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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in June

Monday, July 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Dave Truesdale 1997The most popular article on the Black Gate blog last month was “An Open Letter to Dave Truesdale,” which was visited roughly 8,000 times and generated 100+ comments. It’s the first article to beat out New Treasures in overall monthly traffic in nearly a year — which just goes to show you, controversy trumps tradition, every time.

Next was my brief article “Star Trek 3 Confirmed,” which was read over 5,500 times. Glad to see interest in classic Trek remains strong among BG readers!

Third was Elizabeth Eckhart bit of Games of Thrones scholarship, “The HBO Season 4 Finale of Game of Thrones: How Different Was it from George R.R. Martin’s Version?”, read over 4,600 times.

Rounding out the Top Five were M Harold Page’s review of Ancient Germanic Warriors: Warrior Styles from Trajan’s Column to Icelandic Sagas, and our report on Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson’s return to comics for the first time in nearly two decades.

The complete Top 50 Black Gate posts in June were:

  1. An Open Letter to Dave Truesdale
  2. Star Trek 3 Confirmed
  3. The HBO Season 4 Finale of Game of Thrones: How Different Was it from George R.R. Martin’s Version?
  4. Review: Ancient Germanic Warriors: Warrior Styles from Trajan’s Column to Icelandic Sagas
  5. Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Draws Pearls Before Swine
  6. Read More »


The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in June

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Oron David C Smith-smallThe most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was David C. Smith’s “The Shadow of Dia-Sust,” the first new Oron story in 30 years, taken from his brand new short story collection The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories.

Second on the list was our excerpt from The Sacred Band, the new novel in the popular Sacred Band of Stepsons series by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Third was perennial favorite “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” by Joe Bonadonna, published here nearly three years ago in December 2011 — and in the Top 10 virtually every month since.

Next was Aaron Bradford Starr’s epic novella “The Sealord’s Successor,” the third adventure fantasy featuring Gallery Hunters Gloren Avericci and Yr Neh, the most popular adventuring duo we’ve ever published.

Rounding out the Top Five was ”The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, by Mark Rigney.

Also making the list were exciting stories by C.S.E. Cooney, E.E. Knight, Dave Gross, Michael Shea, John C. Hocking, Steven H Silver, John R. Fultz, Harry Connolly, Gregory Bierly, Jon Sprunk, David Evan Harris, Judith Berman, Peter Cakebread, and Ryan Harvey.

If you haven’t sampled the free adventure fantasy stories offered through our Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in June.

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New Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014, edited by Rich Horton

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014-smallIt’s been so busy around here for the past few months that I haven’t had time to read my favorite Year’s Best book — Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014.

This is the sixth volume and it collects a whopping 35 stories, including C. S. E. Cooney’s “Martyr’s Gem” (originally published in Giganotosaurus) and fiction from Alex Dally MacFarlane, Howard Waldrop, James Patrick Kelly, Ken Liu, Robert Reed, Lavie Tidhar, Carrie Vaughn, and many others. Rich has collected stories from a wide range of top-notch publications, including Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and anthologies like Fearsome Journeys and Old Mars.

Here’s the complete table of contents.

“Social Services” by Madeline Ash (An Aura of Familiarity)
“Out in the Dark” by Linda Nagata (Analog)
“The End of the World as We Know It, and We Feel Fine” by Harry Turtledove (Analog)
“The Oracle” by Lavie Tidhar (Analog)
“Call Girl” by Tang Fei (Apex)
“Ilse, Who Saw Clearly” by E. Lily Yu (Apex)
“They Shall Salt the Earth With Seeds of Glass” by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Asimov’s)
“The Wildfires of Antarctica” by Alan De Niro (Asimov’s)
“The Discovered Country” by Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s)
“A Stranger from a Foreign Ship” by Tom Purdom (Asimov’s)

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Alex Bledsoe Writes a Love Letter to Carl Kolchak

Friday, July 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Kolchak The Night Stalker-smallOver at Tor.com, occasional Black Gate blogger Alex Bledsoe has written a Love Letter to Carl Kolchak. As brilliantly portrayed by Darren McGavin in a single season of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75), Carl Kolchak was one of the greatest supernatural sleuths of all time — and a personal hero of mine when I was 10 years old. (And for much of my 30s and 40s, now that think about it.)

So get your eyes off him, Alex. He’s all mine.

I already had vague notions of writing my own stories, but as a lonely geek in small-town Tennessee, being a writer seemed about as likely as getting a date.

But when I saw Kolchak, everything changed. So what if girls ignored me? I could ignore them just like Carl did. What did it matter if there was nothing in my small town to make me look forward to the future? The Truth, long before the X-Files, was out there somewhere, in a big city like Chicago where monsters could lurk with impunity. All I needed were a few pieces of gear, like a portable cassette recorder (these were cutting edge at the time), a 110 camera … and that most glorious of inventions, the typewriter, featured in the show’s credits.

Alex Bledsoe is the author of five Eddie LaCrosse novels (including The Sword-Edged Blonde, and the latest, He Drank, and Saw the Spider), Blood Groove, The Girls with Games of Blood, and the Tufa novels, The Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing. His last article for us was Pacific Rim and the Culture of Rip-Off Vs. Homage.

Read the complete article here.


New Treasures: There is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

There is no Lovely End-smallIt’s always a delight when one of our bloggers publishes a book. But it is a very special delight to see the brilliant Patty Templeton release her first novel, There is No Lovely End, which I have been enjoying in tiny snippets at various readings across Chicagoland for the last two years.

There is No Lovely End is a ghost book with a truly amazing cast of characters, living and dead — including Hester Garlan, once the most powerful medium in the nation, bereft of her supernatural gifts and in relentless pursuit of the boy she thinks can return them: her son Nathan; and Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, on a quest of her own to rid herself of ghosts. Not to mention a very resourceful rat named O’Neill. C.S.E. Cooney calls the novel ”a New World populated with a new kind of ghost. Templeton’s language is lavish and diabolical, as if Charles Dickens strolled into the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and came out the other end wearing ruby slippers.” How right she is.

Apparitions! Outlaws! Mediums! 1884. Nathan Garlan hears and sees the dead. Using his uncanny aptitudes to assist society and its specters, he has become the most acclaimed medium in Boston. But not all esteem him. Nathan Garlan’s own mother craves her boy butchered — and she’s not the only one…

Misery! Lust! Murder! New Haven. Sarah Winchester is the heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune and a haunted woman. She has searched for release from familial phantoms for two decades, yet found no respite. However, she has heard of a medium in Boston who regularly administers miracles…

Wit! Wonders! Outrage! Who is the Reverend Doctor Enton Blake? Why does the lawless Hennet C. Daniels search for him? What form of profane curio is a trick box — and what, precisely, does one inter within it? Will Sarah Winchester find serenity through Nathan Garlan’s services? Or will Hester Garlan find her son first?

There is No Lovely End was published on July 1st by Odd Rot. It is 444 riveting pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback, and $4.99 for the digital edition. Check out the trailer here. The cover and interior spot art are by Matthew Ryan Sharp. It gets my highest recommendation.


New Treasures: Seeker’s Bane by P.C. Hodgell

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Seeker's Bane-smallSometimes it’s handy being editor of Black Gate. For one thing, it sure keeps you in-the-know on great books. I was editing Fletcher Vredenburgh’s enthusiastic review of P. C. Hodgell’s God Stalk last October, which begins thusly:

Out of the haunted north comes Jame the Kencyr to Rathilien’s greatest city, Tai-Tastigon. From the hills above, the city appears strangely dark and silent. She arrives at its gates with large gaps in her memory and cat claws instead of fingernails. She’s carrying a pack full of strange artifacts, including a ring still on its owner’s finger… and she’s been bitten by a zombie. Wary, but in desperate need of a place to heal, Jame enters the city. So begins God Stalk, the first book in P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series and one of my absolute, bar none, don’t-bother-me-if-you-see-me-reading-it, favorite fantasy novels…

I’m so grateful Carl gave me this book thirty years ago. P.C. Hodgell seems so far below the general fantasy radar, I don’t know if I would have ever heard of her at all, which is pretty darn shameful.

Ha, I thought smugly, looking at my bookcase. Maybe she’s below the radar for most folks, but I’ve got my copy right here. Fletcher continued:

Following God Stalk came the 1985 sequel, Dark of the Moon… It’s taken nearly thirty years for the next four books to appear: Seeker’s MaskTo Ride a RathornBound in Blood, and Honor’s Paradox.

Wait, what? There are sequels? Like, five sequels? How did I not know? Are they out of print? Gahhh!

Fortunately, Baen Books to the rescue. Baen has collected the first four novels in two handsome mass market paperbacks: The God Stalker Chronicles (January 2010) and Seeker’s Bane (August 2010), both still in print. They’re a great way to get started on this terrific series, which Hodgell and Baen are continuing — I note the seventh volume, The Sea of Time, was just published last month. I just bought Seeker’s Bane and it’s a fabulous bargain: 1168 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital version. The covers are by Clyde Caldwell. Check ‘em out.


Scott Taylor’s A Knight in the Silk Purse Now Available

Monday, July 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

A Knight in the Silk Purse-smallScott Taylor’s latest anthology, A Knight in the Silk Purse, the sequel to his blockbuster, Tales of the Emerald Serpent, is now available.

If you’re a regular Black Gate reader, you’re familiar with Scott’s popular Art of the Genre column. But Scott is more than just a blogger and writer — he’s also an accomplished editor and publisher, with seven successful Kickstarter publishing projects under his belt. Inspired by classic shared world anthologies like Thieves World, Scott created the Free City of Taux, a sprawling fantasy port of “cursed stones, dark plots, and rich characters who share space inside the infamous Black Gate District,” and invited some of the genre’s most popular writers to tell its stories — including Lynn Flewelling, Juliet McKenna, Martha Wells, Julie Czerneda, Harry Connolly, and many others.

The result was Tales of the Emerald Serpent, one of the most acclaimed anthologies from last year. Lou Anders, editorial director at Pyr Books, said “I’m very impressed… it’s a smart, good looking package with some real gems of fiction inside.”

As we reported last year, Scott launched another successful Kickstarter to fund a sequel and A Knight in the Silk Purse was born — featuring virtually all of the writers from TotES, plus Dave Gross, Elaine Cunningham, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. Fans have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the second volume and now the wait is over.

Here’s the book description.

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Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: A Forensic Analysis

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

dungeons and dragons logo2For the last two years, Wizards of the Coast has been getting feedback on their new “5th edition” set of rules from playtesters all across the world. July 15 marks the official release of the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, giving the world the first glimpse of the final version of these rules. Unfortunately, the D&D Starter Set provides only pregenerated characters with some advancement rules through level 5, and some basic mechanics, so it doesn’t consist of a full set of game mechanics or character creation rules.

In other words, it’s not enough to give us a full idea of what the final rules for 5th edition will look like … but it does provide enough information to get some hints about how the upcoming edition of the game will be structured. In general, the goal seems to be to streamline the system, making it very accessible to new gamers, but still providing enough substance and versatility that more experienced gamers will find the system desirable. It’s a tough balancing act, but looking over the D&D Starter Set, I feel a growing sense of confidence that the new system will achieve these objectives.

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New Treasures: The Volunteer by Peadar Ó Guilín

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Volunteer Peadar O Guilin-smallPeadar Ó Guilin’s first novel, The Inferior, was published to wide acclaim in 2008. Bookfetish called it “Absolutely incredible… An exhilarating read, highly recommended and an incredible first novel in what is going to end up an incredible career.” My son Tim devoured it in less than 24 hours and insisted I let him know the instant the sequel was available.

It took four long years, but The Deserter, the second novel in what’s now known as The Bone World Trilogy, arrived in 2012. And now the concluding volume in the series is finally available. Thank God — maybe now Tim will finally stop pestering me.

Everyone in the human tribe of ManWays knows their world is about to end. They are shattered from the constant attacks of their enemies and even the Roof above their heads is on the verge of collapse. But just when their doom seems certain, word reaches them of a land free of all enemies. Humans are said to live there, but their leader is Stopmouth, the Chief’s own brother and the vilest of traitors. Can Chief Wallbreaker lead his entire tribe across the wasteland the world has become? And will enough of them survive the journey to avenge themselves on the man who kidnapped his beloved wife, Indrani? The Volunteer is the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with The Inferior and continued with The Deserter. Praise for The Inferior:… “This is one of those ‘aw-crap-I’m-gonna-be-reading-until-the-sun-comes-up’ type of books.” –The Book Smugglers

Peadar’s most recent story for Black Gate was ”The Dowry.” He first appeared in the pages of our print version with “The Mourning Trees” (Black Gate 5), followed by “Where Beauty Lies in Wait” (BG 11) and “The Evil Eater” (BG 13), which Serial Distractions called “a lovely little bit of Lovecraftian horror that still haunts me to this day.”

Peadar’s most recent book was Forever in the Memory of God and Other Stories, which Sarah Avery called “old-school weird fiction, Clark Ashton Smith style.”

The Volunteer was published on June 10, 2014. It is 296 pages, priced at $9.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the Kindle edition. Check it out — or start with the first two volumes, still available.


The Life and Times of a Midlist Author

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 | Posted by D.B. Jackson

A Plunder of Souls-smallLate last summer, I was interviewed by Garrett Calcaterra for a Black Gate article on the writing life of midlist authors. That article, which also drew upon interviews conducted with Patrick Hester, Wendy Wagner, and M. Todd Gallowglas, can be found here and is still worth reading.

But I thought it might be interesting, a year later, to revisit the life of at least this midlister to see how things are going. A bit of background first: Under my own name, David B. Coe, I have been writing professionally for twenty years now, and I’ve been a published author for seventeen. “What’s the difference?” you ask. Well, I signed my first publishing contract and received my first (microscopic) advance in the summer of 1994. But that first book needed to be edited, revised, edited again, revised again, copyedited, and proofed. And it needed to be fitted into the already crowded publishing schedule of Tor Books. It finally was released in May 1997.

Which brings us to the first of many hard truths about the publishing industry: It moves at its own, sometimes glacial, pace. Yes, this is one reason why some writers grow so impatient with the business that they turn to self-publishing, which offers more immediate gratification for those who are eager to see their work in print. But for more reasons than I can go into today, that is not a path I have chosen to follow.

Writing now as D. B. Jackson, I am the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. The first two books, Thieftaker (Tor Books, 2012) and Thieves’ Quarry (Tor Books, 2013), have been received very well critically and did well enough commercially that Tor bought two more books from me. The first of these, the third in the series, is called A Plunder of Souls and it drops on July 8, 2014. (Please buy it. In fact, feel free to buy a few copies; they make great gifts and come in an attractive package complete with artwork by Chris McGrath. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post . . .)

The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, will be out next summer. And here we come to hard truth number two: For most full-time writers not named Martin, Gaiman, or Rothfus, one release per year is not enough to make a living. Most of the writers I know have a couple of projects going at once. I’m no exception.

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