When I Win the Lottery; Or, I Should Be So Lucky

Friday, February 27th, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

Jackson LotteryThe phrase “when I win the lottery” seems to be used in two distinct ways. The first and, I hope, the most common usage, has the same “ain’t gonna happen” meaning as “when pigs fly,” and connotes a certain sense of realism on the part of the speaker. The second, and I think sadder, usage stands for a certain lack of foresight. It’s been said, for example, that a sizable percentage of people include winning the lottery as an element in their retirement plans.

In our house the phrase also stands for any unlikely event beyond our control that we would nevertheless welcome. Like “when they finally come up with a retina chip that will fix my right eye,” or, “when the Dhulyn and Parno novels are optioned for TV.”

The lottery as a phenomenon is now so pervasive that it’s almost impossible not to think about lotteries and winning/losing them. The concept has formed the basis of a wide variety of movie and TV plots – mostly on the negative aspects of winning, but I think that’s meant to comfort those of us who, well, lost.

How are lotteries treated in Fantasy and SF writing? I don’t mean games of chance as such, though that gives us magnificent stories like “Gonna Roll the Bones” from Fritz Leiber. Nor do I mean criminal activities like numbers running, or even straightforward betting, whether on or off track or line. No, I mean actual lotteries. You get your ticket, and you wait your chance.

Read More »


Goth Chick News: Gather Around, It’s Time for the Annual Stoker Awards

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

A Stoker – the coolest literary trophy ever

A Stoker – the coolest literary trophy ever

Just when you thought you were going to go all Freddy Kruger due to cabin fever, we’ve got a real reason for you to hunker down and stay inside for a while.

The Horror Writers Association just announced the 2014 nominees for the iconic Bram Stoker Award.

Hurrah!

Named in honor of Dracula’s beloved Pappa, the Stokers are presented annually by the HWA for superior writing in eleven categories including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenplays and non-fiction.

The HWA also presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to living individuals who have made a substantial and enduring contribution to the genre. This year’s Lifetime Achievement recipients are Jack Ketchum (The Box and Closing Time) and Tanith Lee (Cruel Pink and Space is Just a Starry Night).

Presentation of the Stoker will occur during the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Saturday, May 9, 2015.

So get ready to make a list – remember, the groundhog saw his shadow, so you have ample time to get through a few of these.

Here’s the complete list of nominees.

Read More »


Geek Parenting: D6 Thoughts for Tabletop Gamer Parents

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

2kg of Halo Megablocs. It's hundreds of pounds worth of plastic, but we'll only get a few quid for it because the sets are all jumbled.

2kg of Halo Megablocs… hundreds of pounds worth of plastic, but we’ll only get a few quid for it because the sets are all jumbled.

At the moment, Kurtzhau and I are trying to flog off 2kg of Halo Megablocs. It’s hundreds of pounds worth of plastic, but we’ll only get a few quid for it because the sets are all jumbled. Worse, he only got 18 months play out of the lot, less out of recent acquisitions. He’s 11 now and Bolt Action and Warhammer 40K have swept away all his toys.

So, this set me thinking about things I wished I known when I started parenting.

1. Your old games are rubbish

Seriously, your old edition of AD&D is unplayable — too many subsystems, too much obscurantism for anybody growing up a digital native. This is also true of those older boardgames that tried to emulate some aspects of role playing, but without the verbal problem solving and character stuff that make RPG worthwhile. In terms of making interesting decisions, Talisman, for example, is not really much better than Snakes and Ladders.

Read More »


British Museum uses CT Scans to Unwrap Mummies

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

A mummy undergoing a CT scan at the Royal Brompton Hospital. © Trustees of the British Museum

A mummy undergoing a CT scan at the Royal Brompton Hospital. © Trustees of the British Museum

A remarkable exhibition at the British Museum is revealing the secrets hidden inside mummy wrappings.

Ancient Lives, New Discoveries showcases eight mummies from the Nile valley, Africa’s greatest center of ancient civilization. Seven were found in Egypt and an eighth was uncovered in Sudan. They have all been analyzed with the latest model CT scanner at a London hospital to reveal information about the people without their having to go through damaging analysis.

Read More »


Ancient Worlds: Claiming the Lost from the Underworld

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

Kratzenstein's Orpheus and Eurydice

Kratzenstein’s Orpheus and Eurydice

We live in an age of reboots. I for one think this is an excellent thing. Most of the great of history has fallen into the category of reboots, retellings, recapitulations and reimaginings.

Without the concept of fanfic there is no Aeneid, and while many a college Sophmore may rejoice at that idea, world literature would be the poorer for it. That is, as well, what Ovid is doing with the Metamorphoses. He’s compiling and retelling, weaving several hundred different strands together into one long rope of story. And that work is still bearing fruit today.

One of the better and most wideley known tales that Ovid retells is the myth or Orpheus. This one is so commonly read that I’ll just sketch down the bones here: Orpehus was the greatest musician who ever lived. He was married to a young woman named Eurydice, but she died very soon after the wedding. Heartbroken, he made his way down to the Underworld, and with the power of his music, convinced Hades and Persephone to let Eurydice come back to the light. They agreed, the only time in all of history they have done so, because they were so moved by his music. But there was a condition: Eurydice would follow him up to the surface, and he couldn’t look back once.

Read More »


Take a Visual Tour of the Early SF and Fantasy Pulps in Futures Past #1

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Futures Past 1926-smallI have a great curiosity about the beginnings of science fiction and fantasy in the United States — particularly what’s known as the Gernsback Era, beginning when Hugo Gernsback founded Amazing Stories in 1926, and virtually created modern science fiction. Nearly simultaneously, Weird Tales (founded in 1923) was publishing the first stories of the greatest fantasists of the 20th Century: Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith.

So I was delighted to discover a brand new magazine devoted to covering the birth of modern science fiction: Futures Past: A Visual History of Science Fiction, edited by Jim Emerson. The first issue of this 64-page, full color magazine, subtitled 1926: The Birth of Modern Science Fiction, appeared in July 2014, and is now available in e-book PDF format. Future issues will cover the whole field of science fiction — including magazines, books, movies and conventions — year by year, in an attractive and easy-to-read format.

Here’s the description of the entire undertaking from the publisher:

Welcome to one of the largest and most ambitious projects ever attempted in the field of science fiction.  In the pages of Futures Past we will be covering, in detail, the birth and development of modern science fiction over its first 50 years – from 1926 to 1975. Designed in a yearbook format, each issue of Futures Past will cover all the works, people, organizations and events in detailed chronological order.

Read More »


The Making of a Dark Fantasy Anthology

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Posted by Salome Jones

Cthulhu Lives-smallLike all books, an anthology begins with an idea. In the case of Cthulhu Lives! the idea was simply this: the eerie feel of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror stories without the lengthy exposition and racist diatribes. I called for submissions using the tag line “Lovecraftian cosmic horror stories with a modern sensibility.”

The cool thing about asking creative people to respond to a call is that you will often get more than you expected. For CL, I got some stories about things that Lovecraft never imagined because he was from a very different time. For example, 3D printers, spying internet programs, Higgs bosons – and steampunk Europe.

I didn’t have access to a group of known cosmic horror writers. In fact, I didn’t know when I put out the call if we would even get enough good stories to fill the book. At the same time I put out another call for a different book, this one for dark, modern fairy tales, and I got only three stories that I considered suitable, so I had to cancel that book.

After the open call for Cthulhu Lives!, I had thirteen good stories, stories I felt could make the grade either with or without a bit of extra work from the author. After putting them all together, I only had 55,000 words. Tim Dedopulos, the managing editor of Ghostwoods Books, told me I had to get the word count up to at least 70,000 before we could publish.

At that point, I asked writers I knew who I felt were up to the task. I have to say that Gethin Lynes was amazing here. He had been helping me copyedit the stories I already had. In order to help him grok some of the editing decisions I made, I suggested he read some Lovecraft. (He’s Australian, and Lovecraft isn’t as popular there as in the US.) When I needed stories, he wanted to write one. “The Highland Air” was the result, and it’s one of my favorite stories in the book.

Read More »


Chaotic and Lawful Alignments in Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

ThreeHeartsI’m willing to bet that Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions published in 1953 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (and Anderson’s close friend and frequent collaborator Gordon R. Dickson’s St. Dragon and the George, published likewise in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction at about the same time – later republished as The Dragon and the George) owes quite a bit to Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. And Anderson doesn’t disguise this, for he at least once overtly references Twain’s historical romance when he has his protagonist, Holger Carlsen (a “Carl” again!), unconvincingly scare away a band of barbarians by using his tobacco pipe to blow smoke out of his mouth. The work further encourages comparisons to Twain’s book through Holger’s use of other “Enlightenment” tricks in a secondary world, and Anderson uses bookends reminiscent of Twain’s. Anderson’s bookends here are worth a closer look.

Holger Carlsen’s history, as relayed by an unspecified narrator, funhouse-mirrors Anderson’s personal history. In a book profiling Supernatural Fiction Writers, Ronald Tweet reports that Anderson was born to Danish parents and lived in Denmark for a while previous to WWII. Holger of Three Hearts and Three Lions is a Dane who, after wandering Europe, starts attending an Eastern university in the U.S. When WWII breaks out, he goes back to Denmark, where, through fairly compressed and elliptical telling, the narrator says that Holger eventually ends up in a pistol fight with Germans. At this point, “all his world [blows] up in flame and darkness.” And Holger finds himself in a fantasy world.

In light of Anderson’s own biographical information, one is tempted to believe that much of this work is the result of a highly personal fantasy, a kind of daydream out of which many fantasies certainly must arise. I’m sure that most of us have fantasized about being an important person in an important place – If only we could get there, somehow!

Read More »


Black Static #44 Now on Sale

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 44-smallI stumbled on my first copy of Black Static, issue #40, at a Barnes and Noble here in Chicago last year, and I was very impressed. The magazine is beautifully designed and illustrated, with top-notch writing and some great columns. It’s exactly the kind of thing I like to take with me on long plane rides.

I’ve been tracking down subsequent issues and writing about them here, because I think you deserve to know about them. Also, because really excellent fantasy magazines are a vanishing breed, and they deserve your support. Issue #44 is cover-dated January/February, which means it’s still on sale here in the US. The fiction contents are:

“Going Back to the World” by Simon Avery
“The Absent Shade” by Priya Sharma
“The Fishers of Men” by Jackson Kuhl
“Sweet Water” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Samhain” by Tyler Keevil

Yes, that’s our own Jackson Kuhl in the TOC. Jackson’s last article for us was his review of Jeffrey E. Barlough’s The Cobbler of Ridingham, which appeared here last week. On his blog, Jackson talks a little about selling his story, “The Fishers of Men,” to a British market like Black Static:

I was a little shocked when [Black Static editor] Andy Cox accepted “Fishers;” it is a very American story and when I sent it I wasn’t sure the historical background would translate. But I suppose I don’t have to know the intricacies of lines of royal succession or the industrialization of Greater Manchester to enjoy M.R. James, Robert Aickman, or Susanna Clarke (to name the three most recent authors I’ve read), so perhaps the width of the Atlantic isn’t as great as I sometimes imagine.

Read More »


Michael Moorcock’s Fantasy Autobiography: The Whispering Swarm

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 | Posted by James McGlothlin

The Whispering Storm-smallMichael Moorcock is a giant. He is probably most famous for his Elric of Melniboné stories, but he also has written many other fine works. In addition, he is also well known for having been the editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds from 1964 to 1971. From this position Moorcock is usually credited with fostering the development of the New Wave in science fiction and fantasy.

Personally, I have been a big Moorcock fan for years and was something of a rabid devotee in junior high. I read the Elric stories over and over, almost memorized the “Melnibonéan Mythos” section of the Dungeons and Dragons Deities and Demigods book, and even bought the old Chaosium RPG Stormbringer, which was based on Moorcock’s Elric tales.

So I was incredibly excited when I heard that Moorcock was releasing a new novel, The Whispering Swarm, the first in a new trilogy. Having just finished it, I have to say that it is one of the most unique books I have ever read. Described in a sentence: It’s part fantasy and it purports be part autobiographical.

What?!

I think a little light can be shed on the book’s conception with the following.

StarShipSofa, the excellent British science fiction podcast and website, interviewed Moorcock back in 2008 (if you’re interested, you can watch it here). At one point in the interview, Moorcock relates that his publisher thought he should write a memoir. But Moorcock admits that he is very reticent to do so because many of the people he would be writing about are still alive, and he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings — nor did he want to get into any “he said vs. she said” controversies.

Read More »


  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2015 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.