Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek, Part II: “Dark of the Year” by Diana Sherman

Sunday, January 31st, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

dark_of_year_smallWe kick off Part II of the Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek with an excerpt from the issue’s lead story, Diana Sherman’s “Dark of the Year.”

“Dark of the Year” is the tale of a man wandering through a landscape ravaged by sorcerous war, desperately searching for a dying man or war-mage who can read his granddaughter’s true name, in the last few days before the Shadows come… before the Dark of the Year.

Diana Sherman has been published in Talebones and Polyphony, and a has sold a play to The Exquisite Corpuscle anthology from Fairwood Press.

Art by Mark Evans.

You can read the excerpt here.

Matai’s grandaughter doesn’t have a name, and soon, she will be susceptible to the Shadows when moondark comes.  Less than a fortnight distant, when the year turns on the longest night.  The Shadows and their darklings will come creeping through towns and cities, calling for children to come.  Most will be safe, their ears cottoned against those whispers by the knowledge of their own true names. 

But the orphans with no womb names, they’ll be gone of a morning.  No sight nor sound of their passing.  But someday, some other dark night, you might spy a lost child creeping through the village, a darkling servant now, whispering and beckoning.  You know them by their black lips, burnt by the Shadow that stole the souls out of their mouths.  That, and their angry eyes.

The complete version of “Dark of the Year” appears in Black Gate 14, on sale in February.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks, as we post excerpts from each of the stories coming in BG 14.

Short Fiction Beat: Become a Citizen

Saturday, January 30th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

citizen3I just stumbled upon this spin on a subscription plan to support Clarkesworld Magazine, which has been providing its content online for the past three years. For a $10 or more donation, you can become a citizen; although the privileges of citizenship are still being defined, the folks at Clarkesworld suggest it might include discounts on their print publications, as well as the satisfaction of supporting an endeavor that publishes authors such as, in the current January issue, Peter Watts and Megan Arkenberg. Clarkesworld hopes to naturalize 400 citizens out of the 10,000 or so it counts as regular readers to reach its financial goals.

On another note, Torque Control has published the 2009 BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) Awards shortlist. The nominees for short fiction are:

Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster (Interzone 220)
The Push by Dave Hutchinson (Newcon Press)
Johnnie and Emmie-Lou Get Married” by Kim Lakin-Smith (Interzone 222)
“Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald (in Cyberabad Days, Gollancz)
The Beloved Time of Their Lives” [pdf link] by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia (in The Beloved of My Beloved, Newcon Press)
The Assistant” by Ian Whates (in The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction 3, ed. George Mann)

Once again, I’m reminded of how out of the loop I am: I’ve only read two of these.

Animated A Boy and His Dog Remake on the Horizon

Friday, January 29th, 2010 | Posted by Bill Ward

a-boy-and-his-dog-don-johnson-and-tiger1I just saw some news via SFSignal and SciFi Squad about plans to create and animated version of Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog, with a tentative 2012 ETA. As a fan of the Hugo-winning 1975 film with Don Johnson (yes really, Don Johnson) and the original Nebula-winning Ellison novella, I think this could be a terrific project. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it’s a post-apocalyptic tale featuring a misogynist young man and his super-intelligent telepathic dog, with a skewed, satirical edge that one expects from the best Ellison.

It isn’t really clear if the film, to be helmed by David Lee Miller, is taking the original 1975 script as its starting point, or planning a fresh adaptation of the Ellison novella. Either way my rule of thumb has always been that the more post-apocalyptic films, and the more movies based on works of the giants of the field, the better off we as a society are. Plus it just looks cool.

Goth Chick News – Our Common Fright

Thursday, January 28th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

secret-annex1I have had the distinct good fortune of traveling to twenty-three countries and have, as I mentioned in prior posts, engaged in various ghost-hunting activities in more than a few of them.

But honestly, these expeditions are largely tourist-driven and aimed mainly at US and British travelers, which makes total sense. We started as a British colony so it follows that what scares the crap out of them would have translated across the pond to us.

But what about elsewhere in the world?

That got me to thinking about what scares people from other cultures and what, if anything, do those spooks have in common with ours? So I reached out to the many friends I have made along the way to ask them what haunts they grew up with.

Read More »

SKULLS – Chapter 4

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz


To read earlier chapters:

– Type SKULLS into the search field at the left and the earlier chapters will pop up. Enjoy…

For best viewing:

– Scroll to the right to see the entire comic page

– Hit your F11 key to maximize your viewing area

– Scroll down to read from page to page

Read More »

Post-Birthday Leftover Cake: Robert E. Howard’s “Wolfshead”

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

weird-tales-april-1926Last week, when I answered the call to a group celebration of Robert E. Howard’s birthday, I originally chose to write about his breakthrough short story, “Wolfshead.” Somehow, I got sidetracked and ended up typing out a personal reflection on the first Howard story that I ever read, “The Fire of Asshurbanipal.” But I still have my notes about re-reading “Wolfshead” (now easily available in The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard from Del Rey) and it seems a shame to waste them. So here are some thoughts on this early and often reprinted work and how it helped set off the Great One’s career.

Plus, today is my birthday, and I get to do whatever I want. (Told you it was close to Howard’s. Please also wish Jason M. Waltz, Australia, and Paul Newman a happy birthday as well. A bit tough in Paul’s case . . . oh well.)

One reason that “Wolfshead” occurred to me as a topic is that a re-make of the classic Universal film The Wolf Man (elided into The Wolfman) comes out in theaters next month. The film has gone through enormous production and post-production hell and numerous delays, so I’m skeptical about its quality. I hope—fervently hope—that the film works beyond expectations, because right now werewolves need a boost. Vampires and zombies seem to run the horror world right now—they have always been far more budget-friendly than werewolves—but I would joyfully welcome a werewolf Renaissance. Of all the classic European monsters, the werewolf has always been my favorite. “Wolfshead” was a story that was ahead of its time in the way that Howard changes around the shapeshifter myth; in many ways, current werewolf stories haven’t quite caught up to him.

Read More »

Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek

Monday, January 25th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

bg-14-cover3Black Gate 14 is a landmark issue — and at 384 pages, it’s also the largest in our history. 

It celebrates the growth and success we’ve seen over the last year, and it’s a big “Thank You” to all the readers who’ve supported us while so many small press magazines are struggling. We worked hard to get it out in 2009, but its sheer size and complexity (over 150,000 words of fiction, and nearly 25 full pages of art) made that impossible.  The issue shipped in March.

Special thanks are due to Contributing Editor Bill Ward, who assembled a huge 32-page review section, and Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones, for a 20-page gaming section.  Thanks also to Rich Horton, for his lengthy article on Modern Reprints of Classic Fantasy, and to Bruce Pennington for a magnificent cover.

What awaits you in BG 14? A young girl confronts an ancient evil on the rooftops of a decaying city, armed only with her father’s sword… A band of desperate men pursue the slave traders who stole their families across cold barrows where a dread thing sleeps… An ambitious witch finds her schemes for revenge may not be quite treacherous enough… And New York’s first karma detective discovers a simple case to re-unite two lovers conceals a sinister conspiracy. Includes new fiction from John C. Hocking, Michael Jasper & Jay Lake, Pete Butler, Martin Owton, Chris Braak, and a Morlock novella from James Enge!

Buy this issue — ­ only $18.95 plus postage and handling!
Read More »

SKULLS: Chapters 1-3

Sunday, January 24th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz


Hi, All,

The first three chapters of the SKULLS webcomic are available for reading right now.

Just type SKULLS into the “Search” field to the left and all three chapters will pop up.

Chapter 4 goes live this Wednesday, with 7 more chapters to follow, one each Wednesday after that.


John R. Fultz

One more REH link

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 | Posted by eeknight

R.E. Howard and Conan made the Wall Street Journal back in 2006, courtesy of John J Miller, who also profiled our friend Howard A. Jones.

From Pen To Sword

(Mr. Miller’s recent debut novel, The First Assassin, is a fine Civil War historical thriller.)

It’s the Story, Stupid…

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

thumbstandardThis past week I saw both Avatar and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Now, ordinarily, youmv5bmtgwndy2ntk0n15bml5banbnxkftztcwmzeymdq4mg_v1_cr1250500500_ss90_1 might be struck by the special effects of the latter (I particularly like the scene where Tom Waits as the devil unfurls his umbrella and casually steps off a cliff, at which point little white clouds appear to support each of his steps so he doesn’t plummet to the ground), except now it (and maybe everything else) pales in comparison to Avatar, which is as visually stunning as all the hype suggests, assuming  all you expect from going to a movie is a cool light show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, for my money, the better movie, even with its flaws is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.  Why?

Because it has a story. Moreover, it celebrates the whole idea of story.

Yeah, sure, Avatar has a story. A simplistic one that’s 1) predictable, 2) done better before (Apocolypse Now, not to mention that movie’s source material, Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”),  and 3) largely besides the point since it exists solely to prop up the computer-generated world-building that is virtually (that’s the key word here) indistinguishable from real people. The Imaginarium, with all its fantastic images (e.g., a horse drawn coach which is bigger on the inside than the outside dimensions, as well as a cartoonish fantasy land — i.e., the Imaginarium — entered via a cheap stage mirror), is not trying to persuade you (or trick you) of a convincing depiction of reality, but rather it is trying to convince you just how shaky “real” reality is. The special effects are in the service of the story — which is all about the importance of stories, a theme you might expect from director Terry Gilliam — not the other way around, as you expect from director James Cameron.

While The Imaginarium also tells a familiar story of the deal with the devil, the power and humor of the storytelling (in other words, the humanity of it) makes us want to hear (see) it all over again. It seeks to show us that life is a sometimes dangerous funhouse comprising smoke and mirrors that maybe sometimes we can manage to peer beyond into the depths of our selves; not rely on smoke and mirrors to fool us into an experience primarily concerned with making us forget ourselves for a few hours before we have to leave the movie theater and return to humdrum everyday existence.

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