I‘ve raved about Star Trek Continues to anyone I could find. It is, simply, a wonderful take on Star Trek and may be the closest we’ll ever get to seeing new original episodes of the quality of the best of the original series.
Here’s what I said about the second episode, “Lolani,” on this very web site, although it holds true for all three of the episodes made thus far: ”… it feels like a lost episode. It’s not just the sets and the effects, which are truly astonishing in their faithfulness, it’s the pacing, and the music cues, and the fadeouts, and the story beats, and the writing — and the actors. These people understand who the original characters were and inhabit them — and I swear that this script could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest entries in the original run.”
The staff and crew involved want to launch new episodes and they need help. They’re not getting paid for their work, you see. It’s a labor of love done in their free time. Hours and hours and hours of their free time.
I hope you’ll join me in swinging by to donate money to their new Kickstarter, which you can find here. One of their stretch goals is to raise funding for an engineering set, and another is to raise funding for a planet set!
Most importantly, of course, is the funding of two new episodes (and possibly more, depending upon hitting stretch goals). If you’ve seen the first three, you’ll understand how fabulous that is.
If you’re skeptical about the sound of any of this, I invite you to visit the site and try out these three fine episodes for yourself. If you’re a fan of the original show, you’re likely to be astonished.
Live long, and prosper.
Myle Cole carved out a unique niche with his popular Shadow Ops novels, ultra-realistic military SF crossed with superheroes. Along the way he picked up a reputation for telling intricate, fast-action stories with rich characters.
So I was very intrigued to receive a copy of his newest novel today. The first in a Shadow Ops prequel series, Gemini Cell is set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel. Featuring a Navy SEAL forcibly returned to duty from beyond the grave, Gemini Cell looks like another epic adventure as only Myke Cole can tell.
US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself — and his family — in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.
That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty — as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark — especially about the fates of his wife and son…
Myke Cole’s short story “Naktong Flow” appeared in Black Gate 13. His first novel was Shadow Ops: Control Point; our roving reporter Patty Templeton interviewed him shortly after it was published. He looked at the hard facts of selling a fantasy series in his Black Gate essay “Selling Shadow Point.” We last covered Myke’s work with Shadow Ops: Breach Zone.
Gemini Cell will be published on January 27 by Ace Books. It is 366 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Larry Rostant.
Marie Bilodeau’s first post for Black Gate, “Nine (mostly) Distinct (almost) Positive Traits of Chainmail Bikinis,” was the top article on the blog for the month of December. Her sparkling sense of humor, and her considerable prose gifts, instantly made Marie one of our most popular writers.
Marie has far too much energy to be content with just blogging, however, and I was not at all surprised to see her first fiction release in 2015 is in ambitious project that’s already getting a lot of buzz. Nigh is a serialized novel that will be released over the course of 2015; Book 1 is due in just 10 days. You can pre-order it now on Amazon for just 99 cents.
A disappearing watch. A thief in the night. Whispers around every corner…
Then a mist rolls into town and refuses to dissipate.
Alva Viola Taverner has lived in her small town all of her life, working as a car tech while saving for her little sister to go to university. But everything is about to change as the veil between our world and the world of the faeries weakens and falls.
Suddenly, even the smallest bump in the night can prove the deadliest.
Marie is the author of the Heirs of a Broken Land trilogy, published in 2009-2010. Her space fantasy Destiny’s Blood was nominated for the Aurora Award. Her short stories have appeared in When the Hero Comes Home, Masked Mosaic, Ride the Moon, and other places.
Book 1 of Nigh will be released by S&G Publishing on January 29, 2015. It is 59 pages, priced at 99 cents.
C.C. Finlay has been named the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He replaces Gordon van Gelder, who has been editor since 1997. C.C. Finlay was the guest editor of the July/August 2014 issue, which was well received, and had been expected to edit two additional issues in 2015. Several reviewers noted that he brought a high percentage of new names to the magazine.
He is the author of the Traitor to the Crown fantasy trilogy, published by Del Rey in 2009. Under the name Charles Coleman Finlay he has published some highly regarded short fiction, including the Hugo and Nebula Award nominees “The Political Prisoner” and “The Political Officer.” We published his story “The Nursemaid’s Suitor” in Black Gate 8. In 2003 he was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He addresses the announcement on his blog:
As some of you may have guessed, my guest editing gigs at F&SF were a job audition. I guess I did okay…. Officially, I take over with the March/April issue this year… March/April is at the printers so that means I’m already working on May/June. I started reading submissions for the magazine on January 1. Originally, it was going to be just for a guest editor spot in September/October, but now it is for all future issues of the magazine. So that worked out well…
Current editor Gordon Van Gelder has an inventory of stories for the magazine. After the March/April issue, these will be mixed in with the stories that I select. It will probably take a few issues to make the transition, but it won’t be sudden. Readers will still see many of the familiar writers they love. And I expect there to be new voices as well.
Gordon Van Gelder will remain publisher. We covered the January/February issue of F&SF here.
C.S.E. Cooney reports that she has signed a contract with Mythic Delirium Press for her newest collection Bone Swans, coming this summer.
Bone Swans will contain several of her most popular novellas, including The Big Bah-Ha, which Gene Wolfe called “Deep and wise and fabulous… [it] will leave you shuddering and strangely at peace. You could found a religion on it — or it may found a religion without you.” It also includes “The Bone Swans of Amandale,” the first installment of Silver and Bone: The Pied Piper Tales, and “Life on the Sun,” originally published here at Black Gate. Here’s the complete table of contents, with links to online versions where available:
Life on the Sun
The Bone Swans of Amandale
How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One
The Big Bah-Ha
C.S.E. Cooney is a podcast reader for Uncanny Magazine; Amal El-Mohtar recently reviewed her short story “Witch, Beast, Saint” at Tor.com, and Mark Rigney interviewed her in late October. The two C.S.E. Cooney short stories we presented here, “Godmother Lizard” and “Life on the Sun,” consistently rank among the most popular pieces we’ve ever published. She is a past website editor of Black Gate, and the author of How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes and Jack o’ the Hills.
Bone Swans will be published by Mythic Delirium Press on July 7th, 2015. Get more details on their website.
Back in May, BG blogger Lawrence Schick (who also writes as Lawrence Ellsworth) told us about his huge upcoming anthology The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure: Classic Tales of Dashing Heroes, Dastardly Villains, and Daring Escapes. Now the book has arrived, and it looks very appetizing indeed. If you enjoy tales of adventure, this one looks like it would make a splendid late Christmas present to yourself.
The word “swashbuckler” conjures up an indelible image: a hero who’s a bit of a rogue but has his own code of honor, an adventurer with laughter on his lips and a flashing sword in his hand. This larger-than-life figure is regularly declared passé, but the swashbuckler is too appealing to ever really die. Who wouldn’t want to face deadly danger with confidence and élan? Who can deny the thrill of clashing blades, hairbreadth escapes, and daring rescues, of facing vile treachery with dauntless courage and passionate devotion?
The swashbuckler tradition was born out of legends like those of the Knights of the Round Table and of Robin Hood, revived in the early 19th century by Romantic movement authors such as Sir Walter Scott. The genre caught hold with the publication of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers in 1844, and for the next century it was arguably the world’s leading form of adventure fiction.
Featuring selections by twenty hugely popular writers from the last century including Rafael Sabatini; Johnston Mcculley (creator of the Zorro character); Alexandre Dumas: Arthur Conan Doyle; and Pierce Egan (author of Robin Hood), this anthology is dedicated to the swashbuckler’s roots: historical adventures by the masters of the genre. Most of these stories have been out of print for decades; some have never before been collected in book form. All are top-notch entertainment.
The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure was published by Pegasus on December 15, 2014. It is 604 pages, priced at $24.95 in paperback or $20.08 for the digital edition.
The Black Gate offices are empty, the lights are off, and the only illumination is from the the tiny tree the interns put on top of the filing cabinets during the Christmas party. Another year gone. Another 780 books discussed, 112 games reviewed, 84 comics examined, and numerous issues of critical importance to the genre fiercely debated. The staff are all at home with their loved ones, sleeping the sleep of the just (and the exhausted), and the office is strangely quiet.
It’s during the few times the office is like this — and not filled with raucous debate, and the never-ending tension of the nearly-blown deadline — that I can really remember what Black Gate is all about. Sometimes, when we’re busiest, it seems that we’re just a website, just another stop on the Internet where people promote their opinions.
But if that were true, Black Gate would still just be Howard Andrew Jones and me, working away in near-total obscurity. Instead, Black Gate has become a thriving and growing collective of writers and artists who care about fantasy. We work together to promote forgotten classics and celebrate overlooked modern writers. And to help each other.
We have some of the finest writers in the industry and they work tirelessly week after week to keep you informed on a genre with hidden depths and constant surprises. It’s been an incredible year and traffic to the site has nearly doubled in just the last 12 months. The real engine of that growth has been you, the fans, who have helped spread the word, telling others about us.
So thank you once again, from the bottom of our hearts. On behalf of the vast and unruly collective that is Black Gate, I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Continue being excellent — it’s what you’re good at.
A good… Big Fat Heroic Fantasy Epic
I’m starting to think that writing a good — by good, I means delivers the tropes while meeting wider literary standards — Big Fat Heroic Fantasy Epic is like squaring a circle, reconciling Justice with Mercy, bringing World Peace… an exercise in balancing seemingly irreconcilable opposites.
You need to have the world building of Tolkien but the pacing of Ian Fleming, the escapism of C.S. Lewis but the grit and cynicism of John Steinbeck. It has to be an armchair-by-the-fire-dog-at-my-feet-on-a-winter-day read, and yet not pretend that pre-modern societies are anything but structurally unpleasant. It needs to take you on a flight of fancy, but ground you in the familiar. And, given that we live in the 21st century, despite the pre-modern setting, it’s nice to have believably empowered women helping to shape the story.
In his new book The Way Into Chaos, Book One of The Great Way, Harry Connolly has somehow managed to do this. Before I put on my writer hat, let me speak as a reader:
I approached this book with some trepidation because I was already a fan of Harry Connolly’s Twenty Palaces urban fantasy series (interview here).
More hardboiled than the Dresden Files, Connolly’s take on the UF genre has a delicious bleakness to it. His hero faces not just a nihilistic a-human magical world with shades of Lovecraft (…more grown up, more disquieting; you could almost call it Atheist Urban Fantasy) but also the bleaker corners of America. His mean streets and bedeviled small towns are as alienating as the magic, not leather-jacket-cool, not picket-fence cozy. His magic feels real in a maggots-under-the-skin way, and his horror elements throw into relief the things we truly care about. The plot and pacing meanwhile makes what could be an emotional battering into an adventure.
Read More »
Lawrence Schick has posted an intriguing article on modern swashbucklers over at The Huffington Post.
I am a connoisseur of old swashbuckling stories, the kind of historical adventure tales that were arguably the western world’s most popular form of fiction in the hundred years from the publication of Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe in 1820 to Johnston McCulley’s first Zorro novel in 1919… and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to go back to the 19th century to find a thrilling swashbuckler. A strong story boldly told never truly goes out of fashion, and there are some excellent novelists working today whose stories hearken back to the old swashbucklers, but whose writing is thoroughly modern.
He points to several recent titles, including William Dietrich’s Ethan Gage books, and a sparkling new translation of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. He also enthusiastically recommends the Outlaw Chronicles by British author Angus Donald:
The titular outlaw in the series is none other than Robin Hood, the original swashbuckler himself… The books in this series are fast-paced, the characters are memorable and well-drawn, and the dialogue is crisp and modern. But Donald’s Robin Hood isn’t Scott’s merry and chivalrous rogue, he’s a much more dangerous man: he’s a charismatic but ruthless renegade knight with a grudge against the aristocracy, and the author’s portrayal of the hard life of a band of medieval outlaws rings true…
The author has done his homework, and his depiction of the bloody work of combat in the 12th century is in equal parts thrilling and horrific. This is solid historical adventure that doesn’t shy away from the nasty realities of life in the Late Middle Ages: Donald tells it as it was.
Lawrence Schick’s most recent post for us was Compiling The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure. Read the complete article at The Huffington Post.
The brand new fantasy magazine Uncanny — which we discussed excitedly last month when its first issue went on sale — has shown uncanny good sense by hiring our very own C.S.E. Cooney as a podcast reader. Here’s a bit cribbed from the press release:
Uncanny Magazine is thrilled to announce that the marvelous C.S.E. Cooney has agreed to join us as the second reader on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast! Ms. Cooney is a Rhode Island writer and actor… She loves to read aloud to anyone who will sit still long enough to listen. Some of her narration work can be found on Podcastle and Tales to Terrify. With her fellow artists in the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, C. S. E. Cooney appears at conventions and other venues, singing from their growing collection of Distant Star Ballads, dramatizing fiction, and performing such story-poems as “The Sea King’s Second Bride,” for which she won the Rhysling Award in 2011.
Ms. Cooney will make her debut as an Uncanny Magazine Podcast reader in Episode 3 this January.
So much exciting C.S.E. Cooney news! Just last month, we reported on Amal El-Mohtar’s review of her short story “Witch, Beast, Saint,” and our roving reporter Mark Rigney interviewed her in late October. The two C.S.E. Cooney short stories we published here at Black Gate, “Godmother Lizard” and “Life on the Sun,” consistently rank among the most popular pieces we’ve ever published. Her most recent blog post for us was Book Pairings: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells and Royal Airs, published last Sunday. She is a past website editor of Black Gate, and the author of How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes and Jack o’ the Hills.
In other C.S.E. Cooney news, today is her birthday. Happy Birthday, Claire!!