Ten of The Best Professors
The most frightening member of the anarchist cell in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent is known only by his academic title. “The Professor” is their cerebral bomb-maker – a man of intellectual brilliance who despises “weak” human beings. He always travels with a bomb inside his coat and his finger on the button that will detonate it.
Professor Van Helsing
When beautiful Lucy Westenra turns pale and weak, her suitor John Seward naturally calls for his old tutor Van Helsing, a top scientist and a leading “metaphysician”. Good move: Van Helsing knows how to destroy vampires because he has read lots of books.
Sherlock Holmes’s foe (“the Napoleon of Crime”) is an intellectual gone to the bad. Once a professor of mathematics “at one of our smaller universities”, he has become bored by number-crunching and turned to crime. The author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid is Holmes’s worthy antagonist.
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Zombie Week at Tor
What is it about zombies that make them such a perennial favorite, as far as monstrous undead beings go? Why have they captured our collective imagination so completely for decades, lurching their way through our fiction and movies, eventually infecting every aspect of pop culture from video games to music to the darkest recesses of the internet?
Maybe it’s because zombies force us to reflect on our own mortality, or maybe it’s the way they lend themselves so well to political and social allegory… perhaps there’s just something perversely admirable in their single-minded pursuit of human brains—say what you want about zombies, but you have to admit that they’re persistent: zombies, much like Goonies, never say die. (Then again, they don’t usually say much of anything. Unless moaning counts).
Whatever the explanation, zombies are more popular than ever right now, and Tor.com is thrilled to announce that for the next seven days, we’ll be barring the doors, barricading the windows and giving ourselves over to a full-scale invasion of the undead. Join us throughout Zombie Week for a relentless onslaught of articles, stories, original comics and more (along with our regularly scheduled programming, of course).
Here’s just a sampling of what’s coming up during Zombie Week:
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William Gibson, it’s all about the here and now
For his past three novels, which happen to sync up with the emotional roller-coaster of post-9/11 America up to Tuesday of last week, when “Zero History” hit stores, William Gibson turned away from science fiction.
“The conceit is that they are set in the year in which they were written,” Gibson says from his home in Vancouver, British Columbia, of the trilogy that began in 2003 with “Pattern Recognition,” continued in 2007 with “Spook Country” and now ends with “Zero History.” The barest hint of a Virginia accent, long stepped-on by living in Canada, pokes though the 62-year-old author’s creaky, slightly geeky voice. “I would read reviews that talk about them being set in the very near future, and I’m thinking, ‘No, man, it’s set last fall!’ ”
The man who gave us the term “cyberspace,” and (with several other authors, including one-time Austinite Bruce Sterling and John Shirley) all but rebooted sci-fi in his genre-defining 1984 novel “Neuromancer,” moved from the future to the present as his career progressed.
His three books known as the Sprawl trilogy, and its related stories (“Neuromancer,” its two sequels and the short story collection “Burning Chrome”), were set in a future untethered to a year, where the Soviet Union still sort of existed and cell phones did not. (Oops.)
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The Books That Made Me: China Miéville
Kicking off a new feature, award-winning fantasy writer China Miéville reveals himself through his six favourite books
This week sees the launch of a new series on the Books podcast, The Books That Made Me, with China Miéville.
He talks about how growing up in a world where music is cobbled together from samples of other music has given wing to his piratical tendencies as a writer, and names Beatrix Potter, Max Ernst and Charlotte Brontë among those who have shaped his writing life.
Miéville cites visual art – from comics to the surrealists – as a major inspiration, confesses that he used to have a tin ear for poetry and issues a plea for help in rescuing from oblivion two novels by the Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera.
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