SPOTLIGHT: Tor.com on new novellas
16 September 2015
By Rob Cox
With Paul Cornell's novella Witches of Lychford just published, we've asked our friends at Tor.com to give us their personal recommendations for other new novellas to check out. Below you'll find the list, and you can click on any of the cover images for extracts and more. Enjoy!
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Marketer and Publicist Mordicai Knode: One of the great things about working in publishing is when you get to work on things you truly care about, and working with these titles has been more than a treat: it's been a feast. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps tickles my Gene Wolfe itch with a brand new voice—or, well, voices, given the command of language—while Witches of Lychford is a glorious mashing of the vibes from Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you edit one of those doorstopper epic fantasies down to a lean, mean fighting machine, you get Sunset Mantle, Nnedi Okorafor's Binti is like the Star Trek episode you always wished you could see, complete with its own not-Cenobite-but-alien puzzle box, and Of Sorrow and Such is a story at once completely self contained but hinting in the margins at a much wider world waiting outside the boundaries of this single narrative. These books, and the rest of our list, are perfect examples of what I got into the book business for: a chance to find great books and tell people about them.
Below, hear from our editors on why they love some of the titles on our list and keep an eye on Tor.com Publishing for upcoming novellas by authors like K.J. Parker (The Last Witness), Daniel Polansky (The Builders), and Seanan McGuire (Every Heart a Doorway).
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The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps
Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors' artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.
The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.
The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.
Editor Carl Engle-Laird: Kai Ashante Wilson is a brilliant author, and I couldn't have asked for a better novella with which to launch Tor.com's line. In The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps he tells a simple story, of a man in love who must fight a saber-toothed tiger in a magical jungle, through a complex and scintillating narrative lens that transcends the perceived limits of his genre.
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Witches of Lychford
Traveler, Cleric, Witch.
The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.
Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth—that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.
But if she is to have her voice heard, she's going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies...
Editor Lee Harris: A lot of fantasy aims for spectacle, for scale, for danger on a scale heretofore unprecedented! And so often they miss their targets. What I love about Witches of Lychford is that it takes the extraordinary and the wicked and places them in a tiny rural environment, and examines what happens to the people— the real people—who live there. This tale is more extraordinary because of the small scale, not less, and I love every word of it.
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With a single blow, Cete won both honor and exile from his last commander. Since then he has wandered, looking for a place to call home. The distant holdings of the Reach Antach offer shelter, but that promise has a price.
The Reach Antach is doomed.
Barbarians, traitors, and scheming investors conspire to destroy the burgeoning settlement. A wise man would move on, but Cete has found reason to stay. A blind weaver-woman and the beautiful sunset mantle lure the warrior to wager everything he has left on one final chance to turn back the hungry tides of war.
Editor Carl Engle-Laird: Sunset Mantle blew up how I think about epic fantasy. Alter S. Reiss does more in 40,000 words to establish his fantasy world than some authors can do with 120,000. His tale of stalwart heroes fighting to defend a precarious home feels like Tolkien, reimagined for a modern audience.
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Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.
Editor Lee Harris: Nnedi Okorafor has built an impressive reputation for herself, and garnered a bunch of impressive award wins along the way. This tale starts off as one beautiful thing and then suddenly takes a left turn, and becomes another—equally beautiful—story. The character of Binti is a fantastic creation. At once a not-quite-adult and a prodigy, though most of us can never aspire to her levels of talent and brilliance, we nevertheless find ourselves enthralled by her. A bit like the author, herself.
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Of Sorrow and Such
Mistress Gideon is a witch. The locals of Edda's Meadow, if they suspect it of her, say nary a word—Gideon has been good to them, and it's always better to keep on her good side. Just in case.
When a foolish young shapeshifter goes against the wishes of her pack, and gets herself very publicly caught, the authorities find it impossible to deny the existence of the supernatural in their midst any longer; Gideon and her like are captured, bound for torture and a fiery end.
Should Gideon give up her sisters in return for a quick death? Or can she turn the situation to her advantage?
Editor Lee Harris: Slatter is one of the finest authors working in the genre, today. This tale of witches and shapeshifters, of loyalty and betrayal, of hope and everlasting damnation plays to the author's strengths. It's a wonderful story, with characters that will stay with you long after you finish the tale. When you've finished it you'll want to pick up one of her short story collections. Give in to that urge.