Blood of Ambrose Nominated for World Fantasy Award

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

thewolfageLocus Online reports that James Enge’s first novel Blood of Ambrose, part of his Morlock series, has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel of the Year.

The other nominees are The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan, China Miéville’s The City & The City, Finch by Jeff VanderMeer, and In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield.

Morlock first appeared in “Turn Up This Crooked Way” in Black Gate 8. Since then he’s returned to our pages a total of four times, most recently in the novella “Destroyer” in Black Gate 14. All the Black Gate stories, plus many others, were collected in This Crooked Way, the second volume in the series.

Howard Andrew Jones also published three Morlock tales in the late, lamented Flashing Swords e-zine. Morlock’s most recent appearance was in the new Eos anthology Swords and Dark Magic. You can learn more about the origin of Morlock in Howard’s lengthy Black Gate interview with Enge here.

The complete list of World Fantasy Award nominees is here.

In other Enge news, Publisher’s Weekly has given the third Morlock volume, the upcoming novel The Wolf Age, a starred review, saying:

Werewolves clash with legends in the harrowing and beautiful third novel (after 2009’s This Crooked Way) detailing the epic travels of enchanter Morlock Ambrosius. Following a string of bad luck, Morlock is incarcerated in the werewolf fortress of Vargulleion… Enge’s elegant prose perfectly captures Morlock’s terse and morbid nature, which thrives in the vicious, honorable werewolf nation. Numerous intimate, complicated, and contentious relationships provide depth and gravity to the grim tale, which will enthrall fans of the dark and sinister.

The Wolf Age will be published by Pyr in October.

Congratulations James — on both the boffo review, and the nomination!  They are richly deserved.

Under the Mountain

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

under-the-moutain-penguinUnder the Mountain (1979)
By Maurice Gee

Although not a household name outside of New Zealand, Maurice Gee is one of the island nation’s most prominent and respected novelists. Born in Auckland, Gee established himself as an author starting in the 1960s with his novels A Special Flower, In My Father’s Den, and A Glorious Morning, Comrade. His later acclaimed books include Plumb and Crime Story. All these novels are mainstream adult works, but Gee turned his hand to books for younger readers and made a parallel career in the field of the young adult science fiction. It started with Under the Mountain in 1979, which gained popularity outside of New Zealand with a television mini-series released in 1981. (For more about the mini-series, read my post on its appearance on the Nickelodeon program The Third Eye.)

Why did Gee decide to write a science-fiction book for younger readers? The author explained his choice in 2004 upon receiving the Storyline Gaelyn Gordon Award:

It all began with having two red-headed daughters—not twins though. Then there was my desire to write a fantasy—get away from the real world of my adult novels—but set it in a place New Zealand children would recognise, so that they might get “our story” feeling. What better place than Auckland’s volcanic cones? It was seeing Mt. Eden looming in the mist one morning that really got it started. Everything, monsters and all, followed from that.

It ended up as his best-selling book, never out of print in its home country. But, unfortunately, not so easily available in the U.S. It struggled even to get published in New Zealand in the first place, and finally ended up first released by the Oxford University Press. It has had a long home with Penguin since then.

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A Return to The Village of Hommlet (4E Style)

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

hommlet4eHow cool is this? Wizards of the Coast has released an updated version of Gary Gygax’s 1979 classic The Village of Hommlet, one of the most celebrated AD&D adventures and the first part of the notoriously difficult Temple of Elemental Evil mega-campaign, revised to run in the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The new version was updated by Andy Collins and is suitable for fourth level characters.

Oh, wait. “Released” is too strong a word. The module was actually a free giveaway WotC mailed to RPGA  members as a DM Reward, and is not available for sale (unless you count eBay, where copies are currently selling for around $50.) Curses!

If you’re the creative sort, Familiar Ground is offering a free copy for one lucky winner, selected randomly from all those who leave a comment with a “gaming or RPG related joke or funny incident.” Deadline is Aug 31.

The original module is still played today by die-hard fans.  It’s been converted to a popular computer game, and the back-story behind it all is annually re-enacted as a tabletop miniatures game at Garycon.  Not bad for a module that’s been out of print for over two decades.

I have fond memories of the original.  And when I’m 80, I hope to have fond memories of tracking down this one.  Let the search begin.

The Locus Index, Galactic Central, and other Fantasy Resources

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 | Posted by George R. Morgan

amazing_193203aNewcomers to fantasy collecting may be unaware of the scope of pertinent and very useful information on the web, and particulary the resources assembled by members of the Yahoo Fictionmags Group. The terms “Big List,” “FMI,” “Galactic Central,” “Locus Index” and many others crop up without necessarily being understood. Fictionmags includes the authors of some of the most seminal and definitive reference works on magazine Science Fiction, Fantasy, and General Fiction. Not only is this material substantial and providing of answers to many questions, but it is also FREE to anyone conversant in accessing the internet.

The major portal to this trove is, the website of Fictionmags’ Phil Stephensen-Payne. This place is rather like a fantasy collector’s version of the Smithsonian. Just about everywhere you turn, there is something of interest. The site opens directly onto Phil SP’s  “Galactic Central.” If you’ve ever wondered what a full run of Amazing Stories, Astounding/Analog, New Worlds or most any other SF prozine looks like, this is where you get to scroll through pages of color cover images arranged chronologically as illustrated checklists (including, for example, an up-to-date Black Gate checklist).

There are tens of thousands of these images from SF/F/H, Western, Crime, Adventure, Romance and general fiction  titles. I’ve contributed images to this project from my own collection as have many others, and Phil has also gathered the content from many sources on the internet as well. There is also an accounting (The Big List) provided of all of the magazine titles pictured in Galactic Central showing where else they are more fully indexed.  Huge as it is, this project is still not done, and Phil will probably have to come back in another lifetime to complete it.

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The High House and the False: James Stoddard’s Evenmere

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The High HouseIn 1998, American writer James Stoddard published his debut novel, The High House, and two years later followed it with a sequel, The False House. They’re two of the more remarkable fantasies I know.

The High House is Evenmere, a fantastic old rambling edifice that was the boyhood home of Anderson Carter. His father was Master of Evenmere, but the machinations of Anderson’s step-mother, Lady Murmer, led to him being sent away from the High House. Years later, he returns — just as evil forces are emerging to threaten the house, and by extension, all of creation.

For Evenmere, we learn, is not simply a house among houses. In a way, it is the world, and a stranger world than we know. Its doors open onto an endless series of hallways, home to whole nations. The clocks and lamps of Evenmere are the clocks and lamps that keep the universe in motion; for them to run down, or go out, is the ruination of all things, and it is the responsibility of the Master to ensure this does not happen. But the elder Anderson has disappeared, and the sinister Society of Anarchists is stirring …

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Happy 90th Birthday, Ray Bradbury

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Theo

dandelion-wineI’m not sure that I would characterize Ray Bradbury as the greatest sci-fi writer in history, but he is surely one of the very best.  I do think, however, that Dandelion Wine may be the great American novel for which the literati have searched for in vain.  Ray Bradbury has merited many tributes, but I’d like to imagine that the recently produced musical homage to his talent will make him laugh harder and longer than any other.   One hopes his heart will stand the strain.  Given its unprintable title and enthusiastically Nabokovian theme, I won’t link the video here, but I’m sure the sufficiently curious will have no trouble finding it. 

I couldn’t help but be amused by noticing that the paperback edition of The Illustrated Man that appeared in it was the same as the one sitting on the shelf right next to me.  Anyhow, in the extremely unlikely chance that some of the younger readers here haven’t gotten around to reading any Bradbury yet, it’s really something that any fan of adventure fantasy will find worth reading.  Even in the literary ghetto of SF/F, there are some classics that remain timeless.

More Haffner Goodness: Detour to Otherness

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

detour-to-otherness1Yesterday’s deliveries here at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters yielded — among the usual bills, magazines, and spare parts for the plutonium-powered signal beacon — a review copy of Detour to Otherness, by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore.

Hallelujah!  I’ve been looking forward to Detour since I first saw the dust jacket at Steve Haffner’s table at the Windy City Pulp & Paper show in April. It collects twenty-four stories of science fantasy and terror by the legendary husband and wife team, with a new intro by Robert Silverberg and an afterword by Frederik Pohl.

Of course, I probably won’t get to keep it.  Not unless I can distract Howard Andrew Jones, who will almost certainly gleefully take it back to Indiana to write a review (Hey Howard! Look at this!!)

Detour to Otherness shows the usual care and craftsmanship of all of Haffner’s titles. The core of the book is the 1961 Bypass to Otherness, the famous paperback collection of many of Kuttner and Moore’s finest stories, drawing from Kuttner’s popular  “Gallegher Galloway” series, featuring a quirky scientist who invents technical marvels only while drunk, his comedic  “Hogbens” stories of otherworldly hillbillies, and the “Baldy” tales about mutant telepaths. It was followed by Return to Otherness in 1962, containing eight more stories. Both paperbacks are valuable collector’s items today. Detour to Otherness assembles both Bypass to Otherness and Return to Otherness, plus eight additional stories “selected for their scarcity, quality, and sheer entertainment value.”

Kuttner’s “Gallegher Galloway” stories were collected by Paizo in Robots Have no Tails (reviewed for us by James Enge here), and Paul Di Filippo recently reviewed Moore’s seminal collection Judgment Night for us here.  But both books are dwarfed by this thick new volume.  If you’re a fan of science fantasy, you’ll want to add this to your collection.  It’s available from, or directly from Haffner Press, for just $40 for an archival-quality hardcover packed with 568 pages of classic fiction.

The Collecting Game: The Windup Girl for $950?

Saturday, August 21st, 2010 | Posted by Darrell Schweitzer

damnation-game1Collector prices are not always rational, as I think most collectors know. They can be fueled by hysteria. As many collectors have noticed, Clive Barker futures are very soft these days. Only the first British hardcovers of the Books of Blood and the British first of The Damnation Game have retained their value. There was a time, within a year or so of publication, when the advance galley of the American edition of Weaveworld could easily bring a hundred dollars. The last time I sold one, I bought it for $1.00 and got $10.00; but that was years ago. Nowadays you would be lucky to get five dollars for a copy. American firsts of Barker, or even galleys of same, are virtually worthless.

I will also mention with some trepidation that Harlan Ellison futures are weakening significantly, and I that have just concluded, on the basis of some research, that the bottom has fallen out of the Pogo market in the past few years. (I sold some Pogo first edition paperbacks for George Scithers maybe 5 years ago for $50-100.00. Now you can find the same ones on eBay for $5, and even the original comic books for $10 or so.)

Paolo Bacigalupi is clearly the hot writer of the hour, the hottest since William Gibson circa 1985. That means that investors are already latching onto him. Sorting the current Abebooks listings from the highest price on down, I find that the highest price for a first edition of The Windup Girl is $950.00, which is, I daresay, not bad for a book only published last year, even if it is a signed copy.

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Dragonstar: More than just D&D IN SPAAAACE!!!!

Saturday, August 21st, 2010 | Posted by Tom Doolan

dragonstar3aD&D in space. It’s an idea that has been around for a long while in the form of TSR/WotC’s Spelljammer.

However, a few years ago, Fantasy Flight Games produced an OGL supplement for a new kind of science-fantasy game. Thus was born the Dragonstar universe.

In a nutshell, the known galaxy, which theoretically includes any and all fantasy game worlds, is ruled by a council of dragons. These are the standard dragons of D&D fame, the Chromatic and Metallic breeds, and they follow the same alignment guidelines. The chromatics are generally evil, and the metallics are generally good.

Each breed takes a turn at ruling the Dragon Empire, alternating between the two factions. At the time the game is set, the Red Dragon Emperor is assuming the throne, and a dark era is descending.

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Ruling Sea Review

Saturday, August 21st, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

ru2I’m on vacation, but for the one or two (and I’m probably overestimating) of you whose Saturday is not complete without something from me in this space, you can read my review of Robert Redick’s The Ruling Sea, the second volume of his The Chathrand Voyage series.

Regular programming should resume next week.

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