New Treasures: Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Monstrous-smallNow this looks like a cool book.

Monstrous, the debut novel from MarcyKate Connolly, features a city under the sway of dark magic, a mysterious curse… and a girl with bolts in her neck, who was built to defeat the curse and rescue the inhabitants of Byre. You can read the first 72 pages online, at the HarperCollins Web Sampler.

The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail — they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym’s life.

Reminiscent of Frankenstein and the tales of the Brothers Grimm, this debut novel by MarcyKate Connolly stands out as a compelling, original story that has the feel of a classic.

Monstrous was published by HarperCollins on February 10, 2015. It is 432 pages, priced at $16.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition.


Interzone #256 Now on Sale

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Interzone 256-smallBlack Static 44 is now on sale here in the US, and I thought it was long past time to take a look at its sister magazine Interzone, also published by TTA Press in the UK.

Interzone was founded in 1982 by a UK collective of fans that included author and critic John Clute, Take Back Plenty author Colin Greenland, Malcolm Edwards, who became the SF editor at Victor Gollancz and creator of the highly respected SF Masterworks line, and David Pringle. David Pringle eventually became the sole editor, remaining at the helm for an incredible 193 issues, until he stepped down in 2004. Since then it’s been owned by TTA Press, publishers of Black Static and Crimewave, with Andy Cox as editor.

Interzone contains chiefly science fiction but, like Asimov’s SF here in the states, does publish the occasional fantasy piece. Issue #256 is cover-dated January/February, and contains the following stories:

“Nostalgia” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
“An Advanced Guide to Successful Price-Fixing in Extraterrestrial Betting Markets” by T.R. Napper
“The Ferry Man” by Pandora Hope
“Tribute” by Christen Gholson
“Fish on Friday” by Neil Williamson

The cover this issue (titled Berenice) is by artist Martin Hanford, who has been commissioned to do all the 2015 covers. Click the cover for a bigger version. If the style looks familiar, you probably saw Hanford’s art just yesterday in our New Treasures piece on Swords of Steel.

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New Treasures: Swords of Steel edited by D.M. Ritzlin

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Swords of Steel-smallSwords of Steel is a brand new sword & sorcery anthology edited by D.M. Ritzlin, filled with stories written exclusively by heavy metal musicians. In his introduction, David C. Smith says the “idea was to create a collection of the kinds of stories you would have found in the late 1960s and 1970s — in the Swords Against Darkness anthologies, for example.” I’m a fan of Andrew Offut’s Swords Against Darkness, and I heartily approve of any effort to recapture their spirit.

Swords of Steel is an anthology of fantasy/horror adventure stories; it  includes interior illustrations and maps by a variety of artists, and poems by Sean Weingartner. There’s also an artilcle, “Headbanging Warriors,” by Black Gate‘s Thursday blogger  M Harold Page.

Mighty-thewed barbarians… vengeful lords of chaos… desolate devil-haunted ruins… carnage-soaked battlefields… forbidden spells of great power… All of these you will find in the works of authors of heroic fantasy as well as heavy metal musicians. But modern fantasy has been plagued with convoluted plots and series without end. Who better to return traditional fantasy to its former glory than the heavy metal bards?

Swords of Steel is an anthology of fantastic and horrific adventure stories, each penned by a heavy metal musician. Members of such bands as Bal-Sagoth, Manilla Road, Twisted Tower Dire, Cauldron Born, Solstice, and more — proving their talent for the written word as well as song — cut through the modern wasteland, wielding Swords of Steel.

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The IX by Andrew P. Weston

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_235511s7P3HzLYAre you old enough to remember the Kirk Douglas Saturday Night Live sketch from 1980 that asked the important question: “What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?” Well I am, and it was the first thing that popped into my head when I received a review copy of Andrew P. Weston’s new novel, The IX, from the fine people at Perseid Press. I don’t read or review much sci-fi, but they suspected, quite correctly it turns out, that this would be right up my alley.

No, modern aviation doesn’t save the famous Roman IX Legion from destruction. Instead, the IX — and a host of other soldiers from across the ages — get a chance to play with advanced weapons to stave off a massed army of energy-devouring monsters on a star far across the galaxy from Earth.

The Ardenese, a highly advanced race, rule dozens of worlds, crossing the stars in ships that rip holes in space…until they encounter an enemy they come to know only as the Horde.

First discovered on a colony world, the energy-devouring Horde manage to secrete themselves aboard Ardenese starships. One by one the colonies fall, until all that remains is the homeworld and the capital city, Rhomane.

Even protected by barriers and nearly impregnable walls, the Ardenese know they are doomed. In the end, and it is surely near, they will all die, subject to the hideous ravages of the Horde. To ensure the survival of their race, the handful of survivors turn their fates over to the Architect, a massive AI computer.

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The Future of Fantasy: March New Releases

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Buried Life-small The Devil’s Detective-small Defenders of Mankind-small

Ah, March in Chicago. The ice finally starts to melt off the porch, and you can find all that lost mail you’ve been looking for (and occasionally, a frozen postal worker.)

March is packed with exciting fantasy releases — featuring a detective in Hell, a subterranean city, a teenage boy who squares off against Deep Ones, mysterious goings-on in an old cemetery,  a new anthology of Lovecraftian fiction, and much more. Sit back and let us do our job, and fill you in on all the noteworthy fantasy fiction coming your way in the next 30 days.

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New Treasures: The Thorn of Denton Hill by Marshall Ryan Maresca

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

The Thorn of Dentonhill-smallI don’t know much about this Marshall Ryan Maresca fellow. His short fiction has appeared in Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas, and Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer.

But his debut novel sounds like a lot of fun. The Thorn of Denton Hill follows the adventures of Veranix Calbert, diligent college student by day, and crime-fighting vigilante by night. When Calbert intercepts two powerful magical artifacts owned by a local drug lord, he suddenly becomes a major player in the nighttime struggle for control of Maradaine. But he also becomes a major target…

Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle. Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

This is the first novel set in the fantasy city of Maradaine, but it won’t be the last. DAW has Maresca’s A Murder of Mages: A Novel of the Maradaine Constabulary, the first novel in a new series, on the schedule for July 7, 2015.

The Thorn of Denton Hill was published on February 3, 2015 by DAW Books. It is 400 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback ad $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Paul Young.


Black Static #44 Now on Sale

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 44-smallI stumbled on my first copy of Black Static, issue #40, at a Barnes and Noble here in Chicago last year, and I was very impressed. The magazine is beautifully designed and illustrated, with top-notch writing and some great columns. It’s exactly the kind of thing I like to take with me on long plane rides.

I’ve been tracking down subsequent issues and writing about them here, because I think you deserve to know about them. Also, because really excellent fantasy magazines are a vanishing breed, and they deserve your support. Issue #44 is cover-dated January/February, which means it’s still on sale here in the US. The fiction contents are:

“Going Back to the World” by Simon Avery
“The Absent Shade” by Priya Sharma
“The Fishers of Men” by Jackson Kuhl
“Sweet Water” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Samhain” by Tyler Keevil

Yes, that’s our own Jackson Kuhl in the TOC. Jackson’s last article for us was his review of Jeffrey E. Barlough’s The Cobbler of Ridingham, which appeared here last week. On his blog, Jackson talks a little about selling his story, “The Fishers of Men,” to a British market like Black Static:

I was a little shocked when [Black Static editor] Andy Cox accepted “Fishers;” it is a very American story and when I sent it I wasn’t sure the historical background would translate. But I suppose I don’t have to know the intricacies of lines of royal succession or the industrialization of Greater Manchester to enjoy M.R. James, Robert Aickman, or Susanna Clarke (to name the three most recent authors I’ve read), so perhaps the width of the Atlantic isn’t as great as I sometimes imagine.

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Michael Moorcock’s Fantasy Autobiography: The Whispering Swarm

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 | Posted by James McGlothlin

The Whispering Storm-smallMichael Moorcock is a giant. He is probably most famous for his Elric of Melniboné stories, but he also has written many other fine works. In addition, he is also well known for having been the editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds from 1964 to 1971. From this position Moorcock is usually credited with fostering the development of the New Wave in science fiction and fantasy.

Personally, I have been a big Moorcock fan for years and was something of a rabid devotee in junior high. I read the Elric stories over and over, almost memorized the “Melnibonéan Mythos” section of the Dungeons and Dragons Deities and Demigods book, and even bought the old Chaosium RPG Stormbringer, which was based on Moorcock’s Elric tales.

So I was incredibly excited when I heard that Moorcock was releasing a new novel, The Whispering Swarm, the first in a new trilogy. Having just finished it, I have to say that it is one of the most unique books I have ever read. Described in a sentence: It’s part fantasy and it purports be part autobiographical.

What?!

I think a little light can be shed on the book’s conception with the following.

StarShipSofa, the excellent British science fiction podcast and website, interviewed Moorcock back in 2008 (if you’re interested, you can watch it here). At one point in the interview, Moorcock relates that his publisher thought he should write a memoir. But Moorcock admits that he is very reticent to do so because many of the people he would be writing about are still alive, and he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings — nor did he want to get into any “he said vs. she said” controversies.

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New Treasures: Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Island 731-smallTwo weeks ago, we announced the winners of our contest to suggest who should be writing the Cthulhu Mythos today. Each of the winners received a copy of the new anthology Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth. One of the more intriguing entries came from Donald Nutting, who wrote:

Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson had me curled up in the fetal position whimpering and scared for my life; if he can do that about a kaiju, then he could do it with Cthulhu.

I had to admit I wasn’t familiar with Jeremy Robinson, but it didn’t take long to rectify that. I tracked down a copy of Island 731, released in paperback last February. I’m not sure how I missed it, because it looks right up my alley.

Mark Hawkins, former park ranger and expert tracker, is on board a research vessel on the Pacific. But his work is interrupted when the ship is plagued by a series of strange malfunctions and the crew is battered by a raging storm… The next morning, the beaten crew awakens to find themselves anchored in the protective cove of a tropical island — and no one knows how they got there. The ship has been sabotaged, two crewmen are dead, and a third is missing. Hawkins spots signs of the missing man onshore and leads a small team to bring him back. But they soon discover evidence of a brutal history left behind by the island’s former occupants: Unit 731, Japan’s ruthless World War II human experimentation program. As more of his colleagues start to disappear, Hawkins begins to realize the horrible truth: That Island 731 was never decommissioned and the person preying on his crewmates may not be a person at all — not anymore…

Jeremy Robinson is also the author of seven Jack Sigler thrillers, including the latest, Cannibal, on sale in hardcover this month. Island 731 was published in hardcover on March 26, 2013, and in paperback by St. Martin’s Press on February 25, 2014. It is 384 pages, priced at $7.99 for both the paperback and digital versions.


Twenty Years of Smart Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Tachyon Publications Catalog

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

THE TREASURY OF THE FANTASTIC-small The Uncertain Places-small The Best of Michael Moorcock-small

While I was at the World Fantasy Convention last November, I kept being irresistibly sucked into the Dealers Room. Seriously, the place was like a giant supermarket for fantasy fans. There were thousands of new and used books on display from dozens of vendors — books piled high on tables, books crammed into bookshelves, books being pressed into your hands by enthusiastic sellers.

When I came home I moped around for a few days, and then mocked up some HTML pages with dozens of thumbnail jpegs of books so I could pretend I was still at the convention. I waved a crisp twenty dollar bill in front of my computer screen and said things like, “I’ll take the new Moorcock collection, my good man.” I even haggled over the price of The Treasury of the Fantastic. Truly, it felt like I was there.

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