The Spare Man - Tor/Forge Blog



Welcome to The Book Eaters Restaurant for People Who Eat Books

by a stack of raccoons in a trench coat & a cat

the book eaters by sunyi deanStep into the world of The Book Eaters where mysterious families subsist on books alone. What’s that you say? You would like to sample the culinary delights of book eating? WELL WELL WELL we were here for you last year when this article originally published, and now we’re EVEN MORE here for you, because The Book Eaters is available in trade paperback!

Sit down and pull up a chair, and we’ll recite this month’s delicious specials for those voracious readers looking to literally consume their next read.

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka AokiLight From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Our book chefs recommend you enjoy this one hot and fresh like the donuts and spicy Hainan chicken described within its pages. It’s a book glazed with sadness but topped with a sprinkles of joy, music, and found family. Please pair with a coffee and one half of an Alaska donut to share with the space captain / mother of five you’ve been crushing on.

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

“Dear waiter, please bring me another!” you will declare as you finish Book Meal 1 with intent to move on to Book Meal 2. “I’ll have more of the same.”

What book? The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal, of course—a read that is flush with the decadent vistas of luxury space cruises and the witty parlance of high society. Each chapter begins with a cocktail recipe conceived by Mary Robinette herself, and these are the perfect drinks to sip as you relish every page.

But keep sharp! The Spare Man is a murder mystery, so don’t let its decadent trappings deceive you into letting your guard down in the face of its flavorful kick.

Oathbringer by Brandon SandersonOathbringer / All of The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

We hope you came hungry! The Stormlight Archive contains notes of windswept plateaus, electricity in the air, and the metallic tang of blood. Coming in at 4,068 pages, you could always cut a neat slice for yourself with your Shardblade but why not consume it all in one go? You’ll never need to eat fiber again or maybe even eat at all!

Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

This delightful pastry of a book is the perfect title to take to your local coffeeshop, both to read and to eat! It’s sweet—a high-fantasy, low-stakes romance about being a barista and falling in love with your coworker. And you’ll fall in love too. You’ll love this book so much, you won’t even notice the horrified stares of the other coffeeshop-goers, watching in despair as you monch your way through spine, paper, ink, and glue. Yum!

The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? We’re talking about books and not movies, but the quote applies to The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. This sinfully delectable literary experience calls to mind the opulence of old world liquor and fancy rich people appetizers that cost more than a full meal somewhere else. This is a book for the selective diner, one who enjoys exchanging bladed words in a dinner-conversation more akin to a duel than to casual chatter. Within The Atlas Six, the youngest cohort of powerful magicians compete for induction into a secret magic society, and you’ll enjoy every bite.

masters of death by olivie blakeMasters of Death by Olivie Blake

Look, Olivie Blake is the haute book-eater’s dream chef. The deliciously duplicitous taste of The Atlas Series compliments well the deep, sharp, and mysterious flavor contained within these pages. In this contemporary fantasy that begins with a slightly sleazy medium and vampire realtor trying to unhaunt a house for economic purposes spins into an intricate and emotional narrative filled with a cadre of immortals and entities and specters confronting that being undying, or even already dead, cannot free one of the complexities of being alive. Now that’s a lot of flavor, so we recommend diving in as soon and fast as possible. Whether life is short or unending, we at this strange conceptual restaurant recommend you dine on the gooey good stuff first, and this is that.

You Sexy Thing by Cat RamboYou Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

Hankering for some spice? Might we suggest You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo? It’s Farscape meets The Great British Bakeoff, and 110% as flavorful as that sounds. In this space opera, a former military commander of the Hive Mind has escaped the war to run a restaurant at the edge of nothing with his former unit. Now they’re stuck on a sentient ship that thinks it has been stolen and is MAD. Adventure ensues. You’ll dine well.


Books & Cookies: Confectionary Literary Holiday Pairing

You like cookies? You like books? Of course you do—you’re not a monster! 

(Unless we’re talking the Cookie Monster)

Actually if you are, in fact, a monster, dear reader, you should probably head over to our horror imprint’s blog at BUT monster or no, we’ve composed a sampling of delicious holiday treats and delectable reads for you to check out!

Legends & Lattes by travis baldree in front of biscottiBiscotti — Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

We’re starting this list with that crunchiest of cantuccini paired with the wholesomest high fantasy around. Yes—biscotti is our treat match for Legends & Lattes. Pair this baked goodie with your favorite espresso drink : )

Gingerbread Man — The Genesis of Misery by Neon YangPoster Placeholder of - 40

Science fiction mechas are assembled from all manner of precious alloy, but what’s the strongest mineral combination of all? That’d be C12H22O11, or sugar. Since the gingerbread man is basically a mech constructed from the above chemical structure, we recommend you snack on these whilst perusing the pages of The Genesis of Misery

Image Place holder  of - 6Classic Sugar Cookie — Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

And speaking of sugar, we can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet stuff, so here it is in its classic form: The Archetypal Sugar Cookie. For those who love the classics, we have to suggest you partake in this treatly feast with a copy of Daughter of Redwinter in your non-cookie-eating hand. It’s a fantasy adventure about a young woman with a bow and arrow she can shoot and ghosts she can unfortunately see, trying to keep alive in a world that would destroy her over her secret ghost-sight powers. 

Snickerdoodles — The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanPlace holder  of - 19

Okay, okay. Some personal bias here, but because snickerdoodle cookies are (subjectively, in this writer’s opinion) the most delicious of all cookies, the perfect book match is The Book Eaters. In this book about a reclusive family that literally eats books, the youngest scion has a hankering for brains. Anyway, you’ll be hungry too if you read this with a plate of snickerdoodles in front of you, so you can enjoy stomach-growling solidarity with the novel’s subject matter. 

Placeholder of  -91Peanut Butter Blossom — Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

The scrumptious flavor profile of these cookies is a blend of two components (chocolate + peanut butter), much like the title to T. Kingfisher’s hit novel, Nettle & Bone. Blossoms indicate plants, and though nettles sting, they nonetheless possess a plethora of medicinal properties, according to Wikipedia. Peanut butter is also good for you, I’m pretty sure. For these reasons, this pairing exists, and you should devour both cookies and book. 

*we couldn’t find any royalty-free images of peanut butter blossoms, so we doctored an image that includes peanut butter and blossoms

Jam Thumbprints  — The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-GarciaImage Placeholder of - 40

Here we have a dazzling romance with a splash of magic paired with decadent in taste, opulent in aesthetic cookies. We’re matching the classic buckeye cookie with The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The struggle between conformity and passion is delightfully metaphorized by the pull of the jam thumbprint to look as cool as possible while constrained by the necessity to maintain an acceptably cookie-caliber taste.

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller in front of oatmeal raisin cookiesOatmeal Raisin Cookies — The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

This book by Sara A. Mueller is about Charm, a necromancer / courtesan that has to figure out which of her patron’s garbage sons killed him. The identity of her murdered client complicates things, since he is—was—the emperor who conquered Charm’s home and is responsible for her current predicament (the murder mystery AND her involuntary position). Anyway, this book is paired with oatmeal raisin cookies, because they’re something only a cursed chef (opinion alert) would cook up, and Charm has a lab with heavy mad science vibes where she conducts her deathly arts. 


Tor Books’ Severely Unmoored Winter Holiday Quiz

We are in the midst of winter, and the holidays loom on the horizon, offering portents of fun times to come and the social obligation of procuring gifts for the loved ones in your life! Don’t worry. We’re here to give you book recommendations to help you take care of the second part, so you can get right to the holiday snacking and relaxing!

Take the quiz. Discover your perfect bookly gift.


Bookish Halloween Quiz Medley

by a cat

A favorite part of working at Tor is roughly once a month, we’ll put out a goofy little social media quiz, which is both fun and can also make one feel like they are losing one’s mind in the writing of, because let’s face it: the wilder these things are, the better they perform.

ANYWAY, Halloween rocks, because instead of one fun thematic quiz, we have three, and that’s pretty epic 😎

ANYWAY^2, we’re compiling them all into one feature for your scary season pleasure 🎃


It’s very important that you read the book that matches your candy taste because this quiz is backed by the coldest hardest candy science, but perhaps more importantly, if you know what happened to the Hubba Bubba Max Sour Double Rasberry flavor, please share with the class. Some of us are both desperate and disparate. For the love of God, Monstresor!

This one was very fun (and slightly time-consuming) to make! Can you crack the code to steal the Liber Noctem from the haunted library? If you find yourself fumbling over the locked display, utterly flummoxed, then perhaps you should conduct a more thorough investigation of the premises.

Ever wonder how you’ll die? It’s a morbid thought, but kinda legendary that we can defy the infinity of death with fun jokes about books! Take this quiz to receive your very own major character death and a hot book rec!


Sweet Tooth For Reading: A Book-Candy Quiz 🥰

Books. Candy. Two great, ultimately non-specific, tastes that go great together!

To help with that specificity, the us literary / confectionary researchers at Tor have developed a quick quiz to discern the fine points within your taste for treats, and recommend a piece of fine fiction.

Take the quiz. You deserve a little treat : )


Zero-g and Zero-proof: Making Space in Cocktail Culture

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette KowalThe mystery genre loves that delectable combination of murder and fancy drinks! But, our fictional tastes don’t translate 1:1 to real life. For example: generally we humans are not fans of murder, and a lot of us don’t like to drink. However, alcohol has historically been a large part of socializing. Enter: award-winning science fiction / fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal, who’s upcoming book The Spare Man is a spacefaring murder mystery set amid glitzy future high society, and each chapter is punctuated by a different drink recipe, several sans alcohol! We asked Mary Robinette to write for us about her concoctions, and why she has chosen to include these delicious alcohol-free mocktails. Read on for recipes and insightful commentary! And then read The Spare Man when it releases on Tuesday, October 11th : )

by Mary Robinette Kowal

A considerable part of the publishing culture is “bar con,” which happens in the hotel bar. The problem is that it isn’t accessible to everyone. Some people don’t enjoy the taste. Some people avoid alcohol for religious or health reasons. Some people overindulge and forget that, as an author, a convention is still a professional setting.

Fun fact: Women can only metabolize a third of the amount of alcohol, by body weight, as men.

The seemingly innocuous question, “Want to get a drink?” becomes loaded as the assumption is that one means alcohol.

Right up front, I want to say that I think that everyone should be able to have a celebratory beverage and that it shouldn’t require alcohol. I’m interested in cocktails because I like flavors, and alcohol affects how flavors evaporate or change in your mouth. It’s neat. “Mixology” is also not exclusive to alcohol.

When I decided to write a novel that is basically The Thin Man in space, I knew there would be drinking. In the original film Nick Charles, played by William Powell, is drunk from the moment he appears on the screen. I didn’t want that.

In the real world, I’m unexcited about getting drunk, so having zero-proof cocktails to switch to makes an evening more enjoyable. I’ve come to prefer that term to “virgin” or “mocktail” because both seem to place a value judgment on the drink.

As a culture, we place a lot of stigma on people who don’t drink. I’d rather we didn’t. In settings where drinking is expected, people who don’t consume alcohol for whatever reason are at a disadvantage. I’d like to see us normalizing having a zero-proof drink. This meant that in the book, I wanted to ensure I included opportunities for fun drinks sans alcohol.

I start each chapter with a cocktail recipe that’s relevant to the chapter—things like Corpse Reviver #2, The Obituary, and Murder in the Afternoon.

But all of the zero-proof names were things like “Shirley Temple” or “Roy Rogers.” Items seemingly designed for children. They were overly sweet, not terribly interesting, and not thematically appropriate for murder. That led me to create things like:

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Frisky Business Recipe Card

Frisky Business

  • 5 blackberries
  • 3 slices jalapeno
  • 3 wheels cucumber
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey syrup
  • 2 tsp Angostura bitters
  • 4 oz. Soda water

Muddle blackberries, jalapeno, and 2 cucumber wheels in a cocktail pitcher. Add lime juice, honey syrup, bitters, and soda water. Stir to combine—strain into a rocks glass over a single large cube. Garnish with the remaining cucumber wheel.

If you don’t have all the ingredients, you can always try a substitution. In many ways, it’s just like cooking : you think about the flavors and substitute something that will live in the same family of flavors.

No blackberries for Frisky Business? Try blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries. Each will result in a different drink but still something fun. If you don’t have fresh fruit in the house, you could replace the fruit and the honey syrup with a spoonful of jam.

Simple syrup is just 1 part sugar and 1 part water, heated enough to combine easily. Honey syrup is the same thing, but with honey. Don’t want to bother? Try maple syrup.

A helpful trick when substituting is to start with 1/2 of the original amount and then add more until it’s tasty.

If you want to do more playing, let me share a way to think about shaping a cocktail. Cocktails are composed of a base “spirit,” which is the primary taste, then some modifiers, often a bitter, a sweet, and an accent. Sometimes all of them are in equal parts, as in a negroni, but you’ll also often see cocktails structured as 8 parts base, 3 parts modifier, 2 parts accent. This works regardless of what proof the cocktail is. Sometimes you’ll want to adjust up or down depending on how strong a particular flavor is.

For instance, a zero-proof cocktail might be:

  • Base spirit = tonic water
  • Bitter = oolong tea
  • Sweet = apricot jam
  • Accent = black pepper

To build that, steep oolong tea in 4 oz. water. Stir 1 tablespoon—Apricot jam to combine while warm. Remove the tea bag. Add a large ice cube, and top with 8 oz tonic water. Crack fresh black pepper over the top for aromatics. You can adjust all of those for your palate. More bitter? Oversteep the tea. Sweeter? Increase the jam. Spicier? Use siracha instead of black pepper. More concentrated? Reduce the amount of tonic water.

Or another one might be:

  • Base spirit = ginger beer
  • Bitter = lime juice
  • Sweet = honey
  • Accent = herbs de Provence

With all of these, you can play with the proportions to get something that is tasty to you. Maybe you like more tartness. Perhaps you want more sweetness.

Fun fact: Vanilla beans and orange peel make a nice infusion in water.

To be clear, I also like a well-mixed spirit-forward drink and can linger over it for ages. This is part of why I favor drinks served “up” because I don’t have to worry about the flavor diminishing as the ice melts.

If you want to create your own cocktails, take a classic cocktail and swap out an ingredient. Swap out two. Dangerous Words, for instance, is a Last Word with Rye instead of Gin and Amaretto instead of Maraschino. And note, it’s equal parts.

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Dangerous Words

  • .75 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • .75 oz Amaretto
  • .75 oz lime juice
  • .75 oz rye

Shake over ice for 15 seconds—strain into a coupe.

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If the bartender is not on the mixology god end of the scale, my secret is asking for tonic and bitters with a lime. For those who haven’t explored them, bitters contain alcohol, but proportionally it’s like adding a teaspoon of vanilla to your beverage. There are a ton of fun things like cardamom or orange bitters.

Amal's Hospitality Recipe Card

Amal’s Hospitality

Half yellow bell pepper, deseeded and muddled

6 oz Tonic water

1 oz lime juice

Dash cardamom bitters

Fresh ground pepper for garnish

Muddle bell pepper in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add a large cube of ice, tonic water, lime juice, and bitters. Stir till cold. Grind black pepper for light garnish.

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I’m hoping that seeing the zero-proof drinks here will give you expand your options for celebratory evenings. Flavors are fun, and making something tasty doesn’t have to be intimidating or exclude people from participating.

Mary Robinette Kowal (she/her) is the author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning alternate history novel, The Calculating Stars, the first book in the Lady Astronaut series. She is also the author of The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers and has received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, four Hugo Awards, the Nebula, and Locus Awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Uncanny, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary Robinette has also worked as a professional puppeteer, is a member of the Award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, and performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and Neal Stephenson. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters.

Order The Spare Man Here:

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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

Place holder  of - 58Mistborn: 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?

Placeholder of  -35Growing 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

Poster Placeholder of - 67The 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 - 36The 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

Image Place holder  of - 30The 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?


Excerpt: The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

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The Spare Man by Mary Robinette KowalHugo, Locus, and Nebula-Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal blends her no-nonsense approach to life in space with her talent for creating glittering high-society in this stylish SF mystery, The Spare Man.

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.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal, on sale 10/11/2022.


Kneeling on the floor of their suite, Tesla Crane could just feel the vibrations of the centrifugal ring as it rotated around the interplanetary cruise ship Lindgren. Or more likely it was the hum of the air conditioning. The Terran-level ring was big enough that even the Coriolis effect was really only noticeable when throwing things.

“Gimlet, fetch.” She threw a chew toy for her Westie, and the little dog charged in the direction the plush sloth had started to go.

It curved in the air, leaving the small white dog staring in baffled confusion for a moment before she found it and pounced with enormous ferocity.

Tesla used the reprieve to return to stretching. She put her hands on the floor, and her new wedding ring caught her eye with the gleam of platinum-iridium—just like the historic kilogram standard, because her spouse knew she was a nerd. Smiling, she lowered her back into the cow position, feeling for twinges as she raised her head.

The ceiling had a digital sky shading to an Earth sunset. The simulated clouds changed shape and position in subtle response to an artificial wind. Not bad for a honeymoon.

On the couch, her joyfrie—fianc—spouse watched her over the edge of his embroidery hoop. Shal was compact, with warm brown skin beneath distressingly glossy curls. “What are you smiling at?”

“You.” Tesla lowered her head, arching her back as far as she could into cat position. As soon as her head was in reach, she got a faceful of little white dog. Wiggling with delight, the Westie planted tiny dog kisses along Tesla’s cheek. Laughing, she tried to dodge. “Gimlet! Not helping.”

Gimlet disagreed and swiped her tongue across Tesla’s nose.

From the couch, Shal lowered the blackwork he was stitching into the sleeve of a T-shirt. He patted the cushion beside him. “Gimlet, c’mere.”

Her dog abandoned Tesla and took a running leap onto the couch. She flopped with her nose on Shal’s embroidery hoop and stared up at him with adoration.

“I’m going to need that hoop back, little girl.”

She sighed and pushed closer, stumpy tail wagging.

“What’s that?” He scratched her ears, grinning. “Yes, Gimlet, I completely agree. We should stay in tonight.”

“But karaoke is tonight.” Tesla returned to cow position, feeling for anything out of alignment.

Or, rather, feeling for anything unacceptably out of alignment. Her spine had its own set of rules about what “normal” looked like. She had her Deep Brain Pain Suppressor dialed all the way down because doing her exercises with the DBPS on was an invitation for more pain later.

“And last night was the Orbit Transfer Party.” Shal was trying to ease the embroidery hoop out from under Gimlet, but she seemed to generate her own tiny canine gravity field sometimes. She wouldn’t hurt the embroidery, but when she was off-duty she was still a Westie. As they’d said at the training center, “She’s a dog, not a robot.”

“Be fair, watching the Moon recede was not a bad view. Although the sparkling was questionable . . .”

“Questionable is being kind.” He lifted Gimlet’s paw only to have her roll over onto her back. “Hey. Kid. C’mon.”

“Gimlet, leave it.”

Presented with a formal command from Tesla, Gimlet reacted with her service-dog training and pushed back from the embroidery hoop, but she still stared at Shal as if he existed solely to pet her. Which, to be fair, she did with everyone she met and not only Tesla’s joyfrien—fianc—spouse. Five days into their honeymoon, and it still didn’t seem real.

“Thanks.” He picked up the embroidery hoop and ran a finger over it looking for damage. “I’m just . . . Never mind.”

“What?” She reversed course, slowly edging back into cat position, or as much of it as she could manage with the rods in her spine. “I know that form of ‘never mind.’”

“All right . . .” He took his time tying off a knot and snipped it with the pair of scissors she’d given him as a wedding present. The badgers worked into the handles seemed to chase each other as the light played across the hand-forged metal. He set them down and lowered the hoop. “I’m not complaining, mind you, it’s only that between the transfer to Low Lunar Orbit, and then to the ship, and then . . . Point is, I thought, maybe, being on a honeymoon, that maybe we could get some alone time in.”

Tesla wrestled with the five different responses she wanted to make. On the one hand, sexy fun times with her new spouse were always appealing. On the other, she so rarely got to escape celebrity and just be a person.

When Shal had suggested a cruise to Mars for their honeymoon, she had been, at best, dubious. His reasoning was that most passengers would access only the ship’s local onboard network, since comms back to terrestrial or Martian databases were hellishly expensive. That meant he could pay the cruise line to reroute ID requests to a fake identity. Her beloved had been right. No one had recognized her yet as the heir to the Crane fortune. So staying in had its appeal, but going out was a limited-time offer. When they got to Mars, these tricks wouldn’t work.

But this was also Shal asking. She bent back to cow position. “Sure. If you want to. We can stay in.”

He sighed, with an edge of tension. “It’s all right. We’ll go.”

Tesla stopped stretching and looked at him. “I just agreed to stay in.”

“Yes. And that was your ‘I’m humoring you to do a thing I don’t want to do’ voice.” He ruffled Gimlet’s fur, not looking at Tesla.

Tesla lifted her head. “First of all, I don’t mind staying in. Honest. It’s just the . . . the novelty of being able to go someplace without bodyguards and planning and . . . But it’s not like staying in with my shiny new spouse is a hardship.”

“Hardship? I should hope I’m a hardship.” He grinned and waggled his brows suggestively.

She snorted and went back to stretching. “Nerd.”

“Accurate.” He pulled a skein of embroidery floss out of his craft bag. “Also, when you put it like that, I can get behind the novelty of going on a date with my shiny new spouse without anyone hovering. So let’s go out on the town.”

“And then come back for sexy fun times.” She pushed back to her knees and grabbed the arm of a chair to brace with as she rose to her feet.

He got the goofy sideways grin that sometimes crossed his face and always made her immediately want to take his pants off. “Ready for karaoke, Gimlet?”

“Oh. I don’t want to take her.”

“Really?” Shal raised his eyebrows. “And I don’t ask just because we get better seats when she’s with us. Your assistant usually scouts new places for triggers . . .”

“It’s karaoke.” When she got Gimlet, her therapist told her that her independence would increase because the dog was a tool—medical equipment wrapped in an adorable fuzzy package. But how was Tesla supposed to know if she was getting better if she didn’t take a chance occasionally? She crossed the room to Shal and gently pushed the hoop out of the way. Putting one knee on the couch by his thigh, she carefully lowered herself to straddle him. The twinge along the right side of her spine was acceptable. She smiled and leaned down to kiss him. “No one’s recognized me yet.”

Shal’s lips were warm and soft as he answered her. One hand ran down her back, providing stability without being obvious about it. She traced the line of his collarbone, feeling his heartbeat through her palm. Shal’s voice had roughened. “Please tell me you picked a short song.”

“Mm . . .” She nibbled his earlobe to keep him from fretting about the potential for flashback triggers. It was karaoke. On an interplanetary cruise ship, for crying out loud. It wasn’t like they would have pyro there. Breathing into his ear, she said, “Maybe you want to do a duet . . . ?”

“A duet, you say—”

Gimlet suddenly burst into a rolling series of DELIVERY IS GOING TO KILL US ALL barks a moment before a knock on the door finished breaking the mood. Her trainer would not be happy that Gimlet barked like this, but Tesla very, very much appreciated the deterrent that a yappy little dog could be at the door. Better than any intruder alarm. Shal sighed and helped Tesla stand up.

He gave her one more lingering kiss before looking at the door, where the Westie was protecting them from Evil Incarnate. “I’ll get it.”

Tesla had let him cross the room to the door before remembering that, with Shal’s bots, she could have answered it and not had to worry about paparazzi. The deep plum wig and eyebrow reshaping she sported were enough to throw the human eye off.

“Gimlet, come!” Tesla headed into the bedroom to distract the little dog.

Gimlet scurried into the room after her, still huffing with indignation that someone had knocked on the door. In the other room, Shal’s voice rose and fell in an indistinct conversation with whoever the villain was. Tesla smiled at her dog. “Door knockers. How dare.”

The Westie snorted in agreement.

“You showed them. We are so safe now.” Tesla sent Shal a ping to his Heads-Up Display. ::Who is it?::

A moment later her own HUD flashed a message in her lower-left field of vision. ::Room-service drone. Wrong room.::

Tesla rummaged through the jewelry she’d dropped on the bedroom vanity and picked out a diamond anklet. It was rather old-fashioned and not worth much, but she liked the way it sparkled.

Sitting on the bed, she tried to cross her leg over her knee so she could reach her ankle. Even pulling on her foot, she couldn’t quite get the heel to make contact. A band at the top of her pelvis tightened as she tried.

“I couldn’t get it to leave without accepting the delivery or trashing the order.” Shal walked into the room carrying a tray covered with a silver dome. “I didn’t want it to go to waste. Steak à la Lune.”

“Aha! I see your facade of virtue is beginning to crumble.” She wrinkled her nose, trying to get the anklet in place.

“First of all, lunar steaks are arguably vegetarian, since they’re entirely vat-grown. Second, Gimlet likes steak.”

Her dog sat under the tray, looking at it as if she had met her truest love. Tesla laughed. “Gimlet doesn’t get people food.”

“Fair. But my third point . . .” He whipped the lid off with a flourish. “It comes with frites à la truffe.”

The scent of fried starch and salt and the earthy joy of truffles wafted from a mound of fries.

“Compelling argument.”

Grinning, he set the tray on the side table and grabbed a fry. Slowly, he placed the fry in his mouth, closing his full lips around the crisp brown morsel. He winked, and his gaze traveled down the length of her leg to the anklet. He did not offer to help, and she loved him all over again for letting her fight her own battles. “So, what song did you pick out?”

“Don’t you want to be surprised?” She winked at him. “Or use your superior detecting skills to guess?”

“Retired.” He waved a fry at her. “But given what you sing in the shower, I’m betting it’ll be either a Mad Guinevere or something by HLX-1.”

“Mm . . .” Neither were bad guesses. She grimaced trying to catch hold of the bottom of the anklet and finally gave up. She could use the DBPS or she could accept help from her helpmate. Sighing, she held out the anklet. “Would you mind?”

“It would be my pleasure.” Shal knelt on one knee and patted the other.

Tesla rested her foot on his knee as he took the anklet from her. It took him seconds to fasten the gold-and-diamond band. Still kneeling, he ran his hands up her calf, making a circle at the back of her knee. Wetting his lips, Shal looked up at her. “I’m going to make one more pitch for taking Gimlet and then I’ll drop it.”

“I know what you’re going to say.” She rested her hands on the bed and pressed down. “Okay, yes, you’re right. There’s a risk that there will be pyro or some other trigger and I might have a flashback. But if we take Gimlet, people are going to watch us. I . . . I just want one evening where no one stares at me.”

Shal smiled at her and bent forward to kiss her knee. “All right then.”

“That’s it? No fight?” Tesla pouted at him. “And here I was looking forward to makeup sex.”

He laughed and beat his chest. “Spouse! You must do as I say, for now we are married and you have no independent mind of your own! Grr!”

Gimlet barked at him.

Laughing, Tesla lowered her foot and leaned forward to kiss Shal on the forehead. “See? We can’t take her. She’d eat you alive.”

There was something magical about being anonymous. Listening to enthusiastic karaoke, Tesla sat nestled in a booth at the back of the R-Bar and scanned for their server. Spotting the distinctive long blue locs, Tesla raised her hand in the universal “I’m ready to order” signal and watched their server continue walking past without looking at her. Again. Anonymity would be marvelous, aside from the fact that she wanted a drink.

On her heads-up display, a message from her spouse pinged for attention: ::You’re going to laugh, but I forgot that your hair was purple.::

She subvocalized a reply to send via the HUD. ::Did you lose our booth?::

Shal had given up on the server before she had and taken another approach. ::Absolutely not. I’m at the bar—where apparently we are already considered regulars::

::And it’s just day two of the cruise.:: She almost opened the calendar in her HUD, but she was on vacation. The urge to check in with the office still itched under her skin, so she pulled Shal’s embroidery hoop over and consulted the pattern in her HUD. ::Well done, us.::

::The bartender sends her compliments on your hair::

::Which you had forgotten::

::And I want you to appreciate the deep and endearing vulnerability that I’m displaying by admitting my shocking mental lapse.::

Sitting alone in her booth, Tesla laughed, ignored by those around her. Out of habit, she’d picked a table in one of the round booths at the rear of the lounge as a way to have her back to a wall and a buffer between her and the world. She kept looking for Gimlet under the table, skin tightening for a moment every time the little dog wasn’t there, before she remembered that she’d done this on purpose. Thanks to Shal’s bots, she didn’t need to hide behind sunglasses or a courtesy mask; she would have been able to sit anywhere here. All of the cameras and attention were turned to the stage, where a crooner was belting out their karaoke selection with more enthusiasm than talent.

There was still an infectious joy in watching the curvy older passenger, with chartreuse pants around generous hips in the style from their teens, sing a song Tesla had never heard before. Everyone watched the stage. No one was taking a surreptitious snap of her laughter to sell to a gossip column.

Shal sent, ::I heard that::

::I’m across the bar!::

::There is never a day when I won’t recognize the sound of your voice in a crowd. Although . . . I AM used to trying to spot you behind a cluster of admirers—Oh. Got the drinks. En route to you.::

She slid to the edge of the booth to get a better view of the stage. No one “randomly” dropped by the booth wanting her to invest in their start-up or talk about one of her robot designs or magnify her tiny flaws. She was free to try karaoke and have no one care if she failed.

And then her internal radar lit up, needing no online tracker to orient to Shalmaneser Steward.

Or to use his pseudonym for this trip, Mishal Husband. By any name, her spouse.

Tesla crossed her legs, and the diamond anklet she wore glittered in the light as it emerged from the booth.

That sparkle caught Shal’s attention as he walked back to their table with a pair of cocktails. His eyes dropped to her ankle, and then traveled appreciatively up the length of her legs, warming her through the core as his gaze continued up and met hers.

His sharp features softened as he slid into the booth next to her. “We could go back to our cabin . . .”

Tesla leaned over, ignoring the twinge in her lower back, and kissed him on the cheek. “Don’t be silly. My turn is nearly here, and we’ve waited this long.”

“I could’ve talked to the karaoke DJ.” Shal held out her Manhattan, with a real cherry mind you, and winked at her. She nearly changed her mind about waiting for the karaoke.

“I believe you mean ‘bribed.’ ” She lifted the Manhattan out of his hand. Detectives. They never really broke their habits. “What are you drinking?”

“A bribe is a conversation.” Shal glanced past her and waved away the close-up magician who had been following them around the ship after Tesla had overtipped him. “Martini. Stirred. New Prussian gin. Dolin Blanc for the vermouth. Two olives.”

Tesla rested her hand on his thigh, grateful beyond words for the bubble of safety he enforced around them. “Two olives? I like that you’re developing expensive tastes.”

“To go with my expensive spouse?” Shal laughed and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. “Oh! I’ve just realized that we could shorten ‘Mishal’ to ‘Mi’ instead of ‘Shal’ on the cruise.”

“I thought the point of a pseudonym that could shorten to Shal was to make it less likely for me to slip on the name?” That was why they’d settled on “Mishal Husband” as his name for the cruise.

“Sure.” He grinned at her. “But this way you can introduce me to people as ‘Mi Husband.’”

“My Husband? Really?” She laughed. “You are such an archaic ner—”

“Not what we agreed!” From the booth next to them, a sharp voice cut through a gap in the song.

A balding white passenger with a gamer’s belly rounding out a sequined pullover and matching capelet stood facing the close-up magician at the end of the booth’s table.

Shal cocked his head to the side, watching. Whenever he concentrated, he got sleuthing face, which had this bright intensity to it, as if he were wringing meaning out of the air.

Tesla slid her hand up his thigh. ::Are you eavesdropping?::

The corner of his mouth twisted in a smile. ::Absolutely.::

The magician shrugged. His reply vanished into the music so that only the rhythms of speech said he was annoyed. The bald passenger jabbed a finger at the magician, who took a step back, arms going wide. A moment later, he plucked a card from the air and showed it to the passenger.

Something about it made the passenger’s face burn beet red.

::What do you think they’re arguing about?::

::Dunno, but none of them know each other well enough to move the conversation to pings.:: Shal set his hand on top of hers and ran a finger across the new wedding band.

::None?:: Tesla could only see two people from where she sat. ::Who else—::

“Both of you.” A third voice, in the husky alto range, interjected from deep in the booth. “We’ve all—”

Applause buried whatever they had all done as the crooner took a deep bow. A moment later, the karaoke host bounded onstage, all grins. “Let’s give a big round of applause again to Annie Smith and that fascinating rendition of ‘Who’s Laughing Now.’ Next up, Artesia Zuraw!”

Shal nudged her and slid to the end of the booth. “That’s you.”

“Oh! Right.” She had not recognized her own pseudonym. Tesla slipped out, twisting to stand, and her back spasmed. Her deep brain pain suppressor compensated automatically, slamming into its built-in safeties so the red cords of pain were present but muted.

She steadied herself on the edge of the table and used the motion to look into the booth next to theirs. At the back of the booth, an elegant passenger with bleach-blond hair and a soft, curving jawline watched the other two with obvious distaste.

“Artesia Zuraw? Are you here?”

Tesla raised her hand. “Coming!”

She reached for Gimlet’s leash—but she hadn’t brought her dog. This was fine. She could do this. Tesla hurried up to the stage, regretting the decision to leave her cane behind as her back tightened with each step. Dammit. She knew better than to twist when she was standing. She had to clutch the rail to manage the stairs.

The KJ met her with a blinding smile and a microphone. “Hello, my happy one! We are so delighted to have you on our stage! And what are you singing for us, Mx. Zuraw?”

She took the offered microphone, nerves overriding any pain. “Tess. Call me Tess, she/her . . .” She wasn’t used to feeling nervous. “I’m singing ‘Somewhere to Love’ by the Isolationists.”

“All right, everybody! Give it up for her and make her feel the love in this room!” The KJ bounced offstage as the first syncopated beats of the jaunty swingpunk tune started.

Tesla watched the lyrics pop up on her HUD as the glowing ball slid closer to the first line. Everyone was watching her and cheering with the same enthusiasm they’d shown her predecessor on the stage.

“Ooh-ooh, ooh-woh

I know this place around here—”

A tray of glasses shattered at the back of the room. At the booth next to theirs, the blond who’d been sitting in its depths was on their feet. Shal stood by them, with a hand out as if to prevent a fall. A swath of red stained their white dinner jacket.

For a moment, Tesla thought that they’d been stabbed, but their gaze was fixed on the server with long blue locs. Shattered glassware covered the floor around the pair. The stain was just red wine or an aperitif. As she watched, the garment self-cleaned, shedding the red liquid so the fabric bleached back to brilliant white. Tugging the jacket into place, the blonde stalked out of the R-Bar.

Everyone watched them go. Which was good, because Tesla had totally lost her place in the song. Being anonymous was very, very nice.

Copyright © 2022 from Mary Robinette Kowal

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The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal with 'Free Extended Preview' burstHugo, Locus, and Nebula-Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal blends her no-nonsense approach to life in space with her talent for creating glittering high-society in this stylish SF mystery, The Spare Man. Download a FREE sneak peek today!

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.

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