John C. Hocking’s “The Face in the Sea” wins The Harper’s Pen Award

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

harpers-penThe Sorcerer’s Guild has announced that John C. Hocking’s “The Face in the Sea” (Black Gate 13) has won The Harper’s Pen Award for the best all-around Sword & Sorcery short story of 2009.

Award administator Jeff Crook puts it this way:

John’s story is a superb example of the genre, harkening back to the master himself – REH. It hit all the points I mentioned in my previous post: two strong hooks (story and adventure); well-crafted, believable historical fantasy setting; solid characters; monsters, mayhem and magic aplenty; a satisfying ending, and an entertaining storyteller’s voice.

The Award winner receives $200, a certificate, and an engraved handmade pen by Syzygy Pens.

You can read an excerpt from “The Face in the Sea” as part of our Black Gate 13 online preview.

The sequel to the story, “The Bonestealer’s Mirror,” appears in Black Gate 14, now shipping.

Congratulations to John Hocking on the Award! Congratulations in fact, to all the finalists, including stories from Asimov’s Science FictionBeneath Ceaseless SkiesDark WorldsElectric SpecHeroic Fantasy QuarterlyRage of the Behemoth, and Silver Blade.

Jeff Crook is posting his notes on each of the finalists at The Sorcerer’s Guild over the next few days.

On behalf of John C. Hocking and Black Gate, we’re extremely honored to receive this award. We also hope that, if you enjoy his story, you’ll take some time to explore Beneath Ceaseless Skies Electric SpecRage of the Behemothor one of the other fine publications on the ballot. And if you like what you see, we hope you’ll support some of our worthy competition.

Me, I’m going to start off with a subscription to Dark Worlds. It looks great.

It’s the End of the World As We Know It…

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz

Anticipating CTHULHU’S REIGN (Part 2)



Cthulhu is watching. And waiting...

            “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”

     –Revelations 9.6

“Who will survive and what will be left of them?”

     –White Zombie,  “Real Solution #9”


Ask 15 writers what the End of the World will be like, and you’ll get 15 different answers. That’s exactly what editor Darrell Schweitzer did when putting together his latest anthology. Horror and Strangeness were the only constants. Oh, and Cthulhu, of course…

Last week I introduced CTHULHU’S REIGN, a new anthology from DAW Books featuring 15 new tales sharing a common theme: Great Cthulhu has risen and reclaimed the world for the Old Ones. What happens next?

This H. P. Lovecraft-inspired collection is an essential read for horror fans, Lovecraft fans, and anyone interested in survivalist fiction. Although surviving in a universe warped and twisted by the Great Old Ones may not even be possible. As the saying goes: “Evolve or die.” But even death may be no escape from Cthulhu’s World.

This week (and next) I’m talking with some of the authors who wrote stories for CTHULHU’S REIGN about what inspired their tales of terror and madness.  

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How to Train Your Dragon

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

how_to_train_your_dragon_posterHow to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBloid. Featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson.

A new U.S. Godzilla film is on the way! One that will do it right! Rejoice!

Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Now, where was I . . . something else about giant monsters. . . .

I avoid most CGI animated films that don’t have the name “Pixar” in front of them; last year’s Monsters vs Aliens was just another reminder that nobody else seems to even try to reach Pixar’s level of story quality and characterization. “Those Who Are Not Pixar” are quite content just to wink at the adults with pop-culture jokes and coast on celebrity voices. However, when I saw the trailers for How to Train Your Dragon, I was intrigued. The movie appeared to be mostly ironic fantasy—not a genre that does much for me, aside from an occasional Terry Pratchett novel—but it also seemed to have some genuine heroic sword-and-sorcery going on in it. Vikings and dragons . . . I thought there were some juicy possibilities.

Okay, so I was wrong.

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Now Shipping: Black Gate 14

Sunday, March 28th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

bg-14-cover3Black Gate 14 is now shipping.  Foreign and domestic subscriber copies went in the mail last week.

At  384 pages, Black Gate 14 is the largest issue in our history. Be sure you’re in a sturdy chair while reading.

It includes an 8-page Knights of the Dinner Table strip, nearly 25 full pages of art, and over 150,000 words of fiction – including a Morlock novella from James Enge, a new tale of Brand the Viking from John C. Hocking, and fiction from Michael Jasper & Jay Lake, Pete Butler, Robert J. Howe,  Diana Sherman, Martin Owton, Mike Shultz, and many others.

Rich Horton returns with another detailed look at the rich history of the fantasy genre, this time focusing on publishers striving to keep the best of the past in print in “Back To The Future: Modern Reprints of Classic Fantasy.” And of course we include our regular review columns, calling out the finest new fantasy games and books, assembled and edited by Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward.

The complete Black Gate 14 preview is here.

The gorgeous wraparound cover is by Bruce Pennington, who also did the cover to Black Gate 12.

The issue is available for just $15.95, plus $2.50 shipping – or, until we come to our senses, you can include it as part of a 4-issue subscription for the criminally low price of $29.95. Our order page is here.

We’re hard at work converting the issue to PDF format, and will make a downloadable version of the issue available in early April for just $4.95 (only $2.95 for existing subscribers).

Short Fiction Beat: Online

Saturday, March 27th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

cw_42_600Over at Clarkesworld, stories by Gord Sellar and Matthew Kressel, plus an interview with Kij Johnson.  This cool cover by Georgi Markov is called “Retro Robots.”

Kind of makes you miss magazines that you could hold in your hand and leave out on your coffee table to display.

Dickson’s Dorsai! to Hit Small Screen

Friday, March 26th, 2010 | Posted by Bill Ward

dorsai-cover-wrapOccasionally a bit of book-to-film news seems to come out of nowhere and create some genuine surprise. So, amidst reports of this-or-that being remade, rebooted, retread, reimagined, or reduxed (what is it this week? Lord of the Ring Tones? Aliens vs. Predator vs. Chucky vs. Tony Montana? T.J. Hooker on Mars?) it seems there is actually an original, never done before, not part of a hot franchise redo, SF book adaptation slated for television. Gordon R. Dickson’s Childe Cycle, better known by the name of the first book in the series, Dorsai!, is being made into a live action series by MDR productions (official site). Announcements to that effect can be read at SFsignal and SF Crowsnest.

Not a great deal of information on it yet, just some nice art and story boards, and general background. The Dorsai! universe is an interesting choice, from a  series of books I enjoyed but one that felt very disjointed and fragmented due to the long time separating books, the somewhat cobbled together nature of the earlier ones, and similar issues. I have a bit of a hard time imagining the tv series (or mini-series more likely) picking up on future books as, if I recall correctly, they mostly all jump ahead in time and present an entirely new cast of characters.

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A Remembrance of Steve Tompkins

Friday, March 26th, 2010 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

A little over a year ago, my friend John C. Hocking called me  to let me know that Steve Tompkins passed away.  I was on a family mini-vacation at the time, and, oddly enough, I am again on a family mini-vacation shortly after the anniversary of his death.

kullI wanted to point all of you to the fine series of articles over on The Cimmerian in remembrance of Steve, but I also wanted to offer a word of explanation. Neither John nor myself could claim to be close friends with Steve, though we were occasional correspondents. I had the pleasure to meet him in person once, and we sometimes traded information and opinions, for we shared many of the same fiction preferences, but I did not know him that well.

So why, then, was Hocking so upset that he called me to let me know, and why was the passing of this acquaintance so moving that I think about him from time to time even when it’s not the anniversary of his death? Why are so many people still talking about a man that many of you may never have heard of?

It’s because Steve was a phenomenal scholar of fantasy and heroic fiction/sword-and-sorcery and probably the most well-read person I’ve ever met — and he was also, simply, a really nice guy.

You have only to visit his archived essays at The Cimmerian to see that talent, or his good natured spirit. You also can flip through the essays he drafted in many other places, not the least of which are some of the Del Rey Robert E. Howard volumes, including Kull – Exile of Atlantis. He was a genius.

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John C. Hocking’s “The Face in the Sea” nominated for Harper’s Pen Award

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

face-in-the-sea-277The Sorcerer’s Guild announced this week that John C. Hocking’s “The Face in the Sea” (from Black Gate 13) has been nominated for the Harper’s Pen Award (formerly the Ham-Sized Fist Award).

The Harper’s Pen Award honors the best Heroic Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery short fiction. The award is sponsored by The Sorcerer’s Guild. The stated goal of the award is “to encourage authors to continue to explore heroic fantasy and sword and sorcery fiction, as well as to reward those who continue to publish it.”

The Finalists for 2009 are:

Special shout out to Black Gate Contributing Editor Bill Ward, for his nomination for “The Last of His Kind.”

There’s some fine publications on that list.  If you like heroic fantasy, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to try a few of the links above and, if you like what you see, support one of our sister magazines. Me, I’m going off to read some more Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

Congratulations to all the finalists!  The winner will be announced next week.

Goth Chick News: Graveyard Humor

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

goth-kidsThere’s nothing like being faced with your own weirdness.

Last week a home improvement project forced me to pack up my beloved library for the weekend, including that creepy little statue from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Every last book had to be removed, and since I didn’t trust anyone else, I did it myself.

The eye-level shelves contained nostalgic memory joggers such as the complete set of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which represented the first review I ever did for Black Gate, and the hard cover copies of every book Anne Rice ever wrote, each personally signed to me (remember all the lousy weather you stood outside in to get those autographs?).

These two items may seem a bit strange to you, but that’s par for the course around my abode. And when I come across something odd, even for me, that’s saying something.

As I got toward the bottom shelves in the corner near the love seat, just left of the secret door leading down to the dungeon (kidding), I found I had collected a whole shelf of unusual books on the topic of death. And for those of you thinking “That sounds normal for her,” it really isn’t.

Unlike the “Goth Kids” on South Park, I am not, nor have I ever been, death obsessed. One summer working as an orderly at the local hospital cured me of that, believe me. Wheeling several of the real thing down to the morgue while the warmth was still dissipating was enough to put me off.

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Everybody Loves Cthulhu…

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz

Anticipating CTHULHU’S REIGN (Part 1)  

Available on April 6, 2010...the end is near...

CTHULHU'S REIGN is coming on April 6...

“After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.”
  – H. P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu,” 1928

“I want to know the same thing we all want to know: How’s it going to end?”
     –Tom Waits, Orphans, 2006

There was a time, not so long ago, when only those who read H. P. Lovecraft’s masterful tales of cosmic horror had heard the name “Cthulhu.” In 2010 that is no longer the case. Thanks to an ever-growing legion of Lovecraft fans, books, magazines, movies, games, and web sites, Cthulhu has taken his place firmly among the Greatest Monsters of All Time.

Dracula. Frankenstein. Wolf-Man. Mummy. King Kong. Godzilla. Cthulhu.

Anyone can add a few more of his favorite monsters to this list, but one thing’s for sure: Great Cthulhu has risen into the mortal consciousness in a way that Lovecraft himself probably never imagined. And what’s not to love about this mountainous space-god with the head of a colossal squid, demonic batwings, a bloated and scaly body, and the ability to sleep for eons beneath the Pacific Ocean while sending evil dreams to haunt mortal men?  Today, even folks who have never read a Lovecraft story have heard of ol’ squid-head and his legacy.

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