Another Catch-all Update

Thursday, June 28th, 2007 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

First, I seem to have missed an interesting series of posts Martha Wells had on writing. Fortunately they’re all still available, and she’s once again asking for writing questions, so the posts will continue. I just found a nice mini-essay on doling out backstory while moving action forward. You can find it here, on Martha’s blog.

Second, you may have noticed that it’s been quiet around here. That’s the sound of issue 11 being worked upon, and me pushing through as much e-slush as I can before I finally finish a game review of a new Traveller package for issue 11 of Black Gate. All I have left are a few longer stories. I don’t know how John does it, but as I’m reading through subs and come upon REALLY long ones — 10k and longer — try a few paragraphs and they have any promise… I’m afraid I put those longer stories at the bottom of the pile. That’s probably not fair of me, but when I have only a limited amount of time available each day for slush, and we’re running behind, I prefer to read as many stories as I can rather than spending all of that time on a single tale. Right now I’ve only got ONE big one left. After issue 11 I have approximately 60-70  subs to go; the last stories turned in before we closed to submissions.

Third, regular readers know that I’m a huge fan of Leigh Brackett and that I’ve been reading my children Brackett tales this summer. I mentioned Haffner press as an excellent source of her work, and there will shortly be another, Paizo, which will ALSO be publishing a number of other classic sword and planet tales under their Planet Stories imprint. I’m most looking forward to having a complete collection of Kuttner’s Elak stories, which they’ll be publishing come fall. I tracked them down the hard way one-by-one, but others deserve easier access, and Kuttner’s in need of rediscovery because of these and many other works. He was writing Ray  Bradbury style stories before Bradbury was. Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore are two favorites of mine, and coincidentally were best friends with Brackett and her husband Edmond Hamilton. Anyway, I like the sound of this imprint’s plans and will be watching them.

Back to regularly scheduled programming…

Howard


Black Gate Short Fiction Reviews

Sunday, June 24th, 2007 | Posted by Web Master

From the venerable Sunday New York Times Magazine to small online bastions such as Clarkesworld and Strange Horizons, short fantasy and science fiction is still out there in the marketplace of ideas, thrilling readers around the world. Join Black Gate‘s David Soyka on a trip through all the latest gems in the field, including the latest from a Pulitzer Prize winner and several nominees for the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards.

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Submissions and Writing Tips

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

E-submissions: I’m almost up to the final batch of slush before we closed to submissions, sent to BG near the end of last year. I will dive into those soon, but must turn my attention to some work for the next topic…

Issue 11: John’s making final adjustments for the new issue, which means I need to get him a big parcel of non-fiction pretty swiftly. 

Writing: Do NOT miss a great article on novel writing (writing in general, really) from Eric Knight. A lengthy post, and worthy of reading, and re-reading, and reading again.

Stories forwarded for further consideration: Still under further consideration, I’m afraid, as the pressures of getting out the next issue take center stage.


Out of the Harbor: More Online Adventure

Sunday, June 17th, 2007 | Posted by Web Master

Black Gate‘s multi-part look at Dungeons & Dragons Online continues with a contemplation on the joys of intermediate play. Treacherous sewers, new wilderness areas filled with quests, and deciding whether or not to join a guild or adventure alone are just some of the topics covered.

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The Fantasy Cycles of Clark Ashton Smith Part II: The Book of Hyperborea

Sunday, June 10th, 2007 | Posted by Web Master

“A far northern continent in its younger days before glaciers claimed it, when wizards and elder gods and wily thieves and greedy moneylenders crisscrossed its steamy jungles and ebony mountains and opulent cities.” That is how Ryan Harvey introduces us to Hyperborea, the second invented world of Clark Ashton Smith’s to be put under Black Gate‘s critical microscope. Join us on a journey to one of fantasy’s most delightfully strange milieus.

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Submissions, Conan, and Brackett

Thursday, June 7th, 2007 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

Conan and the Emerald Lotus-smallFirst up on my summer reading is Black Gate submissions. That’s first up on my reading list all the time, any more. I’ve been sending out responses and have about forty more to read in THIS batch before I move on to the last 75 submissions. I also need to finish up my contributions to the gaming and review sections of issue 11. John’s got the issue all lined up, with just a few holes to plug in, article and review wise, from the stockpile I’ve accumulated from our talented contributors. You can see a preview of issue 11’s cover at the Black Gate web site.

I’ve taken a little time for reading for fun; more than I’ve been able to take for three or four years, really, as there wasn’t much time for fun reading while working on the master’s degree. I tore through a book Eric Knight sent me, Fatherland. I sure wish I could figure out how Harris made all that description and world building so interesting, but I’m still scratching my head. Maybe it was in the creation of the alternate world as a character, but that’s too simple an answer.

Me reading an entire novel, and a thick one, like Fatherland, is a rare occurrence at this point in my life. What with the recent madness of the degree and the move and remodel, before that reading subs for Flashing Swords and now for Black Gate, and having children, well, anything but short stories feels like an impossible barrier rather than something to look forward to.

Speaking of looking forward to reading, though — I had the rare honor of reading something many have desired to see but few have ever held in their hands. Shortly before their death, L. Sprague de Camp and his wife Catherine related that they had finished the manuscript together reading on the floor of de Camp’s study because they couldn’t put it down. De Camp called it one of the best Conan pastiches he’d ever read, but Catherine de Camp just came right out and said that it was THE best Conan pastiche she’d ever read. No small wonder, since its writer had drafted Conan and the Emerald Lotus, which remains near the top, if not at the very apex, of most people’s Howard pastiche list. John C. Hocking really captured the character of Conan — the complexity, the atmosphere, and the style. The de Camps liked Emerald so well they pulled it out of the slush and published it, and the second, Conan and the Living Plague so well that they were going to try to take it to hardback. Hocking thought he’d be drafting many a Conan tale in years to come.

But it was not to be. The de Camp’s were older, and the market was changing, and the Conan property changed hands. Hocking’s book got lost in the shuffle despite being championed, and later companies opted to publish Turtledove’s Conan (which was pretty much thoroughly blasted by Conan fans). No other Conan novels have followed, despite continued interest from Conan fans in this “lost” Conan novel. They know Hocking wrote Plague, and still bring it up from time to time on forums even today, almost a decade later. Hocking himself shrugs his shoulders about it and doesn’t seem to bear anyone ill will for what happened, but then he’s a gentlemanly fellow.

So what’s Conan and the Living Plague like?

It was glorious. Anyone who loves an out-and-out sword-and-sorcery romp would thrill to this ride. Hocking pretty much nailed Conan, who’s far more complex a character than most people realize, and came amazingly close to Robert E. Howard’s style, not to mention ably capturing the whole Weird Tales atmosphere. Here’s the one guy today who should have been tapped to write Conan pastiche, if there’s going to be any pastiche. It’s a great piece of work, and it will probably never, ever, see print. A somber thought.

In happier news, I’ve been getting some reading for fun in another way, and that’s by reading to my children. In the last few weeks they’ve heard Robert E. Howard’s “Garden of Fear,” and Leigh Brackett’s The Sword of Rhiannon (a.k.a Sea Kings of Mars) as well as Enchantress of Venus. My little girl’s a little too young to enjoy them yet, but my boy is loving them. He’ll occasionally stop and say “wow, that was a great sentence.” I remembered that I loved The Sword of Rhiannon and Enchantress of Venus, and I still did, even after a span of years away from them. I did get pretty tired of all the typographical errors in the Millenium Press collection of Brackett’s work, however, and am going to have to track down The Sword of Rhiannon in paperback once more just so I can read a cleaner version.

Thankfully Robert E. Howard’s work’s finally easier to find, although I fear that not all of it will be collected, and I darned well wish that it was available in a hardback set. Brackett too is getting some long overdue packaging, courtesy of Haffner Press. Ah, if only all book companies put the love into their products that Haffner Press does. I don’t know that I’ve ever found any kind of typo on Steve Haffner’s publications. The bindings are excellent and so are the covers. At the Windy City Pulp and Paperback con Haffner told me that the second of three Brackett volumes would be ready by some time mid-year, pending only an introduction from Ray Bradbury. Brackett fan that I am, I’m more excited about seeing this second book and reading some potentially unread Brackett (unread by me, I mean) than I am about the new Harry Potter book. As her husband, the late, great, Ed Hamilton said, “this gal can write.” Boy could she.


Black Gate Short Fiction Reviews

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 | Posted by Web Master

It’s into the small press maelstrom once again with Black Gate‘s David Soyka, as he considers two new offerings from the world of short genre fiction.

This month we look at the debut of an ambitious new print magazine titled Greatest Uncommon Denominator, as well as the third issue of the online publication Darker Matter. Both are crammed with lots of intriguing stories by authors such as Jason Stoddard, Bruce Boston, and Charlie Anders, and David points you to the best of the bunch.

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