Goth Chick News: Touch My Books and I’ll Turn You into a Newt

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick She turned me into a newt-small

For years my one grand ambition was to have an Edwardian-type library in my house, providing the perfect sanctuary for perusing my favorite titles, while offering all my lovely tomes a suitable resting place from which to be admired. So, when I built this house the focus was entirely on having my library, and who cared about anything else?

Though my collection of hardcover volumes is small by most standards (not the least of which is compared to BG Big Cheese John O’s library), I am extremely proud and highly protective of my 500+ collection. Each one tells a story in addition to the literal one, as I’ve collected them on my travels and sometimes, in those early days, saved up for extended periods to buy a highly-desired volume, stood outside in Chicago winters to get first editions signed by the authors, or had them given to me by very special people. Friends have long since stopped asking to borrow a book off my shelf as I’d rather purchase another copy and gift it to them then let any of mine out of sight.

You get the idea.

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Future Treasures: Time’s Demon, Book 2 of the Islevale Cycle by D. B. Jackson

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Time's Children DB Jackson-small Time's Demon new hires-small

D. B. Jackson is the author of four novels in the popular Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, and the collection Tales of the Thieftaker, which Fletcher Vredenburgh called “tense… the mysteries [are] good, the characters well-drawn… is a brisk read with an engaging lead, a colorful supporting cast, and a nicely detailed setting.” ‘D.B. Jackson’ also happens to be Black Gate contributor David B. Coe, whose blog posts here have covered topics as diverse as World Building and Nicola Griffith’s 90s classic Slow River.

David’s 2018 novel Time’s Children was the opening novel in the Islevale series. It related the adventures of Tobias Doljan, time-traveling agent of the court of Daerjen. In her Black Gate review Margaret S. McGraw said:

This is an epic fantasy with magic, sword fighting, political intrigue, demons, assassins, and budding romance. Plus time travel! And well done time travel at that. I’m a sucker for time travel stories, but I’m often disappointed by their simplistic delivery or avoidance of temporal paradox — that’s not the case here at all. Jackson created an entirely believable world of Travelers and other magical beings… I look forward to Time’s Demon — where I hope we will learn more about Droë, as well as the continued adventures of Tobias, Mara, and Sofya.

Time’s Demon finally arrives next week amid much anticipation. Here’s the description.

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The Triumphant Return of Fantomas

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

The Wrath Of Fantomas-smallThe Wrath of Fantomas is a book I approached with extreme prejudice. It’s a graphic novel that seeks to present a new version of Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain’s Fantomas series, which proved so successful when it was introduced a scant 108 years ago. As a rule, I dislike the concept of rebooting a series.

When first discovering a book series as a kid, continuity was key. It made a property more meaningful if there were numerous volumes to find and devour. Scouring used bookstores for dogeared copies of the missing pieces in the narrative puzzle made such books far more valuable to me. It seemed there were always a half dozen series I was working on completing in those decades long before the internet. They form some of the happiest memories of my formative years.

The entire concept of rebooting a series as a jumping-on point for new readers (or viewers, in the case of films) is distasteful to me. It devalues the worth of the original works. It suggests a series can be boiled down to its lowest common denominator and elements juggled so that a name and basic concept are enough to move forward with renewed sense of purpose.

Generally, in these overly sensitive times of ours, it also means elements that are no longer fashionable or politically acceptable will be whitewashed, bowdlerized, and otherwise made acceptable for Stalin, Mao, or whomever else has the clout to say censorship is required when the past inconveniently reminds us people were always flawed, unfair, uncouth, or sometimes just bluntly honest.

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Spectacular Church Frescoes in Valencia, Spain

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

20190509_123002

In my last post, we looked at some of Valencia’s ancient ruins, but of course this historic Spanish port has more to offer. Perhaps the city’s most impressive sight is the Church of San Nicolás.

Like so many other European churches, it’s built on the remains of an old pagan temple from the Roman times. The first Christian building on the site was founded by James I of Aragon (ruled 1213-1276) and donated to the Dominicans.

In the 15th century, the church was greatly refurbished, taking on a Gothic style and the addition of a rose window.

When I visited a couple of weeks ago, I barely noticed those medieval elements. They’re almost invisible next to the flamboyant Baroque frescoes covering the entire vault. Painted between 1690 and 1693 by Juan Pérez Castiel, these frescoes have been brilliantly restored in recent years.

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Telelux and Rastus: Westinghouse’s Forgotten Robots

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Rastus promo photo 1

In the 1920s, the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company became the world’s leading builder of robots, purely by accident. Nobody at Westinghouse ever intended to build a robot, nobody thought that doing so would be anything other than a waste of their time. Then one of their employees, Roy Wensley, came up with a nifty gadget. He figured out that by sending sound tones down a telephone wire, they could activate machinery at the other end, having it either turn on or off or send back another set of tones conveying information about the system.

The control equipment fit into two boxes, one smaller than the other. Stacked, they looked a bit like a human head and torso. Prodded by the public relations staff, Wensley dressed the box front with a cardboard figurine, including a cartoon face, and movable arms and legs. Presto! Televox the Westinghouse Robot splashed all over the media in 1927, the first robot to become a household name since Percy, star of the comic strip of the same name, rocketed to fame in 1911.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Manly Wade Wellman

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Lee Brown Coye

Cover by Lee Brown Coye

Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman

Cover by Michael Flanagan

Cover by Michael Flanagan

The World Fantasy Awards are presented during the World Fantasy Convention and are selected by a mix of nominations from members of the convention and a panel of judges. The awards were established in 1975 and presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Traditionally, the awards took the form of a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson, however in recent years the trophy became controversial in light of Lovecraft’s more problematic beliefs and has been replaced with a trophy of a tree with a full moon. The Lifetime Achievement Award has been part of the award since its founding, with the first one being presented to Robert Bloch. In 1980, the year Wellman was recognized, the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. Judges were Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Belknap Long, andrew j. offutt, Ted White, and Susan Wood.

Manly Wade Wellman was born in Kamundongo in Portuguese West Africa (now part of Angola) on May 21, 1903, where his father was serving as a medical officer. When he was six years old, his family moved back to the United States and Wellman attended school in Washington, DC and prep school in Salt Lake City before going to Wichita Municipal University to earn a BA in English.

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The Best of HFQ Volume III Now Funding on Kickstarter

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Kickstarter

Adrian Simmons, one of the editorial masterminds at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (HFQ) alerted me that they’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign for the third volume of The Best of HFQ. The first two books were very warmly received by Black Gate readers, and this one looks like it could be the best yet. Here’s Adrian with all the deets.

HFQ has been bringing great S&S and adventure fiction to the world for ten years, and we have distilled our best tales and poems from years 5-6 for our third Best-of anthology. In those two years we published work by Nebula winner P. Djéli Clark, brought the work of Cullen Groves to the world, and introduced Eric Atkisson’s Comanche adventurer Crazy Snake. As with Best-of #2, we have fired up a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs, and we’ve already hit 40% of our goal!

Need a reminder about the quality of our work from the time? Black Gate readers may remember the glowing reviews of Fletcher Vredenburgh for Issue #22 and Issue #23.

I almost never back Kickstarter campaigns, but I happily made an exception in this case. Read our thoughts on Volume I here, Volume II here, and support a worthy cause — and one of the best adventure fantasy magazines on the market in the process — right here.


Writing Women

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 | Posted by S.M. Carrière

A Woman

A Woman

Also a Woman

Also a Woman

Good afternoon, Readers!

Full disclosure: I am a woman, and so have a vested interest in how women are portrayed in all media, not even just the speculative. Since, however, the speculative is so able to better reflect the real world and imagine a better one, I’m going to talk about that for today.

I had been, at one point in my past, privy to a enormous internet argument about how terribly some male writers write women. The primary complaint of the defenders of bad writing of female characters was, and this is a literal quote, ” writing women is hard.”

Congratulations, random male internet commenter, you have accidentally his upon an immutable truth. Writing women is hard. Writing men is hard. Writing a compelling scene is hard. Writing plot is hard.

Writing is hard.

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Rereading The Defenders with the Defenders Dialogue Podcast: Issues 1-64

Monday, May 20th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Marvel-Feature-1

I sometimes have trouble making my brain stop thinking. As a writer, it’s hard to read a book, story or comic or watch anything without having my “is this the way I would have done this?” or “what can I learn from this?” working in the background. This can be exhausting.

I’m in one of those periods now, so in the last couple of months, I watched the whole Logan’s Run TV series and a few episodes of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica for its kitsch, nostalgia and the mental time travel to my youth.  I blogged a bit about 70s sci-fi TV here. But I still needed something more to listen to while driving and doing dishes.

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Hither Came Conan: Bob Byrne on “Rogues in the House”

Monday, May 20th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_RoguesMarvelEDITEDWhen I was pitching this series to folks, I was using the title, The Best of Conan. I didn’t come up with Hither Came Conan for about eight months, I think. Yeah, I know… The idea behind the series came from an essay in my first (and so far, only) Nero Wolfe Newsletter. The plan for 3 Good Reasons is to look at a story and list three reasons why it’s the ‘best’ Wolfe story. And I toss in one ‘bad’ reason why it’s not. And finish it off with some quotes. You’ll be reading more 3 Good Reasons here at Black Gate in 2020.

So, I’m going to take a somewhat different tack from those who have come before me (I doubt I could have measured up, anyways) and pick out two elements that make this story one of Howard’s best recountings of the mighty-thewed Cimmerian. Then, throw a curveball from the Wolfe approach and highlight a few items worthy of note.

OUR STORY

Obviously, you need to read this story, but here’s a Cliff’s Notes version: Nabonidus, the Red Priest, is the real power in this unnamed Corinthian city. He gives a golden cask to Murilo, a young aristocrat. And inside the cask is a human ear (remind you of Sherlock Holmes? It should.). We learn a little later on that Murillo has been selling state secrets, and the ear is from a clerk he had dealings with. The jig is up!

Given the choice of running away, waiting meekly for assured death, or finding a tool to escape his predicament, he chooses the latter. And Conan is that tool. Wait: that didn’t sound right…

Conan and a Gunderman deserter had been successful thieves until a fence, a Priest of Anu, betrayed them. The priest also happened to be a spy for the police. As a result, the unnamed Gunderman (more on that below) was captured and hung. Conan then cut off the priest’s head in revenge. A ‘faithless woman’ (presumably his current main squeeze) betrayed him to the police, who captured the Cimmerian as he hid out, drunk.

Murillo visits the cell and Conan agrees to kill Nabonidus in exchange for his freedom. Things go a bit awry and Murillo goes after Nabonidus himself but faints at the sight of the red priest in his house. Meanwhile, Conan, after casually killing his ex-girlfriend’s new lover and then dumping her in a cesspool, sneaks into the pits under Nabonidus’ house, where he encounters Murillo, who had been dumped down there.

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