Win a Copy of Mark Rigney’s Check-Out Time

Friday, September 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Check Out Time Mark Rigney-smallI’ve been watching this Mark Rigney fellow with a lot of interest.

He first came to my attention through the submissions queue at Black Gate, where he wowed me with his three-part Tales of Gemen, an old-school sword and sorcery story with a very modern spin — and some delightful twists. Readers responded well, too. The tales have consistently hovered near the top of our Fiction charts since we first published them in 2012. Tangent Online called them “Reminiscent of the old sword & sorcery classics,” which I found very gratifying.

Mark has had even more success with a new series of thrillers starring the occult investigators Reverend Renner and Dale Quist. Bill Maynard raved about the first, The Skates, in his review for us last year, saying “Rigney can write circles around most of us… Simply put, I love this book.” The second, “Sleeping Bear,” arrived in February, and anticipation has been building for their first novel-length adventure, Check-Out Time, due October 7th.

But there’s no reason for Black Gate readers to have to wait that long to get their hands on a copy. We know people who know people. To celebrate Mark’s recent success – and because we can’t stop bragging about it — we’re giving away two copies of Check-Out Time, compliments of Mark Rigney and Samhain Publishing.

How do you enter? Just send an e-mail to with the subject “Check-Out Time” and your return address. Two winners will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. Decisions of the judges (capricious as they may be) are final. Not valid where prohibited by law. Or anywhere postage for a hefty trade paperback is more than, like, 10 bucks.

Check-Out Time will be published by Samhain Publishing on October 7, 2014. It is 250 pages, priced at $15 in trade paperback and $5.50 for the digital edition. Be sure to read Mark’s article on the series, The Adventure Continues: the Return of Renner and Quist, published right here in February.

There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

Thursday, September 18th, 2014 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

There is no Lovely End-smallRegular readers of Black Gate will no doubt have noticed the return of infrequent interviewer Patty Templeton. For those who were wondering why Ms. Templeton wasn’t conducting more of her fantastic interviews with an eclectic rogues gallery of writers, the reason was, quite simply, that she was too busy writing a novel of her own. There Is No Lovely End was published back in July and has been garnering universally positive reviews. Here’s another one.

The book starts in pre-Civil War America and follows the lives of several seemingly unrelated characters whose lives will all eventually come crashing together in one disastrous night. Not all of these characters will survive to the end. In fact, one of them dies very early in the story, but continues to move events forward as a ghost. These early chapters can be a bit disorienting as the reader jumps from one subplot to another, each with its own main character and supporting cast. But once you get a feel for each character, the jumping about is much easier to follow and gives the story a frantic pace (which would otherwise be difficult, considering that it takes place over a 32-year period).

Hennet Daniels has undertaken a decades-long hunt for the medicine man who inadvertently poisoned his brother. Sarah Pardee is coping as best she can with a loveless marriage to a man who cares more about his dead daughter than his living wife. Graham Johnson is a suicidal newsman who falls hopelessly in love with a remorseless psychopath. Hester Garlan is a remorseless psychopath, searching for the lost son whom she believes has stolen her psychic abilities. Nathan Garlan is a young man trying to cope with his ability to speak with the dead.

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New Treasures: House Immortal by Devon Monk

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

House Immortal Devon Monk-smallThe first story I ever bought for Black Gate was by Devon Monk.

I was probably more excited than she was. “Stitchery,” the tale of a young woman struggling desperately to hold her farm together, and drawing on her unique ability to create new creatures from the flesh of dead ones, eventually appeared in Black Gate 2, and was selected for David Hartwell’s Year’s Best Fantasy 2.

I’ve been following Devon’s career ever since — and an impressive career it’s been, too. Since her appearance in BG 2 she’s published over a dozen novels in three different series: Allie Beckstrom, Broken Magic, and the steampunk Age of Steam books.

Now she kicks off a brand new fantasy series, House Immortal, an intriguing take on the legend of Frankenstein, featuring a main character who’s been stitched together into an immortal body… it reminds me of that excellent story I bought from a promising new writer, all those years ago.

One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized….

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.

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Future Treasures: Check-Out Time by Mark Rigney

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Check Out Time Mark Rigney-smallMark Rigney’s Tales of Gemen — a three-part adventure tale featuring a deadly tomb, a ruined gateway, and the mysterious trader Gemen, who risks everything to plumb their secrets —  have consistently hovered near the top of our Fiction charts since we first published them in 2012. Tangent Online called the tales “Reminiscent of the old sword & sorcery classics,” high praise in our book.

More recently, Mark has turned his attention to a series of thrillers starring the occult investigators Reverend Renner and Dale Quist. Bill Maynard raved about the first, The Skates, in his review for us last year.

I envy Rigney for his talents… Rigney can write circles around most of us as he seamlessly blurs the lines between genres and switches voice from one first person narrator to the other…

Rigney’s odd couple (in more ways than one) comprises a stuffy Unitarian minister and a rather crude, sometimes boorish, ex-linebacker. Together they solve occult mysteries… Make no mistake, this book is grand entertainment.

Simply put, I love this book.

The second in the series, “Sleeping Bear,” appeared in February, and anticipation has been building for their first novel-length adventure. Check-Out Time finally arrives next month.

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New Treasures: Sword & Mythos, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

Monday, September 1st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Sword and Mythos-smallInnsmouth Free Press has done some really terrific work recently, including the groundbreaking anthologies Future Lovecraft (2011) and Historical Lovecraft (2011), and the splendid Innsmouth Magazine (which we discussed here).

The Editor-in-Chief of Innsmouth Free Press, Paula R. Stiles, may be familiar to Black Gate readers as the author of the dark fantasy featuring the Queen of Hell, “Roundelay,” in Black Gate 15. With her latest anthology, Sword & Mythos, Stiles and her co-editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia have assembled another dynamite collection of stories, this one featuring sword & sorcery heroes and heroines coming face-to-face with monstrosities out of the Cthulhu Mythos.

The Blades of Heroes Clash Against the Darkest Sorcery

Aztec warriors ready for battle, intent on conquering a neighboring tribe, but different gods protect the Matlazinca. For Arthur Pendragon, the dream of Camelot has ended. What remains is a nightmarish battle against his own son, who is not quite human.

Master Yue, the great swordsman, sets off to discover what happened to a hamlet that was mysteriously abandoned. He finds evil. Sunsorrow, the ancient dreaming sword, pried from the heart of the glass god, yearns for Carcosa.

Fifteen writers, drawing inspiration from the pulp sub-genres of sword and sorcery and the Cthulhu Mythos, seed stories of adventure, of darkness, of magic and monstrosities. From Africa to realms of neverwhere, here is heroic fantasy with a twist.

Sword & Mythos was published by Innsmouth Free Press on May 1, 2014. It is 315 pages, priced at $15 in trade paperback and $5 for the digital edition. The cover is by Nacho Molina Parra. Order a copy or get more details at the Innsmouth Free Press website.

Celebrating 1 Million Page Views: The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in July

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

startersetWe invited America into our home last month to sit down and talk about fantasy, and America showed up. It stuck around too, peeking under the couch cushions and rooting around in the back of the fridge. By the end of July, the Black Gate servers had racked up 1.1 million page views — a new record for us, and the first time we’ve ever crossed a million.

We’re celebrating a bit this month, but not too hard. Because America is still here, with an insatiable appetite for news and reviews on the latest in new and classic fantasy. And also for bean dip, which America eats in great quantity. Unfortunately, America ate all the chips and left the lid off the salsa, letting it dry overnight. We love you America, but come on. Don’t be a jerk.

The most popular article on the Black Gate blog last month was a forensic analysis of the brand new Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set by Andrew Zimmerman Jones. Interest in the re-launch of D&D — which officially kicked off this month with the release of the new Player’s Handbook — has been very strong.

Next on the list was Howard Andrew Jones’s conversation with author Mark Lawrence, on the occasion of the publication of his new novel Prince of Fools.

Third was “Reading the Entrails,” Matthew David Surridge’s lengthy analysis of 25 years of Locus magazine reader polls on the Best Fantasy Novels of All Time, and how the results have changed over the years — and surprisingly, how they’ve stayed the same.

Rounding out the Top Five were D.B. Jackson’s article, “The Life and Times of a Midlist Author,” and James Maliszewski’s nostalgic look back at previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons, “New Editions Past.”

The complete Top 50 Black Gate posts in July follow.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in July

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Poets in Hell-smallThe most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, an exclusive sample from their new anthology Poets in Hell.

Don’t step off the podium just yet, Janet and Chris. I’m happy to report that the #2 fiction post in July was also from fantasy’s power couple: an excerpt from heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band by — who else? — Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Third was perennial favorite “The Find,” by Mark Rigney, Part II of The Tales of Gemen, which has been near the top of the charts every month since it was first published here nearly three years ago.

Michael Shea’s tale of Lovecraftian horror, “Tsathoggua,” which first appeared here last September, came in fourth.

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.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Joe Bonadonna, Mike Allen, John C. Hocking, C.S.E. Cooney, Sean McLachlan, Peter Cakebread, Vaughn Heppner, Jason E. Thummel, Harry Connolly, Steven H Silver, E.E. Knight, Judith Berman, Martha Wells, David C. Smith, and Dave Gross.

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 July.

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Experience the Second Era of Space with Mindjammer

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Mindjammer-smallTrying out a new role playing game takes a pretty serious investment of time and energy, and I don’t do it often. I think the last time was probably Pelgrane Press’s excellent SF game Ashen Stars, which turned out to be worth the investment.

A few months ago, the talented Sarah Newton sent me a copy of her ambitious new RPG Mindjammer, and I found myself intrigued. Early this year, it beat out 13th Age, Hillfolk, and other great games to win the Griffie Award for Best Roleplaying Game, which only sharpened my interest.

So over the last few weeks and months, I’ve been digging into it. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a really terrific SF role playing game, with a flavor all its own.

Mindjammer describes itself as a game of “Transhumanism Adventure,” which in practical terms means it’s a mix of science fiction and superhero gaming. Hyperadvanced technology, synthetic intelligence, cybernetics, and ancient lost tech have changed what it means to be human, opening up a wide range of fabulous and inventive skills for your players — things like Xeno-empathy, Starship therapy, logic shields, and many others. It makes character generation a lot of fun, and really gets players thinking about the type of universe they’re about to step into.

And what kind of universe is that, exactly? One where humans mingle with divergent hominids, uplifted animals, synthetic beings, and stranger things. Players can even play a sentient starship — which may give you some idea of the scale and ambition of this fine game.

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25 Ways to Support (Indie) Authors

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 | Posted by Patty Templeton

Has this thought ever walked across your brain: My friend wrote a book. What now? It ain’t selling and I want to help.

Well, bless your soul, dear heart. You are a darn good friend. Here are a few suggestions on how to bump up your friend’s confidence and sales.

1. Give the author your money. Buy the book.

Patty cat's paw

2. Give them more money. Buy the book as a gift, too.

Give them money

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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 »

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