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Space (Is Gay) Operas, Assemble!

Space (Is Gay) Operas, Assemble!

Generations of scientists and philosophers have turned their gaze to the ever-blazing stars, searching for the answer to the question that pulses deep within their souls: Is space gay? 

We’re here to confirm that it is, and we’ve got the gay space operas to prove it. 

Check’em out 😎


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

Life’s hard when you’re on the run from a vengeful pirate-king…When Niko and her crew find that the intergalactic Gate they’re planning on escaping through is out of commission, they make the most of things, creating a pop-up restaurant to serve the dozens of other stranded ships. But when an archaeologist shows up claiming to be able to fix the problem, Niko smells something suspicious cooking. Nonetheless, they allow Farren to take them to an ancient site where they may be able to find the weapon that could stop Tubal Last before he can take his revenge.


Unconquerable SunFurious Heaven by Kate Elliott & Furious Heaven by Kate Elliott

Princess Sun has finally come of age. Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared. But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead. To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.


The Genesis of MiseryThe Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang by Neon Yang

It’s an old, familiar story: a young person hears the voice of an angel saying they have been chosen as a warrior to lead their people to victory in a holy war. But Misery Nomaki (she/they) knows they are a fraud. The deeper they get into their charade, however, the more they start to doubt their convictions. What if this, all of it, is real? A reimagining of Joan of Arc’s story given a space opera, giant robot twist, the Nullvoid Chronicles is a story about the nature of truth, the power of belief, and the interplay of both in the stories we tell ourselves.


Ocean’s EchoOcean's Echo by Everina Maxwell by Everina Maxwell

Tennal is a vapid socialite with the ability to read minds, and Lt. Surit Yeni is a soldier with a chip on his shoulder who has been tasked with using his own neuromodifications to overpower Tennal’s will and conscript him into service within the space military. But Surit’s not (that much of) an asshole, so they lie to all the space soldiers with all their space guns. But then a chaotic salvage-retrieval mission upends a decades-old power struggle and also compromises the security of their falsehood. Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?


A Memory Called EmpirePlaceholder of  -68 by Arkady Martine

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court. Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.


Empress of ForeverCover of Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone by Max Gladstone

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider—until Vivian Liao arrives, catapulted through time and space from the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm. Now, she’s trapped between the Pride—a ravening horde of sentient machines—and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith. Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

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5 Iconic & Dangerous Power Couples of SFF

5 Iconic & Dangerous Power Couples of SFF

by a cat

Name a more iconic duo than peanut butter and jelly! Okay, we can. And we will. This is PB&J with magic and swords. 

Your favorite lunchtime sammie can eat its heart out, because here are our favorite dangerous power couples of science fiction & fantasy!


one for my enemy by olivie blakeLev & Sasha from One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Heavens (or hells?) to Betsy, *insert expletive*—she’s a daughter of Baba Yaga and he’s a scion of Koschei the Deathless, two centers of witchly power at feud in modern Manhattan, and: 

“Write me a tragedy, Lev Fedorov,” she whispered to him. “Write me a litany of sins. Write me a plague of devastation. Write me lonely, write me wanting, write me shattered and fearful and lost. Then write me finding myself in your arms, if only for a night, and then write it again. Write it over and over, Lev, until we both know the pages by heart. Isn’t that a story, too?” she asked him softly.

Brb, gotta scream


the unspoken name by a.k. larkwoodOlenna & Belthandros Sethennai from The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Ohhhhhh, this one’s a classic! She’s the crass and sometimes heretical resident librarian of a cult to the unnamed god of death, and he’s a smarmy, insufferable Garbage Wizard (and not a refuse-based practitioner. No, he is trash, metaphorically speaking). Basically, if you run afoul of either of these two, not only is your whole day ruined but probably your life. Regardless, the author of this blog feature would marry Olenna in less than one (1) mortal heartbeat, if ever so lucky. 


Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeViv & Tandry from Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Okay, so as a former professional sword-swingin’ adventure-haver, Viv could choose to be dangerous. That’s kind of not her thing anymore, BUT, sometimes the greatest evidence of strength is restraint. She’s decided to no longer live by the sword, and given the amount of problems her and new barista / perhaps crush Tandry could solve with sharpened steel, we’re talking true strength indeed. Look, Viv might not be super into cutting your heart out anymore, but her and Tandry will melt it, and that’s a whole other class of danger. 


Ocean's Echo by Everina MaxwellTennal & Surit from Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

It’s a classic boy (can read minds) meets boy (tasked with brain-dominating mind-readers by dangerous space fascists) bumpy road romance. Basically, Surit accepted a shady promotion track out of desperation and is to turn telepath socialite Tennal into a weapon. Neither of them are super chill with this, but they are in a lot of danger. Their best chance at survival? Faking that mind-sync, and selling it. And that’s pretty much where they’re at when things really go off the rails. 


The Atlas Paradox by Olivie BlakeCallum Nova from The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake & Me from Real Life, please

Hey, I promise I’m mostly okay. Don’t know what wildness will go down when The Atlas Complex comes out, but this is just what’s up right now. 

Callum Nova art by Little Chmura

 

[artwork depicting Callum Nova by Little Chmura]

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Slow Burn: Delectable Suffering

Slow Burn: Delectable Suffering

By Becky Yeager

Of all of the many romantic tropes in existence, is there any that generates as much suffering and absolute bliss as the slow burn? Many readers will shake their fists at characters who could be so perfect together if only they would realize their burgeoning feelings. Below is a list of six recent books or series that feature slow burn relationships (all of which are queer—sorry, not sorry), some of which are still inching their way to resolution.


Ocean’s EchoPlaceholder of  -38 by Everina Maxwell

This book takes fake dating to the next level. Tennal is a flirtatious socialite and an absolute disaster in his family’s eyes. He also happens to be a neuromodified “reader,” which means a) he can read minds, b) he’s a security threat, and c) an immensely valuable asset for navigating chaotic space.

Lieutenant Surit Yeni is the lawful good son of a notorious traitor, who has dedicated himself to making up for his mother’s past mistakes. He is also a neuromodified “architects,” which means a) he can impose his will onto others and b) if he forms a sync with a reader, they’ll be locked into a permanent bond.

Tennal is forcibly conscripted by the military, and Surit is given orders to merge their minds. Neither is thrilled by the situation. So, logically, their solution is to fake it and desperately try to secretly figure out a way to help Tennal escape. But in the meanwhile, they are roommates. The tension between these two is palpable!

Gideon the NinthThe Locked Tomb Series by Tamsyn Muir

Some may question whether this series constitutes a slow burn. In our optimistic hearts, it does! We have one more book to go and who knows what could happen. Now, to avoid any spoilers, we’ll stick with how the bond between a necromancer and a cavalier is very special. And if you go around saying things like “One flesh, one end, bitch,” and “I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it,” then we’re going to have strong feelings. Be still our beating heart! (Any necromancers who happen to be reading, please don’t take that literally.) Add in the element of how they’re childhood friends (enemies), and hello, we’re sold.

A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra RowlandA Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland

There is nothing like the longing between a prince and his bodyguard. Where is the line between loyal devotion and love? What happens when you’re tempted to cross it? Twist that Yearning Dial up to 100 and sit back to watch the drama.

A Taste of Gold and Iron is set in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire. Prince Kadou is more capable than he realizes and gifted with the ability to touch-taste metal, but he struggles with anxiety. Evemer is his newly appointed bodyguard whose stoicism makes him nearly impossible to read. The pair of them find themselves drawn into court drama and life-threatening conspiracies that threaten to ruin the kingdom. So, yes, there’s danger and misunderstandings and longing. But just wait until the hair washing scene.

Poster Placeholder of - 46Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Imagine if Scrooge was a middle-aged lawyer who died, and his ghost was sent to a tea shop run by a man who helps the dead cross over. And now…imagine if the two of them fell in love. Wallace was The Worst in life. He should know. He attended his own funeral. Hugo, meanwhile, spends his days brewing tea and making pastries on top of working with a reaper and a mysterious manager to assist ghosts with moving on.

Under the Whispering Door manages to be both hilarious and heart-wrenching. It’s so hard when your OTP can’t physically touch each other, but one can’t help being touched as Wallace and Hugo are gradually drawn to each other despite their circumstances.

The Cemeteries of Amalo SeriesThe Grief of Stones by Katherina Addison by Katherine Addison

Thara Celehar is a Witness for the Dead. It is his job to help speak with the recently dead. Sometimes this is to assist with resolving disputes. Other times it is to track down murderers. He is a quiet and solemn individual and far kinder than anyone realizes. Tragedy has befallen him in the past, and his current life is rather lacking in romance. And yet one cannot help hoping there could be a cherished companion waiting in the wings for him.

“I put the honey spoon in the second cup (which the staff of the River-Cat could not be trained out of bringing—unlike at the Hanevo Tree, where you had to specify if you wanted more than one) and briefly tormented myself by imagining a companion who would smile across at me and happily lick the spoon clean. Neither of my lovers had had such a sweet tooth—that was the only thing that made my imaginings even remotely safe. A purely made-up lover was foolish; conjuring the dead was something else entirely.”

And then, y’all, in the course of an investigation he meets someone who uses honey liberally. This is among the slowest of slow burns, but it’s sweet and heartwarming.

Winter's Orbit by Everina MaxwellWinter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Now, here’s a case where the two main characters end up married right at the start of the book and then spend the rest of the story playing will they or won’t they about whether they’ll actually fall in love. Prince Kiem isn’t very important in his family. In fact, he’s the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild. Now he’s under orders to marry Count Jainan, a widower (and murder suspect), who is vital for maintaining a planetary alliance. The two tie the knot, pose for the paparazzi, and prepare for a marital relationship lacking in anything resembling affection.

But their hearts have other plans as they are gradually drawn together to deal with court intrigue, the machinations of war, and the ghosts of Jainan’s past. As The New York Times Book Review put it so aptly, you’ll be yelling “Now kiss!” before you realize it.

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Queer Books Coming in 2022 🏳️‍🌈

Queer Books Coming in 2022 🏳️‍🌈

2022 was a big year to be queer and a big year for books! Way back, we combined these two things together into a list of every queer book coming out from Tor Books in 2022, and now we’re bringing it back around with a few new additions 😎🏳️‍🌈

Check it out, y’all!


Legends & LattesLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.


The Thousand EyesThe Thousand Eyes by A. K. Larkwood by A. K. Larkwood

Two years after defying the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and escaping into the great unknown, Csorwe and Shuthmili have made a new life for themselves, hunting for secrets among the ruins of an ancient snake empire. Along for the ride is Tal Charossa, determined to leave the humiliation and heartbreak of his hometown far behind him, even if it means enduring the company of his old rival and her insufferable girlfriend. All three of them would be quite happy never to see Sethennai again. But when a routine expedition goes off the rails and a terrifying imperial relic awakens, they find that a common enemy may be all it takes to bring them back into his orbit.


cover of The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will. Most of them.


The Atlas ParadoxThe Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake by Olivie Blake

Six magicians. Two rivalries. One researcher. And a man who can walk through dreams. All must pick a side: do they wish to preserve the world—or destroy it? In this electric sequel to the viral sensation, The Atlas Six, the society of Alexandrians is revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way. But the cost of knowledge is steep, and as the price of power demands each character choose a side, which alliances will hold and which will see their enmity deepen?


Placeholder of  -90Last Exit by Max Gladstone

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. Zelda was the warrior; Ish could locate people anywhere; Ramon always knew what path to take; Sarah could turn catastrophe aside. Keeping them all connected: Sal, Zelda’s lover and the group’s heart. Until their final, failed mission, when Sal was lost. When they all fell apart. Ten years on, Ish, Ramon, and Sarah are happy and successful. Zelda is alone, always traveling, destroying rot throughout the US. When it boils through the crack in the Liberty Bell, the rot gives Zelda proof that Sal is alive, trapped somewhere in the alts. Zelda’s getting the band back together.


Image Place holder  of - 64The Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons

Relos Var’s final plans to enslave the universe are on the cusp of fruition. He believes there’s only one being in existence that might be able to stop him: the demon Xaltorath. As these two masterminds circle each other, neither is paying attention to the third player on the board, Kihrin. Unfortunately, keeping himself classified in the ‘pawn’ category means Kihrin must pretend to be everything the prophecies threatened he’d become: the destroyer of all, the sun eater, a mindless, remorseless plague upon the land. It also means finding an excuse to not destroy the people he loves (or any of the remaining Immortals) without arousing suspicion.


cover of The Origin of Storms by Elizabeth BearThe Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to conclude her acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy of the Lotus Kingdoms, which began with The Stone in the Skull and The Red-Stained Wings, bringing it all to a surprising, satisfying climax in The Origin of Storms. 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.


 

Image Placeholder of - 75The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a direct sequel to The Witness For The Dead

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses.

The love of his friends will lead him out again.


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.


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. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries. 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 fairytales 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.


Dance with the DevilDance with the Devil by Kit Rocha by Kit Rocha

Tobias Richter, the fearsome VP of Security of TechCorp is dead. The puppetmaster is gone, and the organization is scrambling to maintain control by ruthlessly limiting access to resources to Atlanta, 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. They’ll go deep undercover in the decadent, luxury-soaked penthouses on the Hill. Bringing Dani face-to-face with the man who turned her into a killer. And forcing Rafe to decide how far he’ll go to protect both of his families—the one he was born to, and the one he made for himself. Victory will break the back of Power. Failure will destroy Atlanta.


The Genesis of MiseryThe Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang by Neon Yang

Neon Yang (they/them) is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of FortuneThe Black Tides of HeavenThe Descent of Monsters and The Ascent to Godhood). Their work has been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Lambda Literary and Locus awards, while the Tensorate novellas were a Tiptree honoree in 2018. They have over two dozen works of short fiction published in venues including Tor.com, Uncanny MagazineLightspeedClarkesworld, and Strange Horizons. 


Ocean’s EchoOcean's Echo by Everina Maxwell by Everina Maxwell

When Tennal—a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster—is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him. Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds. Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.


Which book is at the top of your TBR? Let us know in the comments! 

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Tor Books EPIC Holiday Gift Guide For Your Oddball Family

Tor Books EPIC Holiday Gift Guide For Your Oddball Family

Hello hello, and welcome back to our annual TOR BOOKS HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE, where we give you what we think are the best gifts for the hyper specific, super chaotic individuals in your life. From your childhood BFF to your mildly traumatized game master, we have a whole slew of bookish picks for you this holiday season. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays, y’all!

By Rachel Taylor and a cat


For your long suffering GM (Game Master) who just wants a break from your party

Stranger Things' Eddie Munson hosting a session of DnD

via tenor

Anyone who acts as game master for Dungeons & Dragons (or any other TTRPG, to be frank) deserves an award for powering through all the shenanigans their party puts them through. From attempting to fight a dragon with a fork to accidentally leading your party off a cliff, your deeply stressed out GM deserves a cozy novel to help them decompress. Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree is out now and, for an extra little something, you can submit your receipt to get an adorable acrylic charm, a perfect addition to your gift!


For your cousin who remained loyal and never left Tumblr 

Books whimsically flying off a shelf to a concerned-looking guy

via GIPHY

You remember the Tumblr exodus of 2019, and for shame—you were part of it, you fragile soul. But not your cousin. Resolute, they stood by their blog and posted through the long, long night. Three years later, Tumblr is resurging and you need a gift for the one who never lost faith. What’s more Tumblr than magic danger-nerds alternatively hooking up with and hating each other as they conduct research and mainline caffeine and/or alcohol? Redeem your past mistakes with the perfect bookly gifts for your cousin: Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six and thrilling sequel, The Atlas Paradox.


For the enthusiastic players who got their GM Legends & Lattes

Cartoon Doge Rogue—a 'Dogue'

@lookhuman via GIPHY

You love the players at your table, but even after years of collaborative TTRPG storytelling, you’ve never once anticipated the many ways they have conspired to unravel every plot thread you’ve ever written. How then could you ever predict what they might like as a gift? Easy. Just listen to us: Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald is a fantastic epic fantasy about a girl who can A) see ghosts, and B) turn people into them with an expertly placed arrow, if she takes the mind. Of course, if anyone finds out about her power, she’s dead, and circumstances have led her to become a ward in the monastery of the very warrior-magi that would execute her. Oops! What gamesplayer can resist a quick-paced and twisting tale of magic, adventure, and deceit?


For your ex-boyfriend who’s still blowing up your phone with House of the Dragon TikTok’s

Daemon Targaryen very sexily receiving troubling news that his brother Viserys loves him with the GIF ending frames before he does something evil. I'm so sorry whoever's reading this I'm not perfect

via GIPHY

So your ex-boyfriend (who you’re still friends with, DESPITE THE ADVICE OF OTHERS) just finished House of the Dragon and he won’t stop texting you about how much it sucks to have to wait 2 years for season 2. He’s right, but you can still give him a new epic fantasy to obsess over with The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. At over 800 pages, it’ll keep him busy for quite a while AND it also doubles as a premium bludgeoning weapon for you if he doesn’t appreciate your gift. Win win!


For your chronically-online uncle who needs to stop doomscrolling for his own health

very cool neon void road this artist is so good (@dualvoidanima)

@dualvoidmania via GIPHY

He’s mister doom-and-gloom. If there’s an upsetting tweet, you’ve seen it because he’s retweeted it. You don’t quite know him well enough to be comfortable with direct intervention. You need to gift him Last Exit by Max Gladstone. It’s a book about the death of idealism and the rot that creeps through the cracks of reality like so many corrosively fecund vines. It’s about a generation who thought they would transform the world and failure’s fallout. He’ll still be very DOOM-ful, but in an artistically fun, yet still scary way.


For your brother who is OBSESSED with The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime

Rosamund Pike casting some overpowered magic. Queen

via GIPHY

So your brother watched The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime and has fallen down the 14+ book-deep rabbithole that is Robert Jordan’s timeless epic fantasy series. Help him delve even further into the lore with Origins of the Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston! He’ll be able to learn even more about all the mythology and legends that inspired Robert Jordan’s universe and you’ll get some peace and quiet while he’s absorbed in his new book.


For your sister who is always has at least 5 open browser tabs of Ao3 fics

dancing, logging in to ur laptop for fanfiction time!

via Gfycat

Who among us hasn’t spent some time reading fix-it fics on Ao3? Well, no one compares to your sister, who currently has 30 tabs open on her iPhone filled with her favorite OTP falling in love 30 different ways (IF THE SHOW WON’T GIVE THEM A HAPPILY EVER AFTER, THE INTERNET WILL). You can’t buy her the perfect 100 chapter slow burn coffee shop fix-it fic of her OTP, but you CAN buy her Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell! It features all the choicest tropes like mutual pining, slowburn, and fake dating and will be sure to put a smile on her face for the holidays.


For your estranged mother, to subtly let her know that your relationship still requires some Conversations

Lucille Bluth: "If you're saying I play favorites, you're wrong. I love all my children equally."

*Earlier that day* Lucille Bluth: "I don't care for Gob."

via GIPHY & tenor

Do you want to give your mother a gift that’s also a hint about how you feel about your tumultuous parental relationship? Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey is the gift for her! It’s got great thriller vibes, with a daughter coming back to her family home for the first time after her father was arrested for being a serial killer…which she kind of caused. And mom’s still holding a grudge over a DECADE later. It’s got drama, monsters, and enough parallels to make your mom go ‘Wait, is this f*cking play about US?!’


For the loved one in your life who waited 2.5 years to finally see My Chemical Romance live in Fall 2022

dark spell book with eye on the cover it's VERY cool

@KyleeConriquez via GIPHY

A million years ago (Or two and a half. Whatever. Time is meaningless mush) your loved one planned to attend the My Chemical Romance reunion. A show that would eventually be put off and off and off due to ongoing events until earlier this year. It was epic, but you know what else is? Book of Night by Holly Black. Your loved one won’t have to wait 900~ days for this literary event, and just like an MCR show, they’ll want to acquire (more) goth clothes and tattoos after.


For the childhood BFF everyone called a ‘voracious reader’ growing up / anyone who was ‘a delight to have in class’

Matilda reading. "She devoured one book after another"

via Goodreads

Did your childhood BFF simply devour every book in front of her? Is she still That Person whose TBR pile is precariously stacked in the corner of her living room, a threat to anyone who brushes too close? Give her a book to really whet her appetite for reading in The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, where a very special family literally sustains themselves entirely by eating books. Did we bite a book while reading this to see if we were book eaters? Who’s to say.


For your college best friend with at least one historical quote tattoo

Joan of Arc look at the MET Gala

via GIPHY

Does your college best friend have an encyclopedic knowledge of historical retellings? Do they have, at minimum, one historically linked tattoo that prompts a 20 minute lecture whenever someone asks what it means? Do they have five different editions of The Song of Achilles on their shelf? And most importantly, do they crave a new, queer retelling to sink their teeth into? Look no further! Neon Yang has a Joan of Arc inspired, post-apocalyptic sci-fi story for you. Check out The Genesis of Misery, ​​starring a queer and diverse array of pilots, princesses, and prophetic heirs.


For the ambiguously LGBTQ+ niece whose fashion sense you try to understand, but ultimately makes you feel insecure about how fast you’re aging

wildly cool psychedelic snake meets girl shadow

@yifan via GIPHY

You love them, but no one makes you feel old like your nebulously but definitely queer niece. They’re so cool, and are very helpful in keeping you up to date on the hippest trends, but every time you talk to them, you feel the pent-up years in your joints. Get your niece A. K. Larkwood’s The Serpent Gates series, including The Unspoken Name and The Thousand Eyes. It’s about a gay orc death priestess who rebrands herself as a garbage wizard’s personal assassin and picks up a gods-cursed, magi-baddie mid-adventure. There are cosmic gods, ancient ruins, devious machinations, and a lot of awesome gay stuff.


For the sibling on their third+ rewatch of The Expanse

The Expanse's incredible Naomi Nagata: "I'm using my last remaining brain cells to try and kill my last remaining brain cells."

via GIPHY

We get it. Your sibling buddy is bummed that The Expanse has finished its TV run and is still hopelessly in love with its marriage of adrenaline-flooding action and introspective parsing of human expansion / empire. Again, we do get it, and what you need to get is Sweep of Stars by Maurice Broaddus.


For the nephew who you gifted The Way of Kings to last year

Old book leafing through pages

via GIPHY

Your nephew reads through books at speeds generally known only to muscle cars and lightning, and he needs long fantasy books now! The time required to produce the next installment in an epic series is often as long as the books themselves, which is unfortunate since it’s time for you to gift your nephew another book. Here’s the good news: Brandon Sanderson writes as fast as your nephew reads, and his long-awaited continuation of the Mistborn series, The Lost Metal, is the perfect gift. And then next year you can get him the next Brando Sando, and the book cycle of giving goes on and on and on.

We hope you and your loves ones have a happy and safe holiday season! Did we miss a super niche friend/family member that you want to see a gift for? Let us know in the comments! 

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On the Road: Tor Author Events in November 2022

On the Road: Tor Author Events in November 2022

HEY HELLO HI—exciting news! Tor authors are coming to screens and stores near you 😎

Check out this month’s exciting virtual and in-person events!


Travis Baldree, Legends & Lattes

Left: Travis Baldree / Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Monday, November 7
Auntie’s Bookstore
402 W Main Ave
Spokane, WA 99201
7:00 PM PT

Wednesday, November 9
Barnes & Noble
1321 N Columbia Center Blvd
Suite 700
Kennewick, WA 99336
5:00 PM PT

Thursday, November 10
University Book Store
4326 University Way
Northeast Seattle, WA 98105
6:00 PM PT

Friday, November 11
Brick & Mortar Books
7430 164th Ave NE
Suite B105
Redmond, WA, 98052
7:00 PM PT

Monday, November 14
Changing Hands
6428 South McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85283
6:00 PM CT

Tuesday, November 15
BookPeople
603 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
7:00 PM CT

Wednesday, November 16
The Novel Neighbor
7905 Big Bend Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63119
7:00 PM CT

Thursday, November 17
Schuler Books
2660 28th Street Southeast
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
7:00 PM ET

Friday, November 18
Capital Books
1011 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
6:00 PM PT


Everina Maxwell, Ocean’s Echo

Left: Everina Maxwell / Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell

Saturday, November 5
Left Bank Books, in conversation with Ryka Aoki & Ann Leckie
Virtual Event
1:00 PM CT

Saturday, November 12
Boswell Book Company
Virtual Event
11:00 AM CT


Olivie Blake, Alone With You in the Ether

Left: Olivie Blake / Right: Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake

Saturday, November 5
BookPeople
Virtual Event
7:00 PM CT


Ryka Aoki, Light From Uncommon Stars

Left: Ryka Aoki / Right: Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Saturday, November 5
Left Bank Books, in conversation with Everina Maxwell & Ann Leckie
Virtual Event
1:00 PM CT

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Gifts Galore! Bookish Swag for Our Autumn Pre-Orders

Gifts Galore! Bookish Swag for Our Autumn Pre-Orders

Ready to reward yourself for making it through the summer with an updated fall TBR pile? We’re here to help you add even MORE things to your bookish collection! Check out what books you can pre-order and get some cool, free stuff on the side, as a treat.


Limited Edition Pin The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

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The Atlas Paradox is the long-awaited sequel to dark academic sensation The Atlas Six—guaranteed to deliver even more yearning, backstabbing, betrayal, and chaos. Pre-order and submit your receipt here by 10/25 to receive this stunning limited edition pin!

Pre-Order The Atlas Paradox Here:

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Short Story Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

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Ocean’s Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s hit debut, Winter’s Orbit. Pre-order and submit your receipt to receive the digital short story “A Short Holiday” is set after Winder’s Orbit, where Kiem and Jainan visit a quiet agricultural planet for a well-earned break and nothing goes wrong at all. Submit your receipt here by 10/31.

Pre-Order Ocean’s Echo Here:

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Acrylic CharmLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

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The much-beloved BookTok sensation Legends & Lattes is Travis Baldree’s novel of high fantasy and low stakes, now including a special, never-before-seen bonus story, ‘Pages to Fill,’ in the paperback! Get even more bonus items when you submit your receipt for the paperback to receive our adorable acrylic charm. Make sure to upload proof of purchase here by 11/30.

Pre-Order Legends & Lattes Here:

amazon-3 bn-3 booksamillion-3 indiebound-3


Sweepstakes — The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson

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Who’s ready to get their hands on The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson? We’re giving YOU the chance to win a signed copy + swag! Enter by 11/14 for the chance to win the book, metal dice, & an exclusive stained-wood GM screen and matching dice box from Dog Might Games!

Pre-Order The Lost Metal Here:

amazon-4 bn-4 booksamillion-4 indiebound-4

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Fall Into Tor Books This Autumn!

Fall Into Tor Books This Autumn!

Ready to FALL into some new books this autumn? (*wink*) Get your TBR ready for every book from Tor coming out this fall! Which one are you most excited to read?


September 6

The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (paperback)

Each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to earn a place in the Alexandrian Society, the foremost secret society in the world. The chosen will secure a life of power and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. But at what cost? Each of the six newest recruits has their reasons for accepting the Society’s elusive invitation. Even if it means growing closer than they could have imagined to their most dangerous enemies—or risking unforgivable betrayal from their most trusted allies—they will fight tooth and nail for the right to join the ranks of the Alexandrians. Even if it means they won’t all survive the year. Now available in paperback!

September 20

Image Place holder  of - 60Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier, sentenced to die mining the Pits of Hathsin after attempting to rob the Lord Ruler’s palace, arose as a powerful Mistborn and inspired the revolution that shook the foundations of the Final Empire. His name and deeds passed into legend. But was that truly the end of his tale? Whispered hints to those he called friends suggested there was a lot more going on. If you think you know the story of the Mistborn trilogy, think again—but to say anything more here risks revealing too much. Even knowing of this tale’s existence could be heresy.

September 27

The Genesis of Misery by Neon YangThe Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

It’s an old, familiar story: a young person hears the voice of an angel saying they have been chosen as a warrior to lead their people to victory in a holy war. But Misery Nomaki (she/they) knows they are a fraud. Raised on a remote moon colony, they don’t believe in any kind of god. Their angel is a delusion, brought on by hereditary space exposure. Yet their survival banks on mastering the holy mech they are supposedly destined for, and convincing the Emperor of the Faithful that they are the real deal. The deeper they get into their charade, however, the more they start to doubt their convictions. What if this, all of it, is real?

Place holder  of - 91Growing Up Weightless by John M. Ford; introduction by Francis Spufford

Matthias Ronay has grown up in the low gravity and great glass citadels of independent Luna—and in the considerable shadow of his father, a member of the council that governs Luna’s increasingly complex society. But Matt feels weighed down on the world where he was born, where there is no more need for exploration, for innovation, for radical ideas—and where his every movement can be tracked by his father on the infonets. Matt and five of his friends, equally brilliant and restless, have planned a secret adventure. Their passage into the expanse of perpetual night will change them in ways they never could have predicted…and bring Matt to the destiny for which he has yearned. With a new introduction by Francis Spufford, author of Red Plenty and Golden Hill.

October 4

Placeholder of  -65The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce

Centuries ago, beautiful young Ilsbeth Clark was accused of witchcraft after several children disappeared. Her acquittal did nothing to stop her fellow townsfolk from drowning her in the well where the missing children were last seen. When author and social media influencer Elena returns to the summer paradise of her youth to get her family’s manor house ready to sell, the last thing she expected was connecting with—and feeling inspired to write about—Ilsbeth’s infamous spirit. The very historical figure that her ex-childhood friend, Cathy, has been diligently researching and writing about for years. What begins as a fiercely competitive sense of ownership over Ilsbeth and her story soon turns both women’s worlds into something more haunted and dangerous than they could ever imagine.

October 11

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette KowalThe Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars. She’s traveling incognito and is reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling—and keep the real killer from striking again.

Mystic Skies by Jason DenzelMystic Skies by Jason Denzel

Fifty-four years have passed since Crow Tallin, the catastrophic celestial event that merged Fayün and the human world. One devastating result of that cataclysm is that most human babies are born fused with fay spirits. The Mystics of Kelt Apar, once beloved, are blamed for this worldwide phenomenon. On the island of Moth, the Barons have declared the Myst illegal and imprisoned all Mystics under house arrest. Under the watchful eyes of deadly Hunters, a much-older Pomella AnDone now lives as a prisoner at Kelt Apar with her granddaughter and apprentice Mia, as well as the rapidly declining High Mystic of Moth, Yarina Sineese.

October 25

Image Placeholder of - 70The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

Six magicians were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Five are now members of the Society. Two paths lay before them. All must pick a side. Alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and The Society of Alexandrians will be revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way.

November 1

Ocean's Echo by Everina MaxwellOcean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe. Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

November 8

Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time. The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is. If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone. But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

Origins of the Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston; foreword by Harriet McDougalOrigins of the Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston; foreword by Harriet McDougal

Take a deep dive into the real-world history and mythology that inspired the world of The Wheel of Time®. Origins of The Wheel of Time is written by Michael Livingston, Secretary-General of the United States Commission on Military History and professor of medieval literature at The Citadel, with a Foreword by Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan’s editor, widow, and executor of his estate. Origins of The Wheel of Time will provide knowledge and insights to new and longtime fans looking to expand their understanding of the series or unearth the real-life influences that Jordan utilized in his world building.

Blood Moon by Heather Graham & Jon LandBlood Moon by Heather Graham and Jon Land

They may have managed to win a major battle against the powerful enemy determined to destroy civilization as we know it. But the war continues, with Alex and Sam embarking on a desperate journey to save mankind, even as their friendship blossoms into something much more. The roadmap for their journey lies in a mysterious book, the language of which has never been deciphered, until Alex finds himself able to translate the words that may hold the keys to saving the future. But an ageless foe, long the guardian of the secrets his race has left behind on Earth, arises to stop them at all costs. At his disposal is a merciless army that has been awaiting this very war, an army as unstoppable as it is relentless.

The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene WolfeThe Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Far from Earth, two sister planets, Saint Anne and Saint Croix, circle each other in an eternal dance. It is said a race of shapeshifters once lived here, only to perish when men came. But one man believes they can still be found, somewhere in back of the beyond. In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe skillfully interweaves three bizarre tales to create a mesmerizing pattern: the harrowing account of the son of a mad genius who discovers his hideous heritage; a young man’s mythic dreamquest for his darker half; and the bizarre chronicle of a scientist’s nightmarish imprisonment. With a new introduction by O. Henry Award winning author Brian Evenson

November 15

Poster Placeholder of - 36The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson

For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organization the Set since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. After Wax discovers a new type of explosive that can unleash unprecedented destruction, an immortal kandra serving Scadrial’s god, Harmony, reveals that Bilming has fallen under the influence of another god: Trell, worshipped by the Set. And Trell isn’t the only factor at play from the larger Cosmere—Marasi is recruited by offworlders with strange abilities who claim their goal is to protect Scadrial…at any cost.

November 29

Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake

Two people meet in the Art Institute by chance. Prior to their encounter, he is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist, undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. By the end of the story, these things will still be true. But this is not a story about endings. For Regan, people are predictable and tedious, including and perhaps especially herself. To Aldo, the world feels disturbingly chaotic. For Regan and Aldo, life has been a matter of resigning themselves to the blueprints of inevitability—until the two meet. Could six conversations with a stranger be the variable that shakes up the entire simulation?

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Excerpt: Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Excerpt: Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

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Ocean's Echo by Everina MaxwellOcean’s Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s hit debut, Winter’s Orbit.

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.

Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.

Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.

Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.

Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell, on sale 11/1/22.


1

Tennalhin Halkana arrived at the party fashionably late, which might have meant something if he’d been invited in the first place. Tennal often set out to make trouble, it was true, but this evening, he was genuinely here for a drink and a good time.

That was a lie. He also wanted an architect, and this party would be full of architects.

The party was in the penthouse of the most exclusive hotel in the city. It was a glittering front for an underground gambling ring, so it was full of dangerous people, but Tennal had stopped caring who he mingled with some time ago. Tennal floated from one gambling meetup to another these days, always just interesting enough to be kept around, never involved enough to get in serious trouble. As a lifestyle, it had its ups and downs. As an escape plan, it was an amateur one, but he could keep it going as long as he had to. He just needed the right architect.

He didn’t risk the private drone service ferrying people up to the balcony. Instead Tennal flirted his way past security in the hotel lobby and walked into the elevator as if he belonged there. There was no security at the penthouse door. People didn’t go to this kind of party uninvited, but Tennal had found there were very few things you couldn’t do if you didn’t care about fucking up. Tennal was low on money, low on options, and didn’t have a lot left to lose.

The penthouse was a dark fug of noise and low-level sensory vibrations. It was dimly lit by colored glows under tables and light filaments like sprays of vivid flowers in the corners. Dozens of people gathered around various games, or the bar, or smaller tables where more serious business was being done. Under the talking and the music, there was the low, vibrating drone that people on certain chemical substances found enjoyably hypnotic. Some people were obviously high already. Tennal was envious.

But he’d been right. There were architects.

That woman over there, with the flint-and-gold necklace and the weapon at her belt, was an architect. So was the grayhaired tough picking over the buffet. So—interestingly—was the ethereally beautiful twentysomething waif who looked like someone’s trophy boyfriend. Tennal didn’t often meet architects his own age.

None of them were that good. They weren’t slinging around mental commands at the bar or anything, but Tennal could see it: architects gave off an aura, if you knew how to look for it, like light radiating from a star. The ones he was watching were pretty faint. They might be able to take over someone’s mind for a split second, but only if they really tried. Tennal was looking for someone else. Someone better.

Of course, every architect in here would be careful what they used their mental influence for. Using it on the wrong person in the street might get you a warning from law enforcement, but in here, it might get you shot. And architects had the acceptable kind of power.

Tennal was too sober for this.

He slid into a seat at the bar and smiled glitteringly at the bartender. “What’s free?”

There was usually something free at these things. The bartender paused and squinted at him suspiciously, as if Tennal didn’t look quite wealthy enough or dangerous enough to be here. Tennal didn’t show any signs of backing off, though, and eventually a shot glass came sliding across the bar.

Might as well ask. Tennal tilted his head at the dozens of conversations behind him and said, “So, which one’s the boss?” The boss might refer to any number of people in the city of Sanura, but in here, it meant the leader of this gambling ring, the one who owned this hotel. “I was told he’s an architect.”

The bartender’s hand stopped on the table. Tennal felt a sudden spike of wariness from them. They met Tennal’s eyes and shrugged.

At that point, someone tapped Tennal on the shoulder, and he flinched.

He tried to cover up the twitch as he turned. He had to get that kind of reaction under control. If the legislator had really found him, it wasn’t as if her people were going to gently tap him on the shoulder and start a conversation.

This wasn’t much better, though. A young woman in an armored vest stared down at him, her hand resting on a holster at her hip. This was somebody’s bodyguard.

There was no security at the door for this kind of thing because everyone brought their own security. If you turned out to be law enforcement, it was very simple: you left, or somebody’s bodyguard would shoot you. Tennal wasn’t law enforcement, though if they’d known exactly who he was, he wouldn’t have totally blamed them for shooting him.

“I don’t think you were invited,” the bodyguard said.

Tennal raised his hands in front of him, fingers spread. “I’m unarmed. Promise. Unless you count three tissues and a pack of soothers—and honestly, I’d have to get very inventive.”

She gave him a thin, unimpressed stare. Flint ear studs glinted under her short hair. “I’ve seen you before.”

A jolt went through Tennal. She couldn’t know. Could she?

Tennal’s mind was always a little too open to the universe. He wasn’t an architect, because that would have made life too easy. No, he’d ended up with the unacceptable kind of powers. He nudged his senses further open, just a fraction, and read her mind.

The instant he opened himself up, a dozen minds flared in his perception. The party was crowded; each person moved in a haze of their own moods like a shimmer of light. And if architects were faint stars, pulsing with intention and influence, Tennal was the opposite. Nobody had ever told him what his mind looked like from the outside, but he had his suspicions: an unsettling void, a black hole.

As far back as he could remember, Tennal had always been aware of a low-level drone from the minds around him. It was like an indecent form of tinnitus. Random impressions drifted in his direction, and if he actively tried, he could read them: vague emotions, nonspecific intentions, nothing particularly helpful. People’s surface thoughts were seldom interesting, in any case— right now, from the crowd in the room, Tennal could feel hunger, irritation, interest, boredom. All standard.

Reading that kind of background mental drone wasn’t illegal. Not quite. After all, it was only a step above watching people’s body language; he wasn’t going any deeper. Tennal focused on the bodyguard, looking for threat.

Nothing. She wasn’t interested in threatening him, and there was none of the prurient interest that would suggest she knew who his family was. She was just fed up with her long shift, overdue for a break, and Tennal was paranoid.

“I’m just here to ask a favor from the boss,” Tennal said, leaning back against the bar. “Is that a crime?”

He could have tried announcing the reader thing, but he needed to save that for when it would make an impact. Being a reader—they were rarities—made him just scandalous enough to be interesting, and Lights knew nobody was inviting him anywhere because of his delightful personality.

She gave him one of the most unimpressed looks he’d seen in his life, and Tennal was a connoisseur of unimpressed looks. “Ask the boss for what? Three square meals and a job?” She slapped a hand on the bar to get the bartender’s attention. “You should clean up and get out of here. I hate the ones who get in over their heads.”

The bartender, who obviously knew her, slid her a plate of food. Tennal paused in the act of popping out a mild soother from the pack in his pocket. Yes, he was coming off a days-long hangover, and yes, his meals and sleep were all over the place because the concept of scheduling was fatally dull, but surely he didn’t look like that much of a mess. “I’m doing fine, but I appreciate the concern.”

She took the food without looking at Tennal. “I’m back on duty in an hour. You should be gone before then.”

“Or I could get your boss to invite me to stay,” Tennal suggested. He got a flash of irritation and knew his guess was right: she worked for the host of this party. He could use that.

“Lights,” the woman said to the ceiling, as if a divine Guidance might come to her aid and throw Tennal out a window. She jerked her head at the bartender. “Get him some food. Put it on the party tab; fuck knows these nights cost thousands. Maybe he’ll sober up and leave.”

Tennal was thrown. He opened his mouth to say he didn’t need charity—or at least not this kind, not pity—but she’d taken her sandwich and gone.

Tennal vindictively ordered the most expensive plate on the menu, the one that came with gold leaf scattered around artistic constructions of pastries and fruit. He ate the pastries while he watched the crowd and scanned for clues to the boss.

As he watched the bodyguard leave for her break, he made one more attempt to read her. He had to be careful. Reading was draining, and if he went any deeper than the surface layer, she would feel it. And if she felt it, he would be in a lot of trouble.

All he got when he tried was a pulse of vague awareness from her toward one corner of the room, where a small knot of older people had gathered to play cards.

Tennal examined the corner. The gamblers there looked like military veterans; most people with any kind of power on Orshan had been in the army at some point. Their clothes were dark, but most of them wore colored division paraphernalia: pins, medals, colored bands. They had their own private drinks cart. When Tennal casually moved across the room and opened his mind—he had to be close to read someone’s aura with any certainty—they pulsed like a cluster of suns. Tennal breathed out. It’s one of you.

Tennal was out of options. Time for his plan of last resort.

Nobody stopped Tennal from walking up to the game. This corner of the party was quieter and more private. Hanging lights shed a dim amber glow over the card game, the only other illumination the night skyline through the windows. Silver jewelry glinted in the darkness on wrists and chests. Tennal would bet money that these were the leaders of all Sanura’s gambling rings.

He could feel himself being watched. He glanced at the armed bodyguards casually standing not too far from the table, which
just confirmed it. Tennal was fine with being watched. He smiled back at the hostile stares and surface-read the bodyguards until he found the one who was at slightly heightened stress levels, the sort that might indicate you’d been a two-person team, until your partner took their break, and now you were covering the post alone. Tennal paused and zeroed in on the gambler that bodyguard was watching.

Found the boss.

Not all the ringleaders had been playing this round. One was at the drinks cart. He was pale, well-built, and expensively dressed, with a wooden gender-mark on his bracelet like the one on a casual silver chain around Tennal’s neck. Tennal would have given him the time of day even if he hadn’t been an architect. When Tennal looked through his reader senses, though, there wasn’t any doubt about the architect bit.

Tennal slipped in beside him and leaned over the selection of drinks.

He should be careful. If he had the right person, this man owned the underground racing market, half the financial district, and the weapons trade. Tennal should be polite and circumspect. But Tennal had never been careful, and he only knew a few ways to get someone’s attention.

He reached out and jostled the man’s arm so he dropped his glass.

“Whoops,” Tennal said insincerely. “Let me get that for you.”

The man grabbed his wrist without changing expression. Tennal felt a flash of anger from him. Time for the party trick. Tennal passed a hand over the lavish collection of imported drinks and picked the one most prominent in the man’s thoughts: a small blue bottle of distilled silverberry, which had embossing from some galactic backwater and was probably worth its weight in gold. Tennal thought it tasted like neat oil. Bad choice for a favorite; his opinion of the man’s taste went down.

Tennal carefully poured it into a new glass without dislodging the man’s grip on his wrist. “I heard you do favors for readers.”

The man released his wrist. He smiled faintly. “Direct. I do favors for readers who do favors for me.”

Tennal opened his mind and focused on him. The man wasn’t giving much away on the surface—mild interest, a condescending sense of being in control of the room. He had met readers before, so maybe he thought he knew what Tennal could do.

Readers were scattered and rare. Most reading didn’t actually tell you that much about what someone was thinking. Tennal, like any reader, could focus on someone and read them on a shallow level whenever he wanted, though he would only pick up a vague outline of their feelings and intentions, and if he left his mind open for too long it gave him a headache. Even that shallow reading was illegal, but it could be useful if you were discreet about it.

Readers who could go deep, beyond surface emotions, were even more of an anomaly—so much so that many people didn’t believe they existed. Tennal might have appreciated being an aberration more if it hadn’t nearly gotten him arrested several times when he was growing up. But hiring out his deep-reading skills wasn’t an option because people had a habit of noticing you were doing it. And he didn’t want to get too far into a criminal operation. He’d have to pretend to be good, but not too good. “I might be able to help you out.”

“I work with readers now and then,” the man said, watching him. “Before we go any further, though, tell me—how good are you at defending yourself? You’re not much use to me if the first architect you meet can make you spill your guts.”

Tennal let a lazy smile creep onto his face. He twirled the embossed bottle. “I’m hard for architects to get to,” he said. “You
want me to prove it? How about a bet?”

The boss cleared a table for them with a look. His bodyguard didn’t even have to step closer. He waved a hand for Tennal to sit
opposite him.

At the back of his mind, Tennal knew this was further than he’d ever gone. He was taking risks he wouldn’t have imagined a few months ago—but it was fine. It was all fine. It had to be fine, because Tennal had run out his welcome everywhere else. He’d be out on the streets if he didn’t find something. Going home wasn’t an option. “Let’s make this easy,” Tennal said. He held out his glass for a refill. “I bet you I can go three minutes without drinking that. Start the clock.”

The boss laughed. “If I don’t write you, you mean.”

Writing was the informal term for the way architects bent your mind into compliance. It was more accepted than reading, since at least you knew it was happening—and there were so many bloody architects, you couldn’t turn a street corner in Exana without tripping over one. Tennal had never seen why that was so much better for society than reading. “How good are you?” Tennal asked, with enough skepticism to sound like a challenge. This man was obviously an architect, since he glowed bright to Tennal’s reader senses, but Tennal had seen better architects. “Try me.”

The boss gave him a second look, eyes flicking up and down.

“All right, then.” He looked over at his bodyguard and tapped his
wristband.

After a few moments, the bodyguard silently laid a display case on the table. He flipped up the lid and stepped back.

Tennal tried not to react. It was totally innocuous: a display set of liquor glasses, the high, flared type common in this part of the world. They were emblazoned with the full set of military divisions. Red for Cavalry, charcoal for Infantry, Archer gold,
Vanguard blue . . . the full dozen was there, even the smaller divisions with no political influence.

“Pick your poison,” the boss said, watching his face.

This was a test. The first architects and readers had been created by the military, twenty years ago, so anyone Tennal’s age must have got the reader gene from a veteran parent. That meant Tennal’s family was tied to one of the divisions: if not Cavalry, which was currently in charge of the legislature, then maybe Infantry, or Navy, or one of the others. Military politics mattered everywhere on this bloody planet. You couldn’t escape it. The man wanted to know if Tennal would admit who he was connected to.

Tennal ignored the vivid red of the Cavalry glass and picked one of the others at random. Yellow glinted between his fingers as he slid it over to be filled. “Three minutes,” he said. “Try writing me.”

“And what do you want if you win?” the man said.

“You own this hotel,” Tennal said. “The people I’ve been rooming with want me out. I need a place to stay for a while.” He tried to sound casual. He’d been kicked out this morning, not to put too fine a point on it, but that was an unnecessary detail. Tennal didn’t like the word desperate and saw no reason to apply it to himself.

“That’s all?”

Tennal felt it. The first touch of an architect command, like a solar flare in his peripheral vision. He didn’t react. “I’m buying time,” Tennal said. He leaned back in his chair, the liquor glass between his fingers. “Why, can’t you afford to let me have a room? Business not doing well?”

The boss struck.

Being written by an architect felt like unshielding your eyes in front of a furnace. A bright mental light flooded Tennal’s eyes, his whole brain, a dazzle that shoved out every other thought. If Tennal found an architect strong enough—or took one of the small neuro-enhancer pills currently nestled in his pocket—he could sink into that white blaze and turn his brain off. As unnerving as it was, it was always a break from the never-ending, relentlessly dull business of existing as himself.

Of course, Tennal was almost sober, and this didn’t cut it. The architect’s command glanced off his mental walls like sunlight off a mirror. Raising an ironic eyebrow would probably have been suicidal, so Tennal inspected the glass in his fingers instead.

The man tried again. The timer ticked down.

A little pool of silence grew around the table as people realized what they were doing. The mental battle took place in complete silence, the boss staring at Tennal as though he could bore a hole in his head through sheer willpower. Tennal slung one ankle over the other and tapped his fingers on the glass. Light beat vainly on the walls of his mind.

The timer beeped softly.

Tennal met the boss’s eyes over the table. “My win.” There was a dangerous moment when the man leaned forward, a sudden twist of anger radiating from him like a sour note. A shot of adrenaline went down Tennal’s spine. He lived for this kind of high, even as he knew it was a bad idea. But if he had fucked up—if he’d finally gone too far—

Then the boss relented. He shrugged and clicked his fingers at one of the hangers-on nearby. “Get him a room. Long-term stay.” He kicked his chair back from the table and rose. “We’ll talk another day.” He paused. “Your accent is from Exana?”

It was a question. Not to get information but to see what Tennal would say when prodded. Tennal had a reaction ready. “Left it behind, obviously,” he said. “Why would I want to be around the politicians? I’m here to have fun—party capital of the planet, what’s not to love?”

The man smiled without warmth. “I hope you have fun, then. Enjoy your night.”
It was a dismissal. Tennal’s moment in the spotlight was over. It was time for him to dissolve back into the crowd and be safely anonymous.

Instead Tennal knocked back his horrible drink, looked up, and said, “Have you got anything better?”

Copyright © 2022 from Everina Maxwell

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Image Placeholder of - 65Ocean’s Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s hit debut, Winter’s Orbit. Download a FREE sneak peek today!

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.

Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.

Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.

Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.

Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?

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