See the Table of Contents for The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2015, edited by Rich Horton

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2015-smallLast month Prime Books announced the Table of Contents of my favorite Year’s Best book, Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2015.

This is the seventh volume, and it looks like another stellar line-up, with 34 stories from the leading print magazines (Asimov’s SF, Interzone, Analog, F&SF, and others), online publications (Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and more) and anthologies (Fearsome Magics, Reach for Infinity, Rogues, and Solaris Rising 3, among others).

Authors include Kelly Link, Robert Reed, James Patrick Kelly, Alexander Jablokov, K. J. Parker, Ken Liu, Genevieve Valentine, Eleanor Arnason, Cory Doctorow, Peter Watts, and many, many others.

I was also very pleased to see two Black Gate contributors made the list: Saturday blogger Derek Künsken, with his Asimov’s tale “Someday,” and website editor emeritus C. S. E. Cooney, for her story “Witch, Beast, Saint: An Erotic Fairy Tale,” from Strange Horizons.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2015 is a fat 576 pages, and goes on sale in trade paperback from Prime Books in June.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015 edited by Paula Guran

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2015-smallJust this morning, in my article on Peter Crowther’s anthology Cities, I observed that the novella is the natural length for fantasy and science fiction. The novella has an exceptional history in this field, from H.G. Wells “Time Machine” to John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” to Clifford D. Simak’s “The Big Front Yard” and Fritz Leiber’s “Ill Met in Lankhmar.” Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of places that publish them these days… and even fewer that reprint them. Only a handful of Year’s Best volumes can afford to make space for novellas, which means that, if you miss their original appearance (frequently in small press outlets), you may never see some of the finest works published every year.

Paula Guran has set out to rectify that with a brand new anthology series: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015, from Prime Books. It’s the companion volume to Rich Horton’s popular The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy from the same publisher, which publishes its seventh volume this year, and Paula’s own Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. Here’s the description.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas: 2015 inaugurates a new annual series of anthologies featuring some of the year’s best novella-length science fiction and fantasy. Novellas, longer than short stories but shorter than novels, are a rich and rewarding literary form that can fully explore tomorrow’s technology, the far reaches of the future, thought-provoking imaginings, fantastic worlds, and entertaining concepts with the impact of a short story and the detailed breadth of a novel. Gathering a wide variety of excellent SF and fantasy, this anthology of “short novels” showcases the talents of both established masters and new writers.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Launching in June: The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera edited by David Afsharirad

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Military SF and Space Opera-smallI count no less than nine Best New SF, Fantasy and Horror volumes on the market today. We’ve already covered four of the more interesting titles coming later this year:

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine, edited by Jonathan Strahan (May 12)
The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2015, edited by Paula Guran (June 24)
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, edited by John Joseph Adams and Joe Hill (October 6)
Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Two, edited by Kathe Koja (October)

and I’ll be reporting on some of the others in the coming weeks.

Still, I was intrigued to see Baen is launching a brand new volume with a very specific focus early this summer. The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera will be edited by David Afsharirad, and promises to be the first of its kind — a Best of the Year volume exclusively devoted to military and adventure SF tales. I enjoy adventure SF, and I especially enjoy Space Opera with pulp sensibilities. And that seems to be exactly what this volume has in mind, going by the blurb.

With an introduction by best-selling military science fiction author David Drake and selected by editor David Afsharirad from the top short story markets in the field, here are the most thrilling, pulse-pounding, and thought-provoking stories of the past year. Stories of future military men and women, space opera on a grand scale, and edge-of-your-seat adventure tales in the pulp tradition, from giants of the genre to brilliant up-and-comers.

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Future Treasures: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Grace of Kings-smallSaga Press is the brand new fantasy and science fiction imprint of Simon & Schuster. I met Navah Wolfe, the editor for Saga Press, at the World Fantasy convention last November, and she really impressed me with her enthusiasm and knowledge of the field.

Their first book, Ken Liu’s debut novel The Grace of Kings, hits the stands in two weeks, and it looks like a major new heroic fantasy. In his short career Liu has won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards for his short fiction, and — based on the pre-release buzz — it seems apparent his first novel will make a major splash.

As the Empire Falls, A War Will Consume All in the Name of Justice.

The archipelago of Dara was once divided into seven kingdoms, with shifting alliances and constant battles — a tempest of diverse dialects and cultures. When a relentless king united the seven lands into one empire, some thought it would bring peace, an end to the turmoil. Instead, it brought stagnation and suffering, the anger of the gods, and, finally, a rebellion.

Kuni Garu is a wily bandit who is more concerned with finding his next drink and being well-liked than with the affairs of the empire, until he meets his match: Jia. This free-spirited daughter of a well-regarded family has a prophetic vision about Kuni that transcends his slovenly beginnings: He has greatness within him and may be the key to freeing Dara from a cruel despot. Driven by Jia’s love and touched by the grace of the common people, Kuni sets out on an unlikely path to heroism — and perhaps a daring wager against the gods.

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Relaunched Weirdbook Scores a Stephen Fabian Cover

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Weirdbook 31-smallEarlier this month I was very pleased to report that one of the greatest of all weird fiction magazines, W. Paul Ganley’s Weirdbook, is relaunching, with David A. Riley as Senior Editor and Publisher, and Douglas Draa, former Online Editor for Weird Tales, as Managing Editor and Fiction editor.

Last week on his blog David Riley revealed the cover for the upcoming Weirdbook 31, with art by none other than the great Stephen Fabian (at right; click for bigger version).

We are very pleased to be able to reveal the cover for issue 31, the first of the new Weirdbooks. It’s the work of Stephen Fabian, whose art often featured on earlier copies of the magazine.

Indeed, Fabian’s cover art was a hallmark of the original Weirdbook, and I’m thrilled to see that David and Doug have managed to secure him for issue 31. I’m certain it will make old-timers like me feel right at home.

You can see more of Fabian’s artwork in our detailed look at Stephen E. Fabian’s Ladies & Legends last year, and read more about Weirdbook (including their recent call for book reviewers) at David’s blog. They expect to have issue 31, the first issue of the relaunched magazine, available by the end of August this year.


See the Table of Contents for The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2015 Edition, edited by Paula Guran

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2015-smallPaula Guran’s Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror is one of the better Years’ Best anthologies on the market. It’s been published since 2010, and each and every volume somehow manages to introduce me to terrific new voices in dark fantasy.

This year looks no different. Paula Guran recently announced the table of contents for the 2015 volume on her website, including fiction from Laird Barron, Dale Bailey, Gemma Files, John Langan, Helen Marshall, Brandon Sanderson, Simon Strantzas, Jeff VanderMeer, and Ken Liu. Plus plenty of names I don’t recognize…. yet. I’m looking forward to another great collection.

Here’s the complete TOC (alphabetical by author).

Kelley Armstrong, “The Screams of Dragons” (Subterranean Press Magazine, Spring 2014)
Dale Bailey, “The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey (Tor.com, 23 Apr 2014)
Laird Barron, “(Little Miss) Queen of Darkness” (Dark Discoveries #29)
Elizabeth Bear “Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle” (Dead Man’s Hand)
Richard Bowes, “Sleep Walking Now and Then” (Tor.com, 9 July 2014)
Nadia Bulkin, “Only Unity Saves the Damned” (Letters to Lovecraft)

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Future Treasures: Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Seriously Wicked Tina Connolly-smallI met Tina Connolly at the World Fantasy Convention a few years ago, and had the good fortune to hear her read. She knows how to spin a tale, and has a gift for smooth, easy prose. If I could only bring a handful of books with me to a desert island, Tina Connolly would make the cut.

Her latest novel, Seriously Wicked, will be released this May and it sounds like a lot of fun. Keep an eye out for it — you’ll thank me later.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose — and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Suddenly Cam’s got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch… will that mean she’s wicked too?

We previously covered Tina with her Nebula-nominated debut novel Ironskin, and its sequel, Copperhead.

Seriously Wicked will be published by Tor on May 5, 2015. It is 208 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition.


Future Treasures: The Border by Robert McCammon

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Border Robert McCammon-smallBy 1991 Robert McCammon had no less than three New York Times bestsellers: The Wolf’s Hour, Stinger, and the post-apocalyptic horror novel Swan Song. He’s won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel twice (for Mine and Boy’s Life), and the World Fantasy Award (for Boy’s Life).

McCammon has a flair for epic, large-scale horror, as demonstrated by the alien invasion novel Stinger and the massive 864-page Swan Song. He returns to the genre with his upcoming novel The Border, the tale of an Earth torn apart by a vicious conflict between two marauding alien civilizations.

It is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger. Into these desperate circumstances comes an amnesiac teenaged boy who names himself Ethan — a boy who must overcome mistrust and suspicion to master unknowable powers that may prove to be the last hope for humanity’s salvation. Those same powers make Ethan a threat to the warring aliens, long used to fearing only each other, and thrust him and his comrades into ever more perilous circumstances.

A major new novel from the unparalleled imagination of Robert McCammon, this dark epic of survival will both thrill readers and make them fall in love with his work all over again.

We last covered Robert McCammon with Bob Byrne’s review of Boy’s Life.

The Border will be published by Subterranean Press on May 31, 2015. It is 456 pages, priced at $26.95 in hardcover. No news on a digital edition yet.


Future Treasures: Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaronand and Russell Dauterman

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

Thor Volume 1 Goddess of Thunder-smallWhen I was a kid monumental events in comics, like the death of Gwen Stacey or the defeat of Thanos, were discussed in excited whispers on the playground. Not so these days. When Thor, the God of Thunder, became a woman, Whoopi Goldberg made an exclusive announcement live on The View on July 15th, 2014. Times sure have changed.

Now, Thor didn’t actually change sex, or anything like that. Thor is still, well, Thor. But he’s the God of Thunder because — as has been well established in Journey into Mystery #83 and the awesome party scene in the upcoming Avengers 2 – he is worthy to wield the mystical hammer Mjolnir. Over the 52-year history of Marvel’s Thor, other individuals have also proven worthy, including the alien Beta Ray Bill, Captain America, Odin, and even Conan the Barbarian and Superman. Last year Marvel revealed a dramatic twist in the saga of Thor, when he became unworthy to lift the hammer for the first time, and the mantle of Thunder God was taken up by an unknown woman who lifts Mjolnir in Thor’s place. The first six issues of the new Thor comic will be collected this May. As predicted, the shift has drawn a whole new audience — including my daughter, who confesses it’s her new favorite comic.

Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted! Something dark has befallen the God of Thunder, leaving him unworthy for the first time ever! But when Frost Giants invade Earth, the hammer will be lifted — and a mysterious woman will be transformed into an all-new version of the mighty Thor! Who is this new Goddess of Thunder? Not even Odin knows… but she may be Earth’s only hope against the Frost Giants! Get ready for a Thor like you’ve never seen before, as this all-new heroine takes Midgard by storm! Plus: the Odinson clearly doesn’t like that someone else is holding his hammer… it’s Thor vs. Thor! And Odin, desperate to see Mjolnir returned, will call on some very dangerous, very unexpected allies. It’s a bold new chapter in the storied history of Thor!

Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder was written by Jason Aaronand and illustrated by Russell Dauterman, and will be published by Marvel Comics on May 26, 2015. It is 136 pages in hardcover, priced at $24.99. Digital editions are available through Marvel’s online subscription service.


Future Treasures: New Cthulhu 2 edited by Paula Guran

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

New Cthulhu 2-smallLast month I did a quick survey of Prime Books, looking at 24 volumes in their recent catalog. And an impressive lot it was, too (and trust me when I tell you, after 20 years in this industry, I don’t impress easily.)

One of the more intriguing books in their catalog was Paula Guran’s anthology New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird, which my kids bought me for my birthday last year (Isn’t that sweet? I have children who give me anthologies of Lovecraftian horror to celebrate my birth. Just nod and agree, it’s better for everyone.) It contained no less than 27 Cthulhu Mythos tales, all written this century, including stories from Neil Gaiman, Charles Stross, Marc Laidlaw, Laird Barron, Paul McAuley — and even Michael Shea’s chilling novelette “Tsathoggua,” first published right here at Black Gate.

So I was very pleased to see that a follow up volume, New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird, with stories from Laird Barron, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, John Shirley, Simon Strantzas, Helen Marshall, Michael Shea, Carrie Vaughn, Charles Stross and many others, is on the schedule for later this month.

Here’s the book description:

Many of the best weird fiction writers (and creators in most other media) have been profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos H.P. Lovecraft created eight decades ago. Lovecraft’s themes of cosmic indifference, minds invaded by the alien, and the horrors of history – written with a pervasive atmosphere of unexplainable dread – are more relevant than ever as we explore the mysteries of a universe in which our planet is infinitesimal and climatic change is overwhelming it. A few years ago, New Cthulhu : The Recent Weird presented some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction from the first decade of the twenty-first century. Now, New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird brings you more eldritch tales and even fresher fiction inspired by Lovecraft.

And here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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