Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Consideration

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

2011 Hugo Award-smallOn April 4th, Black Gate was nominated for a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. One of our bloggers, Matthew David Surridge, was also nominated as Best Fan Writer but, as he explained, he declined the nomination before the ballot was announced.

Since the nomination for Black Gate was for the entire site, which produces over 120 articles per month by a team of over 40 volunteers, I did not decline the nomination, although personally I shared many of the Matthew’s concerns. However, over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to hear from many of our bloggers, and by and large they share many of those concerns as well.

Accordingly, on Saturday, April 18th, I informed the administrators at Sasquan that we have withdrawn Black Gate from consideration for the 2015 Hugo Award.

As I explained in my previous  post, Sad Puppies and Super Puppies: The 2015 Hugo Train Wreck, (and in our original announcement), I have serious concerns about the legitimacy of the 2015 Hugo ballot, as it was largely dictated by a single individual, Vox Day, who campaigned for a slate of nominees on his website (the Rapid Puppies slate). To a lesser extent, it was also influenced by Brad Togersen’s Sad Puppies slate. Together, the two slates successfully placed 61 nominees on the ballot. Black Gate was part of the Rabid Puppies ballot, although we were unaware of our inclusion until we were informed of our nomination.

In short, over the last two weeks I have come to agree with those arguing that the use of a slate — and particularly a slate that has 11 nominees from Vox Day’s Castalia House, and nominates him personally for two awards — is a serious threat to the perceived integrity of the Hugo Awards.

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Forbes on What’s Next For The New Dungeons & Dragons

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Sword Coast Legends-smallForbes columnist David M. Ewalt is a not-so-secret Dungeons & Dragons fan. He’s the author of Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It, and he’s promoted the game in the pages of Forbes over the past two years with an early article on D&D Next, and a fascinating piece on the Books that Inspired the New Dungeons & Dragons. This week he interviewed Nathan Stewart, brand director for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast, to find out what’s next for the Fifth Edition of D&D.

Any plans to tell stories that take place outside of the Forgotten Realms?

If you’re talking about us diving deep and taking a focus like what we’ve done with Tyranny of Dragons, we’re going to stay in the Forgotten Realms for the foreseeable future… But we’re gonna have long cycles, and so when we go all in on Greyhawk or Dragonlance or Spelljammers, that’s going to be awhile… the main focus will be on the Forgotten Realms for a long time.

Is the brand where you wanted it to be at this point?

In my strategy I had wanted a high-caliber video game that really brings back the core of D&D… and I don’t think that in my wildest dreams I imagined that that we’d have a game that really captured the essence of D&D as well as Sword Coast Legends coming out. I think by the end of the year we’ll have this conversation and everyone will agree that we’ve actually delivered that plus some, because we’ve done something that no one’s ever done before, which is really deliver that dungeon master/player tabletop experience in the form of a computer RPG.

See the complete article online at Forbes magazine.

Future Treasures: The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Seven, edited by Ellen Datlow

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven-smallLast week I surveyed eleven upcoming Best of the Year anthologies, including books edited by Rich Horton, Jonathan Strahan, Paula Guran, Gardner Dozois, John Joseph Adams and Joe Hill, Stephen Jones, and others. All eleven will be published between May and October — a bumper crop for everyone who delights in excellent short fiction.

Night Shade Books used to publish two: Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, but after the sale of Night Shade to Skyhorse two years ago, Strahan took his volume to Solaris.

Fortunately for us Night Shade have continued to publish the horror volume, and the seventh arrives in August of this year, with 22 short stories and novelettes from Garth Nix, Nathan Ballingrud, Genevieve Valentine, John Langan, Dale Bailey, Gemma Files, Robert Shearman, and many others.

James McGlothlin reviewed the Sixth installment in the series for us last year, saying it made a strong case that we’re living in a Golden Age of Horror.

Here’s the book description for the upcoming seventh volume.

For over three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the seventh volume of this series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night.

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Fantasy Literature: Murder Hobos, Sad Puppies, and Change

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | Posted by Edward Carmien

Will Murder Enemies for Food

You cannot step twice into the same rivers.
Heraclitus of Ephesus

In my personal history, role-playing games, or back then Dungeons & Dragons, presented a fantasy milieu straight out of Tolkien and Leiber. The heroes — characters — fought enemies, took their treasure, and hoped for bigger and better enemies and bigger and better treasures. The rules created an expectation that high-level characters would seek political power, ultimately retiring from a lifestyle now mockingly or cheerfully (depending on one’s orientation) called that of the “Murder Hobo.” In short, characters hoped to graduate from “Murder Hobo” to “Murder Duke.”

How amusing to hear that term, which seems to spring from the recent past (2011? Anyone?) and see it unlock a whole understanding of a genre that did not previously exist. For while gamer blogs and discussion lists alternately bemoan or celebrate the Murder Hobo habit, there is an entirely different interpretation. The idea that fantasy RPG, D&D-style characters in general definition are homeless wanderers who kill and steal reveals a perspective on the whole concept of fantasy role-playing games that is distinctly contemporary.

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New Treasures: Icefall by Gillian Philip

Friday, April 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Icefall Gillian Philip-smallTwo years ago we reported on the release of Gillian Philip’s Firebrand, the first novel in her popular Rebel Angels series. It was followed by Bloodstone (2013) and Wolfbane (2014).

Now Tor Books has released Icefall, the fourth and final book, which brings the tale to a climactic close. If (like me) you wait until all the books are available to binge on the series everyone is talking about, now’s your chance.

Death stalks Seth MacGregor’s clan in their otherworld exile. Kate NicNiven is close to ultimate victory, and she is determined that nothing will keep her from it. Not even the thing that took her soul: the horror that lurks in the sea caves. But Kate still needs Seth’s son Rory, and his power over the Veil. And she’ll go to any lengths to get him. Seth’s own soul is rotting from the wound inflicted by Kate, and survival for his loved ones seems all he can hope for. But might a mortal threat to his brother’s daughter force him to return to his own world to challenge Kate? And will Rory go with him? Because Rory suspects there’s a darkness trapped in the Veil, a darkness that wants to get out. But only one Sithe knows how near it is to getting its way: Seth’s bound lover, the witch Finn. Nobody gets forever. But some are willing to try…

Icefall was published by Tor Books on March 24, 2015. It is 445 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Steve Stone.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.

The Definitive Guide to Selling Books sans InterWebs

Friday, April 17th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Hear ye! Hear ye! This week, the InterWebs exploded with posts on bookselling and all their various don’ts and dos. They may speak of their crazed magical ways of InterWebs, but it is we of Black Gate who will provide you with the DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO SELLING MORE BOOKS!

"Razzle Dazzle, InterWeb razzle..."

“Razzle Dazzle, InterWeb razzle…”

Gather round, Authors of Yore, Authors of Now and Authors of Soon, and learn the true ways of book selling success.


Like any good conquest, the personal touch makes the difference. Let them see the blood lust in your eyes first-hand. Remember, the closer you are to them, the more blood lust they’ll see, the more books you’ll sell.


That’s their fear. Not yours. Make them fear that not purchasing your book will lead their villages to be burned and their crops to be destroyed! Speak fondly of past blood baths! Showcase them in a spiffy pop-up banner behind your sales table and REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THROUGH! If you don’t want to waste too much writing time destroying your non-purchasing enemies, at least steal their goat.

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Tim Akers on How His First Novel Nearly Ended His Career

Friday, April 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Heart of Veridon-smallTim Akers has produced some noteworthy fantasy in the past six years, including The Horns of Ruin, The Kingdom of Doors and Rooms, and The Burn Cycle (Heart of Veridon, Dead of Veridon, and the collection Bones of Veridon).

But his writing career very nearly ended after the release of his first novel, Heart of Veridon, by Solaris in 2009. Tim’s tale is one I’ve heard all too often behind the scenes and in whispered conversations at conventions. But on his blog yesterday, Tim publicly laid bare the details in a revealing and honest post — one I urge all aspiring fantasy novelists to read, and pay close attention to.

We were six months from the release of the novel… I received a call from my agent, informing me that Solaris was putting itself up for sale. The imprint was profitable, but GW had decided to put all of their eggs in the Black Library basket. I was standing in my office, at the job I hated more than I’ve ever hated anything, listening to Joshua Bilmes explain why my career may be over.

We tried to negotiate away the contract. Other authors had better luck with this, but as a debut writer, I didn’t have a lot of pull. Let me just summarize the next six months: bad things happened. Solaris didn’t do anything in terms of marketing. They didn’t send out review copies. Their sellers had no motivation to push the book. Buyers at the various bookstores were leery of picking up a debut novel from an imprint that might not exist in a few months.

The book, Heart of Veridon, got to shelves. But it arrived out of the blue, it hit the shelves at terminal velocity, and it cratered. Sales were bad. Reviews were good. The book disappeared.

See the complete post at Tim’s website.

Goth Chick News: Ghost Hunting in the Casket Factory – What Could Go Wrong?

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Ghost Hunting in the Casket Factory-smallLast week I mentioned running into Mike “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and his crew at the HAA in St. Louis. Fitz is the proprietor of Evil Intentions, a haunted attraction housed in the former Elgin Metal Casket Company in the suburbs of Chicago and during what is now the off-season, Fitz has opened the place up for paranormal investigations.

When we visited Evil Intentions last fall we agreed it was one of the best experiences of the dozen or so haunts we attended, mainly because of Fitz’s “low tech” approach which allowed the utter creepiness of the building to play a central role in the attraction. So I was entirely psyched when Fitz invited us to do a ride along during an upcoming investigation.

Mysteriously, BG photog Chris Z had a pressing engagement elsewhere, and perhaps not so unexpectedly, I could not solicit any of my colleagues to join me on this little outing. So it was down to me to go hang out in the abandoned casket company from 9 p.m. on a Friday night, to 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Granted, the building does look even eerier in the middle of a March night while not decked out in all its Halloween lighting and finery. But the first thing I had to ask is why Fitz thought the place was haunted, just because it used to make coffins?

Apparently, it is a documented, historical fact that in 1890 a cemetery on the grounds became overcrowded and remains of early settlers were dug up and moved to the new Bluff City Cemetery less than a mile away.

Relocating bodies… Doesn’t it always start that way?

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Convention Report: Conpulsion 2015, Edinburgh

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page


Graham… comes up with his scenarios while striding the Yorkshire Dales like a Bronte hero.

The boys just slotted in

…tables for GMS…. the boys quietly slotted in

“OMG! You’re the Rosemary Sutcliff of the roleplaying world!”

I was at Conpulsion 2015, Edinburgh’s tabletop gaming convention and talking to Graham Bottley, founder of Arion Games, and the man behind Maelstrom Domesday (like Robin of Sherwood but better grounded in history).

Graham lives in a farmhouse in Yorkshire, keeps sheep, can see a castle out of his window, and a short walk takes him to a Roman camp.

Listening to him, you can see the woods and fields, feel the depth of the history beneath each bump in the ground. He should be a lyrical Historical novelist  in the mode of Rosemary Sutcliff. Instead he’s a successful roleplaying game designer and publisher.

He GM’d for the gamer boys last year, and they liked it so much that DeeM bought the book and became our local games master.

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Cemetery Dance 72 Now on Sale

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Cemetery Dance 72-smallCemetery Dance calls itself a magazine of horror and suspense, and I think that describes it pretty well. It has a nice mix of fiction, interviews, news, and reviews. It’s not a digest, and has plenty of interior art, both of which I appreciate.

Issue #72, cover dated January 2015, has new fiction from Stephen King, Norman Partridge, and others. Here’s the complete contents.


“Summer Thunder” by Stephen King
“Incarnadine” by Norman Partridge
“The Cambion” by Stephen Bacon
“Barn Dance” by Tim Davis
“Chasing Ghosts” by Richard Thomas
“Anti-Theft” by Victorya Chase

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