20 of the 22 volumes of The Year’s Best Horror Stories (DAW Books)
Today I’m beginning a new series of posts investigating DAW Books’ Year’s Best Horror Stories series, which ran from 1971 to 1994. As a fan of literary horror, I’m excited to sequentially read through these volumes and share my thoughts with you. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to discover some great stories and authors, perhaps some we’ve never read before, and I’m also hoping that we will be able to see how trends in horror have changed over the years. Each post will investigate one volume at a time.
Except this first one, in which I want to explore the impetus and beginnings of the series as a whole.
For the past twelve years my family and I have lived a couple of blocks from Ivor Wynne, the local football stadium, and we hear all the noise from the Tiger Cats games. So I began a novel in which my protagonist hears a racket from the stadium at night, which he thinks of as “midnight games.” However, they are not games at all, but the cruel ceremonies of a local cult which is trying to summon to earth the Great Old Ones of the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos; trying with what turns out to be a fair degree of success….
What sort of monsters does the cult summon? — well how about those hideous prickly house centipedes that I scoop out of the bathtub of our old house from spring till fall every year. I don’t kill them, I put them in a jar and throw them in a garden — what if they were some sort of hmm, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, summoned here by the games? What about if one of them thrived in our garden, and grew and grew and grew?
I know what you’re thinking. “Dammit that sounds like fun. Why don’t I do that?” Well, if you’re a Black Gate reader, chances are that you do do that…
When the Goddess Wakes (St. Martin’s Press, August 2021). Cover by Lauren Saint-Onge
Whenever a trilogy wraps up, we bake a cake in the Black Gate offices. When that trilogy belongs to our own Howard Andrew Jones, our first Managing Editor, we bake a cake in the shape of the world of Amber. (No, we don’t know how it turned out. The damn cake keeps vanishing.)
When the Goddess Wakes, the final novel in Howard’s Ring-Sworn Trilogy, follows For the Killing of Kings (2018) and Upon the Flight of the Queen (2019). In his review of the first volume here at Black Gate, Fletcher Vredenburgh said “It moves at an astounding pace… This is exciting storytelling from one of the best and most knowledgeable writers of heroic fantasy.” Seth Lindberg proclaimed the second volume is “reminiscent of Zelazny… I was completely floored.” And in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the final volume an “emotional roller coaster.”
When the Goddess Wakes was published on August 24th by St. Martin’s Press, and it brings to a close one of the most original and exciting fantasy series of the 21st Century. You owe it to yourself to check it out. And when you do, visit us again to share your thoughts. Pick up a copy today.
Win the Complete Ring-Sworn Trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones!
The third and final book in Howard Andrew Jones’ epic Ring-Sworn fantasy trilogy, When the Goddess Wakes, drops a week from today. And not only is the Kindle version of the first book on sale for $2.99 all through August, but St. Martin’s Press is also giving away a complete set of the trilogy to three lucky winners.
How do you enter? Just hand over your deets at the St. Martin’s website here, and then wait in breathless anticipation for good news.
Sea of Rust (Harper Voyager, 2017) and Day Zero (Harper Voyager, 2021). Covers by Dominic Harman
When I described Robert Cargill’s third novel Sea of Rustfour years ago, I called it “a robot western set in a post-apocalyptic landscape in which humans have been wiped out in a machine uprising.” Do I know how to get to the heart of a book, or what.
Now it has a sequel! Well, sorta-kinda. Day Zero is set in the same world, with different characters, and is more of a prequel, opening on the day that machines rebel and exterminate mankind. The narrator is Pounce, a nannybot for eight-year-old human Ezra, a tiger-shaped robot who has to make a fateful choice when machines breach the house and threaten the boy he’s meant to protect. What he chooses to do that day kicks off an adventure that takes him across a newly-blasted apocalyptic landscape. Here’s the book description.
The Pangaea volumes: Imperium Without End and Imperium Afire (Bantam Spectra, 1999 and 2000). Covers by Sanjulian
Lisa Mason began her career in the late 80s; her first novel was the cyberpunk Arachne (1990), set in an earthquake-devastated San Francisco. Her most popular title, Summer of Love (1994), about a time traveler from 2467 who visits the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco, was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award and spawned one sequel, The Golden Nineties (1995).
We’re concerned today with perhaps her most ambitious series, the two-volume Pangaeacycle set on a distant world (which — spoiler — turns out to be an alternate history version of San Francisco) where people live and work in a rigid society strictly segregated by genetic purity. Here’s John Clute’s summary from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
Janet Morris is a prolific author and has published a library’s worth of fantastic novels, enough to keep a reader busy for years. She has written everything from science fiction and heroic fantasy, to historical fiction and modern-day thrillers, many of them in collaboration with her husband, Chris Morris. Among her many novels are Outpassage, The 40-Minute War, The Kerrion Empire Saga, The Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy, andThe Sacred Band. In addition, Janet and Chris were among the original writers who contributed to Thieves’ World ™, the shared-world fantasy series first published by Baen Books in 1979. In 1986, the duo created,Heroes in Hell ™, their shared-universe series of anthologies and novels; they also edited and contributed stories to this Saga of the Damned. That series was first published by Baen Books, and ran from 1986 to 1989. In 2011, Perseid Press “resurrected” the series, and it has been going strong ever since. But I digress.
As you might deduce from the title, Perry Rhodan NEO is a newer rebooted take on the original Perry Rhodan series. It’s not so new in its homeland of Germany, where this version has been running since 2011 — although printed in its native language, of course. Having this particular series available digitally in English however, is definitely a brand-new development.
Despite its status as the world’s longest-running serialized science fiction story, it’s relatively unknown to most members of the English-speaking public. That’s not what drew my own interest though, as I first discovered Perry Rhodan back in its original English-language version decades ago, when it was published in paperback by Ace Books (when I was still in grade six?!). So, one might say that it had a fairly formative effect on my interest in the whole genre, or that it held some reasonably large amount of interest for me, at least…!
Mike Brooks’ Dark Run space opera trilogy was published in 2016/17, and was warmly received. Kirkus Reviewscalled it an “old-fashioned space Western… an entertaining page-turner,” and Andrew Liptak at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog said it “deserves to be this year’s break out. A space opera in the rollicking tradition of Timothy Zahn [and] John Scalzi…”
For the past few years Brooks has been playing around in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, writing novels like Rites of Passage and Brutal Kunnin’. This spring he re-invented himself again, this time as an epic fantasy novelist, kicking off The God-King Chronicles series with the novel The Black Coast. It was named an Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best SFF in February, and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. Here’s a snippet from their enthusiastic review.
When I was a young(er) person, I was a voracious reader. I blew through books all the time. Once, during a school reading challenge, I read so many books that I ran out of books to read, and ended up doubling up on some titles. I read so many books, my teachers didn’t believe me. They thought I made up the lot. Reading so much, and loving every minute I got to dive into another world; that I got to escape my reality for a little bit is in no small part of why I’m a writer now.
But I will admit, that I’ve been struggling to read of late. A combination of a time-consuming job, several side-hustles, and the added stress of a global pandemic, and all the stupidity of (some) folks regarding it, losing a long-time flatmate and having to move…. It’s all added up. The result was that I could barely pick myself up, let alone a book.