September/October 2022 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by 123RF, 123RF, and Bob Eggleton
I was at the launch party for Randee Dawn’s debut novel Tune in Tomorrow at Worldcon this month (with the most amazing TV-shaped cake — seriously, check it out), when I spotted the also-amazing Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. I was hoping for the chance to catch up, but long before that happy event the party became so crowded that Jacob Weisman and I, who’ve both managed to dodge COVID for the past two years, nervously ducked out and ended up talking in relative quiet on the Hyatt skyway.
Some time before midnight Sheila found us as she made her weary way to her hotel room. We pulled over some chairs, and soon there was a small crowd of us gossiping about short fiction on the skyway over North Stetson Avenue (ironically enough, overlooking the exact location of the opening scene of my novel The Robots of Gotham).
One of the things Sheila shared was that, despite all my expectations to the contrary, the print SF magazines — including Asimov’s and Analog — are doing very well, thank you. The pandemic played havoc with distribution, and for the last few years all the attention (and award nominations) has gone to online magazines like Uncanny and Clarkesworld, but Asimov’s subscriber base has proven remarkably steadfast, and is even growing. I’ve been used to a steady stream of bad news, and general gloom and doom around the print mags for years, and it was wonderful to hear they have plenty of life in them yet.
With the Fall comes all manner of scary goodness to watch on both the big and small screens. As I’ve mentioned, vampires seem to be the monster-du-jour for 2022, though one might have expected zombies, with C19 still in the news. Still, I’m not complaining one bit, even when the offerings are less than stellar, as was the case with The Invitation. We can still look forward to the Interview with the Vampire series coming soon to AMC, and (maybe) House of Darkness, which started streaming this week on YouTube (if you’ve already seen it, don’t tell me anything).
And then there’s this.
Thanks to Stoker’s Dracula, one could argue that all the vampire stories that have come after are simply different takes on the same core idea; and you wouldn’t be far wrong. For instance, The Invitation was pretty much a modern take on Dracula’s brides. But to me at least, things are getting weird in the entertainment industry, when vampire tales begin… well… eating themselves.
Case in point is the vampire story, Let the Right One In.
It is a time of growing oppression. Ordinary people, without the heft of a famous name or the gifts of the midi-chlorians and a Jedi guardian, must make a choice: Join the GALACTIC EMPIRE and accept a comfortable life of regimentation, obedience to orders, and acceptance of the official line or — something else.
Young CASSIAN ANDOR, an unknown scion of lost cargo cult on a half-forgotten world, has chosen something else. A life on the fringe, in the shadows, leaving as few traces of himself as possible and carefully watching each step. His search for his sister continues on the leased planets of PREOX-MORANA CORPORATE ZONE.
During his investigation, matters go awry. The hunter becomes the hunted. Now one man, increasingly caught in a web of what might be called “imperial entanglements” faces a choice, both for himself and his lost sister, that will alter the future of an entire galaxy . . .
Deborah Burros had a relatively short writing career, publishing a total of five stories between her debut in 1991 with “Masks” and her most recent story, “Artistic License,” which appeared in 2002. Three of her stories appeared in the Sword and Sorceress anthology series, while the other two appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Her middle tale, “Roses,” appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of the magazine.
Burros tells the story of the marriage between Lady Rose and Lord Sleet. It is not a happy marriage, for neither of them loved the other and it was understood by both that Lord Sleet had married Lady Rose for her family’s money and Lady Rose had married Lord Sleet in order to gain a veneer of respectability for a family whose money was apparently made under unsavory conditions. The couple seemed to have come to an arrangements, however, wherein Lady Rose would spend her time cultivating a rose garden and Lord Sleet would spend his time in dalliance with his mistress, Jade.
Swords in hand, swashbucklers strode across the silver screen throughout the silent era, especially in the Twenties, when Hollywood budgets grew large enough to encompass grand historical spectacles. Then sound came in circa 1930, and swashbucklers went out, in part because early microphones didn’t record well outside, so most of the first “talkies” were filmed on interior sound stages — not the best venues for historical action.
But historical adventure films were saved by the insatiable American (and for that matter, European) appetite for Westerns. Rootin’, tootin’ horse operas had to be shot outside, so the problem of miking away from a sound stage had to be solved. By 1934, the technical issues had been sorted out, and swashbucklers were back on the screen, led by a trio of hits in The Count of Monte Cristo, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and the first talkie version of Treasure Island. This week we’re going to enjoy a look at the latter, and follow it up with two other notable Thirties swashbucklers.
We have exciting news to share about Howard Andrew Jones and Sword & Sorcery.
Howard Andrew Jones in Magazines
Howard Andrew Jones is a titan amongst the Black Gate staff, having served as Manager Editor of the paperback magazine from 2004 onward. He has also been a champion of adventure fiction, being the driving force behind the rebirth of interest in Harold Lamb’s historical fiction (assembled and edited 8 collections of Lamb’s work for the University of Nebraska Press). On the Sword & Sorcery front, he has been blogging about the genre for decades (and his posts on the now-obsolete Flashing Swords e-zine… and subsequently on Black Gate… regarding REVISITING THE NEW EDGE would eventually coin the term “New Edge S&S”). Howard Andrew Jones is currently the Editor for the sword-and-sorcery magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull, published by Goodman Games.
HAJ in Books
Howard Jones’s debut historical fantasy novel, The Desert of Souls (Thomas Dunne Books 2011), was widely acclaimed by influential publications like Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly, made Kirkus’ New and Notable list for 2011, and was on both Locus’s Recommended Reading List and the Barnes and Noble Best Fantasy Releases list of 2011. Its sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones, made the Barnes and Noble Best Fantasy Release of 2013 and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. He is the author of four Pathfinder novels, an e-collection of short stories featuring the heroes from his historical fantasy novels, The Waters of Eternity, and the Ring-Sworn trilogy from St. Martin’s, starting with For the Killing of Kings, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and concluding with When the Goddess Wakes, which received the same recognition.
Now There is Even More!
Baen Books signed Howard Andrew Jones to pen five books: The Chronicles of Hanuvar (the first book to arrive August 2023). Press release below.
We’ve just wrapped up another successful summer run of A (Black) Gat in the Hand. What? How do I know it was successful? Because it didn’t get canceled, that’s how. It was also, unanimously, hands down, the favorite pulp series at Black Gate this summer. So… what now? Yes, it was the ONLY pulp series this summer. I believe even this year so far. Totally beside the point.
Anywhoo…while I was immersed in reading and listening for the series (I didn’t do any movies this year, I think), I was still watching ‘stuff,’ and reading non-Pulp stuff here and there. So, this week, I’m gonna talk about five things I’ve watched, lately. Next week, it will be five things I’ve listened to (audio books, radio plays).
I’m not necessarily a renaissance man, but as a friend once said of me, I’m more of a late medieval pretender.
Starhammer, The Vang: The Military Form and The Vang: The Battlemaster
(Del Rey, 1986 – 1990). Covers by David Schleinkofer and Stephen Hickman
I’m a huge fan of modern science fiction, and I find no shortage of new novels and and series to coo over here. But there are times when I miss the old-school SF of last century, rooted in the Cold War paranoia of the 50s and 60s. The Golden Age of invaders from space, all-consuming blobs, and gooey alien parasites that have their sights set on your lower G.I. tract.
In the late 80s Christopher Rowley, author of the popular Battle Dragons series from Roc, had a hit with his Vangnovels, a space opera/alien parasite hybrid. Clearly inspired by the author’s love of Alien and pulp-era SF by A.E. Van Vogt, Jack Vance, Eric Frank Russell, and others, the trilogy — Starhammer, The Vang: The Military Form and The Vang: The Battlemaster — had the sweep of epic space opera crossed with the gritty realism of James Cameron’s Colonial Marines.
The story of The Vang begins when the asteroid miner Seed of Hope, illegally prospecting in a Forbidden Sector of the Saskatch system, finds a billion year-old vessel containing an alien horror, the last vestige of a race nearly annihilated in an ancient conflict that convulsed the galaxy. It’s an encounter that will plunge humanity into a desperate war of survival.
Universe, September 1953. Cover by Robert Gibson Jones
Universe was one of the many new science fiction magazines that appeared in the early 1950s. It was founded by Ray Palmer, the notorious editor of Amazing Stories during the 1940s, reviled for his promotion of the “Shaver Mystery” (about a race of people living underground.) He left Amazing when the publisher, Ziff-Davis, moved to New York. Palmer stayed in Chicago and started a magazine called Other Worlds Science Stories (published by Clark Publications.) Financial troubles led to the demise (temporarily, it turned out) of Other Worlds, and a new company, Bell Publications, was founded, and published two magazines: Science Stories, and Universe. The company was soon renamed Palmer Publications. Science Stories lasted four issues, and Universe ten, after which Palmer returned to the name Other Worlds Science Stories.
The editor at the beginning was “George Bell,” which meant Ray Palmer and Bea Mahaffey. After two issues of Universe, the editors were credited under their real names. Mahaffey was Palmer’s co-editor at Other Worlds, Science Stories, Universe, and another publication, Mystic Magazine, from late 1952 into 1955, at which time Palmer’s continuing financial issues caused him to lay her off. She is often credited with being the primary fiction editor of those magazines, and there is little disputing that the quality of the fiction was higher during her tenure than in Amazing before that, or in Palmer’s magazines after she was let go.
Foundryside, Shorefall, and Locklands (Crown and Del Rey, 2018 – 2022). Cover designs by Will Staehle
Robert Jackson Bennett is the author of the Divine Cities trilogy (City of Stairs, City of Blades, and City of Miracles), as well as the BFA and Shirley Jackson Award winner Mr. Shivers. Locklands, the closing novel in his Foundersseries, was released at the end of June and, in keeping with tradition, we baked a cake here at our rooftop headquarters to celebrate the successful wrap of another quality fantasy trilogy. (Apropos of nothing, we badly need a gym in the rooftop headquarters…)
Former Black Gate blogger Amal El-Mohtar called Foundryside, the first volume in the trilogy:
Absolutely riveting… A magnificent, mind-blowing start to a series… I felt fully, utterly engaged by the ideas, actually in love with the core characters… and in awe of Bennett’s craft.
It came in fourth in the annual Locus poll for Best Fantasy Novel, and was selected as one of the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2018 by The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. Here’s how they described it at the time.