Three Parts Dead - Tor/Forge Blog - Page 2



Thank You Sweepstakes

We have reached 200, 000 followers on Twitter! We wanted say thank you to all our followers. You all have been great!

We are celebrating by offering a chance to win one of the two collections pictured below. Enter by commenting and letting us know which collection you’d like to win most:


Collection #1


Collection #2

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 as of the date of entry. To enter, leave a comment below beginning at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) Wednesday, September 4, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET Tuesday, September 10, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Tor Books Announces Programming for San Diego Comic-Con 2013

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Celebrating LOCUS Magazine’s Best Publisher for the 26th year in a row!

Once again Tor (Booth# 2707) continues our wildly popular *in-booth signings and giveaways, offering you a chance to meet your favorite authors up close and personal and pick up free books.

We’ve got a great line up including appearances by CORY DOCTOROW, BRANDON SANDERSON, and a special appearance and celebration for beloved Tor author JAY LAKE, author of Mainspring, Escapement, Green, Pinion, Endurance, and Kalimpura.

The big news this year is Summit Entertainment’s showcase for the highly anticipated film adaptation of


Coming to theaters November 1, 2013!

Summit will present never-before-seen new footage, appearances by cast members and filmmakers, and several massive, interactive fan events. A full slate of activities related to the film to be unveiled at this year’s Comic-Con, including:

Hall H Panel – The studio’s panel on Thursday, July 18th 3:50-4:50pm will feature ENDER’S GAME filmmakers and cast, including producer Bob Orci, director Gavin Hood, and cast members Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin.

Exclusive Fan Experience – Attendees will be able to visit an elaborate, specially constructed ENDER’S GAME exhibit outside of the Hilton Gaslamp, featuring 8 unique rooms representing the most iconic environments of Ender’s world, complete with original film props and set pieces used in the movie. Throughout the experience, attendees will be able to see exclusive film footage on LED screens, interact with new digital content, integrate photos of themselves into the highly anticipated Battle Room, and register to win a home make over.

Convention Floor Booth – Summit Entertainment’s booth located within the Grand Hall will highlight ENDER’S GAME footage. Premium promotional items will be distributed to the 120,000 attendees walking the convention floor, and booth visitors will be given the opportunity to win “fast passes” to the ENDER’S Game Exclusive Fan Experience, granting them entry without having to wait in line.

Thursday, July 18th

  • 10:30 – 11:30am Panel: Paranormal Passion, Room 24ABC
    Tor Teen favorite Kendare Blake (Antigoddess) joins Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy for a discussion with Christine Feehan (Guest of Honor), Claudia Gray (Spellcaster) and others to discuss the inclusion of romantic elements in their action-packed novels.
  • 12 – 1pm Signing to follow in the autographing area, Table AA09
  • 12pm Tor Booth (#2707) Giveaway! The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe, a Kirkus Reviews Top Pick for 2011!
  • 1:45 – 2:45pm Panel: Ode to Nerds, Room 6A
    Everyone knows that published science fiction authors reign on the Geek Heirarchy charts because the Internet tells us so! Join us on this epic panel as the genre’s top names in publishing celebrate all things geeky and nerdy with Charlie Jane Anders of! Geek out with Charlie Jane and Cory Doctorow (The Rapture of the Nerds), Chuck Palahniuk (Doomed), Austin Grossman and others.
  • 3:15 – 4:15pm Signing to follow in the autographing area, Table AA09
  • 2pm Tor Booth (#2707) KENDARE BLAKE will sign advanced copies of Antigoddess
  • 5pm Tor Booth (#2707) Bestselling author CORY DOCTOROW will sign copies of Pirate Cinema

Friday, July 19th

  • 12pm Tor Booth (#2707) JAY LAKE has candidly documented his battle with cancer on his blog and will appear at Comic-Con thanks to the kindness of friends and family. Tor is proud to host an in-booth signing and will offer copies of Green.
  • 2pm Tor Booth (#2707) Dr. Who writer, PAUL CORNELL will sign copies of London Falling
  • 2:30 – 3:30pm Panel: Epic Fantasy, Room 24ABC
    Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn and the Wheel of Time series) joins genre’s biggest authors as they discuss the worlds of their own creation and what fantasy has to say about our own world: Robin Hobb (Blood of Dragons), Christopher Paolini (the Inheritance cycle), and Daniel Abraham (The Tyrant’s Law) and others.
  • 4 – 5pm Signing to follow in the autographing area, Table AA09
  • 5pm Tor Booth (#2707) New York Times bestselling author BRANDON SANDERSON will sign copies of The Way of Kings
  • 7 – 8pm Panel: Publishing SF/F in the Digital Age, Room 25ABC
    Moderated by Timothy Travaglini (Open Road Integrated Media); authors Kevin J. Anderson (Sisterhood of Dune), Rebecca Moesta (WordFire Press), Cory Doctorow (Homeland), Andy Briggs (Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy), Sherri L. Smith (Orleans), and Nick Cole (The Old Man and the Wasteland), and bookseller Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Books, Inc) discuss impact of the digital age on writing, publishing, reading, bookselling, and the traditional book as we know it.

Saturday, July 20th

  • 10 – 11am Panel: Urban Fantasy, Room 7AB
    Paris, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Tucson, and cities of our own imagination come to life when tales of myth and magic are blended with the urban landscape. These stories are collectively known as Urban Fantasy, and many of today’s popular authors are adding their otherworldly ingredients to the melting pots of modern (and not-so-modern) society. Join authors Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead), Jim Butcher (Cold Days), Kevin J. Anderson (Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.) and others.
  • 11:30 – 12:30am Signing to follow in the autographing area, Table AA09
  • 12pm Tor Booth (#2707) Giveaway of signed copies of the Ender’s Game movie tie-in novel
  • 5pm Tor Booth (#2707) MAX GLADSTONE will sign advanced copies of Two Serpents Rise

Sunday, July 21st

  • 12pm Tor Booth (#2707) S. M. WHEELER burst on the scene this year with her critically acclaimed debut novel, Sea Change. Meet the author and get a signed copy while supplies last.
  • 2 – 3pm Panel: Witches and Fey, Room 24ABC
    That vamp’s a tramp; this witch is a real bitch. Pixies will pinch; and the fey go beyond fairly frightening. The ghouls are ghastly, and we mere mortals are growing testy. S. M. Wheeler (Sea Change) joins Brom (Krampus), Amber Benson (The Calliope Reaper-Jones series), Seanan McGuire (The October Daye series) and Rachel Caine (the Morganville Vampires series) to provide perspective on the monsters of myth.
  • 3:30 – 4:30pm Signing to follow in the autographing area, Table AA08

Make sure to follow @Torbooks on Twitter for up to date information and last minute events!

All Tor Booth signings are on a first come first serve basis and while supplies lasts. Limit one book per person.

Ultimate Urban Fantasy Sweepstakes

Ultimate Urban Fantasy Sweepstakes

Sign up for the Tor/Forge Newsletter for a chance to win 25 urban fantasy books!

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About our newsletter: Every issue of Tor’s monthly email newsletter features original writing by, and interviews with, Tor authors and editors about upcoming new titles from all Tor and Forge imprints. In addition, we occasionally send out “special edition” newsletters to highlight particularly exciting new projects, programs, or events. Read a sample here >>

If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, you can enter too. We do not automatically enter subscribers into sweepstakes. We promise we won’t send you duplicate copies of the newsletter if you sign up for the newsletter more than once.

Sign up for your chance to win today!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins May 1 at 12 a.m. ET. and ends May 31, 2013, 11:59 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. For Official Rules and to enter, go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

#TorChat October 2012 Sweepstakes

#TorChat October 2012 Sweepstakes

Did you participate in today’s #TorChat? We hope you enjoyed it and look forward to your participation in next month’s chat on November 14th!

In the meantime, here’s your chance to win some amazing books! Two lucky winners will receive copies of Three Parts Dead, Ironskin, and In a Fix. Leave a comment below to enter.

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And again we’d like to thank Max Gladstone, Tina Connolly, and Linda Grimes for joining us on Twitter today.

Sweepstakes closes to new entries on October 24th at noon.

And don’t forget to come and join us next month, on November 14th, at 4 PM Eastern!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins October 17, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. ET. and ends October 24, 2012, 12:00 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

October #TorChat Lineup Revealed

October #TorChat Lineup Revealed

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This month, #TorChat is talking about firsts—first novels, that is. Joining us on October 17th from 4 to 5 PM EST are Max Gladstone, Tina Connolly, and Linda Grimes, to talk about their debut novels!

Tor Books (@torbooks) is thrilled to announce the October #TorChat, part of a monthly series of genre-themed, hour-long chats created by Tor Books and hosted on Twitter.

This month, #TorChat is talking about firsts—as in, first novels. We’ll be chatting with three debut authors who’ve just published their very first genre fiction books. Joining us to talk about how all their dreams will come true are Max Gladstone, the author of Three Parts Dead, a combination fantasy and legal thriller featuring dead gods and chain-smoking priests; Tina Connolly, whose Ironskin is a retelling of Jane Eyre set during the aftermath of a massive fae war; and Linda Grimes, the author of In a Fix, an urban fantasy featuring the aura adaptor extraordinaire Ciel Halligan. These three authors will be chatting with fans about how it feels to get their first novel published, their path to publication, and what happens once the book is out there in the world.

The chat will be loosely moderated by Digital Marketing Manager Cassandra Ammerman (@leanoir). We hope that fantasy fans and aspiring writers will follow the chat and join in using the Twitter hashtag #TorChat!

About the Authors
MAX GLADSTONE (@maxgladstone) went to Yale, where he studied Chinese and wrote a short story that became a finalist in the Writers of the Future competition. He has taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Three Parts Dead is his first novel. It published on October 2nd.

TINA CONNOLLY (@tinaconnolly) lives in Portland with her husband and toddler. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Highlights Magazine, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Connolly is a frequent reader for Escape Pod and Podcastle, and works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Ironskin, her first novel, published on October 2nd.

LINDA GRIMES (@linda_grimes) grew up in Texas, where she taught high school English to students who were more interested in heckling her at the theater where she moonlighted than in learning to conjugate verbs. Like her globetrotting main character, Linda has spent her share of time overseas, where, among other things, she witnessed—up close and personal—a police takedown of a purse snatcher in Paris, became a bit too acquainted with a gun-running couple in Ireland (through a misunderstanding while breaking into the ruins of a castle closed for the season), and almost froze to death in an ice cave in Switzerland. She has since decided that writing is slightly less hazardous than travel. Her first novel, In a Fix, published on September 4th.

About #Torchat
#TorChat is a genre-themed, hour-long chat series created by Tor Books and hosted on Twitter. Guest authors join fans in lively, informative and entertaining discussions of all that’s hot in genre fiction, 140 characters at a time, from 4 – 5 PM EST on the third Wednesday of every month. Each #TorChat revolves around a different genre topic of interest, often of a timely nature, and strives to provide a new media opportunity for readers to connect with their favorite authors.

About Tor Books
Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books. Founded in 1980, Tor annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. In 2002, Tor launched Starscape, an imprint dedicated to publishing quality science fiction and fantasy for young readers, including books by critically acclaimed and award winning authors such as Cory Doctorow, Orson Scott Card, and David Lubar. Between an extensive hardcover and trade-softcover line, an Orb backlist program, and a stronghold in mass-market paperbacks, books from Tor have won every major award in the SF and fantasy fields, and has been named Best Publisher 25 years in a row in the Locus Poll, the largest consumer poll in SF.

Not at New York Comic-Con Sweepstakes

Not at New York Comic-Con Sweepstakes

Tor Books is heading to New York Comic-Con!

Image Placeholder of - 95We hope to see many of you there. Stop by Booth #920 to say hi or to participate in one of our many events and signings.

But for those of you who couldn’t make it out to New York, we wanted to offer you the chance to grab some of the same amazing swag and books that we’re promoting at #NYCC. To enter for the chance to win one of these five prize bundles, leave a comment on this post telling us one fabulous thing that you’ll be doing this week while you are #NotAtComicCon.

Here’s a look at the prize:

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And here’s a list of what’s included in each prize bundle:

  • Wheel of Time backpack
  • Halo patch
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • The Battle of Blood and Ink written by Jared Axelrod and illustrated by Steve Walker
  • The Clockwork Sky Volume One by Madeleine Rosca
  • Dead Space: Martyr by Brian Evenson
  • Earthseed by Pamela Sargent
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • The Eye of the World: Graphic Novel: Volume 2 Based on the novel by Robert Jordan, written by Chuck Dixon, illustrated by Andie Tong
  • For the Win by Cory Doctorow
  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin by Walter Mosley
  • Green by Jay Lake
  • Halo: Cryptum by Greg Bear
  • Halo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss
  • Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
  • Inside Straight edited by George R.R. Martin
  • Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero written and illustrated by Fred Chao
  • Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber
  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  • The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
  • Only Superhuman by Christopher L. Bennett
  • Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • The Way of the Kings by Brandon Sanderson

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins October 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET. and ends October 15, 2012, 12:00 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

Tor Books Announces Programming for New York Comic-Con 2012!

Tor Books Announces Programming for New York Comic-Con 2012!

Celebrating LOCUS Magazine’s Best Publisher for the 25th year in a row!

Poster Placeholder of - 69Once again, we continue our popular *in-booth signings and giveaways, offering you a chance to meet your favorite authors up close and personal! There will also be panels, autographings and spotlight stages including New York Times Bestselling author CORY DOCTOROW!

Stop by Tor’s Booth (#920), and pick up a schedule for a full listing of events!

Thursday, October 11


5pm – 6pm | JUSTICE IS SERVED | Room 1A14

Cops, P.I.’s, government agents and regular Joe’s fight for all that is good and just in these Science-Fiction and Fantasy tales, even if the villains are vam | pires, telepaths, and the magically gifted. These protagonists solve crimes, kick-ass, and don’t let anyone – supernatural or otherwise – stand in the way of justice.

With Christopher L. Bennett (Only Superhuman), moderated by Michael P. Spradlin.

Friday, October 12


11am | CHARACTERS: HARDCORE vs. BADASS | Author Spotlight Stage

What makes one character HARDCORE and another BADASS? Is there really a difference? Novelist Max Gladstone breaks it down by dissecting some of the greatest heroes and villains from books, gaming, comics, film, and television, revealing the unique alchemy of each one and what every writer needs to think about in order to create truly unforgettable characters.

With Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead).


Get the inside scoop on upcoming SF/F novels publishing houses are buzzing about! Editors from Harper Voyager, Orbit, Del Rey Spectra, Ace and Roc, and Tor dish on forthcoming books from our exciting authors and licensed properties. You can expect lots of giveaways you won’t see anywhere else at the convention, including free advance reading copies!

With Tor’s own Melissa Frain.


12pm – Tor Booth giveaway, Bard’s Oath, the long-awaited sequel to the epic fantasy Dragon and Phoenix coming in November.

2pm – Tor Booth Way of Kings (by #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson) giveaway! First 25 fans in line will receive a Wheel of Time® bag.

3:30pm – Tor Booth signing with Max Gladstone, signing copies of Three Parts Dead, his brilliant debut novel (October).

5pm – Tor Booth signing with Christopher L. Bennett, signing copies of Only Superhuman, described by Kevin J. Anderson as a “heady comic book fix for the discerning SF reader” (October).

5pm – You can also head over to the autographing area and meet New York Times bestselling author, Cory Doctorow. Barnes and Noble will be on hand with a variety of books from his back list.

Saturday, October 13



Every single kid in America is a presumed copyright criminal. We spy on them in school, we raid their parents’ life savings, we censor their creative works. And oh, how we LIE to them: “It’s not creative if you’re copying something else.” “All great art starts with permission and ends with a lawyer.” “Giving more money to the record industry will make musicians richer.” Kids are in the streets over SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. They know that the locks we put on their information aren’t for their benefit – because we won’t give them the keys.

With Cory Doctorow (Pirate Cinema).


Many New Yorkers know their Manhattans, Cosmos, and Long Island Iced Teas. While the average happy hour drink takes gin, rum, or vodka, these authors spice things up with mystics, witches, daemons, Celtic gods, and other magical beings. Join top-shelf authors, F. Paul Wilson, Kevin Hearne, Theo Lawrence, Anton Strout, Faith Hunter, Nancy Holzner, Allison Pang, and Nicole Peeler, as they discuss the elements of mythology that go into making your favorite cocktails of urban fantasy.

With F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack Series), moderated by Kim Alexander.


Science-Fiction and Fantasy authors discuss the costs and consequences of “magic” in their novels. Moderator Beth Revis will have authors Andrea Cremer, Jacqueline Carey, Jocelynn Drake, Kim Harrison, Max Gladstone, Cecil Castellucci, Victoria Schwab, and Richard Kadrey dishing about the the scary, hairy, and dangerous creatures that lurk in the worlds they have created.

With Max Gladstone (Three Parts Dead), moderated by Beth Revis. (Signing from 2:45pm – 3:45pm at autographing tables 2, 3, and 4.)


Join authors in a discussion about stories that can’t be bound by the constraints of any genre. Whether mixing elements of romance with horror, or fantasy with thrillers, these authors show that a good tale can be spun from multiple traditions.

With Steven Walker (The Battle of Blood and Ink), moderator Cici James of Singularity & Co. (Signing from 4:45pm – 5:45pm at the autographing area.)


Some of the most unforgettable heroes in literature are characters that embark on a fantastical journey. Whether their tales tell of slaying dragons, overthrowing regimes, or magical lands, these authors put the EPIC in Fantasy fiction. Join authors Joanne Bertin, Peter Brett, Rae Carson, Peter Lerangis, Steve Bein, Stefan Bachmann, Sarah Beth Durst, and Matt Myklush as they discuss all things fantastical, from swords and sorcery to horselords and warlords.

With Joanne Bertin (Bard’s Oath), moderated by Gwen Reyes. (Signing from 11:45am – 12:45pm at autographing tables 2, 3, and 4.)


Your favorite Geek Blogs: Live! Join, Boing Boing, The Mary Sue, io9, The Beat, and Bleeding Cool as they discuss how their blogs approach the conversation of science fiction, fantasy, genre and fandom online.

With Cyriaque Lamar, Heidi McDonald, Jamie Frevele, Jill Pantozzi, Rich Johnston. Moderated by Ryan Britt of

7:45pm – 8:45pm | THE WORLD OF GRAPHIC NOVELS | Room 1A06

Restaurants, outer space, fantastical worlds, high school – graphic novels today will take readers to all these places and more! How do graphic novelists combine words and pictures to create the worlds within their books? Authors discuss how world-building works in the world of comics.

With Fred Chao (Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero), moderated by Scott Robins. (Signing from 3:45pm – 4:45pm at autographing tables 4 and 5.)


11am – Tor Booth Dead Space: Martyr (by B. K. Evenson) giveaway!

12pm – Tor Booth signing with Halo: Silentium artist, Sparth. Come by for a copy of Halo: Cryptum, Halo: Glasslands, a poster, or a patch!

3pm – Tor Booth signing with Cory Doctorow, signing copies of For the Win, which Scott Westerfeld has called “a rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion.”

5pm – Tor Booth signing with F. Paul Wilson, signing copies of The Tomb, the first in his Repairman Jack series.

Sunday, October 14



From creepy tales set in a spooky pet cemetery, to dreamy stories of time-traveling in style, to epic journeys featuring dynamic young heroes (with swords!), these middle grade authors know the secrets to entertaining the tween set. Join the group as they discuss superpowers, supervillians, and super-hilarious storytelling.

With David Lubar (Weenies Series) and Annette & Gina Cascone (Deadtime Stories Series), moderated by Matthew Cody. (Signing from 1:30pm – 2:30pm at autographing tables 2, 3, and 4.)

1:30pm – 2:30pm | KIDS/YA PUBLISHER SPOTLIGHT | Room 1A07

Come hear the advance buzz about what’s coming up from Disney-Hyperion, First Second, Macmillan Kids, HarperCollins, Little, Brown, Random House, Penguin Young Readers, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Tor! Editors and marketing staff come together to recommend their favorite upcoming books by exciting new authors and illustrators – accompanied with giveaways, trivia, and most of all, FUN!

With Tor’s own Susan Chang.


11am – Tor Booth joint signing with David Lubar, signing Attack of the Vampire Weenies, and Annette & Gina Cascone, signing Grave Secrets.

1pm – Tor Booth signing with Evie Manieri, signing Blood’s Pride, her epic fantasy debut coming in February.

3pm – Tor Booth giveaway of YA dystopian smash hit and series opener Article 5 (by Kristen Simmons)!


All giveaways are on a first come, first serve basis.


Law School, Magic School

Law School, Magic School

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Written by Max Gladstone

In 2008, to an eager young me, fresh from two years of teaching English in rural China—used to afternoon runs past water buffalo, concrete classrooms, basketball-loving students, and swarms of attacking bees—law school looked an awful lot like magic. Stephanie, my girlfriend (now wife), the one actually attending law school at the time, thought I was crazy.

She was right. I was crazy, a bit—a crazy born of contrast, and of unemployment at the dawn of the financial collapse. While I gallivanted around the world, my friends had entered industry or grad school, and, as a result, they could weather the chaos by keeping calm and carrying on. Struggling to make ends meet, I followed their careers with admiration and a little green streak of envy (which I’d never admit in public, but you won’t tell anyone, will you, oh internet?).

As Steph started law school, I watched her life like a movie. I expected The Paper Chase but saw Hogwarts instead. Now, I know that many students compare their schools to Hogwarts, but watching Steph, I thought I could see actual magic at the core.

The class names were the first sign. I’d grown used, as an undergrad, to course names like Hagiography, Eschatology, and Smut: Shakespearean Supporting Characters, Sex, and the Afterlife, or Computer Science 415. Here, I heard courses referred to by single words: the bailiwicks over which they granted power. Mystical names, too. Remedies. Procedure. Contracts. Corps. (“Corpse?! “—said I on first hearing—”Is there a dissection practicum?”) Defense against the Dark Arts. (I kid, but maybe that’s what they actually teach you in Torts?)

Then came those wonderful weird withering one-L classes where professors cut students open with a question and keep careful record of names called to ensure no one escapes—so far from the cheerful group work, seminars, and “let’s sit on the grass outside and discuss symbolism in Japanese utopian literature” of my college life. (“It’s the Socratic method,” Steph said, “not magic.” “But it feels like magic!”)

And on top of that, the language. The formulae, the arcane tests, the careful splitting of hairs as to the meaning of words and the writer’s original intent. The libraries of leather-bound books from which the lawyer draws her power. The speech act. The binding verbal contract. The adversarial nature of the whole thing: words, facts, powers bent one against another by indomitable wills.

I’ve heard people say computer programming works like magic—you type your invocation and the big dumb genie does exactly what you tell it to, no more and no less, omnipotence without omniscience. But that’s not really magic, because magic’s not dumb. Magic isn’t satisfied to lean back and let you destroy yourself. Magic is capricious and cold and swift and glorious and mean. Magic twists beneath you as you struggle to pin it down. Beings bound by magic seek every possible way to use your words against you—they trap you in your errors, and in the world’s. If you’re good at magic, it can raise you up, claim and transform your life. Magic sets you apart from people who aren’t magicians. It gives you a privileged access to, and even some control over, the rules of the world that bind everyone else. And it doesn’t tell you what you’re supposed to do with that power, that control.

I badgered Steph with this comparison all through her first semester. She saw the point, but never quite bought it, and slowly I came to understand why. For me, on the outside, her world seemed exciting, glamorous, strange, and special. For her, it was life: late nights studying, endless reading, not going to the movies. A monastic existence, and on top of it all a boyfriend babbling about how cool everything was without having to do any of the work.

And I realized, writing my book about dead gods and dying cities and a woman trying to do her job, that from the perspective of the magician, magic feels like work. So I dialed down the Harry Potter jokes and started to watch Steph and her friends and fellow students care, struggle, and succeed. I watched them grasp at the outlines of something grand. The magic wasn’t in the language, the discipline, or the class names. The magic was in the striving.

Though I do still chuckle whenever I hear someone moan about how much trouble they’re having with Corpse.


From the Tor/Forge October newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.


More from the October Tor/Forge newsletter:

Starred Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Tor/Forge Blog

Image Place holder  of - 13“The combination of legal thriller and steam-powered fantasy may seem improbable, but Gladstone makes it work with an appealing cast and a setting rich with imaginative details… the story remains suspenseful and fast-paced throughout, and the diverse, female-led cast is a joy to follow through the fascinating and unusual landscape.”

Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone, gets a starred review in Publishers Weekly!

Here’s the full review, from the August 20th issue:

starred-review-gif In the world of Gladstone’s fascinating debut, gods communicate directly with their followers, and magic—known as Craft—is practiced like law. First-year associate Craftswoman Tara Abernathy; her mentor, Elayne Kevarian; and novice priest Abelard must resurrect the dead god Kos before his city of Alt Coulumb falls into disarray. The investigation takes on new dangers when they discover that Kos may have been murdered. The combination of legal thriller and steam-powered fantasy may seem improbable, but Gladstone makes it work with an appealing cast and a setting rich with imaginative details, like a priest who shows his devotion to a fire-god by chain-smoking, junkies getting high on vampire bites, cops who become part of a hive-mind when on duty, and the binding of divine power by legal contracts. Sometimes the sheer density of information threatens to overwhelm, but the story remains suspenseful and fast-paced throughout, and the diverse, female-led cast is a joy to follow through the fascinating and unusual landscape.

Three Parts Dead will be published on October 2nd.

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