Goth Chick News: You Call Me “Witch” Like It’s a Bad Thing

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

anne-riceThough I am an unapologetic fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, not to mention the upcoming theme park at Universal Studios, Florida, I have been a fan of sorcery and magic for most of my life.

I can trace this fascination back my discovery of the 1975 Disney flick Escape to Witch Mountain and the Brain De Palma classic The Fury, though both story lines dealt with telekinetic matters rather than witchcraft. The Fury tells the heinously enjoyable tale of a young woman who can cause any old scar you might have to burst open if you’re around her when she gets agitated. Let’s face it, watching Samatha breeze through her housework with the twitch of her nose in Bewitched couldn’t really hold up against the ability to make people bleed out of their eyes by looking at them.

No, my hard-core interest really kicked in when I read what remains one of my top ten favorite books of all time, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. It lavishly follows the history of the Mayfair witches from 1689 through modern times, documenting decades of consequences connected to the family’s innate abilities, as well as the fortune and misfortune brought on by their guardian demon. It was also the book that started my love affair with New Orleans.

thefuryThe story attracted the attention of Warner Brothers, who optioned the rights, but alas, the movie version descended into development hell where it continues to languish. But from that point on, tampering with a little practical magic became a bit of a hobby for me.

Recently I came across a gem of a book, Le Grimoire Enchante (“A Sorcerer’s Cookbook”) that is not only beautifully bound in coffee-table format, but is printed in an opulent Victorian style with intricate illustrations. Each dish produces a particular result and has a list of easy-to-locate ingredients, along with the context of the spell and preparation instructions. Recipes such as Borage Bread, an ancient Greek treat slipped to those from whom you wish to extract a confession, and Raspberry-Hawthorn Jam, used by the Celts to protect loved ones, fill 231 pages of this historically fact-filled volume. And with no “eye of newt” to be found anywhere, you can quickly cook up your own love or money potion just in time for dinner.

For more traditional charms there is The Book of Spells, another one of my favorites, which I received as a gift when I was between jobs. This hardcover pocket book contains magic from all parts of the world including the Middle East and Asia along with fascinating background information on both the spell itself as well as the ingredients. When I received the book there was a ribbon marker between the pages called “A Ritual to Pave the Way to a Good Career.” Come on, you’d have tried it too.

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SKULLS – Chapter 7

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz


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

To read earlier chapters:

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

Read More »

The Wolfman

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

wolfman-poster-mainThe Wolfman (2010)
Directed by Joe Johnston. Written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self from the Screenplay by Curt Siodmak. Starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving.

The re-make of the 1941 Universal horror classic The Wolf Man had a hellaciously crazy time getting to you this weekend. Original director Mark Romanek was removed from the film right before shooting commenced, giving replacement director Joe Johnston only two weeks of prep time. The studio rejected Danny Elfman’s classically-toned orchestral music and hired Pauls Haslinger from Tangerine Dream to re-score the picture . . . only to reject his music a month before the release date and put Elfman’s music back in. The movie, shot in the summer of 2008, was pushed back repeatedly, with new editors brought on in what seemed like a flurry of desperation to save a troubled, messy film.

All this caused considerable concern among old school horror fans like myself, for whom the George Waggner/Lon Chaney Jr. The Wolf Man is a primary text. (Read my thoughts on the original here.) Maybe the movie was in serious trouble; or perhaps Universal wanted to get it just right. We all wanted this film to work; we feared it would not.

I can now confidently report, as a Universal-and-Hammer Horror geek, that the compound word 2010 The Wolfman most definitely does work. It shows evidence of breaks and tears and furious hammering to cover construction difficulties. It has pacing trouble (for once, a movie that goes too fast), character and plot loose ends, and a female lead who doesn’t bring much to the film. It’s flawed, when you come down to silver tacks (not brass tacks; this is a werewolf film). But The Wolfman is also bloody furious fun of a kind that contemporary horror films just haven’t given to somebody with my tastes in a long time. Terence Fisher fans, James Whale fans, Jack Pierce fans, Lon Chaney Jr. Fans, werewolf fans, Victorian London fans, steampunk fans, go see this movie . . . warts and bare patches and all, this is your film.

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Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek: “The Mist Beyond the Circle” by Martin Owton

Monday, February 15th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

mist-beyond-the-circle-smallA band of desperate men pursue the slave traders who stole their families… across cold barrows where a dread thing sleeps.

A vast shadow filled the bowl, blotting out the meager moonlight, and Niall’s cries came from the center. I drew my blade and ran towards Niall’s voice and was stopped dead. It was as if I had collided with a wall of ice which then threw me backwards to land winded on the turf. An angry throbbing filled my ears, paralyzing me with fear. I felt held in the power of some huge savage beast.

Then Aron was there and the hold was broken. With his sword in his right hand and a blazing pine branch in his left, he ran towards the shadow that squatted over the barrows.

“Fire, bring fire you fools, drive it away from the barrows,” cried Aron.

Martin Owton’s “The Mist Beyond the Circle” appears in Black Gate 14, coming in February.  You can read a more complete excerpt here.

The complete Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek is available here.

Martin Owton’s first story for Black Gate,  “A Touch of Crystal” was written with Gaie Sebold, and received this praise from Sherwood Smith at Tangent Online:

It’s the voice that makes this entertaining tale about a young woowoo-loving woman named Clearspring Treesong Watkins who works at the local woowoo store.  Much as she works at her crystals and candles and rituals, she’s not quite ready for the sudden appearance of enormous biker… Elves?  The dialogue snaps with energy, and the pacing never flags in this delightful tale, a superlative end to the new fiction.

Martin Owton lives near London, and is searching for a publisher for his adventure fantasy novel set in the same world as ‘The Mist Beyond the Circle.’

Art by Malcolm McClinton.

Olympian dreams

Sunday, February 14th, 2010 | Posted by Theo

In keeping with last week’s theme of sports in fantasy, it occurs to me that I’ve seldom, if ever, read a story about fantasy Olympics. It’s out of season, but it might be interesting to think what would be a reasonably fair decathlon for competition between the various fantasy races. Or, alternatively, how the various races would do in a real decathlon.

100 meters: Presumably the Orcs would be favored here with all those massive fast-twitch muscles. Humans in second.
Long Jump: Elves, followed by humans. Orcs being too heavy to get much lift.
Shot Put: Trolls, no question. Orcs a distant second, although the Dwarves might sneak in.
High Jump: Elves, obviously.
400 meters: Presumably humans, although you could make a case for orcs or elves.
110 meter hurdles: Humans, with elves putting up stiff competition
Discus: Trolls again.
Pole Vault: One would assume elves, but their upper-body strength tends to indicate that orcs and humans would have a shot.
Javelin: Technique matters, so orcs might have a shot at upsetting the trolls.
1500 meters: this would presumably be where the long elven legs would come in handy. Too far for orcs.

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth

Sunday, February 14th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

shadow-innsmouthI work for a small software company in Champaign, Illinois.  I live in St. Charles, about three hours away. I spend a lot of time in the car. I’ve learned to love audio books.

In the past three years I’ve listened to The Old Man and the Sea, To Kill a Mockingbird, all seven Harry Potter novels, Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, Isabel Allende’s Zorro, and dozens more.

It’s how I get the bulk of my reading done these days. If I had someone to read fiction submissions to me in the car, I swear we could publish Black Gate weekly.

Late last month, as Highway 47 was smothered in fog and I made my way carefully through a desolate winter landscape, I popped an adaption of H.P. Lovecraft’s  “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” into the CD player. It was, hands down, one of the best audio experiences I’ve ever had.

“Innsmouth” is one of Lovecraft’s most well-known stories, a creepy and wonderfully atmospheric tale of a young tourist stumbling off the beaten path into a shadowy New England fishing village with a dark history and a rather nasty aversion to visitors — especially those who ask too many questions. It originally appeared in a minuscule edition of 200 copies in 1936, the only book Lovecraft published in his lifetime.

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre has transformed the story into a 77-minute radio play just as it might have been broadcast in the 1930s, with a large cast of talented actors, terrific sound effects, and original music. You’ll hear the creak of doors, ominous footsteps, the muttering of hostile crowds, and the sounds of a frantic rooftop escape  from an unknown something, pounding through the walls.

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Short Fiction Beat: Draft Hugo Ballot

Saturday, February 13th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

Torque Control (aka Niall Harrison) has posted a working draft ballot for the Hugo Awards. Here’s the short fiction nominations (and, once again I seem to be out of the know — I’ve read only the two of these, the Eugie Foster and the Bruce Sterling):

Best Novella (A science fiction or fantasy story between 17,500 and 40,000 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

”Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald (in Cyberabad Days, Pyr/Gollancz)
Starfall by Stephen Baxter (PS Publishing)
“Earth II” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s, July 2009)
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough (PS Publishing)
“Sublimation Angels” by Jason Sanford (Interzone)

Best Novelette (A science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and 17,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

”Sinner, Baker, Fabulist Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster (Interzone 220)
”A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby” by Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons, 1 and 8 June)
”Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky (, March)
”The Island” by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2, ed. Dozois/Strahan)
“Problems of Light and Dark” by Deborah Biancotti (A Book of Endings)
“It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
“Seventh Fall” by Alex Irvine (Subterranean)
“Black Swan” by Bruce Sterling (Interzone 221)

Best Short Story (A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

“Microcosmos” by Nina Allan (Interzone 222)
“Turning the Apples” by Tina Connolly (Strange Horizons, 30 March)
“All the Anne Franks” by Erik Hoel (Strange Horizons, 23 November)
“Useless Things” by Maureen F McHugh (Eclipse Three);
“Unexpected Outcomes” by Tim Pratt (Interzone 222)

Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek: “The Word of Azrael” by Matthew David Surridge

Saturday, February 13th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

azrael-cropNext up in our Black Gate 14 Preview is an old-school Sword & Sorcery epic from  talented newcomer Matthew David Surridge.

Eventually Isrohim Vey went to the land of Marás, where, in the nave of the Obsidian Cathedral, he slew the Black Bishop called Nimsza; and, taking up Nimsza’s ring, spoke with the demon Gorias that Nimsza had commanded in life.

“It may be true,” Gorias purred, “that demons know something of the ways of angels.” Gorias held Nimsza’s soul between its claws, and was content.

“Tell me of the Angel of Death,” said Isrohim Vey.

“Azrael cannot be evaded,” the demon said.

“I do not want to evade the Angel,” said Isrohim Vey. “I want to find him.”

“The Word of Azrael” appears in Black Gate 14, coming in February.  You can read an excerpt here.

The complete Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek is available here.

Matthew David Surridge lives in Montreal. “The Word of Azrael” was his first fiction sale. You can find him online at

Art by David Bezzina.

Goth Chick News: Like Martha Stewart, Only Different

Thursday, February 11th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image006It doesn’t take much psychic ability to figure out a lot about a person just by walking through their front door. We look for subtle indications that our impression outside their abode was either right on or dead wrong. We keep an eye out for hidden aspects of their personality that might reveal themselves in subtle ways. For instance, did you stumble upon a racy mag stacked amongst the Better Homes and Gardens at your boss’ summer BBQ party? BINGO!

However, there are some people whose living arrangements simply scream out a more tangible and obvious message about what’s going on between their ears. As kids, their rooms were wallpapered with visual representations of what they were into, and the moment you walked through the door you realized that YES, this was clearly your friend’s personal space, for better or worse.

But what happens later, when those particularly expressive individuals get jobs and eventually, heaven forbid, expendable income?

Welcome to Chateaux du Goth Chick.

I want to preface what I’m about to tell you by saying that by in large, the really creepy stuff is relegated to my office, where I mentioned last week the cleaning lady refuses to go. This is fine with me, considering how fragile the voodoo doll collection is. The arrangement also makes it possible to simply close the door, thereby preserving the delicate sensibilities of some of my guests.

The rest of the house was done up with Mr. Goth Chick’s approval. As most of you gentlemen know, your biggest battle is to keep your surroundings from becoming too “girly” or worse yet, from looking like an advertisement straight out of a yuppie catalog. I can tell you with all due respect, Mr. Goth Chick has a whole different set of concerns.

So let’s take a little tour shall we?

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SKULLS – Chapter 6

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz


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

To read earlier chapters:

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

Read More »

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