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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.

Read More »

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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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in May

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

GodzillaMillenniumIt was all about the king of monsters at the Black Gate blog last month.

Ryan Harvey’s Godzilla review was our top article in May. His mammoth 5-part history of the Big Guy was also picked up by Boing-Boing, among other places, exposing the series to thousands of new readers; the final installment came in at #3 for the month. If you visited the site last month and read nothing but Godzilla articles, you weren’t the only one.

My analysis of John C. Wright’s conservative manifesto “Heinlein, Hugos, and Hogwash,” and the frequently hilarious response in the blogosphere, was our second most read article last month. Garrett Calcaterra’s well-researched “Can SF Save the World From Climate Change?” came in at #4.

Rounding out the Top Five was Fletcher Vredenburgh’s warm appreciation of Keith Taylor’s sword & sorcery classic, Bard.

The complete Top 50 Black Gate posts in May were:

  1. Godzilla (2014) Is a True Godzilla Film and a Unique Blockbuster
  2. A Ride Along with the Thought Police: John C. Wright, Foz Meadows, and Rachel Aaron
  3. A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 5: The Travesty and the Millennium Era (1996–2004)
  4. Can SF Save the World From Climate Change?
  5. A Perfect Artifact from the Glory Days of 1970s Swords & Sorcery: Keith Taylor’s Bard
  6. Read More »

July/August Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction now on Sale

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine July-August 2014-smallHoly cats! C.C. (Charles) Finlay is the guest editor of the July/August issue of F&SF.

How did this happen? Did Charles win some kind of contest? Did he travel back in time and convince regular editor Gordon van Gelder that the previously-planned July/August issue would lead to an apocalyptic future timeline? Was he selected in a process of elimination from a group of a dozen contestants in a grueling and deadly contest of wills?

Nah. Gordon asked him to do it, and Charles said, “Sure.”

Here’s how Charles says it went down on his blog:

About 13 years ago, I made my first short story sale… it was to Fantasy and Science Fiction – the magazine that published writers I grew up with, like Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Stephen King. That was a rush. Nothing since – not award nominations, not other short story sales, not book sales – has been quite as exciting as that first sale.

Until now.

I’ve wanted to try editing for a while. Maybe it’s all the workshopping I’ve done, the excitement of seeing a great story for the first time before anyone else gets to read it. Maybe it’s the time I’ve spent as resident editor at the Online Writing Workshops… So when F&SF publisher Gordon Van Gelder asked me if I was interested in guest editing an issue of his magazine, I immediately said “Yes.”

Actually, I think I said “HELL YES.”

Read More »

Future Treasures: Stories of the Raksura by Martha Wells

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Stories of the Raksura-smallMartha Wells’s Books of the Raksura trilogy — The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths — have captivated readers around the world. In Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud, she returns to the world of Raksura with a pair of exciting novellas.

In “The Falling World,” Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud Court, has traveled with Chime and Balm to another Raksuran court. When she fails to return, her consort, Moon, along with Stone and a party of warriors and hunters, must track them down. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; freeing them from an ancient trap hidden in the depths of the Reaches is much more difficult.

“The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court, long before Moon was born. In the distant past, Indigo stole Cloud from Emerald Twilight. But in doing so, the reigning Queen Cerise and Indigo are now poised for a conflict that could spark war throughout all the courts of the Reaches.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With two brand-new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Read Martha’s complete Nebula-Award nominated novel The Death of the Necromancer right here at Black Gate, and her article on the Raksura series, How Well Does The Cloud Roads Fit as Sword and Sorcery?  Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two will contain two more novellas; it is not yet scheduled.

Stories of the Raksura will be published by Night Shade Books on September 2, 2014. It is 240 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and digital format.

Strange Chemistry Shuts Down

Friday, June 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Pantomime by Laura Lam-smallStrange Chemistry, the innovative YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, has closed its doors. Here’s the announcement made earlier today by Caroline Lambe, Publicity Manager at Angry Robot:

Angry Robot Books has a history of innovation and we continue to go from strength to strength. We’re constantly trying out new concepts and new ideas, and we continue to publish popular and award-winning books. Our YA imprint Strange Chemistry and our crime/mystery imprint Exhibit A have – due mainly to market saturation – unfortunately been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success.

We have therefore made the difficult decision to discontinue Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, effective immediately, and no further titles will be published from these two imprints.

Strange Chemistry launched in September 2012 with editor Amanda Rutter at the helm, and released 17 books in its first year. Last summer, they produced this splendid montage displaying all of their book covers, and we helped them celebrate their first birthday just last August.

Over the last two years, Strange Chemistry has published a marvelously diverse range of titles, including Martha Wells’s Emilie and the Hollow World, Jonathan L. Howard’s Katya’s World and its sequel Katya’s War, Broken by A. E. Rought, Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier, Pantomime by Laura Lam, and many others. The sudden shut down leaves nearly half a dozen previously announced titles in limbo, including Eliza Crewe’s Crushed, Rabble by Rosie Best, and A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine Norris.

As disappointing as the news is, Angry Robot reports that their core SF and fantasy imprint is still very robust, and in fact they plan to increase output from two books a month to three. Read the complete announcement here.

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