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Future Treasures: Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Mirror Sight-smallOne of the most rewarding things about running a pair of fan sites for nearly two decades — starting with SF Site in 1996, and continuing with the BG blog in late 2000 — has been being on the scene when a major new talent debuts. Those are the books your remember: Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, Martha Wells’The Element of Fire, Jeff VanderMeer’s City of Saints and Madmen, James Enge’s Blood of Ambrose, Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora… and Kristen Britain’s Green Rider.

Green Rider made a huge splash with my small staff when it arrived in April 2000. Even my sister-in-law called me to complain, because I’d handed my niece a copy and now she wouldn’t budge from her room until she’d finished it. It was fast-paced, exciting, and everyone was asking me if there was going to be a sequel. (How the heck should I know?)

Well, there was a sequel — First Rider’s Call, in 2004 — followed by The High King’s Tomb (2008) and Blackveil (2012). And now the long-awaited fifth volume of one of the most popular fantasy series of the 21st Century is scheduled to arrive next month. My copy arrived this week, and it looks fabulous.

Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider — a seasoned member of the elite messenger corps of King Zachary of Sacoridia. King Zachary sends Karigan and a contingent of Sacoridians beyond the edges of his nation, into the mysterious Blackveil Forest, which has been tainted with dark magic by a twisted immortal spirit named Mornhavon the Black.

At the end of Blackveil, in a magical confrontation against Mornhavon, Karigan is jolted out of Blackveil Forest and wakes in darkness. She’s lying on smooth, cold stone, but as she reaches out, she realizes that the stone is not just beneath her, but above and around her as well. She’s landed in a sealed stone sarcophagus, some unknown tomb, and the air is becoming thin.

Is this to be her end? If she escapes, where will she find herself? Is she still in the world she remembers, or has the magical explosion transported her somewhere completely different? To find out, she must first win free of her prison — before it becomes her grave. And should she succeed, will she be walking straight into a trap created by Mornhavon himself?

Mirror Sight will be published by DAW Books on May 6th. It is 775 pages, priced at $27.95 in hardcover and $11.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Donato Giancola.


Ed Greenwood and Tattoos and Geek Inked at Ad Astra in Toronto

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

250px-Elminster_Enraged546987-LI last blogged from the Saturday morning of As Astra, one of Toronto’s premiere fan conventions. While I was there, I had the good fun of running into Ed Greenwood, Ad Astra Special Guest, and one of the early D&D legends.

Ed and I breakfasted and chatted, which seems to be turning into an annual thing because we both get up early. Ed is still super-busy turning out lots of new game tie-in novels.

Later on, he was interviewed by Geek Inked magazine and spoke on not only his experiences with early D&D, some of his current projects and hints at some of his others, but also tattoos! Geek Inked is an online magazine that obviously specializes in Geeks and Tattoos, so the conversation, as it says in the mandate of Geek Inked, goes interestingly sideways.

I wanted to share these two segments of the interview because the conversation relates back to some of the themes I touched on in my interview with module-writer Geoff Gander, especially about some of the opportunities opening up with crowd-funding.

That interview with Geoof, incidentally, also encouraged me to pull out my old Basic and Expert rules and look at the free common source Basic modules available online and start introducing my son to D&D. It turns out his interest is 100% on the dungeon crawl and 0% on the role playing. :)  Check it out here.

Major props to Rob at Geek Inked Magazine for an excellent interview.


Derek Künsken is a writer of science fiction and fantasy in Ottawa, Canada. You can find out more about him at www.derekkunsken.com or @derekkunsken.


New Treasures: The Raven’s Shadow by Elspeth Cooper

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Raven's Shadow-smallElspeth Cooper is a British fantasy writer whose first novel, Songs of the Earth, appeared in February 2012. It kicked off a new series, The Wild Hunt, with the tale of Novice Church Knight Gair, a man sentenced to death — and ultimately exiled — for his magical abilities.

The sequel, Trinity Rising, appeared in February 2013. Gair has proven himself to be the most powerful Guardian, but he’s still bound by grief over the loss of his home and his beloved. Gair and his mentor Alderan are being hunted by those who seek to extinguish the power of the song, and Gair quickly discovers he’s hurtling towards a conflict greater and more deadly than either of them expected. The third volume, newly arrived in March, finds war brewing on both sides of the Veil between the worlds.

The desert of Gimrael is aflame with violence, and in the far north an ancient hatred is about to spill over into the renewal of a war that, a thousand years ago, forged an empire. This time, it may shatter one.

Wrestling with his failing grip on the power of the Song, and still trying to come to terms with the horrifying events he witnessed in El Maqqam, Gair returns to the mainland with only one thing on his mind: vengeance. It may cost him his life, but when everything that he had to live for is being stripped away from him, that may be a fair price to pay.

Old friends and old foes converge in a battle of wills to stem the tide of the Nimrothi clans as they charge south to reclaim the lands lost in the Founding Wars. If they succeed, the rest of the empire may be their next target. And with the Wild Hunt at their head, the overstretched Imperial Army may not be enough to stop them.

Elspeth Cooper’s website has book trailers, summaries, and the first three chapters of all three books — including a sneak peek at her next book, The Dragon House. Check it out here.

The Raven’s Shadow was published by Tor Books on March 11. It is 567 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition. The cover art is by Dominic Harman.


The Series Series: The Barrow by Mark Smylie

Friday, April 18th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Avery

The Barrow-smallThe book mugged me. It was supposed to stay safely several weeks down in my queue while I kept commitments to other law-abiding books that had been waiting patiently for review. Then up walks The Barrow, brazen as you please, distracts me by flashing its jacket copy, and steals two weeks of all my attention right out of my calendar. But what else can you expect from a book full of gangsters, extortionists, rabble-rousers, mercenaries, slumming disgraced nobility, and assorted other low-life types?

I haven’t quite figured out how Mark Smylie pulled it off. The book has some obvious excellences, and some obvious failings, and some oddities that might be mistaken for one only to turn out to be the other. I’ll need to read more of Smylie’s work to figure out what tipped the balance in the book’s favor.

I found most of the characters somewhere between off-putting and odious, and nearly every time the body count went up by one, I was relieved at not having to put up with that character for one page longer. It’s as if Smylie had set himself the task of outdoing George R.R. Martin for grittiness of characterization, and overshot by twenty miles.

There are readers who love that sort of thing; I’m not usually one of them. As the endgame of the novel came in sight, there were only three characters I cared about at all — the enigmatic hero Stjepan Black-Heart, the cross-dressing street fighter Erim, and the disgraced noblewoman Annwyn. I kept coming back to my two snarky rhetorical questions: How are these two women going to survive ten more minutes surrounded by all those sociopaths? And when is Stjepan going to have a male friend who does not suck?

Only it turns out those are the questions that matter most, and several of the glitches I had mistaken for goofs on the author’s part ended up being the keys to the story’s other puzzles.

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Blogging Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon, Part Twelve

Friday, April 18th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Barry Gordonkurtzman_flash_gordon_cvr11“Starling” by Dan Barry was serialized by King Features Syndicate from July 11 to September 3, 1955. “Starling” starts off with Flash visiting Dr. Zarkov one evening to find his old friend depressed, as the U.S. Government has turned down his request for an additional million dollars funding to finish construction of the Super-S Rocket. It is a nice hint of direction for the strip to come, which will take the series closer to its roots. Flash and Zarkov are startled by the discovery of a prowler outside, but the man gets away.

Over the next few days, similar disturbing incidents occur. Flash and Dale are nearly run down by a speeding car while out walking one afternoon on the grounds of Zarkov’s estate. Later, a crate is dropped off the roof of a downtown building when Flash is walking beneath and just misses him. Shortly thereafter, Zarkov receives a telephone call from B. B. Remsen, the billionaire industrialist requesting an interview with Flash.

Upon visiting Remsen’s estate, Flash is outraged to discover Remsen hired his goon, Byron, to test Flash’s reflexes by nearly running him down with a speeding car and dropping a crate off a building. Byron was the prowler at Zarkov’s estate who learned of the need for financing for the Super-S Rocket. Remsen agrees to finance the rocket if Flash will take on a unique assignment. Remsen’s very wild granddaughter, Starling, wants to travel in space and Remsen wants Flash to pilot the rocket that will take her to the stars.

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The Mind and Soul of an Honest Creator: Paul Di Filippo on Robert Moore Williams

Friday, April 18th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Time Tolls for Toro-smallOver at Locus Online, author Paul Di Filippo reviews the latest in the Masters of Science Fiction line from Armchair Fiction, Time Tolls For Toro and Other Stories by Robert Moore Williams, which collects a nice assortment of pulp fiction from Super Science Stories, Amazing Stories, Fantastic Universe, Planet Stories, and Imaginative Tales from 1950 – 1959.

Like a combination of Asimov’s robot stories and Simak’s robot stories, “The Soul Makers” (Super Science Stories, 1950) takes us to the far-off year of 1987, in the middle of an atomic war. Humanity’s sentient robots are going AWOL, and the two men sent to discover the reason uncover more than they anticipated. Williams extracts a fair measure of pathos from the noble actions of the robots, and the inevitable doom and rebirth of humanity… “The Diamond Images” (Fantastic Universe, 1959) is one of those “Old Venus” tales so common in the consensus future history of this era. A butterfly collector named Wolder has made friends with the seemingly unsophisticated Venusians after eight years among them. But then his son arrives, unwittingly leading pirates to the treasure of the natives…

There’s an almost Ballardian feel to the opening of “To the End of Time” (Super Science Stories, 1950). A Venusian song, brought back to Earth, is literally driving people insane. Into the jungle wastelands of Venus, our psychologist hero Thorndyke sets out to find a cure, encountering a strange race of Venusians and the human missionary and his beautiful daughter who minister to them…

Reading this volume is no chore or dull swotting up of past history for academic purposes. The stories, however creaky at times, remain very entertaining and illustrative of the mind and soul of one honest creator, doing the best he could to enrich the soil of the genre.

Read the complete article here. We covered the launch of Armchair Fiction back in January 2012 and Paul’s review of Masters of Science Fiction Vol. #8, Milton Lesser’s A is for Android, last May.

Masters of Science Fiction, Volume Ten: Time Tolls For Toro and Other Stories by Robert Moore Williams was published by Armchair Fiction on January 22, 2014. It is 320 pages, priced at $16.95 in trade paperback. There is no digital edition. No word on who did the cover… Emsh, maybe?


Ivar the Boneless; the Dark Age Rommel!

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 | Posted by M Harold Page

Ivar Campaigns Black Gate

“a slow-motion Field Marshal Rommel”

In AD 851, an Arab merchant visited Tang dynasty China, admired the quality of the porcelain, relished its delicate transparency… but enough about civilized folk!

In the same year, in the hairy, sweaty West, Ivar the Boneless sailed in from nowhere with a posse of Viking longships and seized Dublin with the usual mayhem and slaughter.

He didn’t take it from the Irish, because it was founded by Vikings as a base for slaving and trading (usually the same thing). He didn’t take it from the Vikings who founded Dublin, because a previous wave of Vikings had taken it from them.

So Ivar the Boneless claim-jumped the claim jumpers and with his brother Olaf the White settled in to ruling a town that was basically Mos Eisley but with more Thor worship (they had a very nice grove outside the walls) and fewer aliens (unless you count foreign merchants).

“Settling in” meant stomping on everybody else within reach, teaming up with one clan of Irish kings (there were lots of them) to war on an ungodly alliance of established Irish Kings and Viking settlers. The Death Star moment came after fifteen years of war in AD 866, when Ivar’s forces stormed Clonard Monastery. Olaf the White drowned King Conchobar in a handy font and peace broke out.

What happened next makes Ivar the Boneless look like a slow-motion Field Marshal Rommel.

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Goth Chick News: An Anniversary Edition of the Ultimate Novelization

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Alien Alan Dean Foster-smallI’ll never forget my first time.

I was a very young Goth Chick, spending a typical Saturday combing the used paperbacks for sale at my local library. It’s hard to feed a literary addiction on a six-grader’s salary, as I know every last one of you understand.

And there it was.

Dog-eared and minus its back cover, but with that impossible-to-miss front cover art. It was based on the movie I wasn’t allowed to watch, the one with the R-rating, which obviously meant it was the best movie ever committed to film. Or at least the scariest.

My parents clearly had not considered the library a place to land contraband of this magnitude.

I bolted for the front desk, threw my two quarters at the librarian, waved the yellowed, pulpy tome in her general direction, and exited the library to the adjacent park where I sat planted for the remainder of the afternoon – transfixed.

That was where I fell in twisted, grossed-out love with the movie Alien – and the man who told me the story (which is better than seeing it anyway), Mr. Alan Dean Foster.  It was the beginning of a long and intense relationship, at least by sixth-grade standards.

Back then, a used-book seller would have been the most likely place to have found a copy of Alien, a book which has been out of print since 1992. A pity, since it is widely considered the defining testament to how a novelization can complement an already-great film.

But this week, all that changed.

On Tuesday, April 15th, in honor of its 35th anniversary, Titan Books released a new printing of Alien: The Official Movie Novelization.

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George R.R. Martin is Spoiling HBO’s Game of Thrones

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

George RR Martin A Game of Thrones-smallThis article has been making the rounds on the Internet since it was posted yesterday at UK satire site Underground Magazine — and it’s too good not to share. Funny as it is, the numerous outraged comments it’s received, from shall-we-say less informed fans of the HBO show, are equally hilarious (see some of the comments at Weird Tales’ Facebook post here).

The entertainment industry was today warning fans of the popular HBO series Game Of Thrones to avoid ‘at all costs’ a series of books by a rogue enthusiast named George R.R. Martin, who has written five whole volumes consisting solely of spoilers for the popular television show.

“This man is dangerous and wants to ruin everyone’s enjoyment of a much-loved fantasy drama.” said executive producer D. B. Weiss. “It’s a sad symptom of today’s ‘binge’ culture that people can’t just wait and enjoy things as they are released. They want everything at once…”

Some of the books in question, which add up to a total of some 4,200 pages, contain so many spoilers that they have had to be split into volumes. HBO executives are investigating how Martin is able to work on new editions set far in advance of the current TV series.

TV fan Simon Rix told us he “picked up a copy of one of the books thinking it was a companion piece or a spin-off from the TV show, but after reading all of them in one week, I had the whole show ruined for me in intricate detail. There were characters I’d never heard of, plot lines that went way off course, and not nearly as much nudity.”

Read the complete article here.


New Treasures: The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths edited by Mark Valentine

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Black Veil and Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths-smallI love these Wordsworth Tales of Mystery And The Supernatural volumes. They’ve compact, attractive, and inexpensive — they look great on the shelf, and they make quick reads. Plus, they’re just so darned collectible.

My latest acquisition is already one of my favorites. We’ve paid a lot of attention to Supernatural Sleuths at Black Gate over the years, from William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki The Ghost Finder to Manly Wade Wellman’s John Thunstone and Silver John stories, and Paula Guran’s terrific recent anthology Weird Detectives – and deservedly so. This has been a year of terrible weather and when it’s cold, dark, and blustery outside, the best antidote is to curl up with a cozy blanket and a warm beverage, and share the adventures of an intrepid occult detective.

Our real expert is Josh Reynolds, who over the last few years has covered many of the most famous literary examples in his series on The Nightmare Men – from Sheridan Le Fanu’s Dr. Martin Hesselius to Aylmer Vance, The Ghost-Seeker; from Manly Wade Wellman’s stalwart Judge Keith Hilary Pursuivant to Seabury Quinn’s always resourceful Jules de Grandin.

Looking back over all those articles, you may just find yourself more than a little curious. But where to start? Why not start with Mark Valentine’s generous collection of some of the best short stories featuring some of the greatest  supernatural sleuths in all of literature?

The Gateway of the Monster… The Red Hand… The Ghost Hunter

To Sherlock Holmes the supernatural was a closed book: but other great detectives have always been ready to do battle with the dark instead. This volume brings together sixteen chilling cases of these supernatural sleuths, pitting themselves against the peril of ultimate evil.

Here are encounters from the casebooks of the Victorian haunted house investigators John Bell and Flaxman Low, from Carnacki, the Edwardian battler against the abyss, and from horror master Arthur Machen s Mr Dyson, a man-about-town and meddler in strange things. Connoisseurs will find rare cases such as those of Allen Upward s The Ghost Hunter, Robert Barr s Eugene Valmont (who may have inspired Agatha Christie s Hercule Poirot) and Donald Campbell s young explorer Leslie Vane, the James Bond of the jazz age, who battles against occult enemies of the British Empire. And the collection is completed by some of the best tales from the pens of modern psychic sleuth authors.

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