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Tor/Forge August 2009 Newsletter

In This Issue

The Winds of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The Way the Wind Blows

By Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Over the course of Frank Herbert’s original six novels, and our ten subsequent novels, the Dune Chronicles span more than 15,000 years of epic science fiction history—from the titanic struggles of the Butlerian Jihad 10,000 years before Dune, to the final battle more than five millennia after the reign of Paul-Muad’Dib. For The Winds of Dune, instead of ranging far and wide across galactic history, we went back to the core of the original story, exploring the heart of what has made the series so enormously popular.

Winds is a direct sequel to Frank Herbert’s Dune Messiah. At the end of Messiah, a blind and despairing Paul, devastated by the death of his beloved Chani, abandons his newborn twins and his turbulent empire and simply walks off into the desert to vanish. When Frank Herbert returned with Children of Dune, he picked up the story nine years later, entirely skipping the incredible period of turmoil as Alia, Duncan Idaho, Stilgar, Lady Jessica, and Gurney Halleck fought to hold Paul’s empire together against rebellions from both outside and within. The Winds of Dune fills in this crucial piece of the story, taking readers back to their beloved characters and scenarios.

The book opens with Lady Jessica, in her self-imposed retirement on Caladan, receiving word that her son has vanished in the deserts of Arrakis and is presumed dead. The novel is not only a complex political saga of an unraveling empire, but also the intensely personal story of how Paul’s mother, sister, and figurehead wife must face their grief over the loss of such a pivotal force in human history.

Just as this summer’s new “Star Trek” movie returns legions of fans to the golden age of the series, so The Winds of Dune brings the many millions of Dune devotees back to the heart of Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking universe.

The Winds of Dune (0-7653-2272-2; $27.99), by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, releases from Tor this August. Read the first two chapters of The Winds of Dune here. For more news and updates, join the official Dune fan page on Facebook.

FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer

Flashing back to FlashForward

By Robert J. Sawyer

I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance related to FlashForward. My novel is all about seeing the future, but I find myself constantly flashing back to the past as I think about it.

See, although there’s a TV series based on my book debuting Thursday, September 24, 2009, I finished writing the novel back in 1998 (and Tor published it in June 1999).

Over the past decade, I’d forgotten much of what the book said. I never re-read my novels after they’re published, but, since I’m a consultant on the FlashForward TV series (and writing an episode myself), I broke with tradition and recently read FlashForward again.

To tell the truth, it was never one of my favorites (of all my books, Factoring Humanity is the one I think most fondly of). This has nothing to do with the actual book, but rather with how I felt when I wrote it, and, for reasons I no longer remember, I hadn’t enjoyed working on FlashForward much.

But others knew FlashForward was special right off the bat. It earned me my first-ever starred review in Publishers Weekly, denoting a book of exceptional merit. And Vince Gerardis, my Hollywood agent, was so enthusiastic about FlashForward that he actually talked me into turning down a film-rights offer from a major Hollywood studio because he felt it was destined for even bigger things.

In this case, my agent was certainly better at predicting the future than I was! By all accounts, FlashForward is the hottest prospect on the American TV schedule this fall, and I’m absolutely thrilled that we waited until Vince was able to put together the right deal.

Still, in defense of my own abilities at foretelling the future, I will observe that the one thing I’ve received the most email about in my entire career is a mention in FlashForward that by 2009, the Pope’s name will be Benedict XVI. People constantly wonder if I had a flashforward of my own enabling me to get that right.

I’m thrilled with the job David Goyer, Jessika Goyer, Brannon Braga, and Marc Guggenheim have done with adapting my novel. Of course, they’ve made some changes; that’s to be expected. But there’s one I’m quite fond of: the FlashForward date in the TV series has been moved from the April 21, 2009, I specified in the book to April 29, 2010—my fiftieth birthday!

And, you know what? On re-reading the novel after a decade, I was, if I may be so bold as to say this, very pleased. And I hope you will be, too.


In addition to the Aurora Award-winning FlashForward, Robert J. Sawyer is the author of 18 other novels, including the Hugo Award-wining Hominids and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning Mindscan, both also published by Tor. His website is

My Rotten Life by David Lubar

Zombies, Chinese Food, and Showers (and not necessarily in that order)

By David Lubar

Nathan Abercrombie was born in a Chinese restaurant and baptized in a bathroom shower. It all started on Mott Street in Manhattan. I was at a Wo Hop with my wife, celebrating our 30th anniversary (It's a little known fact that the traditional 30th anniversary gift is duck skin).

My publisher was there, too (yet more proof that Tor is very family-oriented). We were discussing ideas for a middle-grade series when Kathleen Doherty mentioned that zombies were going to become very popular. This was well before the recent crop had staggered into view. (Kathleen has an eerie ability to see into the future).

I liked the idea, but I wanted to give it more thought before I committed myself to writing five books with a zombie hero. I'd touched on zombies before (and always washed my hands afterward), but only in short fiction and in the opening scenes of one chapter book. Whatever direction I chose, I'd have to live with my decision for several years.

The next day, in the shower (where all the best ideas appear), something happened that convinced me I'd found the right story. I had a vision. I pictured a zombie kid taking out his eye and rolling it down a hallway so he could spy on people. That scene didn't make it into the first book. And I apologize if you're eating while reading to this. But I think it shows the potential for the kind of cool action sequences you can write when your main character is one of the walking dead.

It definitely got me going. I dove in and soon found myself feeling giddy on a daily basis with all of the over-the-top action that happens in Nathan's home town of East Craven. (I'm particularly fond of the experiment with the defibrillator, and the disastrous chicken-wing incident from book 2.) If you want to get an idea of the results, imagine a melding of South Park with Wayside School.

Unlike traditional, mindless zombies, Nathan can still think. He can also stay underwater as long as he wants, since he doesn't need to breathe. He can play computer games all night since he doesn't need to sleep. And he can win staring contests since blinking isn't a part of his life anymore, either. On the down side, his fingers tend to break off and he has no pulse. But everything in life, and in death, is a tradeoff.

I had a total blast writing My Rotten Life, and I think it shows. If you're familiar with my novels and short story collections, you already know I like strong plots, weird situations, and lots of humor. This book has all of that. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you might even gag a little. I hope you enjoy my rotten new book.

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie #1 (0-7653-1634-X, $5.99; Trade Paperback Original), the launch of a new middle-grade series by David Lubar, lurches into stores this August.

The Dame by R.A. Salvatore

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