Van Loan (The Sin in the Steel) and was moderated by Kayti Burt of Den of Geek.

Rewatch the Chaos and Cosmos panel now on YouTube:

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Technology. Science. Politics. Their books touch on all of these, and they had the chance to talk about it at TorCon. We joined critically acclaimed, award-winning authors Cory Doctorow (Attack Surface, Little Brother) and Nnedi Okorafor (Binti, Remote Control) for our last TorCon panel, and what an amazing way to close out the weekend!

Rewatch this discussion, moderated by Kayti Burt of Den of Geek, via Crowdcast:

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Celebrating Valentines with our Favorite SFF Ships

Celebrating Valentines with our Favorite SFF Ships

The term “shipping” has a lot of different meanings: riding a boat, getting a package from Point A to Point B, to name a few. But in the world of fandoms, shipping has an entirely different contextthe wanting/support of two people in a romantic relationship, be is canonly blessed by the creator or subtext brought to full fruition through the wonders of Ao3.

With all the love we’re feeling in the air (or something like that…), we decided on a mission around the office―to discover the Tor staff’s favorite science fiction and fantasy pairings and SHARE THEM WITH THE ENTIRE WORLD! From Delilah Bard and her knives, to Drarry and beyond, things got…wild.

WARNING: Here there be spoilers. Enter at your own risk


Lila and her knives-1Lila and her knives from The Shades of Magic series

Let me start off by saying I would die for/at the hands of Lila Bard, that #StabbyKingBitch. Sure, Lila cares very deeply for Kell, they’ve been through a lot together and she owes him a lot for taking her to Red London and introducing her to magic. But her knives have been with her even longer, are always at her side, and are firmly the things she loves most in the world. Schwab’s series gives us many a scene in which Lila is sharpening/tending to the knives she has, or lustfully admiring new ones with that playfully wicked glint in her eye. There is no love that ever transcends what Lila knows to be true — that at the end of the day, she only has herself, and she has to be able to defend that. Lila has found true independence and strength with her knives, and with them in her hand, she became the person she wanted to be. Could you ask for a better love story than that? I think not.

Christina Orlando, Books Editor & Publicity Coordinator, Tor.com

networkMurderbot and ART from The Murderbot Diaries

Can the grumpy one love the other grumpy one? The answer is a resounding “yes” in Martha Wells’ crushingly relatable protagonist, who just wants to close the door to have a feeling in private. Wells finds an astonishingly deep well of humanity in her proudly non-human narrator, and the books only get better when ART (the terrifyingly intelligent transport vessel who serves as the series’ answer to HAL 9000) comes on the scene and the two begin their grudging partners-to-“wait are we dating now?” partnership. ART understands what all of us in the internet age already know: love is watching the person (or Murderbot) you love watch their favorite media so you can roll around in the refracted joy. Network Effect (May 2020), the first novel-length entry in the series, is the most satisfyingly romantic of them all.

Ruoxi Chen, Associate Editor, Tor.com Publishing

A-Memory-Called-Empire

Three Seagrass and Mahit Dzmare from <>A Memory Called Empire

Spoilers.*
Sometimes you’re an overwhelmed young ambassador in the heart of a hostile space empire that might just manifest destiny you right out of a home, but you can still find a little comfort in poetry and smooches with your political attache.

a bunch of raccoons in a trench coat, Senior Marketing Manager, Tor Books 

UNSPOKEN-1Csorwe and Shuthmili from The Unspoken Name

A flinty orc priestess jock with great arms who survived some sensationally bad wizard parenting and a Seems Delicate, Actually Ineffably Powerful femme sorceress who has zero (0) sense of self-preservation and very pretty hair? Uh, sign me up, every time. Csorwe and Shuthmili share troubled pasts and upbringings as young women raised to a greater purpose at the cost of their personal happiness. The Unspoken Name knows how to bring the hurt down on you like a hammer, but their romance—and their slow discovery of how to value themselves and each other—will leave you happily wallowing in a sea of joyful, queer comfort.

Ruoxi Chen, Associate Editor, Tor.com Publishing

sunmoon
The book Unconquerable Sun and the book Relentless Moon.

Both of these Tor books are coming out in the same month, they’re both sci-fi and they have sun and moon in the title! They have so much in common! They should kiss. Wait, hold on, I have an Instagram idea.

Renata Sweeney, Senior Marketing Manager, Tor Books 

ceruleansea

Linus Baker and Arthur Parnassus from The House in the Cerulean Sea

Linus and Arthur in The House in the Cerulean Sea have a quiet, soft sort of love, like a mug of perfectly warm hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. There’s a secret touch of cinnamon that adds a subtle spiciness. Honestly, this ship is charming, heartwarming, and delights me to no end. Sometimes a family is a by-the-book caseworker, the master of an orphanage, and six magical children. Applicable tropes: #slowburn #pining #fluff #foundfamily

Rebecca Yeager, Ad Promo Manager, Tor Books

goodomens
Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens

One is an ex-angel who “did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards.” The other is a Principality that gave away the sword guarding the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve because he was afraid of them getting cold. Together, they make the dumbass Ineffable Husbands of my literary dreams whose well-meaning but disastrous shenanigans will make this ship sail until the end of times.

Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager, Tor Books

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Villains You’ll Love to Root For

Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to read about the farm boy turned chosen one. Sometimes the idea of a Hero’s Journey bores you to tears. Thankfully, not all genre fiction is quite so black and white, with good triumphing over evil. If you’re in the mood for a book with more shades of gray, we have a list of villains you’ll absolutely love to root for:

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Image Placeholder of - 70 Everybody loves a good supervillain, and Victor Vale certainly seems to fit the bill. Ten years after a terrible accident tore Victor and his best friend Eli apart, Victor is out of prison and out for revenge. But while the world sees Eli as a virtuous hero and Victor as his dangerous nemesis, the truth is that things might not be so clear cut. If you’re a fan of moral ambiguity and villains who just might be a little right, you’ll love Victor.

Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee

Poster Placeholder of - 66 Bells Broussard always assumed he was going to be a hero…until he discovered a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, and suddenly he and his friends are being framed as villains. Sometimes doing the right thing is just plain stupid, and Bells is the perfect example of that. He wants to save the world, but in the second book in C. B. Lee’s Sidekick Squad series, Bells realizes that the only way to do that might be to do some evil first. Can you do right by doing wrong? Bells and his friends will find out!

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Place holder  of - 42 Was the Wicked Witch of the West really wicked, or was she just misunderstood? We all know Dorothy’s side of the story from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but now we know Elphaba’s story too. Maguire’s novel portrays the famous Wicked Witch of the West as a smart and prickly girl whose life is one of tragedy and horror. Every story has two sides, and now that we’ve read Elphaba’s, we kind of agree with the sentiment behind “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

Image Place holder  of - 75 There are no men in all of Westeros who are as revered and reviled as Jaime Lannister. If history is told by the winners, you’d think the Lannisters’ publicity team would do a better job spinning Jaime’s much-maligned murder of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen as an act of heroism to protect King’s Landing from a wildfire explosion. But, alas, Jaime is forever known as The Kingslayer and few trust his vows, even when he tries to be good. The fact that readers still root for Jaime after he pushed an eight-year-old out of a window is a testament to Martin’s skill at creating complex, compelling characters. If Brienne believes in Jaime, then so do we.

Trouble on Triton by Samuel R. Delany

Placeholder of  -38 Okay, so Bron Helstrom isn’t exactly a villain. But in Delany’s 1976 meditation on utopia, Bron’s definitely not a good guy, either. In fact, he’s incredibly self-absorbed, with little care for the feelings or experiences of those around him. He’s constantly dissatisfied, even though he lives on a world where everything he wants is available to him. As Bron becomes involved in a disastrous relationship with the brilliant Spike, you can’t help rooting for things to turn out alright—even though you know there’s no way that’s going to happen.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Much like Dexter Morgan before him, teenage sociopath John Cleaver finds a different outlet for his disturbing homicidal urges: demon hunting. Is John delusional, or is he evil? Or is his neighbor really a supernatural creature of the worst kind? It’s a battle between inner demons and actual demons in this series from Dan Wells, and readers are forced to side with a character who would be a villain in any other book.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

If it’s at all possible to love a demon, we love Crowley. Originally Crawly, the serpent who tempted Eve with the apple, the evolved Crowley knows how to mix and mingle with humanity—and how to tempt them to do evil. He’s an agent of evil, with one exception: he doesn’t actually want the world to end. As heaven and hell gear up for the end times in Pratchett and Gaiman’s masterful team-up Good Omens, Crowley proves that even villains can have depth. He and his counterpart, the angel Aziraphale, will do their damndest to keep the world running smoothly.

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24 Audiobooks to Match Your Travel Time

Fourth of July weekend is almost here and that has us thinking about SUMMER VACATION! We’ve planned our trip and packed our bags. The car is gassed up and ready to go. But here’s the hardest part: what audiobook are we going to listen to on the drive?

If we’re having this problem, we’re assuming you are too. So we decided to put together a list of recommended audiobooks of varying lengths. Whether it’s a short train ride or a long flight with transfers, here are 24 audiobooks that will help make the journey memorable!

(more…)

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Neil Gaiman on Gene Wolfe

Shadows of the New Sun edited by J.E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett

Written by Neil Gaiman

The subtle and nuanced work of Gene Wolfe has inspired an entire generation of writers. A number of them, including Neil Gaiman, have contributed stories to Shadows of the New Sun, an anthology honoring the man who has been a literary hero to so many. As Gaiman notes in the moving introduction to his own story, “A Lunar Labyrinth,” along the way he came to know Wolfe as something more than a hero.

I met Gene and Rosemary Wolfe when I was twenty-two, in September of 1983, in Birmingham, England, at the British Fantasy Convention. I went to the Fantasycon to interview Gene, and over the next day I discovered my people, several of whom would go on, although I did not know it then, to become my closest friends, one of whom would also commission and edit my first book. It was an important time. I had loved Gene Wolfe’s fiction. Now I learned that I really liked the man as well. He was funny, and he was real, and his wife, Rosemary, was by his side and beaming.

Gene and I became friends (it was the trip to the theater in 1987 that did it) and we have stayed friends. I have learned more than I can say as a writer from his wise, twisty stories, but value the things I have learned from the man who has been my friend for all of my adult life much more. I loved seeing Gene and Rosemary. He came to a fireworks party at my house, and was nearly hit by a stray rocket.

There is a story by Gene called “A Solar Labyrinth.” I read it aloud to the audience from a Wurlitzer Organ platform when Gene was given the first Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Fuller Award. It is a short story of brilliance and beauty and, hidden deep in the shadows, danger and darkness.

I wrote this for Gene, and it has rosemary in it, and wolves. If Gene had written it, it would have been subtler.

Shadows of the New Sun will be available on August 27th.

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From the Tor/Forge August 19th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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More from the August 19th Tor/Forge newsletter:

Starred Review: Shadows of the New Sun, edited by J.E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett

Starred Review: Shadows of the New Sun, edited by J.E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett

Poster Placeholder of - 78“Hailed for literary style and range, SFWA Grand Master Wolfe (Home Fires) is paid tribute with 17 eclectic stories written in imitation or in answer to his own work, plus two original stories by Wolfe himself…. These and many other top-notch writers have brought all their skills to bear on making this homage worthy of Wolfe’s prodigious talents, and it shows.”

Shadows of the New Sun, edited by J.E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett, gets a starred review in Publishers Weekly!

Here’s the full review, from the June 3rd issue:

starred-review-gif Hailed for literary style and range, SFWA Grand Master Wolfe (Home Fires) is paid tribute with 17 eclectic stories written in imitation or in answer to his own work, plus two original stories by Wolfe himself. Wolfe’s breakout Book of the New Sun series is the basis of William C. Dietz’s “In the Shadow of the Gate” and Jody Lynn Nye’s “The Dreams of the Sea.” Michael Swanwick recasts the early “The Fifth Head of Cerberus” with women, as “The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin.” Joe Haldeman mashes up new and old Wolfe characters, along with the author himself, in “The Island of the Death Doctor.” Contributors also provide Wolfean delights like sensitive reworking of pulp fiction (Jack Dann’s “The Island of Time”) and wordplay (Neil Gaiman’s “A Lunar Labyrinth” or Aaron Allston’s “Epistoleros”). These and many other top-notch writers have brought all their skills to bear on making this homage worthy of Wolfe’s prodigious talents, and it shows. (Sept.)

Shadows of the New Sun will be published on August 27th.

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What’s your Favorite Frederik Pohl novel, Neil Gaiman?

Image Placeholder of - 56I’ve never been able to get The Age of the Pussyfoot out of my head.

It’s not just that it felt like a future, but that every step we take into the future, as our phones become our iPods become our secretaries become our friends become our credit cards, the Joymaker sits in the back of my head. That’s where we’re going.

Neil Gaiman can be found online at neilgaiman.com

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All the Lives He Led (978-0-7653-2176-3 / $25.99) by Frederik Pohl will be available from Tor Books on April 12, 2011.

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