Black Static #43 Now on Sale

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 43-smallBlack Static is a British magazine of dark fantasy and horror, edited by Andy Cox. It used to be called The 3rd Alternative, until it was acquired by TTA Press, the publishers of Interzone and Crimewave, and was relaunched as Black Static in 2007.

I reported on the first issues of Black Static I purchased, issues 40 and 41, back in October. I enjoyed both, and thought the magazine was deserving of regular coverage here at Black Gate. (Besides, we Black publications need to stick together.)

The November–December issue contains short stories by Ralph Robert Moore, Usman T. Malik, Simon Bestwick, Annie Neugebauer, Andrew Hook, and Aliya Whiteley. The cover, for Ralph Robert Moore’s ‘Drown Town,’ is by Ben Baldwin; interior illustrations are by Ben Baldwin, Tara Bush and Dave Senecal.

The magazine’s regular columns include Coffinmaker’s Blues by Stephen Volk and Blood Pudding by Lynda E. Rucker (comment); Blood Spectrum by Tony Lee (DVD/Blu-ray reviews); and Case Notes by Peter Tennant (book reviews). This month Tennant’s column includes a lengthy interview with James Cooper.

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New Treasures: Vacant by Alex Hughes

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Vacant Alex Hughes-smallAlex C. Hughes’s Mindspace Investigations series has now reached Book 4, and I think it’s time I checked them out. The Parkersburg, WV News and Sentinel calls her novels “Science fiction mixed into an almost pulp-noir setting… a great series,” and that’s enough to catch my attention. The books are futuristic murder mysteries set 60 years after devastating Tech Wars nearly destroyed the planet. Adam, an ex-addict kicked out of the Telepath’s Guild, is now working for the police, gradually re-building his shattered reputation with a series of adventures that James Knapp calls “A fun blend of Chinatown and Blade Runner.”

Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes — especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.

I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”

Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…

Vacant was published by Roc Books on December 2, 2014. It is 337 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition.

Check Out The Goon in For Want of Whiskey and Blood

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Goon For Want of Whiskey and Blood-smallEric Powell’s The Goon is one of the most original — not to mention funniest — comics on the market.

When I was still visiting comic shops regularly it was always on my pull list, right alongside Courtney Crumrin and Atomic Robo. The Goon is the story of a none-too-swift hired muscle man (named only “the Goon”) who’s left high and dry when the gangster he works for dies suddenly. With nothing left to lose, the Goon simply continues the racket set up by his boss, collecting protection money from local businesses in a small American city.

When a zombie invasion threatens the inhabitants, the Goon does what he does best… provide protection. Soon most of the city falls into chaos, with the exception of those few square blocks under the Goon’s protection. The constant scheming of the Zombie Priest and his various minions to get rid of the Goon and seize total control of the town provides most of the drama (and the comedy). The art is top-notch, and Powell has shown a real talent for surprisingly touching storylines.

Truth to tell, I had stopped buying The Goon trade paperbacks, because I had heard the issues were being collected in deluxe hardcover Library Editions. Not sure what happened to those plans, so now I’m back to catching up with the regularly issued trade collections. For Want of Whiskey and Blood is the 13th volume, and it collects issues #42 — #45 of the ongoing comic.

The return of the Zombie Priest, a Latin-tongued Godzilla, drunk sailors, and a Halloween visit from Billy the Kid are just a few of the special tricks and treats for Goon and company in this new collection from Eric Powell, which Comic Book Resources calls, “the product of a contentedly demented mind.”

The Goon Volume 13: For Want of Whiskey and Blood was written and drawn by Eric Powell and published by Dark Horse Books on October 21, 2014. It is 128 pages in full color, priced at $16.99. Check it out.

New Treasures: Ahriman: Exile by John French

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Ahriman Exile-smallI’ve been listening to Horus Heresy audiobooks during my daily commute recently. They’re a heck of a lot of fun, and Black Library does an absolutely stellar job with them — not just by choosing top-notch readers (which they do), but also with excellent music and sound effects. They’re more like audio plays than books-on-tape… battles ring with bolter fire and explosions, and tense chases are punctuated by heavy footsteps, distant echoes, and static-laden vox transmissions. Twice I’ve almost missed the freeway exit on the way into work, and that’s usually a sign that the book I’m listening to has complete command of my attention.

One of the better audiobooks I listened to over the summer was Graham McNeill’s A Thousand Sons, read by the talented Martyn Ellis. It has a huge cast, but one of the more interesting characters was Ahzek Ahriman, the faithful Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons Legion. Ahriman is noble and self-sacrificing almost to a fault, and the destruction of his legion at the end of that book is a great tragedy. When I finished A Thousand Sons I looked around for similar books, and I was surprised to find that Ahriman featured prominently in several other Warhammer 40K novels. I was even more surprised to find that, in almost every case — such as Atlas Infernal by Rob Sanders, or C.S. Goto’s Dawn of War trilogy — Ahriman is the villain, a relentless and feared Chaos Sorcerer. How did that happen?

John French, who has written for the Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy role playing games, sets out to answer that question with a trilogy of books that follows the history of Ahriman after the events of A Thousand Sons, and Ahriman’s exile into the Eye of Terror. The first volume, Ahriman: Exile, was released in 2013; the second, Ahriman: Sorcerer, was published this week.

A Chaos Space Marine Sorcerer seeks the power of the gods.

All is dust… Spurned by his former brothers and his father Magnus the Red, Ahriman is a wanderer, a sorcerer of Tzeentch whose actions condemned an entire Legion to an eternity of damnation. Once a vaunted servant of the Thousand Sons, he is now an outcast, a renegade who resides in the Eye of Terror. Ever scheming, he plots his return to power and the destruction of his enemies, an architect of fate and master of the warp.

Ahriman: Exile was published by Games Workshop on July 2, 2013. It is 416 pages, priced at $14 in trade paperback. There is no digital edition.

Future Treasures: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

Monday, January 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Gemini Cell-smallMyle Cole carved out a unique niche with his popular Shadow Ops novels, ultra-realistic military SF crossed with superheroes. Along the way he picked up a reputation for telling intricate, fast-action stories with rich characters.

So I was very intrigued to receive a copy of his newest novel today. The first in a Shadow Ops prequel series, Gemini Cell is set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel. Featuring a Navy SEAL forcibly returned to duty from beyond the grave, Gemini Cell looks like another epic adventure as only Myke Cole can tell.

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself — and his family — in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty — as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark — especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Myke Cole’s short story “Naktong Flow” appeared in Black Gate 13. His first novel was Shadow Ops: Control Point; our roving reporter Patty Templeton interviewed him shortly after it was published. He looked at the hard facts of selling a fantasy series in his Black Gate essay “Selling Shadow Point.” We last covered Myke’s work with Shadow Ops: Breach Zone.

Gemini Cell will be published on January 27 by Ace Books. It is 366 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Larry Rostant.

Win a Copy of Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, edited by Stephen Jones

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Shadows Over Innsmouth-small Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth-small Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth-small

Back in October we gave away free copies of The Madness of Cthulhu, the new horror anthology from Titan Books, to three lucky winners. Contestants submitted short comments on their favorite H.P. Lovecraft story, and we announced the winners alongside all the best entries on Oct 27th, in The Best One-Sentence Reviews of H.P. Lovecraft.

I’m very pleased to report that Titan Books has another horror anthology in the works, and they’ve once again offered us copies to give away. Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, edited by Stephen Jones, will be released on January 27. It’s the sequel to two earlier volumes, the World Fantasy Award nominee Shadows Over Innsmouth (1994), and Stoker and World Fantasy nominee Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth (2005). Both were returned to print in matching trade paperback editions by Titan Books in 2013.

Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth collects fifteen recent tales of Lovecraftian horror, many of them original to this volume, alongside “Innsmouth Clay,” a 1971 tale by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, and a poem by H.P. Lovecraft. Contributors include Caitlín R. Kiernan, Kim Newman, Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, Brian Lumley, Brian Hodge, Ramsey Campbell, and Adrian Cole.

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New Treasures: Stomping Grounds, edited by Neil Baker

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Stomping Grounds Apirl Moon Books-smallApril Moon Books is a new press, but they’re not acting like it.

They’ve produced two of the most innovative — and frankly, most fun — anthologies of the past year, The Dark Rites of Cthulhu and Amok! Editor Neil Baker explains the concept at the heart of their newest release in his introduction:

Just one look at the face of Calvin as he stamps through a sandbox city while Hobbes looks on aghast, or the sheer, unadulterated joy of Stitch as he trashes a carefully constructed city in Lilo’s bedroom, reveals the stark truth; it must be a hell of a lot of fun to reduce a city to rubble under your mighty, scaled feet.

Stomping Grounds is the second volume of Short Sharp Shocks, April Moon’s short fiction horror line. The third, Ill-considered Expeditions, featuring tales of exploration and derring-do gone horribly wrong, will be released in April.

Stomping Grounds includes 17 short stories celebrating the joy of rampaging giant monsters from CJ Henderson, Aaron Smith, Michael Thomas-Knight, D.G. Sutter, and many others.

Here’s the book description.

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New Treasures: The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Inheritance Trilogy Jemisin-smallIt’s tough to come up with a title for a new fantasy trilogy these days. Titles are like web domains — all the good ones are taken, and most of the not-so-good ones, too. As Scott Adams had noted, if you want a completely original title (or web domain) nowadays, you’re stuck with a shrinking number of phrases that resemble monkey sounds.

Take “The Inheritance Trilogy.” The title has already been used a few times — mostly famously for the first three novels of Christopher Paolini’s best selling fantasy series, which began with Eragon. It’s also the name of an Ian Douglas military SF trilogy beginning with Star Strike, published from 2008-2009, as another example.

Well, we all know that good things come in threes. So I wasn’t all that surprised to see the omnibus volume of N.K. Jemisin’s first fantasy series published under the name The Inheritance Trilogy last month. If you can’t be original, go for something popular.

Titles aside, the omnibus volume of The Inheritance Trilogy is definitely a book you want on your shelf. Modern fantasy is a vibrant and exciting field, and talented new writers are emerging all the time, but precious few of them hold a candle to Jemisin. She is one of the most gifted fantasy writers I have come across in a very long time, and this new one-volume edition contains the complete text of her first three novels, in a single affordable (and massive) package.

The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus includes the novels The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of Gods. As a special bonus, it also includes a brand new novella set in the same world, The Awakened Kingdom, which appears here for the first time.

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New Treasures: The King’s Deryni by Katherine Kurtz

Monday, January 12th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The King's Deryni-smallThe very first Deryni novel — and Katherine Kurtz’s first published novel — was Deryni Rising, which appeared as part of Lin Carter’s prestigious Ballantine Adult Fantasy line in 1970. Keith West has been gradually working his way through the entire BAF line, and I found what he said about Deryni Rising very compelling.

When Lin Carter started the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line, he began by reprinting works that were obscure and/or considered classic in the field at that time, but as he wrote in the introduction to Deryni Rising, he had hoped from the very beginning to be able to publish high quality new works as well. The first original fiction he published was Deryni Rising, the first novel by Katherine Kurtz.

I think he hit the ball out of the park when he selected this one.

Read Keith’s complete comments here.

Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels were some of the most popular fantasy novels of the 20th Century. Deryni Rising has been reprinted over 10 times, and more recent volumes in the series have hit the New York Times bestseller list. The series is still being published and now consists of five trilogies, a stand-alone novel, two collections of short stories, and a pair of reference books.

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New Treasures: Dangerous Games edited by Jonathan Oliver

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Dangerous Games Jonathan Oliver-smallTime for another New Treasure. This time, I’m in the mood for an anthology — one I can really sink my teeth into. Fortunately, I think I have just the thing.

The latest anthology from Solaris, Dangerous Games, collects original short fiction from Chuck Wendig, Lavie Tidhar, Paul Kearney, Pat Cadigan, and many others, on a theme near and dear to my heart: games.

In a world of chances, one decision can bring down the house, one roll of the dice could bring untold wealth, or the end of everything. In this anthology of all new short stories the players gather, their stories often dark, and always compelling.

The players and the played, this new anthology from Jonathan Oliver (Magic, End of The Road, House of Fear, The End of The Line, World War Cthulhu) brings together brand new stories from an international team of talented authors, each with their own deadly game. This collection is set to include a full house of top authors including Hugo award-winning American writer Pat Cadigan, Brit Gary McMahon, Mexican Silvia Moreno Garcia, plus Tade Thompson, Rebecca Levene and more!

We’ve covered several excellent anthologies from Solaris recently, including Ian Whates’s Solaris Rising, Solaris Rising 2, Solaris Rising 3, and two from Jonathan Strahan’s — his SF books Engineering InfinityEdge of Infinity, and Reach for Infinity, and his fantasy volumes Fearsome Journeys and Fearsome Magics.

Dangerous Games was edited by Jonathan Oliver and published by Solaris Books on December 2, 2014. It is 320 pages, priced at $9.99 in paperback and $7.99 for the digital version.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.

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