Get Ready For Six More Best-of-the-Year Volumes

Monday, April 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Imaginarium 3 The Best Canadian Speculative Writing-smallLast week I wrote a brief Future Treasures piece on the upcoming crop of Year’s Best anthologies, Get Ready For 11 Best-of-the-Year Volumes, scheduled to be released in the next six months. I covered the big books in the pipeline, including ones from Rich Horton, Paula Guran, Jonathan Strahan, Gardner Dozois, John Joseph Adams, and others.

As comprehensive as that list was, since it went live I’ve been contacted by several folks in the know who’ve pointed out that I missed a number of volumes. Without further ado, here are six additional Best of the Year volumes scheduled to be released this year.

Wilde Stories: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, ed. Steve Berman (Lethe)
Heiresses of Russ: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, ed. Steve Berman (Lethe)
Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Fiction, edired by Sandra Kasturi (ChiZine)
The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, edited by Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene (Ticonderoga)
The Year’s Illustrious Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Nisi Shawl (Aqueduct Press)
Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013, edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein (Kaleidoscope)

This brings the total to 17… and it still doesn’t include several announced titles, such as the new Night Shade series edited by Neil Clarke, The Best Science Fiction of the Year (first volume to be released in 2016), and Steve Haynes’ Best British Fantasy (no word on a 2015 volume.) If you’re a fan of short genre fiction, the next six months will be very good to you indeed.

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Conan of Venarium

Monday, April 20th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Turtledove_Venarium2I’ve got a couple Holmes-related posts in the works, but am not done researching any of them (no, I don’t just make up my posts as I go: I actually put some thought into them; even if  it may not always appear so). Fortunately, I’ve got no shortage of other areas of interest that I can use to fill the gap (I still haven’t figured out how to get a baseball-related post here. Although, if I still had my copy of that Daryl Brock book.  Maybe something on W P Kinsella.).

The esteemed Ryan Harvey used to review Conan pastiches here at Black Gate. I am absolutely a Robert E. Howard and Conan fan. Perhaps you read this recent post? So, looking to indulge my non-mystery interest (I really want to write something on Tolkien’s Nauglamir, but it’s not even outlined yet), I turned to Conan.

Harry Turtledove is best known for his alternate history novels. I’ve read little Turtledove, so I can’t expound on them. However, one that I did read and enjoyed very much was The Guns of the South, which involves time-travelers bringing Robert E. Lee AK-47s, changing the outcome of the American Civil War (it’s better than it sounds). I definitely enjoyed it more than his other alt-Civil War book, How Few Remain.

Back in 2003, Turtledove joined the list of authors putting out Conan pastiches for Tor Books. Fans of Conan know that this line was quite hit and miss. Conan of Venarium was the 49th and last of the Tor originals, coming six years after the previous entry.

You can read Ryan’s review of that one, here. I’ll include a quote that I think sums up his thoughts on Venarium’s predecessor:  ”I am glad to report that Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza is superior to Conan and the Mists of Doom. Unfortunately, that still ranks it as the second worst Conan novel I’ve read.”

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Vintage Treasures: The Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Hawkwood's Voyage The Heretic Kings The Iron Wars

Paul Kearney’s first novel was The Way to Babylon (1992), followed quickly by A Different Kingdom (1993) and Riding the Unicorn (1994). With his fourth novel, Hawkwood’s Voyage (1995), he began an extremely ambitious story cycle that eventually ran to five volumes and over 1,600 pages: The Monarchies of God.

The Monarchies of God was originally published in the UK by Gollancz, with each volume released as it was written. In the US, however, publisher Ace Books tried an unusual experiment. They waited until the series was virtually complete, publishing the first volume here in the US in February 2002, and subsequent books one per month, in March, April, and May. The final volume was released in January 2003, virtually simultaneous with its UK release.

I have to assume the experiment was not a success, as the books went out of print rather quickly, and Ace has shown no particular appetite to repeat it since.

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Future Treasures: The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Seven, edited by Ellen Datlow

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven-smallLast week I surveyed eleven upcoming Best of the Year anthologies, including books edited by Rich Horton, Jonathan Strahan, Paula Guran, Gardner Dozois, John Joseph Adams and Joe Hill, Stephen Jones, and others. All eleven will be published between May and October — a bumper crop for everyone who delights in excellent short fiction.

Night Shade Books used to publish two: Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, but after the sale of Night Shade to Skyhorse two years ago, Strahan took his volume to Solaris.

Fortunately for us Night Shade have continued to publish the horror volume, and the seventh arrives in August of this year, with 22 short stories and novelettes from Garth Nix, Nathan Ballingrud, Genevieve Valentine, John Langan, Dale Bailey, Gemma Files, Robert Shearman, and many others.

James McGlothlin reviewed the Sixth installment in the series for us last year, saying it made a strong case that we’re living in a Golden Age of Horror.

Here’s the book description for the upcoming seventh volume.

For over three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the seventh volume of this series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night.

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The Definitive Guide to Selling Books sans InterWebs

Friday, April 17th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Hear ye! Hear ye! This week, the InterWebs exploded with posts on bookselling and all their various don’ts and dos. They may speak of their crazed magical ways of InterWebs, but it is we of Black Gate who will provide you with the DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO SELLING MORE BOOKS!

"Razzle Dazzle, InterWeb razzle..."

“Razzle Dazzle, InterWeb razzle…”

Gather round, Authors of Yore, Authors of Now and Authors of Soon, and learn the true ways of book selling success.


Like any good conquest, the personal touch makes the difference. Let them see the blood lust in your eyes first-hand. Remember, the closer you are to them, the more blood lust they’ll see, the more books you’ll sell.


That’s their fear. Not yours. Make them fear that not purchasing your book will lead their villages to be burned and their crops to be destroyed! Speak fondly of past blood baths! Showcase them in a spiffy pop-up banner behind your sales table and REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THROUGH! If you don’t want to waste too much writing time destroying your non-purchasing enemies, at least steal their goat.

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Tim Akers on How His First Novel Nearly Ended His Career

Friday, April 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Heart of Veridon-smallTim Akers has produced some noteworthy fantasy in the past six years, including The Horns of Ruin, The Kingdom of Doors and Rooms, and The Burn Cycle (Heart of Veridon, Dead of Veridon, and the collection Bones of Veridon).

But his writing career very nearly ended after the release of his first novel, Heart of Veridon, by Solaris in 2009. Tim’s tale is one I’ve heard all too often behind the scenes and in whispered conversations at conventions. But on his blog yesterday, Tim publicly laid bare the details in a revealing and honest post — one I urge all aspiring fantasy novelists to read, and pay close attention to.

We were six months from the release of the novel… I received a call from my agent, informing me that Solaris was putting itself up for sale. The imprint was profitable, but GW had decided to put all of their eggs in the Black Library basket. I was standing in my office, at the job I hated more than I’ve ever hated anything, listening to Joshua Bilmes explain why my career may be over.

We tried to negotiate away the contract. Other authors had better luck with this, but as a debut writer, I didn’t have a lot of pull. Let me just summarize the next six months: bad things happened. Solaris didn’t do anything in terms of marketing. They didn’t send out review copies. Their sellers had no motivation to push the book. Buyers at the various bookstores were leery of picking up a debut novel from an imprint that might not exist in a few months.

The book, Heart of Veridon, got to shelves. But it arrived out of the blue, it hit the shelves at terminal velocity, and it cratered. Sales were bad. Reviews were good. The book disappeared.

See the complete post at Tim’s website.

Future Treasures: Sword of the North by Luke Scull

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Sword of the North-smallSword of the North is the sequel to 2013′s The Grim Company, which called “Brilliant” and The Daily Mail called “A grisly, compelling read… hugely enjoyable.”

The second volume in the series returns to the hostile, decaying world where the gods are dead… a land desperately in need of heroes. But what it gets instead is a ragtag band of old warriors, a crippled Halfmage, two orphans and an oddly capable manservant: the Grim Company.

In The Grim Company, Luke Scull introduced a formidable and forbidding band of anti-heroes battling against ruthless Magelords and monstrous terrors. The adventure continues as the company — now broken — face new dangers on personal quests…

As Davarus Cole and his former companions were quick to discover, the White Lady’s victorious liberation of Dorminia has not resulted in the freedom they once imagined. Anyone perceived as a threat has been seized and imprisoned—or exiled to darker regions — leaving the White Lady’s rule unchallenged and absolute. But the White Lady would be wiser not to spurn her former supporters: Eremul the Halfmage has learned of a race of immortals known as the Fade, and if he cannot convince the White Lady of their existence, all of humanity will be in danger.

Far to the north, Brodar Kayne and Jerek the Wolf continue their odyssey to the High Fangs only to find themselves caught in a war between a demon horde and their enemy of old, the Shaman. And in the wondrous city of Thelassa, Sasha must overcome demons of her own.

Because the Fade are coming…

Sword of the North will be published by Roc on May 5, 2015. It is 448 pages, priced at $26.95 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital edition.

Vintage Treasures: The Dubric Bryerly Mysteries by Tamara Siler Jones

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Ghosts in the Snow-small Threads of Malice-small Valley of the Soul-small

There’s really nothing quite like Tamara Siler Jones’ Dubric Bryerly Mysteries out there today.

They were a fascinating mix of fantasy, forensics, and crime thriller involving the head of security at Castle Faldorrah, Dubric Byerly, who is cursed to be haunted by the ghosts of those who deaths demand justice. Three volumes were published: Ghost in the Snow (2004), Threads of Malice (2005), and Valley of the Soul (2006), all by Bantam Spectra. Ghost won the Compton Crook Award, given out at Balticon every year for Best First Novel. All three have great covers by Les Edwards.

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The Parallel Worlds of Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

Operation Chaos Poul Anderson-smallI may have got ahead of myself by reporting on three novels of 1960. This is because, in opening Operation Otherworld, an omnibus edition of Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos and Operation Luna, I learned that Operation Chaos was not merely published in 1971 but also as four novellas or novelettes beginning in 1956. Their titles mark the four episodes that make up Operation Chaos: “Operation Afreet,” “Operation Salamander,” “Operation Incubus,” and “Operation Changeling.” All were published in The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

This book in many ways is a return to or continuation of the ideas first presented in Three Hearts and Three Lions. Indeed, Sandra Miesel in Against Time’s Arrow spends most of her analysis of Anderson’s concepts of Chaos and Law in this book rather than in the former. I, however, found myself more interested in Anderson’s presentation of parallel worlds and his technique of introducing the concept. The very first words:

Hello, out there!

If you exist, hello!

We may never find out. This is a wild experiment, test of a wilder hypothesis. But it is also a duty.

I lie dream-bound, only half aware of my world. They are using me to call for them across the time streams because that which happened to me, so many years ago, has left its traces beneath my ordinariness; they believe a message thought by me has a better chance of finding a resonance in you than if it came from almost anyone else…

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New Treasures: The Horus Heresy Box Set

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Horus Hersey Box Set-smallOkay, this one was a bit of an indulgence.

Back in January, I wrote about how much I’ve been enjoying the delightful Horus Heresy audio books from Black Library. A sweeping dark fantasy featuring sorcery, magic, undead legions and ruinous Chaos powers secretly maneuvering to bring about the downfall of the Imperium of Man in the 31st Century, they’ve been something of an occasional guilty pleasure for me. But then I listened to Ben Counter’s riveting Galaxy in Flames – the third book in the sequence, and the one in which the Hersey is finally revealed in the brutal massacre of loyalist legions on Isstvan III — and I knew I was going to have to knuckle down and buy the entire set.

So I was delighted to discover that I could get the first twelve novels of the Horus Heresy – all 5,456 pages! — in a single deluxe box set. The series serves as background to the popular Warhammer 40K game, and is written by Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Ben Counter, James Swallow, and others. Several novels in the series have hit the New York Times bestseller list. In addition to the first dozen novels, this deluxe set also includes Whispers of Heresy, an exclusive anthology of novellas originally released exclusively as audio dramas.

A new Imperium is being forged across the galaxy. After millennia of isolation and localised conflict, the Emperor of Mankind has risen to rule holy Terra, and now commands his Space Marine Legions in reuniting all the lost colonies of humanity. At the forefront of his armies are the primarchs — post human warriors and leaders without equal, created from his own genetic template. This Great Crusade is all but over when Horus, the Emperor’s first primarch son and Warmaster of the Legions, becomes part of a wider plot by the primordial forces of Chaos to corrupt mankind and bring fresh ruin to the galaxy. Swaying some of his brothers to his cause and facing others openly upon the field of battle, Horus has set his eye upon the Throne of Terra itself, and will not hesitate to let the Imperium devour itself in the bloodiest civil war in the history of mankind…

The Horus Heresy Box Set was published by Black Library on October 14, 2014. It contains a dozen paperback novels (plus one anthology) totaling 5,456 pages, priced at $125. Several online outlets are selling it at a discount; I was able to buy my copy for around $80. Well worth it if you enjoy science fantasy, or good military SF of any kind.

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