The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The “Lost” Holmes Story

Monday, September 1st, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Wanted_CosmoThere are 60 original Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: 56 short stories and 4 novels (novellas, really). He also wrote two very short Holmes “bits” that are not included in the official Canon, though all acknowledge they are his works.

In August of 1948, the Doyle Estate added a 61st story to the official list when Cosmopolitan proclaimed  “FOUND! The Last Adventure of SHERLOCK HOMES, a hitherto unpublished story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Included in that issue was “The Man Who Was Wanted,” a long lost Holmes tale from the pen of Doyle himself. Five months later, London’s Sunday Dispatch serialized it in three installments during January of 1949.

Rumors of the story’s discovery had started in 1942 and Hesketh Pearson, the man who found it while working on an authorized biography of Conan Doyle, had printed the beginning of the story and commented on it in Conan Doyle: His Life and Art.

Notable Baker Street Irregulars such as Edgar Smith, Vincent Starrett and Anthony Boucher raised a hue and cry for the story to be published. For Sherlockians this was on a par with the discovery of a Homeric account of the first nine years of the Trojan War!

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Robert A. Heinlein Predicts the Future… of 2000!

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Robert A HeinleinThe February, 1952 issue of Galaxy opens with two articles, and I don’t usually cover articles when I’m reviewing the fiction of each issue. In this case, I couldn’t resist commenting on Robert A. Heinlein’s article: “Where To?”

The first article is by L. Sprague de Camp, commenting on how science-fiction predictions from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries failed on many levels. So it is ironic, I think, that it’s is followed by Heinlein’s, which gives its own point-blank predictions for the future. Heinlein feels that by comparing the present (that is, 1952) to the past (1900), he can reasonably predict what the future (2000) would look like.

Heinlein believes that the curve of human achievement — advances in science, technology and transportation, for example — is one that will rise with increased steepness. And in a graph he provides, it reminds me of an exponential increase (no numbers are shown, so that’s just a guess on my part).

Heinlein’s predictions fall into two categories — achievements that are probable and things we won’t get any time soon, if ever. He was almost 100% correct (or arguably perfect) on the items we would not achieve by 2000: time travel, traveling faster than the speed of light, control of telepathy or E.S.P. phenomena, “radio” transmissions of matter, real understanding of what “thought” is and how it is related to matter, scientific proof of survival after death, manlike robots with manlike reactions (Asimo, the Honda robot wasn’t introduced until late 2000), and a permanent end to war. One item that’s arguable is laboratory creation of life, depending on whether or not cloning counts.

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New Treasures: Lightspeed Magazine: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue

Monday, August 11th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed Women Destroy Science Fiction-smallBack in February, John Joseph Adams’s Lightspeed magazine held one of the most successful genre Kickstarter campaigns of the year, raising money for a special Women Destroy Science Fiction! issue. With a modest $5,000 goal, the magazine ended up raising $53,136 before the campaign ended on February 15.

Ambitious Kickstarter projects frequently have a reputation for being late — and I’m not sure I’ve seen many as ambitious as this one. But the issue shipped right on time in early June, and we reported here on the details back on June 5th. Lightspeed is a digital magazine and, as you’d expect, this groundbreaking issue was first made available in digital format. I’m not much of a digital magazine reader, truth be told — I like to read magazines curled up in my big green chair — but I thought I’d eventually make an exception for this one.

But about a week later, on June 14th, I saw a Facebook post from contributor (and occasional Black Gate blogger) Amal El-Mohtar, showing off the print version of the magazine.

Wait, what? There’s a print version? I want it. How do I get it? Amal’s description was tantalizingly cryptic:

My physical copy of Lightspeed Magazine’s Women Destroy Science Fiction arrived! It’s gorgeous, and huge, and I love it so much and can’t seem to stop petting it. It contains “The Lonely Sea in the Sky,” my first (and hopefully not last) piece of science fiction… The print copy contains everything — the interviews, essays, editorials, reprints, flash fiction, and originals. You can’t quite tell from the photo but the book is about 2 inches thick. It really is more of an anthology at this point than it is an issue of a magazine. To reiterate: TWO INCHES THICK.

I knew that I had to have a copy. And as it turned out, it wasn’t very hard to get one: Amazon has them in stock, discounted to $12.77 — less than the cost of an average trade paperback. I ordered a copy on July 3rd and it arrived a week later.

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Fantastic Science Fiction Stories, April 1960: A Retro-Review

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 | Posted by Rich Horton

Fantastic Science Fiction Stories April 1960-smallI’d rank this as a determinedly minor issue of this magazine, from fairly early in Cele Goldsmith’s tenure. It has a bland cover by an artist I’ve never heard of, Jack Faragasso. The feature list is slim. Norman Lobsenz’s editorial, very brief, is about an idea to put a ring of dust around the Earth so that it is always light. (What a dreadful idea!)

There is also the lettercol, with no contributors I recognized – the names are Miles McAlpin, James W. Ayers, Wesley Sharp, Billy Joe Plott, Frank P. Pretto (perhaps a typo for Prieto), and Michael W. Elm – and their usual small “Coming Next Month.” Interior illustrations are by [Leo] Summers, Varga, and Grayam.

So, what about the stories?

The cover story is “Doomsday Army,” by Jack Sharkey, an entirely too long story about a National Guard captain who ends up being the main intermediary to a bunch of (as it turns out) very small alien invaders. He’s portrayed as a fairly ordinary suburban husband, prone to taking shortcuts in solving problems his wife brings to his attention: so of course his solution to the alien problem will be a dangerous shortcut. And so it is, with an implausible solution.

There’s joke enough here for maybe 3,000 words at the outside, and this drags terribly at some 13,000 words. (I wonder if it was written to the cover, which does portray a scene from the story but in a very generic fashion.)

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Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1952: A Retro-Review

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Galaxy Science Fiction January 1952-smallSometimes, it’s easy to think that writing science fiction in the early 1950′s couldn’t be easier. After all, how many cliches existed at that time?

Well, apparently there were plenty. Gold writes in his opening of Galaxy’s January, 1952 issue:

The world today is loaded with ifs! So crammed, crowded, bulging with ifs jostling each other, in fact, that it’s a pure bafflement to see writers turning the same ones over and over, looking for some new bump never before noticed on the use-worn surfaces.

Yes, he wrote this for the January 1952 issue. The more of his commentaries I read, the more I think nothing has really changed over time.

Galaxy set the bar high, not allowing anyone to write stale stories. “Known authors who depend on their names to sell inferior fiction are finding no market in Galaxy; new authors who are willing to dig for ideas and fresh treatments are getting an enthusiastic, cooperative welcome.” Gold cared deeply about quality fiction and it’s clear to me with each issue I read that he accomplished it.

I’d love the chance to tell him how much I respect the work he did back then, but since I can’t, I only hope it serves to drive others toward that same level of quality, whether as editors, authors, artists, or any other roles involved with speculative fiction. Let’s look to Galaxy as a standard to match or exceed, if that’s even possible.

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Summer 2014 Subterranean Magazine now Available: The Final Issue

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Subterranean Summer 2014-smallI’ve always been amazed at how publisher William Schafer could produce a top-notch online magazine like Subterranean every quarter, and also run one of the most dynamic and productive small presses in the genre: Subterranean Press. I’ve published a fiction magazine and I know just how much work it is. I’ve never run a small press, much less a mini-publishing empire like Subterranean, but I imagine it must require a lot more work than a mere magazine.

That amazement compounded every quarter as the magazines appeared like clockwork — 31 issues over the last eight years. How does he do it?

Since the magazine was completely free, and yet still paid top rates, it was evidence of something more than just an admirable work ethic: a clear love of publishing, an understanding of the importance of magazines to the genre, and an enduring commitment to short fiction — all in the face of an increasingly indifferent marketplace.

So it is with considerable sadness, but no real surprise, that I note that Schafer has, with no prior fanfare, placed the words THE FINAL ISSUE on the Summer 2014 issue of Subterranean Magazine. I’m deeply disappointed that this is the last edition of one of the finest online publications the field has ever seen. But in my heart, I knew this had to come eventually and it doesn’t at all diminish what the magazine accomplished. Mr. Schafer, I salute your dedication and your amazing accomplishment.

The magazine goes out on a high note, with a fantastic table of contents, including a 33,000-word novella from Lewis Shiner, a 25,000-word novella from Kat Howard, plus novellas from Rachel Swirsky and Maria Dahvana Headley, a 16,000-word novelette from Alastair Reynolds, one of Jay Lake’s last stories, and more.

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Amazing Stories Turns 88 and Celebrates with a Special Issue

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

amazing-2014Amazing Stories is one of those legendary magazines of the first fandom age. Launched in 1926 by Hugo Gernsback (ie: the guy the Hugo Awards are named after), it was the first magazine devoted to science fiction stories.

This forerunner status didn’t assure it success and the magazine suffered bankruptcy, changes in ownership, editorial style, legal troubles, and so it has had many incarnations.

In recent years, Steve Davidson and a small army have been making efforts to resurrect Amazing Stories as an e-magazine, at first as a magazine focusing on fandom, and now, more consciously approaching the role of a magazine that will be offering new fiction and a new editorial voice. But, as Davidson notes, baby steps is the key.

The 88th Anniversary issue features articles of science fact, articles about fandom, reprinted short fiction, and some new stories as well. It is a visually-powerful magazine, with some great interior and cover art, so it was beautiful to toggle through on my Kindle.

On the content side, I have strong feelings about the sf field and this magazine pulled those feelings in a couple of directions.

I’ll admit I floundered a bit trying to discern the editorial taste, until I looked at the first fandom context of Amazing Stories and the aura of nostalgia around the age and history of science fiction as a genre.

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Vintage Treasures: Subterranean Magazine, Issue #2

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

SubterraneanMmagazine 2-smallAfter the the 2014 Windy City Pulp & Paper show in April was over, I collected all the pulps, vintage paperback, fanzines, art books, and old magazines I’d acquired and packed them snugly in two boxes next to my big green chair. I’ve been digging into the boxes at my leisure ever since.

I highly recommend this. Strange as it sounds, it’s a little like time travel. Most of the old magazines I bought — including OMNI, Interzone, Weird Tales, Starlog, Cosmos, Galileo, and the great Fantasy Review — are from the 80s and 90s. Which means they’re largely concerned with the same group of writers, movies, and books.

After a few weeks of reading ads and reviews from the early 80s, you start to feel oddly plugged in to the state of the industry thirty years ago (and realize just how much good reading you have to catch up on – and I’m not even caught up on my reading from last year!)

You also start to appreciate what a fabulous resource magazines are. No one can keep up on even a fraction of the genre novels published every year. But the best fiction magazines will keep you current on the exciting, new, emerging writers, with a diverse range of short fiction — not to mention novel reviews.(And the ads. Let’s not forget the ads.)

One of the great delights I pulled out of those Windy City boxes was a pristine copy of the second issue of Subterranean Magazine from 2005, back when it was still available in print. The magazine is still very much alive and excellent as ever, published these days as Subterranean Online (see their latest issue here.) But nine years ago, you could curl up with a thick issue printed on quality paper, and believe me, it was definitely worth your time.

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Cemetery Dance #71 Now on Sale

Monday, July 21st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Cemetery Dance 71-smallCemetery Dance is a magazine I buy rather sporadically. I should probably remedy that, as its non-fiction features – especially their news and reviews columns – are consistently excellent. It does a terrific job of keeping you up on the latest in the horror field.

I’m usually a fiction guy, which is why their All Fiction Special Issues are particularly appealing. There’s only been two others in their 25-year history, so when I saw this one on the magazine rack a few weeks ago, I bought it immediately.

This issue has a stellar cast of contributors, including Bentley Little, Simon Clark, Darrell Schweitzer, Jack Ketchum, and many others. The cover is by Alan M. Clark, and the issue is cover-dated May 2014. Here’s the complete table of contents:


“In the Room” by Bentley Little
“Sacred Duty” by Simon Clark
“Odd Man Out” by Darrell Schweitzer
“A Million Miles from Graceland” by Christopher Reynaga
“Gorilla in my Room” by Jack Ketchum

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June Short Story Roundup

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_1525953ATtCjv09It’s story time, kids! For the newcomers, that’s when I pore over the new short heroic fiction stories published in the previous month and let you know what I think about them. My goal is to shine a spotlight on the authors and magazines doing the yeoman-like work of creating new swords & sorcery tales and getting them into the reading public’s hands. It is my contention that S&S is a genre best served by short stories. I hope, with Black Gate as my bullhorn, I’m helping draw readers to some exciting and interesting new writing with each installment of the roundup.

For two-and-half years, Swords and Sorcery Magazine, published and edited by Curtis Ellett, has presented two new stories every month. That’s over fifty stories so far — the equivalent of four or five Lin Carter-edited anthologies. I’ve written before that the magazine’s sensibilities are pretty much exactly aligned with what it says on the masthead: swords and sorcery. But there are times the magazine shifts its focus a little.

By Any Other Name” by S. A. Hunter is about what happens when a nameless young girl and her guardian are visited by a minstrel. The girl suffers under a curse and despite strong warnings, the bard proves too persistent for his own good and tries to overcome it. The story and the minstrel put me in mind of a host of fairy tales that tell of the unfortunate older brothers who die before their youngest one shows up and saves the princess.

Keshia Swain’s “Inner Strength” is narrated by a trainee healer, Damali. When her mistress travels to spend time with her dying brother, Damali is confronted by intruders and finds herself drawing on heretofore unrealized reserves to confront them. There was just enough going on here to keep me interested and enough questions left unanswered to leave me wanting more.

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