Read An Interview With Author Christopher Moore, Windycon 42 Guest of Honor

Sunday, April 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Christopher Moore-smallMy Guest-of-Honor interview with Christopher Moore, author of Bloodsucking Fiends, Coyote Blue, and many other fine fantasy novels, has just been posted. Here’s a sample.

So, did you became a full-time writer with your very first novel? Because, damn.

I did. Disney bought the film rights to Practical Demonkeeping before the book rights ever sold and that gave me enough money to quit my job as a waiter and go to writing full time. Although I didn’t get paid for six months and I ended up kiting credit cards and eating grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on credit at my friend’s diner… I wrote my first three books in his diner.

I’m interested in what you felt you were writing. What genre, I mean. I frequently hear you described as a “comic fantasy” writer. Did you set out to be a fantasy writer?

I didn’t really think about genre. I knew what I was doing would be “between genres.” I had read an essay by Kirby McCauley, who was, I think, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin’s agent at the time, that said, “any genre can be combined with horror except for whimsy. Whimsy and horror just won’t work.”

Something like that. So I decided, “Hey, I think I’ll write a whimsical horror novel.”

Read the complete interview at the Windycon 42 blog.


The Three Phases of Marvel’s Adam Warlock: Last Half of Part Two – The Thanos Arc

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Warlock_Vol_1_12Adam Warlock was one of those brooding, tragic, lonely heroes I gravitated to as a thirteen-year old, along with Dr. Strange and Son-of-Satan and the oddball Defenders. I’ve broken up Warlock’s chronology into the three phases. I covered the first, the pre-Jim Starlin era, in my first post. I covered the first half of Jim Starlin’s 1975-1977 run, the Magus saga, in my second post.

Today, I’ll discuss the last half of Starlin’s run in the 1970s, where Thanos plays the big heavy. As always, this post is nothing but spoilers, so read it with your eyes closed if you still haven’t read Warlock. If you’d prefer to read the comics first, they’re all available at comixology.com; today’s Adam story covers Warlock 12-15, Marvel Team-Up 55, Avengers Annual 7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual 2.

So, although Thanos helped Adam Warlock killed his future evil self in Warlock 11, he doesn’t come back immediately. Thanos is the Titan with a plan, and so Starlin takes a couple of episodic detours.

First, Pip the Troll, the moral degenerate who is Adam’s only friend, avoids arrest by trying to spring a prostitute from her pimp. Hilarity and tongue-in-cheek ensue. I’ve never been a Pip fan, but I get how Adam’s unique and tragic fate means he gets to have one friend in life (one and a half if you count Gamorra).

Then Adam fights the Star-Thief, another original and surreal creation of Starlin’s. A man born on Earth, with a functioning brain but bereft of the five senses, the Star-Thief is completely trapped in his mind. With nothing else, he explores the inner parts of his brain, gaining tremendous power and a grudge against humanity that makes him want to extinguish the stars.

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New Treasures: Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Freeport The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG-smallFreeport is one of my favorite RPG settings. It debuted in a slender 32-page module called Death in Freeport, from a young company called Green Ronin Publishing, at GenCon 2000 — simultaneous with the Third Edition D&D Player’s Handbook. As the first adventure to take advantage of the OGL (Open Game License), it was one of two products that launched the d20 era.

Freeport has been expanded and supported with a host of products over the years, and now Green Ronin has upgraded the setting for Pathfinder with a massive new full color hardback edition, with new locations, new NPCs, and a brand new adventure for low-level characters. It was funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign that completed on April 1, 2013 — and now you can share in the fruits of that success.

Freeport is one of the classic city settings of fantasy roleplaying and it’s back — bigger and better — in this monstrous new sourcebook for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Clocking in at a massive 544 pages, Freeport: The City of Adventure lovingly details a metropolis that mixes fantasy tropes, piracy, and Lovecraftian horror into an action packed setting for your RPG campaign. The city is now more detailed than ever, with added locations, characters, hooks, and a brand new, full-length adventure. The book, featuring a cover by fan favorite artist Wayne Reynolds and a fold-out map of the city, also includes full rules support for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: new classes, archetypes, feats, and magic items. As always you can use Freeport on its own or drop it into your campaign setting of choice. So set sail for Freeport, mateys! Come for the pirates, stay for the cosmic horror!

Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG will be published by Green Ronin on April 29, 2015. It is 544 pages in hardcover, priced at $74.95 or $29.99 for the PDF. Learn more at the Kickstarter page here.


Vintage Treasures: Madouc by Jack Vance

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Madouc Jack Vance Ace Books-small

I’ve spent some time recently talking about some of Jack Vance’s most popular series, including The Dying Earth and Planet of Adventure. But the book that introduced me to Vance was the third volume of his high fantasy Lyonesse trilogy, Madouc, originally published in hardcover by Underwood Miller in 1989, and reprinted in trade paperback by Ace Books with a gorgeous Sanjulian cover in 1990 (above).

It’s usually tough to come to a fantasy trilogy with the third volume, but Vance made it easy. In fact, I was only dimly aware that it was part of a series as I read it. What I most remember about Madouc was that it was funny, gripping, vivid, and unlike anything else I’d ever read. Vance took subject matter wholly familiar to every modern fantasy reader — the Land of Faerie — and made it fresh and new.

Madouc won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1990, beating out some pretty stiff competition, including Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons, Soldier of Arete by Gene Wolfe, and The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers. My friend Rodger Turner, with whom I founded SF Site a few years later, was a Judge that year, and I remember asking him about it shortly after I finished reading Carrion Comfort, which I was convinced would be the hands-down winner. “The process took… compromises,” Rodger deadpanned.

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Retro Review: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Edmond Hamilton’s Galaxy

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

SFBC edition (1977)

… square jawed heroes… solutions worked out through — mostly — superior guts backed up by awesome Harrington-grade firepower

He remembered his father, the Valkar of years ago, teaching him from a great star-chart on the wall of the ruined palace.

“The yellow sun that neighbors the triple-star just beyond the last rim of the Darkness only to be approached from zenith or the drift will riddle you –”

THE SUN SMASHER: A PULP MAGAZINE SPACE OPERA CLASSIC (sic)

Yes, as an escape from the current sadness-of-the-canines, I’ve been reading Edmond Hamilton. Ironic really, since Hamilton’s an author with rockets on the cover, square jawed heroes within, and solutions worked out through — mostly — superior guts backed up by awesome Harrington-grade firepower.

Actually, Hamilton’s politics evolved with the century.

His early books are all about paternalistic bureaucracies and mighty empires. His later books are more questioning, with bureaucrats as antagonists, and Imperialism something one might sensibly turn one’s back on.

(I’m torn here, because I want to say more, cite examples, but I don’t want to spoiler the books for you. If you like vintage SF, and haven’t read Hamilton, then you’re in for a treat. Imagine if EE Doc Smith could actually write. )

All that said, reading Hamilton for politics is like listening to Hendrix for theme and variation — it’s there if you insist on looking for it, but the visceral impact is much greater.

I think of Edmond Hamilton as Hubble Telescope fanfiction.

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April 2015 Nightmare Magazine Now on Sale

Friday, April 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Nightmare Magazine April 2015-smallThe April issue of the online magazine Nightmare is now available.

One of the things I most enjoy about Nightmare is its broad focus. Editor John Joseph Adams delivers all kinds of dark fantasy within, from zombie stories and haunted house tales to visceral psychological horror. Fiction this month is:

Original Stories

The Island by Desirina Boskovich
Spring Thaw by Charles Payseur

Reprints

Ishq by Usman T. Malik (from Black Static 43, Nov 2014)
The Age of Sorrow by Nancy Kilpatrick (from Postscripts, Spring 2007)

The non-fiction this issue includes the latest installment “The H Word,” Nightmare‘s long-running horror column, plus a feature interview with Richard Chizmar, the man behind Cemetery Dance, as well as author spotlights, and a showcase on this month’s cover artist.

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Sci-Fi’s Difficult Genius: The New Yorker on Gene Wolfe

Friday, April 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Soldier of the Mist-smallPeter Bebergal — who penned a thoughtful analysis of Michael Moorcock for The New Yorker back in January, “The Anti-Tolkien” — is at it again. This time, he takes a look at the often challenging work of Gene Wolfe.

He kicks off the article with some insightful comments on the 1986 fantasy Soldier of the Mist, the first novel in Wolfe’s Latro trilogy, centered on the adventures of a Roman mercenary with a perplexing ailment.

Having suffered an injury during the Battle of Plataea, a Greco-Persian War skirmish, Latro has no memory of his past. Each night, he writes the day’s events on a scroll; the next morning he reads the scroll to bring himself current. Latro has to carefully choose what he is going to write down: he is limited by time, because when he sleeps he loses his memory again, and by the medium, because there is only so much papyrus. It is hinted that Latro’s wound was caused by the meddling of the gods… It could be the case, however, that Latro’s wound causes him to hallucinate.

On the phone from his home in Peoria, Gene Wolfe explained to me recently that Latro’s memory loss does not make him an unreliable narrator, as many critics assume. Instead, Latro might reveal only the truth that matters. Latro must ask himself, Wolfe said, “What is worth writing, what is going to be of value to me when I read it in the future? What will I want to know?” These are questions that Wolfe has been asking himself, in one form or another, for decades. His stories and novels are rich with riddles, mysteries, and sleights of textual hand.

Read the complete article online here.


Future Treasures: The Watcher at the Door: The Early Kuttner, Volume Two, edited by Stephen Haffner

Friday, April 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Watcher at the Door-smallWe’ve given a lot of space over to Stephen Haffner’s books here at Black Gate, and it’s for a very simple reason: no one else is doing the kind of superb work he is, bringing pulp authors back into print in gorgeous archival-quality hardcovers that are also within reach of the average collector.

Terror in the House, the first volume in The Early Kuttner, focusing on his weird-menace stories, was released in 2010. I dropped by Stephen’s booth at the Windy City Pulp and Paper show here in Chicago last week, hoping to find early copies of the highly anticipated second volume, The Watcher at the Door. No luck — but Stephen assures me it’s coming soon.

Henry Kuttner, alone and in collaboration with his wife, C.L. Moore, was one of the most talented and prolific writers of pulp SF and fantasy. The Early Kuttner gathers many of Kuttner’s earliest stories, most of which have never been reprinted. The series will run to three volumes.

The Watcher at the Door collects thirty stories published in a three year period between April 1937 and August 1940, in pulps such as Weird Tales, Thrilling Mystery, Strange Stories, Unknown, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and many others. The cover art is by Jon Arfstrom.

It was during this period that Kuttner married C.L. Moore, on June 7, 1940. They met in 1936, when Kuttner wrote her a fan letter. After their wedding, they wrote almost everything in collaboration, under their own names and under the joint pseudonyms C. H. Liddell, Lawrence O’Donnell, and (especially) Lewis Padgett, a combination of their mothers’ maiden names.

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One Picture = One Thousand Words . . .?

Friday, April 24th, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

Huff price 1About a month ago Gabe Dybing wrote an excellent post in which he, among other things, praised my Dhulyn and Parno Novels (thanks again, Gabe). I obviously don’t quarrel with anything he had to say, but there was one observation that made me raise my eyebrows, and that was his take on the cover art. The whole post is worth reading (not just the part about my books) but what Dying has to say about my covers is important not just for me, but for any of us involved in the writing and reading of books. Looking at the art from the sales perspective, what it is about the cover that encourages a reader to buy a book, Dybing has two caveats. First, he feels the characters are too “posed,” in that they’re “battle-ready” when nothing is in fact happening. Second, he objects to the photo-realism, since it could restrain the readers in imagining the characters for themselves. As it happens, he feels the artist, Steve Stone, did capture Dhulyn pretty well, except for her skin colour, and her “wolf smile.”

Huff PriceInteresting bit about that. The artist chose his models from modeling/acting agency photos to match the physical descriptions I’d provided to my editor/publisher, Sheila Gilbert at DAW. It wasn’t until the models arrived for the session that Stone realized the woman was black. I know, it does make you wonder what the photos were like, but that’s not a question I can answer. The situation was explained to her, and apparently the model/actress didn’t mind being depicted as a woman from a race noted for the pallor of their skin and the redness of their hair.

As for the wolf’s smile, you don’t really want to see that. Ever. Trust me.

On the whole, I think I’ve been very lucky with my cover art, but before I go on I have to confess a couple of things. First, I have almost no visual memory (except for faces), and don’t really respond to visual cues. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t describe to you the cover of any book, not even the ones I’ve read over and over. Okay, I can recognize the Tenniel drawings from Alice in Wonderland, the original art from the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Dali illustrations from a recent edition of Don Quijote, but there I’m thinking about the artists, not the books. And even there I’m pretty sure I couldn’t tell you what was on the covers.

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Goth Chick News: Goth Chicks in Literature Rock Utterly…

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image010It’s been three years – count them because I sure have – since I crushed on author Steven Roman over his first novel Blood Feud.

Back then I was all enamored due to the fact that Roman’s main character, Pandora (Pan) Zwieback, was a zombie-shooting, werewolf booting, leather clad heroine of a goth chick.

Finally, a book I could relate to.

Never mind that Blood Feud landed in the “young adult fiction” category either. Roman doesn’t insult readers of any age, with lip-nibbling, flannel-wearing whiners. These characters were a dark fantasy cross-over all the way, with nary a “romantic” slipped in there anywhere.

If Roman’s name sounds familiar it may be because before Blood Feud he was responsible for highly successful, but mainly fan-boy facing fare such as X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy and Final Destination: Dead Man’s Hand, as well as appearing in anthologies such as Untold Tales of Spider-Man and Dr. Who: Short Trips.

I’m not knocking Roman’s horror chops – no way, not now.

But when you’re a guy taking on the persona of a sixteen-year-old goth girl and aiming your story at a young adult audience, you’re taking on a whole new level of imagination.

And Roman delivered in spades.

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