James Maliszewski Launches The Excellent Travelling Volume

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Excellent Travelling Volume-smallJames Maliszewski, Black Gate blogger and creator of the long-running hobby gaming site Grognardia, has launched a new magazine, The Excellent Travelling Volume.

The Excellent Travelling Volume is a 28-page, digest-sized print-only fanzine dedicated to Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT), the first roleplaying game set on M.A.R. Barker’s world of Tékumel. EPT was first released in 1975 by TSR, making it one of the first RPGs ever published.

Tékumel is one of the most popular and enduring settings in fantasy gaming. No less than four RPGs have used it since it first appeared, including Swords & Glory (Gamescience, 1983/84), the excellent Gardasiyal: Adventures in Tekumel (Theater of the Mind, 1994), and Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne (Guardians of Order, 2005). It was also the setting for several novels by Barker, including The Man of Gold (DAW, 1984) and Flamesong (DAW, 1985).

While Tékumel has remained popular, the original game which launched it, Empire of the Petal Throne, is now 40 years ago and an extremely rare TSR collectible. It was reprinted only once, by Different Worlds Publications in 1987. However, RPGNow sells a PDF version of the original rules for just $11. The game has a strong group of core fans who have kept it alive for four decades.

The Excellent Travelling Volume is produced under license from the Tékumel Foundation. The first issue (cover at left; art by Jason Sholtis — click for bigger version) was released in December 2014 and is already sold out. Issue #2 is now available. Issues have a very limited print run (200 copies) and go out of print fairly quickly; if you’re interested, I would suggest you act quickly.

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine 5 Now Available

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantasy Scroll Magazine 5-smallThe fifth issue of the Kickstarter-funded online-only Fantasy Scroll Magazine is now available.

Fantasy Scroll was launched with an Introductory Issue #0 in January 2014, which was used as a proof-of-concept for a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign ended on April 23, 2014, raising $2,956 against a $2,500 goal, enough to fund a full year (four issues).

Fantasy Scroll has become a poster child for the right way to fund and launch a new fantasy magazine. All four issues were released last year, as promised, and the mag has been successful enough to self-fund issue #5. It’s accomplished that by selling merchandise, launching a mobile app, soliciting donations — and additional funding drives, creating a Starlight Patrol of enthusiastic backers and supporters at Patreon who help keep the magazine going.

Fantasy Scroll has published original short fiction by Ken Liu, Mike Resnick, Piers Anthony, Cat Rambo, Rachel Pollack, Seth Chambers, and many others. The magazine is edited by Iulian Ionescu, Frederick Doot, and Michelle Muller. It’s published quarterly, and the contents include all kinds of fantastic literature — science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal short-fiction — and run the gamut from short stories to flash fiction to micro-fiction.

Issue #5 is cover-dated February 2015, and includes 10 short stories from Emily Cataneo, Laurie Tom, Jarod Anderson and others — including “How the Grail Came to the Fisher King,” a new story by Black Gate author and blogger Sarah Avery.

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Help Uncover the Birth and Rise of Science Fiction: Support the Futures Past Kickstarter

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

Futures Past 1926-smallLast month I was delighted to shine a spotlight on the first issue of Futures Past, a new magazine devoted to covering the birth of modern science fiction. Futures Past was originally a highly-regarded print fanzine, which published four issues in the early 1990s, each covering one year of SF history, from 1926-29. Editor Jim Emerson has resurrected it as a 64-page digital magazine, with gorgeous full-color pages illuminating the highlights of science fiction publishing in magazines, books, books and even conventions. The first issue, covering 1926, was released last July, and it looks terrific.

Now Emerson has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a print edition of the magazine:

In the pages of Futures Past we will be covering in unprecedented detail, the birth and development of modern science fiction from 1926 to 1975. Unlike other science fiction reference works which offer a mere page or two to a given year, highlighting only the most notable items, we will be devoting an entire volume to each year. This will not only include comprehensive coverage of all the books, films and magazines published, but also in-depth review of less prominent topics such as early fandom, conventions, fanzines, old time sf radio plays and serials, as well as extensive consideration to international science fiction. Each volume of the series is presented in proper sequential order, beginning with 1926 when the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, was published.

The money raised by the Kickstarter will be used to pay for backer rewards, printing costs and computer upgrades, and content for future issues, including reprints and “new articles by the top science fiction writers and historians in the field” — folks like Mike Ashley and Bud Webster.

The campaign has a goal of $16,800, and will close on April 29. See all the details and pledge your support here.

Apex Magazine #70 Now on Sale

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

Apex Magazine 70 March 2015-smallWe’ve covered Apex Magazine in the past, but not with any real thoroughness. But as I promised in my recent article on Expanding Our Magazine Coverage, I hope to be a bit more diligent reporting on the top fantasy magazines from now on.

Apex Magazinee is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror publication featuring original short stories, poetry and non-fiction. It is edited by Jason Sizemore and released the first Tuesday of every month. It has been publishing since 2005, and for a while was known as Apex Digest. In 2008 it shifted to an online format, publishing content for free on its website. Previous editors include Catherynne M. Valente (issues 15-29) and Lynne M. Thomas (30 – 55). In 2012, it was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.

This issue features fiction from Nina Kiriki Hoffman and Thoraiya Dyer, poetry from Jennifer Ironside and Beth Cato, interviews with Damien Angelica Walters and cover artist Lucas de Alcântara, short fiction reviews, a podcast (“Houdini’s Heart” by Thoraiya Dyer), and much more.


“Houdini’s Heart” by Thoraiya Dyer
“Charaid Dreams” by Rati Mehrotra
“A Beautiful Memory” by Shannon Peavey
“Where I’m Bound” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
“Sing Me Your Scars” by Damien Angelica Walters
“Seed” by Shanna Germain (eBook/subscriber exclusive)

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Gygax Magazine #5 Now Available

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Gygax Magazine 5-smallThe last time I visited a local gaming shop (the excellent Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL), I noticed that the latest issue of Gygax magazine had hit the stands. Apparently it had been out for several weeks… obviously, I need to get to the game store more often.

Well, better late than never. As usual, this issue comes packed with lots of great articles, including Leomund’s Secure Shelter by Lenard Lakofka, Munchkin Tips & Tricks by Andrew Hackard, Bottom of the Pile by Tim Kask, and Zen and the Art of Game Mastery by Michael E. Shea. There’s also a One Page Dungeon by Will Doyle, with commentary by Gygax editor Jayson Elliot.

Every issue of Gygax has a fold-out adventure, and this time it’s Fox Hunt, and adventure for the Godlike RPG by Shane Ivey. Comics this issue include Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams, and Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew.

We last covered Gygax magazine with issue #4, released last summer. It’s officially a quarterly, but realistically TSR produces roughly two issues/year, and this one reportedly shipped last month.

Gygax #5 is edited by Jayson Elliot and published by TSR. It is 68 pages, priced at $8.95 for the print edition, or $4.99 for a watermarked PDF available through DriveThruRPG. Cover art by Walter Velez. A one year subscription (4 issues) is $35. Order copies directly from the website.

New Treasures: Clarkesworld: Year Seven, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld Year Seven-smallThese annual Clarkesworld anthologies are a tremendous bargain. The individual magazines are $3.99 each, but these volumes collect all the original fiction for a full 12 months in a handsome package for just $16.99.

If you haven’t tried Clarkesworld, you’re missing out on one of the most vibrant and celebrated SF and fantasy magazines on the market. It is a three-time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine, and in 2013 it received more Hugo nominations for short fiction than all the leading print magazines (Asimov’s, Analog, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) combined. Last November the magazine was awarded a World Fantasy Award.

Clarkesworld Year Seven collects original fiction from many of the most exciting writers on the market, including Genevieve Valentine, Aliette de Bodard, James Patrick Kelly, E. Catherine Tobler, E. Lily Yu, and many others.

The book also serves as a fund-raiser for the magazine, and every purchase helps support one of the finest magazines out there.

This year’s edition contains a whopping 36 stories. Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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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.

Black Static #45 Now on Sale

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

Black Static 45-smallI didn’t see the latest issue of Black Static during my weekly trip to the bookstore yesterday, but it usually arrives in the US a couple of weeks after it goes on sale in the UK, so it should be on sale shortly. Issue #45 is cover-dated March/April; and contains no less than eight stories:

“The Second Floor” by S.P. Miskowski
“The Grey Men” by Laura Mauro
“The Visitors” by Stephen Hargadon
“The Fishing Hut” by Steve Rasnic Tem
“Hungry Ghosts” by Emily B. Cataneo
“The Frequency of Existence” by Andrew Hook
“The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark” by Cate Gardner
“The Cleansing” by Danny Rhodes

Here’s the opening paragraph to Laura Mauro’s “The Grey Men.”

The grey men emerged from the fog on a November afternoon. Three days of thick, pale mist preceded their arrival; three days in which it appeared that the sky had collapsed beneath its own weight, choking the streets with cloud. The world itself was overcast. The fog held firm from Hertfordshire all the way into London, and for the two long, empty hours of his daily commute Adam would stare out of the train window, trying to pinpoint the exact margin where the dew-wet sidings disappeared irretrievably into the white.

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March 2015 Lightspeed Magazine Now on Sale

Friday, March 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed Magazine March 2013-smallAs promised in my fantasy magazine survey this morning, we kick off our coverage of John Joseph Adams’ excellent online magazine Lightspeed with #58, the March 2015 issue.

Lightspeed publishes both fantasy and SF, both new fiction and reprints. Among other stories, the March issue contains “A Face of Black Iron” by Matthew Hughes, the tenth standalone installment in his long-running Kaslo Chronicles, all of which are available online. Here’s the tantalizing blurb:

An ancient evil, lurking in another dimension through all the aeons since magic last ruled the universe, is striking out at Erm Kaslo, former hardboiled confidential operative (op) turned wizard’s henchman, and his employer, the proto-thaumaturge Diomedo Obron. Now the two, along with the mysterious Archon Filidor of Old Earth, must re-enter the Seventh Plane, discover what awaits them there, and try to destroy it before it destroys them.

You can read all ten stories in the series at the Lightspeed website.

The complete contents of the March issue are:


A Face of Black Iron” by Matthew Hughes
“Documentary” by Vajra Chandrasekera — available March 24
The Way Home” by Linda Nagata (from Operation Arcana)
The Good Son” by Naomi Kritzer (from Jim Baen’s Universe, February 2009)

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Expanding Our Magazine Coverage at Black Gate

Friday, March 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

New Realm magazine February 2015-smallI’ve slowly been expanding our coverage of fantasy magazines here at Black Gate. Despite how dramatically the industry has changed over the decades since I started reading it, I still consider magazines the heart of the field. Our coverage is not nearly as comprehensive as I’d like it to be, but we’re getting there. I thought I’d pause for a moment and take stock of those publications we currently cover, and see if there are any obvious holes. They are:

Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by C.C. Finlay
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, edited by Adrian Simmons, David Farney, William Ledbetter and James Frederick William Rowe
Nightmare, edited by John Joseph Adams
Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace
The Dark, edited by Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace
Uncanny, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trota
Weirdbook, edited by Douglas Draa‎
Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
Black Static, edited by Andy Cox
Weird Tales, edited by Marvin Kaye
Swords and Sorcery Magazine, edited by Curtis Ellett
Shimer, edited by E. Catherine Tobler
Fantasy Scroll, edited by Iulian Ionescu, Frederick Doot, and Alexandra Zamorski
Gygax, edited by Jayson Elliot
Weird Fiction Review, edited by S.T. Joshi

Whew. That’s more than I thought.

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