Throwback Thursdays: The Bar Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

Back in June of 2009, the first book in author Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse series, The Sword-Edged Blonde, published. To celebrate the start of this fun and exciting series, Alex explained in the July Newsletter that his priorities, in writing a fantasy novel, are a little…flipped from most authors’. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

By Alex Bledsoe

A man walks into a bar.

If this happens in a science fiction or fantasy novel, the author has his job cut out for him. Not only does he have to describe the bar physically, but also its patrons. They might include aliens, ogres, trolls or elves, all of which can have any number of permutations. Then the drinks have to be laid out, and the money system enumerated. When all that’s done, the author might have enough imagination left to finally describe the man who walked in.

I’m unusual as a fantasy or science fiction reader, in that the details of made-up societies, worlds and cultures hold far less interest for me than the people (I include non-humans in that term) who inhabit them. I remember listening in wonder to another well-regarded fantasy author describe the elaborate monetary system he’d designed, and for which so far he’d had no use. It’s something I could never do.

When I wrote The Sword-Edged Blonde, I wanted to pare it down to the things I, as a reader, cared most about: namely, the people. Anything that distracted from them, and from the reader’s emotional commitment to them, I either left out or minimized. For example, many fantasy characters have names that, if not literally unpronounceable, at least challenge the tongue; I named my hero Eddie LaCrosse. Eddie’s office is, in fact, above a bar, one that is no different in feel and atmosphere from any you might walk into today. Eddie uses swords that, like modern guns, have make and model names, and the people speak in rhythms, patterns and tones that don’t try to sound “otherworldly.” There’s no time spent digressing into societal details that don’t apply to the immediate situation; this is not to belittle authors who do that sort of thing well, it’s just something I neither crave as a reader or excel at as a writer.

I did invent one term. Eddie is essentially a private investigator functioning in an Iron Age world. In our world, PI’s are known by various, vaguely derogatory terms: shamus, dick, peeper, etc. I decided that Eddie’s reality needed a similar term, and came up with “sword jockey.” To me it rings with the same thinly-veiled contempt as “gumshoe” or “snooper.”

The Sword-Edged Blonde (and its upcoming sequel, Burn Me Deadly) have been called high-fantasy stories written as if they were Forties pulp detective novels. That’s exactly my intent, but it’s not just an ironic stylistic choice; rather, it’s a sincere attempt to let readers connect with the characters by letting as few things as possible get in the way.

So the man (or woman) who walks into a bar in Eddie’s world could, hopefully, be you. And you’d be right at home there.

This article is originally from the July 2009 Tor/Forge Newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox every month!

New Releases 11/26/2013

See upcoming releases.

New eBook Bundle: Swords Are My Business by Alex Bledsoe

Swords Are My Business by Alex Bledsoe

Swords Are My Business, a collection of four Eddie LaCrosse Novels, releases today!

About Swords Are My Business: In 2007, Alex Bledsoe introduced the world to Eddie LaCrosse, the hard-boiled but soft-hearted detective known as a “sword jockey” who, for twenty-five gold pieces a day, plus expenses, will take on any case short of murder for hire. Like Philip Marlowe in shining armor or Sam Spade with a sword, Eddie goes down his mean medieval streets trying to walk the straight and narrow in a crooked, twisting fantasy world.

Over the course of four novels, LaCrosse has encountered dragons, pirates, sea monsters, goddesses, ghosts, and magic, all the while keeping his cool and doing what’s right.

In this collection you’ll receive the complete text of the first four Eddie LaCrosse novels.

The Sword-Edged Blonde
When a childhood friend, now a king, asks Eddie’s help in clearing his queen of a murder charge, Eddie’s long-buried past refuses to stay hidden.

Burn Me Deadly
Someone will go to any lengths, including torture and murder, to locate the last remaining dragon eggs.  But dragons aren’t real, are they?

Dark Jenny
A poisoned apple sets off political turmoil that threatens to destroy an entire Camelot-like kingdom, and take Eddie with it.

Wake of the Bloody Angel
Eddie searches for the vanished pirate Black Edward Tew and his legendary treasure, but even the help of a tough former pirate queen may not be enough to save him from what he finds.

Swords Are My Business also includes a sample of the fifth Eddie LaCrosse novel, He Drank, and Saw the Spider.

See upcoming releases.

New Releases 11/5/2013

AND

A Centaur’s Life Vol. 1 story and art by Kei Murayama

See upcoming releases.

Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes

Tor Books is heading to San Diego Comic-Con!

We hope to see many of you there. Stop by Booth #2707 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 California, we wanted to offer you the chance to grab some of the same amazing swag and books that we’re promoting at #SDCC. 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. Whether you’re battling Dragon Army, matching wits with Tyrion Lannister, or chauffeuring your kids to soccer practice, we hope that you have a wonderful week.

Here’s a look at the prize:

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

    • Ender’s Game movie poster
    • Ender’s Game T-shirt and cap
    • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    • The Way of Kings quote magnets
    • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
    • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
    • The Eternity Artifact by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
    • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
    • The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel: Volume 3 based on the novel by Robert Jordan, written by Chuck Dixon, and illustrated by Marcio Fiorito and Francis Nuguit
    • Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson
    • Girl Genius Omnibus Volume One by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
    • Halo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss
    • Homeland by Cory Doctorow
    • The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
    • The Human Division by John Scalzi
    • Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
    • Ironskin by Tina Connolly
    • Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao
    • London Falling by Paul Cornell
    • The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
    • River Road by Suzanne Johnson
    • Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler
    • The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
    • Wild Cards I edited by George R. R. Martin

Plus, one winner will receive this display exclusive – a Redshirts booth poster!

Redshirts SDCC Booth Display Poster

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 July 18, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET. and ends July 22, 2013, 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 San Diego Comic-Con 2013

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

ENDER’S GAME

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 io9.com! 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.

The Week in Review

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.

Walking Dead Cross Stitch

Walking Dead Cross Stitch

 

  • Someone is a devoted Walking Dead fan – so much so, in fact, that they did an amazing cross stitch of an entire page from the comics. How incredible is that?

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!

Starred Review: Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe

“Bledsoe’s latest fantasy captures the allure and the sometimes sinister beauty of the Appalachian backwoods, filled with myths, haunted by ghosts, and touched, as always, by death.”

Wisp of a Thing, by Alex Bledsoe, gets another starred review, this time in Library Journal!

Here’s the full review, from the June 15 issue:

In an attempt to escape the pain and guilt of his girlfriend’s sudden death, musician Rob Quillen travels to Cloud County, TN, where the mysterious black-haired Tufa clan – rumored to be indigenous to the region – may hold the key to a song that will bring him peace. Instead, he finds himself drawn further into a search for the origins of the Tufa even as he learns dangerous truths about the song he seeks. Set in the same world as The Hum and the Shiver, Bledsoe’s latest fantasy captures the allure and the sometimes sinister beauty of the Appalachian backwoods, filled with myths, haunted by ghosts, and touched, always, by death. VERDICT The author of the Eddie LaCrosse urban fantasy series (The Sword-Edged Blonde) proves his versatility with a hauntingly beautiful tale of love lost and hope rediscovered.

Wisp of a Thing will be published on June 18th.