Tune in Tomorrow (Solaris, August 23, 2022), and the author
The pandemic was really quite good to me.
Don’t get into a snit – there are caveats: The horrible ongoing forever pandemic was terrible for everybody, including me. Millions had their lives wrecked, or died, and if the “quite good” experience I had could be swapped for a retcon in which “Covfefe” was as close as we ever got to saying “COVID,” I’d do it in a hot second.
Since that isn’t happening, let’s start again.
The pandemic was actually quite good for my debut novel, Tune in Tomorrow. See, back in 2020 I received an email from my agent saying that a publisher was interested in publishing the book, with a few alterations. Was I game?
As someone who struggled for decades to get a damn novel published, the answer was a quick, “Hell yes!”
World Breakers (Baen mass market reprint, July 26, 2022). Cover by Dominic Harman
If you’re one of the (very few) folks who pay attention when I complain, you know that I frequently lament the decline of the mass market science fiction anthology. Book store shelves used to be full of ’em, and nowadays they’ve all but vanished. Folks don’t have an appetite for short fiction these days, at least not in the way they used to. And that’s a shame — anthologies are a great way to discover new writers, fil the time when you can’t commit to a longer work, and just read some great stories.
Tony Daniel and Christopher Ruocchio previously edited Star Destroyers (2018) for Baen, and with Baen senior editor Hank Davis, Ruocchio has produced nearly half a dozen others, including Space Pioneers (2018), Sword & Planet (2021), and Time Troopers (2022). Last year Daniel and Ruocchio released World Breakers, a collection of original stories of super tanks, and what did I find in my local bookstore last week but a handsome and affordable mass market edition. Civilization isn’t dead after all.
The Jasmine Throne and The Oleander Sword (Orbit, June 2021 and August 2022). Covers by Micah Epstein
The Jasmine Throne, the opening volume in Tasha Suri’s Burning Kingdoms fantasy epic, was named one of the best books of 2021 by Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Public Library. The second installment, The Oleander Sword, is due August 16, and early reviews have only heightened the anticipation. This is shaping up to be one of the major fantasy series of the decade.
Suri is also the author of two well-received fantasy volumes, Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash — though, as Liz Bourke at Tor.com points out in her review of The Jasmine Throne, “[I] admired them as well-constructed epic fantasy with a strong romantic component, but they never made me feel like this — gobsmacked, a little awestruck, violently satisfied, painfully engaged.”
Never the Wind (Titan Books, June 2022). Cover design by Julia Lloyd
I first learned about Francesco Dimitri’s new novel Never the Wind when I heard Paul Tremblay describe it as “”Susanna Clarke meets Robert Aikman,” not exactly a description I hear every day. Publishers Weeklycalls it “truly spooky…plenty here to fascinate fans of cerebral horror.”
That was more than enough to pique my interest. I set out to learn more and quickly found Dimitri’s guest post at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, My Favorite Bit:, where he discusses the narrative use of magic. It certainly cemented my interest — but I also found the way he approached magic on the page fascinating, and enormously useful for anyone using the supernatural in fiction.
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance (Tor, July 26, 2022)
Foz Meadows is conquering the world.
She won a Hugo Award in 2019 (as she puts it, “for yelling on the internet”), and she’s been a widely acclaimed essayist and blogger — at Strange Horizons, The Huffington Post, and Black Gate, among many other fine places — for nearly a decade. Her fantasy novel An Accident of Stars and its sequel A Tyranny of Queens were publishedby Angry Robot in 2016/17, and last year Tor Books announced they’d acquired her massive new fantasy novel, A Strange and Stubborn Endurance.
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance finally arrives next week and, if the early buzz is anything to go by, it’s shaping up to be one of the major fantasy novels of year. Publishers Weeklycalls it “lushly drawn fantasy romance… skillfully integrates gripping mystery and satisfying slow-burn romance,” and Library Journalproclaims it ““an emotionally gripping, delightful queer fantasy filled with political intrigue.” But my favorite notice came from SF Chronicle, which heralds Foz as “newly minted royalty of sci-fi fantasy.”
This January Black Gate teased a second publication from the Rogues in the House Sword & Sorcery podcast while we covered the folks/rogues behind the show and highlighted episodes (Go Rogues! link). Beyond luring in S&S authors like Howard Andrew Jones, Scott Oden, John R. Fultz, and Jason Ray Carney, they’ve covered Morgan King & Phil Gelatt (creators of the movie The Spine of Night), Peter D. Adkison (founder and first CEO of Wizards of the Coast and owner of GenCon, the world’s largest board game convention), and Sara Frazetta (granddaughter of the fantasy master painter, an artist herself, and CEO of Frazetta Girls).
Now the anthology has been released into the wild. A Book of Blades hosts 15 short stories from established and emerging heroic authors! Check out the table of contents below. There are even illustrations from the aforementioned Morgan Galen King & Sara Frazetta, amongst other artists. All proceeds go toward making the show a stronger and more attractive platform for all. The anthology is available now in Paperback and Kindle. …
The Sun Eaters series (so far): Empire of Silence, Howling Dark, Demon in White, and Kingdoms of Death. All published by DAW. Covers by Sam Weber (book 1) and Kieran Yanner (books 2-4).
Every time an author completes a fantasy trilogy, we bake a cake at Black Gate headquarters. I can’t comment on anyone else, but speaking personally, this job has kept me fat for over a decade. I have no complaints.
The corporate protocol is a little fuzzier when an author produces four books in a series (though I did see Bob Byrne attempt a souffle last month.) And when we see that rare fivebook milestone? I can’t remember the last time it happened, but I think it involved ice cream and a catapult.
We better figure it out soon, though. The fifth and final book in Christopher Ruocchio’s groundbreaking Sun Eater series is scheduled to arrive this year, and it will bring to a close one of the most popular and acclaimed space operas of the decade. Library Journal called the opening volume a “wow book… stretched across a vast array of planets,” and Eric Flint labeled it “epic-scale space opera in the tradition of Iain M. Banks and Frank Herbert’s Dune.” It won Ruocchio the 2019 Manly Wade Wellman Award.
Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters and Corpsemouth and
Other Autobiographies (Word Horde, July 5, 2022). Covers by Matthew Jaffe
John Langan is one of the fast-rising stars of modern horror. His first collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in 2008; more nominations followed for collections Sefira and Other Betrayals (2019) and Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies (2020). His second novel The Fisherman won a Stoker in 2016.
Ross E. Lockhart’s Word Horde press, which has been publishing Langan since 2016, just released his fourth collection and simultaneously reprinted his first. Here’s what Ross tells me about them:
John Langan’s first collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (2008), marked him as an exemplary new voice in horror, and an author to watch. I’m pleased to publish a new edition of this classic collection (now with an additional story), alongside John’s latest collection, Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies. Between these two books, a reader can chart the course of John’s evolution as a writer, as well as explore the themes and threads binding his work together. Most of all, one can see that John Langan remains an author worth exploring.
This sounds like an entirely excellent way to spend the next few evenings. Here’s a closer look at both volumes.
The Ballad of Perilous Graves (Redhook, June 21, 2022)
What’s the best thing about knowing writers on Facebook? They’re always talking about books, that’s what. Yesterday P. Djèlí Clark (A Master of Djinn, The Haunting of Tram Car 015) tipped me off to a great new debut fantasy by Alex Jennings.
The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings — featuring a New Orleans of sky trolleys, living graffiti, trans dimensional portals, and terrifying haints — gotta be one of the most amazing books I’ve read in a minute. Magical, lyrical, gritty, otherworldly… sh*t is hype like Bayou Classic in the 90s, set to song. Put this on your list for the summer.
Okay, that doesn’t tell you much about the plot. Social media ain’t perfect. Besides, we’re Black Gate, we have a staff of investigative reporters for that.
Kagen the Damned (St. Martin’s Griffin, May 10, 2022). Cover design by Bob Grom
Jonathan Maberry is a prolific guy, with dozens of science fiction and horror novels under his belt — including ten volumes in the popular Joe Ledger series, which Brandon Crilly described in his Black Gate review as “filled with a host of deeply-imagined heroes and villains… Every novel features some sort of established horror premise and gives it a mad science twist.” As a fervent supporter of mad science, that’s definitely an endorsement I can get behind.
Kagen the Damned is Maberry’s first straight-up adventure fantasy, and it looks like a winner. Publishers Weeklycalls it “gripping… peppered with figures from European folklore and monsters from the Cthulhu mythos,” and Fantasy Book Criticdescribes it as “a violent pulp read, fast and furious, with fantastic ideas and creepy mythos.” In true adventure-fantasy style, it’s the first installment of an epic fantasy series, and that’s okay by me. Here’s an excerpt from the notice at Kirkus Reviews, which labels it “a vibrant, textured, and exciting admixture of subgenres.”