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Check Out the Recent Fiction at Tor.com

Monday, November 7th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

the-high-lonesome-frontier-small the-three-lives-of-sonata-james-small blue-is-a-darkness-weakened-by-light-small

One of the (many) reasons I enjoy Tor.com is the enormously diverse range of fiction, compliments of Tor’s large cast of contributing editors. The sixteen stories posted there in the last three months were selected by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Justin Landon, Diana Pho, Liz Gorinsky, Melissa Frain, Susan Chang, and other fine editors. They include YA fantasy, horror, hard SF, urban fantasy, dystopian SF, space opera, dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic SF, and historical fantasy. What’s not to love?

A new story is posted at Tor.com every week. Not sure which ones you’d enjoy most? That’s what Tangent Online is for. Here’s Seraph on Rebecca Campbell’s “The High Lonesome Frontier,” illustrated by Linda Yan (above left).

As I drifted along these memories of the man who wrote the song, and the woman who sang it, and the mother who loved it, and the granddaughter who wasn’t even sure it was real yet loved it anyways… I realized the true beauty of this story, and the legitimacy of its claim to being science fiction. This story is of a 4th, or perhaps 5th-dimensional viewpoint, following the thread of this one song in a direct course from one life to the next, experiencing it all as a single moment in time, yet never in a linear fashion, as if the story itself is the river of which the song forever echoes, where does that water run. Magnificent.

Read Seraph’s review here. And here’s Jason McGregor on Lettie Prell’s hard SF tale “The Three Lives of Sonata James,” illustrated by Kevin Hong (above middle).

Sonata James is an aesthete who lives in a society in which people have theoretically infinite “iterations”: once they die, if they have enough money, they buy a robot body and have their consciousness loaded into it. If the robot wears out, they iterate again. James has decided that she’ll limit herself to three iterations like the movements in (some) sonatas as a way of giving her life a clear beginning and ending, making it a more definite work of art. However, early in her life, some people don’t feel kindly towards the iterations they see as soulless and, as her existence winds on, more and more people become more and more negative until the iterations’ existence is put in doubt.

Here’s Jason again on “Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light” by Sarah McCarry, illustrated by Jasu Hu (above right).

An assistant to a literary agent critiques vampire fiction while conversing with her real vampire companion and lamenting her miserable existence…

There is some clever stuff in here, such as the odd blend of decorous wistful cynicism when the narrator reflects on why she and the vampire met: “It has occurred to me since that perhaps his initial motives were not entirely aboveboard; I was obviously someone no one else would miss. It seems gauche to broach the topic now.” There is also some amusing venom, such as when the assistant considers her boss: “I think about telling the vampire how much I hate the literary agent in a significant sort of way.”

Read Jason’s complete review here.

Late August, September, October and early November featured brand new fiction from Jonathan Carroll, L. E. Modesitt, Jr, Daniel Polansky, Charlie Jane Anders, Kelly Robson, N.K. Jemisin, Stephen Graham Jones, Alex Bledsoe, and many others — sixteen new stories, all told.

Links and brief descriptions for late August – early November fiction at Tor.com are below.

Ratspeak” by Sarah Porter

Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Susan Chang
Fantasy, Young Adult || Ratspeak is the the shrill and sly language of the rats of New York City’s subway. When a curious boy is granted his wish to speak and understand the secret language of the rats, he brings a curse upon his home. “Ratspeak” is a standalone story by the acclaimed author of Vassa in the Night (Tor Teen, September 2016).

The Key to the Coward’s Spell” by Alex Bledsoe
Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Diana Pho
Fantasy, Urban Fantasy || Nursing an injured arm while on the job searching for a missing kid is bad enough for sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse. But when he discovers a smuggling ring rumored to be protected by powerful magic, he seeks out old friends and new to lend a hand. A tale set in Alex Bledsoe’s popular medieval noir world.

The High Lonesome Frontier” by Rebecca Campbell
Wed Sep 7, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow
Science Fiction || A meditation about the evolution and influence of a song written in 1902 over the next 150 plus years.

Burned Away” by Kristen Simmons
Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Melissa Frain
Dystopian, Young Adult || When rumors of an uprising in Metaltown’s factories hits Bakerstown, sixteen-year-old wannabe reporter Caris knows she’s found the story that will finally prove her worth to the Journal. “Burned Away” is a standalone story set in the world of Metaltown (Tor Teen, September 2016).

The Night Cyclist” by Stephen Graham Jones
Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow
Horror || “The Night Cyclist” by Stephen Graham Jones is a horror novelette about a middle-aged chef whose nightly bicycle ride home is interrupted by an unexpected encounter.

The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin
Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Liz Gorinsky
Fantasy, Urban Fantasy || In this standalone short story by N. K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Season, the winner of this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel, New York City is about to go through a few changes. Like all great metropolises before it, when a city gets big enough, old enough, it must be born; but there are ancient enemies who cannot tolerate new life. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts of a reluctant midwife…and how well he can learn to sing the city’s mighty song.

The Three Lives of Sonata James” by Lettie Prell
Wed Oct 5, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Diana Pho
Hard Science Fiction, Science Fiction || In a cyber-enhanced, futuristic Chicago, Sonata knows near-immortality is achievable through downloading her mind into a cyborg body after death. But this young artist wants to prove that living forever isn’t the same as living a beautiful life.

Tremontaine: “The Eye of the Swan” by Kelly Robson
Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:00am
reprints

Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light” by Sarah McCarry
Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow
Fantasy || “Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light” is about a lonely young woman, recently moved to the big city, who is looking for love. What she finds is a friend and confidante who is much older and wiser than she.

Everything that Isn’t Winter” by Margaret Killjoy
Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Diana Pho
Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction || Does a renewed world still have a place for those who only know how to destroy? While defending a tea-growing commune in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, one person seeks an answer.

Clover” by Charlie Jane Anders
Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Fantasy, Science Fiction || Answering the question asked by innumerable readers of the author’s novel All the Birds in the Sky: what happened to Patricia’s cat?

meat+drink” by Daniel Polansky
Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:00am
original fiction
edited by Justin Landon
Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Horror || Baltimore isn’t safe. Not even for the predatory meat that stalks its nights. Searching for victims who won’t be missed, meat doesn’t feel regret or pain—only thirst. But the meat remembers something more… doesn’t it? is there more to eternal life than finding another drink?

Recluce Tales: “The Forest Girl” by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:00am
reprints
“The Forest Girl” is a new short story set in the world of L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Recluce novels.

The Auntie” by Alyssa Wong and Wendy Xu
Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:00pm
comics
Just in time for Halloween, Tor.com presents a delightfully haunting witch duet from the artist Wendy Xu and author Alyssa Wong, sure to cast a spell on you!

Dune:Red Plague” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson
Tue Nov 1, 2016 10:00am
original fiction, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Science Fiction, Space Opera || An all-new Tale of the Great Schools of Dune — written to accompany Navigators of Dune by the same authors (Tor, September 2016).

The Loud Table” by Jonathan Carroll
Wed Nov 2, 2016 9:00am
original fiction, edited by Ellen Datlow
Science Fiction || “The Loud Table” by Jonathan Carroll is an sf-fantasy about four elderly men who regularly hang out. One of the men is worried that he’s getting Alzheimer’s, but the truth might be even more discomforting.

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

See our October Fantasy Magazine Rack here, and all of our recent Magazine coverage here.

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