The Dark Issue 6 now on Sale

Friday, November 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dark Issue 6-smallThe sixth issue of The Dark, cover-dated November 2014, is now on sale.

Truthfully, I haven’t paid much attention to The Dark magazine recently. But at the World Fantasy Convention I picked up a free sampler, containing an assortment of fiction from past issues, and crammed it into my travel bag. Of all the things I could have read on my flight back to Chicago (and believe me, that bag was so stuffed it barely fit under the seat in front of me), it was that sampler that seemed most intriguing, so once we were off the ground I pulled it out, reclined my chair, and started to read.

It only took a few minutes to convince me that overlooking The Dark has been a serious mistake. A quarterly magazine of horror and dark fantasy co-edited by Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace, The Dark has published short fiction by some of the brightest stars in the fantasy firmament, including World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor, Angela Slatter, Rachel Swirsky, E. Catherine Tobler, Stephen Graham Jones, and many others.

Issues are available in digital format for just $2.99. Each one contains four short stories (roughly 40 pages), and is available through Amazon, B&, Apple, Kobo, and other fine outlets. They can also be read for free on the website. The sixth issue contains the following:

Calamity, the Silent Trick by Sara Saab
The Three Familiars by Eric Schaller
Mourning Flags and Wildflowers by Patricia Russo
Home at Gloom’s End by Naim Kabir

If you enjoy the magazine as I do, there are plenty of ways you can help support it, including by buying their books, reviewing stories, or even just leaving comments. See the Issue 6 story summaries here, and their complete back issue catalog here.

November/December Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction now on Sale

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantasy and Science Fiction November December 2014Editor Gordon van Gelder kicks off the Nov/Dec issue with the following, disguised as part of the intro to Paul Di Filippo’s “I’ll Follow the Sun”:

There was a time — or so it seems to your editor — when writers turned to science fiction to explore ideas they couldn’t touch in any other medium. A fair number of stories regarded as classics today were transgressive when they first came out.

These days, however, the internet seems to thrive on posts by people who aren’t keen on tolerating viewpoints that differ from their own, and some of those posts focus on the science fiction and fantasy field. They’ve inspired us here at F&SF to give this issue an extra helping of stories that deal with touchy themes or go beyond the bounds of Political Correctness.

Quite an intro. There’s an impressive list of contributors taking part in this rebellious experiment, including Albert E. Cowdrey, Scott Baker, and David Gerrold.

Even film reviewer Alan Dean Foster gets in on the act with a little honest blasphemy in his column, “On Novelizing Noah,” a meditation on adapting last summer’s biblical-themed movie, written as a conversation with God.

Here’s Tangent Online reviewer C.D. Lewis on Gerrold’s contribution.

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October Short Story Roundup

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_1851216pr439k8tThe last few weeks have been particularly busy for me in my real life (as opposed to the one I lead as a dashing blogger-about-town on all things old school Swords & Sorcery) so this won’t be as complete a roundup as I’d like it to be. Fantasy Scroll #3 will have to wait until next month. As for Beneath Ceaseless Skies, I failed to read either issue last month, but looking at October’s authors, I see World Fantasy Award-winning (for the splendid “The Telling“) Gregory Norman Bossert, along with some other talented writers, so let’s just assume you should go check them out for yourself.

What I did manage to read were magazines I never miss – Swords and Sorcery Magazine (#33) and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (#22). I’ve been following the former since the third issue, so I never want to miss out on what happens next. As for HFQ, it’s consistently the best — and my favorite — magazine for heroic fantasy, which means as soon as it hits the electronic superhighway, I try to check it out.

Swords and Sorcery Magazine #33 presents us with its usual quota of two new stories. In ages past, Jonathan Nathaniel De Este, commander of Queen Isabella’s Dark Army and protagonist of Alex B.’s “Black Water“, “drank the Black Water and took the Darkness upon his spirit.” Every other man who did that found himself transformed into a bestial man or a complete beast. Only Jonathan has managed to hold onto a portion of his humanity and prevent himself from being changed externally as well as internally.

It’s an interesting story filled with grisly bits. There’s real potential for some exploration of Jonathan’s past and motives, but it’s not supplied. The mystery over his relationship to a picture of a princess is left only vaguely answered at best.

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Weird Fiction Review #4 Now on Sale

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Fiction Review 4-smallWhile I was wandering around the Dealer’s Room at the World Fantasy Convention, I spotted this little gem on Greg Ketter’s table. It’s the fourth issue of Weird Fiction Review, S.T. Joshi’s annual magazine devoted to the study of weird and supernatural fiction. And yeah, that’s our boy Godzilla on the cover.

Joshi has a rep as a serious scholar of weird fiction and he’s edited numerous collections and anthologies, including the brand new The Madness of CthulhuThe Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith, and the long-running magazine Lovecraft Studies. But the thing that’s surprised me about Weird Fiction Review is the delightful sense of whimsy it exhibits, especially with cover art. The cover of the previous issue, for example, featured Mad magazine poster child Alfred E. Neuman with Cthulhu tentacles. That’s some serious satiric genius right there.

The massive fourth issue contains fiction from J.C. Hemphill, Lynne Jamneck, Donald Tyson, Mark Fuller Dillon, Michael Kelly, Clint Smith, Michael Washburn, and a classic reprint by Nigel Dennis. The cover is by Bob Eggleton (click the image at left for the glorious wrap-around version.)

There’s also some terrific articles — John Butler contributes a lengthy (30-page) review of The New Monster Magazines and a retrospective of E.C. artist Jack Davis, Jason V. Brock looks at “Forrest J. Ackerman: Fan Zero,” there’s a lengthy interview with Patrick McGrath, there’s an 8-page full-color gallery of art by Bob Eggleton, plus regular columns by Danel Olson and John Pelan, and much more, including poetry, and reviews.

The only serious drawback, in fact, is the price: $35. Like almost everything Centipede publishes, it has a limited print run (500 copies.) However, it is available through Amazon at a 45% discount (for $19.17).

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Selling Short Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Fiction, Part III: Reprints

Saturday, November 15th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken


The Polish magazine Nowa Fantastyka

This is the third of three posts about selling short fiction. We’ve talked about how to know how to fit your story into the ecosystem of short fiction markets and what the business side (contracts, rights, etc) look like. This one is about reprints.

Other than the rule of never selling your copyright or paying to have your short fiction published, the big strategic rule to keep in mind when selling fiction is: reprint rights are usually far less valuable than first English rights.

So why consider reprints? (1) It’s more money, for no extra work, and (2) it may expose your work to other audiences.

So where can you sell reprints?

In the olden days, some magazines would accept reprints. Not the top line magazines, but some. And they would have been paying penny for the word or less. You can still find those markets on But when I sell a story now, there are three places I actively try to resell after the story has finished its run.

One: Audio markets

Podcastle for fantasy, Escapepod for scifi, and Pseudopod for horror. Each episode of these podcasts gets downloaded 5,000+ times, so that’s a big market expansion, which often doesn’t cross over into wherever my story was initially published.

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The Original Science Fiction Stories, November 1958 and May 1960: A Retro-Review

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 | Posted by Rich Horton

The-Original-Science-Fiction-Stories-November-1958-small2Recently, our esteemed editor John O’Neill blogged about having bought a set of copies of The Original Science Fiction Stories… so it occurred to me that a Retro-Review of a couple of those issues might be interesting. And here it is — something I wrote a few years ago, slightly polished.

Perhaps a long article about Robert A. W. Lowndes’s editorial career would be interesting. His career was rather odd. Off and on for some two decades, he edited two magazines in various combinations: Future, and Science Fiction Stories. For a time, they were the same magazine, called Future Combined With Science Fiction Stories.

Actually, for a couple of different times, they were the same magazine under that title. Charles Hornig was editor for the first few issues of both magazines, from 1939-1941, then Lowndes took over and, as far as I can tell, he was the only editor until the magazines finally limped to an end in 1960.

There were two main phases of publishing these titles: from 1939 through 1943, then from 1950 through 1960. I don’t think there is another example of a single editor being associated, for so long, through so many title changes and hiatuses, with the same publications. He apparently never had much of a budget to work with, either. The publisher, I suppose throughout these magazines’ history, was Columbia Publications. (In the 60s, Lowndes edited one more magazine, the Magazine of Horror.)

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Vintage Treasures: Weird Tales #1, edited by Lin Carter

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Tales 1 paperback-smallIf you’ve hung around Black Gate for any length of time, you’ve heard us talk about Weird Tales, the greatest and most influential pulp fantasy magazine every published.

Weird Tales has died many times, and crawled out of the grave and shambled back to life just as often (if you’re a Weird Tales fan, you’ve heard countless zombie metaphors about your favorite magazine). When the pulp version of the magazine died in September 1954 after 279 issues, many believed it was for the final time. But it returned to life in the early 1970s, edited by Sam Moskowitz and published by Leo Margulies, and then perished again after four issues.

Bob Weinberg and Victor Dricks purchased the rights to the name from Margulies some time after that, and in December 1980 a brand new version appeared: Weird Tales #1, an original paperback anthology of horror and weird fantasy edited by none other than Lin Carter. On the inside front cover (under the heading The Eyrie, the name of the old editorial column in the pulp magazine) Carter introduced his anthology to a new generation of fantasy readers:

WEIRD TALES was the first and most famous of all the fantasy-fiction pulp magazines. It featured tales of the strange, the marvelous, and the supernatural by the finest authors of the macabre and the fantastic, old and new, from its first issue in 1923 until its 279th and last consecutive issue in 1954.

Now it is back, with all new stories — and even such an exciting find as “Scarlet Tears,” a recently discovered and never before published novelette by Robert E. Howard.

Over the years many great writers were published in the pages of WEIRD TALES, and now a great tradition is being continued into its second half-century.

“Scarlet Tears,” a Robert E. Howard story featuring his private detective Brent Kirby, never sold in his lifetime, and it’s not hard to see why (Kirby, a brawler who leads with his fists, doesn’t actually do much “detecting.”) Nonetheless, this kind of star billing for a Robert E. Howard trunk story gives you some indication just how much his reputation had grown since his death 44 years earlier.

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Uncanny Magazine Issue 1 Now on Sale

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Uncanny Magazine Issue 1-smallWith all the bad news swirling around genre magazines over the past few years, I can’t tell you how uplifting it is to celebrate the arrival of a brand new magazine — especially one as promising as this.

Uncanny is a bimonthly magazine of science fiction and fantasy, showcasing original fiction from some of the brightest stars in the genre, as well as reprints, poetry, articles, and interviews. The first issue, cover-dated November/December 2014, is on sale today. It contains new fiction by Maria Dahvana Headley, Kat Howard, Max Gladstone, Amelia Beamer, Ken Liu, and Christopher Barzak, plus a reprint from Jay Lake. There’s also articles by Sarah Kuhn, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Christopher J Garcia, and a special Worldcon Roundtable featuring Emma England, Michael Lee, Helen Montgomery, Steven H Silver, and Pablo Vazquez. The issue also contains poetry by Neil Gaiman, Amal El-Mohtar, and Sonya Taaffe, and interviews with Maria Dahvana Headley, Deborah Stanish, Beth Meacham on Jay Lake, and Christopher Barzak.

If that’s not enough, the magazine’s staff has also produced two stellar podcasts. Episode 1, released today, features the Editors’ Introduction, Maria Dahvana Headley’s “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” and Amal El-Mohtar’s poem “The New Ways” (both read by Amal), as well as an interview with Maria conducted by Deborah Stanish. Episode 2 (coming December 2) will contain an Editors’ Introduction, Amelia Beamer reading her story “Celia and the Conservation of Entropy,” Sonya Taaffe’s poem “The Whalemaid, Singing” (as read by Amal El-Mohtar), and an interview with Amelia conducted by Deborah Stanish.

Uncanny was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign that had over 1,000 backers and raised over $36,000 (surpassing its goal by over $10,000.) The magazine is available for purchase as an eBook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats. If you’re the type of buyer who needs to sample things first, the website features free content that will be released in two stages — half on November 4 and half on December 2.

Uncanny is published and edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas. The first issue is priced at $3.99; order directly from the website. The cover is by Galen Dara.

Amazing Stories, July 1962: A Retro-Review

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Rich Horton

Amazing Stories July 1962-smallBack to Cele Goldsmith’s tenure at Amazing/Fantastic. This is a pretty strong issue, with, notably and perhaps surprisingly, a strong “Classic Reprint” novelet, and a strong serial opener. (The shorter fiction is less impressive.)

The cover is by Lloyd Birmingham, a semi-regular at Amazing/Fantastic throughout the ’60s, who also had one cover for Analog, one for an Ace Double, and a couple more. But he was never well-known in the field. It illustrates the serial in this issue, part one of Keith Laumer’s A Trace of Memory, competently but not particularly specially. Interiors are by Birmingham again, Leo Summers, Virgil Finlay, Dan Adkins, and Austin Briggs.

Norman Lobsenz’s editorial discusses some evidence that may or may not support the Big Bang theory. (This was a couple of years before the discovery of the 3 degree background radiation of the universe.) The lettercol, “ … or So you Say”, features a long letter by Julian Reid complaining about two recent Mark Clifton stories (“Hang Head, Vandal!” and the serial Pawn of the Black Feet), following a very long defense of his work by Clifton himself.

This response may be the last thing Clifton ever published. (He died in 1963, and I am sure he published no more stories after “Hang Head, Vandal!”) I think Clifton gets the better of the argument, pointing out for one thing that Pawn of the Black Fleet (aka When They Come From Space) is a spoof, which Reid took altogether too seriously.

S. E. Cotts’s book review column, “The Spectroscope,” covers Damon Knight anthology A Century of Science Fiction, with very high praise for the stories, but some quibbling about Knight’s categorization of different aspects of the field; and J. F. Bone’s The Lani People, which Cotts considers not very original, but quite fun. There is a very brief “Benedict Breadfruit” squib by “Grandall Barretton” (Randall Garrett) … these are decidedly sub-Feghootian to begin with and this one is worse than usual. Ben Bova (or “Ben Ben Bova” as the TOC has it) contributes an article on “The Three Requirements of Life in the Solar System,” second in a four-article series on the possibilities of alien life, this one covering possibilities for life on other planets in our system.

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Michael Bishop on Tom Hanks’ Story in The New Yorker

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Tom Hanks in The New Yorker-smallMichael Bishop, Nebula Award-winning author of No Enemy But Time, Ancient of Days, and Philip K Dick Is Dead, Alas, has posted a brief review of Tom Hanks science fiction story in The New Yorker magazine.

Yes, Tom Hanks has a story in The New Yorker. And yes, it’s science fiction. It’s titled “Alan Bean Plus Four.” Yes, the Tom Hanks who played Forrest Gump and Captain Phillips. Look, just read what Michael said.

I read it with some initial skepticism. Sure, Hanks is an Academy Award-winning actor, but can he write?

Well, yes, he can. This tale works at the level that Hanks shoots for, and the prose, pointedly colloquial and science-savvy, shows him to have a fine command of 21st-century English as well as of current cultural, social, and technological innovations. I really like it.

You can read the complete story online here. There’s even an audio version on the same page (read by Tom Hanks. How cool is that?).

Read Michael Bishop’s complete comments on his Facebook page.

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