Goth Chick News: Where in the World is Barry Guiler?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist


Netflix is a happy place I only recently discovered, not just because I could avoid my fellow humans by staying home to watch the latest releases, but more so I could rediscover films I had forgotten I liked. Much like Amazon, Netflix has this rather creepy ability to pull my favorite things out of cyberspace and serve them up to me in an uncanny, if rather smug way; sort of like it knows me better than I know me. I keep wanting its suggestions to be wrong but so far, no joy.

On a recent trip to my movie-watching past, I ordered up Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and as if to prove how tragically un-cool I seem to have become, who knew this cinematic gem is now referred to a CE3K? I hope at least some of you said “no,” humor me here.

If you’re a regular reader of Goth Chick News, you know that un-cool though I may be, I’m an expert cyber-stalker — as proven by my ability to produce Danny Torrance for you (the little kid from The Shining). And as long as the police can’t seem to figure out where to serve the warrant, I’m going to keep right on honing my skills for your amusement, which is why it was with a persistent and hungry eye that I sized up little Barry Guiler.

You know who I’m talking about; that adorable little tow-head from CE3K (I can’t believe I just typed that) who toddled his way out into a pitch dark Indiana corn field chasing after the lights from the alien spacecraft, happily chirping “TOYS!” He couldn’t have been more than four when the movie was filmed in 1977, making him round about 37 years old today. No other movies, no sitcoms, nothing but radio silence from little Barry Guiler.

Target acquired. Cover me, I’m going in.

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Original Fiction: “THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL” by John R. Fultz

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz

“The Weird of Ironspell” by John R. Fultz  

Illustrations by Alex Sheikman


3. Return of the Golden Skull


War had come to the Kingdoms of the East.

The earth grew rich with spilled blood, and the sky grew black with smoke from the fires of conquest. Yet this war was unlike any that had come before it, for the stakes were not those of boundaries, empires, or territories. This was a war of annihilation, a war of extinction and wild slaughter. A flood of massacres and endless suffering, a surging tide of death to drown the lands of men.

Fleeing refugees and survivors of the carnage called them Agnyri, or Demon-Men. They came out of the ancient land Dylestus, where a new power had risen to twist their brutal natures into an organized mass of marching havoc. They were the spawn of devils, born with an inner hatred of their human half, eager to quench that hate by drinking the blood of any who reminded them of their earthly lineage. The Agnyri ate only human flesh and dressed themselves in the skins of slain women and children. They called up dragons to burn the forests and fields in their path. They came in the screeching millions, bearing the banner of their God-King, a golden skull on a black field.

The feuding kingdoms of Draviah, Mydrithia, and Al-Kahna joined forces for the first time in history to face the rushing horde. Already their easternmost neighbor, the city-state of Nyrion, had been obliterated, its people become fodder for the flesh eaters, its opulent palaces now charred piles of stone and scattered bones. Each of the Three Sultans knew his kingdom was next, so longstanding differences were cast aside and the Triple Alliance was formed.

Now a half-million soldiers assembled on the Plains of Zharra, awaiting the arrival of the man-eaters. Beneath a fading sun the eastern legions spread in glittering waves of bronze and silver.

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Robin Hood (2010)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

robin-hood-2010-posterRobin Hood (2010)
Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Max Von Sydow, Oscar Isaac, Matthew Macfayden, William Hurt, Mark Addy.

For the past three decades, versions of the Robin Hood legend have followed an unwritten maxim that they must be dark, realistic, epic, and not a touch of fun. It’s as if artists have done all they can to avoid looking or acting like the 1938 Michael Curtiz-Errol Flynn movie The Adventures of Robin Hood.

By St. George, why? Why wouldn’t you want to catch some of the glory of one of the most beloved adventure stories ever put on film? I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that The Adventures of Robin Hood is the most successful and important version of the Robin Hood legend in the entire seven-plus centuries that it’s been in existence. Who is Robin Hood? He’s Errol Flynn. Nothing will ever change that.

I’m fine with somebody trying, however. But I wish one of those somebodies would recall the thrill of Flynn and Curtiz and not fear it. (I think they’re afraid of green tights. Fine, make ‘em gray. Get over the stupid “tights obsession” already!) They should also consider well the old lays that made Robin Hood both a hero and a humorous trickster figure. This is what I want to see, and I’d wager it’s what most audiences want to see as well. Rob from the rich, give to the poor, make rich buffoons look even buffoonier, and wield the sharpest-shooting bow and arrow in the kingdom. Not much to ask for, really.

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How to Get a Book Deal

Sunday, May 16th, 2010 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

vengence-small2In late July of 2009 I got an offer for a historical fantasy novel from St. Martin’s imprint Thomas Dunne featuring my series characters, Dabir and Asim.

The deal itself reads anti-climatically, which is why I delayed posting about it. But I think that there’s something to be learned from the story of publication, so I’ve decided to share it.

I finished revising a book, I gave it to a friend, he showed it to his editor, I got an offer, I talked to agents of two writer friends, agonized about which agent to select, then chose one.

Boiled down, the process sounds simple; after all, I’m just one of those lucky guys who wrote a novel and showed it to a friend, then got a book deal after just a few weeks from the first pro who looked at it. Easy as pie, right?

This account of events manages to miss a couple of things.

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Mark Sumner reviews Black Gate

Sunday, May 16th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

devils-tower2Well, sort of.

Mark Sumner, the Nebula Award-nominated author of the Devil’s Tower books — and one of Black Gate‘s most prolific and popular contributors — has a popular blog at Daily Kos where he discusses… well, everything.

Recently he touched on the impermanence of fiction, especially short fiction:

Speaking as someone whose entire lifetime oeurve is at this moment out of print, I can tell you with certainty that books are no more guarantee of immortality than games….But if novels are transient, short story collections are the mayflies of the literary world… Still, a good short story is a jewel of writing, and a collection of stories from the same author can subject you to more ideas, more emotion, and more pure wonder than any novel. They’re a great chance to get an insight into the most important character in any book — the one behind the pen.

Sumner points to four classic short fiction collections, any one of which is a great place for a new short fiction reader to get started.

They are: the horror collection Soft and Others: 16 Stories of Wonder and Dread by F. Paul Wilson, Simak’s book of  terrific early SF, The Worlds of Clifford Simak, Cordwainder Smith’s expansive future history The Rediscovery of Man, and especially George R. R. Martin’s Sandkings.

His recollection of Sandkings was right on the money, and made me want to read it all over again.

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Short Fiction Roundup: Bull Spec

Saturday, May 15th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

bullspec-01-page001-200x256There’s a new magazine devoted to speculative fiction with the unfortunate name of Bull Spec, which I hope for the sake of the editorial team does not become known as “BS” for short. I haven’t read any of the contents, though you can get a pdf version (there is a print edition as well)  Radiohead-fashion, i.e., pay what you want. Fiction  by C.S. Fuqua, Peter Wood, Natania Barron, Michael Jasper, with a serial graphic story by Mike Gallagher.

Its stated quarterly mission in exploring new fiction is: “Bring the best of speculative fiction with a focus on Durham-area authors and stories to a wide audience for shared discussion.” One critical comment: a particularly ugly website that looks like something coded in 1999.

Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek: “La Senora de Oro” by R.L. Roth

Friday, May 14th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

lasenorodleoro-277She was tiny, beautiful… and crafted of pure gold. Her gifts were pure as well: gold, and madness.

       George took me aside yesterday & he said me & him shoud strike off on our own again. He doesn’t like how things are getting. I told him to bide his time just a bit longer so we can get a little more Gold & then be off home. We need the Gold lady to find the Gold so we have to stay. George says it is a foul charm that needs Blood to work. He thinks the Gold lady is the Devil. I said the Devil has better things to do then live in a little statue. Even if George is right I will leave soon with my Gold & leave the Devil behind.
      I think & dream of home all the time now. In my dreams we are rich & powerful.

R.L. Roth lives in Canada. This is his first published story.

 “La Senora de Oro” 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 Malcolm McClinton.

Goth Chick News: The Game is Afoot!…and an Arm, and a Heart

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

phantasmagoria_2To call me a “gamer” would do a serious injustice to those hardcore cyber-warriors who are universally recognized for their pale complexion and calloused thumbs. But as someone who has spent many a windfall dollar at the local GameStop, foregone more than one sunny summer day hunched over a keyboard in a darkened room, and lives at least partially in a world where an Easter Egg has zero to do with a bunny, I think that on some level I can relate.

I also fraternize quite openly, both at work and at home, with software developers. Those in the game industry never cease to dream of a world where they would create the games they truly wished to, without the constant and creativity-killing demands of the margin-hungry corporations they work for.

Which is a little scary when you think about it.

What if game developers were allowed to run amok and create any character, any story line or any outcome their imaginations could devise, and could thrust their creations out into an unsuspecting marketplace with nary a care for bottom line returns or movie-deal conversions?

Of course, to imagine that world you would also need to imagine one without the parental rating system. Or aggression therapy.

But that being said, I have always gravitated toward those releases that game developers admire themselves. Their criteria for what is “good” is sometimes but not always represented in the best seller area of your favorite game retailer and many are difficult even to find these days, not just because they’re out of production, but because they’re banned outright.

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Original Fiction: “THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL” by John R. Fultz

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 | Posted by John R. Fultz

In the grand tradition of the heroic fantasy pulps comes “The Weird of Ironspell” — a serialized novella of original Sword-and-Sorcery adventure coming to you over the next few weeks. Catch a new self-contained chapter every Wednesday right here at The saga continues…


 “The Weird of Ironspell” by John R. Fultz

Illustrations by Alex Sheikman 


2. The Moon God’s Bride

They marched out of the wasteland, where the bones of dead cities lay smothered beneath a sea of black sand.

Their captain was tall and broad of shoulder, his dark hair flapping like ravens’ wings about his wolfish face. The hilt of a silver sword gleamed on his back. The other three were strangelings, two with tapered ears and jewel-bright eyes, the third a grizzled gnome with a face like twisted oak. They had survived the death-worshippers of the waste, the leagues of killing sand, the murderous winds, and the terrible things that slumbered beneath the ruined temples. The scars of battle shone upon their arms and chests like tarnished jewels. 

The quiet folk of Omzir greeted them with suspicion, as all things are met that crawl out of the desert. Yet when the townsfolk saw their gold and silver coins of ancient mint, they welcomed the travelers like old relatives. Ragged children followed them through the dusty streets like famished dogs.

The captain’s name was Ironspell. He asked for wine and roasted meat. Dranba, the keeper of the town’s only drinking house, offered plenty of wine to earn their gold, but explained that water and food were scarce. He spoke the western dialect since he had once traveled with caravans, so he translated for Ironspell and the strangelings. Jealous townsfolk labeled him a slave to foreign dogs, but Dranba did not care, for in only a few days Ironspell’s generosity made him the richest man in Omzir.

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A Quick Quote on “Pulps vs. Slicks”

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

As you read this, I’m in Atlanta to see my brother graduate from medical school. Which means that this is “time-bomb post” I put in the queue to automatically go off and post itself while I’m away. Which also means that I’m keeping this a bit short, as I don’t have the weekend to write up something more in-depth.

What I’ve decided to do instead is let somebody else do most of the work for me. I’m going to share a quote about the pulps that I came across when I was doing my research for my two posts about Frederick “Max Brand” Faust. This comes from Jon Tuska’s essay “Frederick Faust’s Western Fiction” from The Max Brand Compnaion (Greenwood, 1996). Tuska makes an interesting comparison between writing for the pulps and writing for the “slicks,” the glossy magazines that offered supposedly greater prestige for writers who could break into them. Tuska shows a reversal of how people view pulp literature vs. “mainstream” literature:

Both [Faust] and [his agent] Carl Brandt areed that the only way to cope with the depressed economy was for Faust to move into slick magazines which paid much better. Faust, studying the market, readily realized that restrictions in the slicks were more rigid and confining than they ever had been in the pulps. Writing for Western Story Magazine, he had to concern himself with such general notions as a pursuit plot, which [editor] Blackwell preferred, or delayed revelation. Writing for the slicks, he realized that the editors sought to dominate a contributor’s mind. Attitudes and ideas were everything. Beyond entertainment, which both pulp and slick fiction alike provided, slick fiction had to deliver an ideological message to readers which agreed with the editorial policies of the magazine and these were dictated by the advertisers and their agencies. Perhaps it is for this reason that so much of the slick fiction of the 1930s and 1940s had become hopelessly dated while pulp fiction from that same period still pulsates with imagination and iconoclasm. Ideology is time-bound.

In other words, take that Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s! Long live Black Mask, Weird Tales, and Astounding! (And Black Gate carrying on their legacy.)

See you next week.

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