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7 Times Science Fiction Made Sports Better

Next week is a big week in the sports world. Sunday is Super Bowl LII, and Friday, February 9th marks the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics, a worldwide contest that’s been going on since ancient times. We have a few fans here on staff, but a lot of us feel that, well, modern day sports are a bit lacking. We prefer the sports we find in the pages of science fiction novels. Here are just a few of our favorites. What’s your favorite science fiction sport?

Head On by John Scalzi

Image Placeholder of - 25 The goal of the game in Head On is to decapitate a select player on the opposing team and throw their head through a goal post. Members of each team attack each other with hammers and swords. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible, much less unethical. But in Hilketa—a violent and fast-paced popular past time—all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Runtime by S. B. Divya

Place holder  of - 94 Ever run a marathon? How about an ultra-marathon? Now add cyborgs, and you’ve basically got the Minerva Sierra Challenge in Divya’s novella Runtime. Most runners in the race have corporate sponsorships, top of the line cyborg parts, and great support teams to make it little less dangerous (only a little). Running without those things is practically a death sentence, but there are always those out there willing to give it a try, even if the system is rigged against them. This is one for perpetual underdogs everywhere (I’m looking at you, Cleveland Browns).

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Placeholder of  -9 Okay, so we know the competition to gain control of the OASIS in Ready Player One isn’t actually a sport. It’s a game, with puzzles, video games, and trivia contests. But we think it fits on this list anyway, because the consequences can still be deadly—as Wade discovers when goons from Innovative Online Industries start trying to kill him and his friends.
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Steel by Richard Matheson

Poster Placeholder of - 63 Frankly, we think a lot of sports could be improved by upgrading the technology involved—and we don’t just mean better replay cameras. Why not replace the athletes with robots? We love the robot boxing depicted in Matheson’s story more than we love actual boxing, to be honest—it’s much more fun to picture giant robots slugging it out than men. Less bloody, too.
 
 
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Image Place holder  of - 64 Growing up, we all knew a few kids who would rather play sports than study. Too bad they weren’t growing up on Kurt Vonnegut’s Mars, where that’s the reality! The only problem: the only sport Martians play is German batball. Imagine baseball, but with no bats, only two bases, and a ball the shape and size of a big, heavy honeydew melon. Sounds fun, right?
 
 
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The entire premise of Ender’s Game is, well, a game—a video game simulation of a war. Putting that aside though, there is definitely a sport in Ender’s world: the Battle Room. Children at Battle School are organized into armies and go into zero-g combat games against other armies. While we don’t necessarily want to attend Battle School, we definitely want to join Dragon Army someday. Somebody get to work making that a reality, will you?
 
 
Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams

Some sports and games have a LOT of rules to remember. Others are like Brockian Ultra-Cricket, from Life, the Universe, and Everything. It’s a game where the goal is basically for players to hit each other with whatever’s at hand, then retreat a safe distance and apologize—for points. The lack of rules means games pretty much never end, and often devolve into all-out warfare. Sounds like a great way to work out some frustration!

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Celebrate Pride Month with Tor.com

It’s Pride Month! If you can’t make it to New York to commemorate Stonewall, or to the Tenderloin in San Francisco to remember the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots, at least we can recommend some wonderful books with LGBTQ+ characters to dive into.

We’re kicking off Pride Month with a list of Tor.com novellas featuring LGBTQ+ characters. Since 2015 Tor.com Publishing has brought readers wonderful science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories at the length they were meant to be told, with a broad catalog of touching, exciting, innovative, and just plain fun novellas and novels. Join us later in the month for a list of novels!

Image Place holder  of - 45 Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
San Francisco in 1940 is a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer “authentic” experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and the twilight world of forbidden love, where outcasts from conventional society can meet.

Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where magic, science, and art intersect.

Inspired by the pulps, film noir, and screwball comedy, Passing Strange is a story as unusual and complex as San Francisco itself from World Fantasy Award winning author Ellen Klages.

Placeholder of  -18 Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline. Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted. They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Image Placeholder of - 31 The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster
When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the archipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders’ sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers’ magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.

Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she’s not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina’s caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck.

Poster Placeholder of - 87 Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.

Place holder  of - 36 River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

Runtime by S.B. Divya
The Minerva Sierra Challenge is a grueling spectacle, the cyborg’s Tour de France. Rich thrill-seekers with corporate sponsorships, extensive support teams, and top-of-the-line exoskeletal and internal augmentations pit themselves against the elements in a day-long race across the Sierra Nevada.

Marmeg Guinto doesn’t have funding, and she doesn’t have support. She cobbled her gear together from parts she found in rich people’s garbage and spent the money her mother wanted her to use for nursing school to enter the race. But the Minerva Challenge is the only chance she has at a better life for herself and her younger brothers, and she’s ready to risk it all.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind gay romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events for August

Eterna and Omega by Leanna Renee Hieber Repo Madness by W. Bruce Cameron Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

Tor/Forge authors are on the road in August! See who is coming to a city near you this month.

Levi Black, Red Right Hand

Wednesday, August 3
Orlando Public Library
Orlando, FL
6:30 PM

Robert Brockway, The Empty Ones

Tuesday, August 30
Powell’s City of Books
Portland, OR
7:00 PM

W. Bruce Cameron, Repo Madness

Tuesday, August 23
Grand Rapids Public Library
Grand Rapids, MI
7:00 PM

Thursday, August 25
Darcy Library of Beulah
Beaulah, MI
7:00 PM

Saturday, August 27
Saturn Booksellers
Gaylord, MI
11:30 AM

Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, The Swarm

Friday, August 5
Barnes & Noble
Orem, UT
7:00 PM

S. B. Divya, Runtime and Greg Van Eekhout, Pacific Fire

Saturday, August 6
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
2:00 PM

Leanna Renee Hieber, Eterna and Omega

Tuesday, August 9
Barnes & Noble
West Chester, OH
7:00 PM

Thursday, August 11
Morris-Jumel Museum
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Wednesday, August 17
KGB Bar
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers

Tuesday, August 16
Volumes Bookcafe
Book Launch Party
Chicago, IL
7:00 PM

Wednesday, August 31
Boswell Book Company
Milwaukee, WI
7:00 PM
Also with Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning

David D. Levine, Arabella of Mars

Saturday, August 13
Writers with Drinks
San Francisco, CA
7:30 PM

Sunday, August 14
American Bookbinders Museum
SF in SF
San Francisco, CA
6:30 PM
Also with Cecil Castellucci and Ben Loory

Tuesday, August 30
SFWA Reading
Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant
Also with Sandra Odell and Django Wexler
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex

Monday, August 1
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC
7:00 PM

Malka Older, Infomocracy

Thursday, August 4
Internal Matter
Books provided by Brookline Booksmith
Also with Liz Hauck, Caitlin FitzGerald, and Allana Tarnto
Boston, MA
6:30 PM

Wendy N. Wagner, Pathfinder Tales: Starspawn

Tuesday, August 16
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

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New Releases: 5/17/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

Cape Hell by Loren D. Estleman

Cape Hell by Loren D. EstlemanU. S. Deputy Page Murdock is ordered by Federal Judge Harlan A. Blackthorne to Cape Hell, Mexico, to verify a report that former Confederate Captain Oscar Childress is raising an army to take over Mexico City—and then intends to turn north to rekindle the Civil War.

With only Hector Cansado, an engineer who can’t be trusted and Joseph, a Native American fireman with a few secrets of his own, Murdock hurtles through the murderous desert of a foreign land toward a man bent on wholesale massacre . . . unless Murdock can stop him.

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

Company Town by Madeline AshbyHwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig–making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?

Zigzag by Bill Pronzini

Zigzag by Bill PronziniTwo novellas and two short stories featuring Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Bill Pronzini’s iconic Nameless Detective!

Zigzag is an original novella, in which a safe and simple accident investigation becomes the unraveling of a twisted murder scheme.

Grapplin, which first appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, deals with the kind of missing person case that can end in only one of two ways, closure or heartbreak.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

Runtime by S.B. Divya

Runtime by S.B. DivyaThe Minerva Sierra Challenge is a grueling spectacle, the cyborg’s Tour de France. Rich thrill-seekers with corporate sponsorships, extensive support teams, and top-of-the-line exoskeletal and internal augmentations pit themselves against the elements in a day-long race across the Sierra Nevada.

Marmeg Guinto doesn’t have funding, and she doesn’t have support. She cobbled her gear together from parts she found in rich people’s garbage and spent the money her mother wanted her to use for nursing school to enter the race. But the Minerva Challenge is the only chance she has at a better life for herself and her younger brothers, and she’s ready to risk it all.

NEW IN MANGA:

Devils and Realist Vol. 9 Story by Madoka Takadono; Illustrated by Utako Yukihiro

Monster Musume: I Heart Monster Girls Vol. 1 by OKAYADO

Tomodachi x Monster Vol. 2 by Yoshihiko Inui

See upcoming releases.

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