Browsed by
Category: BG Staff

Weirdbook Annual #3: Zombies: Available now!

Weirdbook Annual #3: Zombies: Available now!

Cover by Fotolia

Wildside Press, ‎ 295 pages. ISBN 978-1479463312

(US Amazon prices: $3.99 Kindle/ $15.00 Paperback/  $29.99 Hardcover)

Zombies! Available now for your Halloween needs!

In 2015, Douglas Draa resurrected Weirdbook with issue #31 (the weird fiction magazine had been dormant since 1997). Fast forward to 2021, and issue #44 is now available. In addition to the core issues, there are themed anthologies spawning. Annual #1 Witches came out in 2017; and Annual #2: Cthulhu appeared in 2019 (discussed on Black Gate).

This year, for Annual #3, Weirdbook challenged authors to come up with memorable takes on zombies. The result is this fantastic collection of 34 new stories. Draa looked for tales that were fun, entertaining and scary. He also wanted fresh meat (i.e., he didn’t want to serve up a bunch of Romeroesque, plague zombies).

Read More Read More

Tales From the Magician’s Skull #6: Available Now; and Skull TV Announces a Kickstarter

Tales From the Magician’s Skull #6: Available Now; and Skull TV Announces a Kickstarter

Doug Kovacs cover art

Published by Goodman-Games. Paperback, PDF, eBook (80pages). ISBN 9781950783816.

Announcing the availability and contents of the Tales From the Magician’s Skull #6, a magazine of all-new swords & sorcery fiction! Issue #6 features cover art by Doug Kovacs of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Yes, mortal dogs, you read that correctly. The Skull brings readers a new series of stories set in Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar! Licensed by Leiber’s estate, the forthcoming stories and novellas faithfully expand upon the legendary tales of Lankhmar’s most famous duo.

Issue #6 is available at the publisher’s website Goodman-Games, in Paperback, eBook, and PDF (PDF’s are also available on DriveThru RPG). In the future, expect the paperback of issue#6 available from Amazon, like many of the previous issues.

Read More Read More

When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When comes my numbered day, I will meet it smiling. For I’ll have kept this oath.

I shall use my arms to shield the weak.

I shall use my lips to speak the truth, and my eyes to seek it.

I shall use my hand to mete justice to high and to low, and I will weigh all things with heart and mind.

Where I walk the laws will follow, for I am the sword of my people and the shepherd of their lands.

When I fall, I will rise through my brothers and my sisters, for I am eternal.

Pledge of the Altenerai

 

And with When the Goddess Wakes, Howard Andrew Jones’s Ring-Sworn Trilogy comes to a rousing conclusion. Perhaps the series’ greatest asset is its completion. In one two-and-a-half-year span — complete with a plague — all three books have appeared and that’s it, there ain’t no more. I waited six years between installments of Glen Cook’s Black Company, and millions of people have been waiting ten years for the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire (good luck with that). Jones got in and got out, producing three tightly-plotted and -paced novels. For that alone, as a reader I say, “Thank you!” But there’s more to it than that.

The first book, For the Killing of Kings (2019) introduces the Altenerai, a corps of superior warriors complete with magical talents. They are dedicated to protecting the five realms of the Dendressi from forces magical and mundane. Just as it is discovered that a kingdom-destabilizing conspiracy leads right to the Queen, the five realms are invaded by the Naor, a brutal barbarian horde. Less than a decade earlier the Naor were almost victorious. This time around, most of the greatest Altenerai are missing or dead, and it seems as though only a pair of young Altenerai and a few veterans are ready to stand against the Dendressi’s enemies. That book ends grimly, with death and destruction and what seems certain victory of both the Naor and the Queen.

Upon the Flight of the Queen (2019) {That’s two books in one year, folks! It can be done.} begins right where the previous book left off, with death and destruction continuing apace. The Naor march on the capital, Darassus, and the Queen’s plot to resurrect a long lost goddess in order to create a utopia is revealed. Each promises destruction for the Dendressi. Both are thwarted, but the Queen escapes with every intention of carrying out her plan.

Read More Read More

The Dark and Puzzling Present: The Medusa Deep, Book 2 of The Midnight Games by David Neil Lee

The Dark and Puzzling Present: The Medusa Deep, Book 2 of The Midnight Games by David Neil Lee

The Midnight Games (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016) and its sequel
The Medusa Deep (Poplar Press, 2021). Covers by Rachel Rosen, unknown

In his first guest post for Black Gate way back in 2016, The Midnight Games and Why I Wrote Them, David Neil Lee talked about his debut novel and the sequel he hoped to write some day.

For the past twelve years my family and I have lived a couple of blocks from Ivor Wynne, the local football stadium, and we hear all the noise from the Tiger Cats games. So I began a novel in which my protagonist hears a racket from the stadium at night, which he thinks of as “midnight games.” However, they are not games at all, but the cruel ceremonies of a local cult which is trying to summon to earth the Great Old Ones of the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos; trying with what turns out to be a fair degree of success….

What sort of monsters does the cult summon? — well how about those hideous prickly house centipedes that I scoop out of the bathtub of our old house from spring till fall every year. I don’t kill them, I put them in a jar and throw them in a garden — what if they were some sort of hmm, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, summoned here by the games? What about if one of them thrived in our garden, and grew and grew and grew?

I know what you’re thinking. “Dammit that sounds like fun. Why don’t I do that?” Well, if you’re a Black Gate reader, chances are that you do do that…

Read More Read More

Sublime, Cruel Beauty: An Interview with Jason Ray Carney

Sublime, Cruel Beauty: An Interview with Jason Ray Carney

Jason Ray Carney (aka Ayolo)

Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction

It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque/weird, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven by strange muses. To help reveal divine mysteries passed through artists, this interview series engages contemporary authors on the theme of “Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction.” Recent guests on Black Gate have included Darrell SchweitzerSebastian JonesCharles GramlichAnna Smith Spark, & Carol Berg. See the full list of interviews at the end of this post.

This one features Jason Ray Carney who is rapidly becoming everpresent across Weird Fiction and Sword & Sorcery communities (in fact you can probably corner him in the Whetstone S&S Tavern (hosted on Discord)). By day, he is a Lecturer in Popular Literature at Christopher Newport University. He is the author of the academic book, Weird Tales of Modernity (McFarland), and the fantasy anthology, Rakefire and Other Stories (Pulp Hero Press, reviewed on Black Gate). He recently edited Savage Scrolls: Thrilling Tales of Sword and Sorcery for Pulp Hero Press and is an editor at The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies, for Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Sword and Sorcery and for Witch House Magazine: Amateur Magazine of Cosmic HorrorIncidentally, Jason Ray Carney has also contributed here at Black Gate with a post on Robert E. Howard’s Bran Mak Morn character and musings on How Sword & Sorcery Brings Us Life.

Read More Read More

Exciting Storytelling from one of the Best Writers of Heroic Fantasy: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

Exciting Storytelling from one of the Best Writers of Heroic Fantasy: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When the Goddess Wakes (St. Martin’s Press, August 2021). Cover by Lauren Saint-Onge

Whenever a trilogy wraps up, we bake a cake in the Black Gate offices. When that trilogy belongs to our own Howard Andrew Jones, our first Managing Editor, we bake a cake in the shape of the world of Amber. (No, we don’t know how it turned out. The damn cake keeps vanishing.)

When the Goddess Wakes, the final novel in Howard’s Ring-Sworn Trilogy, follows For the Killing of Kings (2018) and Upon the Flight of the Queen (2019). In his review of the first volume here at Black Gate, Fletcher Vredenburgh said “It moves at an astounding pace… This is exciting storytelling from one of the best and most knowledgeable writers of heroic fantasy.” Seth Lindberg proclaimed the second volume is “reminiscent of Zelazny… I was completely floored.” And in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the final volume an “emotional roller coaster.”

When the Goddess Wakes was published on August 24th by St. Martin’s Press, and it brings to a close one of the most original and exciting fantasy series of the 21st Century. You owe it to yourself to check it out. And when you do, visit us again to share your thoughts. Pick up a copy today.

Win the Complete Ring-Sworn Trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones!

Win the Complete Ring-Sworn Trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones!

The third and final book in Howard Andrew Jones’ epic Ring-Sworn fantasy trilogy, When the Goddess Wakes, drops a week from today. And not only is the Kindle version of the first book on sale for $2.99 all through August, but St. Martin’s Press is also giving away a complete set of the trilogy to three lucky winners.

How do you enter? Just hand over your deets at the St. Martin’s website here, and then wait in breathless anticipation for good news.

Read More Read More

C. Dean Andersson Tribute Interview and Tour Guide of Hel: Bloodsong and Freedom!

C. Dean Andersson Tribute Interview and Tour Guide of Hel: Bloodsong and Freedom!

…And on the day two hundred
There it stood white to the sky
The house of the God of the cross
Big enough to take two dragon ships inside
All of Asa bay did watch
The wonder raise to the sky
Now must the God of the cross be pleased satisfied
Just outside the circle of the crowd

Read More Read More

Explore the Beautiful Darkness: Worlds Beyond Worlds by John R. Fultz

Explore the Beautiful Darkness: Worlds Beyond Worlds by John R. Fultz

Worlds Beyond Worlds by John R. Fultz
DMR Books (182 pages, $12.99 in trade paperback, April 3, 2021)
Cover by Brian LeBlanc

Volume I: Transcending the Illusions of Modernity and Reason.: The first thing you must understand is that the One True World is not a figment of your imagination, and it does not lie in some faraway dimension. To help you understand the relationship between the True World and the False, you must envision the True World lying beneath the False, as a man can lay hidden beneath a blanket, or a woman’s true face can be hidden by an exquisite mask.

(Fultz, “The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria” )

You Want A Piece of Me?

The Brian LeBlanc cover of Worlds Beyond Worlds: The Short Fiction of John R. Fultz shows the revenant Chivaine displaying the trophy head of his enemy. As a reader, do you want to accept his challenge? You are invited to explore the beautiful darkness. The tile and cover set up expectations well, so get ready to explore planetary landscapes, witches, twisted creatures, and villainous heroes. Worlds Beyond Worlds is exactly what it says, a collection that takes the reader/protagonists into other worlds which are beyond even stranger ones.

Read More Read More

Fringe Grimdark: Crimson Crown by BJ Swann, and Beyond Barlow by Jason R. Koivu

Fringe Grimdark: Crimson Crown by BJ Swann, and Beyond Barlow by Jason R. Koivu

Readers typically differentiate stereotypical High Fantasy (elves, dwarves, wizards-with-pointy-hats with a slant toward happy adventuring) vs. Low Fantasy (more “realism” & “earthier” milieu, with a focus on humans defending trenches at a battlefront or crawling through crypts to save a maiden or rob a god). The latter encompasses sub-genres like Sword & Sorcery and the contemporary-named Grimdark.

Why stop at regular Grimdark when you can go further? This post highlights two New Treasures that are arguably Grimdark, but still push the boundaries of what is expected. At the very least, they should appeal to dark fantasy readers who desire something fresh (whatever label the books deserve). To learn if these are right for you, read on:

Read More Read More