Future Treasures: Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Two, edited by Kathe Koja

Friday, February 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume 2-smallThe first volume of Year’s Best Weird Fiction looks like it has been an unqualified success.

In his review, James McGlothlin wrote:

We are long overdue to have a year’s best anthology dedicated specifically to the weird… The craft of fine writing is quite exemplar here… Barron has successfully compiled an excellent anthology.

Now Undertow Books has revealed the cover and the complete Table of Contents for Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Two, to be published later this year. Here’s the TOC:

“The Atlas of Hell” by Nathan Ballingrud (Fearful Symmetries)
“Wendigo Nights” by Siobhan Carroll (Fearful Symmetries)
“Headache” by Julio Cortázar. Translation by Michael Cisco (Tor.com, September 2014)
“Loving Armageddon” by Amanda C. Davis (Crossed Genres #19, July 2014)
“The Earth and Everything Under” by K.M. Ferebee (Shimmer #19, May 2014)
“Nanny Anne and the Christmas Story” by Karen Joy Fowler (Subterranean Magazine, Winter 2014)

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Future Treasures: The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Testament of Tall Eagle-smallJohn R. Fultz’s first story for Black Gate was “Oblivion is the Sweetest Wine” (BG 12), a full-throttle sword-and-sorcery adventure of spider-haunted towers and a fearless thief who comes face-to-face with a terrifying secret. We published three more tales in his popular Zang Cycle: “Return of the Quill” (BG 13), “The Vintages of Dream” (BG 15), and “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye.”

John is much more well known these days for his breakout Books of the Shaper trilogy. Explorations called the first volume “flawless – and timeless – epic fantasy. For fans of epic fantasy, Seven Princes is as good as it gets.” For his fourth novel, John moves in a totally new direction, with a tribal fantasy set in a beautiful and savage land.

A young warrior’s vision-quest unveils an alien city full of magic and mystery. As a tribal rift threatens to destroy Tall Eagle’s people, night-crawling devils stalk and devour them, so he seeks the wisdom of the high-flying Myktu. These fantastic beings offer him hope, a chance for rebirth and prosperity, as two separate realities converge. Yet first Tall Eagle must find White Fawn – the girl he was born to love – and steal her back from the camp of his savage enemies. His best friend has become his deadliest rival, and now he must outwit an invading army of conquerors to lead his people into the Land Beyond the Sun.

The Testament of Tall Eagle is the epic saga of The People, as told in the words of their greatest hero.

John’s short fiction has appeared in Shattered Shields, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume One, The Way of the Wizard, and other fine places. His recent articles for Black Gate include a look at Darrell Schweitzer’s upcoming Cthulhu Mythos anthology That Is Not Dead, an interview with GnomeSaga author Kenny Soward, and a peek behind the scenes at his first collection, The Revelations of Zang.

The Testament of Tall Eagle will be released by Ragnarok Publications this June. The cover is by Alex Raspad.

Future Treasures: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine-smallJonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year has been at new publisher Solaris for two years now, and things seem to be tickety boo. Which is great, since I really look forward to this volume every year, and I don’t need any additional stress and uncertainty in my life. I get enough of that worrying about whether Community is going to get canceled again.

Strahan has crammed 28 stories into his latest anthology, which may be a record, I dunno. How am I gonna find time to read them all? Man, I desperately need a day planner. And a couple of personal assistants who don’t complain when I send them for coffee.

In any case, authors this year include Garth Nix, Kelly Link, Ellen Klages (twice!), James Patrick Kelly, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Eleanor Arnason, Genevieve Valentine, Michael Swanwick, Ken Liu, Amal El-Mohtar, Greg Egan, and over a dozen others. Strahan released the complete table of contents on his blog last month, and it looks fantastic:

1. “Tough Times All Over” Joe Abercrombie
2. “The Scrivener” Eleanor Arnason
3. “Moriabe’s Children” Paolo Bacigalupi
4. “Covenant” Elizabeth Bear
5. “Slipping” Lauren Beukes
6. “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)” Holly Black
7. “Shadow Flock” Greg Egan
8. “The Truth About Owls” Amal El-Mohtar

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Future Treasures: Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

Monday, February 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Last First Snow-smallWell, Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence has officially moved past three novels now, meaning it’s no longer a trilogy and it’s now a “Sequence.” That means I’m even further behind, because I haven’t even read the second one yet.

The best description of this series I’ve found so far is from Elizabeth Bear, who says at her blog:

The Craft Sequence books are all about ancient necromancers in charge of corporations; liches running litigation; court battles fought by means of sorcerous contests; deities dueling by means of legal proxies and stock trading souls.

Last First Snow, the fourth novel in the sequence following Three Parts DeadTwo Serpents Rise, and Full Fathom Five, is due to arrive in July. Here’s the description:

Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation —especially in the Skittersill,  a poor district still bound by the fallen gods’ decaying edicts. As long as the gods’ wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill’s people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne’s work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace — or failing that, to save as many people as they can.

Last First Snow will be published on July 14, 2015 by Tor Books. It is 384 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

Future Treasures: Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game

Friday, February 13th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Temple of Elemental Evil Board Game-smallThe Temple of Elemental Evil, written by Gary Gygax and Frank Metzner and published by TSR in 1985, is considered one of the greatest RPG adventures ever created. When Dungeon magazine ranked them in 2004, on the 30th anniversary of the Dungeons & Dragons game, The Temple of Elemental Evil was voted the 4th greatest D&D adventure of all time. In his 1991 history of role-playing games, Heroic Worlds, Lawrence Schick wrote “If you like huge classic dungeon crawls, this is probably the best of the lot.”

It has seen several incarnations since its original release, including a Fourth Edition re-release of the first chapter, The Village of Hommlet, and a popular computer game version, developed by Troika Games and published by Atari. It remains the only computer game ever released set in Greyhawk.

Now Wizards of the Coast is converting this grandaddy of all dungeons crawls into a board game, to be released in April of this year. Here’s the description from the WotC website:

In the Temple of Elemental Evil board game, you play as a heroic adventurer. With amazing abilities, spells and magic weapons, you must explore the dungeons beneath the Sword Coast where you will fight monsters, overcome hazards and find treasure. Are you ready for adventure?

The Temple of Elemental Evil board game features multiple scenarios, challenging quests and cooperative game play designed for 1-5 players. The contents can also be combined with other D&D Adventure System Cooperative play board games, including The Legend of Drizzt and Castle Ravenloft.

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Future Treasures: The Silence by Tim Lebbon

Saturday, February 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Silence Tim Lebbon-smallTim Lebbon’s novels include the post-apocalyptic fantasy Echo City, and the dark fantasy Noreela series (Dusk, Fallen, The Island). He won the Bram Stoker Award in 2001 for his short story “Reconstructing Amy,” and Dusk won the British Fantasy Society’s August Derleth Award for best novel of the year in 2007. He had a bestseller in 2007 for his novelization of 30 Days of Night.

His latest is an end-of-the-world thriller featuring a horror born deep in the heart of the Earth…

The End of our world. The beginning of another.

In the darkness of an underround cave system, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed… swarming from their prison, the creatures thrive and destroy. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death. As the hordes lay waste to Europe, a girl watches to see if they will cross the sea. Deaf for many years, she knows how to live in silence; now, it is her family’s only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?

We last covered Tim Lebbon with his 2014 novel Coldbrook.

The Silence will be published by Titan Books on April 14, 2015. It is 361 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.

The Future of Fantasy: February New Releases

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Wide World’s End-small The Way Into Darkness-small Fortune's Blight-small

February is packed with a stellar line up of fantasy releases. If you’ve got a ski trip or high school reunion coming up, we recommend you cancel. If you seclude yourself in your room immediately, you may just have enough time to read a small fraction of the great books coming you way.

No way you can even keep up with them all without help, however. No worries — that’s what we’re here for. Sit back and relax, and we’ll fill you in on the top new releases in fantasy scheduled for February.

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Sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird to be Published After 55 Years

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee-smallThis is the kind of story you want to fact check several times to make sure it’s not a hoax. But it appears to be legitimate.

AP is reporting that a long-lost novel by Harper Lee, written in the 1950s and believed lost, has been rediscovered and will be published in a 2-million print run by Harper (the publisher, not the writer) on July 14. It is a loose sequel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most popular novels in the English language. The 88-year old author released a statement through her publisher today:

In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman… It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became To Kill a Mockingbird) from the point of view of the young Scout.

I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.

Go Set a Watchman is 304 pages, and will be published as it was written over 50 years ago. It will be Lee’s second novel, and her first new release since To Kill a Mockingbird.

Read the complete AP article here.

Future Treasures: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, edited by John Joseph Adams and Joe Hill

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015-smallThe Mariner Books Best American series is one of the more successful anthology series on the market. Their titles include Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Science and Nature Writing, and Best American Sports Writing.

This year for the first time they’re adding an SF and fantasy volume, with John Joseph Adams as series editor. The editors are still selecting for the inaugural volume; the submission guidelines are here.

The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor — a leading writer in the field — then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.

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Elemental Evil Attacks Dungeons & Dragons

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

D&D Elemental EvilDungeons & Dragons has transformed itself lately, and that trend continues with the upcoming Elemental Evil storyline set to hit the Forgotten Realms in pen-and-paper, board, and digital formats starting in March and continuing through the summer. In the words of the press release:

Heroes are needed in the Forgotten Realms to discover and defeat secret cults that threaten to annihilate the Sword Coast by harnessing the powers of the elements of fire, water, air, and earth.

Certainly sounds impressive, but before diving into Elemental Evil, let’s quickly review the status of the world’s most iconic fantasy gaming line.

The Road to Now

Back in 2012, Dungeons & Dragons hosted the keynote event at GenCon.  Everyone knew that Dungeons & Dragons was in the process of releasing D&D Next (they were avoiding “5th edition” at that time). Among a lot of experienced gamers, their 4th edition was viewed as a step in the wrong direction. This 2012 keynote was the event where they were going to lay out their strategy for the gaming public. And, I am proud to say, I was there. Since then, I’ve been closely watching the evolution of this process and have been incredibly impressed with what I’ve seen coming out from Wizards of the Coast.

In addition to the fact that they were releasing a new core rule set (which we all knew already), they also announced at this time that Dungeons & Dragons was focusing their entire attention on the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, rather than splitting their attention among a myriad array of different worlds. As the start of this, they released a series of 6 novels from August 2013 through June 2014, each by a different author and depicting how the world-shaking event “The Sundering” (also the name of the book series) was impacting the Forgotten Realms world. The 2013 GenCon keynote coincided with Drizzt Do’Urden’s 25th birthday, and also with the release of the first The Sundering book.

Throughout fall of 2014, after the final Sundering book, Dungeons & Dragons finally began releasing their new set of 5th edition core books. These have been covered fairly extensively at Black Gate. Here are some of the highlights for those interested:

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