Action Comics #1 Sells For $3,207,852 on eBay

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Action Comics Issue 1-smallIf you’ve been on eBay at all in the last ten days, you’ve probably seen banner ads for an unusual auction: a copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. Written and drawn by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action #1 was published on April 18, 1938 (cover-dated June) by National Allied Publications, the company that eventually became DC Comics. Although it had a print run of over 200,000, only some 50-100 copies of Action #1 are still known to exist.

The seller, Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Washington, had the comic professionally graded by CGC at a 9.0. Only one other copy has ever achieved a 9.0, and it sold for $2.16 million in 2011. Until yesterday, that was the highest price ever paid for a comic book. Adams didn’t restrain his enthusiasm in the auction description:

For sale here is the single most valuable comic book to ever be offered for sale, and is likely to be the only time ever offered for sale during many of our lifetimes… This is THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is…. the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.

This particular copy is the nicest that has ever been graded, with an ASTONISHING grade of CGC 9.0! To date, no copies have been graded higher and only one other copy has received the same grade. It is fair to say though that this copy blows the other 9.0 out of the water. Compared to the other 9.0 that sold for $2.1million several years ago it has significant superior eye appeal, extremely vibrant colors and PERFECT WHITE PAGES.

The auction ended at 6:00 pm Pacific time on Sunday. Bidders had to be pre-qualified and there were a total of 48 bids. The winning bid, placed 32 seconds before the end of the 10-day auction, was made by an unidentified eBay veteran with feedback from over 2,500 sellers. See the eBay auction listing here.

LonCon 3 Report: Attending the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

LONCON3_logo_270wLast weekend in London was LonCon 3, this year’s Worldcon. The convention, which has been held in various cities around the world since 1939, is where the Hugo Awards are given out and where fans from all over the globe meet up.

It was my first Worldcon, and while I’ve been to large conventions before such as World Fantasy and Eastercon, not to mention several local conventions such as Tuscon, I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was five fun days of events, conversation, and camaraderie.

The Loncon staff did a fine job making everything run smoothly. A handy pocket guide steered me around the huge convention center without a hitch, and twice-daily newssheets kept me up-to-date on any changes.

There were only a couple of small minuses. First off, the dining options at the ExCel Centre were overpriced and generally substandard. Not that this is unusual for a convention center, so I don’t blame LonCon for this!

Also, the ExCel is huge and has all the ambiance of a shopping mall. But as Robert Silverberg pointed out, “Cons aren’t about venues, they’re about people.”

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The 2014 Hugo Award Winners

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie-smallThe 2013 Hugos were awarded at LonCon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, England.

There’s a lengthy list of winners, so let’s get to it. The complete list follows.

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Best Novella

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)

Best Novelette

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (, 09-2013)

Best Short Story

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (, 02-2013)

Read More »

The 1939 Retro Hugo Award Winners Announced

Saturday, August 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sword in the Stone T. H. White-smallBack in April, we told you about the nominees for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards, for the best science fiction and fantasy first published 75 years ago.

The Hugos were first awarded at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention in 1953. The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards celebrate the finest work published in 1938, which fans would have voted on at the very first Worldcon in New York in 1939 (if the Hugos had existed in 1939).

The Retro Hugos were awarded at Luncon 3, the The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, held from Thursday, August 14th through Sunday, August 17th, in London, England. The 2014 (non-Retro) Hugos will be awarded tomorrow in a ceremony just before the close of the convention.

The Retro Hugo awards were presented by Mary Robinette Kowal and Rob Shearman.

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Best Novel:

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Collins)

Best Novella:

“Who Goes There?” by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938)

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R.I.P. Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

aladdin genie

Mork has returned to Ork; the Fisher King has departed; the Genie, after granting us the wish for laughter, is gone.

Robin Williams died Monday, an apparent suicide. The Great Jester of my parents’ generation had been battling severe depression in recent months, according to his manager. Those who have followed Williams’s decades-spanning career know that this demon was the dark side to his manic comic talent. Ironically, while he so often made us laugh, there was no healing humor left for himself yesterday. The Jester has exited the stage, leaving an echo of laughter as the curtain falls on this tragic final act.

Here is part of what James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, had to say in remembrance of Williams Monday evening on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell:

I asked him If heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?, and this is what Robin Williams said to me: “‘There’s seating near the front. The concert begins at five; it will be Mozart, Elvis, and one of your choosing.’ Or, to know that in heaven there’s laughter. That would be a great thing, just to hear God say, ‘Two Jews walk into a bar…’” And look where he went with that. In fifteen different directions at once. You know, I suppose everybody has said it already, and I’m the last to say it: we are dealing with a real-life pagliacci. This is the clown who laughed, who cried. This the clown who cried, at last, in life, and who breaks our hearts. But in the end…in the end, as so many comedians are, Robin was pagliacci

Take Advantage of a 40% Off Sale at Haffner Press

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Haffner Press Sale

Haffner Press, as we’ve mentioned once or twice before, produces top-notch archival press hardcovers collecting hard-to-find work by some of the most acclaimed writers in the genre, including Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton, Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, and many more. On Sunday, Stephen Haffner, Grand Poopah at Haffner Press, announced a sale on several of his most popular titles.

This is an unusual occurrence. In fact, in all the years I’ve been collecting Haffner Press books, I’ve never seen them conduct a sale. If you’re interested in adding a few Haffner volumes to your collection, now is definitely the time! The books on sale — including Tales From Super-Science Fiction, edited by Robert Silverberg, Leigh Brackett’s Shannach – The Last: Farewell to Mars, Henry Kuttner’s Thunder in the Void, the massive Detour to Otherness, and the four others shown above — are all 40% off.

To get the discount, you must order at least four books. But hurry — the sale runs only three days and expires on August 6th. Get complete details at the Haffner Press website.

Summer 2014 Subterranean Magazine now Available: The Final Issue

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Subterranean Summer 2014-smallI’ve always been amazed at how publisher William Schafer could produce a top-notch online magazine like Subterranean every quarter, and also run one of the most dynamic and productive small presses in the genre: Subterranean Press. I’ve published a fiction magazine and I know just how much work it is. I’ve never run a small press, much less a mini-publishing empire like Subterranean, but I imagine it must require a lot more work than a mere magazine.

That amazement compounded every quarter as the magazines appeared like clockwork — 31 issues over the last eight years. How does he do it?

Since the magazine was completely free, and yet still paid top rates, it was evidence of something more than just an admirable work ethic: a clear love of publishing, an understanding of the importance of magazines to the genre, and an enduring commitment to short fiction — all in the face of an increasingly indifferent marketplace.

So it is with considerable sadness, but no real surprise, that I note that Schafer has, with no prior fanfare, placed the words THE FINAL ISSUE on the Summer 2014 issue of Subterranean Magazine. I’m deeply disappointed that this is the last edition of one of the finest online publications the field has ever seen. But in my heart, I knew this had to come eventually and it doesn’t at all diminish what the magazine accomplished. Mr. Schafer, I salute your dedication and your amazing accomplishment.

The magazine goes out on a high note, with a fantastic table of contents, including a 33,000-word novella from Lewis Shiner, a 25,000-word novella from Kat Howard, plus novellas from Rachel Swirsky and Maria Dahvana Headley, a 16,000-word novelette from Alastair Reynolds, one of Jay Lake’s last stories, and more.

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The New York Times on How Dungeons & Dragons Influenced a Generation of Writers

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

AD&D Monster Manual-smallEthan Gilsdorf, a contributor for Gygax Magazine, wrote an intriguing feature for the Sunday New York Times last weekend. Interviewing several popular writers, Gilsdorf shows how profoundly Dungeons and Dragons, which turned 40 this year, has influenced the current generation of fantasy authors.

For certain writers, especially those raised in the 1970s and ’80s, all that time spent in basements has paid off. D&D helped jump-start their creative lives. As [Junot] Díaz said, “It’s been a formative narrative media for all sorts of writers.”

The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the “weird fiction” author China Miéville (The City & the City); Brent Hartinger (author of Geography Club, a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series (who still enjoys role-playing games)…

Mr. Díaz, who teaches writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said his first novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was written “in honor of my gaming years.” Oscar, its protagonist, is “a role-playing-game fanatic…” Though Mr. Díaz never became a fantasy writer, he attributes his literary success, in part, to his “early years profoundly embedded and invested in fantastic narratives.” From D&D, he said, he “learned a lot of important essentials about storytelling, about giving the reader enough room to play.”

Read the complete article here.

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 »

The 2014 World Fantasy Awards Ballot

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

A Natural History of Dragons A Memoir by Lady Trent-smallThe 2014 World Fantasy Awards Ballot, listing a bunch of books I haven’t read yet, has just been released.

The ballot is compiled by the voting attendees of the World Fantasy Convention, all of whom clearly read a lot more than I do. Seriously, where do you people find the time? Don’t you have blog posts to write, like normal people?

Once again, the coveted Life Achievement Award is being given to two recipients: Ellen Datlow and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I think this is a new trend. Last year, it was awarded to Susan Cooper and Tanith Lee. (I’ve read their books; at least that’s something.)

The winners in every other category will be selected by a panel of judges. Here’s the complete list of nominees, with links to the online stories (where available) and our previous coverage:

Life Achievement

  • Ellen Datlow
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Read More »

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