C.S.E. Cooney’s The Big Bah-Ha Available October 2010

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

claire-254Our own C.S.E. Cooney has sent us some good news about her latest fiction extravagana:

The Big Bah-Ha is a novella by yours truly, coming out at Drollerie Press in October 2010!!! It is a post-apocalyptic katabasis story, complete with kiddie gangs, slingshot battles, strange clowns, Tall Ones, and one very dead (very brave) child protagonist.

No, I didn’t know what a “katabasis story” was either.  Thank God for Wikipedia, which tells me “Katabasis is a descent of some type. Katabasis may be a moving downhill, a sinking of winds, a military retreat, or a trip to the underworld.” Oooh, now I get it.

The Big Ba-Ha is a macabre post-apocalyptic fairy tale, a rollicking fantasy of a band of near-feral children who brave a plague-ridden landscape on a desperate quest. To rescue one of their own, they will ally with the monstrous and enigmatic Flabberghast — who arrived only after the world ended and eats the bones of the dead — and penetrate the mystery of Chuckle City, home to ravenous packs of balloon aminals, murderous Gacy boys, and the elusive Gray Harlequin. The Big Ba-Ha — it’s The Goonies meets The Road Warrior, perfectly suited for both ordinary children and gifted adults, and one of the most original fantasies I’ve read in a long time.

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Heavy metal fantasy: Blind Guardian back in the fray with At the Edge of Time

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 | Posted by Brian Murphy

blind-guardian-live-frontTo the gods of the north, I pray
And raise my cup for the fallen ones
Then I cry
In Valhalla they’ll sing

–“Valkyries,” Blind Guardian

As a life-long heavy metal fan who also loves fantasy literature, it was only a matter of time before I got to the subject of Blind Guardian. About all you need to know about this wonderful, semi-obscure German metal band is that they wrote an entire album about J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion (Nightfall in Middle Earth).

Need I say more? I mean, look at the picture I’ve embedded — that’s a Blind Guardian album cover, and it looks like it could have been plucked off the cover of a Robert Jordan novel.

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Goth Chick News: Satan Took the Elevator, But I Took the Stairs

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image0043“For the love of God, not another one!”

I was in the midst of exchanging text messages with my regular movie-date crowd, trying to decide what we were going to see. At the top of my list was a new release called Devil which to its apparent detriment, had M. Night Shyamalan’s name attached to it.

You remember him, right? He’s the director who once told us amazing stories such as The Sixth Sense and Signs, but of late has attempted to force feed us unpalatable drivel like The Happening and The Last Air Bender.

M. Night is an amazing teller of tales. Were we all sitting around a campfire while he scared the crap out of us with masterful plot twists, I would never want to go home.

But apparently when he’s handed an all star cast and a multi-million dollar studio budget, what might have been an unforgettable fable makes me want to slit my wrists, at least lately.

If only M. Night would stick to the story-telling and leave the movie making to someone else…

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Letters to Black Gate: Vampire Earth, Pete Butler and Gary Gygax

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

tale-of-the-thunderbolt2Jesse Moya tells us how she discovered Black Gate:

I recently started The Vampire Earth books by E. E. Knight.  On the cover of Tale of the Thunderbolt (Book 3), there is a brief descriptive quote about Knight, and Black Gate is listed as the source.
So I thought I would check out what Black Gate was all about. Unlike my younger days, I no longer have as much time to read, so I thought if your site did reviews I might learn about authors/series that I might otherwise never discover.
Noticed you were a magazine so I decided to see what kind of stories you published. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten in the (bad) habit of sticking to the authors I know (on the basis that I don’t want to “waste my time”), so I’m trying to expand.
In the last couple of years, I’ve caught back up to current music thanks to my oldest girl and her iTunes downloads. Now I just need help getting to know who good new authors may be, and I hope your magazine helps me.

Thanks, Jesse. Glad to see such as healthy attitude towards trying new writers (and magazines). I wish we saw it more often.

And wow — that’s the first time we’ve ever won a customer from a cover blurb.

Hear that, Reviews Editor Bill Ward?  I want cover blurbs on every fantasy novel in North America. Get on it.

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Art Evolution 3: Jeff Dee

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | Posted by Scott Taylor

t1-254

In the first installment of this series, I explained my plan to collect ten of the greatest fantasy role-playing artists for a shared project to illustrate a single character in their best known style. For that one I chose Earthdawn and Shadowrun artist Jeff Laubenstein.

And now the Art Evolution blog series continues into Week 3, after last week’s contribution from Exalted artist Eric Vedder.

OK, so two down and I had an ‘Exalted Lyssa‘. As pleasing as that was, I still needed more ammunition before I started blind solicitations.

In another stroke of ‘luck’ I was already a horrible failure as a writer. As such, I’d spent time marketing a wretched book I’d written in 2006 that I’d worked with Jeff Dee on some illustrations for.

To me, Dee was a must for the article, all of his work at TSR a kind of Holy Grail of RP art.

My imagination still wonders if the zombie on the cover of T1: The Village of Hommlet has grappled or bit the unfortunate warrior pictured there.

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Interzone #229 Arrives

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

interzone229And by arrives, I mean I finally found a local bookstore — Barnes & Noble, in Champaign, Illinois — that carries it at a reasonable price ($7.50 US).

I like Interzone. This British science fiction magazine has had a long and illustrious history, and has published some terrific work. They’ve also had some really great covers, especially in the last few years. (Okay this issue, with the Lego Road Warriors look, maybe isn’t the best example.) If I could find a domestic distributor, I’d subscribe in a heartbeat.

Still, it’s worth the hunt every two months. The full-color interiors and top-notch design give the zine a distinct look and real appeal. My favorite features are frequently the non-fiction — including Nick Lowe’s Mutant Popcorn film column, Tony Lee’s Laser Fodder DVD articles, David Langford SF gossip column Ansible Link, and especially the book reviews, which provide an often tantalizing look at British SF and fantasy titles. 

Fiction this issue is by Jim Hawkins, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Toby Litt, Antony Mann, and Paul Evanby. There’s also an interview with Finch author Jeff VanderMeer, and an editorial.

Interzone is published by TTA Press, and edited by Andy Cox and Andy Hedgecock.  Their website is here.


Batman: Under the Red Hood

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

batman_under_the_red_hood_posterBatman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Directed by Brandon Vietti. Featuring the Voices of Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, Neil Patrick Harris, John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams.

Warner Bros. Animation’s series of straight-to-video PG-13 releases set in the DC Comics universe has been a great success. Starting in 2007 with Superman: Doomsday (which completely embarrassed the previous year’s live-action Superman Returns) the team at Warner Bros. that originally kicked off the DC Animated Universe with Batman: The Animated Series has turned out high quality, adult-slanted fare that has even excited me about characters that I don’t usually care much about, like Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern.

But, no surprise, much of the new DVD series has featured Batman, the hottest property in Warner Brothers’ DC catalog because of the huge success of the Christopher Nolan-directed movies. Batman got his own compilation disc with Batman: Gotham Knight (set in the Nolan-verse and featuring a round-robin of top anime-directing talents), co-starred with Superman in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (an adaptation of the Jeph Loeb-written arc in the popular Superman/Batman ongoing comic), and played a major part in Justice League: The New Frontier and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

Now Batman has his second solo-starring release in the series. Based on a recent popular storyline in Batman’s eponymous comic book that tied into the mega-crossover event “Infinite Crisis,” Batman: Under the Red Hood brings PG-13 to the small screen in a big way. In fact, the film flirts with a “soft R” rating, and it’s definitely not for children—unless you don’t mind your children watching not one but two brutal beatings with a crowbar.

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Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek: “The Price of Two Blades” by Pete Butler

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

twobladesclrWe finally reach the novellas as we commence Part II of our online inventory of the massive Black Gate 14, and we start with Pete Butler’s “The Price of Two Blades,” one of the most acclaimed stories we’ve published in some time. Here’s what Luke Reviews said:

A story-teller and entertainer sits down to learn a new story for his repertoire, and finds much more. This is an absolutely brilliant piece. The novella flew by, playing both with action fantasy and the art of telling stories. One of the best pieces of short fiction I’ve read from 2010, it would be an injustice for this one not to win some awards.

Over at SF Site, Sherwood Smith says:

Butler’s well-crafted, deceptively simple frame-tale holds its own with dark, convincing emotional resonance. A wandering bard arrives at a village, and is curious about its cemetery, which is full of beautiful marble headstones of the sort that only the rich can afford. When he sees that most of the headstones share the same death date, he’s determined to get the locals to give him the story… and he hears the tale of the cost people paid in evoking magic, and the gods, to get rid of a bandit lord. The story builds to a solid double-punch that lingers effectively.

And John Ottinger III at Grasping for the Wind gushes:

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.

 “The Price of Two Blades” appears in Black Gate 14. You can read an excerpt here, and the complete Black Gate 14 Sneak Peek is available here. You can find additional reviews of the entire issue here.

Art by Malcolm McClinton.


Writing Against Resistance

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

warofart1I think one of the reasons that there are so many books out there offering writing advice is that there are so many ways up the mountain. Different writers use different ways to battle their way up the height, sometimes changing their own approaches day to day or project to project. I wouldn’t be surprised if most serious writers have at least one or two of these books on their shelf, or in a box somewhere, its resting spot likely depending upon how useful the writer really found the information.

My current favorite is titled The War of Art, and it has held that position for almost two years, partly because I’ve been too busy to read many writing books, but mostly because it gave me everything I needed to fight my most recent battles. You may recognize its writer, Steven Pressfield, as the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, The Legend of Bagger Vance and sundry other works.

But it doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of Pressfield or read a line of his work if you’ve ever had trouble procrastinating with your writing or any other creative pursuit. Pressfield names your opponent in the battle between creation and NOT-creation “Resistance,” with a capital R, and in this short, concise book, tells you how to recognize it and move forward up that mountain.

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The Weather: Part Art, Part Science, and Part… Magic?

Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Posted by Maria V. Snyder

poison-study2Predicting the weather is an art and a science… yes, really, it’s a science, believe me. I spent four years at Penn State University learning chemistry, calculus, physics, thermodynamics, and fluid dynamics to earn my Meteorology Degree – I should know.

Did that transform me into a great forecaster? Er…no. So I must have relied more on my artistic side, right? Er… no again. Good thing for the masses of people that might have relied on me to forecast their daily weather that I decided to go into environmental meteorology, and work with air quality and air pollution instead. Did you hear that sigh of relief? I did.

Eventually, I ended up changing careers and becoming a writer (long story, but it involves boredom, rage, despair, dissatisfaction, and sex… you really don’t want to know, trust me). But it seems my initial love of weather and storms wouldn’t just die quietly.

No, it found ways into my writing without my conscious consent. My first book, Poison Study, has a very rare weather phenomenon that my one friend (a meteorologist that can forecast – imagine that!) has been the only person to recognize.

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