Take A Walk Among the Tombstones

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

WalkTombstonesOn September 19, Liam Neeson’s latest blockbuster, A Walk Among the Tombstones, opens in theaters nationwide. Neeson plays Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop who is an off-the-book private investigator and a recovering alcoholic.

Scudder has starred in seventeen novels dating back to 1976 and a bunch of short stories, all written by Lawrence Block. Tombstones is actually the tenth book in the series, so they’re starting well into things.

Jeff Bridges had played Scudder in Eight Million Ways to Die (the fifth book), moving the story to California(!) and making him a sheriff’s deputy (Hollywood!)

Block, who I mentioned in this post, is a fantastic writer. Along with Scudder, he has written series starring an adventurer who can’t sleep (Tanner), a bookstore owning burglar (Bernie Rhodenbarr), a lawyer who will do anything to win a case (Martin Ehrengraf), a likeable hit man (Keller), and a humorous Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin-esque pair (Leo Haig and Chip Harrison). And he’s one of the finest short story writers I’ve run across. Enough Rope is a superb collection of his short fiction.

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Future Treasures: The Cobbler of Ridingham by Jeffrey E. Barlough

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Cobbler of Ridingham-smallJeffrey E. Barlough is one of the most gifted and ambitious fantasists at work today and his seven volume Western Lights series is unlike anything else on the shelves. In his review of the fifth volume, Anchorwick, Jackson Kuhl sums up events as follows:

Eugene Stanley has come to the university at Salthead (a parallel Seattle? Vancouver?) to assist his professor uncle in preparing a book manuscript. One night, while working in a deserted turret room at the college…  Stanley is accosted by a phantasmal form. This ignites a definitive search for the missing don as Stanley and friends uncover lost civilizations, ancestral curses, whole companies of ghosts, monsters from Greek myth, and a few red herrings, all told in rich, dryly humorous style. It’s P.G. Wodehouse with woolly mammoths.

Those who complain that there’s nothing new in fantasy today aren’t looking hard enough. And they’re definitely not reading Jeffrey E. Barlough.

The eighth volume in the Western Lights series, The Cobbler of Ridingham, will be released in November and it features Richard Hathaway, who previously appeared in Bertram of Butter Cross and the short story “Ebenezer Crackernut” (from A Tangle in Slops).

A creeping shadow, a bump in the night, a thing in the trees — these are but a few of the surprises lurking in the pages of The Cobbler of Ridingham… The new work relates a curious adventure that befell Richard Hathaway while visiting at Haigh Hall, the home of a family acquaintance, Lady Martindale, on the marshes outside the picturesque old country town of Ridingham.

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

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Shadow of Fu ManchuShadow ZebraThe Shadow of Fu Manchu was serialized in Collier’s from May 8 to June 12, 1948. Hardcover editions followed later that year from Doubleday in the U.S. and Herbert Jenkins in the U.K. Sax Rohmer’s eleventh Fu Manchu thriller gets underway with Sir Denis Nayland Smith in New York on special assignment with the FBI. He is partnered with FBI Agent Raymond Harkness to investigate why agents from various nations are converging on Manhattan. Sir Denis suspects the object of international attention is the special project being handled by The Huston Research Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Morris Craig. However, Smith initially chooses to keep the FBI in the dark on this matter until he is certain.

The Si-Fan has succeeded in closing in on The Huston Research Laboratory by drawing a net around parent corporation Huston Electric’s director, millionaire Michael Frobisher and his wife, Stella. The Frobisher marriage is not a happy one. Michael lives in fear that his flirtatious wife is unfaithful to him and Stella is likewise tormented by a series of neuroses. The family physician, Dr. Pardoe, recommends an eminent European psychiatrist and Nazi concentration camp survivor, Professor Hoffmeyer, to treat Stella Frobisher. Both Mr. and Mrs. Frobisher are concerned that Asians have been spying on them, going so far as to break into their home and infiltrate their country club. As their marriage is not a healthy one, neither husband nor wife confide in the other, but rather let their paranoia grow until their nerves have frayed. What neither suspects is that Carl Hoffmeyer is really Dr. Fu Manchu in disguise.

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Last Chance to Win a Copy of Peter Watts’ Echopraxia

Friday, August 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Echopraxia-smallLast week, I told you that you had a chance to win a copy of Peter Watts’s brand new novel Echopraxia, on sale this week from Tor Books.

How do you win? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the title “Echopraxia” and a one-sentence review of your favorite Tor science fiction novel. One winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries and we’ll publish the best reviews here on the Black Gate blog.

What could possibly be easier? But time is running out — the contest closes August 31.

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. Eat your vegetables. Thanks to the great folks at Tor for providing the prize.

This Peter Watts fellow is one of the most acclalimed young science fiction writers working today. The first novel in the Echopraxia series, Blindsight, was nominated for the Hugo Award, and in starred review Publishers Weekly called it “a terrifying and original spin on the familiar alien contact story.” Watts has been called “a hard science fiction writer through and through, and one of the very best alive” by The Globe and Mail.

Read an excerpt from Echopraxia, and see the book trailer, here.

Echopraxia was published on August 26 by Tor Books. It is 384 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.


Goth Chick News: Chicago Comic Con 2014 — Hold Onto Your Spandex… (Part 1)

Friday, August 29th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image002It is hard to believe, but we once again find ourselves in that very special time of year here in Chicago. It’s August, temperatures push well past the 90 degree mark, Labor Day looms just around the corner, and Midwesterners from a 150 mile radius (or more in some cases) descend on the city in unforgiving, unbreathable, highly form-fitting, man-made fabrics.

Yes dear Black Gate readers – its once again time for Chicago’s Wizard World Comic Con.

Though Wizard World never officially discloses attendance numbers, local media reports that the 2014 event has drawn nearly 100,000 visitors to the Rosemont Convention Center during its four day run. And like we have done for the last six years, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I are wading into the fray that has literally backed up traffic almost to O’Hare airport.

With weathermen ominously reporting daytime temperatures would “feel like” 115 or more, Chris shows up dressed for battle in his Black Gate polo shirt and a kilt, commenting about how on this day above all others, a breeze is necessary.

This isn’t the first time Chris’s Utilikilt has made an appearance and it won’t be the last. At least I am happy to report most Hollywood starlets could take a lesson from Chris on entering and exiting a low-riding vehicle without acquainting the free world with what lies beneath – if you get my meaning.

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Vintage Treasures: Horrors Unknown, edited by Sam Moskowitz

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Sam Moskowitz Horrors Unknown-smallI think of Sam Moskowitz primarily as an SF historian, perhaps the greatest the field has ever known.

His book The Immortal Storm, a history of early fannish feuds, is still read and discussed today, and his numerous biographical articles on 20th Century SF writers — published in an assortment of SF digests in the 50s and 60s — were eventually collected into two popular books, Explorers of the Infinite and Seekers of Tomorrow. He was a tireless advocate for SF, and was famously the chairman of the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York City in 1939 at just nineteen years of age. He was so strongly associated with early pulp SF, primarily as a collector and genre evangelist, that Isaac Asimov dedicated Before the Golden Age to him.

But Moskowitz was also an editor of no little note, with some two dozen titles to his name. I recently stumbled on one of his first horror anthologies, Horrors Unknown (1971), which collects early 20th Century short fiction from Edison Marshall, Fitz-James O’Brien, Ray Bradbury, and many others — including a Jules de Grandin novelette by Seabury Quinn, a Northwest Smith novelette from C. L. Moore, and an incredible round-robin Cthulhu Mythos tales by none other than H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long.

Two more horror anthologies followed this one: Horrors in Hiding (1973; edited with Alden H. Norton) and Horrors Unseen (1974). The latter was his final anthology. Sam Moskowitz died in 1997, at the age of 76.

Sam wrote fascinating and detailed introductions — author appreciations, really — for each story, and his love and knowledge of the field shine through in every one.

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Art of the Genre: Reki Kawahara, Depression, and Sword Art Online

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Vol1_Special_Poster compI read an article a while back that very eloquently debated the theory that online games, specifically Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games [MMORPGS], were the root cause of depression. There were arguments on both sides, of course, but after I was done, I couldn’t help but side against them actually causing the mental disorder.

You see, I live in a world of artists and writers, and that means depression is probably the most prevalent topic [both overtly and covertly] among my fellows every day of the year.  Some cope better than others, some take drugs, and in the extreme, some take their own lives. It is a hard truth, but as I sit and think about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter who you are, you carry depression with you.

Depression is a constant but varied affliction of the human condition, and to those suffering the least, perhaps a nightly sitcom and a bowl of popcorn stave off the stresses of a cubical lived workday. As above, for the worst cases, like Robin Williams last week, the only true escape seems to call for the end of it all on a permanent basis.

As with any Bell Curve, I think the bulk of Americans and their First World Problems (I know Ethiopia, you are currently crying us a river) are in some comfortable (yet stoically miserable) place right in the middle.  This is where online gaming might come into play.

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Diversity in Fandom: Lessons from Worldcon

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

OMG!!! This fan is different than me! Panic!!!

OMG!!! This fan is different than me! Panic!!!

This post is for whites only.

If you aren’t white, go away. Even if you are white but aren’t straight, I don’t want you reading my post. White women probably don’t need to read it either. And if you’re Muslim, get out of here.

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Last Chance to Win a Copy of Patrick Swenson’s The Ultra Thin Man

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Ultra Thin Man-smallLast week, I told you that you had a chance to win a copy of Patrick Swenson’s new novel The Ultra Thin Man. Why? Because good things happen to good people.

How do you win, you lucky dog? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the title “The Ultra Thin Man” and a one-sentence review of your favorite Tor fantasy novel. 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 hurry, because the contest closes August 31.

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. Eat your vegetables. Thanks to Tor for providing the prize (and for footing for shipping). Here’s the description, because I think it sounds fantastic, and I wish Tor would let me enter my own contest. Bastards.

In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one — alive or dead, human or alien — is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’ and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helkunn alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister — an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

In this novel from Patrick Swenson, Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?

The Ultra Thin Man was published by Tor Books on August 12, 2014. It is 334 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Victor Mosquera.


New Treasures: Reach For Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Reach For Infinity Solaris-smallReach For Infinity makes me very happy.

A while back, I wrote a blog post titled “Is the Original SF and Fantasy Paperback Anthology Series Dead?“, in which I lamented the death of the great genre anthologies like Orbit, New Dimensions, and Universe, and noted that no modern publisher had the courage to launch one these days. None except Solaris that is, which recently started several excellent new anthology series — including Jonathan Strahan’s terrific Infinity line, beginning with Engineering Infinity (2010) and Edge of Infinity (2012).

I’m thrilled to see at least one publisher willing to take the risk… and more importantly, to pull it off. Kudos to Jonathan Strahan and his editors at Solaris for making the impossible look easy. These books deserve your support and they’re a fantastic and inexpensive way to introduce yourself to some great writers. Check them out — and start with Reach For Infinity, the third in the series, now on sale.

Humanity Among the Stars

What happens when we reach out into the vastness of space? What hope for us amongst the stars?

Multi-award winning editor Jonathan Strahan brings us fourteen new tales of the future, from some of the finest science fiction writers in the field.

The fourteen startling stories in this anthology feature the work of Greg Egan, Aliette de Bodard, Ian McDonald, Karl Schroeder, Pat Cadigan, Karen Lord, Ellen Klages, Adam Roberts, Linda Nagata, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds and Peter Watts.

Reach For Infinity was published by Solaris on May 27, 2014. It is 346 pages, priced at $9.99 in trade paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition.


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