The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Pratchett’s Cohen the Barbarian

Monday, January 26th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Cohen_CohenI am an unabashed fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Along with a lot of Carl Hiassen’s work, they are the only reads that cause me to laugh out loud. Unseen Academicals was the first Discworld book that I wasn’t really happy with when I finished it; which isn’t too bad considering it was the thirty-third in the series for me.

Though I have a very fundamental difference with Pratchett’s basic worldview, I think he is an absolutely brilliant satirist. Discworld isn’t nearly as well known generally as The Hitchhiker’s Guides to the Galaxy books, but I tell folks that if you like Douglas Adams, you should like Terry Pratchett.

Genghiz Cohen, better known as Cohen the Barbarian, appears in a few novels. He is Discworld’s greatest warrior, though now he is an old man in his late eighties or nineties, and he leads a band of senior citizen barbarians known as the Silver Horde.

Cohen/Conan. The Silver Horde/The Golden Horde. See? Get it? Discworld is full of this stuff.

Cohen is a skinny old man with a long white beard, a patch over one eye and a dirty loincloth. He has a set of dentures made from Troll teeth, which are pretty much the only things he has left from a wild life.

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A Great Collision of Awards Lists

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

1993

The Hugo Award: Most ancient of sf/f awards, armed with a point suitable for hunting prey.

OK, despite the title, there are no explosions or car crashes in this post.

However, as a Canadian, a SFWA member, an Asimov and Analog author and an audio listener, my thoughts on awards season can get a bit jumbled. Someday, I’ll make a nerd-pleasing Venn diagram about it…

The scifi/fantasy/horror field is in constant motion and there are a ton of brilliant writers out there. The Nebula and Hugo and Aurora nominees for the past few years, as well as the Year’s Best collections and the Locus Recommended Lists, give anyone a great place to start discovering the genre(s).

I feel a responsibility to the process, like I feel a responsibility to vote in elections. Here are the award areas I get involved in:

I nominate for both the Hugos and the Nebulas, often using the recommended lists as the bases for my reading; those lists are stored in the ultra-secret passages on the SFWA boards, guarded by three-headed dogs and passwords that have to have a number and a symbol in them. Members of SFWA can nominate and vote for the Nebulas. Anybody who is attending Worldcon or attended the last Worldcon can vote in the Hugos, as can people who have supporting memberships (which seem steep to me at $50, but it is what it is).

As I’m primarily an audio consumer, to round out my short fiction reading, I also listen to as much of Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Tor.com, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies as I can.

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He Sought Adventure

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 | Posted by James Maliszewski

fritz-leiberOver the past six years, I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring the literary antecedents of Dungeons & Dragons (and, by extension, many other early roleplaying games). It’s been a (mostly) fun journey, not least of which because it gave me the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with writers and stories I hadn’t read for years and that exercised powerful influence over my youthful imagination. Sometimes, it’s also afforded me the opportunity to take a look at authors to whom I didn’t pay much attention in the past, but who were important figures in fantasy and science fiction in their own right and not simply because of their contributions to the goulash of ideas and concepts Gygax and Arneson drew upon in creating those little brown books that changed the world.

One of the fruits of the last six years is my growing sense that, if I were to pick a single author whose stories, characters, ideas, and – above all – ethos summed up D&D for me (and perhaps for Gygax as well, though I wouldn’t dare claim to speak on his behalf), it would not be Robert E. Howard or Michael Moorcock or Poul Anderson, or even J.R.R. Tolkien, all of whose fingerprints can clearly be found on the pages of the game. No, it would be Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr., born 104 years ago tomorrow (December 24).

I’m not ashamed to admit that, for the most part, I encountered most of the literary progenitors of Dungeons & Dragons only after I’d started playing the game. I was already familiar with certain works of fantasy, all of which played a role in preparing me for the hobby of roleplaying. However, writers like Howard, Lovecraft, and even Tolkien weren’t ones I came across “in the wild,” so to speak. Rather, they were all recommended to me by the older guys who haunted the hobby shops and game stores my friends and I visited regularly. They kept saying, “If you like D&D, you’ve got to read this!” And so we did, because we were simply ravenous for more fantasy goodness.

Fritz Leiber was different. I’d, of course, seen his name, both in Gygax’s Appendix N and in the very text of the hallowed J. Eric Holmes-edited D&D rulebook, but – strangely, in retrospect – I can’t recall anyone’s ever recommending him to me the way they had with other seminal fantasy authors. Instead, I had to find him for myself.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in October

Sunday, November 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Black Fire Concerto-smallMike Allen continues to dominate the top of our charts for a second month, with the exclusive excerpt from his first novel The Black Fire Concerto. Mike’s breakout collection Unseaming was released on October 1st from Antimatter Press. Check it out here.

Surging back into second place are Janet Morris and Chris Morris, with an excerpt from their heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band. They also claimed the #3 slot with “Seven Against Hell,” an exclusive sample from their new anthology, Poets in Hell.

Knocked out of the #2 slot was “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen by Mark Rigney, which settled at #4 this month. “The Keystone,” Part III of the series, also made the list. Check out Mark’s first novel, the popular Check-Out Time, released on October 7 from Samhain Publishing.

Rounding out the Top Five was Ryan Harvey’s sword & sorcery story “The Sorrowless Thief,” a tale of intrigue and dinosaur beasts, part of his popular science-fantasy set series on the continent of Ahn-Tarqa.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Joe Bonadonna, John C. Hocking, David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, Judith Berman, Michael Shea, C.S.E. Cooney, Aaron Bradford Starr, Jason E. Thummel, Steven H Silver, Martha Wells, Sean McLachlan, Harry Connolly, Howard Andrew Jones, and John R. Fultz.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in September

Sunday, October 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Black Fire Concerto-smallThe top fiction posts at Black Gate last month both come from writers who recently released popular new books.

Mike Allen returns to the top of our charts with the exclusive excerpt from his first novel, the dark fantasy The Black Fire Concerto. Not too surprising, given that Mike has received a lot of attention recently, chiefly as a result of his breakout collection, Unseaming, released on October 1st from Antimatter Press. Check it out here.

Knocked out of the top slot last month was “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen by Mark Rigney. “The Trade” and “The Keystone,” Parts I and III respectively, also made the list. Check out Mark’s first novel, the popular Check-Out Time, released on October 7 from Samhain Publishing.

The #3 and #4 fiction posts in September were from a couple who have become very acquainted with the top of our fiction charts: Janet Morris and Chris Morris. They claimed the #3 slot with an excerpt from their heroic fantasy novel, The Sacred Band, and #4 with “Seven Against Hell,” an exclusive sample from their new anthology, Poets in Hell.

Rounding out the Top Five was Joe Bonadonna’s exciting sword & sorcery tale featuring his popular hero Dorgo the Dowser, “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum.”

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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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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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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in June

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

Oron David C Smith-smallThe most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was David C. Smith’s “The Shadow of Dia-Sust,” the first new Oron story in 30 years, taken from his brand new short story collection The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories.

Second on the list was our excerpt from The Sacred Band, the new novel in the popular Sacred Band of Stepsons series by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Third was perennial favorite “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” by Joe Bonadonna, published here nearly three years ago in December 2011 — and in the Top 10 virtually every month since.

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.

Rounding out the Top Five was ”The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, by Mark Rigney.

Also making the list were exciting stories by C.S.E. Cooney, E.E. Knight, Dave Gross, Michael Shea, John C. Hocking, Steven H Silver, John R. Fultz, Harry Connolly, Gregory Bierly, Jon Sprunk, David Evan Harris, Judith Berman, Peter Cakebread, and Ryan Harvey.

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 June.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Poets in Hell-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers the complete short story “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, an exclusive sample from the new collection Poets in Hell.

In hell, souls sometimes roam diverse underworlds, straying from their native realms. The ancient Old Dead have many judges and gods of hell; the New Dead have few. In hell, if you die you are reborn on the Undertaker’s table, perhaps old or young, forgetful or deformed, to sin more and hunt the manifold hells for relief from damnation. Few find it. Among the teeming damned of hell are all who ever broke even one of the 613 Commandments, from every culture of humanity, whether they knew the rules or harbored faith or not. If you lived, you sinned, you died — and ended here, a soul in torment. Hell is never fair.

Diomedes and six of his fellow Argives come up from Erebos in Hades’, summoned to a meeting in dissolute New Hell City where the modern dead hold sway and a poetry festival is under way. This summons is from a friend of old, one he can’t refuse, who needs a favor. Even in perdition, a hero must answer a call to duty….

Janet Morris and Chris Morris have edited 17 volumes of the highly acclaimed Heroes in Hell anthology series. In his Black Gate review Joe Bonadonna said the latest volume, Poets in Hell, has “A little something for everyone: heroic fantasy and sword & sorcery, thrillers, horror, romance, touches of science fiction and steampunk – they’re all here.”

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by David C.  Smith, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner, Howard Andrew Jones, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

Poets in Hell was published by Perseid Press on June 11, 2014. It is 410 pages, priced at $19.99 in trade paperback and $6.66 (yes, $6.66) for the digital version. Learn more here.

Read the complete short story “Seven Against Hell” here.


The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in May

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Alchemist's Revenge-smallThe most-read piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was our exclusive excerpt from The Alchemist’s Revenge by Peter Cakebread, the first novel from the co-author of the role playing games Airship Pirates and Clockwork & Chivalry. The first volume in the Companie of Reluctant Heroes takes place in a 17th century that didn’t quite happen, in a nation torn apart by civil war.

When an embittered mercenary agrees to escort a grieving widow to visit her husband’s grave, little does he realize the dangers they will face. This is the story of their struggle through a country divided. As they journey through tainted lands, ravaged by alchemical magic and giant clockwork war machines, they are reunited with old friends and stalked by sinister foes. The reluctant heroes band together in this tale of loss and despair, of redemption and friendship, and ultimately, of retribution and revenge!

“Stand at Dubun-Geb,” Ryan Harvey’s second tale of Ahn-Tarqa, returned to the setting of “The Sorrowless Thief,” for another heroic fantasy packed with adventure, swordplay, and weird magic. It took second place this month.

Steven H Silver’s tale of the strange astral adventures of Hoggar the Cremator, “The Cremator’s Tale,” continued its run at the top of the charts, taking third place.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Michael Shea, David Evan Harris, Aaron Bradford Starr, Joe Bonadonna, John C. Hocking, E.E. Knight, David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, Jason E. Thummel, Jon Sprunk, John R. Fultz, Dave Gross, and Harry Connolly.

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 May.

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