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New Treasures: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 | Posted by Donald Crankshaw

Midnight_thiefMy friend Livia has recently released her first novel, Midnight Thief, with Disney’s Hyperion imprint. I first met Livia at MIT, where she was studying the brain science of reading. She blogs on the topic at her blog, A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing.

I’ve always been impressed with how much effort she makes to understand the how and why of what makes stories work (see, for example, this post on the anatomy of a death scene), and to use that in her own writing, so it doesn’t surprise me that she’s gone on to sign with a major publisher.

Midnight Thief is a YA novel set in a secondary world of assassins, barbarians, and demon cats:

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he is persistent — and darkly attractive — and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Midnight Thief is available now at Amazon ($13 hard cover and $9.99 ebook), Barnes & Noble (at an identical price), and independent book sellers.


New Treasures: The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil

Monday, July 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Great Glass Sea Josh Weil-smallIn his first novel, acclaimed short story writer Josh Weil draws on tales of Slavic folklore to tell the story of two brothers in a near-future dystopian Russia. Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton, said “The Great Glass Sea is our world made uncanny; the Russian countryside of folktale and literature turned darkly luminous, menacing, and brittle.” Sounds promising to me.

Twins Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. Living on their uncle’s farm after the death of their father, the boys once spent their days helping farmers in fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle’s tales. Years later, they labor together at the Oranzheria, a sea of glass erected over acres of cropland and lit by space mirrors that ensnare the denizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight. Now the twins have only work in common — stalwart Yarik married with children, oppressed by the burden of responsibility; dreamer Dima living alone with his mother, wistfully planning the brothers’ return to their uncle’s land.

But an encounter with the Oranzerhia’s billionaire owner changes their lives forever and soon both men find themselves poster boys for opposing ideologies that threaten to destroy not only the lives of those they love but the love that has bonded them since birth.

Josh Weil is the author of the the novella collection The New Valley, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and a “5 Under 35″ Award from the National Book Foundation. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, Agni and One Story. He lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

The Great Glass Sea was published by Grove Press on July 1, 2014. It is 474 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition.


New Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014, edited by Rich Horton

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014-smallIt’s been so busy around here for the past few months that I haven’t had time to read my favorite Year’s Best book — Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014.

This is the sixth volume and it collects a whopping 35 stories, including C. S. E. Cooney’s “Martyr’s Gem” (originally published in Giganotosaurus) and fiction from Alex Dally MacFarlane, Howard Waldrop, James Patrick Kelly, Ken Liu, Robert Reed, Lavie Tidhar, Carrie Vaughn, and many others. Rich has collected stories from a wide range of top-notch publications, including Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and anthologies like Fearsome Journeys and Old Mars.

Here’s the complete table of contents.

“Social Services” by Madeline Ash (An Aura of Familiarity)
“Out in the Dark” by Linda Nagata (Analog)
“The End of the World as We Know It, and We Feel Fine” by Harry Turtledove (Analog)
“The Oracle” by Lavie Tidhar (Analog)
“Call Girl” by Tang Fei (Apex)
“Ilse, Who Saw Clearly” by E. Lily Yu (Apex)
“They Shall Salt the Earth With Seeds of Glass” by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Asimov’s)
“The Wildfires of Antarctica” by Alan De Niro (Asimov’s)
“The Discovered Country” by Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s)
“A Stranger from a Foreign Ship” by Tom Purdom (Asimov’s)

Read More »


New Treasures: There is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

There is no Lovely End-smallIt’s always a delight when one of our bloggers publishes a book. But it is a very special delight to see the brilliant Patty Templeton release her first novel, There is No Lovely End, which I have been enjoying in tiny snippets at various readings across Chicagoland for the last two years.

There is No Lovely End is a ghost book with a truly amazing cast of characters, living and dead — including Hester Garlan, once the most powerful medium in the nation, bereft of her supernatural gifts and in relentless pursuit of the boy she thinks can return them: her son Nathan; and Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, on a quest of her own to rid herself of ghosts. Not to mention a very resourceful rat named O’Neill. C.S.E. Cooney calls the novel ”a New World populated with a new kind of ghost. Templeton’s language is lavish and diabolical, as if Charles Dickens strolled into the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and came out the other end wearing ruby slippers.” How right she is.

Apparitions! Outlaws! Mediums! 1884. Nathan Garlan hears and sees the dead. Using his uncanny aptitudes to assist society and its specters, he has become the most acclaimed medium in Boston. But not all esteem him. Nathan Garlan’s own mother craves her boy butchered — and she’s not the only one…

Misery! Lust! Murder! New Haven. Sarah Winchester is the heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune and a haunted woman. She has searched for release from familial phantoms for two decades, yet found no respite. However, she has heard of a medium in Boston who regularly administers miracles…

Wit! Wonders! Outrage! Who is the Reverend Doctor Enton Blake? Why does the lawless Hennet C. Daniels search for him? What form of profane curio is a trick box — and what, precisely, does one inter within it? Will Sarah Winchester find serenity through Nathan Garlan’s services? Or will Hester Garlan find her son first?

There is No Lovely End was published on July 1st by Odd Rot. It is 444 riveting pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback, and $4.99 for the digital edition. Check out the trailer here. The cover and interior spot art are by Matthew Ryan Sharp. It gets my highest recommendation.


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:

Fiction

“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

Read More »


New Treasures: Seeker’s Bane by P.C. Hodgell

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Seeker's Bane-smallSometimes it’s handy being editor of Black Gate. For one thing, it sure keeps you in-the-know on great books. I was editing Fletcher Vredenburgh’s enthusiastic review of P. C. Hodgell’s God Stalk last October, which begins thusly:

Out of the haunted north comes Jame the Kencyr to Rathilien’s greatest city, Tai-Tastigon. From the hills above, the city appears strangely dark and silent. She arrives at its gates with large gaps in her memory and cat claws instead of fingernails. She’s carrying a pack full of strange artifacts, including a ring still on its owner’s finger… and she’s been bitten by a zombie. Wary, but in desperate need of a place to heal, Jame enters the city. So begins God Stalk, the first book in P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series and one of my absolute, bar none, don’t-bother-me-if-you-see-me-reading-it, favorite fantasy novels…

I’m so grateful Carl gave me this book thirty years ago. P.C. Hodgell seems so far below the general fantasy radar, I don’t know if I would have ever heard of her at all, which is pretty darn shameful.

Ha, I thought smugly, looking at my bookcase. Maybe she’s below the radar for most folks, but I’ve got my copy right here. Fletcher continued:

Following God Stalk came the 1985 sequel, Dark of the Moon… It’s taken nearly thirty years for the next four books to appear: Seeker’s MaskTo Ride a RathornBound in Blood, and Honor’s Paradox.

Wait, what? There are sequels? Like, five sequels? How did I not know? Are they out of print? Gahhh!

Fortunately, Baen Books to the rescue. Baen has collected the first four novels in two handsome mass market paperbacks: The God Stalker Chronicles (January 2010) and Seeker’s Bane (August 2010), both still in print. They’re a great way to get started on this terrific series, which Hodgell and Baen are continuing — I note the seventh volume, The Sea of Time, was just published last month. I just bought Seeker’s Bane and it’s a fabulous bargain: 1168 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital version. The covers are by Clyde Caldwell. Check ‘em out.


New Treasures: Resistance by Samit Basu

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Resistance Samit Basu-smallIs it just me, or did I miss the literary trend where superhero novels suddenly became a thing?

Sure, superhero novels were always around, but now it seems they’re a thriving sub-genre. Just recently we’ve covered Michael R. Underwood’s superheroes-in-a-fantasy-city Shield and Crocus, V.E. Schwab’s super-villainous Vicious, Andrew P. Mayer’s steampunk Society of Steam trilogy, Jacqueline Carey’s werewolf novel Santa Olivia, and After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn, featuring the unpowered daughter of two famous superheroes, just to name a few. Maybe it’s all those billion-dollar Marvel movies, I dunno. But something’s made superheroes hot all of a sudden.

I missed Samit Basu’s first book from Titan, the well-reviewed superhero novel Turbulence. Which is a pity, because the premise sounds very intriguing: in 2009, all the passengers on flight BA142 from London to Delhi wake up the next morning to discover they have developed extraordinary abilities. His new novel Resistance picks up the tale a decade later, as a silent killer begins to pick off the supers one by one…

How would you adapt to a world full of superhumans? And how far would you go to stop them destroying it?

In 2020, eleven years after the passengers of flight BA142 from London to Delhi developed extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires, the world is overrun with supers. Some use their powers for good, others for evil, and some just want to star in their own reality show.

But now, from New York to Tokyo, someone is hunting down supers, kidnapping heroes and villains both, and it’s up to the Unit to stop them…

Resistance was published by Titan Books on July 8, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition.


Scott Taylor’s A Knight in the Silk Purse Now Available

Monday, July 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

A Knight in the Silk Purse-smallScott Taylor’s latest anthology, A Knight in the Silk Purse, the sequel to his blockbuster, Tales of the Emerald Serpent, is now available.

If you’re a regular Black Gate reader, you’re familiar with Scott’s popular Art of the Genre column. But Scott is more than just a blogger and writer — he’s also an accomplished editor and publisher, with seven successful Kickstarter publishing projects under his belt. Inspired by classic shared world anthologies like Thieves World, Scott created the Free City of Taux, a sprawling fantasy port of “cursed stones, dark plots, and rich characters who share space inside the infamous Black Gate District,” and invited some of the genre’s most popular writers to tell its stories — including Lynn Flewelling, Juliet McKenna, Martha Wells, Julie Czerneda, Harry Connolly, and many others.

The result was Tales of the Emerald Serpent, one of the most acclaimed anthologies from last year. Lou Anders, editorial director at Pyr Books, said “I’m very impressed… it’s a smart, good looking package with some real gems of fiction inside.”

As we reported last year, Scott launched another successful Kickstarter to fund a sequel and A Knight in the Silk Purse was born — featuring virtually all of the writers from TotES, plus Dave Gross, Elaine Cunningham, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. Fans have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the second volume and now the wait is over.

Here’s the book description.

Read More »


New Treasures: The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Shadow Throne-smallGood morning, campers! And welcome to another marvelous Saturday morning. It’s raining here at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters in downtown Chicago, but that’s okay. The city could certainly use the rain — even if it did mean we had to scramble to put umbrellas over all the desks.

We don’t know the meaning of the word ‘weekend’ here at Black Gate. Our tireless quest to bring you the latest news, reviews, gossip, and innuendo means that the office has been packed all morning (and most of the previous night). Ottawa correspondent Derek Kunsken has assembled a stack of Katherine Kurtz paperbacks (and, curiously, an old issue of Dragon magazine) and is putting the finishing touches on his Saturday afternoon column. Matthew David Surridge is here — but then, that guy is always here. And Connor Gormley is over in the corner, making notes on a bunch of video games. I’m sure we’ll see the fruits of their labor in the next few days.

As for me, I’m just here to pick up some of the mail before driving back home to St. Charles. I have a Dungeons and Dragons game with my kids scheduled after lunch — the same campaign I wrote about last summer. They’re deep in the heart of Gary Gygax’s G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and it looks like the final battle against the mighty giant Chief Nosnra could finally occur today. Don’t wanna be late for that.

But there’s a handful of eye-catching new releases in the mail and I’m tempted to take a few home. The most interesting to me is Django Wexler’s The Shadow Throne, the sequel to The Thousand Names.

Read More »


New Treasures: Flight of the Golden Harpy by Susan Klaus

Monday, July 7th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Flight of the Golden Harpy-smallI picked up a copy of Susan Klaus’s debut novel over the weekend, and so far have been intrigued. It’s romantic fantasy dressed up as science fiction, in which a young woman returns to the jungle planet of Dora, where long ago she was saved by a male harpy with beautiful golden coloring. But the human colonists of Dora treat harpies like dangerous animals and hunt them like wild game.

This morning, I read a guest post by Klaus at SF Signal, where she reveals that Flight of the Golden Harpy was inspired by an encounter with Brad Pitt while she was an extra on Oceans Eleven:

The guy wasn’t a disappointment… Brad is even more gorgeous in person. After 12 hours of gawking and drooling, I learned he was also a nice, down-to-earth guy. But his looks and personality had nothing to do with my book dedication or why he’s my main man and character in my books. It came from how Brad was treated when he first walked on the set. The extras immediately mobbed him. He smiled, signed their autographs, and [posed] for their little cameras, desperately trying to appease the crushing crowd. It was sad. Even on a closed set, he was smothered and harassed. Going out in public must be a nightmare for him. Sure he’s handsome and has fame, and fortune, but is it worth a hectic stressful life with the press and fans constantly stalking and pursuing him like wild game…

I drove home and realized that good-looks can have drawbacks, especially in his case. That night I started writing my fantasy about a jungle planet with the point of view of the beautiful winged harpies, half-bird, half-human creatures that can’t understand mankind or why humans hunt and kill them for their wings that become mounted trophies on a wall. I gave Brad Pitt credit because he inspired the story, and the novel is also dedicated to our vanishing wildlife.

Flight of the Golden Harpy was published by Tor Books on June 17, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.


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