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Win a Copy of Peter Watts’ Echopraxia

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Echopraxia-smallPeter Watts is a fellow Canadian, and that makes him cool.

Well, that and the fact that he writes intensely cool SF novels, like the Hugo-nominated Blindsight, which Charles Stross described as “a first contact with aliens story from the point of view of a zombie posthuman crewman aboard a starship captained by a vampire.” Any time you can get Charles Stross on record saying “zombie posthuman crewman,” you know you’re cool. Plus, Ken Levine, the Creative Director for the hit video game BioShock, credits Watts as a significant influence on his game. That’s coolness right there.

Watts’ latest novel Echopraxia, described as a “sidequel” relating events on Earth during Blindsight, arrives at the end of the month, and Tor Books has been kind enough to offer us a copy to use as a giveaway (Thanks, Tor! You guys are super-cool.)

How do you enter? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the title “Echopraxia” and a one-sentence review of your favorite Tor science fiction novel. One winner will be drawn at random at the end of the month from all qualifying entries and we’ll publish the best reviews here on the Black Gate blog.

All entries become the property of New Epoch Press. 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 outside the US and Canada.

Here’s the book description.

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New Treasures: Downfall by Rob Thurman

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Downfall Rob Thurman-smallI first met Rob (Robyn) Thurman at Dragon*Con back in 2010, when she had a booth right next to the chaotic and busy Black Gate booth in the Dealer’s Room. As Howard put it in his con report, hanging out with Rob was one of the highlights of the con for us — she was charming and funny, and told hilarious tales of cosplay misadventures in a knockout Deadpool costume.

Turns out Rob is also a terrific writer, as I discovered when I finally had a chance to pick up one of her popular Cal Leandros dark urban fantasy novels. The series began with Nightlife in 2006; since then she’s published one per year. The ninth and most recent, Downfall, arrived earlier this month. It’s not too late to discover this New York Times bestselling series — if you haven’t already.

I let it go — all of it. Everything I’d been saving up all my life, building and growing inside me, too much to hold in one half-human body. It pushed and fought to be free with a force that turned me into a bomb with a timer vibrating on zero. I was free.

But so was everything I’d fought so hard not to be….

Brothers Cal and Niko Leandros know trouble when they see it — and then proceed to wipe the floor with it. But now it seems their whole world is falling to pieces. Cal’s nightmarish monster side is growing ever stronger, changing Cal physically as well as mentally. Which is exactly what Grimm — Cal’s savage doppelgänger — wants. And when a covert supernatural organization decides that it’s time to put Cal down before he threatens pretty much everything else in existence, the brothers find themselves in a fight they actually might lose. But the dark temptations Cal has denied all his life may prove to be exactly what can save them.

Even if he must fall forever…

Downfall was published on August 5, 2014 by Roc Books. It is 338 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Chris McGrath.


GenCon 2014 – Part 3: Pathfinder, Pathfinder, and More Pathfinder

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

PathfinderAdvancedClassGuideEvery year, one of the most enjoyable booths to attend at GenCon is the Paizo booth. And I’m certainly not alone in that belief. Last year, the massive rush at Paizo to get copies of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords base set (more on this later) resulted in a line that snaked its away across a massive section of the Exhibit Hall. This year, they had to actually have a line out in the hallway to even be admitted into the booth, to avoid cluttering up the Exhibit Hall itself with all the desperate Pathfinder fans. And there were certainly a lot of great products to inspire a spending frenzy this year.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

The flagship product coming from Paizo Publishing is the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Pathfinder always has a ton of great releases coming out on an extremely aggressive schedule – a range of adventure modules, player companion supplements, campaign setting supplements, and so on – but here are some main hardcover rulebooks slated for the next few months that are of particular interest to anyone who plays Pathfinder.

Advanced Class Guide (Amazon, Paizo)

This new book provides details on 10 new hybrid classes, which are designed to meld together traits from two of the core and base classes from previous supplements. For example, the hunter is a hybrid of the ranger and druid, a martial character who is able to channel animal powers and bond more closely with their animal companion, but still wield spells. The bloodrager mixes the combat features of the barbarian with the mystical bloodlines of the sorcerer. The brawler is a fighter who gains several of the unarmed combat benefits of the monk, but without the spiritual aspects.

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Vintage Treasures: Pavane by Keith Roberts

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Pavane Ace Special-small Pavane Berkley-small Pavane Ace-small

I think I first took notice of Keith Roberts’s classic alternate history Pavane because it was part of the famed Ace Science Fiction Special line. The Ace specials, edited by Terry Carr, were a legendary line of (mostly) original paperbacks that included some of the most acclaimed SF and fantasy ever published, such as R. A. Lafferty’s Past Master (1968), Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), Alexei Panshin’s Rite of Passage (1969), John Brunner’s The Traveler in Black (1971), and William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). Pavane was one of the rare reprints; it first appeared in hardcover in 1968, and the Ace paperback came along a year later, with a cover by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon (above left).

Pavane has been reprinted many, many times in the past four decades — at least 20 times, by my count. Frankly, I’d be surprised if it’s been out of print for more than a year or two over the past forty years. Trust me, that’s evidence of an exceptional book, with the kind of appeal that crosses generations. Berkley put a very purple Richard Powers on their 1976 paperback edition (above, middle), but I think my favorite cover may be Chuck Minichiello’s, for the 1982 Ace reprint (right).

What’s Pavane all about, then? It’s a collection of nine linked short stories, most of them published in the British SF magazine Impulse in 1966. Roberts imagines a complex and well-realized alternate world where England fell to the Spanish Armada in the 16th Century, and the 20th Century sees the all-powerful hegemony of the Church of Rome, which has ruthlessly smothered scientific progress through the terror of the Inquisition. But knowledge cannot be suppressed indefinitely and the world is beginning to inexorably change…

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Collector the Barbarian: One Man’s Trash…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

apes

“I love trash.” — Oscar

It had long ago slipped my mind, but I was recently reminded of one childhood fad that was literally a load of garbage. I’m speaking of tin waste bins (garbage pails, trash cans, or whatever you happened to call them) lithographed with licensed characters from popular films, TV shows, and comic books.

Thinking back, it seems everyone had one when I was in grade school – you’d start in on a book report, crumple up your first attempt in frustration (yeah, we actually wrote reports with pen and paper back in the olden days of yore), and toss it into the knee-high basket emblazoned with characters from Star Wars or G.I. Joe. When you were sick, they also served as a handy vomit bucket.

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GenCon 2014 – Part 2: Kickstarters of Future and Past

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

DungeonDwellersTitleYesterday, I spent some time talking about some new games that are becoming available from smaller game publishers. Several of these had their origins in Kickstarters … and that’s becoming such a common thing that it’s worth devoting a single post just to Kickstarter-based games. This model by which fans can directly support their games that are under development is growing more and more popular among the GenCon crowd. It seems like most of the smaller, independent game companies have been going the Kickstarter route.

We’ll start with the new games and products that have already been successfully funded on Kickstarter:

Dungeon Dwellers - This is a cooperative dungeon crawl-themed card game, which I stumbled upon while trying to get across the Exhibit Hall on Sunday. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t have time to play a demo of the game, despite the fact that it looked like a lot of fun. Fortunately, their website has a number of videos showing how the game is played for those who are interested.

Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis – This steampunk exploration card game was so new that they didn’t even have copies to sell at GenCon because it was held up by U.S. Customs. (People who have backed games on Kickstarter have no doubt gained an amazing appreciation for how diligent our nation’s Customs officials are … at least when it comes to slowing down delivery of games.) They did, however, have demo copies and a great booth that drew a lot of attention and traffic to make use of those demos. The game can be played either cooperatively or competitively, as well, which I always consider to be a bonus. Again, their website has a great video talking about the game, though, so check it out.

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The 2014 Hugo Award Winners

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie-smallThe 2013 Hugos were awarded at LonCon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, England.

There’s a lengthy list of winners, so let’s get to it. The complete list follows.

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Best Novella

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

Best Novelette

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor.com, 09-2013)

Best Short Story

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery Holmes

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Bragington_JI mentioned in my post on silent film Sherlock Eille Norwood that all of his films are preserved on safety stock at the British Film Institute (BFI). I’m sure that some of my British Holmesian friends have viewed a few of these. I have a couple of terrible quality episodes on VHS.

Unfortunately, there are no known surviving copies of several Holmes films and television episodes. This includes Arthur Wontner’s The Missing Rembrandt from 1932 and episodes of the sixties BBC tv series starring both Douglas Wilmer and Peter Cushing.

Number nine on the BFI’s ’75 Most Wanted List’ of missing films is A Study in Scarlet, from 1914.

Last week, the BFI started an international hunt for this missing piece of Sherlock history with an essay titled, “Who Can Solve the Mystery of the Missing Sherlock Holmes Film?”

Peter Haining’s The Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook reprints a story from the June 12, 1965 Evening Mail with the title, “The Case of the Unknown Sherlock.It was accompanied by this picture.

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New Treasures: Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Sunday, August 17th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Dust and Light-smallCarol Berg’s first novel was Transformation, a Roc midlist paperback, in August 2000. It was a success and it became the first novel of the Rai-Kirah trilogy.

Some fourteen epic fantasy novels followed, including four in The Bridge of D’Arnath series and the Collegia Magica trilogy. There were a couple standalone titles in there as well, including Song of the Beast (2003), and the story “Unmasking,” in the 2007 Elemental Magic collection.

The two novels in The Lighthouse Duet, Flesh and Spirit (2007) and Breath and Bone (2008), were set in the world of Sanctuary. Now Berg returns to Sanctuary with her latest novel, the first installment of a new duology.

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her… After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries — beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad — and mad sorcerers are very dangerous…

Dust and Light was published by Roc Books on August 5. It is 445 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Gene Mollica.


The 1939 Retro Hugo Award Winners Announced

Saturday, August 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sword in the Stone T. H. White-smallBack in April, we told you about the nominees for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards, for the best science fiction and fantasy first published 75 years ago.

The Hugos were first awarded at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention in 1953. The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards celebrate the finest work published in 1938, which fans would have voted on at the very first Worldcon in New York in 1939 (if the Hugos had existed in 1939).

The Retro Hugos were awarded at Luncon 3, the The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, held from Thursday, August 14th through Sunday, August 17th, in London, England. The 2014 (non-Retro) Hugos will be awarded tomorrow in a ceremony just before the close of the convention.

The Retro Hugo awards were presented by Mary Robinette Kowal and Rob Shearman.

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Best Novel:

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Collins)

Best Novella:

“Who Goes There?” by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938)

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