Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series: The Doom that Came to Sarnath by H. P. Lovecraft

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 | Posted by westkeith

Lovecraft Sarnath frontThe Doom that Came to Sarnath
H. P. Lovecraft
Ballantine Books (280 pages, February 1971, $0.95)
Cover art by Gervasio Gallardo

The Doom That Came to Sarnath was the second volume of H. P. Lovecraft stories published under the BAF imprint. It served as a bridge between the Dunsanian fantasies of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and the Cthulhu Mythos related titles that followed.

Many of the stories in this volume weren’t published until years after they were written or were published in amateur press publications of the day. These days we’d call them fanzines. The contents include the aforementioned Dunsanian fantasies, some traditional horror stories, and some early Mythos tales. Also included are a few prose poems and one selection of Lovecraft’s verse.

Rather than give a brief description of each of the 20 items in the book, I’ll highlight some of the ones I liked best, then offer some general thoughts. Carter broke the selection up into groups loosely based on either chronology or theme. I’m not that organized.  I’m also not a Lovecraft scholar, so I’m not going to comment much on the specific chronology  of the stories or try to get into the nitty gritty of Lovecraft’s authorial evolution.

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Vintage Treasures: Paradox Lost by Fredric Brown

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Paradox Lost Fredric Brown-smallIt’s strange to think that I didn’t really discover Fredric Brown until last year. Sure, before that I could probably name one or two of his most famous stories (including the Star Trek episode “Arena,” which doesn’t really count), but I didn’t truly learn to appreciate him until I brought a battered paperback with me on a flight back from Las Vegas last October. A week later I wrote about it, saying:

The Best of Fredric Brown is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in years. Brown is frequently compared to O. Henry for his gift for twist endings and the comparison is apt. Even when you’re on the alert, Brown manages to constantly surprise and delight you in a way that very few authors — in the genre or out — can pull off… I can’t remember the last time I’ve had as much fun with a single collection.

It’s good to know I can still find unexpected treasures in my own library.

Now, if you’re a Fredric Brown fan, the logical way to collect him these days is by purchasing From These Ashes from NESFA Press, which contains his complete short fiction in one gorgeous and economical volume — and is still in print.

Of course, you know how I feel about that. It takes all the fun out of it. You want to really appreciate Fredric Brown? You painstakingly track down his eight collections, like a normal person. Starting with Paradox Lost, because it has a dinosaur on the cover. Duh.

Paradox Lost (full title: Paradox Lost, and Twelve Other Great Science Fiction Stories) was published in 1974 by Berkley Medallion. It contains many of his finest stories, including the brilliant and oh-so-slightly-terrifying “Puppet Show,” “It Didn’t Happen,” “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” and ten others, plus a thoughtful introduction by his wife Elizabeth Brown (the only place where it appears). The book is 176 pages, priced at 95 cents; the cover is by Vincent DiFate. It is out of print. There is no digital edition, but copies in good condition start at under a buck at Amazon.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.


Future Treasures: Apocalypse Girl Dreaming by Jennifer Brozek

Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Apocalypse Girl Dreaming-smallYou know what’s marvelously satisfying? Watching writers who got their start in Black Gate going on to accomplish great things.

Jennifer Brozek began her professional writing career producing game reviews for Black Gate magazine a decade ago. I wish I could take credit for discovering her, but it was our games editor at the time, Don Bassingthwaite (who’s gone on to a stellar career of his own, with more than a dozen fantasy novels under his belt), who found and recruited her. Since then, Jennifer has written or co-written over half a dozen game titles, including the Fifth Edition Shadowrun rules, the Big Damn Heroes Handbook for the Serenity Role Playing Game, and the BattleTech novel The Nellus Academy Incident.

She’s also made a name for herself as an accomplished editor — with ten titles to her name, including the DAW anthology Human for a Day (co-edited with Martin H. Greenberg) and Grants Pass (with Amanda Pillar) — and author, of In a Gilded Light, The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, among others. Most recently, we reported here on her upcoming heroic fantasy anthology from Baen, Shattered Shields, co-edited with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Jennifer is also the author of some 50 short stories, and early next year sees the publication of her very first collection: Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, from Evil Girlfriend Media. Here’s the book description:

Evil Girlfriend Media is pleased to release the cover of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, a short story collection, by Jennifer Brozek. This collection features dark speculative fiction ranging from tie-in stories in the Valdemar and Elemental Masters worlds, weird west horror to satirical science fiction to urban fantasy with a horrific bent.

A first collection is a pretty big milestone for an author and we think congratulations are in order. And maybe a cake.

Apocalypse Girl Dreaming will be published on January 16, 2015 in e-book and paperback format. No word yet on price or page count. The cover art is by Fernando Cortes, with graphic design by Matt Youngmark. Learn more at the Evil Girlfriend website.


Black Static #41 now on Sale

Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 41-smallLast month, I reported on the first issue of Black Static magazine I ever purchased, issue 40. I was very impressed.

Good thing, too, because I took a chance and bought issue #41 at the same time. I have no idea why two issues of the same magazine were simultaneously on the stands, but I’m glad they were.

On the magazine’s website is this friendly but blunt request:

Magazines like Black Static cannot survive without subscriptions and always needs more support than it gets. If you enjoy it please blog about it, review it, tell your friends, and encourage other people to subscribe. Thank you!

Truer words were never spoken. Magazines like Black Static are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. I hope this magazine survives for a good long time — but it won’t without reader support. In that spirit, I am very happy to shine a spotlight on Black Static here on the blog. If it sounds intriguing, I hope you’ll consider buying an issue next time you find yourself browsing the magazine rack.

Black Static is a British magazine of dark fantasy and horror, edited by Andy Cox. It used to be called The 3rd Alternative, until that magazine went on hiatus in 2005. It was acquired by TTA Press, the publishers of Interzone and Crimewave, and in 2007 it was relaunched as Black Static.

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Knight at the Movies: The Battery (2012)

Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Posted by eeknight

GregBunburyTheBatteryMoviePosterAs Black Gate‘s resident oddball zombie movie reviewer (Honest! John O’Neill did it in style of Mad Men‘s Roger Sterling, he did a Jedi hand wave and anointed me thus) I have to say a little bit about the ultra-low budget 2012 movie The Battery.

The zombie movie has reached the arthouse at last. And the arthouse loved it, this micro-budget film won numerous awards.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a traditional zombie movie as much as the next fan. I have a soft spot in my heart for 2008′s Day of the Dead, despite such howlers as the assertion that zombie Bud is safe because he was a vegetarian in life, as though that moral choice trumps thousands of years of cultural conditioning toward a similar moral choice against cannibalism.

But back to The Battery. Filmed on a budget of $6000, writer/director Jeremy Gardner put together a horror film that delivers the most entertainment per budget dollar since Blair Witch Project – though I expect The Battery, while not as original as that legendary effort, will prove more enjoyable on the re-watch.

Its strengths are the same as Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead: a limited budget means you have to spend your time on character and tension. Without money for a lot of extras in zombie makeup to be featured more than briefly, you have to make do with the sounds of zombies outside the windows, which is creepier anyway.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Ellery Queen’s Misadventures of SH

Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Misadventures_CoverYou’ve probably heard the name ‘Ellery Queen,’ but you may not know that it’s actually the name for joint efforts by cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee. They were important players in the mystery field for decades, with Dannay being a notable Sherlockian.

In 1943, Dannay planned The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, an anthology of parodies and pastiches. Unlike today, Holmes anthologies were unheard of back then. Due in large part, as we’ll see, to the management of the Doyle Estate by Sir Arthur Conan’s sons, Adrian and Dennis.

The book, by Ellery Queen, was unveiled at a Baker Street Irregulars gathering in 1944. I gave a taste what dealing with Doyle’s two sons could be like in my post on “The Man Who Was Wanted.” There’s more of the same in this tale.

Adrian heard about the collection and went off in his usual rage, telegramming his brother Denis (also a wastrel) in Spain. Denis cabled the Estate’s law firm and instructed them to demand that Queen and the publishers, Little, Brown and Company, stop publication and withdraw all copies. They were also to be sued for damages.

To quote Denis’s cable to the lawyers: “It is obviously a flagrant example of that very sort of piracy, striking at the very roots of the literary value of the property which my father left to his family, against which we have fought together in the past…books which will completely devaluate and ruin the whole value of the Holmes property, including films, radio and stage.”

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Selling Short Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Fiction, Part I

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Asimov's Science Fiction February 2014-smallA little while ago, I blogged about The Economics of Short Fiction and feedback was that there’s interest in a short series (no pun intended) on the selling of short fiction, which is a fascinatingly complex topic.

To be clear, this won’t be about the craft of writing. I’ve got lots of thoughts on creativity and the craft, some of which came out in an interview I gave to the excellent podcast the Creative Writer’s Tool Box.

In this first post on selling short fiction, I want to tackle three important pieces: (1) finding markets, (2) knowing the markets, and (3) knowing yourself.

So let’s assume you’re reading this post because you’ve written a short story, of say 5,000 words, and you’ve never looked at markets before. That’s where I was about eleven years ago.

Finding markets

There are a few places that compile market information on publishers of short fiction. I know some people swear by others for their multifunctionality [like www.duotrope.com or The (Submission) Grinder], but I find www.ralan.com far easier to use because independent of filters, there’s a list I can just browse. I’ve donated money to Ralan because I find this site so useful.

At Ralan, under the banner, you’ll see links to click on Pro markets, Semi-Pro markets, Pay markets, and Token markets (which I believe was once called 4-the-luv markets, which seemed more evocative to me). Pro markets pay SFWA rates, which are 6 cents a word and more. Semi-pro markets pay 3-5 cents a word, pay markets pay 1-2 cents, and token markets are anything below that. Ralan also shows you the lengths they publish and any sub-genres (ex.: sf/f/h means they take science fiction, fantasy and horror).

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Last Chance to Win a Copy of The Madness of Cthulhu, edited by S.T. Joshi

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Madness of Cthulhu-smallLast week, we told you that you had a chance to win one of two copies of S.T. Joshi’s major new horror anthology, The Madness of Cthulhu, Volume One, on sale this month from Titan Books.

How do you win? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the subject “The Madness of Cthulhu” and a one-sentence review of your favorite H.P. Lovecraft story (don’t forget to identify the story). That’s it; that’s all that stands between you and a copy of one of the most exciting anthologies of the year. Two winners will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries and we’ll announce the winners here on the Black Gate blog. What could possibly be easier? But time is running out — the contest closes October 21st.

The Madness of Cthulhu collects fourteen original tales, and two reprints, inspired by Lovecraft’s horror masterpiece At the Mountains of Madness. This is the first of two volumes, with the second to be released Summer 2015. Here’s the book description:

Sixteen stories inspired by the 20th century’s great master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft, and his acknowledged masterpiece, At the Mountains of Madness, in which an expedition to the desolation of Antarctica discovers evidence of an ancient ruin built by horrific creatures at first thought long-dead, until death strikes the group. All but two of the stories are original to this edition, and those reprints are long-lost works by science fiction masters Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Silverberg.

No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. Decisions of the judges (capricious as they may be) are final. Not valid where prohibited by law. Eat your vegetables.

The Madness of Cthulhu, Volume One was published on October 7 by Titan Books. It is 304 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version.


New Treasures: Short Sharp Shocks 1: Amok! edited by Neil Baker

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Short Sharp Shocks Amok!-smallThe fine folks at April Moon Press have really hit the ground running. Their first anthology, The Dark Rites of Cthulhu, appeared in March and was a major success — so much so that they’ve now launched an ambitious line of dark fantasy and horror books.

The first to arrive is Amok!, a collection of intense short fiction from multiple genres — mystery, thriller, dark fantasy, and outright horror — focusing on the modern boogeyman: the spree killer. Amok! is the first release in April Moon’s Short Sharp Shocks anthology series; the next, Stomping Grounds!, features monsters causing mayhem and misery. They will be followed by Ill-Considered Expeditions (“Pith helmets at the ready for some unfriendly welcomes!”), Spawn of the Ripper, a tribute to Hammer horror films, and The Stars at my Door, a collection of optimistic science fiction.

An unnerving anthology featuring tales of psychological decline and murderous frenzy!

Office workers snap and vengeful ghosts go on a murderous rampage; a giant, blood-crazed pig rubs shoulders with a monstrous alligator while kids experiment with runes and drugs and suffer the consequences.

Ghouls of every foul persuasion tear through the streets and would-be serial killers stalk every alley way in search of hapless victims. Dark magicks destroy cities and brings warriors back from the grave, and madness eats away at the minds of explorers both past and future. Criminals enjoy violent crime sprees while our uniformed protectors themselves fall under the spell of murderous intent.

Here then, are 26 stories spanning a multitude of genres and themes to both alarm and amuse you as events spiral rapidly out of control, and mankind, monsters and minds run terribly, catastrophically, AMOK!

Short Sharp Shocks 1: Amok! was edited by Neil Baker and published by April Moon Books on September 27, 2014. It is 244 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $3.99 for the digital edition. The cover and interior illustrations are by Neil Baker. Order directly at the April Moon website.


Art of the Genre: The Artistic Mystery of The Temple of Elemental Evil and the Turmoil of 1985 TSR

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Parkinson does an awesome cover, but don't just this book by that or you'll be disappointed

Parkinson does an awesome cover, but don’t judge this book by that or you’ll be disappointed

Back in 1985 I was fourteen and had recently entered the gaming hobby as a hardcore fan and not a passing-fancy type player. It was during my plunge into the hobby that I began grabbing up whatever I could get on my monthly trips to the ‘big city’ of Lafayette, Indiana. During one of these outings with my mother, who would entice me to go to the Mall or any other boring errands she had by offering to also take me downtown to Main Street Hobbies, that I acquired T1-4, The Temple of Elemental Evil.

It was my first ‘super-module’, and although I’d missed the chance to get most of the original-run TSR modules from 1979-82, I was thrilled to grab this new breed module by Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer. Little did I realize at the time what it took to actually produce this module. I mean, by 1985 Gary was already on the chopping block at TSR and the company was ready to undergo a massive changeover that would result in AD&D 2E, and the ‘downfall’ of the company as we knew it. Times, as they say, were a’changin.

Now I can’t speak for the inner workings of how this module was made, but it is well documented that Gygax himself began work on T2: The Temple of Elemental Evil after he’d completed T1: The Village of Hommlet in 1979. However, probably due to the company’s rapid expansion and then his departure to Hollywood to work on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, his work was never completed by his own hand. Enter Frank Mentzer, who completed the module, and finally allowed it to see the light of day six years after players had been introduced to the story line in T1.

When I purchased it, I wasn’t ready to run such a complex dungeon crawl, and so I turned the module over to my friend Mark, who ran me through it over the course of our summer vacation. I well remember running four characters in the adventure, and I’m sure Mark had the same number of NPCs, the bulk of it played on the floor of the downstairs living room at my mother’s house.

It wasn’t until 1988 that I actually ran the module myself, this time with my friend Murph, who was helping me develop my own gaming sandbox of The Nameless Realms. It was another epic ‘run’, and afterward, I put the module away and have thought of it fondly ever since.

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