Somebody Has to Talk about Frederick Faust

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

and I guess it’s going to be me.

When I first started blogging officially here at Black Gate, I wondered what would constitute “on topic.” Obviously, writing about new crop developments in Iowa would be “off topic” (and I don’t know anything about that anyway) but would writing about Godzilla (about which I know far too much for my own good) be considered “on topic” because I could count on at least half the site’s readership thinking it was interesting? I still wrestle with these questions, and perhaps that’s why I don’t sleep as well at night as other people.

One thing that I’m certain now is “on topic” is anything that has to do with pulp magazines. I’ve written about Norvell Page’s Spider novels (and will do so again soon) and mystery and suspense author Cornell Woolrich, and nobody’s taken me to task for either. So now I throw caution to the four winds and write about Frederick Faust because somebody has got to do it. If I’m going to write about pulp magazines, I have an obligation to write a post about Frederick Faust. You have no obligation to read it, but I strongly urge you to look below the cut because  this fellow is seriously interesting and you should give him a glance some time.

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Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek: “The Wine-Dark Sea” by Isabel Pelech

Monday, April 19th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

wine_dark_seaThe crumbling passage led to an underwater city, filled with marvels, wild magic… and secrets.

The village witch rowed Newyn to the tainted place, the ocean cove the locals called ya sangra liu — the bloody harbor. No one knew what had happened there, except that once it had not been filled by the sea.
     “There.” It was a toothlike stone structure that stuck out of the water to roughly waist-height, in the middle of the miniature bay. “Everyone knows, you walk down that way, you can breathe.”
      Newyn studied the protrusion. It was manmade, circular, perhaps the ruined top of a tower. “Do you breathe water, like a fish, or is there air?”
     “You’re not floating, if that’s what you mean. You can walk, run, speak if you find anyone to speak to. Near enough to air, even if the fish swim in it.”
     “And others have gone down, and come back.”
     The witch half nodded, half shrugged. “Come back, yes. But not always whole.”
    “Why did they go?”
     “Some folks come back ranting about gold… I’d think you might like gold.”
     “Oh, I do,” Newyn said, so softly it was almost a hiss. “I do.”

Isabel Pelech has been published in Talebones, Tickled by Thunder and Dreams & Nightmares. She lives in Tennessee with two gray cats.

“The Wine-Dark Sea” appears in Black Gate 14. You can read a more complete excerpt here.

The complete Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek is available here.

Art by Mark Evans.

Travelling through life

Sunday, April 18th, 2010 | Posted by Theo

traveller21It is interesting to see how our childhood obsessions remain with us. Reading John’s essay about playing RPGs as a boy, expecially that massive space exploration game, reminded me of the influence that a certain science fiction RPG has had on my own life. I can still recall the moment when the black box containing the three little black books of Traveller caught my eye at a Games by James bookstore. The text practically seared itself into my imagination.

This is Free Trader Beowulf
calling anyone….
Mayday, Mayday… we are under
attack… main drive is gone…
turrent number one not responding..
Mayday… losing cabin pressure fast…
calling anyone… please help…
This is Free Trader Beowulf…

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Grasping for the Wind reviews Black Gate 14

Sunday, April 18th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

twobladesclrJohn Ottinger III at Grasping for the Wind has posted the first review of Black Gate 14.  Here’s what he says about our latest issue:

One of the best collections of fiction on the market – whether books, magazines, or online. The latest edition has just been released, and Black Gate 14 is massive, topping out at 384 pages …  this massive collection of fiction shows why, even with their irregular publishing schedule, Black Gate is one of the most popular magazines (print or online) available today.

He reserves his highest praise for two novellas, including Pete Butler’s “The Price of Two Blades:”

Spectacular… a story of a pact made with old gods that costs a high and terrible price… Butler’s clever build of suspense and mystery, use of religious magic that costs a price, and multiple viewpoint telling of the story keep the reader glued to the action as it unfolds. This is undoubtedly one of the best stories of this issue, perhaps one of the best Black Gate has yet published.

And Robert J Howe’s “The Natural History of Calamity.” 

A piece of paranormal crime noir. Debbie is a karma detective, a person people hire when they feel that for some reason the universe is out of whack. When Will Charbonneau hires her to find out why his girlfriend left him for no apparent reason, it seems like a straightforward case. But then Debbie runs into an old boyfriend in the course of the case, and everything becomes a tangled mess. Surprise twists, a significant dose of self-deprecating humor, and a no-nonsense first person point of view make this story hard to walk away from. From the little teaser at the beginning, to the depth of character and clever use of karma as plot device, Howe’s story is a real pleaser from beginning to end. My favorite of the magazine and one I highly recommend.

Art by Malcolm McClinton for “The Price of Two Blades.”

The complete review is here. Thanks for the kind words, John!

Short Fiction Review #26: Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy Vol. 3

Saturday, April 17th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

best-unrealI don’t know whether the third edition of Best American Fantasy, which has found a new home with  Underland Press, represents the “best” fantasy, or why it matters whether it’s “American” (meaning, presumably, the United States).  Of course, it’s a cliché for any anthology to proclaim its contents represent a “best of,” and the editors who’ve been doing it for a number of years frequently rely on stories from the usual suspects of authors who mostly all publish in the same magazines.  While I haven’t read the previous editions of Best American Fantasy,  knowing that the series editor is Matthew Cheney and the co-founding editors were Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, I knew what to expect from guest editor Kevin Brockmeier (notwithstanding that Stephen King is the top author listed on the cover page; indeed, his funny riff on the “mysterious telephone call from the dead,” is more in keeping with “traditional” fantasy). This is a collection of _____(New Weird, slipstream,  literary, you fill-in-the-blank),  the “Real Unreal” about the fantastical state of human consciousness.  No elves or adolescents on a quest.

What I didn’t quite expect was the number of authors totally new to me as well as  the breadth of source materials, ranging from the tried-and-true  (Fantasy and Science Fiction) to the literary (Kenyon Review) to another anthology (Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy) to a few I’ve never heard of (The Fairy Tale Review, Pindeldyboz).  And the only story I’d previously read was Jeffrey Ford’s “Daltharee,” about the creation of a bottled city and the arrogance and irresponsibility of scientific bureaucracies.

Ramona Ausubel sets the stage with the opening tale of “Safe Passage.” A group of grandmothers find themselves at sea, with no clue as to how they got onboard ship or why. Presumably, they’re dead. Okay, been there before. But the protagonist’s reaction to the banal behavior of her shipmates, and her ultimate decision to take action that results in a sort of enlightened view of her plight, makes the “unreal” here quite “real.”
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The Best Sword & Sorcery Stories

Friday, April 16th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

second-landhkmarOver at SF Signal, editor John DeNardo asked ten science fiction and fantasy writers and editors to pick the best sword and sorcery stories, and explain what makes them so good.

The writers include Black Gate authors James Enge and Martha Wells, as well as Steven Brust, Mercedes Lackey, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mark Chadbourn, P.C. Hodgell, Gail Z. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and Lou Anders.

Here’s what James Enge had to say, in part:

There’s no doubt in my mind that Fritz Leiber’s series about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are the uneven apex of the disreputable S&S mountain…. Leiber was a gifted storyteller and stylist who used the stories to explore what the world is, how it’s made, what the people there are like. Every story takes you someplace different and extends your knowledge — whether the heroes are fighting gods on Rime Isle, ghosts in the unnamed west, or rats or the Thieves’ Guild or advertisers in Lankhmar city, Leiber doesn’t do retreads. And Leiber understands, as few writers do, how horror and humor are two sides of the same coin; likewise love and grief.

It’s a fascinating list, and well worth reading. And you’re sure to find more than a few good recommendations, whether you’re new to S&S or an old sword-brother.

The complete article is here.

Goth Chick News: These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

6-5000This is the second of two installments which I pre-wrote for the Goth Chick Intern to gratefully post on my behalf.

In a strange fit of wanton generosity I found myself also agreeing to allow the little minion to come up with a title for this entry, so in the event it is lame (heaven help him if he used a Sound of Music reference) please accept my apology in absentia, and rest assured my response will be swift and merciless upon my return.

Rather than enjoying the wee bit of freedom he has recently been allowed, he will once again be banished to the windowless broom closet in the bowels of Black Gate headquarters. I should know better than to succumb to a flush of good will brought on by an impending foray into the paranormal.

But more on that later.

When last we discussed the mutual enjoyment we get from insinuating movie quotes into situations at wickedly appropriate (or inappropriate) times, it got me to thinking about the sources of those quotes – be they movie, book or music. It also occurred to me that everyone has a “Top Ten” list which represents their own mental comfort food; i.e. the entertainment you go to when you’ve had a bad day, or a good day, or just a bored-to-sobs-rainy-afternoon day, and are assured you’ll be welcome. These sources have seeped into our daily lives in the form of quotes or lyrics, and therefore permeated the lives of our friends and families as well.

So, it is to our own personal Top Ten lists that I wish to pay homage this week, and I invite you to share yours. If you love it, the rest of us just might love it too.

And as I have multiple top ten lists, I’ll stick to the one that pertains to my favorite genre (bet you can guess).

So here it is, in no particular order. 

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Writers, Readers, and Glorious Fools

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz

Novels vs. Short Stories, and Why We Write


The Fool -- a leap of faith.

“What fools these mortals be…”
–Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 “But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around…”
–The Beatles, “Fool On the Hill”


A colleague of mine recently asked the question: “Why do we write short stories?” Good question. It set me to thinking: “Why do people READ short stories?”

Which set off a whole line of thought involving the reasons why writers write, and conversely, why readers choose to read what they read.

Readers: Which do you like best, novels or short stories? I may be a writer but I’ve been a reader a lot longer and my answer has to be “It depends on the novel or story.”

I’ve read novels that touched my soul and changed my life…and I’ve read short stories that did the same thing. In most of those instances, the novels seem to stay with me longer…maybe because of their greater size and time commitment. Yet I could never discount the power of marvelous short stories like Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” Robert Silverberg’s “The Reality Trip,” or Clark Ashton Smith’s “Xeethra.” (To name only three of hundreds.)

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Who Fears the Devil?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

who-fears-the-devil-coverWho Fears the Devil?
Manly Wade Wellman (Paizo Publishing, 2010)

Paizo Publication’s Planet Stories has brought forth another collection of the kind of grand and weird fantasy that the chain bookstores want to keep hidden from you. Who Fears the Devil?, the complete tales of Manly Wade Wellman’s “John the Balladeer” character, is one of the Planet Stories volumes I’ve most anticipated; there’s no other fantasy character quite like John, and no one else but Wellman could have created him. He’s a contemporary fantasy hero who uses folk songs instead of swords, and faces wonders from the mountain legendry of Appalachia. He’s part Weird Tales, a touch of Unknown, plus Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash.

Also called “Silver John” in promotional material because he strings his guitar with silver, but always simply referred to as “John” within the stories, Wellman’s hero is a variant on the bard of the Middle Ages who wanders the contemporary Appalachians. Or semi-contemporary; the setting is really a fantasy land based on Wellman’s love of Appalachian folklore and the spirit of its musical tradition. In the stories readers will occasionally encounter cars, trucks, air travel, and mention of John’s Korean War service, but most of the time they will find it easy to imagine that this is an Appalachia frozen in the nineteenth century, when stories and songs at the hearthside were thinly veiled truths about wizards, witch-folk, and strange beasts.

John’s songs help combat evil, as do the silver strings on his guitar. (One of the few problems I have with the stories is that the “silver against supernatural” concept turns up a few times too many.) John not only sings the ballads, he’s a collector, and in some of the stories (“The Little Black Train,” “Vandy, Vandy”) his search for old ballads brings him into the action. “Call me a truth seeker,” he tells one curious inquirer, “somebody who wonders himself about riddles and life.” When then asked if he’s a “conjure man,” he answers: “Not me…  I’ve met up with that sort in my time, helped put two-three of them out of mischief. Call that part of what I follow.”

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Rogue Blades Entertainment special Black Gate subscription offer

Monday, April 12th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

bg-special-ad-girl2-webRogue Blades Entertainment, publisher of fine fantasy anthologies such as Return of the Sword and Rage of the Behemoth, announced a special promotion on some of their newest titles in the pages of Black Gate 14.

Last week they made the details public on their website:

Now that Black Gate subscribers are receiving their 14th issue, it’s time to reveal a very special offer brought to new readers in a combined effort by RBE and BG. From now until Black Gate 15 is released, anyone can pick up their choice of Return of the Sword, Rage of the Behemoth, or Roar of the Crowd for $10 (plus tax and shipping) and a subscription to Black Gate!

That’s correct – all Black Gate subscribers get $6.99 off the cover price of one of three excellent anthologies. The offer is open to new and existing subscribers.

Return of the Sword, Rage of the Behemoth, and Roar of the Crowd contain stories by the rising stars of heroic fantasy, as well as more established names such as James Enge, Bill Ward, Ryan Harvey, David Bischoff,  Howard Andrew Jones, E.E. Knight, C.L. Werner, Mary Rosenblum, Brian Ruckley, Harold Lamb, and Richard K. Lyon & Andrew Offutt.

Here’s what Theo said about Rage of the Behemoth in his review right here on the BG blog: 

One of the more consistent anthologies I have had the good fortune to read. Editor Jason Waltz has done an excellent job… Rage of the Behemoth is an intriguing glimpse into a multitude of savage worlds. The anthology is a throwback to the glory days of Burroughs and Howard, with an icy, ominous edge.

How do you claim your discount?  New subscribers can select the anthology of their choice on as part of their order on our subscriber page

Already a subscriber? Just e-mail, mention your Black Gate subscription, and request the anthology of your choice for just $10 (plus shipping).

Black Gate. Don’t thank us. It’s our job.

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