Goth Chick News Reviews: The Sword of Michael – Authored by an Exorcist

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Sword of Michael-smallWhen a publicist contacts me in October to see if I’d like to review a new novel with demons and zombies, written by an exorcist, I think two things. First – monsters? Perfect timing, it is October after all. And second – do exorcists actually have publicists?

The answer apparently is yes, and good ones at that.

The publicists are none other than our friends over at Wunderkind PR who have always been excellent sources of Goth Chick News material. The novel in question is The Sword of Michael; book one in a new contemporary fantasy saga. And the author is Marcus Wynne, a trained depossessionist.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure where to look first. The book certainly caught my attention, as the Wunderkind team knew it would. But as a devotee of such things, it was the word depossessionist which drew my attention immediately, as I had never heard the term before. What I learned was this:

Depossession is the act of exorcising attached discarnate human spirits and nonhuman spirits, allegedly attached to living people, causing a host of physical, mental, and emotional ills. Various types of depossession are practiced throughout the world and are different from exorcisms which refer to demonic possession.

Okay, click “add to dictionary” on the word depossession — now I’m extremely interested. But before we explore Marcus Wynne and his fascinating vocation, let’s start with a look at his book, The Sword of Michael.

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Find the Conflict: Unblocking (or Actually Planning!) your NaNoWriMo Novel

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by M Harold Page

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image

Let’s imagine I’m my 20-something self and this is my NaNoWriMo project

Last week, I did a kind of public service announcement about “pantsing”, the “just write” school of  writing — discovery writing — applied to your NaNoWriMo novel.

Truth is, I hate pantsing. Pantsing is why my old hard drive had a dozen first three chapters gathering bitrot. The only thing I discovered in several years of writing this way was the need to outline.

OK, there are pros who do pants. However, there are lots of other pros who swear by planning. Not just minor writers like your’s truly (bows), but rising stars like my mate Hannu who is very much a planner and an outliner (though he drafts by hand — hello, the 17th century called ).

Now, NaNoWriMo is all about literary elan; “Get the words down, doesn’t matter how bad.” And if you’re all about the word count, then it’s probably asking a bit much to get you to metaphorically sit on your hands and sketch out your story before pushing out the paragraphs. Even so, there’s a good chance that you’ll write yourself into a corner, or get stuck, run out of plot. Get blocked. So I thought you might find it useful if I shared an approach I used last year when writing novels to order — professionally, my 2013 was like NaNoWriMo does Groundhog Day.

Just to keep me honest, I went over to the Thrilling Tales Derange-O-Lab, generated random pulp titles, picked one that jumped out and built a cover for it (right).

Let’s imagine I’m my 20-something self and this is my NaNoWriMo project, The Eternal Dome of the Unknowable.

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Book Review: Shackleton by Michael Smith

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

The furthest south of the Nimrod expedition, 9 January 1909. From left to right: Jameson Boyd Adams, Frank Wild, and Ernest Shackleton pose for a self portrait at 88°23'S, only 97 geographical miles (178 km) from the South Pole.

The furthest south of the Nimrod expedition, 9 January 1909. From left to right: Jameson Boyd Adams, Frank Wild, and Ernest Shackleton pose for a self portrait at 88°23′S, only 97 geographical miles (178 km) from the South Pole.

As the world marks the centennial of World War One, it’s in danger of forgetting that the year 1914 saw the beginning of one of the most ambitious Antarctic expeditions ever launched, the Endurance expedition led by Ernest Shackleton. A complex and driven man, Shackleton’s accomplishments were overshadowed by personal failures and a global war.

There hasn’t been a full biography of Shackleton since 1985, so to mark the centennial, Polar exploration expert Michael Smith has come out with Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer. This detailed, 440-page study traces Shackleton’s life from his Anglo-Irish roots through his early years at sea and his first Antarctic expedition as a member of Scott’s Discovery expedition.

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New Treasures: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Radiant Karina Sumner-Smith-smallThe surest way to get my attention these days is with an original setting. And I was struck by the darkly imaginative setting of Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel Radiant immediately.

Sumner-Smith is a Canadian author of fantasy, science fiction, and young adult fiction. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula award and has appeared in The Living Dead 2, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three, and other places. Radiant is the first book of the Towers Trilogy.

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body — any body — so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless — until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

Radiant was published by Talos Press on October 7, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version.


Nab the Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic Anthology for Just $4.35 at Amazon.com

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Trafficking in Magic Magicking in Traffic-smallBlack Gate author, blogger, and roving correspondent Sarah Avery reports in with some unexpected news: Amazon.com has discounted her acclaimed new anthology Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic to just $4.35, a steep 73% savings off the $15 cover price.

Sarah and her publisher are not sure how long the sale will last, however, so act fast. Of special interest to Black Gate fans, it contains a brand new story from James Enge — as well as fiction from Elizabeth Bear, Darrell Schweitzer, Pauline J. Alama, and many others. Here’s the complete description.

What do you seek at the end of this road? What have you brought to pay your way? The road is full of hazards, and the marketplace can cost more than you expect.

In Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic, editors David Sklar and Sarah Avery bring you 18 magical tales of travel and transactions, ranging from busking in a train station to walking between the worlds, from doppelgangers for hire to capturing the remnants of the dead.

Ideal to read on your vacation, commute, or flight from vengeful ghosts, this collection features classic stories by Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Braum, George R. Galuschak and Darrell Schweitzer, as well as new work by Pauline J. Alama, Megan Arkenberg, D.W. Carlson, Joyce Chng, M.C. DeMarco, E. Grace Diehl, James Enge, Manny Frishberg, Sara M. Harvey, Scott Hungerford, Deborah Grabien, Deirdre M. Murphy, Rhonda Parrish, Richard Rider, and Heather Stearns.

Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic was edited by David Sklar and Sarah Avery, and published by Fantastic Books on May 23, 2014. It is 264 pages, regularly priced at $15.99 in paperback. There is no digital edition. Order online from Amazon.com.


Game Review: Dead of Winter from Plaid Hat Games

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by eeknight

dead-of-winter-boxColor me rotting-flesh green and call me thunderstruck. I believe I’ve been playing the best board game in my thirty years of dice rolling this week: the Plaid Hat Games survival horror magnificence that is Dead of Winter.

Ron Burgundy “That’s No Lie” seal of approval. I know I often write here with tongue probing my cheek, but this time I’m undeadly serious. Maybe it was just the subject matter, or how dark the game can get as desperation builds, but I found it my most enjoyable gaming session in memory.

I’m not just trying to squeeze in another gore-dripped Zombie-related post before Halloween, either. I was perfectly willing to let my one sad little movie post for the month be my fall contribution, but honestly, this game has taken over my brain like a Venusian virus brought back to Earth and I must write about it.

Like tabletop gaming with friends? Like Zombies? If either of these conditions = TRUE, you can read through all my blah blah questionable-humor blah blah blah, or you can get off the Internet, utilize your preferred mode of transport (I don’t care about your hair, that’s why God created baseball hats), go to your Friendly Local Game Store and grab this jewel so you can read the rules and play it over the course of Halloween all the more quickly.

You’re welcome.

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See Westeros the Way George R.R. Martin Intended in The World of Ice & Fire

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Dragonstone

Dragonstone

If you’ve been watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, then you’ve already been treated to some spectacular sights.

It seems George R.R. Martin is not content to let HBO be the final word on the visual splendor of Westeros, however. His new book The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, released this week, gives Game of Thrones fans the chance to see visions of Martin’s world that are much closer to what he intended.

In an interview at The Huffington Post, Martin explains why there are so many pictures of castles:

I wanted accurate versions of these castles. We’ve had a number of different artists draw them on covers and on the fantasy like cards and games, and some of them have been beautiful images but not necessarily accurate to what I described.

The World of Ice & Fire, co-authored with Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson, who run the site Westeros.org, isn’t just an art book, however. It’s a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms — all the battles, betrayals, and back-room deals that lead to the events of Martin’s novels. It includes full family trees for Houses Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen; detailed histories of the cultures of Westeros; and more than 170 pieces of original art and maps, many in full-color.

See five high-resolution images from the book at The Huffington Post article here. The World of Ice & Fire was published on October 28 by Bantam Books. It is 336 pages, priced at $50 in hardcover and $19.99 for the digital edition.


Get a Dozen E-books for Just $1.99 Each from Harper Voyager

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Ghosts By Gaslight-smallHarper Voyager has announced a special Halloween sale: a dozen urban fantasy, science fiction, and horror ebooks are on sale for $1.99 or less.

Titles on the list include novels from Vicki Pettersson, Nick Cole’s Soda Pop Soldier, The Stolen by Bishop O’Connell, Katherine Harbor’s Thorn Jack, Jack Heckel’s Once Upon a Rhyme, and additional suitable Halloween fare.

Also included is the excellent anthology Ghosts By Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense, edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers, containing seventeen all-new stories from Peter Beagle, James Morrow, Sean Williams, Gene Wolfe, Garth Nix, Jeffery Ford, Robert Silverberg, and others. This one’s well worth your attention, and at $1.99 you can’t go wrong.

The sale is for a limited time only — presumably until at least Halloween – so be sure to move quickly.

See the complete list of available titles here.


Art of the Genre: Owning a Time Machine

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Working with artist Den Beauvais on a new Chess cover was a thrill beyond words for an old art geek like me!

Working with artist Den Beauvais on a new Chess cover was a thrill beyond words for an old art geek like me!

It’s true, in a sense. You see, I work as the Art Director for Gygax Magazine, and as such I’m tasked with trying to recreate the artistic feel of Dragon Magazine circa 1984. So, I spend my days not only going over old art, but also trying my best to discover new talent that somehow reflects some of the best aspects of the OSR.

Certainly, there have been others that have tried this type of nostalgia-based marketing. Goodman Games comes to mind with their initial line of Dungeon Crawl Classics, and the same could be said for Rob Kuntz and his Pied Piper Press in the mid-2000s.

Still, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You can’t simply plug in old artists and make everything perfect. Talents evolve, and in some cases erode, and working with established artists who have trademark styles sometimes limits your ability to direct them inside a product.  Egos must be taken into account, as well as their vision versus yours, and finally how a price point that satisfies everyone can be achieved.

It can be a position of highs and lows, and I’ve had some great successes as well as failures along the way, but never once did I say ‘this just isn’t worth it.’

Why?  Because I love the art.  I love the artists, and having gone so deep into their world, I understand all too well the struggles they face on a daily basis. Each time I get the opportunity to pick up a phone, call an artist, and offer them work is what gives my job meaning.

Gygax provides this incredible vehicle to do just that, and when you finally get to hold the magazine in your hands, feel it just like you did that Dragon Magazine when you were in your teens, you understand just how special it really is.

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Robert Silverberg on Cannon Propulsion in Space

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Original Science Fiction Stories February 1959-smallIn my Sunday article on The Art of The Original Science Fiction Stories magazine, I called out the bizarrely goofy February 1959 cover (right), illustrating “Delivery Guaranteed” by Calvin M. Knox (Robert Silverberg). It’s the kind of gonzo image that only could have fit on a 1950s science fiction digest; but I was dying to know if Bob’s story actually had an intrepid couple piloting a cannon-powered wooden raft in space, and how the cover came about. Bob was gracious enough to answer; here’s what he said:

I often worked with Ed Emsh to produce cover/cover story combos for [editor Robert] Lowndes. Ed would come into the office with an idea, I would wrap a plot around it, Ed would go home and paint a picture, and I would write the story. It was Ed who thought a cannon might be sufficiently Newtonian to provide reaction mass in space; I agreed in delight, and that was how “Delivery Guaranteed” happened. (Randall Garrett sometimes wrote cover stories too, and one time Ed turned in a painting showing the drive room of a spaceship, with his signature, EMSH, on the base of the biggest gizmo. Randy promptly dubbed the gizmo “the Remshaw Drive” and made it clear that the four visible letters were part of the manufacturer’s label.)

I also asked about the cover of the November 1955 issue, illustrating Clifford D. Simak’s “Full Cycle,” which was re-used on the March 1959 issue of Double-Action Detective and Mystery Stories. (See the full article for details.)

In the case of the Simak/Silverberg story, Bob Lowndes was just being thrifty toward the end of the life of his magazine group, and recycled that Simak painting to use with my story in his crime mag a couple of years later.

Read the complete article here. And thanks to Robert Silverberg for being gracious enough to solve those mysteries for us!


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