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SFF Books to Gift Every Member of Your Weird and Cranky Family

‘Tis the season for yearly awkward family holiday interactions! And what’s more stressful than trying to find that perfect gift for blood relatives? Is your mom forbidding you from giving your terrible aunt a bottle of $15 Chardonnay for the fourth year in a row? We’ve got you covered—check out our extremely helpful and entirely appropriate holiday gift guide to help *inspire* you!

By Rachel Taylor and a bunch of raccoons in a trench coat


For your wine aunt

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Oh, the wine aunts. We love them so much because a) they know how to have a good time and b) they are super easy to shop for because, wine! But your mom is complaining that no, you cannot get your aunt a bottle of Chardonnay for the sixth year in a row. So why not get them a great book they can enjoy while sipping a glass of the good stuff? Gift them The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab! It’s fun, sexy, and a little bit fantastical and makes for a great wordy wine pairing.

For you gay cousin

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On the off chance you aren’t the gay cousin yourself, boy, have we got recommendations for you! Because as everyone except NASA knows, space is gay.

You should get them this year’s Hugo Award winner A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine or Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott. Come for the epic space empire politics, stay for the powerful queer ladies.

For grandma’s ghost

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So, grandma’s a ghost. This is fine. You can still get ghost grandma a gift. She’ll appreciate anything you give her! We suggest You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce. Horror/thrillers might not have been grandma’s jam when she was chilling in the world of the living, but now that she’s shuffled off this mortal coil, she needs IDEAS on how to conduct her hauntings! This book will give her some great spooky ideas, and maybe she’ll be inspired to rejoin this sphere as one of the fae. And look, now you’re her favorite grandchild for showing her how to come back, and you’ll probably be spared from some malicious fairy tricks! We’re calling that a win. 

For your goth nephew

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We get it Cameron, Aunt Dierdre sucks for not letting you get a lip ring. We’ve got just the thing to distract you from all these squares. Necromancers in a haunted space castle! The first two books of The Locked Tomb Trilogy, Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, are just what your goth nephew needs. 

For your evil twin

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If you’re unlucky lucky enough to have a twin, you are either besties or worsties. Get them The Murders of Molly Southborne by Tade Thompson, featuring a girl who grows murderous identical clones every time she bleeds and has to fight them all to the death. It works as both a thoughtful gift and a threat depending on your existing twin relationship.

For your mom, to distract her from the fact that no one is having a good time

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Mom spent so many hours on the latkes but everyone is yelling and now she is sad. But you are her favorite child and you anticipated smoothing this situation with a sweet and fantastical gift: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. 

Is your sister still breaking her heart? Is your stepfather still hiding in the basement because he never learned to process negative emotions? Sure. But now she’s distracted by a book that is basically the literary equivalent of a warm hug! In The House in the Cerulean Sea, she will find children that are not disappointments to her, and of course a heartwarming tale of magic and found family.

For your younger sibling that’s venturing out for the first time

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It’s your baby sibling’s first time going out into the big, wide world on their own :’) As the sibling you secretly love most, of course you want to provide them with something that will keep them entertained AND safe. May we suggest To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini? It has aliens, spaceships, AND it’s over 900 PAGES LONG. You know what that’s great for? Smacking someone foolish enough to try and jump your favorite sibling. BOOM, SELF-DEFENSE. Plus it’s full of first contact, space battles, and sentient space suits, so it’s sure to keep them entertained while they skip freshman orientation or make that first subway commute.

For your brother-in-law who simply MUST HAVE all the latest tech

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He wanted a smart microwave that he can control with his phone so he can have nachos the moment he walks in the door. You just want him to understand that anything ‘smart’ can be hacked and tech is well and good until your iFridge starts surveilling you. Get him Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow instead, a whip-smart cyber thriller that explores just how hard it is to stay hidden and private in a digital world, particularly when you cannot trust your government. By this time next year, he will be a security advocate and you can get him a Faraday bag.

For your grumpy grandpa

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Back in the day, kids used to have more RESPECT. This is what’s wrong with this country, all these hooligans doing whatever they want. Let’s give grandpa a break this year, shall we?

Hahahaha just kidding, give your grandpa Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and watch the fireworks. And when he flings it at your head, you will now own a great book! We’re all doing so well this holiday season. 

For your bored teen stepsister

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Wow, this family gathering really sucks and your little sis has NO CHILL letting everyone know how insanely bored she is. Which, can you blame her? Give her a mental escape from this excruciating party with mermaids, magic, and mystery. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow will definitely give her the mental out she needs before your parents yell at her for playing with her phone all night. 

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What Would You Keep in a Bag of Holding? (Chaotic Answers Only)

The Chaos and Cosmos continues!

We asked our Chaos and Cosmos authors: What would you keep in a bag of holding? And then we just sat back and embraced the chaos.

We have some ideas of our own of course: A lightsaber. Two-hundred and seven cheese wheels. A dragon egg maybe.

Let us know what you’d keep in yours in the comments!


What would you keep in your bag of holding?

Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun

A trans-dimensional gateway, and an unending supply of freshly baked cookies.

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Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Relentless Moon

Fountain pens, paper, books, crochet, my laptop, and a blanket for a cozy nap. Also, my cat Elsie would probably be in there, because it is a thing that she can get inside that she should not be inside.

S. A. Hunt, author of I Come With Knives

Definitely not a portable hole, or another bag of holding. That’s a good way to rip a hole in space and time, and get sucked into the Astral Plane. What I would keep in my bag of holding? Probably a sword, my wallet, and chargers for my devices. Maybe a pack of soft-baked cookies and a water bottle.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Trouble the Saints

Futon mattress, green tea, electric kettle, pens, ink, notebooks, towel, a lot of conditioner and a hair pick.

Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

Oh! Can I say another bag of holding whose destruction results in opening a gate to the Astral Plane? No? Hmm…well I imagine it’d probably be pretty similar to the contents of the bag Hermione has in The Deathly Hallows. Books and glamping tents and more books and potions and wands and quills and ink and…have I mentioned books?

Kit Rocha, author of Deal with the Devil

A bowling alley (complete with skunky beer), fifty pounds of hot smoked salmon, and a 1961 Thunderbird.

Jenn Lyons, author of The Memory of Souls

If my backpack is anything to go by: fountain pens, journals, and watercolor supplies.

Andrea Hairston, author of Master of Poisons

  • Portals to other worlds
  • A bike that never rusts or needs air in the tire
  • Dark chocolate bonbons with caramel filling
  • A truth serum

Christopher Paolini, author of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Survival equipment and writing supplies.

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S. L. Huang, author of Burning Roses

Toilet paper. (Too real?)

Also a sword, my TI-92 graphing calculator, and a whole lot of tea.

Cory Doctorow, author of Attack Surface

A wet bar, an espresso machine, a burr grinder, well, I already have the bag I take on planes that has a sleeping bag, good pajamas, a hot water bottle, an ice pack, footie slippers, an eye mask…I’m the most comfortable man in the sky, so I’ll definitely carry all of that, some really good pens, more spare batteries than is wise, I could go on.

 Us: How many spare batteries is wise?

Like, if there was a lithium fire, you’d want it to be terrible but not catastrophic, that’s the wise level.

V. E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Dark chocolate and really good English Breakfast tea, at all times.

_

Relatable, right?

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Chaos and Cosmos: Choose. Your. Weapon.

Everyone knows that when challenged to a duel, it’s on you to pick the weapon. Fisticuffs? Fencing at dawn? Compliments? In order to be prepared to defend your honor, you should really have a weapon of choice.

Relatedly, in the event of an unfortunate fencing-at-dawn accident, what would you replace your hand with if it were chopped off?

We ask our authors the important questions.

What is your weapon of choice?
Or, if your hand was cut off what would you replace it with? 

Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun

If my hand was cut off I would replace it with a Swiss Army knife multi-tool prosthetic with additional sensitive claw grip.

Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Relentless Moon

Weapon of choice: Namiki pilot fountain pen with Noodler Ink’s Black Swans in English Roses. 

S. A. Hunt, author of I Come With Knives

Chainsaw, of course. Barring that, a short-sword. Something agile, but still has a little reach. No! No! A hookshot! A claw-hand that shoots out on a cable!

Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Trouble the Saints

Nothing beats a well-aimed throwing knife.

Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

Can this be an ‘and’ question? Weapon of choice would be a Colt .45 (God made people, Sam Colt made them all equal right?) The truth is, I have a fascination with a double-edged broadsword with a basket-hilt and red leather lining (think Scottish sword), but I haven’t put my 10,000 hours in and would die…but if I could replace my hand with a badass sword AND have the Colt .45? Possibilities, friends, possibilities.

Kit Rocha, author of Deal with the Devil

A PS4 controller.

Jenn Lyons, author of The Memory of Souls

My weapon of choice would be vast cosmic powers. Because hell yes.

Andrea Hairston, author of Master of Poisons

The pen! (For both.)

Christopher Paolini, author of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Pistol-caliber carbine with armor-piercing rounds. If my hand was cut off . . . a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

S. L. Huang, author of Burning Roses

A laser. Because I could both cut through diamond AND entertain a posse of playful cats.

Cory Doctorow, author of Attack Surface

The Content Management System.

V. E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Definitely a really old-fashioned dagger.

 

Stay tuned for even more Chaos and Cosmos!

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Chaos or Cosmos?

There are so many important questions about our Chaos and Cosmos campaign but the first one we have to ask our authors is…are you team CHAOS or COSMOS?!

One thing is clear: Whether they write about space, wizards, hackers, or immortals, Tor authors are pretty chaotic.

Check out the incredibly important and serious answer to the question below.


Chaos or Cosmos?

Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun

Cosmos.

Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Relentless Moon

Tough call… given my Lady Astronaut books, I’m obviously team Cosmos, but anyone who knows me also knows that I’m a Chaos muppet. (https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/06/chaos-theory.html)

S. A. Hunt, author of I Come With Knives

Cosmos. My life—our lives, all of us, really—have enough chaos, and I’d rather explore the cosmos. We seek out stories because we need to find order in the chaos . . . it’s why, almost always, the good guys win. Because the good guys don’t often win in real life, and to survive, we need to see the win when we can to know it’s still possible. Stories give us hope.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Trouble the Saints

Cosmos.

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Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

Chaos!

Kit Rocha, author of Deal with the Devil

Easy one—chaos, 100%

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Jenn Lyons, author of The Memory of Souls

Chaos! (The Cosmos part comes naturally from that.)

Christopher Paolini, author of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Cosmos.

S. L. Huang, author of Burning Roses

deep evil villain voice* CHAOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSS!!!!!

Cory Doctorow, author of Attack Surface

Definitely chaos.

V. E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Chaos.

 

Stay tuned for more #ChaosandCosmos all year long!

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Meet Our Books Cosmos: Earth Signs

The Sky is Not the Limit with CHAOS AND COSMOS!!! Are you ready to meet some of our campaign stars? (Yes, we are feeling punny today). We’re thrilled to kick things off with our Earth signs: The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal, The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab!

Why are they Earth signs? We didn’t make the rules. Publicist and astrology maven Laura Eztkorn did. And even though we don’t understand Astrology, we believe her.


Capricorn

Ambitious, diligent, focused. Like, you gotta be to get into the astronaut program. (Also, super intellectual, and workaholics.)”

Image Place holder  of - 50The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (On sale 07/14/2020)

The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. The IAC’s goal of getting as many people as possible off Earth before it becomes uninhabitable is being threatened. Elma York is on her way to Mars, but the Moon colony is still being established. Her friend and fellow Lady Astronaut Nicole Wargin is thrilled to be one of those pioneer settlers, using her considerable flight and political skills to keep the program on track. But she is less happy that her husband, the Governor of Kansas, is considering a run for President.

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Taurus

“Famous for their stubbornness (like Buc) and loyalty (like between her and her companion Eld)!”

Place holder  of - 73The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan (On sale 07/21/2020)

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few. It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her. Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker’s ship….

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Virgo

Only a Virgo would fall in love with the devil.”

Placeholder of  -56The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (On sale 10/06/2020)

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

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Can You Hear the Mayhem? Introducing Our Chaos and Cosmos Playlist!

We’re diving into Chaos and Cosmos the RIGHT way-with an incredibly chaotic playlist!

We asked our authors to pick theme songs for their main characters and the resulting playlist is…definitely something. We recommend putting this beauty on shuffle for maximum mayhem.

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Pick a Theme Song for Your Main Character

Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun

Born to be Wild – in the version played by the Handsome Alika on Idol Faire.

Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Relentless Moon

How High the Moon sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

S. A. Hunt, author of I Come With Knives

In the first, second, and third book I’d say Karliene’s Become The Beast. I just love the feminine aura it has, and the constant, building tension. It’s so simultaneously female and feral, and I love it. In other news, I listened to Halestorm’s cover of Slave to The Grind and Fist Up by Kidneythieves the whole time I was writing the fight scenes in The Hellion, the third book in the Malus series, so that might give you a good idea of where my head was at and what kind of action you can look forward to in that one.

If Tor signs any more Malus books with me, I’m gonna tell you that Robin’s theme song will become What Doesn’t Kill You Will Make You A Killer by Rabbit Junk. After the events of book 3, The Hellion, she’s gonna go Beast Mode.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Trouble the Saints

Summon the Fire by The Comet Is Coming.

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Ryan Van Loan, author of The Sin in the Steel

Blood in the Water by Grandson.

Kit Rocha, author of Deal with the Devil

For Nina, Least Complicated by the Indigo Girls.
For Knox, Hardest of Hearts by Florence + The Machine.

Jenn Lyons, author of The Memory of Souls

Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons (What? You didn’t think I’d pick a theme song that didn’t have a dragon tie-in somewhere, did you?)

Andrea Hairston, author of Master of Poisons

For Awa— A call and response song with rattles and bees.

For Djola— Whale song.

Christopher Paolini, author of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Gayane by Aram Khachaturian.

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S. L. Huang, author of Burning Roses

Murder, Murder! from Jekyll & Hyde. Someone’s killing sinners in the night… lots and lots and lots of them. (Spoiler: It’s Little Red Riding Hood.)

Cory Doctorow, author of Attack Surface

Good as Hell, one for the millennials. I have a 12-year-old, I’m down with the Lizzo! If it’s on TikTok I know it.

V. E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab for Cutie.

Stay tuned for more #ChaosandCosmos all year long!

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Introducing: CHAOS AND COSMOS!

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The Sky Is Not the Limit

This year has gotten off to a bit of a…chaotic start, to say the very least. In 2020, Tor Books is determined to make the most of *waves hands around wildly* all this and prove that the sky is not the limit; this is a year destined for big books and even BIGGER ideas!

Chaos-and-Cosmos-SamplerGet ready to activate your sun, moon, and rising signs with stories of cosmic adventures and gleefully chaotic characters!

Featured authors include Kit Rocha (Deal with the Devil), S.A. Hunt (I Come With Knives), Alaya Dawn Johnson (Trouble the Saints), Kate Elliott (Unconquerable Sun), Mary Robinette Kowal (The Relentless Moon), Ryan Van Loan (The Sin in the Steel), Jenn Lyons (The Memory of Souls), Andrea Hairston (Master of Poisons), Christopher Paolini (To Sleep in a Sea of Stars), S.L. Huang (Burning Roses), Cory Doctorow (Attack Surface), and V.E. Schwab (The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue). This illustrious group of wordslingers includes bestsellers, award-winners, scholars, and influencerstruly a cosmic force made of stars! Get ready to hear from the dream team—head over to our Instagram @TorBooks to see your favorite authors share their own excitement for Team #ChaosandCosmos!

To kickoff our year of unbridled chaos and burning cosmos,  download Part 1 of our FREE digital sampler, featuring Trouble the Saints, I Come With Knives, Unconquerable Sun, The Sin in the Steel, The Relentless Moon, and Deal with the Devil.

Part 2 of our cosmically chaotic sampler, featuring the titles below, is coming soon!

memoryofsouls  memoryofsouls-book. burningroses. attacksurface. addie. To-Sleep-in-a-Sea-of-Stars-CP3-thin

Keep an eye on our social media and the #ChaosandCosmos tag for the release date of Part 2 and other exciting content in the coming weeks and months.  

Who’s ready for some #ChaosandCosmos?!

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Download the Sampler:

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