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Future Treasures: The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Whispering Storm-smallWe’re big fans of Michael Moorcock at Black Gate.

I published an original Moorock novella, “The Dreamthief’s Daughter,” way back in our very first issue. More recently, Fletcher Vredenburgh reviewed his classic The Eternal Champion, Connor Gormley looked his at Von Bek series, Matthew David Surridge examined his Hawkmoon novels, and I covered the reprint of his early novels The Warlord of the Air and The Sword of the Dawn.

Now comes word that Tor will publish a brand new novel from Moorcock, a semi-autobiographical fantasy of a young man in post World War II London…

Tor Books now proudly presents Moorcock’s first independent novel in nine years, a tale both fantastical and autobiographical, a celebration of London and what it meant to be young there in the years after World War II. The Whispering Swarm is the first in a trilogy that will follow a young man named Michael as he simultaneously discovers himself and a secret realm hidden deep in the heart of London.

The Whispering Swarm is the first novel of The Sanctuary of the White Friars.

The Whispering Swarm will be published by Tor Books on December 9, 2014. It is 512 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

Future Treasures: Resurrection, by Mandy Hager

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Resurrection Mandy Hager-smallThere’s no question that the hottest trend in fiction right now isn’t vampire romances, zombies, or even superheroes. It’s young adult dystopias. The trend didn’t begin with The Hunger Games, but for sure that’s the series that kicked it into high gear. Wander the young adult section of your local bookstores and you’ll see what I mean — you’ll find dozens of volumes advertising a grim future for our young folk. It would be depressing, except for the cheery sound of a cash register ringing.

There’s been such a flood of new dystopian fantasy that it’s made it tough for a quality new series to get noticed. Mandy Hager’s Blood of the Lamb trilogy — beginning with The Crossing (January 2013) and Into the Wilderness (January 2014) — has quietly been accumulating excellent reviews and new readers, and the arrival of the third book next month is sure to launch this one into the spotlight. Pick up the first two books now, while there’s still time.

When Maryam arrives back at Onewēre and tries to loosen the Apostles’ religious stranglehold by sharing the miraculous remedy for Te Matee lai, she finds herself captured once again — prey to the Apostles’ deadly game. The ruling elite manipulate her return by setting in motion a highly orchestrated ritual before a hysterical and brain-washed crowd. Somehow Maryam must get the islanders to listen to her plea that they start thinking for themselves — hoping to stir the independence in their hearts, even as she finds herself on the brink of death.

Resurrection will be published on August 12 by Pyr Books. It is 365 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $11.99 for the ebook.

Future Treasures: Scarlet Tides by David Hair

Monday, July 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Scarlet Tides David Hair-smallI keep discovering interesting series with the second volume. I think it’s some kind of curse. When I was born, three fairies attended my christening. The first said, “Oh, crap. I didn’t bring a gift. Um, tell you what, John will be blessed with a love of reading.” And the second said, “That’s a good idea. And tell you what, he’ll always be surrounded by books.” And the third, whom my parents had clearly offended somehow (seriously, who can figure out fairies?) said, “I curse this brat. He shall always discover great fantasy series with the second volume.” Fairies. Don’t invite them to parties and your life will go a lot easier.

My latest discovery is The Moontide Quartet by David Hair, which began last year with Mage’s Blood. Which I only learned recently, after I started reading the Advance Proof for the second volume, Scarlet Tides. Somewhere, a fairy is laughing.

In the exciting second volume of The Moontide Quartet, a scarlet tide of Rondian legions is flooding into the East, led by the Inquisition’s windships flying the Sacred Heart (the bright banner of the Church’s darkest sons). They are slaughtering and pillaging their way across Antiopia in the name of Emperor Constant. But the emperor’s greatest treasure, the Scytale of Corineus, has slipped through his fingers and his ruthless Inquisitors must scour two continents for the artifact, the source of all magical power.

Against them are arrayed the unlikeliest of heroes. Alaron, a failed mage, the gypsy, Cymbellea, and Ramita, once just a lowly market-girl, who have pledged to end the devastating cycle of war and restore peace to Urte.

East and West have clashed before, but this time, as secret factions and cabals emerge from the shadows, the world is about to discover that love, loyalty, and truth can be forged into weapons as powerful as sword and magic.

Mage’s Blood was published by Jo Fletcher Books last September; Tor. com called it “An outstanding start to a series which promises to recall epic fantasy’s finest.”

Scarlet Tides will be published in the US by Jo Fletcher Books on October 24, 2013. It is 657 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover.

Future Treasures: The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Causal Angel-smallTwo years ago, Matthew David Surridge posted a review of The Quantum Thief, the first novel in Hannu Rajaniemi’s far future adventure trilogy. We focus on fantasy at Black Gate, but the magical and baroque setting Rajaniemi created seemed more science fantasy than SF and it caught my attention. Here’s how Matthew summed up the book:

Centuries in the future, Jean le Flambeur is a master thief, imprisoned in a virtual-reality jail: every day he makes choices, and dies, and is reborn. Until he’s freed by a violent woman named Mieli from the edge of the solar system, and taken to Mars. There, he must regain old memories he locked away from all possible recovery when he was literally a far different person than he is now. A youthful detective, hi-tech superheroes, and posthuman intelligences are waiting to complicate his task, which seems to have ramifications on an interplanetary scale…

It’s primarily, I think, within a lineage that goes back at least to Arthur C. Clarke, fusing precise language and dramatic plots with a sense of the sublime clothed in scientific theory… it also plays with another lineage, older than sf, one at least as old as Robin Hood: the righteous outlaw thief.

The second volume, The Fractal Prince, was published in hardcover in November 2012. I just received a copy of the third (and final?) volume: The Causal Angel, which goes on sale next week. The blurb promises this volume contains “the ultimate fates of Jean, his employer Miele, the independently minded ship Perhonnen, and the rest of a fractured and diverse humanity flung throughout the solar system.” Sign me up.

The Causal Angel will be published by Tor Books on July 15th. It is 292 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Kekai Kotaki.

Future Treasures: The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry, edited by Sean Wallace

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry-smallI hear reports from several quarters about an upcoming anthology of great interest to Black Gate readers: The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry, a generous collection of swords & sorcery edited by uber-editor Sean Wallace.

This is a reprint collection with contributions from Black Gate writers Matthew David Surridge (his popular S&S epic “The Word of Azrael” from Black Gate 14), James Enge (“The Singing Spear,” one of my favorite Morlock stories), Chris Willrich, Jay Lake, and Richard Parks, as well as K.J Parker, Tanith Lee, Scott Lynch, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Robinette Kowal, N.K. Jemisin, Saladin Ahmed, and many others.

Here’s the book description:

This is a stellar collection of short fantasy fiction from authors who have made an impact over the last decade, along with some bestselling favourites. These stories of life-and-death struggles and magical force, used for good and evil, by Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Tanith Lee, George R. R. Martin, Naomi Novik, K. J. Parker, Carrie Vaughn and many others provide thrills and entertainment aplenty.

This is the third Mammoth Book anthology edited by Sean, following The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (2012) and the upcoming Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures (Sept 18, 2014). The Mammoth Book line has produced some really great anthologies over the year — so many that I’ve almost lost count. But if you’re looking for suggestions, I might start with The Mammoth Book of Vintage Science Fiction: Short Novels of the 1950s, The Mammoth Book of Golden Age Science Fiction, and the Mammoth Book of Short Fantasy Novels.

The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry contains 25 stories, most written in this century. Despite the mention in the description above, I see no contribution from George R. R. Martin in the Table of Contents — but since most of George’s short fiction is in print and readily available in other outlets, that’s not a big deal.

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Future Treasures: Sword of the Bright Lady by M.C. Planck

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

sword-of-the-bright-lady-mc-planck-smallM.C. Planck is the author of The Kassa Gambit, an SF novel released in hardcover by Tor last year. For his second novel, he turns to fantasy, with the tale of a mechanical engineer transported to a world in midst of an eternal war.

Christopher Sinclair goes out for a walk on a mild Arizona evening and never comes back. He stumbles into a freezing winter under an impossible night sky, where magic is real — but bought at a terrible price.

A misplaced act of decency lands him in a brawl with an arrogant nobleman and puts him under a death sentence. In desperation he agrees to be drafted into an eternal war, serving as a priest of the Bright Lady, Goddess of Healing. But when Marcius, god of war, offers the only hope of a way home to his wife, Christopher pledges to him instead, plunging the church into turmoil and setting him on a path of violence and notoriety.

To win enough power to open a path home, this mild-mannered mechanical engineer must survive duelists, assassins, and the never-ending threat of monsters, with only his makeshift technology to compete with swords and magic.

But the gods and demons have other plans. Christopher’s fate will save the world… or destroy it.

Sword of the Bright Lady is the first novel of World of Prime. The conceit of a contemporary hero transported into a fantasy world isn’t used as much as it used to be — obvious examples are John Carter of Mars, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame novels — but I still find it an interesting one.

Sword of the Bright Lady will be published by Pyr Books on September 9, 2014. It is 440 pages, priced at $18 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition.

Future Treasures: Stories of the Raksura by Martha Wells

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Stories of the Raksura-smallMartha Wells’s Books of the Raksura trilogy — The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths — have captivated readers around the world. In Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud, she returns to the world of Raksura with a pair of exciting novellas.

In “The Falling World,” Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud Court, has traveled with Chime and Balm to another Raksuran court. When she fails to return, her consort, Moon, along with Stone and a party of warriors and hunters, must track them down. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; freeing them from an ancient trap hidden in the depths of the Reaches is much more difficult.

“The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court, long before Moon was born. In the distant past, Indigo stole Cloud from Emerald Twilight. But in doing so, the reigning Queen Cerise and Indigo are now poised for a conflict that could spark war throughout all the courts of the Reaches.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With two brand-new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Read Martha’s complete Nebula-Award nominated novel The Death of the Necromancer right here at Black Gate, and her article on the Raksura series, How Well Does The Cloud Roads Fit as Sword and Sorcery?  Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two will contain two more novellas; it is not yet scheduled.

Stories of the Raksura will be published by Night Shade Books on September 2, 2014. It is 240 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and digital format.

Future Treasures: The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume Two edited by Gordon Van Gelder

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction Volume 2-smallOne of my favorite anthologies of the last half decade (and considering how many I’ve purchased, that’s saying a lot) was The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume  One edited by Gordon Van Gelder. Considering it was an absolutely gorgeous 470-page package sampling five decades of the finest fantasy magazine in the genre, how could it not be?

So I was delighted to hear that Gordon and his publisher, Tachyon Publications, are hard at work on a second volume. It will be released next month, and is nearly as large as the first. Here’s the description:

A mutant baby goes on a rampage through Central Park. An immigrant reveals secrets in the folds of a perfect gift. Lucky Cats extend their virtual paws to salute a generous revolution. The Internet invades a third-world village.

The premier speculative-fiction magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction continues to discover and showcase many of the most inventive authors writing in any genre. Now drawing even more deeply upon F&SF’s impressive history, this extraordinary companion anthology expands upon sixty-five years’ worth of top-notch storytelling. The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume Two is a star-studded tribute to the continuing vision of F&SF.

This volume collects classic short fiction from Alfred Bester, Stephen King, Zenna Henderson, Robert Sheckley, Robert A. Heinlein,  Jack Vance, Roger Zelazny,  R. A. Lafferty, Lucius Shepard, Gene Wolfe, and many others. It even includes two of my all-time favorite stories: Harlan Ellison’s ”Jeffty Is Five,” and ”The Aliens Who Knew, I mean, Everything” by George Alec Effinger.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Future Treasures: The Godless by Ben Peek

Sunday, June 15th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Godless Ben Peek-smallI’ve been covering a lot of new and upcoming anthologies recently — from John Joseph Adams’s Dead Man’s Hand to Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 8 and George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois’s massive Rogues. Nothing wrong with that. But every once in a while, I like to settle down with something a little more weighty. Not just a quick read, but a genuine fat fantasy with an epic scope, huge cast of characters, and intriguing premise. Ben Peek’s The Godless, the first installment of a new series, weighs in at 562 pages and looks like it will fit the bill nicely.

The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world’s ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger.

Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of ‘cursed’ men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make. Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret. Split between the three points of view, the narrative of Godless reaches its conclusion during an epic siege, where Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan are forced not just into conflict with those invading, but with those inside the city who wish to do them harm.

The Godless will be published on August 19 by Thomas Dunne Books. It is 562 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

At the Mountains of Merchandise

Saturday, June 14th, 2014 | Posted by Jackson Kuhl

Legends of Cthulhu

Three forty-something toy-industry veterans have formed their own company, Warpo, dedicated to creating retro action figures. Their first product line? The Legends of Cthulhu series, featuring Spawn of Cthulhu, Cultist, Deep One, and Professor figures:

We always felt that Lovecraft’s worlds were deserving of their own action figure line and what better time period than the late 70′s / early 80′s when his work first began its modern-day resurgence … The result is our interpretation of what a major toy company in that era would have done with these characters and how a creative team of the period would have translated H.P. Lovecraft’s stories into a mass-market children’s toy property.

In keeping with the early 80s ethos, Warpo hired Eddy Mosqueda, who worked on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Masters of the Universe, for the figure sculpts. For the blister-pack art, they engaged the talents of Ken Kelly, who painted some of the most incredible art ever to adorn a backing card; just check out the packaging he did for Micronauts and the Dungeons & Dragons toy lines.

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