SFF Holiday Sweepstakes

SFF Holiday Sweeps Collections

Want to make your shelves the envy of genre fans everywhere this holiday season? We’re offering the chance to win your choice of boxes of sci-fi or fantasy novels, from authors like John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Bear, and more. Sign up for the Tor Newsletter for you chance to win now!

And don’t forget to let us know which collection you’d like to win below.

Continue reading

Martinis and Dior: Cocktail Culture on the Moon

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Written by Ian McDonald

I like details. Little things tell me everything about people, their society, their hopes and fears, the sky above them, the rock beneath them.

When I began writing Luna, I knew I would be building a world from scratch, but also one that adhered to the constraints of the physical realities of the moon. The Moon may have been Heinlein’s Harsh Mistress but we’ve learned a lot about Lady Luna since and she’s got leaner and meaner. A lot meaner. I wanted those facts to shape the world and lives of my characters, from low gravity to moon dust, which is seriously nasty stuff. I suppose it’s a “hard science fiction” book—though that’s an expression I hate. Hard science technically shapes the lives, loves, jealousies and ambitions of every one of my moon’s one point seven million citizens.

That’s where the Martinis come in. Booze, sex and getting off your head. These are fundamentals to the human species; nail them and you have a way into a world. What do you drink on the Moon? To me, that was an important question, and answering it opened up windows on every aspect of my created world.

Wine? It would be criminal to dedicate large percentages of rare carbon and water to grow a crop that doesn’t really have any other purpose than to produce booze.

Beer? Even worse. Barley, wheat and rice are inefficient crops—they succeed because of the space the surface of our planet affords them. Agricultural space is limited on the moon—building surface farms risks exposure to radiation and constant crop (and pest) mutations. So; no beer, but also little grain. Rice, wheat, flour are luxury foods.

But: spirit alcohol. Yes! You can make it from anything. Vodka and gin! Liquor opened up an entire world for me. My moon is a cocktail culture. The underground cities run on three different time zones so it’s always Happy Hour somewhere. The Cortas have their own signature cocktail; the Blue Moon. (I tried it, oh my beloveds. When I write a book, I sink deep into the mindset of the characters—it’s like method acting. I have become a real gin connoisseur/bore. My favourite? The light and fragrant Monkey 47 from the Black Forest in Germany. I do it for you, dear readers.)

And so, Dior. Because when you picture a Martini glass, you picture it in the gloved hand of Audrey Hepburn. And then I had it all. I didn’t want a Moon of people in coveralls and shorts and tank tops—these are people who have mastered 3D printing. If you can print clothes, why not in the style of one of the most elegant eras in fashion history? The 1950s. Dior and Balenciaga, Balmain and Jacques Fath.

That’s how I world-build. Cocktails and circle dresses.

The perfect Martini? Gin, of course. A good London gin, nothing too fancy. Chill the glass, be generous. Stir ten times (never shake) and add homeopathic levels of Martini Bianco. One olive, speared. Chin chin!

Preorder Luna: New Moon today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow Ian MacDonald on Twitter at @ianmcdonald and on Facebook.

The Trauma of Time Travel

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Written by Wesley Chu

My job as a novelist requires that I write books. Inspiration be damned. It’s great to have inspiration, but it’s not a job requirement.

That said, storytelling is my only worthy contribution to society. I’m basically unemployable. I have resigned myself to the fact that in the zombie apocalypse, I’m the guy they’ll use as a decoy while the doctor, soldier, farmer, lawyer, and Labrador retriever escape to safety.

It is no surprise, however, that I am often asked “What’s the inspiration for your book?”

Whenever I see that question, my brain melts. Just a little. The honest answer is I want to eat and pay my mortgage and my dog needs a new sweater. Part of that statement is a lie; Airedale Terriers never need sweaters. Remember that, folks. Airedales wearing sweaters have poser parents.

However, in the case of Time Salvager, I’m going to make an exception. I love telling this book’s origin story because it comes from an experience that changed my life.

I warn you, it’s kind of sad.

The idea came from an article I read about a South African photo-journalist named Kevin Carter. He took a very iconic photo (warning: graphic) of a child in the Sudan Famine crawling toward an aid station. There’s a vulture behind the child, just hopping along, waiting for him to die. At the time, Kevin thought it was his job to record the events but not to intervene. He took the picture and left. He won a Pulitzer for that photograph and then committed suicide a few months later. Some of the facts have been subsequently contested, but that was the version I read at the time.

It’s the kind of story that stays with you. Sometime later, I dreamt that I was a time traveler on the Titanic. I had jumped in a few days prior and my mission was to steal the Hope Diamond. I was supposed to steal the diamond just as the ship was sinking, so that all traces of my activities would be washed away by the disaster. In the dream, I spent days interacting and befriending the crew and passengers as I tried to locate the diamond, knowing full well they were all doomed to die when the ship sank. They were all dead-people walking.

But, it wasn’t my job to intervene.

And I didn’t.

I woke up right as the ship sank (not sure if I ever found the diamond), knowing all those people were going to die and I couldn’t do anything to help them. I experienced an overwhelming sense of sadness. It was a short jump from there to Time Salvager. Jumping back in time, before disasters, to retrieve important items, seemed like a great use of time travel without actually changing history.

I knew there were costs though. There had to be. Not the cost to society, or to the laws of energy, or to the integrity of the timeline, but the cost to the person who had to watch and observe and do nothing. Watching and being unable to help had to be suffocating and traumatic. I knew then that I had questions that needed to be answered.

What were those emotional and mental costs?

What happens when those costs become too great and the time traveler decides to intervene?

What happens when the time laws are broken?

They’re questions I had to answer for myself, to give me peace. I hope you want to know the answers as much as I did.

Buy Time Salvager today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Powell’s

Follow Wesley Chu on Twitter at @wes_chu, on Facebook, or visit him online.

Agent to the Stars eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99

Agent to the Stars by John ScalziThe ebook for Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi is now on sale for $2.99!*

About Agent to the Stars: The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

Buy Agent to the Stars today: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

*sale ends July 31

New eBook Novella: To Stand or Fall by John Scalzi

The End of All Things #4: To Stand or Fall by John ScalziThe final episode from John Scalzi’s To Stand or Fall is now available!

About To Stand or Fall: Back on Earth, the beginning and end of all things. The nations of humanity’s home planet have parted ways with the starfaring Colonial Union, the human interstellar empire originally established to keep the home planet free. The Union needs to regain Earth’s trust. The alien races of the Conclave have their own hard choices to face. All of these threads culminate in this, Part Four of the four parts of The End of All Things, John Scalzi’s conclusion to the Old Man’s War tale that began with The Human Division.


Buy To Stand or Fall today: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

The complete hardcover edition of The End of All Things will be available August 11th.

New eBook Novella: Can Long Endure by John Scalzi

The End of All Things #3: Can Long Endure by John ScalziThe third episode from John Scalzi’s The End of All Things is now available!

About Can Long Endure: They signed up to defend humans from hostile aliens, but this group of Colonial Union soldiers finds themselves, instead, repeatedly sent to squelch rebellious human colonies that want to leave the CU. It’s not a sustainable situation. Something has to give. Part Three of the four parts of The End of All Things, John Scalzi’s conclusion to the Old Man’s War tale that began with The Human Division.

Buy Can Long Endure today:
B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

The last episode, To Stand or Fall, publishes on June 30th.

The complete hardcover edition of The End of All Things will be available August 11th.

New eBook Novella: This Hollow Union by John Scalzi

The End of All Things #2: This Hollow Union by John ScalziThe second episode from John Scalzi’s The End of All Things is now available!

About This Hollow Union: Desperate times call for desperate measures. And for the multi-species Conclave, desperate times have arrived. Faced with the prospect of major planets and species leaving the alliance, the Conclave’s leadership has just a few cards left to play…to unpredictable effect. Part Two of the four parts of The End of All Things,John Scalzi’s conclusion to the Old Man’s War tale that began with The Human Division.

Buy This Hollow Union today:
B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

Release Dates for Upcoming Episodes:

The complete hardcover edition of The End of All Things will be available August 11th.

New eBook Novella: The Life of the Mind by John Scalzi

The End of All Things #1: The Life of the Mind by John ScalziThe first episode from John Scalzi’s The End of All Things is now available!

About The Life of the Mind: A down-on-his-luck Colonial Union starship pilot finds himself pressed into serving a harsh master-in a mission against the CU. But his kidnappers may have underestimated his knowledge of the ship that they have, quite literally, bound him to piloting. Part One of the four parts of The End of All Things, John Scalzi’s conclusion to the Old Man’s War tale that began with The Human Division.

Buy The Life of the Mind today:
B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

Release Dates for Upcoming Episodes:

The complete hardcover edition of The End of All Things will be available August 11th.

Sneak Peek: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Time Salvager by Wesley ChuRead an excerpt from Time Salvager, a fast-paced time travel adventure by Wesley Chu, the award-winning author of The Lives of Tao.

Chapter One: End Times

A sliver of light cut through the void, shooting toward the center of the battle display. Every soul on the bridge, breaths collectively held, eyed its path as it streaked across space. The room was dead quiet, except for the droning voice counting down to the point of impact. An explosion the size of a thumbnail blinked and flowered to fill half the display, then darkened again.

The bridge erupted into cheers as the Neptune Divinity flagship’s holographic avatar disappeared. But the celebration was short-lived. Captain Dustinius Monk’s voice cut through the chatter.

“Station status!” he demanded. The grim news of the health of the ship trickled in.

Continue reading

Time Travel eBooks Now on Sale

TimeTravelLove time travel? So do we! So we’re celebrating this month with a special ebook promotion. Five titles are now available for just $2.99 each. This sale ends July 3rd.

Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card interweaves a compelling portrait of Christopher Columbus with the story of a future scientist who believes she can alter human history from a tragedy of bloodshed and brutality to a world filled with hope and healing.

Buy Pastwatch: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

 

Orion and King Arthur by Ben Bova

Orion has fought across time and space at the whims of his Creators, godlike beings from the future who toy with human history like spoiled children playing with dolls. Now, he must oppose his creator, Aten, to secure the life and legacy of King Arthur.

Buy Orion and King Arthur: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

 

Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe

As a young parish priest, Father Christopher has heard many confessions, but his own tale is more astounding than any revelation he has ever encountered in the confessional . . . for Chris was once a pirate captain, hundreds of years before his birth.

Buy Pirate Freedom: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo

 

A Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson

Tom Winter thought the secluded cottage in the Pacific Northwest would be the perfect refuge–a place to nurse the wounds of lost love and happiness. But Tom soon discovers that his safe haven is the portal of a tunnel through time. At one end is the present. At the other end–New York City, 1963.

Buy A Bridge of Years: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle |Kobo

 

The Technicolor Time Machine: Why pay for costumes, scenery, props or actors when the most brilliant drama of all time is unfolding before your very eyes, in vivid color–in 1050 A.D.? Join the film crew of that stupendous motion picture saga VIKING COLUMBUS as they journey back in time to capture history in the making.

Buy The Technicolor Time Machine: B&N Nook | eBooks.com | Google Play | iBooks | Kindle | Kobo