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Future Treasures: The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Whispering Storm-smallWe’re big fans of Michael Moorcock at Black Gate.

I published an original Moorock novella, “The Dreamthief’s Daughter,” way back in our very first issue. More recently, Fletcher Vredenburgh reviewed his classic The Eternal Champion, Connor Gormley looked his at Von Bek series, Matthew David Surridge examined his Hawkmoon novels, and I covered the reprint of his early novels The Warlord of the Air and The Sword of the Dawn.

Now comes word that Tor will publish a brand new novel from Moorcock, a semi-autobiographical fantasy of a young man in post World War II London…

Tor Books now proudly presents Moorcock’s first independent novel in nine years, a tale both fantastical and autobiographical, a celebration of London and what it meant to be young there in the years after World War II. The Whispering Swarm is the first in a trilogy that will follow a young man named Michael as he simultaneously discovers himself and a secret realm hidden deep in the heart of London.

The Whispering Swarm is the first novel of The Sanctuary of the White Friars.

The Whispering Swarm will be published by Tor Books on December 9, 2014. It is 512 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.


Afrofuturism and Empowerment

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by Elwin Cotman

DETCON1This weekend, I have the pleasure of attending the DETCON1 in Detroit, the North American Science Fiction Convention. I have never been to a NASFIC, but it rose on my list of cons after seeing how sincere the organizers were in having a diverse body of panels and panelists. Not just from a standpoint of age and background, but the mediums that are represented too. I will be doing four panels, two of them on Afrofuturism.

Pretty cool. Still, I feel trepidation. When you go on a vacation (and that’s what con-going is), the real world does not stop. And in the real world, the host city Detroit is in dire straits. With property so cheap, gentrification is at an extreme level. Corporations are buying up whole blocks. Citizens who can’t pay their water bills are getting the utility shut off.

It is nice that the city can attract events like NASFIC or the recent Allied Media Conference. But I hope that we aren’t so busy celebrating spec-fic to at least acknowledge that we’re in a city where the poorest people don’t have water.

I don’t know why anybody reads The Hunger Games. You want dystopia, just read Reuters.

But that’s the irony of dystopia. Writers make novels about the types of issues that marginalized communities face every day, and pass it off as something that could only happen in the future.

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New Treasures: Seeker’s Bane by P.C. Hodgell

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Seeker's Bane-smallSometimes it’s handy being editor of Black Gate. For one thing, it sure keeps you in-the-know on great books. I was editing Fletcher Vredenburgh’s enthusiastic review of P. C. Hodgell’s God Stalk last October, which begins thusly:

Out of the haunted north comes Jame the Kencyr to Rathilien’s greatest city, Tai-Tastigon. From the hills above, the city appears strangely dark and silent. She arrives at its gates with large gaps in her memory and cat claws instead of fingernails. She’s carrying a pack full of strange artifacts, including a ring still on its owner’s finger… and she’s been bitten by a zombie. Wary, but in desperate need of a place to heal, Jame enters the city. So begins God Stalk, the first book in P.C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath series and one of my absolute, bar none, don’t-bother-me-if-you-see-me-reading-it, favorite fantasy novels…

I’m so grateful Carl gave me this book thirty years ago. P.C. Hodgell seems so far below the general fantasy radar, I don’t know if I would have ever heard of her at all, which is pretty darn shameful.

Ha, I thought smugly, looking at my bookcase. Maybe she’s below the radar for most folks, but I’ve got my copy right here. Fletcher continued:

Following God Stalk came the 1985 sequel, Dark of the Moon… It’s taken nearly thirty years for the next four books to appear: Seeker’s MaskTo Ride a RathornBound in Blood, and Honor’s Paradox.

Wait, what? There are sequels? Like, five sequels? How did I not know? Are they out of print? Gahhh!

Fortunately, Baen Books to the rescue. Baen has collected the first four novels in two handsome mass market paperbacks: The God Stalker Chronicles (January 2010) and Seeker’s Bane (August 2010), both still in print. They’re a great way to get started on this terrific series, which Hodgell and Baen are continuing — I note the seventh volume, The Sea of Time, was just published last month. I just bought Seeker’s Bane and it’s a fabulous bargain: 1168 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital version. The covers are by Clyde Caldwell. Check ‘em out.


Geek Tyrant on “10 Great 1950s Sci-Fi Movies You May Never Have Heard Of”

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Flight to Mars 1951-smallWhen I was growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there was a theater that had a science fiction and monster-movie double feature every Saturday. After we finished our paper route, my brother Mike and I would walk downtown and plunk down our hard-earned money for three and a half hours of monster movie bliss.

The theater was always packed with screaming kids. There Mike and I saw films that are still burned into my brain today — like the terrifying Planet of the Vampires (1965), giant-monster classic Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), and the greatest film of all time, Destroy all Monsters (1968).

Needless to say, I still have a weakness for classic monster movies, and especially the great science fiction films of the 50s and 60s. Also, the not-so-great science fiction films of the 50s and 60s.

You can’t walk downtown with 50 cents and watch a monster-movie double feature these days. Fortunately, you don’t have to — virtually every science fiction film of the 20th Century is available on DVD, Blu-ray, or download, for your home-viewing enjoyment. The real question these days isn’t how to see these great old films, but which ones are worth your time?

The answer, of course, lies on the Internet. There’s a ton of info out there, if you’ve got the energy to look for it (and sort out the relevant stuff). Or you could just rely on us — that’s what we’re here for.

One of the most useful articles I’ve stumbled on recently is Joey Paur’s Geek Tyrant piece ”10 Great 1950s Sci-Fi Movies You May Never Have Heard Of,” which covers many terrific SF films I really enjoyed, such as When Worlds Collide (1951),  and more than a few I’ve never seen, such as Flight to Mars (1951) and 4-D Man (1959). Lots here to keep you entertained in the late hours — check it out here.

Thanks to SF Signal for the tip!


Too Grand a Vision: A Review of Jodorowsky’s Dune

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 | Posted by James McGlothlin

Jodorowsky Dune poster-smallFrank Herbert’s groundbreaking 1965 novel Dune is still rightly considered one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever. This majestic novel justly won the 1966 Hugo award and the first ever Nebula in 1965. As fans of Dune know, it’s a book (and a series) dealing with a host of interesting and complex philosophical and religious concepts.

If you haven’t read Herbert’s original novel, then perhaps you’re familiar with David Lynch’s infamous 1984 movie version of Dune. (Oh James, please don’t go there!) This was an early letdown — something that us genre fans are unfortunately far too familiar with by now — and was quite a bomb. (Personally, I think there are some elements of that movie that are quite good.)

One of the most interesting things about the theatrical version of Dune is its “development hell” history. For example, were you aware that after the Hollywood execs edited the movie the way they wanted, David Lynch refused to have his name attached to the movie and early cuts claim to be directed by Alan Smithee?

But even before any of that, you also may not know that Dune had been vigorously pursued as a possible movie by a Chilean surrealist filmmaker named Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Never heard of Jodorowsky? Few have. I personally was familiar with his name from behind-the-scene footage and documentary interviews on DVD extras. Jodorowsky’s name often comes up in discussions about the making of Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie Alien or his 1982 Blade Runner.

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Future Treasures: Resurrection, by Mandy Hager

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Resurrection Mandy Hager-smallThere’s no question that the hottest trend in fiction right now isn’t vampire romances, zombies, or even superheroes. It’s young adult dystopias. The trend didn’t begin with The Hunger Games, but for sure that’s the series that kicked it into high gear. Wander the young adult section of your local bookstores and you’ll see what I mean — you’ll find dozens of volumes advertising a grim future for our young folk. It would be depressing, except for the cheery sound of a cash register ringing.

There’s been such a flood of new dystopian fantasy that it’s made it tough for a quality new series to get noticed. Mandy Hager’s Blood of the Lamb trilogy — beginning with The Crossing (January 2013) and Into the Wilderness (January 2014) — has quietly been accumulating excellent reviews and new readers, and the arrival of the third book next month is sure to launch this one into the spotlight. Pick up the first two books now, while there’s still time.

When Maryam arrives back at Onewēre and tries to loosen the Apostles’ religious stranglehold by sharing the miraculous remedy for Te Matee lai, she finds herself captured once again — prey to the Apostles’ deadly game. The ruling elite manipulate her return by setting in motion a highly orchestrated ritual before a hysterical and brain-washed crowd. Somehow Maryam must get the islanders to listen to her plea that they start thinking for themselves — hoping to stir the independence in their hearts, even as she finds herself on the brink of death.

Resurrection will be published on August 12 by Pyr Books. It is 365 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $11.99 for the ebook.


My Fantasia Festival, Day 1: Ghost in the Shell

Friday, July 18th, 2014 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Fantasia 2014Last night’s opening film at the seventeenth Fantasia International Film Festival was a 6:30 showing of Jacky au royaume des filles [Jacky in the Kingdom of Women], a French comedy about an oppressive matriarchal country. I decided to give it a pass, opting instead for a 7:45 showing of Mamoru Oshii’s classic anime Ghost in the Shell. Oshii was going to be present, one of two recipients this year of Fantasia’s Lifetime Achievement Award along with Tobe Hooper, whose The Texas Chainsaw Massacre screens on July 30.

Oshii and Hooper are an odd pairing, but the festival thrives on eclecticism. For 18 years — it skipped a year just after the turn of the century — Fantasia’s been bringing Montrealers the best of genre cinema. This year it’ll be showing more than 160 feature films and 300 shorts over three weeks, including a number of Canadian, North American, and world premieres. I’ll be covering it for Black Gate. I’m planning to post two or three times a week, keeping a running diary of the films I see and adding an occasional longer piece when I see a particularly interesting movie.

Called “The most important and prestigious genre film festival on this continent” by Quentin Tarantino, Fantasia’s become a Montreal institution. I haven’t gone to every installment of the festival, but I was there for the showing of its very first film, My Father Is a Hero, in 1996. It seems to have grown steadily over the years, from wuxia and kaiju and giallo branching out to include films of all sorts from around the world: crime films, horror films, children’s movies, experimental cinema. A look at this year’s selections show the range of offerings, from art-house cinema to a special screening of a Hollywood superhero science-fiction blockbuster. It looks like genre film worldwide is in a healthy state. (Feel free to let me know in comments what films look interesting to you!)

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The Series Series: The Night of the Swarm by Robert V.S. Redick

Friday, July 18th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Avery

The Night of the Swarm Robert VS RedickIt’s one of the classic dilemmas all fantasy readers face: When the last volume in a series finally comes out, do you go back and reread from the start so you can reach the end with all the grace notes and loose ends fresh in memory as the author ties them off? Or do you dive in immediately because you’ve been longing to resolve the suspense of the last volume’s cliffhangers?

If you’ve been reading Robert V.S. Redick’s delightful series, The Chathrand Voyage, you face this decision again with the arrival of the final book, The Night of the Swarm. The opening volume, The Red Wolf Conspiracy, was Redick’s debut novel, so we’ve never seen him bring a series to closure before. The first three books were delicious, but will he pull off the conclusion well enough to justify the time it takes you to reread the whole set?

Yes. Do it. Go find your copy of The Red Wolf Conspiracy, or buy a new one if you’ve mislaid it. I’ve just finished The Night of the Swarm, which I dove into without reacquainting myself with the earlier books, and though it was immensely satisfying, I will definitely be rereading the whole series.

And if you’re a newcomer to The Chathrand Voyage, oh, you are in for such a treat. Get all four books at once, turn the ringer off on your phone for a few weeks, and set up an auto-response for your email, because you won’t want to leave the battered, glorious world of Alifros until you’ve seen its struggles through.

Our young heroes Pazel, Thasha, and Neeps — along with a ship’s company of fanciful, and sometimes frightening, supporting characters that Charles Dickens might have come up with if he’d been trying to adapt his favorite techniques from George R.R. Martin — have only been at sea for a year, but what perils they have weathered! They have resisted a madman whose army of followers worship him as a god, rescued Thasha from political assassination, fled by sailing ship across an almost unimaginably large and wild ocean, and rediscovered civilizations no one from their continent has seen in centuries.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer…In the Beginning, Part Two

Friday, July 18th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

illo-Sax Rohmerrohmer2“The Green Spider” marked Sax Rohmer’s third foray into short fiction. Still writing under the pen name of A. Sarsfield Ward, the story first appeared in the October 1904 issue of Pearson’s Magazine. It was not reprinted until 65 years later in Issue #3 of The Rohmer Review in 1969. Subsequently, a corrupted version, with an altered ending courtesy of the editor, appeared in the May 1973 issue of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. The restored text was included in the 1979 anthology, Science Fiction Rivals of H. G. Wells. More recently, the story has appeared in the 1992 anthology, Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection, the September 2005 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and as the title story in the first volume of Black Dog Books’ Sax Rohmer Library, The Green Spider and Other Forgotten Tales of Mystery and Suspense (2011).

The story itself shares in common with Rohmer’s first effort, “The Mysterious Mummy” the presentation of a seemingly supernatural mystery that has a rational explanation. In the nine months that elapsed between the publication of “The Leopard Couch” and “The Green Spider,” Rohmer honed his writing skills and became a more devoted student of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and deductive reasoning. “The Green Spider” concerns the disappearance of the celebrated Professor Brayme-Skepley on the eve of an important scientific presentation. It appears to onlookers and Scotland Yard that the Professor has been murdered by a giant green spider that apparently made off with his corpse. The unraveling of the mystery reveals the green spider is no more authentic a threat than the phantom Hound of the Baskervilles. While a minor effort, the story retains its charm more than a century on and shows that the mysterious A. Sarsfield Ward was steadily improving as an author.

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Goth Chick News: Movie Release Hell; The Suspense is Killing Me

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image002Is it possible to wait for something for a very long time and still find it lives up to your expectations? If you’re like me, you probably have some pretty profound examples on both sides of the argument, especially where movies or books are concerned.

This week, there are (finally) updates on two movies that I have personally been anticipating for over a year, with news on one being somewhat of a disappointment.

To start, in January, 2013 I reported Disney had tapped Guillermo del Toro to reboot the Haunted Mansion. In case you haven’t been keeping track, there had been a 2003 attempt to bring the backstory of the popular theme park attraction to the big screen starring Eddie Murphy.

But if you don’t remember it, consider yourself lucky.

Needless to say, the idea that the man behind Mama and Pan’s Labyrinth was taking what could potentially be an R-rated swing at Haunted Mansion gave me chills (in a good way).

However, del Toro had and continues to have quite a lot of irons in the fire, including Pacific Rim 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, and a creepy, animated version of Pinocchio, among others. All this makes me ever-so-slightly worried that del Toro is spread too thin to give Haunted Mansion the attention it deserves.

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