An Editor’s Dirty Little Secret

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Written by Claire Eddy, Senior Editor

I have a dirty little secret.

I like to think of myself as an individual who is concerned only with high minded pursuits. When trying to unwind in the evening I choose to listen to the radio. Do I turn to classical music? NPR perhaps? Well, sometimes. But often I get drawn into the chatter of the latest conspiracy maven or political pundit and sit mesmerized. I want to go to another station but I keep thinking “wow, did he really say that?” I grimace, annoyed with myself for getting sucked into something so banal, so clearly constructed to pander to the lowest common denominator. But I still listen. What is the appeal of these bombastic hosts? Is it the confrontation that hooks us, or the need to feel superior?

This whole thing was brought home to me recently when Ramsey Campbell delivered his latest book. I am very lucky to be able to work with Ramsey — I know that when I sit down to read a new Campbell story I am not only going to get a good read I probably am going to get the pants scared off me. He had mentioned that he was interested in the growth of antagonistic journalism and I was intrigued to see what his take on this would be.

What I didn’t anticipate was the level of awesome that is Ghosts Know. Campbell has written a horror novel with a twist that had me riveted from the get go. We’ve got a bombastic radio host, Graham Wilde, who thrives on controversy; he loves it when he is hated. Wilde sees it as his job to get the audience riled up and he loves to provoke heated exchanges. His juices really flow when he manages to take down a nationally famous psychic using the man’s own tricks and a bit of inside knowledge.

Things go to hell shortly after however when a young girl is found murdered and the psychic manages to implicate Wilde. What follows is a psychological circus as the circumstantial evidence against him begins to mount, alienating his lover, his listeners, and eventually, the reader. We follow Wilde through a series of odd circumstances and twists of public opinion and watch as he slowly loses his grip on reality and begins a descent into madness.

The ending left me shaken and saddened, yet completely satisfied at the same time. Campbell uncovers the nasty twists in the human psyche that none of us like to think about and has crafted a haunting novel of self-deception and self-loathing that will leave you wondering just what is real and what delusions truly rule our perceptions.

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From the Tor/Forge October 7th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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On a Bus to New York

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Written by Fred Chao

I’m on a Greyhound bus right now, headed up to New York City. You can’t know how excited I am.

I flew into Washington DC to participate in the Small Press Expo and the National Book Festival. I took a quick tour of the Library of Congress where I saw some of E.C. Segar’s original Popeye comics. I went to a writer’s event and listened to some remarkably inspirational speeches about literature. Yet, none of that will compare this brief jaunt up to NYC.

I’ll be there for five days. Obviously, I’m most excited about catching up with friends, finally over beers rather than just through a phone call or text message. But so much of what I’ve been missing is the atmosphere of the city itself, the chaos and wonder that can be interpreted from the tall buildings and crowded streets depending on a person’s mood. When I first moved to NYC, it was daunting, overwhelming. There was a good while where a lot of my experience was vibrant, amazing, and cool. By the end of my seven years, I was exhausted.

Heh. Of course I’m nostalgic for it all now. Typical.

I recently finished working on the second Johnny Hiro book. It’s out of my hands and in the production process. I’m excited to see the book when it’s finally released, flipping through the pages trying not to be overly critical, looking for my mistakes. Just being happy it’s done.

When the first Johnny Hiro book came out, quite a few people asked me how much of it was based on my personal life. I always deflected with a comment like: “Oh yeah, that time I was chased through the streets by a giant lizard.”

In this second book, there’s a giant gorilla. And no, a giant gorilla never kidnapped one of my exes. But really, the giant gorillas and lizards, the chefs smacking each other around with fish, as much as I do think of them as characters, they are also the feel of the city itself, the nuttiness my friends and I were constantly surrounded by.

One of my first jobs in New York was as a cater waiter — not exactly the most encouraging job, but it did pay the bills. I catered Gracie Mansion parties quite often. Bloomberg once complimented me on my dishwashing skills as he walked by. It’s funny, this guy who’s mostly associated with the political, somehow hits as a more personal character in my life. Whether or not I agree with his politics, well, it’s a bit sad knowing that he won’t be hosting Gracie Mansion parties, complimenting the dishwashers.

Brooklyn is changing. Barclays Center is now there. Patrick Stewart lives in Park Slope. Rents have risen like crazy in the Prospect Heights area, there’s no way I can afford it now. I imagine something similar happening to downtown in the ’80s.

I’m also changing. I’m getting older and wanting different things for my life in the long run. As ambitious as I can be, I know I can’t keep up with New York. So I’m deciding on a new direction, still figuring out what that is. But without what the city has put me through, well, I have a hard time believing that my journey so far would have been as affecting, heartbreaking, and fulfilling.

Still, it will be amazing to be back, to see fire escapes, crown molding, stoops, a night sky so drowned out by city lights that there’s barely a star. Just those visuals will activate so much. Those images are associated so tightly with my most growing years.

I wasn’t born in NYC. I will never refer to myself as a New Yorker. But I will always consider the city Home. (Though really, it’d be nice to see a couple more stars. C’mon.)

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From the Tor/Forge October 21st newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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Sister, Healer, Soldier, Spy

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Written by Beth Bernobich

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the presence and roles of women in epic fantasy stories. Tansy Roberts wrote a sharp-edged take-down of the notion that women never did anything important in history in her article Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy: Let’s Unpack That. Kameron Hurley followed up a couple months later with ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative.

Read both articles and follow the links for the whole discussion, but the short form is: women have played all kinds of roles and followed all kinds of careers throughout history, and to leave them out of epic fantasy is not historically accurate. You can choose to leave out women, but don’t use history as your excuse.

Much of this debate took place while I was writing Allegiance, the third book in my River of Souls trilogy. The books are epic fantasy, set in a world where souls are reborn from life to life. They’re about a young woman, Ilse Zhalina, and her journey toward independence and agency. And because these novels are epic fantasy, they have lots of characters, and a lot of them are women.

Ilse has changed a great deal since her story began in Passion Play. She’s older, stronger, and more capable. But she’s not the only woman in the book, and certainly not the only strong woman. I wanted to portray a world where the women lived lives as varied as the men did, and where those women are in the foreground of the story. Where they are villains or heroes, queens or merchants, poets or cooks. Sisters, soldiers, healers, or spies.

SISTER

Ilse’s beloved, Raul Kosenmark, has three sisters: “Three barbed and dangerous creatures,” as Raul describes them. Ilse meets all three of them for the first time in Allegiance:

“At last, our foolish brother chose someone with sense. And,” she added, “a very nice sword. My name is Heloïse.”

The rest gave their names rapidly. Marte, tall and slim and with eyebrows arcing over a strong face drawn in uncompromising angles. Olivia, a smaller, rounder version of the same. Terrible creatures, all of them, Ilse thought, with their laughter and smiles edged with sharp wit. She no longer wondered why Raul had absented himself from his home in Valentain. He and they were much alike, shielding their hearts beneath masks. It would be too painful, living with reflections of himself.

And yet, they are more than reflections of their brother. They act together, taking charge when they need to (and sometimes when they don’t). They have their own histories, their own strengths and flaws, their own loves, and their own futures.

HEALER

Not everyone in the story is a noble. Maryshka Rudny lives in the remote village of Ryz, in the far southwest of Károví. She and her mother, Ana, are healers for the village, which gives them a significant measure of authority. When Ilse arrives with a badly wounded companion, Maryshka takes control of the situation:

The young woman thrust back her hair and laid a hand on Bela’s forehead. Her mouth thinned. She touched two fingers to Bela’s throat and her lips moved rapidly. Not an invocation to the gods and magic, Ilse thought, not here in Duszranjo.

Maryshka glanced over her shoulder at the still-arguing men. “Jannik, she’s dying. Louka, if you insist, I can make the pledge myself to Lir, Toc, and your blessed honor, that she won’t hurt anyone or anything.”

“What about the other one?” Louka said.

The young woman’s gaze swung around to meet Ilse’s. “What do you say? Shall I pledge myself for you as well? Speak quickly.”

Maryshka appears only for a short segment of Allegiance, but it’s her skills that save Bela’s life and enable Ilse to continue her journey.

SOLDIER

The injured companion mentioned above is Bela Sovic, a captain in Duke Miro Karasek’s personal guard, skilled in magic as well as warfare. Shortly after they meet, she tells Ilse how she came to serve the Duke:

“It was his father who bought me from the prison. I had tried to fight the pirates on my own after they killed my sister and brother. I—I was less able to distinguish between the enemy and someone merely ignorant, or greedy, and I killed the wrong person. Several wrong persons. The king wished to punish me. I cannot say I disagree, but the old duke believed in mercy. He paid the blood price and took me from the prison. For what he—and his son—have done for me, I would do anything in return.”

And she does—facing exile, injury, and death with courage.

SPY

When Ilse first meets Nadine in Passion Play, Nadine is one of the courtesans in Lord Kosenmark’s pleasure house. Nadine has a complicated past, which she only hints at to Ilse. She also has a deeply ingrained sense of self-preservation because of that past:

Nadine had not shared any of the secrets she had uncovered for herself over the past six years. A little judicious spying. The practice of carelessly glancing over the envelopes the senior runner carried to Kosenmark or his secretary of the moment. All habits learned in previous houses, previous lives. And most effective, when she had discovered certain key listening devices scattered around the pleasure house. Nadine knew about Kosenmark’s political games. He might claim a higher cause for his actions, but in truth, they both wished to survive in a chance-riddled world.

In Allegiance, Nadine turns from courtesan to spy, using her skills in the much wider—and much more dangerous—world of the royal palace. In the end, it’s because of Nadine and her spying that events turn out as they do.

Six women, from different kingdoms and different classes, each of them strong in different ways.

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From the Tor/Forge October 21st newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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Tor/Forge Blog is Moving to a New Domain

October 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Tor/Forge Blog

Our blog can now be found at torforgeblog.com. For those of you who subscribe via the RSS feed, here’s the updated feed.

We’ll be setting this old blog to automatically redirect to the new blog shortly. Hopefully that means there won’t be any broken links. If you do come across anything buggy, please feel free to let us know. Thanks!

 

Categories: News

The Week in Review

October 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

 

  • This must have taken a massive amount of time, and it looks like it was entirely worth it. Helm’s Deep, in Lego. Awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

The Tor/Forge newsletter went out this week! Check out these fascinating articles from our authors:

And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

Not at New York Comic-Con Sweepstakes

October 10, 2013 531 comments

Tor Books is heading to New York Comic-Con!

We hope to see many of you there. Stop by Booth #2223 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 three 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:

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

  • Wheel of Time iPhone cover
  • The Way of Kings quote magnets
  • After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
  • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  • Attack of the Vampire Weenies by David Lubar
  • The Clockwork Sky by Madeleine Rosca
  • Cold City by F. Paul Wilson
  • Dragon Age Asunder by David Gaider
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel: Vol One
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • Girl Genius Omnibus Volume One by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
  • Halo: The Thursday War by Nancy Traviss
  • Ironskin by Tina Connolly
  • Johnny Hiro: The Skills to Pay the Bills by Fred Chao
  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  • The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
  • Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
  • Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  • The Waking Engine by David Edison
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  • Wide Open by Deborah Coates
  • Wild Cards I edited by George R. R. Martin

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, October 10, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET Monday, October 14, 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.

Starred Review: Ask Not by Max Allan Collins

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment

“A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides—all documented in the historical record… Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection.”

Max Allan Collins’ Ask Not got a starred review in Booklist!*

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

 The third in Collins’ trilogy of Nathan Heller novels about JFK, this one jumps from a few weeks before the assassination (Target Lancer, 2012), when a planned attempt on the president’s life in Chicago was aborted, to several months after the events of November 22, 1963. Heller becomes involved when he and his son are nearly run down as they leave a Beatles concert. Recognizing the driver as one of the Cubans involved in the Chicago plot, Heller sets out to take his family off the assassins’ radar and soon finds himself even deeper in hot water, as he follows the trail of a host of spurious suicides by witnesses of the shooting in Dallas whose versions of what happened conflict with the official, “one-man, one-shooter” version being promulgated by the Warren Commission. Teaming with TV star and investigative reporter Flo Kilgore (read Dorothy Kilgallen), who is on the verge of exposing the cover-up — and its ties to several LBJ cronies — Heller ruffles feathers at the CIA, in the Mob, and possibly even in (or very near) the White House. A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides — all documented in the historical record — and making great use of the Kilgore/Kilgallen character, who was herself one of the unlikely suicides. Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection. — Bill Ott

Ask Not will be published on October 22nd.

*Booklist is a subscription-only publication.