Birthday Reviews: Lyda Morehouse’s “God Box”

Sunday, November 18th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Jacob Fine

Cover by Jacob Fine

Lyda Morehouse was born on November 18, 1967.

Her novel Apocalypse Array received a special citation from the Philip K. Dick Award in 2005 and she served on the jury the following year. She has published several novels using the pseudonym Tate Hallaway and has collaborated with Rachel Calish and Naomi Kritzer.

“God Box” was published in the small press anthology King David and the Spiders from Mars, edited by Tim Lieder in 2014. The story has not been reprinted.

Morehouse has set “God Box” on a Ganymede which is torn by a war between the human InForcers and the Rovers, an alien race which claims Ganymede is its ancestral home. A platoon of Inforcers has brought a Rover artifact into a church on Ganymede and has instructed the Reverend Mother Kayla that she is responsible for overseeing the mysterious box, although they will leave an honor guard with the box to help protect it in case the Rovers come looking for the reliquary.

The Rovers really don’t come into play in the story, which is focused mostly on Kayla’s feelings about the InForcers, who tortured and raped her when she was younger and part of the Martian Resistance. She has since found solace and faith in God and firmly believes in her deity and takes comfort from a small crucifix she has had since her days with the Resistance. The box itself makes her profoundly uncomfortable and when she and the InForcers discover that a giant marble Jesus seems to have fallen from the crucifix in the church’s nave and appears to be genuflecting to the box, it raises the question of which god is more powerful. Read More »

Wordsmiths: An Interview with Kevin Hearne, Recorded Live at Can*Con 2018!

Saturday, November 17th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

You know what I haven’t done here in a while? Interviewed some fellow creatives.

Luckily, on top of writing for Black Gate I’m also one of the programming directors for Can*Con, Ottawa’s annual conference for sci-fi, fantasy and horror writing (okay, you probably knew that already). Last month at Can*Con 2018 I had the pleasure of sitting down with Guest of Honour Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Seven Kennings series, Tales of Pell, and more, for a live interview — and hey, we just happened to record it.

Check out the video above for a discussion of how Kevin works, the role of the author in society, the perfect whiskey for a whiskey sour, some special shout-outs to his friends in the industry, and a sneak peek at what’s next for the Iron Druid Chronicles!

The Complete Carpenter: The Ward (2010)

Saturday, November 17th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

ward-2010-posterI started this John Carpenter career overview less than two years ago with Dark Star. Now I’ve come to what may end up as John Carpenter’s final film as director, appropriately a low-budget indie horror film. Carpenter had gone into semi-retirement after Ghosts of Mars flopped at the box office, only directing two episodes of Showtime’s anthology series Masters of Horror over the next nine years. The Ward wasn’t sold as a glorious comeback for the director, but a surreptitious little film that arrived without fanfare in a handful of theaters, a same-day VOD release, and home video a month later.

This isn’t where the Carpenter story ends, thankfully. I doubt he’ll direct another film (never say never), but he’s in a good creative place now. He’s released two superb original albums (Lost Themes, Lost Themes II), tours the country playing shows with his son Cody and godson Daniel Davies, and composed the score for the recent smash-hit installment in the Halloween franchise, which he also executive produced.

This makes me feel a bit better about discussing The Ward, because it’s not the last stop on Carpenter’s career. It won’t be the last article in the series either, since next week I’ll wrap-up two years of the Complete Carpenter with a summary of my five favorite of his movies. I’m not going to list my five worst because I’d prefer to send off this long project — more than 40,000 words — on a feeling of celebration.

But, if you really must know what I movie I’d put at the bottom of the list … it’s The Ward. Easy.

The Story

In 1966, young runaway Kristen (Amber Heard) is sent to a psychiatric hospital in Oregon after she burns down an empty farmhouse. Kristen is placed under the care of Dr. Stringer (Jared Harris), who is looking after five other troubled young women in the hospital’s special psychiatric ward: aggressive Emily (Mamie Gummer), flirtatious Sarah (Danielle Panabaker), artistic Iris (Lyndsy Fonseca), and infantile Zoey (Laura-Leigh). Dr. Stringer believes he can cure Kristen, but Kristen starts to suspect something sinister in the ward is responsible for the disappearance of patients before her. When more vanishings occur, Kristen believes the wrathful ghost of a previous patient, Alice Hudson, is murdering the ward’s occupants. Kristen attempts an escape with the surviving girls before the killer ghosts turns the electroshock therapy machine on her.

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Birthday Reviews: Raymond F. Jones’s “Death Eternal”

Saturday, November 17th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Steve Fabian

Cover by Steve Fabian

Raymond F. Jones was born on November 17, 1915 and died on January 24, 1994.

Jones was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1967 for “Rat Race” and in 1996, his short story “Correspondence Course” was nominated for a Retro-Hugo. Jones published some poetry under the name David Anderson. Jones is best known for the novel This Island Earth, which was adapted into a film directed by Joseph M. Newman. His 1950 story “Tools of the Trade” may have been the first description of 3D printing.

“Death Eternal” was published in the October 1978 issue of Fantastic, edited by Ted White. The story has never been reprinted and was his final published story.

The lengthy conversation which opens “Eternal Death” is an interesting reversal. Jones has his scientist, Jim Nearing, going into a church to seek prove of the existence of a soul and the possibility to continue his life’s work after his impending death from cancer. Reverend Aaron Marton absolutely refuses to allow for any belief in the afterlife, offering him solace, but noting that the question Nearing is seeking has been sought for the entire span of mankind’s existence and nobody has come close to uncovering a solution.

Unable to get reassurance from Marton, Nearing attempts to find the soul of a woman who is dying in surgery. His ability to measure the moment the soul left her body pushes him to attempt to capture the soul of a condemned prisoner.

When his experiment proves to be a failure, Nearing goes back to Marton’s church, mostly due to a promise he made to Marston’s daughter, Sheila, who he was attracted to since first meeting her. The two quickly fall in love, but Nearing is too consumed with his own imminent death and the failure of his experiment to be willing to try to make a life with her for as little time as he might have left, instead deciding that he must continue his experiment using himself as a guinea pig.

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Unbound Worlds is Shutting Down

Friday, November 16th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill


Penguin Random House’s genre site Unbound Worlds, now in its tenth year, has been one of the most consistently entertaining and informative resources for fans of SF, fantasy and horror. Today the publisher announced that the site will be essentially shutting down at the end of the month.

Today we’re announcing that the conversation with our readers is ready to evolve in new and exciting ways. In the new year, the articles, interviews, and lists you have enjoyed on Unbound Worlds will have a new home within That means we’ll no longer be publishing new content on Unbound Worlds after this month, but we’re excited to be able to deliver even more of the very best in science fiction, fantasy, and horror books, curated collections, and offers through our email programs.

We’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, we hope that you’ll visit There, you can sign up to receive personalized recommendations and discover even more about our books and authors as you join us on this journey through the stars and beyond.

Read the complete announcement here.

This is a major loss, not just to the field but to me personally. I’ve throughly enjoyed the site’s content, and drawn heavily from Matt Staggs’ monthly Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books columns (and others) to help stay informed. Over the years I’ve pointed BG readers towards plenty of their articles, from “Where to Start with Gothic Space Opera” to “A Century of Sword and Planet” and “Unbound Worlds on 7 Great Occult Detectives.” In honor of all they’ve done for us over the years, here’s a look back at some of Unbound Worlds greatest hits.

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Future Treasures: The Salvager Series by Alex White

Friday, November 16th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe-small A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy-small The Worst of All Possible Worlds-small

Alex White’s Salvager series began with A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, a book which has one of the most promising titles of the year at the very least. I snapped it up shortly after reading Corrina Lawson’s enthusiastic review over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog:

To call this book fast-paced or action-packed is underselling it… It begins with Nilah, the best driver in the galactic version of the Grand Prix. These “cars” are a mix of galactic tech and magic, as is Nilah herself…. Soon, Nilah is being attacked on the track — something that should be impossible — and witnesses another racer being murdered before she accidentally teleports to an unknown location… the viewpoint shifts to Elizabeth “Boots” Ellsworth, who has her own problems… she’s a veteran of a war from the losing side, [and] she’s a failed media personality whose one big triumph exploring the legends of lost ships is long in the past.

Everything goes promptly sideways as Nilah, Boots, Cordell and the crew of the Capricious wander recklessly into a greater conspiracy that points them to yet another legendary lost ship — a very big ship, way out in the far reaches of space (at the edge of the universe, even)…

The crew of the Capricious are terrific, original creations, from the captain determined to protect the crew that is all he has left from the war, to the intense first officer, to the ship’s chef. (Orna, the cynical force of nature that is the ship’s quartermaster, steals every scene she’s in, alongside her robot battle suit, Ranger.)… It’s this crew up against the most powerful beings in the universe, and our rag-tag heroes will take those odds. This is fantastic stuff, in every sense of the word.

Corrina mentioned at the end of her review that more titles were forthcoming, and it looks like her sources were true. A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy arrives in trade paperback from Orbit next month, and the third title in the series, The Worst of All Possible Worlds, is promised for Summer 2019.

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Birthday Reviews: Lavie Tidhar’s “The Memcordist”

Friday, November 16th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Michael Whelan

Cover by Michael Whelan

Lavie Tidhar was born on November 16, 1976 in Afula, Israel.

Tidhar received the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2012 for his novel Osama and that same year won the British Fantasy Award for the novella Gorel and the Pot Bellied God. In 2013, the British SF Association Award for Nonfiction was given to Tidhar’s The World SF Blog. He won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2017 for the novel Central Station. Tidhar has collaborated with Nir Yaniv as and author and with Rebecca Levene and Jason Sizemore as an editor.

Tidhar first published “The Memcordist” in Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse Online in the December 24, 2012 issue. Gardner Dozois selected the story to be reprinted in his anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection. It has not, otherwise been reprinted.

Pym lives a Truman Show sort of life in “The Memcordist.” His entire life is spent being recording and sent out to his followers in the ultimate combination of reality show and social media. The difference between Pym and Truman is that Pym is well aware of his followers, noting their number at every major point of his life. Pym is also aware of narrative, things that are expected of him, and he also expects that his storylines will come to a fruitful conclusion.

Aside from gaining and keeping followers as he travels throughout the heavily populated solar system which is reminiscent of Golden Age space opera with Human colonies on Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, and Pluto’s moons, the driving force in Pym’s life is his need to re-connect with Joy, a woman he met on one of his early space flights whose goal was to become a pilot. It is an on-again-off-again quest, but much of the story, which is told in a series of achronological snippets set in a variety of locations, focuses on the quest, even while implying numerous other relationships and adventures. Pym does note that his numbers go up when he is searching for Joy, although he views his search as personal rather than part of his overarching narrative.

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Goth Chick News: Killing Time Until the 2019 Show Line Up

Friday, November 16th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Ripley and Newt

With the 2018 “season” behind us and cold, dark Chicago winter ahead, it’s time to hunker down with what remains of our current reading list and wait for the start of a new set of Goth Chick News adventures in 2019.

On that note, I told you about three new horror releases a few weeks back, which were currently on my nightstand. I can now report that having finished Dracul, written at least partially by a great, great nephew of Mr. Stoker himself, it’s definitely worth your time. I wasn’t a fan of author Dacre Stoker’s first foray into Uncle Bram’s iconic character via a Dracula sequel entitled Dracula, the Undead. However, this time around Stoker teamed up with a co-author (or was teamed up with one by his editor). J.D. Barker has impressive horror creds and the results for the overall storytelling are definitely better.

Dracul is a pre-quel of sorts with Uncle Bram as the main character. The story concerns the events that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, and though it is so slow in places you’ll think perhaps that was when Barker turned his back on the writing process to grab a sandwich, the overall story is clever and connects entertainingly enough to the source material to be a good read for fans of the original Dracula, as well as those who just like a good gothic vampire tale.

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New Treasures: Keepers by Brenda Cooper, Book Two of Project Earth

Thursday, November 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Wilders Brenda Cooper-small Keepers Brenda Cooper-small

We reported here on Tuesday the surprising news that Pyr has been sold to Start Publishing, a development that’s produced a lot of speculation in the industry. While there’s been plenty of dark conjecture, I think I can sum up the general mood as “cautious optimism” that the sale won’t hurt one of the most dynamic and exciting genre publishers of the last few decades.

It has caused me to look more closely at Pyr’s latest releases, and that’s not a bad thing. The one that has most interested me recently is Keepers, the second novel in Brenda Cooper’s Project Earth, set in a near-future Earth where “rewilding crews” work to remove all traces of civilization from vast tracks of terrain, returning the planet to its natural state. Gray Scott says the first novel Wilders was “A fantastic voyage into a beautifully intricate solarpunk future,” and Karl Schroeder called it “one of the best near-future adventures in years.”

We covered Wilders here; and Steven Silver’s Birthday Review of Cooper’s short story “Second Shift” appeared here in August. Here’s the description for Keepers.

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The Real Tartan Tat Army! A review of Better is the Proud Plaid by Jenn Scott

Thursday, November 15th, 2018 | Posted by M Harold Page

At least half looked like soldiers draped in tartan tat.

Regular soldiers draped in tartan tat

What if I told you that the Highland army at Culloden in 1746 wasn’t really a “Highland” Army?

What if I also told you that apart from a few front-ranking testosterone-poisoned sword and targe men, it fought like any other 18th century European army and that at least half the men looked like regular soldiers draped in tartan tat — sashes, tartan trews, a better quality version of the kind of stuff tourists still pick up in Edinburgh’s gift shops — to show which side they were on?

Yes, I’ve been reading Jenn Scott’s new Better is the Proud Plaid: The Clothing, Weapons and Accoutrements of the Jacobites in the ’45. (UK, US)

It’s so far out of my normal period that I’m in danger of doing that thing where I age before your eyes and turn into a puddle of steaming goop.

However, every Scot grows up with the tale of Bonny Prince Charley, the ’45 Rebellion, and the tragic Battle of Culloden. Me being an Anglo-Scot, my ancestors, if involved, wore red coats and cursed in Nottinghamshire accents while they fought for Good King George. No wonder, then, that I’ve always been suspicious of the noble-savage-fighting-for-Scottish-freedom-while-swiving-time-travelling-American-nurses narrative that has wrapped itself around the rebellion. This book promised to debunk some of that — which it does, but in doing so replaces it with something perhaps more impressive.

And, also, I was expecting to be impressed. I’ve been hearing about Jenn’s research for years.

Read More »

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