Interzone #239

Saturday, March 31st, 2012 | Posted by Soyka

443_largeThe March-April issue of Interzone features new stories by Chris Beckett (”The Gates of Eden”), Steve rasnic Tem (”Twember”), Jon Wallace (”Lips and Teeth”), Suzanne Palmer (Tangerine, Nectarine, Clementine, Apocolypse”), Matthew Cook (“Railriders”) and Nigel Brown (“One-Way Ticket”); cover artwork by Ben BaldwinJacob Boyd (“Bound in Place”); “Ansible Link” genre news and miscellanea by David Langford; “Mutant Popcorn” film reviews by Nick Lowe; “Laser Fodder” DVD/Blu-Ray reviews by Tony Lee; book reviews by Jim Steel and other contributors.

Interzone alternates monthly publication with sister dark horror focused Black Static, published by the fine folks at TTA Press.


Wrath of the Titans Makes Me Want to Start a Hoax That It’s a Re-make

Friday, March 30th, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

wrath_of_the_titans_9Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Starring Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson.

Well, that was trivial.

A sequel nobody demanded from a re-make nobody cared about. There’s no John Carter of Mars “never gonna see a sequel” bitterness here at all.

But there is some Ray Harryhausen gloating. While watching Wrath of the Titans, I constantly thought of reverse-engineering the movie to create the Ray Harryhausen-Charles H. Schneer original from which it was re-made. I came up with a pretty entertaining film; not as good as Jason and the Argonauts or The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, but right on the level of Mysterious Island, although lacking a Bernard Herrmann score. The scene of Perseus fighting the Minotaur in the labyrinth is one of Harryhausen’s most suspenseful an atmospheric stop-motion creations. In the re-make, the scene is sloppily tossed into the action without any tension, and then fought through without a moment of genuine excitement.

Yes, I’m criticizing this movie by comparing it to a movie that doesn’t exist. But Wrath of the Titans made me do it! It begged me to imagine this better movie from the mid-1980s, one that right now all of us would be geeking-out over on its Blu-ray tie-in release. In fact, I’m going to start an Internet hoax right here: Warner Bros.: Release Ray Harryhausen’s Original Wrath of the Titans (1985) or I Shall Release the Kraken!

Help out, spread the false word. Next year, I want people genuinely confused about the existence of an earlier movie called Wrath of the Titans. It’s almost April Fool’s day, right?

Wrath of the Titans feels exactly like what the Clash of the Titans re-make felt like when I watched it for the second time on DVD: a lifeless spectacle. I gave the re-make a decent review on Black Gate back in the day, but any critic knows that his or her first impressions do not necessarily remain constant. I cannot now, in good conscience, recommend the 2010 Clash of the Titans as even a decent time-waster. It’s a mass of digital nothing that flashed from memory the moment it was over.

So Wrath of the Titans is no better or worse than its predecessor — it just reaches the point of minimum returns faster. As in, before the end credits roll.

Read More »


All Hail the Barbarian Prince

Friday, March 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

barbarian-prince-256One of the great things about having a blog is that you get to celebrate all things cool. Books, movies, comics, games… if it keeps you up late at night, after your spouse has gone to bed wearing lingerie and a disappointed look, it’s usually worth at least a few paragraphs here.

Of course you need to take things a little more seriously when talking about the real classics, the enduring masterpieces that define our very culture. And that goes double when we turn our attention to the supreme achievement of Western Civilization, the pinnacle of some three billions years of planetary evolution, Arnold Hendrick’s Barbarian Prince.

Howard Andrew Jones did just that in his splendid post Return of the Barbarian Prince this week. It’s a terrific article and interview, capturing much of the fun of this sublime solo mini-game, except for his obvious lies about being able to win.

You can’t win at Barbarian Prince. The game is an existential commentary on the nihilistic underpinings of modern evolutionary thought. I thought that was obvious. All games end in ignoble death, usually in the form of a starving goblin tribe that beats you to a pulp and steals your fur-lined booties.

Listen, I’ve owned the game for nearly 30 years. Spent many evenings rolling dice and moving my lead miniature around the little map, befriending elves and exploring ancient crypts, and I have never won. Barbarian Prince is the beautiful girl I lusted after in high school.  She hangs out and flirts like a Vegas show girl, but there’s no way she’s going out with me.

At least I’m in good company. The distinguished John C. Hocking has never won the game. None of my friends have ever won. Only my false friends like Howard, who called last week to tell me he won a game on the first turn. Dude, if you’re going to fib, at least make it believable.

Well, the good news is that now you can experience the timeless agony of Barbarian Prince for yourself. Now you too can spend your evenings cursing up a blue streak and throwing the map across the room. The original Dwarfstar boxed edition is unspeakably rare (most copies were destroyed in a blind rage, presumably), but you can download the complete game here, and Todd Sanders’ new revised version is available here.

Howard tells me he’s mailing me a deluxe copy of the revised Sanders version, hand-made with carefully crafted components, which I anxiously await. Maybe a little of his luck will rub off on me. Maybe I’ll discover he’s adjusted the rules to make the game winnable. Maybe Todd’s revisions will clarify things just enough to lead me to victory. Or maybe there’s another tribe of starving goblins in my future, waiting to take my last copper piece and turn my skull into a drinking cup.

Time will tell.


M.A.R. Barker, Nov 3 1929 – March 16, 2012

Friday, March 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

manofgoldWhile I was at the games auction at Gary Con on Sunday, Luke Gygax solemnly paid tribute to those industry giants we lost in the last year, including Jim Roslof and Jean Wells, both early and influential TSR employees.

But I was startled when Luke added that M.A.R. Barker, the grand old man of role playing, had died last week at the age of 82.

M.A.R (Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman) Barker is not particularly well remembered today. He wasn’t especially prolific as an author, with five novels to his credit — the last three published by obscure small press publishers. But everyone who paid attention to TSR in the heady early days of role playing knew M.A.R. Barker, the creator of Empire of the Petal Throne and the fantasy world of Tékumel.

Barker created Tékumel in the decades from 1940 to 1970. Wholly unique, Tékumel was a science fantasy setting inspired by Indian, Middle Eastern, Egyptian and Meso-American mythology, a world colonized by humans and alien species some 60,000 years in the future. Perhaps most intriguing, Tékumel was largely free of Tolkien’s influence as it was well established long before the publication of The Lords of the Rings — the only major RPG setting of the 20th Century that could make that claim.

In the early 1970s Barker met one of the original Dungeons & Dragons playtesters, Mike Mornard, and was introduced to the game. It didn’t take long to realize the potential of the D&D ruleset, and he quickly adapted it for his own use and self-published Empire of the Petal Throne in 1974. One of his occasional players was D&D co-creator Dave Arneson, who called Barker his favorite Game Master — and EPT his favorite RPG.

Read More »


Lyndsay Faye’s The Gods of Gotham is a Modern Classic

Friday, March 30th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

the_gods_of_gotham-1the-gods-of-gotham-lyndsay-fayeLyndsay Faye made quite a splash a couple years ago with her excellent Sherlock Holmes novel, Dust and Shadow. It was an impressive debut for a first-time novelist not only for taking on the world’s most famous sleuth but in choosing to have him investigate the most notorious criminal case of Victorian London. Holmes had, of course, already tackled Jack the Ripper in A Study in Terror which came off as an exceptionally good Holmes film and novelization (by Ellery Queen, no less) in the mid-sixties. What could this ambitious young woman bring to the Ripper case that Alan Moore or Nicholas Meyer had not already covered in From Hell and Time After Time, respectively? Quite a lot, it turned out. Ms. Faye delivered a cracking good mystery and an excellent piece of historical fiction in one turn. The question was how to follow her success.

Another Holmes story for an anthology that was published hot on the heels of her first book was taken as proof of her intent to join the ranks of the multitude of successors continuing the exploits of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal consulting detective. In a sense, Ms. Faye has done just that with her newly-published and wholly original sophomore effort, The Gods of Gotham. Her new series hero, Timothy Wilde, is a character Conan Doyle would have been proud to call his own and is not without his parallels to the famous resident of London’s Baker Street.

Read More »


Seven Princes by John R. Fultz, a Review

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | Posted by Brian Murphy

seven-princesSeven Princes
John R. Fultz
Orbit (526 pp., $15.99, trade paperback January 2012)
Reviewed by Brian Murphy

What do you want out of your fantasy? Mythmaking in the mold of JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion? Freebooting adventure, decaying civilizations, and heroic swordplay a-la Robert E. Howard? Weird, extraplanar demonic horrors like those encountered in the fiction of HP Lovecraft or Clark Ashton Smith? You get all of this stuff in John Fultz’ gonzo debut novel Seven Princes, both to our benefit and occasionally our detriment.

Seven Princes is bold, brash, and big. This is a novel written with bright strokes of character and setting, bursting with world-shaking adventure, intrigue, and conflict. It reads big, and feels big, and it’s unrepentantly so. In a “Meet the Author” Q&A at the back of the book Fultz describes the influences and raw materials that underlie Seven Princes. These are legion—Lord Dunsany, Howard, Lovecraft, Smith, Tolkien, Tanith Lee, Darrell Schweitzer, and others—so it’s no surprise Seven Princes contains multitudes. But underneath it all is a strong epic fantasy undercurrent, shot through with swords and sorcery. Says Fultz:

A writer’s sensibility is, I think, determined largely by his or her influences… what you’ve read most and where your passions lie. You write what you love. That said, writers like to stretch themselves too. For me, the whole epic/heroic fantasy realm is where I’ve been heading since I began reading fantasy as a kid in the late 1970s. Some have also called my work “sword and sorcery” but nobody can give a solid definition of what that actually is. For me, the bottom line is that I just Do My Thing and let my passion for storytelling lead me where I need to go.

Read More »


Goth Chick News: You’re Going to Hell Jack Nightingale

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

nightfallNormally a crime drama, or anything that smells like one, wouldn’t get much of my attention.

It’s nothing personal you understand.  It’s just my concern that any tale of violence and blood-letting that’s too close to real CNN headlines serves more as sociopathic training material than relaxing escapism.

That, and the fact I’m skeeved out rather than entertained by realistic stories depicting man’s inhumanity to man.  Ghosts being mean to man is perfectly fine.

So when our friends over at Wunderkind PR contacted me about Nightfall promising it was “right up my alley,” I wondered if my alley had suddenly detoured from behind a haunted mansion to behind the city crime lab when I wasn’t looking.  I determined to give it no more than a cursory look.

Nightfall’s English author Stephen Leather is the creator of over 20 thrillers which frequently include themes of crime, imprisonment and military service, and lately terrorism: manly pursuits all, but nary a ghost or zombie in sight.

Well to be fair, there was that one from last year, Once Bitten, which had vampires in it… sort of.  But I’m not sure even Leather himself counts it since no mention is made of the book even on the author’s own website.

But because in the past Wunderkind has been the source of new material that I have loved much more often than not, I decided to dig a bit deeper when it arrived.  After all, Nightfall premiered in the US last week, but in the UK it’s only the first in a series of three novels published there in 2009.

Once again, Wunderkind knew exactly what they were doing.

Read More »


Gill Alderman and The Memory Palace

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Memory PalaceSometimes, you need to grow as a reader to be able to appreciate a certain book. In 1996, I bought a paperback fantasy novel called The Memory Palace, by Gill Alderman. It was a whim, I suppose; maybe something about the cover appealed to me, or more likely something in the synopsis on the back, promising a story about a fantasy writer who gets lost in his fictions and confronts an archmage of his own making. Whatever the reason, I started in on it, swiftly lost interest, set it aside, and only came back to it sixteen years later.

I was 22 or 23 when I first tried to read The Memory Palace. I can see now why I didn’t respond to it — to start with, the main character’s middle-aged, with a middle-aged man’s fears and desires, and I suspect that was difficult for me as a younger man to parse, never mind relate to. The novel has a low-key opening, as well, which may not have helped; but the tone and emotional terrain I think has to do with a certain maturity, a certain perspective that comes with age. By no means do I think it’s impossible for younger readers to enjoy or appreciate the book, but I have to admit I’m not surprised it didn’t make an impact on me personally at 22. At any rate, the other week I came across it again and decided to give it another try. I’m very glad I did.

This book isn’t just good, it’s brilliant. I genuinely wonder why it didn’t win major awards in and out of the fantasy field. (I note that it was nominated for the 1996 BSFA Award for Best Novel, and made the long list for the 1996 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.)

Read More »


Time Travel and YA Lit: A Talk with Delia Sherman

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Posted by Patty Templeton

The Freedom MazeDelia Sherman is a phenomenal writer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short story or a novel – she’ll getchya, getchya, getchya. If Delia Sherman were a city she’d be called Awesometown. If she were a drink special she’d be a Red-Headed Bookgasm. If she were a bare knuckle boxer in a space western her name would be Elly Gant McWinFists. But thankfully she is a writer and, Eris on fire, where have you been if you’re not reading her books?

Her freshest fiction has appeared in Steampunk!, Naked City and Teeth: Vampire Tales. Her most recent novel, The Freedom Maze, is a young adult time travel tale set in antebellum Louisiana.

In one of her few spare moments, Delia Sherman spoke with Black Gate about The Freedom Maze, YA lit and the challenges of writing a novel over 18 years.

Read More »


Art of the Genre: Armor… how I love thee!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

OMG!  Look, redheads don't hate clothes after all!

OMG! Look, redheads don't hate clothes after all!

I was buzzing around Facebook this week, as I’m sure most of you all do from time to time, and I always marvel at the 200 friends I have there and the incredibly interesting images they manage to post.

One such image spoke volumes to me as I surfed, and I was motivated to write a piece concerning it. The image in question was of a woman in armor, like real armor, and I couldn’t help but think how incredibly awesome armor is or how much it’s captivated my imagination over the years.

To me, there is nothing cooler in the realms of fantasy than armor. My first D&D character was a fighter, and I can still remember reading the equipment lists and thinking ‘all I can afford is chainmail, but someday… oh yes, someday, I’ll wear platemail and then I’ll be epic!’

Really, truly, I can’t tell you how much I like platemail… and NO, I’ve never worn it, but Yes, I would if someone would let me! I mean, armor in general is like the ultimate aphrodisiac to my gamer inspired imagination.

I well remember, back in 1991, a friend of mine who lived across the hall in the dorm had a computer [which I didn’t, if that tells you what life was like back then] and he had a game with actual graphics. I mean, to this point I’d had a Nintendo [no numbers or words attached, just a Nintendo!] which was ok for something like Techmo Super Bowl, but graphics wise it didn’t really feature any supreme RPG-like games, so to that point I had to rely on written-word based games like Wizardry and Bard’s Tale on and old Commodore 64 and a black and white TV for my imaginary outlets.

Read More »


  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2004-2011 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.