Forbes on the World’s Top-Earning Authors

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Veronica Roth joins Forbes list of highest-earning authors for the first time

Veronica Roth joins Forbes list of highest-earning authors for the first time

Forbes Magazine reported on the World’s Top-Earning Authors this week and as always the list includes several genre writers — and a few new names.

Twenty-six year old Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, joins the list for the first time at #7 — ahead of John Grisham, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling. Once again, James Patterson tops the list, as he has for the last several years, earning $90 million in 2013. He produced an amazing 14 books last year (same as the previous year), most written with an assortment of co-authors; his novels account for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States. His successful series include the Alex Cross and Michael Bennett titles; in addition to adult fiction, he’s also the bestselling living author of young adult and middle grade books.

Next on the list is Dan Brown at $28 million, mostly on the successof  Inferno, the fourth in his Robert Langdon series (The Da Vinci Code and others), which sold more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S. Third and fourth are Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel.

I was pleased to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney on the list at #6; Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins ranks #10, and George R.R. Martin clocks in at #12. The top authors on the list are as follows.

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Black Static #40 Now on Sale. Maybe, if You Move Quickly

Thursday, September 11th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 40-smallOn my way home from work yesterday, I dropped by Barnes & Noble to pick up the latest issues of Asimov’s SF and Fantasy & Science Fiction. I couldn’t find them at my local B&N here in St. Charles, Illinois, so I made a special trip all the way to Schaumberg.

No dice. After poking behind all the knitting and puzzle magazines for nearly 10 minutes, all I managed to come up with was last month’s Asimov’s and Analog. Both clearly stated “On sale until 9/2″ in the bottom left corner, which tells me the new issues are more than a week overdue.

Come on — what’s a guy gotta do to buy a science fiction magazine around here? It’s almost enough to make me give up and buy Health Magazine instead. Maybe I can get some suggestions on how to reduce all this stress in my life.

Now, it’s not strictly true that all I found was Asimov’s and Analog. Just a few inches over, hidden behind the latest issue of McSweeney’s, I discovered something unusual: issue #40 of British horror magazine Black Static.

Well, this is timely. Just last week, as I was formatting the article on the British Fantasy Awards and looking for pics to go with it, I stumbled on the cover of Black Static #33 (containing Best Short Story winner “Signs of the Times,” by Carole Johnstone), and I thought, “Damn, that’s a mighty fine cover, with that creepy subway, and floating vapor, or whatever the heck that is. I should really get a copy of this magazine. I bet I’d like it.”

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Graham Joyce, October 22, 1954 – September 9, 2014

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Graham Joyce-smallGraham Joyce, the World Fantasy Award winning writer of The Facts of Life, The Tooth Fairy, and Some Kind of Fairy Tale, died yesterday of lymphoma. His first novel, Dreamside, was published in 1991. He followed it a year later with Dark Sister, the first of his many fantasy novels to be nominated for (and win) the British Fantasy Award. All told, he won the British Fantasy Award for best novel a total of six times, for Requiem (1995), The Tooth Fairy (1996), The Stormwatcher (1998), How To Make Friends With Demons (2009), and Some Kind of Fairy Tale (2012). His 2002 novel The Facts of Life won the World Fantasy Award; his final novel, The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit (published in the UK as The Year of the Ladybird in 2013) was released in 2014.

I met Joyce only a handful of times, most recently at the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego in 2011, where he entertained the Black Gate team — including Katie Redding, Scott Taylor, and I — with his stories and his relentless energy. A month ago Graham wrote of his diagnosis in a powerful post in his blog:

This is what I mean by the shocking clarity that cancer brings… if a dragonfly buzzes my ear like an aeroplane I’ll still be going, ‘What did it say?‘ Because the screw that has for so long been loose in me hasn’t been tightened by cancer. Actually I know what the dragonfly said. It whispered: I have inhabited this earth for three hundred million years old and I can’t answer these mysteries; just cherish it all.

And in turn the Heron asks, with shocking clarity as it flies from right to left and left to right: why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?

Graham Joyce died on September 9th, at the age of 59. He is survived by his wife Suzanne and their two children. He will be missed.

The 2014 British Fantasy Award Winners Announced

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

A Stranger in Olondria-smallThe 2014 British Fantasy Award winners have been announced, and once again I’m reminded that there’s a lot of fantastic fantasy out there I’m not reading.

Every year, while I’m struggling to catch up on Henry Kuttner short stories I haven’t read or something, another must-read fantasy escapes me. This year it appears to be Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria, which so far has been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. On Sunday, it also won the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy novel (also know as the Robert Holdstock award.)

We haven’t reported consistently on the British Fantasy Awards in the past and, looking back, that was an obvious error in judgment. They’ve selected some terrific winners over the years and it’s time we paid more attention. Besides, they have an award named after Karl Edward Wagner — that alone should make them noteworthy.

The complete award list follows.

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award):

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

Best Horror novel (the August Derleth Award):

 The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)

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Kirby McCauley, September 11, 1941 — August 30, 2014

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Kirby McCauleyIn late fall 2000, Dave Truesdale convinced me to reprint Edmond Hamilton’s first published story, the creepy pulp tale “The Monster-God of Mamurth,” from the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales. Harlan Ellison told us “it’s an awful story,” but what does he know? It has ancient lost cities, valiant explorers, horrible curses, and seriously spooky giant spiders. I loved it.

So I dutifully tracked down the rights, and discovered they were controlled by the Pimlico Agency in New York. In short order, I found myself on the phone with a guy named Kirby McCauley, negotiating the right to reprint the story in the second issue of Black Gate for $200.

Now, I’d certainly heard of Kirby McCauley. He was Stephen King’s first agent, and King had famously related some of the guidance McCauley gave him early in his career. More interesting to me, McCauley was also an accomplished editor. His Dark Forces was easily the most acclaimed horror anthology of the 1980s (it included Stephen King’s The Mist, among many other notable stories.) So in between our business dealings, I mentioned to Kirby that I was a fan. He was very gracious and surprisingly easy to deal with.

For a good many years, Kirby McCauley was one of the most successful agents in the industry, with a client list that made his peers green with envy. George R.R. Martin said “Kirby revolutionized agenting in SF and fantasy and horror,” and that was no exaggeration. However, McCauley’s career suffered a significant downturn in the late 90s, and he lost most — but not all — of his biggest clients.

Kirby McCauley passed away last weekend, and his death has largely been ignored by the industry. But today, I found a lengthy appreciation written by his client and friend George R.R. Martin. It’s definitely worth the read, both as a remembrance of a man who made a big difference in the industry and as a wonderful snapshot of what publishing was like in the 70s and 80s.

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10 Acclaimed Historical Fantasy Novels You Need to Read

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club Genevieve Valentine-smallIf there’s something we’re consistently good at here at Black Gate, it’s jumping on a trend late. What can I tell you? We’re too busy reading to be hip. On laundry day, I still wear bell bottoms.

But there are some trends so obvious that even we notice. Social media? It’s starting to catch on — take our word for it. Superhero movies? They’re going to be popular. Believe it.

Most recently, I’ve noticed that the emerging trend in fantasy — the one attracting the hottest writers in the field — seems to be historical fantasy. Mary Robinette Kowal, Genevieve Valentine, Patty Templeton, Catherynne Valente, and many others have penned some really terrific historical fantasies recently… and more are arriving every week.

Not convinced? Have a look at the following list of 10 recent, and highly acclaimed, historical fantasy novels, written by a Who’s Who of emerging fantasy writers.

If you’re like most readers, you’ll find more than a few you haven’t read. Do yourself a favor and check out one or two that sound interesting.

Trust us; you’ll be glad you did.

1. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses , set in Jazz Age Manhattan.

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Last Chance to Win a Copy of Patrick Swenson’s The Ultra Thin Man

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Ultra Thin Man-smallLast week, I told you that you had a chance to win a copy of Patrick Swenson’s new novel The Ultra Thin Man. Why? Because good things happen to good people.

How do you win, you lucky dog? Just send an e-mail to with the title “The Ultra Thin Man” and a one-sentence review of your favorite Tor fantasy novel. One winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries and we’ll publish the best reviews here on the Black Gate blog. But hurry, because the contest closes August 31.

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. Eat your vegetables. Thanks to Tor for providing the prize (and for footing for shipping). Here’s the description, because I think it sounds fantastic, and I wish Tor would let me enter my own contest. Bastards.

In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one — alive or dead, human or alien — is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’ and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helkunn alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister — an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

In this novel from Patrick Swenson, Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?

The Ultra Thin Man was published by Tor Books on August 12, 2014. It is 334 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Victor Mosquera.

Celebrating 1 Million Page Views: The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in July

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

startersetWe invited America into our home last month to sit down and talk about fantasy, and America showed up. It stuck around too, peeking under the couch cushions and rooting around in the back of the fridge. By the end of July, the Black Gate servers had racked up 1.1 million page views — a new record for us, and the first time we’ve ever crossed a million.

We’re celebrating a bit this month, but not too hard. Because America is still here, with an insatiable appetite for news and reviews on the latest in new and classic fantasy. And also for bean dip, which America eats in great quantity. Unfortunately, America ate all the chips and left the lid off the salsa, letting it dry overnight. We love you America, but come on. Don’t be a jerk.

The most popular article on the Black Gate blog last month was a forensic analysis of the brand new Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set by Andrew Zimmerman Jones. Interest in the re-launch of D&D — which officially kicked off this month with the release of the new Player’s Handbook — has been very strong.

Next on the list was Howard Andrew Jones’s conversation with author Mark Lawrence, on the occasion of the publication of his new novel Prince of Fools.

Third was “Reading the Entrails,” Matthew David Surridge’s lengthy analysis of 25 years of Locus magazine reader polls on the Best Fantasy Novels of All Time, and how the results have changed over the years — and surprisingly, how they’ve stayed the same.

Rounding out the Top Five were D.B. Jackson’s article, “The Life and Times of a Midlist Author,” and James Maliszewski’s nostalgic look back at previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons, “New Editions Past.”

The complete Top 50 Black Gate posts in July follow.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in July

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Poets in Hell-smallThe most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, an exclusive sample from their new anthology Poets in Hell.

Don’t step off the podium just yet, Janet and Chris. I’m happy to report that the #2 fiction post in July was also from fantasy’s power couple: an excerpt from heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band by — who else? — Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Third was perennial favorite “The Find,” by Mark Rigney, Part II of The Tales of Gemen, which has been near the top of the charts every month since it was first published here nearly three years ago.

Michael Shea’s tale of Lovecraftian horror, “Tsathoggua,” which first appeared here last September, came in fourth.

Next was Aaron Bradford Starr’s epic novella “The Sealord’s Successor,” the third adventure fantasy featuring Gallery Hunters Gloren Avericci and Yr Neh, the most popular adventuring duo we’ve ever published.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Joe Bonadonna, Mike Allen, John C. Hocking, C.S.E. Cooney, Sean McLachlan, Peter Cakebread, Vaughn Heppner, Jason E. Thummel, Harry Connolly, Steven H Silver, E.E. Knight, Judith Berman, Martha Wells, David C. Smith, and Dave Gross.

If you haven’t sampled the free adventure fantasy stories offered through our Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in July.

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Action Comics #1 Sells For $3,207,852 on eBay

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Action Comics Issue 1-smallIf you’ve been on eBay at all in the last ten days, you’ve probably seen banner ads for an unusual auction: a copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. Written and drawn by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action #1 was published on April 18, 1938 (cover-dated June) by National Allied Publications, the company that eventually became DC Comics. Although it had a print run of over 200,000, only some 50-100 copies of Action #1 are still known to exist.

The seller, Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Washington, had the comic professionally graded by CGC at a 9.0. Only one other copy has ever achieved a 9.0, and it sold for $2.16 million in 2011. Until yesterday, that was the highest price ever paid for a comic book. Adams didn’t restrain his enthusiasm in the auction description:

For sale here is the single most valuable comic book to ever be offered for sale, and is likely to be the only time ever offered for sale during many of our lifetimes… This is THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is…. the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.

This particular copy is the nicest that has ever been graded, with an ASTONISHING grade of CGC 9.0! To date, no copies have been graded higher and only one other copy has received the same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water. Compared to the other 9.0 that sold for $2.1million several years ago it has significant superior eye appeal, extremely vibrant colors and PERFECT WHITE PAGES.

The auction ended at 6:00 pm Pacific time on Sunday. Bidders had to be pre-qualified and there were a total of 48 bids. The winning bid, placed 32 seconds before the end of the 10-day auction, was made by an unidentified eBay veteran with feedback from over 2,500 sellers. See the eBay auction listing here.

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