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Check Out the Recent Fiction at Tor.com

Saturday, September 10th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

lullaby-for-a-lost-world-aliette-de-bodard-small her-scales-shine-like-music-rajnar-vajra-small up-from-hell-david-drake-small

Tor.com has become one of the top sites on the internet for genre fiction — and I love the artists and writers it’s been attracting recently. I don’t have time to keep up with it every week…. but that’s what Tangent Online is for, to point out the stuff really worth my time. Here’s Kevin P Hallett on Aliette de Bodard’s “Lullaby for a Lost World,” illustrated by Alyssa Winans (above left).

Charlotte has died a brutal death to save the house in this short fantasy set in a bleak future. Her torn body allows her master and the house to live on. Interred, she struggles to have some meaning, to influence the world, to put an end to this cycle of death. When her master prepares a new girl, Charlotte strains against the earth of her entombment; can she play a role again? It is hard to put this short story down once you’ve begun…

And here’s Jason McGregor on Rajnar Vajra’s “Her Scales Shine Like Music,” illustrated by Jaime Jones (above middle).

In this first-contact story, “Poet” is a bodyguard on a small commercial interstellar mission to a planet that’s not expected to be very interesting but turns out to have a sort of abandoned campsite with alien tech. Legally, someone must stay behind to keep this claim for the finders and their company and it falls to Poet to be the guy. Some of the story is taken up by the narration of Poet’s battle against loneliness and depression and the (cold) elements and so on, in a pretty usual castaway tale. Things change considerably when something emerges from the lake near the two campsites… the gigantic alien seemed quite novel and fascinating… an enjoyable read.

And finally, here’s Jason again on one of the last stories selected by David Hartwell for Tor.com, “Up from Hell” by David Drake, illustrated by Robert Hunt (above right).

In an era of Celtic and Roman conflict, Taranis is leader of the Crow’s foraging band. One day, in what should be an ordinary raid of a village, he kills a man (who turns out to have been a surprised wizard), allows his friend to keep a trophy from that victim (which turns out to be very precioussss), and frees a mysterious woman who’d been held prisoner (who turns out to be a perplexing witch). This is all prologue to the real adventure, which involves the friend (mis)leading them to a sealed up cave, unsealing it, and unleashing two kinds of hell on the trio. Exciting (and disgusting) combat ensues… this is a fast, exciting, and psychologically loaded tale.

July and August featured brand new fiction from Harry Turtledove, Dennis Danvers, Paul McAuley, Nina Allan, Cixin Liu and Ken Liu, and many others — a dozen new stories, all told.

Links and brief descriptions for July-August fiction at Tor.com are below.

Lullaby for a Lost World” by Aliette de Bodard
Wed Jun 8, 2016
edited by Carl Engle-Laird
Dark Fantasy, Fantasy || Charlotte died to shore up her master’s house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance.

Typecasting” by Harry Turtledove
Wed Jun 15, 2016
original fiction
edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Science Fiction || Being Governor of Jefferson has its particular perks, and its particular challenges. Particularly if you’re a member of this Pacific Northwest state’s most famous ethnic minority…with all the extra height and hair that implies.

Chains” by A.J. Hartley
Wed Jun 22, 2016
original fiction
edited by Diana Pho
Steampunk, Young Adult || Anglet Sutonga is more realistic than most teenagers, but still dreams of rising above the impoverished streets of Bar-Selehm. When an opportunity comes along, will she take it? And what does she risk in order not to throw away her shot? A novelette set before the events of A.J. Hartley’s Steeplejack.

Traumphysik” by Monica Byrne
Wed Jun 29, 2016
edited by Ann VanderMeer
Alternate History, Science Fiction || A brilliant young physicist, alone on a Pacific atoll during World War II, begins to chronicle the laws of motion that govern her dreams.

Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper” by Douglas F. Warrick
Wed Jul 6, 2016
edited by Ann VanderMeer
Science Fiction, Time Travel || In the hollowed-out skull of the sixteenth President of the United States, a miserable time traveler builds a modest studio apartment and isolates himself from his own time, his own space, his own species, and his own past. But when gruesome reminders of his life prior to intracranial habitation begin appearing in his freshly constructed apartment, the time traveler is forced to either contend with his memories or, failing that, to run further away from them.

Once More Into the Abyss” by Dennis Danvers
Wed Jul 13, 2016
edited by Ellen Datlow
Science Fiction || “Once More Into The Abyss” by Dennis Danvers is the last of three novelettes about Stan, whose parents claimed to be aliens and either perished or went home via an abyss in the middle of New Mexico. Stan is drawn back to the Abyss when his wife is offered a job there studying alien artifacts. So Stan and his family (wife, son, brother and three dogs) take a road trip.

Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was” by Paul McAuley
Wed Jul 20, 2016
edited by Ellen Datlow
Science Fiction || “Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was” by Paul McAuley is a complex sf story about politics and xenophobia when human colonists on an Earth-like planet are faced with the possibility of reaching out to alien cultures, especially when a big organization that has previously done harm is in charge of the operation.

The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan
Wed Jul 27, 2016
edited by Ellen Datlow
Science Fiction || “The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan is a science fiction novelette. In 2047, a first manned mission to Mars ended in tragedy. Thirty years later, a second expedition is preparing to launch. As housekeeper of the hotel where two of the astronauts will give their final press statements, Emily finds the mission intruding upon her thoughts more and more. Emily’s mother, Moolie, has a message to give her, but Moolie’s memories are fading. As the astronauts’ visit draws closer, the unearthing of a more personal history is about to alter Emily’s world forever.

Her Scales Shine Like Music” by Rajnar Vajra
Wed Aug 3, 2016
edited by Ellen Datlow
Science Fiction || Her Scales Shine Like Music by Rajnar Vajra is a moving science fiction novelette about an encounter and budding relationship between two aliens, one human, who are the only living creatures occupying a planet in deep space. The human is assigned to guard a valuable find, while his colleagues leave, to file a report with the company that hired them.

Totem Poles” by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling
Wed Aug 10, 2016
edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Science Fiction || The saucer aliens are here. They’re healing the planet. They’ve got to be stopped.

The Weight of Memories” by Cixin Liu and Ken Liu
Wed Aug 17, 2016
edited by Liz Gorinsky
Hard Science Fiction, Science Fiction || From the author of The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and the forthcoming Death’s End comes a story about unborn memories.

Up from Helll” by David Drake
Thu Aug 18, 2016
edited by David Hartwell
Fantasy, Historical || Taranis and his men forage for the collected tribes of the Crow as they march against the Romans, but he brings back more than he bargained for when he frees a beautiful and mysterious prisoner, Alpnu. Together they face a power sealed in a cave for millennia and newly risen from Hell.

We last covered Tor.com with their May-June fiction. See the complete fiction catalog at Tor.com here, and sign up for their excellent weekly newsletter here.

See our mid-August Fantasy Magazine Rack here, and all of our recent Magazine coverage here.

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