Cemetery Dance 72 Now on Sale

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Cemetery Dance 72-smallCemetery Dance calls itself a magazine of horror and suspense, and I think that describes it pretty well. It has a nice mix of fiction, interviews, news, and reviews. It’s not a digest, and has plenty of interior art, both of which I appreciate.

Issue #72, cover dated January 2015, has new fiction from Stephen King, Norman Partridge, and others. Here’s the complete contents.

Fiction

“Summer Thunder” by Stephen King
“Incarnadine” by Norman Partridge
“The Cambion” by Stephen Bacon
“Barn Dance” by Tim Davis
“Chasing Ghosts” by Richard Thomas
“Anti-Theft” by Victorya Chase

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The April Fantasy Magazine Rack

Monday, April 13th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Adventure-Tales-7-rack Apex Magazine 70 March 2015-rack Asimov's Science Fiction April May 2015-rack Beneath Ceaseless Skies 170-rack
Black Static 45-rack Clarkesworld Issue 102-rack The Dark Issue 7-rack Fantasy Scroll Magazine 5-small
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Marh April 2015-rack Futures Past Issue 1-rack Gygax Magazine 5-small heroic-fantasy-quarterly-rack
Interzone 257-small Lightspeed Magazine March 2013-rack New Realm magazine March 2015-rack Nightmare Magazine March 2015-rack
Shimmer 24-rack Swords and Sorcery Magazine March 2015-rack Uncanny Issue 3-rack Weird Fiction Review 5-rack

The April magazine rack is crammed with the 20 most recent issues of the top English-language fantasy magazines on the planet. (And I didn’t even have room for the second issue of James Maliszewski’s The Excellent Travelling Volume — you can find it here.) Click on any of the images above to see our detailed report on each issue.

As we’ve mentioned before, all of these magazines are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. Many are marginal operations for whom a handful of subscriptions may mean the difference between life and death. Why not check one or two out, and try a sample issue? There are magazines on the rack for every budget, from completely free to $35/issue. If you find something intriguing, why not try an issue next time you find yourself browsing the magazine rack…. or take a chance on a subscription? I think you’ll find it’s money very well spent.

Check out our complete magazine coverage here.


Future Science Fiction, July 1953: A Retro-Review

Sunday, April 12th, 2015 | Posted by Rich Horton

Future Science Fiction July 1953-smallI’ve been tracking down some less well-known Jack Vance stories, and that’s what led me to this issue of Future Science Fiction.

Future was one of two magazines (the other being Science Fiction Stories  — in its later years sometimes called The Original Science Fiction Stories, though that was never its official title) that Robert A. W. Lowdes edited for Columbia Publications, off and on, first for a couple of years in the late ’30s and early ’40s, after which the titles were revived in 1950, and continued to be published until 1960, under a set of titles and numberings that frankly make my head hurt.

I’ve written about Lowdes’ magazines before, and noted that he always had a tiny budget and still managed to produce pretty fair issues. This issue isn’t a particularly strong one, but it does have a quite distinguished list of authors, only one of whom could be called “Little Known.”

The format at this time was that of the classic pulp, about 7” by 10” with low quality paper. The cover here is by Milton Luros, illustrating Charles Dye’s “The Aeropause.” The features include “Down to Earth,” an extended letter column, this time featuring mostly letters suggesting alternate endings to Clifford Simak’s “… And the Truth Shall Make You Free,” which had appeared in the March issue.

It seems Lowndes had requested just this. I’m not familiar with the story, so I really couldn’t make head nor tail of the discussion. The only name I recognized among the letter writers was Robert Coulson, later a Hugo winner (with his wife Juanita) for the fanzine Yandro (which began appearing in this year, 1953), and also a novelist (mostly in collaboration with Gene De Weese.) Coulson was also credited as cowriter on Piers Anthony’s Laser Books novel But What of Earth?, but that was entirely against Anthony’s wishes, as Coulson made a number of changes at the behest of Laser series editor Roger Elwood, changes Anthony completely opposed. (Thanks to Ian Covell for this tidbit).

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Weird Fiction Review #5 Now on Sale

Friday, April 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Fiction Review 5-smallWeird Fiction Review is a terrific little magazine. In fact, it has a lot in common with the print version of Black Gate — it comes out once a year, the issues are huge (300+ pages), it’s crammed with art and pictures, and it contains a nice mix of fantasy fiction and articles.

It’s also more expensive than it probably should be. It is limited to 500 copies, and is priced as a limited-edition collectible: $35 per copy. That seems a lot for a magazine (and speaking as a publisher who used to charge 18 bucks for a small press magazine, that’s saying something.) I’m not sure I understand the business model behind a limited print run on a magazine, but the Centipede Press folks clearly know what they’re doing.

In any event, the issue looks terrific, with brand new short fiction from Brian Stableford, Darrell Schweitzer, Jason V Brock, Robert H. Waugh, and many others — plus a reprint from James Branch Cabell. There are also poems from Chad Hensley, Wade German, Charles Lovecraft, and many others.

The non-fiction includes Dennis Etchison’s 16-page photo essay on the collection and work of collector extraordinaire Forrest J Ackerman, “Presenting! The Amazing! Ackermonster!” (originally published in 1967), a 10-page color gallery by cover artist Travis Louie, a look at James Branch Cabell’s “Machen” story by Darrell Schweitzer, an article on — and interview with — MAD magazine editor Al Feldstein, Dennis Etchison’s interview with Ray Bradbury, Fifty Essential Comics by Danel Olson, Forgotten Masters of the Weird Tale by John Pelan, and tons more.

For whatever reason, the issue is not available through Amazon.com until September 15. But it’s for sale now at the Centipede Press website, and has been selling on eBay and other online outlets for a few months.

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April/May 2015 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction April May 2015-smallI’m delighted to be talking about Asimov’s SF as part of Black Gate‘s new initiative to expand our coverage of fantasy and SF magazines. Asimov’s has been a favorite of mine since the first year it was published, in 1977. (If you’re interested in learning what’s so special about the magazine, I wrote a lengthy 3-part history, looking at it decade by decade, back when I was editing SF Site in 1998).

It took us this long to start covering it because Asimov’s is primarily a science fiction magazine. But the current editor, Sheila Williams — like her predecessor, Gardner Dozois — has shown an appreciation for good fantasy, and there’s plenty of evidence of that in the current issue. The big April/May double issue weighs in at a generous 192 pages, and contains fiction from Allen M. Steele, Tom Purdom, Michael Swanwick & Gregory Frost, Liz Williams, Robert Reed, and many others.

A fine example of that openness to fantasy is Michael Swanwick & Gregory Frost’s “Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters — H’ard and Andy Are Come to Town!” Here’s Bob Blough’s review at Tangent Online:

This is a light-hearted romp about two slightly magical con-men who go to great lengths to prove that a dust giant is causing the drought in some alternate version of the American Dust Bowl during the 1930s. Unfortunately they wake up something much more real than the con they plan to pull. As a lagniappe, if you know your short fiction you can tell who these two men are by what they talk about. It’s a fun if innocuous ride.

Read Bob’s complete review here, and the first half of Swanwick & Gregory Frost’s tale online here.

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Interzone #257 Now on Sale

Saturday, April 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Interzone 251-smallInterzone has an interesting approach to cover art. It commissions a single artist to do its covers for a full year. The 2015 cover artist is Martin Hanford, and so far I’ve really been enjoying his work. This issue has an intriguing sword & sorcery feel… although the central figure is in a space suit and strapped to a duck, which is admittedly a fresh theme for S&S (or any other genre I’m familiar with). Click the image at right for a closer look. We’ve showcased Martin’s work at Black Gate previously, most recently on the cover of Swords of Steel.

Interzone is the sister magazine of Black Static, both are published by TTA Press in the UK. The distinguished Andy Cox is the editor of both.

Interzone contains chiefly science fiction but, like Asimov’s SF here in the states, does publish the occasional fantasy piece. Issue #257 is cover-dated March/April, and contains the following fiction:

“A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds
“Songbird” by Fadzlishah Johanabas
“Brainwhales Are Stoners, Too” by Rich Larson
“The Worshipful Company of Milliners” by Tendai Huchu
“Blossoms Falling Down” by Aliya Whiteley

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Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1952: A Retro-Review

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Galaxy Science Fiction August 1952-smallThis is an issue I had looked forward to for a long time. One of my first steps toward reading Galaxy was listening to an X-Minus One radio broadcast titled “Surface Tension,” based on the story with the same title by James Blish in Galaxy’s August, 1952 issue. My wife had gotten this one for me early on, but I hadn’t made my way to it until now.

“Surface Tension” by James Blish — Humans explore the galaxy, seeding adaptations of themselves on any Earth-like planets. Hydrot is all water and marshes, and the crew of La Ventura has only a short time before they die, stranded because their ship wrecked. So they create microscopic versions of themselves (but not with their memories) that can survive in water, hoping they can compete for survival without dominating the other lifeforms on the planet.

This was considerably different from what I remember of the radio broadcast. But it’s a well-told story that’s highly inventive.

“Proof of the Pudding” by Robert Sheckley — One man survives the final war on Earth by taking a ship into space. He returns to the desolate planet and discovers he has the power to create anything he imagines.

I had difficulty relating to the protagonist. Not to spoil too much, but the story picked up considerably with the introduction of a second character.

“Yesterday House” by Fritz Leiber — Jack Berry is a biology student working in Maine for Professor Kesserich.  Jack takes a boat past where he was told to go, and he discovers an island. As he explores it, he comes to a fence and climbs over. He meets a young woman who lives in a house, but she’s convinced it’s 1933 rather than 1951. Her aunts keep her on the island throughout the year, never allowing her to go to the mainland. He wants to prove the truth to her, if he can, without arousing her aunts’ suspicion.

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Shimmer 24 Now on Sale

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Shimmer 24-smallShimmer is a slender little magazine with a big reputation.

Issue #24, covered-dated March 2015, offer four stories about endings. Here’s editor E. Catherine Tobler’s on the issue:

The world is always ending. The world is always being reborn. Small steps, planetary scale. Turning itself inside out, do-over, rewind, fast-forward this part, and pause. Pause here and take a breath and read these four stories that will change your perception of how things end, how they start, how they go ever on.

Shimmer is not generally known for its humorous content, nor happy-go-lucky stories. Shimmer stories tend to have a mood and that mood is often bleak. Beth once told me Shimmer stories were like the line from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” (or was that line only in the Jeff Buckley version?), it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah. It’s cold and broken, but there is still a sliver of light by which to see. That’s the shimmer.

Shimmer is published bi-monthly, and available in both print and your choice of DRM-free electronic formats (indeed, a wide range of formats, not just PDF and Kindle.) It has shown a talent for rooting out great fiction across a wide range of fantasy and SF, and describes itself as publishing “Speculative fiction for a miscreant world.”

Fiction this issue is by Maria Dahvana Headley, K.L. Pereira, Michael Ian Bell and Sunny Moraine. A new story is released on the magazine’s website every other Tuesday; or you can buy the complete issue in a variety of formats. The digital version also includes some nonfiction content (interviews and an editorial). Here’s the fiction TOC for March.

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New Realm March 2015 Now on Sale

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

New Realm magazine March 2015-smallI discovered New Realm last week, as I was preparing my update on magazine coverage here at Black Gate. It’s one of seven new monthly digital magazines launched at FictionMagazines.com over the past few years; the others are eFiction (literary fiction), FIVE Poetry, Heater (mystery/thriller), Nebula Rift (science fiction), Romance Magazine (romance/adult), and Under the Bed (horror).

eFiction was the first; it was started by Doug Lance in his college apartment, and published its first issue April 1st, 2010. The others were added in 2012. The magazines rely on a community to produce each issue; volunteers read and vote on story submissions, and those with the most votes end up in each issue. It’s a daring and unusual approach to short fiction publishing.

Each issue of New Realm contains five stories; there’s no non-fiction mentioned, although the guidelines talk about book reviews and interviews. Looking over the 23 monthly issues published so far, I notice two things. First, the covers, by Doug Lance and a team of artists, are excellent, easily a notch or two above most other small press fantasy magazines. Second, I don’t recognize any of the contributors, which tells me the mag is looking far afield of the usual sources to bring new voices into the genre.

The March 2015 issue contains the usual five stories. Here’s the complete table of contents.

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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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