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SF Site reviews Black Gate 14

Friday, June 11th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

bglgAuthor Sherwood Smith, who has reviewed virtually every issue of Black Gate, shares her thoughts on our latest issue in a feature review at SF Site:

This issue of Black Gate, clocking in at 384 pages, is more book than magazine…. A few stories are outstanding, and most of the rest are solid entertainment. Add in generous page count on reviews, and the issue is a strong one. Readers tempted to start subscribing ought to consider beginning with this issue, as the prices are going to go up. (Though so is the page count.)

She admits to being pleasantly surprised by “The Word of Azrael” by Matthew David Surridge:

When I read that this tale was “initially inspired by the old Conan paperbacks which preceded each story with a snippet of Conan’s bio,” I groaned…. Was I wrong! Within two pages, Surridge’s deft, ironic voice had disarmed me.  We begin on a battlefield where seven kings and their armies died. The warrior Isrohim Vey wakens alone, except for the Angel of Death… What follows seems to be a series of iceberg-tip stories, that is, the climactic moments of what could have been longer tales. Increasingly intriguing tales. The reader begins to perceive patterns weaving them together into a tapestry of solid gold.

She highlights several additional pieces, including “On a Pale Horse” by Sylvia Volk:

Salsabil regards her father’s mare as her sister, as they share the same name. This isn’t a problem until she takes her sister grazing, and discovers a single-horned stallion following them…. Drought brings the raiding Mutair down on Salsabil’s people. Though they do their best to fight back, they are being driven out of their own lands, many of them killed, but meanwhile the mysterious horned pale horse follows them… A lovely story with a flavor of Arabian Nights.

And “La Señora de Oro” by R L Roth:

A few years ago, my spouse inherited some letters written by one of his ancestors who was a silver miner just after the gold rush. Roth’s epistolary story, which takes place between March and September 1850, is an eerie match in tone and (early on) in details as Tom writes to his wife Annie, telling her about his search for the gold that is supposed to save his family from want. The story is fantasy-horror, the fantastic element serving as a metaphor for what happened to far too many gold rush miners… Hats off to Roth for a disturbingly well-wrought tale, pitch-perfect for the period.

The complete review is here.

7 Comments »

  1. I was a bit nervous about Sherwood Smith reviewing this issue of Black Gate because . . . well, I reviewed her novel Treason’s Shore in it, and wondered what she would think of that. But she didn’t bring it up, so I feel better. (I gave it a mostly positive review.)

    Comment by Ryan Harvey - June 11, 2010 1:23 am

  2. What a fun review. I second the notion of a deeper dive into the Cresy’s world. And, of course, a sequel to “Calamity.”

    I don’t know if I ever mentioned how much I liked the FLAVOR of the one with the horses. It was like that Dunsany poem: “When the wind is in the desert/ and the sand is in the soup.” You could taste the air at the back of your throat. GOLD DUST!

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - June 11, 2010 1:16 pm

  3. Hey Ryan,

    Sherwood is a professional, through and through. I thought your review of TREASON’S SHORE was very positive, but even if it weren’t, I’m sure it wouldn’t have affected Sherwood’s comments.

    I thought you were fairly brave to accept my invitation to review the book, since it’s part four in a series and you didn’t have time to read the others.

    You noted in your review that you were intrigued enough to go back and start with INDRA. Did you ever get a chance to do that? Might make a great follow-up review. :)

    John

    Comment by John ONeill - June 13, 2010 11:53 pm

  4. Hi Claire,

    Glad you also liked Sylvia Volk’s “On a Pale Horse,” especially since it was her first publication. Always glad to showcase new talent in Black Gate.

    John

    Comment by John ONeill - June 14, 2010 12:04 am

  5. […] by Robert J. Howe, one of the most popular pieces of fiction we’ve published in some time. SF Site says: This wry, stylish urban fantasy is narrated by Debbie, who is a karmic detective… she […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek: “The Natural History of Calamity” by Robert J Howe - November 21, 2010 9:09 pm

  6. […] in her SF Site review, Sherwood Smith said: When I read that this tale was “initially inspired by the old Conan […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » “The Word of Azrael” Selected for The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy - December 5, 2010 4:18 pm

  7. […] The complete review is here. Sherwood’s previous review, of Black Gate 14, is here. […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » SF Site reviews Black Gate 15 - July 13, 2011 9:15 pm


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