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Afrofuturism and Empowerment

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by Elwin Cotman

DETCON1This weekend, I have the pleasure of attending the DETCON1 in Detroit, the North American Science Fiction Convention. I have never been to a NASFIC, but it rose on my list of cons after seeing how sincere the organizers were in having a diverse body of panels and panelists. Not just from a standpoint of age and background, but the mediums that are represented too. I will be doing four panels, two of them on Afrofuturism.

Pretty cool. Still, I feel trepidation. When you go on a vacation (and that’s what con-going is), the real world does not stop. And in the real world, the host city Detroit is in dire straits. With property so cheap, gentrification is at an extreme level. Corporations are buying up whole blocks. Citizens who can’t pay their water bills are getting the utility shut off.

It is nice that the city can attract events like NASFIC or the recent Allied Media Conference. But I hope that we aren’t so busy celebrating spec-fic to at least acknowledge that we’re in a city where the poorest people don’t have water.

I don’t know why anybody reads The Hunger Games. You want dystopia, just read Reuters.

But that’s the irony of dystopia. Writers make novels about the types of issues that marginalized communities face every day, and pass it off as something that could only happen in the future.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – The International Exhibition of SH

Monday, July 14th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne


The scene of the crime, where you have to determine a bullet’s trajectory

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes began its run last year in Portland and has set up shop here in Columbus, OH, from February through September of 2014. It will be moving on to St. Louis, Dallas, Santa Ana, and Denver before the final stop in Seattle in October of 2016.

The Exhibition capitalizes on the massive popularity of the world’s first private consulting detective. Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1886, Holmes has never been more popular worldwide than he is over one-hundred and twenty years later.

It is a traveling Holmes museum and includes a mystery that you attempt to solve by examining clues and conducting tests. And the various items, which are all enclosed in glass cases, are absolutely worth seeing.

The show is hosted on the second floor at COSI: the Center of Science and Industry. After being instructed that you cannot take food or drink in, take pictures or use your cell phone inside, you are given your Notebook for solving the mystery.

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Any Black Gate Readers or Bloggers Going to Worldcon in London This Summer?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

LONCON3_logo_270wUm… what the title said. This will be my first Worldcon and I’d love to meet up with other Black Gate readers and writers.

I’ll be attending the entire con and sitting on a few panels, too.

Drop me a line in the comments section and let’s get something organized!

Event Report: The Last Unicorn Tour

Monday, May 26th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Last UnicornIn 1962, Peter S. Beagle began writing a fantasy novel he called The Last Unicorn. Published in 1968, the book was both serious and whimsical, a kind of extended fable about a unicorn who found she was the last of her kind and adventured through a medieval fantasyland, possibly Irish and possibly not, in search of the wicked king holding all other unicorns captive. The tone embraced both the comic (one of the major characters is an incompetent magician named Schmendrick) and the dreamlike (as in the terrifying Red Bull who emerges as a crucial antagonist). The book’s a tremendous accomplishment, a vivid working-out of classic fantasy themes.

In 1982, Rankin/Bass Productions released a film version of the book, with a screenplay by Beagle. The designs had a nice touch of art nouveau, the voice cast was strong (including Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Bridges, and Christopher Lee) and the plot was remarkably faithful to the book. That approach had its strengths and weaknesses: the fable-like quality of the original story was lost. On the other hand, the literalness of the adaptation gave the film a quality of strangeness of its own — by maintaining the shape of the book, it created a shape unlike most other movies.

Beagle is currently touring with a digital 2K print of the Last Unicorn movie, presenting it at showings with a question-and-answer period and an opportunity to buy Beagle’s books and Last Unicorn-related merchandise. The tour will go on through April 2016 and will visit Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, the UK, and Germany, as well as cities across North America. An extensive Canadian leg of the ongoing Last Unicorn tour has just wrapped up; I saw a showing of the film in Montreal, on Sunday, May 18, and took a few notes.

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WisCon Ho!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

madison_wiThis weekend is WisCon here in Madison, WI, and I know I will not be the only one attending! Who else among the Black Gate crew will be there?

Post in the comments, and perhaps we can arrange a meetup!

Goth Chick News: The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (That’s C2E2 For You Cool Kids)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

c2e2 logoThis year’s C2E2 event, held the weekend of April 26th, was reportedly the largest Chicago has seen so far.  And judging from the amount of trench coats and spandex Black Gate photog Chris Z and I observed during our annual pilgrimage, I have no doubt this was true.

Trench coats and spandex, you ask?

Considering this is primarily a comic convention where about one attendee in every four was parading their cosplay best, the spandex is probably self-explanatory, but it might interest you to know that the definition of sexy at this year’s event was none other than the Time Lord himself, Doctor Who.

Attendance was estimated at 70K, which meant even though Chicago is now hosting the show in the same exhibition hall as the Auto Show, the space still seems packed in, which can be somewhat awkward when spandex is involved.

The over 400 exhibitors consisted of comic sellers of course, but also every category of related paraphernalia you can possibly imagine — including costume accessories, figurines and the most amazing collection of genre artists you’ll find under one roof. And that doesn’t even include the celebrities there to meet and greet, as well as participate in panel discussions.

With that much material, it’s downright difficult to decide what to tell you about, but here are a few morsels that caught our attention.

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Convention Review: Conpulsion 2014

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 | Posted by M Harold Page

Conpulsion 2013 taken by Mike Reddy

Conpulsion 2013. Pic by Mike Reddy

The potential GM, a curly-haired Scot of about my age, shakes his head. “I don’t know… ten year olds? I’ve had bad experiences GMing kids who don’t get it.”

“They’re genre-savvy,” I said. “DeeM here runs D&D 4th edition and they’re both experienced players. D&D. Fate…”

Kurtzhau senses my drift and chips in, “And I play Tom Clance—“

Inappropriate computer games,” I interrupt. “They’ll be fine, honest… and it’s OK to swear in front of them.”

So the GM heroically agrees and the boys book in to play a superhero game involving mad scientists.

We’re at Conpulsion, Edinburgh’s yearly gaming convention.

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Total Pulp Victory: A Triumphant Return from Windy City Pulp & Paper

Sunday, April 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Super Science Stories Canada December 1942-small Super Science Stories Canada February 1945-small Super Science Stories Canada August 1945-small

Doug Ellis’s Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention has wrapped up for another year (see my report from last year here). I got to see many old friends, meet some new ones, and also connect in person with a few for the first time — including Barbara Barrett, who traveled many hundreds of miles to make it to Chicago. Barbara has been blogging for Black Gate for many years and her early article “Robert E. Howard: The Sword Collector and His Poetry” is one of the most popular pieces we’ve ever published… but we’ve never met in person, and it was an absolute delight to finally join her for dinner – and give her a big hug.

In between all the meetings, reunions, and forging of new friendships, I also picked up a treasure or two. I’ll be reporting on some of the most interesting here over the next few weeks (the most common comment I heard as I put away my purchases was, “Something new for you to blog about!”), but I can’t resist telling you about one now.

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Tales From Windy City Pulp and Paper

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Weapon Shops of IsherThis coming weekend, Friday April 25th through Sunday April 27th, is Doug Ellis’s magnificent celebration of all things pulp, the Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention here in Chicago, in nearby Lombard, Illinois.

Windy City is one of my favorite local cons. I’ve written about it before, and in fact I’ve been attending the show for around 10 years. 2012 was perhaps the most successful show in some years, considering I returned with a fabulous assortment of mint-condition fantasy and science fiction paperbacks from the collection of Martin H. Greenberg. See the article and photos from that show in my 2012 post, “Thank You, Martin H. Greenberg (and Doug Ellis).”

The show has been growing steadily over the years. Doug and his cohorts have added a film program, an Art Show, panels, an auction, readings, and more programming, but the real draw continues to be the massive Dealer’s Room, a wall-to-wall market crammed with pulps, paperbacks, rare DVDs, posters, artwork, comics, and much more.

I jotted down a few notes last year, and promised myself I’d write them up before the 2014 convention, to let folks who may be on the fence about attending (or those sad and lonely souls who, like me, just enjoy reading far-off convention reports), know what they’re missing.

In 2013, the list of Dealers was the longest I’ve ever seen, boasting some 80 vendors. They had to add more space, and it took even longer to walk the floor. Doug reported that he sold more tables than at any previous convention, and in record time.

If there’s a drawback to the show, it’s that the Dealer’s room closes at 5:00 pm. That made it impossible for me to make it there after work on Friday. My weekly D&D game with my kids kept me tied up until after 3:00 pm Saturday, which meant that by the time I made the show on Saturday, I had less than half an hour to walk the floor before it closed.

I put the time to good use. After a few years, you tend to find a few favorite sellers and I searched them out immediately.

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Ed Greenwood and Tattoos and Geek Inked at Ad Astra in Toronto

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

250px-Elminster_Enraged546987-LI last blogged from the Saturday morning of As Astra, one of Toronto’s premiere fan conventions. While I was there, I had the good fun of running into Ed Greenwood, Ad Astra Special Guest, and one of the early D&D legends.

Ed and I breakfasted and chatted, which seems to be turning into an annual thing because we both get up early. Ed is still super-busy, turning out lots of new game tie-in novels.

Later on, he was interviewed by Geek Inked magazine and spoke on not only his experiences with early D&D, some of his current projects and hints at some of his others, but also tattoos! Geek Inked is an online magazine that obviously specializes in Geeks and Tattoos, so the conversation, as it says in the mandate of Geek Inked, goes interestingly sideways.

I wanted to share these two segments of the interview because the conversation relates back to some of the themes I touched on in my interview with module-writer Geoff Gander, especially about some of the opportunities opening up with crowd-funding.

That interview with Geoof, incidentally, also encouraged me to pull out my old Basic and Expert rules and look at the free common source Basic modules available online and start introducing my son to D&D. It turns out his interest is 100% on the dungeon crawl and 0% on the role playing. :)  Check it out here.

Major props to Rob at Geek Inked Magazine for an excellent interview.

Derek Künsken is a writer of science fiction and fantasy in Ottawa, Canada. You can find out more about him at or @derekkunsken.

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