The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in August

Sunday, September 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Guardians of the Galaxy poster-smallAh, August. We miss you already. The nights were warmer, the kids hadn’t started school, and Alice still hadn’t discovered those new paperback collections I tried to hide to hide in the garage. It was a simpler time, a happier time. I time when I didn’t have to sleep on the couch.

Black Gate bloggers were busy in August, too. We posted 105 new articles last month, and our faithful servers in the back room worked overtime delivering 1.28 million pages views… a new record. That’s a page every two seconds, 24 hours a day. Don’t you people ever sleep?

The most popular article last month was Nick Ozment’s review of the blockbuster film The Guardians of the Galaxy. No surprise — it’s well on its way to becoming the biggest film of the year. It’s a terrific science fantasy that could well become this generation’s Star Wars.

Second on the list was Robert J Howe’s reminiscence of his time in various writer’s groups, Writer’s Workshops: Under the Black Flag. Third was Lou Anders’ article on his breakout middle grade fantasy Thrones & Bones: Why I Write What I Write How I Write it.

Fourth on the list was Matthew David Surridge’s report from the fabulous Montreal film festival, My Fantasia Festival, Day 10: Once Upon a Time in Shanghai and Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. Rounding out the Top Five was Connor Gormley’s feature review of Karl Edward Wagner’s sword & sorcery classic Dark Crusade.

For this month, I tried something a little different by also including the top Categories. The biggest surprise was that one of the top items on the list (at #4, higher than any of the categories except New Treasures and Books) was the RSS feed for our Tuesday blogger James Maliszewski. Way to bring in the crowds, James!

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Eugie Foster, December 30, 1971 – September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Eugie FosterAuthor and editor Eugie Foster died of respiratory failure today at Emory University in Atlanta.

Eugie announced last October that she has been diagnosed with cancer, a “malignant, fast-growing tumor, around 6cm, in my sinuses and hard and soft palate regions.” She was undergoing aggressive treatments, including a stem cell transplant, which left her vulnerable to infections. In one of her last blog posts, on August 12, 2014, she wrote:

[One] opportunistic bacteria infection has taken up residence in my lower bowels and another one has set up shop in my stomach. Not only is food unpleasant to eat but it’s not doing anything enjoyable once it hits my GI Tract, including staying put. Waaaahhhh!!

They have me on lotso antibiotics and other meds to make this easier on me. I appreciate that but honestly, I just want to be unconscious. None of this is unexpected but it all sucks. Hurry up stem cells. Graft! Graft already!!

I first encountered Eugie when she took over Tangent Online after Dave Truesdale stepped down. Her own short stories were appearing in Interzone, Apex, Fantasy Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, and other places; her story “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” won the 2009 Nebula Award. Jason Waltz introduced me to Eugie at Dragon*Con in 2010, at her busy press station where she produced the onsite newsletter, the Daily Dragon. I found her charming and highly articulate, filled with drive and energy, and seemingly unstoppable.

Her death was announced in a brief blog post by her husband, Matthew M. Foster. She was 42 years old.


The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in August

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Check Out Time Mark Rigney-smallMark Rigney is the King of All Media.

Well, all the media that count, anyway. Meaning mostly blog posts, novels, and online fiction.

The most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, by Mark Rigney (“The Keystone,” Part III in the series, clocked in at #12).

Could this have anything to do with the imminent arrival of Mark’s first novel Check-Out Time? Believe what you will, but I believe that in publishing there are no coincidences. (The same goes for crime in Gotham City, if you believe Batman.) Speaking of crime, you can make out like a bandit and score one of our two Check-Out Time giveaways — enter here.

The #2 fiction post in August was from fantasy’s power couple: an excerpt from heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. They also nabbed the #3 slot with “Seven Against Hell,” an exclusive sample from their new anthology Poets in Hell.

The Death of the Necromancer, the complete Nebula Award-nominated novel by Martha Wells presented exclusively here on Black Gate, came in fourth. Fifth was John C. Hocking’s exciting sword & sorcery tale “Vestments of Pestilence.”

Also making the list were exciting stories by E.E. Knight, Joe Bonadonna, Jason E. Thummel, Harry Connolly, Aaron Bradford Starr (twice!), Vaughn Heppner, Sean McLachlan, Dave Gross, Howard Andrew Jones, Ryan Harvey, John R. Fultz, Michael Shea, and David C. Smith.

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 August.

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Beautiful Women, Alien Landscapes, and Santa Claus: An Ed Emshwiller Gallery

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Science Fiction Quarterly February 1957 Ed Emshwiller-smallEd Emshwiller was one of the greatest cover artists our genre has ever known. He painted hundreds of covers for many SF digests and paperbacks, primarily Galaxy, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the Ace Double line, starting in 1951 and continuing through the late 70s. His covers were filled with beautifully detailed alien settings, sultry and mysterious women, strange technology, and eye-catching fashions — frequently all at once, as in the cover of the February 1957 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly at left (click for bigger version).

The Geeky Nefherder blog has posted a gorgeous gallery of 75 Emsh cover paintings, including some of his very best work. Many of the images are available in high-resolution (click each one to see the high-res pic).

Warning: You could easily waste a lot of time on this site (I know I did).

The gallery includes cover art from Space Stories, Galaxy, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Fantastic Story, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Startling Stories, Planet Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Infinity, The Original Science Fiction Stories,  Future Science Fiction, Venture, Science Fiction Quarterly, Super-Science Fiction, IF, and Amazing Stories — as well as classic covers for Andre Norton’s Daybreak — 2250, Galactic Derelict, and Star Born, Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, Frank Belknap Long’s Space Station #1, Murray Leinster’s The Black Galaxy, Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet, John Brunner’s Threshold of Eternity, and many others.

Even if you’re already an Emsh fan, you’re sure to appreciate having so much great art by the master together in one place. And if you’re not, this site will make you one.

See the complete gallery here. (And thanks to Charlie Jane Anders at io9 for the tip!)


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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