Bringing Neglected Classics Back Into Print: The Horror Catalog of Valancourt Books

Thursday, November 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Cormorant Stephen Gregory-small The Monster Club R. Chetwynd-Hayes-small The Killer and the Slain Hugh Walpole-small The Smell of Evil-small

One of the many delights of the World Fantasy Convention, as I reported last week, is meeting the small publishers doing marvelous work in the industry. Seeing their catalogs of books spread out before you on a table in the Dealers Room can be quite a revelation. That was certainly the case with Valancourt Books.

As they proclaim proudly on their website, Valancourt Books is an independent small press specializing in the rediscovery of rare, neglected, and out-of-print fiction. They have five major lines: Gothic, Romantic, & Victorian; Literary Fiction; Horror & Supernatural; Gay Interest; and E-Classics. For World Fantasy, they crammed their table with titles from their Horror & Supernatural line. And I do mean crammed: their small table was piled high with dozens of beautifully designed trade paperbacks reprinting long-out-of-print horror paperbacks, chiefly from the 70s and 80s.

All it took was one glance to see that Valancourt Books has two significant strengths. First, their editorial team has excellent taste. They have reprinted work by Stephen Gregory, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Hugh Walpole, Charles Birkin, Jack Cady, Basil Copper, Russell Thorndike, John Blackburn, Michael McDowell, Bram Stoker, and many, many others. And second, their design team is absolutely top-notch. Their books are gorgeous, with beautiful cover art and striking visual design. I’ve selected eight to highlight in this article, just to give you a taste of what they have to offer, and replicate (in a small way) what it was like to stand in front of their table gazing appreciatively at their assembled treasures.

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Give a Warm Welcome to Saga Press, Launching This Spring

Monday, November 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Grace of Kings Persona City of Savages The Darkside War

There are a lot of books vying for your attention at the World Fantasy Convention. Publishers put free books in your convention bag, publicists place colorful flyers on the giveaway table, and hopeful authors hand out bookmarks and cards by the dozens. I always leave the con with my head brimming with promising new books, authors, and publishers.

Of course, I forget most of them within a day or two. Well, maybe it’s for the best. I couldn’t possibly read them all anyway.

It’s the ones that linger in my mind a couple weeks after the con that truly deserve my attention. Sort of a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest contest, taking place in the dusty corners of my brain. Good to know those brain cells are doing something, I suppose.

It’s been over two weeks since the 2014 World Fantasy Convention now, and I’m already having trouble remembering what city it was in. (Some brains are more skilled at forgetting than others. My brain is an expert.) But a handful of books I glimpsed at the con have managed to stay with me, and a surprising number of them are from the brand new publisher, Saga Press. In fact, I’d venture to say that Saga had perhaps the most impressive slate of upcoming titles I saw at the con — and that’s saying something.

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Sofia Samatar Confronts the Elephant in the Room

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Sofia Samatar with the World Fantasy Award. Photo by Nathan Ballingrud.

Sofia Samatar with the World Fantasy Award. Photo by Nathan Ballingrud

As I was pleased to report last week, Sofia Samatar won the 2014 World Fantasy Award for her acclaimed first novel A Stranger in Olondria. And as I also mentioned, Sofia addressed “the elephant in the room” in her remarks to the audience, saying a few words about the fact that she was being honored with a bust of Lovecraft, a man who expressed profoundly racist views in his fiction and poetry. Nonetheless, she was articulate and extremely gracious, and accepted the award with humility and gratitude.

In the days since, she has expanded slightly on her remarks, saying on her blog:

I said it was awkward to accept the award as a writer of color. (See this post by Nnedi Okorafor, the 2011 winner, if you are confused about why.) I also thanked the board for taking the issue seriously…

I am not telling anybody not to read Lovecraft. I teach Lovecraft! I actually insist that people read him and write about him! For grades! This is not about reading an author but about using that person’s image to represent an international award honoring the work of the imagination.

While the issue of replacing Lovecraft’s image on the award continues to be hotly debated, I was pleased to see that Sofia’s remarks in large part have not been. She is a class act, and if there’s anyone who can gently nudge the calcified old guard of fantasy into accepting that the field’s highest honor remains (at best) a dubious honor for people of color as long as it bears Lovecraft’s image, it’s Sofia Samatar. In the meantime, she reminds us that, if she can maintain a sense of humor in all this, so can the rest of us. On her Facebook page she posted the image at right, captured moments after accepting the award (snapped at her table by fellow Small Beer author Nathan Ballingrud), along with this comment:

And also, to be real, we’re practically identical. Race is a construct! TWINSIES!

This is how you win arguments. By being simultaneously more articulate and dignified — and funnier — than everyone else in the room. I know who gets my vote to replace Lovecraft’s visage on the statue. Perhaps they won’t even have to modify it all that much. But trust me, when they’re done, it’ll be a lot more beautiful.


2014 World Fantasy Convention: Sunday — World Fantasy Award Winners Announced

Monday, November 10th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

World Fantasy Award Lovecraft-smallI was able to attend the World Fantasy Convention this year, for the first time since 2011, and I really had a terrific time. It was fabulous to attend all the panels, readings, parties, and events — and especially to re-connect with so many old friends, and make so many new ones. Years ago, Mark Kelly at Locus Online called World Fantasy “a reunion,” and I think that’s really the best description.

The highlight of the convention is the Sunday banquet, where the World Fantasy Awards were presented. The toastmaster for the event was the delightful Mary Robinette Kowal, who gave a highly entertaining speech about rejection, and the awards themselves were presented by Gordon van Gelder and David Hartwell. I sat at Table 25 with my new friends Amanda C. Davis and Matt O’Dowd, where we had a great view of the proceedings.

The World Fantasy Award itself is a cartoonish bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by the brilliant Gahan Wilson (seen at left). It’s an extremely distinct award that honors the contributions of perhaps the finest American horror writer of the 20th Century. But using Lovecraft as the poster child for the awards has also caused some recent controversy (that surfaced twice during the proceedings.) I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, the Awards themselves. This year’s winners of the World Fantasy Awards are:

Novel:

  • A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)

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2014 World Fantasy Convention: Saturday Wrap-Up

Sunday, November 9th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

This will be our final post about the World Fantasy Convention in 2014. Tomorrow, we will be leaving early to drive back to Indianapolis.

Today, I slept in a bit more and didn’t join the convention activities until 11. I attended readings by Joe Haldeman, Kelly Link, Mary Robinette Kowal (my close friend), and Lee Martindale.

Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman

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World Fantasy Convention: Friday Autograph Sessions

Saturday, November 8th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Friday was the first day when I felt like I had enough sleep to actually function properly. So I decided to stay up until the wee hours of the morning.

The day began with panels: Language and Linguistics in Fantasy, Everybody Was There, and Guns, Gears, and Wheels: Medieval Technology in Fantasy (photo below).

Panel Discussion 2

Pictured above: Michelle Markey Butler, Scott H. Andrews, and Elaine Isaak

Another panel was Beyond Rebellion in Young Adult Fantasy.

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2014 World Fantasy Convention: Thursday

Friday, November 7th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Although there were some pre-convention workshops to start the day, the panel discussions didn’t begin until 2. So Bess and I decided to do some sight-seeing. We took the Old Town Trolley tour from our hotel, which allowed us to ride between multiple locations at our leisure.

Handsome Devil

      Who’s this handsome devil?  Just kidding.  I know it’s me.

Our first stop was the Lincoln Memorial, which is also near the Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. It seems cliché to use the word surreal, but seeing these monuments just makes me feel like I’m not living in reality or it’s the realization that I am living in a reality I wasn’t fully aware of.

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2014 World Fantasy Convention: Wednesday Scotch Tasting

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

I’m usually posting retro reviews of Galaxy, but for the moment, I’m on assignment covering the World Fantasy Convention in Washington. Okay, technically the hotel is located in Virginia, but we are only minutes away from the White House, Pentagon, and U.S. Capitol building, among other sites.

WFC 2014 Banner

My wife, Bess, accompanied me on this trip, which is my fourth WFC. For her, this is a brand new experience. I’ll add her brief comments after mine to provide a full range of coverage, both from the perspective of someone highly involved in the speculative community and someone who supports someone highly involved in the speculative community.

We elected to drive from Indianapolis, which provided amazing views of the changing foliage within the forested hills and mountains of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. It was truly outstanding.

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Goth Chick News: Chicago Comic Con 2014 – Hold Onto Your Spandex… (Part 2)

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image004Last week and prior to the end-of-summer bacchanalia that is Labor Day weekend, we got half way through telling you all about the adventures kilt-clad Black Gate photog Chris Z and I had at the largest Wizard World Comic Con Chicago has ever hosted.

On the hottest weekend of the summer, with temperatures climbing into the three digits, we arrived at one of the city’s biggest convention centers and waded into a sea of vendors, artists, and cosplayers clad in unbreathing fabric which, in some cases, was stretched to the breaking point.

After agreeing it was about time to ask “The Boss” John O’ for hazard pay, we set about scoping the con’s coolest people and products to tell you about.

So here is part two; and let me say, we’re pretty excited…

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Enter the DragonCon

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Jon Sprunk

Jon Sprunk at DragonCon-smallThis past weekend, I attended my fourth DragonCon in sunny Atlanta.

It’s a working vacation for me, where I spend most of my time at the Pyr Books booth telling people about the wonderful products this SFF imprint produces, but I also make a little time to walk around and see the sights. And there are a LOT of sights to see at DragonCon.

The host hotels. Sadly, I haven’t been able to snag a room at any of the four massive host hotels since 2010, but that doesn’t stop me from walking through them and marveling at the sheer scope of this convention. There are a ton of people. (Attendance is listed as 57,000 in 2013, and I’d wager there were more than that this year.) And so many people are in costume.

Cosplay has grown in popularity over the years, and DragonCon is one of those venues where people come out to show their stuff. (My wife attends in her Xena, Warrior Princess costume, which gets a lot of attention.) Some of the costumes are just fun and light, but others are true works of art, as good as (or better) than the costumes used on major movie sets.

This year, I saw Yaya Han showing off her cosplay of Enira, the Banshee Queen, which was spectacular. There are so many wonderful costumes, and the party lasts until the wee hours of the morning. If you love cosplay, DragonCon is a place you need to see.

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