Darkon

Friday, June 5th, 2009 | Posted by Bill Ward

darkon_tstAs a follow-up to last week’s post on Escapism, I give you Darkon (2006), a low-budget documentary  by Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer that raises some of the same questions I did in my post as it looks at one particular group of LARPers (Live-Action Role-Players) involved in a game that has become its own little reality. Following the lives of a few key players in the drama, the documentary (which I watched free on Hulu after John Ottinger pointed it out, though it is also available from snag films) chronicles their in-game and out-of-game struggles, and how these facets of their lives intertwine.

If your initial reaction to adults pelting each other with foam swords is to roll your eyes, that’s probably even more reason to watch this documentary, which is a sympathetic and nuanced look at the lives of these players. Firstly, the film is presented as a real struggle for ‘in-game power’ between its two central characters, leaders of rival ‘countries.’ These competing factions of Darkon chart their progress in wars that allow them to expand across a map, and one faction, the nakedly imperialistic Mordom, has had more success at this than the rest. Feeling threatened, other countries lead by Laconia, band together to fight them.

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Magic: To Eff or Not to Eff?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 | Posted by James Enge

Should magic in fantasy fiction have a freakish perplexing quality that stands outside of reason or should it be a kind of alternate science, a para-physics (or para-chemistry or whatever) for a universe with physical norms that differ from ours?

This has been on my mind lately, for various reasons. And (like most people) when I think of the poetics of fantasy, I think of 18th C. skeptical philosophers.

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The Story Is All: Ten Fiction Editors Talk Shop

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 | Posted by John ONeill

cw_33Issue 33 of Clarkesworld Magazine features a round-table interview with “Ten of the top speculative fiction magazine editors,” including Black Gate‘s John O’Neill.

Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, and Cheryl Morgan, is a 2009 Hugo Award moninee for Best Semiprozine.

It was founded in 2006 and has published fiction by Robert Reed, Jeffrey Ford, Theodora Goss, Stephen Dedman, Rebecca Ore, Jeff VanderMeer, Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Catherynne M. Valente, and many others.

The interview also includes Realms of Fantasy‘s Shawna McCarthy, Sheila Williams from Asimov’s Science Fiction, Ann VanderMeer of Weird Tales, Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor Books, Cat Rambo from Fantasy Magazine, Mike Resnick from Jim Baen’s Universe, Stanley Schmidt from Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Jason Sizemore of Apex Magazine, and Gordon Van Gelder of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The interview was ably conducted and assembled by Jeremy L. C. Jones, who states:

Ultimately, fiction editors are the people who mine the slush pile for new voices and who push established writers to grow beyond their previous stories. They read story after story, and more pile up each day. They screen, sort, revise, and reject. They seek the new, the fresh, the familiar, the entertaining, and the weird. They discover and they miss out.

“There is no magic formula,” said Gordon Van Gelder of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. And this holds true for writing stories, submitting stories, and editing stories.

Among other things, Jeremy asked his subjects What are some reasons why you’d reject a good story? and What does “fit” mean for your magazine?

This whole interview is a treasure trove of info for writers, whether you write science fiction, fantasy, or anything else.    — Filling Spaces

You can find the complete interview here.


The People That Time Forgot: The Movie

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

The People That Time Forgot (1977)
Directed by Kevin Connor. Starring Patrick Wayne, Doug McClure, Sarah Douglas, Dana Gillespie, Thorley Walters, Shane Rimmer, David Prowse, Milton Reid.

Amicus Productions waited two years to release a sequel to their hit The Land That Time Forgot, stopping along the way to do another Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation, At the Earth’s Core. The People That Time Forgot marks the last gasp for its brand of low-budget fantasy/adventure film, since another film that came out that same summer of ‘77, set in a galaxy far, far away, caused a shift in genre-movie expectations when it turned into the highest-grossing film in history.

But The People That Time Forgot still brings handmade thrills and an old-fashioned attitude that adheres to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s style—if not to the letter of his writing. Unlike The Land That Time Forgot, which stays close to the first third of ERB’s novel in its script from Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn, the script for the sequel from Patrick Tilley charts its own direction rapidly and leaves the original plot of the middle novella of the collective novel behind. Since the third novella, “Out of Time’s Abyss,” was apparently never slated for film adaptation, Amicus had to create a sense of completion with The People That Time Forgot that required dumping much of Burroughs’s material.

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Used books online

Monday, June 1st, 2009 | Posted by Theo

I’m a day late on this one, my apologies. Given their interest in adventure fantasy and the fiction of the 1930s, I assume Black Gate readers are more inclined to frequent used bookstores than the average book buyer. One of the best resources online I have discovered is ViaLibri, a search engine devoted to used bookstore sites including Amazon and AbeBooks. At its site, one can discover everything from a 1932 copy of Oriental Stories Pulp Magazine, Spring 1932, Volume II, # 2, containing “Lord of Samarcand” by Robert E Howard, to the 2008 limited edition re-release of Howard’s Kull: Exile of Atlantis by Subterranean. Many of the books are a bit pricy, but bargains can occasionally be discovered; I found a complete set of the 8-volume, 1936 edition of the The Cambridge Medieval History in England for about a quarter the price I would have paid at my local used bookstore for a set missing a volume. It was an excellent deal even with the added shipping expense required. Whether you’re a serious collector or simply happen to be searching for a specific book you recall from your youth, ViaLibri is a nice resource that may be of some utility in your hunt.


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