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Last Chance to Win a Copy of The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Four from Haffner Press

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Collected Edmond Hamilton Volume Four-smallIn a moment of weakness earlier this month, I decided to give away a copy of the long-awaited fourth volume of The Collected Edmond Hamilton from Haffner Press. Too late to back out now. How do you win one, you lucky dog? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the title “Edmond Hamilton” and a one-sentence review of your favorite Hamilton novel or short story. And don’t forget to mention what story you’re reviewing.

That’s it. One winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries and we’ll publish the best reviews here on the Black Gate blog.

But time is running out — the contest closes April 18. If you need more inspiration. we recently covered several Edmond Hamilton books — including Starwolf and The Best of Edmond Hamilton — and we reprinted his very first story, “The Monster-God of Mamurth” (from the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales) in Black Gate 2.

Haffner’s archival-quality hardcovers  — including The Complete John Thunstone by Manly Wade Wellman; Henry Huttner’s Detour to Otherness, Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner, Volume One, and Thunder in the Void; Leigh Brackett’s Shannach – The Last: Farewell to Mars; and Robert Silverberg’s Tales From Super-Science Fiction — are some of the most collectible books in the genre and you won’t want to miss this one.

All entries become the property of New Epoch Press. No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. Decisions of the judges (capricious as they may be) are final. Not valid where prohibited by law. Or anywhere postage for a hefty hardcover is more than, like, 10 bucks

The Reign of the Robots, The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Four was published by Haffner Press on December 30, 2013. It is 696 pages, priced at $40 in hardcover. There is no digital edition. Learn more here.


Forgotten Treasures of the Pulps: Tony Rome, Private Eye

Friday, April 11th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Miami HaleMiami PBOThe paperback original (PBO to collectors) was the immediate successor to the pulp magazine as the home of pulp fiction. Marvin Albert was one of the bright lights of the paperback original market for detective fiction.

Albert’s work is revered in France, where he is considered a master of the hardboiled form, but he is largely forgotten stateside since his work lacks the literary polish of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler and was never shocking like Mickey Spillane. Albert may not have broken new ground, but he did excel at crafting hardboiled private eye stories in the classic tradition from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Much like Max Allan Collins or Michael Avallone, he also supplemented his income by adapting screenplays as movie tie-in novels for the paperback original market. Oddly enough, Albert specialized in bedroom farces for his movie tie-in assignments, in sharp contrast to his tough guy crime novels and westerns.

Albert utilized a number of pseudonyms during his career (although many of these titles were reprinted under his real name towards the end of his life). He published three hardboiled mysteries featuring a tough private eye called Tony Rome in the early 1960s. The books were published under the byline of Anthony Rome, as if to suggest the tales being told were real cases.

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Kirkus Looks at The Meteoric Rise and Fall of Gnome Press

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

judgment-nightThe legendary Gnome Press, founded by David Kyle and Martin Greenberg in 1948, put some of the most important SF and fantasy ever written between hard covers for the first time — including C.L. Moore’s Judgment Night and Shambleau and Others, The Coming of Conan and Conan the Conqueror by Robert E. Howard, Clifford D. Simak’s City, Robert A. Heinlein’s Sixth Column and Methuselah’s Children, Two Sought Adventure by Fritz Leiber, plus Arthur C. Clarke, Edward E. Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Leigh Brackett, Murray Leinster, A. E. van Vogt, and dozens of others. It kept the genre’s most important writers in print, at a time when they appeared only in magazines, and in the process introduced them to a whole new generation.

Andrew Liptak at Kirkus Reviews has dug into the history of the press with an excellent piece, part of his ongoing look at the origins of SF and fantasy in America. Here’s his retelling of one of Gnome Press’s most famous acquisitions:

In 1950, Isaac Asimov began looking for a new home for some of his short stories… Rebuffed by his current publisher, Doubleday (who wanted new material, rather than repackaged short stories), Asimov approached Greenberg, who was eager to publish his stories. Asimov pulled together nine of his robot stories… into a single volume called I, Robot. Gnome released the collection at the end of 1950, with some of the stories reworked to include his character, Susan Calvin, telling a larger story of the evolution of robotics. The collection was a successful one, and Asimov brought Greenberg another series of books for which he would be well known: Foundation. First serialized in magazines, Gnome brought Asimov’s Foundation trilogy to hardcover between 1951 and 1953.

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Win a Copy of The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Four from Haffner Press

Friday, April 4th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Collected Edmond Hamilton Volume Four-smallHaffner Press has released the long-awaited fourth volume of The Collected Edmond Hamilton and we have a copy to give away to one lucky winner.

How do you enter? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the title “Edmond Hamilton” and a one-sentence review of your favorite Hamilton novel or short story (don’t forget to mention the title of the story). One winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries and we’ll publish the best reviews here on the Black Gate blog. To give you the idea, here’s my one-sentence review of my favorite Hamilton story, “The Man Who Evolved.” (read the complete story here)

Arthur Wright and Hugh Dutton visit Dr. John Pollard on the night he first tests a ray that allows him to experience millions of years of human evolution… and witness a deadly experiment that threatens the entire human race.

See how easy that was? If you need more inspiration. we recently covered several Edmond Hamilton books — including Starwolf and The Best of Edmond Hamilton — and we reprinted his very first story, “The Monster-God of Mamurth” (from the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales) in Black Gate 2.

All entries become the property of New Epoch Press. No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. Decisions of the judges (capricious as they may be) are final. Not valid where prohibited by law. Or anywhere postage for a hefty hardcover is more than, like, 10 bucks. Seriously, this thing is huge and postage is killing me.

The Reign of the Robots, The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Four was published by Haffner Press on December 30, 2013. It is 696 pages, priced at $40 in hardcover. There is no digital edition. Learn more at the Haffner website.


The Thankless World of the Continuation Author

Friday, April 4th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

black-eyed blonde hi res cover.JPGblack_eyed_blondeDespite the title, this article is not intended as a forum for a continuation author to lament how unforgiving his critics are. Bad reviews are an inevitability and, in this instance, I’m the one bad-mouthing another continuation writer. I do not feel pangs of guilt, since the author in question is not only talented, but very successful and lauded in his industry. In other words, I’m an insignificant mouse picking on an elephant and that hopefully protects me from charges of betraying one of my own.

I recently read Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde, the first Philip Marlowe continuation novel in nearly 25 years. I can think of only one nice thing to say about the book and that is at long last Robert B. Parker need no longer be disparaged as the man who wrote the two worst Philip Marlowe mysteries. I am a fan of Black’s original historical mysteries, but my familiarity with his work did nothing to convince me he was a good choice to revive Raymond Chandler’s classic private eye hero, particularly when a talent such as Ace Atkins is active in the field writing new Spenser mysteries that do justice to the originals.

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New Treasures: The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dark Eidolon and Other FantasiesAt long last, Clark Ashton Smith gets a little respect.

The highly regarded Penguin Classics line — which scholars and teachers love to rely on when drawing up things like course reading lists — has been slow to embrace pulp writers, and especially pulp fantasy writers. But in the last decade or so they’ve been correcting that oversight, starting with Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, Oct. 1999, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, Oct. 2001, and more.) They’ve done a little better with other fantasy writers, including Lord Dunsany (In the Land of Time: And Other Fantasy Tales, February 2004), Arthur Machen, Shirley Jackson, M. R. James, and others.

Much of this has been the result of the efforts of editor S.T. Joshi, who now brings Penguin Classics their very first pulp sword & sorcery collection, gathering together the best work of the great Clark Ashton Smith.

Called “unexcelled by any other writer, dead or living” by H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, a prolific poet, amateur philosopher, bizarre sculptor, and unmatched storyteller, simply wrote like no one else. Now, The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies, the much-awaited collection of poetry and prose from Clark Ashton Smith, introduces him into the Classics as a cosmic master artist who saw horror and wonder in all things, and in whose pen note a single sentence was safe.

This collection of his very best tales and poems, selected and introduced by supernatural literature scholar S.T. Joshi, allows readers to encounter Smith’s visionary brand of fantastical, phtantasmagorical worlds, each one filled with invention, terror, and a superlative sense of metaphysical wonder. The volume’s title story — a revenge tale that ends with macrocosmic stallions returning to trample a house they had formerly spared — is set in Smith’s Zothique story circle, in which the last inhabited continent on Earth watches humanity at the end-time regress to a pre-modern state.

The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies was published by Penguin Books on March 25. It is 370 pages — including 32 pages of Explanatory Notes on the stories by Joshi — and priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.


Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Island of Fu Manchu, Part Four

Friday, March 28th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

island titanisland zebraSax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu and the Panama Canal was first serialized in Liberty Magazine from November 16, 1940 to February 1, 1941. It was published in book form as The Island of Fu Manchu by Doubleday in the US and Cassell in the UK in 1941. The book serves as a direct follow-up to Rohmer’s 1939 bestseller, The Drums of Fu Manchu, and is again narrated by Fleet Street journalist, Bart Kerrigan.

The final quarter of the novel sees Rohmer really deliver the goods with Kerrigan and Sir Denis Nayland Smith successfully infiltrating the Haitian voodoo ceremony of Queen Mamaloi. While similar scenes had occurred in the past at various clandestine gatherings of the Si-Fan, the sequence most closely resembles the gathering of the followers of El Mahdi in 1932’s The Mask of Fu Manchu. Rohmer’s mastery of the art of suspense writing makes the reader believe the heroes are in genuine danger. While this is no small feat, considering the number of times Rohmer had penned similar scenes in the past, part of the success here is down to the climactic revelation of the voodoo Queen Mamaloi.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Island of Fu Manchu, Part Three

Friday, March 21st, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

82island corgiSax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu and the Panama Canal was first serialized in Liberty Magazine from November 16, 1940 to February 1, 1941. It was published in book form as The Island of Fu Manchu by Doubleday in the US and Cassell in the UK in 1941. The book serves as a direct follow-up to Rohmer’s 1939 bestseller The Drums of Fu Manchu and is again narrated by Fleet Street journalist, Bart Kerrigan.

The second half of the book gets underway with Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Sir Lionel Barton, Bart Kerrigan, and the local Panamanian police chief holding a council of war to discuss the enigmatic Lou Cabot. A meeting is arranged by Kerrigan and Sir Denis with the dancer Flammario, who is Cabot’s former lover. Cabot is involved with the Si-Fan and has run afoul of Dr. Fu Manchu. Both the Devil Doctor and Flammario wish to see Cabot dead.

Flammario is meant to recall Zarmi from the third Fu Manchu novel, 1917′s The Hand of Fu Manchu, but she is more bitter than seductive. The exotic dancer leads Smith and Kerrigan to Cabot’s apartment. Unfortunately, the Si-Fan had the advantage and arrived before them. The place is in a shambles and they discover Cabot’s hideously mangled corpse. Kerrigan spies Ardatha’s ring on a shelf and knows that his lost love has fallen back into the Si-Fan’s clutches.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Island of Fu Manchu, Part Two

Friday, March 14th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

island cassell 1955island comic bookSax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu and the Panama Canal was first serialized in Liberty Magazine from November 16, 1940 to February 1, 1941. It was published in book form as The Island of Fu Manchu by Doubleday in the US and Cassell in the UK in 1941. The book serves as a direct follow-up to Rohmer’s 1939 bestseller, The Drums of Fu Manchu, and is again narrated by Fleet Street journalist, Bart Kerrigan.

The second quarter of the novel begins with Ardatha phoning Kerrigan just before his planned departure for his mission abroad. She shares Fu Manchu’s itinerary with him in the hopes Kerrigan will arrange for the return of Peko, Fu Manchu’s pet marmoset. After hanging up, a confused Kerrigan learns Sir Lionel managed to abduct the animal during his liberation from the clinic in Regent Park. Sir Denis explains both he and Barton understand Peko’s value as a hostage.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Island of Fu Manchu, Part One

Friday, March 7th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

PanamaLibFuNextSax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu and the Panama Canal was first serialized in Liberty Magazine from November 16, 1940 to February 1, 1941. It was published in book form as The Island of Fu Manchu by Doubleday in the US and Cassell in the UK in 1941. The book serves as a direct follow-up to Rohmer’s 1939 bestseller, The Drums of Fu Manchu, and is again narrated by Fleet Street journalist, Bart Kerrigan.

The previous book in the series was published just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe. Rohmer chose to portray characters such as Hitler and Mussolini under thinly disguised aliases. More critically, he chose to have these threats to world peace removed by the conclusion of the book as he naively believed a Second World War would be avoided at all costs. Over a year into the war, Rohmer had to address these issues for his readers. His excuse was a brilliant one. The prior narrative had been censored by the Home Office. Bart Kerrigan was forced to alter names and events. Hitler and Mussolini yet lived.

Interestingly, Rohmer chose to pick up the story some months after the last title and reflect changes in the lives of his characters. The Si-Fan has fallen under an unnamed pro-Fascist president who counts Fu Manchu’s duplicitous daughter among his closest allies. The Devil Doctor himself has fallen from grace within the Si-Fan, as he opposes fascism at all costs. This rift threatens to tear the secret society apart as much as the war was doing the same to governments around the world.

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