NASA Announces Mysterious News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

imagesOkay, this is pretty cool. Freelance Black Gate operative John C. Hocking leaks word to us that NASA has announced a press conference this Thursday regarding an “astrobiology finding.” The prestigious journal Science has also “embargoed details” until the conference:

NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery;
Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2

WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

Anyone who follows these things regularly knows they usually lead to some announcement about fossilized remnants that might once have been bacteria, maybe, in some rock in the arctic that once maybe came from Mars. Lame.  They hardly ever announce that alien life is hours away from totally devouring downtown Pittsburgh, or knocking over skyscrapers in Tokyo or anything like that.

But you never know. What does “embargoed details” mean? Does it involve suited men in late model sedans, monitoring the activities of journalists who don’t respect the government’s requests to “keep a lid” on this? We can only hope. ‘Cause that would be cool.

In the meantime, the anticipation shall doubtless be far more delicious than the actual announcement, but that’s OK. We have until Thursday to dream that maybe, this time, they’ll announce that alien life has touched down in Oklahoma, and they’re willing to trade advanced tech for more Chuck Berry CDs.

“When things fall apart, they are going to fall apart in L.A. first”: LOSCON 37

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

loscon-banner-photoOnly a few months ago, I would never have believed that I would end up writing two convention reports within the space of a month. Yet here I am bringing you news of LOSCON 37, the 2010 installment of the long-running Los Angeles-based science-fiction, fantasy, and horror convention.

This year’s World Fantasy Convention was an almost overwhelming experience—not only was it my first convention and my first time meeting some of the core Black Gate mavens, but WFC is one of the most professional cons on the planet, bringing together top writers, publishers, and editors for a long weekend of uninterrupted speculative-fiction intensity. And nobody wears costumes. As I planned going to my next convention, I knew that I would be at something less lavish and more fan-centered, with a looser feel. And with costumes. Lots of costumes. But there would also be no Black Gate. Going to LOSCON was a test for me: could I have fun at an event where I wouldn’t be part of large contingent?

Oh yeah. LOSCON was a different kind of thrill than World Fantasy, but it was still a thrill.

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A review of War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Posted by Isabel Pelech

warfortheoaksWar for the Oaks, by Emma Bull
Ace Books (309 pages, $3.50, 1987)
Cover by Pamela Patrick

Thematically, War for the Oaks by Emma Bull has a lot in common with Charles de Lint’s Jack the Giant Killer, which also appeared in 1987 (and which I reviewed here.) If I’d known exactly how similar they were, I’m not sure I would have picked it to review for a few months yet. Still, it’s a good book, and I’m glad I got a chance to read it.

Eddi McCandry, guitarist and singer, is about to leave both her old band and her boyfriend, the lead singer. She’s ready, she thinks, for a normal life. It’s a plan that falls apart in only one chapter; the fey need a mortal presence to witness their upcoming war, and they’ve chosen her.

In short order, Eddi is stalked by a man and chased by a huge dog, insulted by a woman made of water, drafted by the Seelie Court, and saddled with a constant guardian: the man-dog shapeshifter who herded her into the encounter.

To make matters worse, Eddi finds out that she has to stay under surveillance for at least half a year so that the Unseelie Court can’t assassinate her. Her watchdog is a phouka who enjoys living up to his trickster roots, and keeping a regular job would be impossible with him following her everywhere even in the unlikely event that he decides to behave himself, so Eddi bows to the inevitable and decides to start a band.

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Supernatural Spotlight – Episode 6.9 “Clap Your Hands If You Believe”

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Dean Winchester detains a suspected fairy.

Dean Winchester detains a suspected fairy. Does this count as a hate crime?

If you’re an avid fan of my posts on this blog (and I assume that most of you are) you’ll notice that I didn’t post last week. I’m hoping that the intervening week has removed some of the trauma and heartache from the experience, not to mention given you the opportunity to seek some much needed counsel from your spiritual guru or therapist.

It was my DVR’s fault. A week ago, I re-arranged the living room so that we’d have room for the television. I moved the television, along with the accompanying bundles of wires and electronic gizmos. Everything was working fine, hours before Friday night prime time television. But, sadly, the DVR still decided (and make no mistake, it was a conscious choice, of this I’m sure) not to record Supernatural.

So I went to the CW website, in hopes of watching the episode in time to review it … but to no avail, because it takes a week for them to post the episode. And my internet television of choice, Hulu, does not offer Supernatural. Thus why you, dear readers, are getting this recap more than a week after the show aired.

On the plus side, though: Dean gets abducted by aliens … or maybe fairies!

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Novel Writing: Symbolic Thinking

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Holy GrailHampered this past week by a bad cold, I’ve made only minimal progress in National Novel Writing Month (you can see my previous thoughts on this year’s NaNoWriMo here, here, here, and here). Still, a few things have become clear to me about the shape of my story; I seem to be writing, not a two-book story, but a four-book saga. Which is all right, since the idea of the story, Modred finding his way at the court of Arthur and beyond, was always meant to divide into four units; only now it seems those units are going to be longer than I’d expected.

But what’s surprising me so far is not how the material I expected to find in the story is arranging itself, but how unpredictable some of that material is. How symbols are choosing themselves, and manifesting in strange ways. And in ways of which I’m only vaguely conscious.

“Symbol” is in many ways a difficult word. What’s a symbol? The way I think of it, it’s an image in a story that means more than itself; specifically, an image that means more than can be explained. It’s an allusive image; a symbol typically seems to mean more than one thing, and usually gains resonance by being part of more than one symbol-system, whether the author was conscious of it or not. So a symbol can be defined as an image whose significance can be read many ways, but which can never be wholly captured by a non-narrative paraphrase.

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Wumpus Tales Now Open to Submissions

Sunday, November 28th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

wumpustales2Attention all fiction writers looking for markets! Alexander G. Tozzi, publisher of the new magazine Wumpus Tales: A Magazine of Bizarre Fiction, tells us it is now open to submissions:

Ideally we hope to fill its pages with stories reminiscent of concepts you might find in an 80’s computer game, where aliens guzzle brain juice in a satellite cafe, wizards cheat at poker while their familiars operate pyramid schemes, and zombies delight in smashing each other’s tombstones.
       We also want stories taking place in real life, though with some element of the genres worked in, such as a girl who enchants a rival’s makeup so that it turns her into a beast. Right now we are scouring every market list we can find, trying to get added. Submissions are the only thing keeping Issue Number One from being printed, and we hope that authors will read our guidelines before sending anything.

We’re looking forward to reading those stories (especially the one with the zombies!), so all you aspiring writers, get to work.

The website and submission guidelines are here.

Subscribe to Black Gate? Get a PDF Version for just $2.95!

Sunday, November 28th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

black-gate-12Are you a current Black Gate magazine subscriber? If so, you’re eligible to purchase PDF copies of your favorite issues at $2 off regular price — just $2.95 per issue.

High-resolution PDF versions of Black Gate are regularly $4.95 each, and are now available in the same quantities as print subscriptions: 2 issues for $9.50, 4 for $17.95, or 6 for just $25.95.

However, subscribers to the print version can now buy PDFs for just $2.95 for single issues. Discounts are offered for subscriptions as well: $5.50 for 2 PDF issues, $9.95 for 4, and just $14.25 for 6!

Those who purchase a 4-issue print sub and a 4-issue PDF sub at the same time can now save even more, and receive the PDF subscription for just $7.95 — a $10 savings off regular price.

Issues currently available in PDF format are BG 11, BG 12, BG 13, and our big double issue, BG 14 — 384 pages, still priced at the regular cost of $4.95. Oppressed house elves are currently hard at work, painstakingly converting our earlier issues by hand, and PDF subscriptions to future issues are available as well.

You can get all the details on our subscription page. Act now, and help us afford that big Christmas office party!

Letters to Black Gate: Submission Windows, Port Iris, and Canadian Fiction

Saturday, November 27th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

port-isisKerstan Szczepanski responds to our recent post on the latest issue of Port Iris magazine:

I don’t know much about Port Iris beyond what I’ve seen in issue #3. A little too alternative for my taste. Although Aidan Doyle’s Salary Ninja was pretty good (“When I was young, if a demon had a blue tooth, it meant something different.”); if that guy submits anything to you, read him right away. And the cover makes me think of Tex Avery, very cool.
I’ve been a long time subscriber to Black Gate since issue 3 or 4 or something, absolutely love the mag.

Richard Dillio asks:

I had never read your magazine until about a year ago. A friend from work brought in a copy and I burned through it in about two days (my job has a lot of down-time, heh). I am continually impressed by your organization — fantasy magazines seem to be dropping like flies lately, but you guys are hanging on. I’m glad there is a magazine out there still willing to print the sword-and-sorcery and adventure fantasy stories that are the real bedrock of the American fantasy tradition.
It seems like every time I check your guys’ webpage for when submissions are open, you aren’t accepting submissions. I realize the market is probably glutted with good adventure fantasy for you guys to choose from, but is there any reliable time when you guys are accepting submissions? Like, say, any specific time of year? If not, that’s cool too. Just curious.
Anyways, keep up the great work. I love the magazine!

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Life with Phil

Saturday, November 27th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

jp-philip-2-articleinlineOn the heels of Mark Twain’s best seller, we now also have this memoir from Anne Rubenstein Dick, third wife of five of the only science fiction writer so far to gain literary legitimacy for inclusion in the Library of America series.  Originally self-published, The Search for Philip K. Dick has been re-edited by Tachyon Press; it covers the five years of Rubenstein’s “courtship” and marriage to one very weird guy during what might be called his “mellow years” in the early 1960s, also the time when he wrote his Hugo award winning (and only award winning) novel,  Man in the High Castle. According to Anne, “I’m not saying he wasn’t a very nice person too; he was. He just had a very dark shadow.”

John Joseph Adams Interviews John R. Fultz

Friday, November 26th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

wayofthewizardJohn Joseph Adams, editor of The Way of the Wizard anthology, has interviewed contributor — and Black Gate blogger and author — John R. Fultz in conjunction with the book launch:

In the cannon of classic fantasy, there are many examples of terrific wizardry, such as Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser tales, where Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face are the heroes’ patrons – mysterious inhuman wizards who watch over and protect Fafhrd and the Mouser, as well as giving them preposterous quests now and then. The tales of Clark Ashton Smith are rife with wizardry… Malygris of Susran, Namirrah of Zothique, and Evagh the Warlock, to name only a few. Nobody could build a rich, phantasmagoric world of dark wonders like Smith… Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone is one of my favorite wizards as well… Who knew a wizard could be such a bad-ass with a sword?

The Way of the Wizard was released on November 16th; the book’s website features seven “Free Reads,” including  John Joseph Adams’ introduction, stories from Adam-Troy Castro, Jeremiah Tolbert, David Barr Kirtley, and the complete  text of John R. Fultz’s The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria.”

John R. Fultz blogs here regularly; he’s also the author of “Oblivion Is the Sweetest Wine” (Black Gate 12), “Return of the Quill” (Black Gate 13), and the upcoming “The Vintages of Dream.”

The complete interview is here.

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