Black Gate now open to Fiction Submissions

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Gate magazine is open to fiction submissions until June 30.

Black Gate publishes epic fantasy at all lengths, including novel excerpts. We’re looking for adventure-oriented fantasy fiction suitable for all ages, as long as it is well written and original.

Please look over our Submission Guidelines before sending us anything. If you have any questions, drop me a note at

It’s worth mentioning that we accept both electronic and physical submissions, and will consider simultaneous submissions. Our response time is about two months.

Our submission address is:

New Epoch Press
Attn: Submissions Dept
815 Oak Street
St. Charles, IL 60174

Physical Submissions must contain a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) or an e-mail address. Please send us only disposable manuscripts. If you need your manuscript returned, please so indicate (clearly) on your cover letter, and make sure you have sufficient postage on your return envelope.

If you are submitting via e-mail, please ensure the e-mail address you use is the one you wish us to reply to. In the event your e-mail address changes, be sure to drop us a note.

Electronic submissions must be sent as plain text pasted into the body of an e-mail message, not as an attachment or separate file (which are more prone to carrying viruses). Special formatting (such as italics or bold) should be indicated _like so_. To safeguard our computer systems, submissions sent as attachments will be deleted unread.

And good luck!  We’re looking forward to seeing something from you.

New Review of Black Gate 13

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 | Posted by John ONeill

Long time reader Matthew Wuertz has posted a splendid review of Black Gate 13 on his blog.  Here’s what he said about “Bones in the Desert, Stones in the Sea” by Amy Tibbetts:

Aleem’s sister was alienated from the rest of her village after conceiving a half-breed child from one of the uttuk pillagers because she sought to carry it to full term. Aleem arrives after her death that occurred during childbirth, and he must deal with the tragic loss of his sister as well as figure out the most merciful way to kill her offspring.

I felt like this was the heart of the issue. A brother torn by the loss of a sister he’d had little contact with once they became adults, forced to confront his duties of honoring her wishes to have a child that she conceived out of rape. This was a really moving piece that seemed to go beyond just the story itself, one that I’d like to see up for an award.

And “The Merchant of Loss” by Justin Stanchfield and Mikal Trimm:

Galen brings a wagon of strange wares into the Bitter Hills, an assorted collection of “effluvia of daily life.” He encounters a secretive woman who seeks a trade between the breath of her name and a locked box from Galen’s wagon.

This was my favorite story of the issue. Haunting, captivating and engaging. The story grabbed me and pulled me through to the end.

You can find the full review at

Thanks Matthew! Glad you enjoyed the issue.

Write your own review, and let us know about it, and we’ll post it here for others to enjoy.

Memories of Ultima IV

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

If a single positive resulted from the work of that woefully misinformed but correctly acronymed organization BADD (Bothered about Dungeons & Dragons), a group that waged a crusade to stop children from jumping into the Bags of Holding that they learned to construct from an $11.99 hardcover rulebook purchased at a hobby store, it was the computer RPG Ultima IV: The Quest of the Avatar. To this day, it’s only video RPG I’ve ever loved. And I’m not the only one who got sucked into this fantasy computer game when it was first published by Origin Systems in 1985 for a variety of platforms. (This was also the year of The Bard’s Tale from Electronic Arts; a major time for computer RPGs.)

By the middle of the decade, Richard Garriott, who programs under the pseudonym “Lord British,” had completed the first three of the Ultima games, featuring standard RPG plots where heroes had to vanquish a series of Dark Lords and their descendants. He had received complaints from parents about the demonic nature of these games—and the cover of Ultima III: Exodus in particular—and certainly knew about BADD’s anti-fantasy game campaign. But Garriott did something interesting instead of shrugging off the complaints. He used them to see if he could devise a new challenge for a computer game that wouldn’t use the standard “defeat the Big Bad Guy” of fantasy RPGs. What if the players had to actually live up to the extraordinary standards of acting as great, chivalric heroes? In fact, what if that was the whole point of the game: achieve the highest level of moral heroism so the players turned into ethical cynosures for the whole world? What was called, in game terms, an “Avatar”?

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In defense of Bradbury

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 | Posted by Theo

I have to respectfully disagree with Soyka here regarding whether the iPod generation can relate to the thrill of the night carnival. First, let me admit that my perspective on Bradbury is perhaps a little unusual, in that I think he is rather overrated as a science fiction author and underrated as a literary author. I could not understand why Fahrenheit 451 was so highly regarded when I was younger; now that I am a bit more politically sophisticated, I suspect that without the timing of its publication and its romantic appeal to those who make a fetish of opposing book-burning, it might not be numbered among his better books. (NB: I happen to oppose book-burning myself, I merely think that such opposition is about as remarkable as breathing. I can’t even bring myself to make pencil marks in books that I have specifically bought to make notes in.) Sometimes, a book’s reputation is more dependent upon its synchronicity with the zeitgeist than the actual text.

To me, the greatness of Bradbury stems from his unique ability to instill a renewed sense of child-like appreciation of life in the reader. It’s not the space, the aliens, or even the ideas that are special in Bradbury, it is the humane heart. Dandelion Wine is still one of my favorite books, and I think that the sense of wonder it conveys would appeal even more to the less innocent teen reader of today whose loss of that is much more recent than an adult reader. I was a hard-core gamer as a teenager and I had never been to a carnival, let alone a night carnival, but I can still remember how magical it was to be transported back to being eight years old again and remembering the excitement inherent in an approaching summer evening.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the XBox is calling. I have some Necromorphs to dismember….


Sunday, April 26th, 2009 | Posted by eeknight

I finally saw Twilight.

Even with the aid of my snarky spouse and the Rifftrax team it was still tough going. I ended up downing an entire bottle of red plonk to help things along.

Of course I don’t expect teenage girls to get excited by the boys of Glengarry Glen Ross and I am glad they’re reading something and I’m all in favor of the local jailbait exerting a modicum of sexual self-control but cripes. This? It’s flippin’ Smallville with candy-cane vampires.

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S is for Space

Saturday, April 25th, 2009 | Posted by Soyka

d40cbf3c-2d61-11de-8710-00144feabdc0Courtesy of Locus comes this link to James Lovegrove’s Review of the cover — not the book itself — of PS Publishing’s reissue complete with original artwork (hence the review) of Ray Bradbury’s 1966 short story collection S is for Space, a sequel of sort to R is for Rocket, which also featured a cover by Joe Mugnaini. Lovegrove says that a first edition copy is a rare find. It just so happens that I have one. My parents weren’t book people, but my neighbors across the street were. Mr. Heinholdt worked for The New York Herald (for you youngsters out there, that was a fairly reputable newspaper in its day) and Mrs. Heinholdt (further note for you youngsters: in those days, kids had no idea that adults had first names) worked at this marvelous used book store of cavernous dimensions infused with the smell of old paper stored for way too long where for hours I’d thumb through poorly filed carboard boxes of Astounding magazines from the 1940s  stuffed in tight spaces beneath groaning bookshelves. Knowing of my enthusiasm for Bradbury and science fiction, for Christmas of 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Heinholdt gave me a hardcover of S is for Space. I thought it was the first hardcover of a “real adult” book of literature  I was ever to own.

But it would seem my memory is faulty. It wasn’t a “real  adult” book, after all. Lovegrove notes that the book was aimed at what today is called the young adult market.  And, sure enough, there are cover flap blurbs from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and a notation that the book is recommended in the H.W. Wilson Standard Catalog for High School Libraries.

Sigh. Another childhood illusion shattered.  Funny thing is, I was flipping through the stories, and for the most part they strike me as stronger — as well they should, this is, after all, Bradbury in his prime — than his latest We’ll Always Have Paris that I recently reviewed. Even from my adult perspective.

I don’t know if I’d assign Bradbury to a high school audience, these days. I don’t think they’d get it. Too many anachronisms. Can the iPod and Facebook generation relate much to boys who thrill to the night carnival?

Oh, in case you were going to ask, no, my copy is not for sale, whatever it may be worth as a first edition in very good condition. Some things you just can’t put a price on.

The Good, the Brown, and the Kornbluth

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Posted by James Enge

Everyone who loves imaginative fiction should raise their voice, frequently, in praise of NESFA, the venerable fan group whose press has been doing great work, putting out archival collections of classic sf in hardcovers. I was reminded of this earlier this week when reading Frederik Pohl’s pleasant reminiscence of his onetime collaborator Cyril Kornbluth (the fierce and witty genius who, too young, died a horrible suburban death right out of a Mad Men episode). I instantly went into graying-fan mode, whining that my old hero wasn’t sufficiently appreciated by the rising generation. It was swiftly and civilly pointed out to me that there is, in fact, a fair amount of CMK’s slender output still in print, including his complete short sf in the aptly titled NESFA collection, His Share of Glory (ably edited by Timothy P. Szczesuil). That’s not enough for an enthusiast for me, of course: I want an omnibus of all the Pohl/Kornbluth novels, and a reprint Kornbluth’s best book, The Syndic, and I want and I want and I want. But it was uncivil of me to ignore the existence of a book I liked so much, so I thought I’d review it here. As a bonus I’ll toss in some comments about the NESFA collection From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown (edited by Ben Yalow).

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You got your Zombies in my Pride and Prejudice!

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

ppzombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Classics, 2009)

I love the genre of “re-contextualizing,” taking a work of art, regardless of its qualities, and slamming it into a new setting to see what happens. This can come from a Warholian perspective, or it can be done with the humorous ocean of pop-culture parody in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which I have no hesitation in naming my favorite television show ever). Re-contextualization can be as simple as re-writing the captions for The Family Circus and printing Garfield cartoons with Garfield’s thought-balloons removed to create a surreal world. It can also create a new work of art, such as taking Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s aria “The Song of the Indian Guest” from the opera Sadko and making it a jazz classic like “Song of India,” perhaps one of the greatest dance-pieces ever charted.

Although re-contextualizing often implies satire or parody, it can simply involve experiment. “What would such-and-such feel like if it were altered in a certain way? I think it would go something like this. . . .”

And that’s where the new volume Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes in. Author Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote The Big Book of Porn, a look into the oddest entertainment industry, and How to Survive a Horror Movie, takes the text of Jane Austen’s 1813 comedy of manners and tweaks it to include a zombie plague overrunning the English countryside at the same time that busybody Mrs. Bennet maneuvers to get her daughters married to eligible bachelors.

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Disparate Thoughts on Ballard, the Nature of Memory, a Fisher-Queen, and Fantasy Generally

Monday, April 20th, 2009 | Posted by Judith Berman

RIP, J.G. Ballard.

His was among the strange New Worlds fiction that I encountered as an unsuspecting kid in my brother’s sf collection, higgledy-piggledy among the Clarke, Asimov, and Simak. I didn’t know what to make of it then, but it’s been sitting in my backbrain all these years, still messing with the contents.


Strangely, one of my grad school professors was, like Ballard, born and raised in Shanghai, and like him was also interned as a boy by the Japanese during World War II. He said, of both the book and movie versions of Empire of the Sun, “It was nothing like that.” I wish now I had taken notes; he gave a number of specific examples. But it shows that memoir (and memory), like fiction, are the product of an intensely personal process. This is the construction of meaning through narrative.

In searching academic literature on memory recently, I came across a review article on “Trauma and Memory” (Van der Kolk, Bessel A. (1998), Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 52:S97-S109). The author compares the recollection of traumatic events with ordinary memories from both a clinical and a neuroscience perspective. Combat veterans and other sufferers of PTSD do not experience recollection of the most traumatic events as memory, but as fragments of direct, unprocessed sensory input. During traumatic experiences, the sense-impressions received by the brain bypass the parts, like the hippocampus, that would organize them into a coherent form of consciousness, and so memories do not form as in ordinary experience. This “organizing” is the creation of a narrative out of the fragments and at the same time, creation of meaning which the fragments lacked. At the clinical level, processing traumatic memory was the stitching together of a story of the experience….. a process which most of us, most of the time, do so effortlessly we hardly notice.

No wonder being told stories, in fiction, in movies, in art, has such a huge effect on how we think and feel. Narrative is how we think and feel. Read More »

What Next?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009 | Posted by Soyka

A brief and imprecise history of 20th century SF (with a bit of fantasy) into the 21st:

Back in the so-called Golden Age, it was about rocket ships and blasters and the possibility of an atomic bomb.
Possibilities became reality, and post World War II writers were obsessed with the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Along came the sixties and the New Wave and rather than celebrate technology, feared its dehumanizing potential; mind altering drugs were okay, though. Then it got kind of boring, Tolkien was rediscovered by middle school kids and the fat fantasies started to take off. The cyberpunks depicted technology as neither good nor bad, just something that humans could use for good or bad and was, like it or not, a fact of reality. Then along came things like slipstream, New Weird, New Space Opera (meanwhile, the old space opera and golden agers were light speeding about the galaxy all this while people were accusing the genre of becoming too literary for its britches), Interstitial Fiction and what have you.

So what’s next? Tales of economic doom and environmental disaster? (But wait, wasn’t J.G. Ballard doing that a long time ago?)

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