Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Seven: “The Undersea Kingdom of Mongo”

Friday, December 31st, 2010 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

flashgordon2_1cvr3

“The Undersea Kingdom of Mongo“ was the seventh installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally printed between April 12 and October 11, 1936, “The Undersea Kingdom of Mongo” picks up the storyline where the sixth installment, “At War with Ming” left off with Flash, Dale, and Zarkov’s rocketship eluding Ming’s air fleet in the heavy fog known as the Sea of Mystery.undersea-kingdom-of-mongo1

A magneto-ray from the ocean brings the rocketship down, our heroes bail out, but only Zarkov and Dale come ashore on an island with Flash presumed drowned at sea. In fact, the magneto-ray has brought the unconscious Flash below the ocean to the undersea kingdom of Coralia where Queen Undina takes an immediate fancy to Flash.
Undina is the latest in Alex Raymond’s line of femme fatales. It seems that while Mongo has honorable males to offset the many villainous fiends and monstrous creatures, the females of Mongo are all scheming nymphomaniacs. Queen Undina has her chief scientist Triton subject Flash to the lung machine which converts him into a water-breather like her people. Consequently, he is now unable to survive on land. Flash joins Undina, Triton, and a scavenger party in looting the sunken rocketship that brought him to their world when they are attacked by a plesiosaur that Raymond amusingly re-christens a devourosaurus.

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John Klima on Swords and Sorcery

Friday, December 31st, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

torOver at Tor.com, John Klima, editor of the ubercool magazine Electric Velocipede, reflects on a year filled with Swords and Sorcery — including Black Gate magazine:

Everywhere I looked I saw sword-and-sorcery, sort of a mini renaissance of the genre. Now, maybe this was a weird confluence of circumstance on my part. I did meet three people this year who I feel are players in this renaissance.

First, I met John O’Neill, editor of the fantastic Black Gate magazine, who published a gigantic, 384-page issue this year. Black Gate has been one of the few consistent places over the past several years to find good, quality fantasy short fiction. And even rarer, a place to find straightforward sword-and-sorcery action.

Aw, shucks.  Thanks for the kind words, John.  It was a pleasure to meet you at Odyssey Con 2010 as well (it was the best Indian food I had all year, too).

The man who introduced us, Jason M. Waltz of Rogue Blades Entertainment, also makes the honor roll of S&S renaissance men.  The third is Scott H. Andrews, editor of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which John calls “probably my favorite new magazine.”

You can read the complete article here.


John Joseph Adams Interviews Jonathan L. Howard

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

cabalJonathan L. Howard, author of the Johannes Cabal novels (Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and Johannes Cabal the Detective), had the lead story in Black Gate 13, the popular tale “The Beautiful Corridor.” It followed the exploits of the master thief Kyth, as she took on a commission from the jovial lich Maten Shal to explore an impossibly deadly tomb (read an excerpt here.)

Now Jonathan’s story “The Ereshkigal Working,” also featuring Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, appears in the new anthology The Way of the Wizard. Editor John Joseph Adams has interviewed Jonathan  in conjunction with the book launch:

A necromancer’s lot is not a happy one… Horrible things befall him on a regular basis, although this story is the first time his experimental subjects have reanimated before he’s done anything necromantic to them at all. The story came from wondering how Cabal would handle a full-on zombie outbreak.

Adams: Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

That’s a very true statement. I myself halted a zombie apocalypse a couple of years ago, and I remember thinking at the time, “This would make a good story.”

The Way of the Wizard looks like a terrific book, with both classic tales of wizards from some of the best names in fantasy, and new fiction from a lot of hot new talent. The book’s website features seven “Free Reads” from Adam-Troy Castro, Jeremiah Tolbert, David Barr Kirtley, and John R. Fultz’s “The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria.” We reported on John Joseph Adams’ interview with John Fultz last month.

Jonathan’s next story featuring Kyth, “The Shuttered Temple,” in which Kyth attempts to solve the mystery of a sealed and very deadly temple, appears in the upcoming Black Gate 15.

The complete interview with Jonathan L. Howard is here.


Goth Chick News: Cool Stuff in 2011

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

super_8There are bits of wrapping paper static’d to the lamp shade and tendrils of curly ribbon hanging off the chandelier. Here I lay in a sugar and red meat coma under the pressing weight of one too many conversations with the essence of Christmas spirit, three times distilled. With New Years Eve still in front and a bacchanalia of epic proportions behind, what can I do but think happy thoughts about the coming year and a time when the little troll living between my ears will finally stop running in circles and shouting.

Trust me, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

But 2011 looms large and full of promise; that not all movies will be filmed in 3D, some remakes may be worth watching and some events will be worth waiting for. So for you I pull myself up off the sticky floor and shake the glitter off my Mr. Grinch flannel PJ’s to bring you the annual “Cool Stuff in 2011” list. I know you probably have some of your own things to add to it, but far be it from me to ask you to get up and try to type in your current state. Nope, leave it to me to take one for the team, and if you feel up to it later, go ahead and chime in.

Now that the room has stopped spinning, let’s start with the movies.

Super 8, a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams is the obvious place to begin, mainly due to the two gentlemen at the helm.  Until its release in June, you can content yourself by following along with the elaborate viral marketing campaign that has been teasing the crap out of those of us trying to determine the focus of this film.

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Fantasyscapes 1: The Bog Blog

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Posted by Erik Amundsen

blackbogstenchThere’s a good chance we haven’t met.

My name is Erik, I tell stories, but today, I am not telling you a story, exactly.   Today, and heaven willing, the next little while, I will be more like a travel agent.  A very bad travel agent, probably, since I’ve got no notion to listen to your vacation plans; I’ve got a list of locations we’re going to visit, and not a single one is the kind of thing that conjures to mind restful vacation.

The mighty editrix of this fine establishment has called on me to take you places, and she assures me that you folks have sort of peculiar tastes, and that the places I show you are places you’ll enjoy going, and probably, places a lot of you have already been.

So let’s put that to the test and go straight for the swamps.  I love swamps.  I own a pair of tall boots for tramping about in them.  Swamp is half of my heritage (the other half being Yankee), and it was the call of the swamp and the bog that netted me in the first place.

Fantasy belongs to and in the swamp.

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Art Evolution 16: Brom

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

The scope of Art Evolution continues, but if you’ve missed any previous artists you can go back and find them here.

‘Middle-Earth Lyssa’ was complete, and I was looking for more recruits. During this whole process I’d kept to my promise, making sure that every person I’d come in contact with, even those who’d turned me down, continued to get updates.

earth-air-254The winter progressed, and during the dead of that cold time it was a great surprise, and certainly a sense of justification for my efforts, when Brom emailed me and said that he’d see what he could do to help out.

Well, three cheers for Brom, a true man of character!

When I was in college, and spent most of my mother’s hard-earned money on comic books [instead of food, or gas, or clothing, or heat…], but I was happy with my long-boxes. That said, I neglected my RPG collection, but lucky for me a friend in my little circle of role-players decided to purchase the TSR campaign setting Dark Sun. As a DM at heart, I decided that I’d take a break from running a game [and therefore having to buy all the books involved in it] and let this guy do the legwork.

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Jan/Feb Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine Now on Sale

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

fsf033The big January/February double issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction goes on sale today.

The issue features four novelettes by Matthew Corradi, Albert E. Cowdrey, Pat MacEwan, and “The Bird Cage,” by Kate Wilhelm. There are short stories from Alan Dean Foster, Rick Norwood, Chris Lawson, James Stoddard, Jim Young, Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg, and Richard A. Lupoff.

Asked about the issue, Editor Gordon van Gelder had this comment:

I hope the presence of a Ghost Wind and a Whirlwind in the issue won’t lead anyone to conclude the issue is long-winded.

F&SF is published six times a year; issues are 258 pages.  It is the longest-running professional fantasy magazine in the country, and has been published continuously since 1949.

The new cover price is $7.50; cover artist this issue is Kristin Kest. The magazine’s website, where you can order subscriptions and browse their blog, is at www.sfsite.com/fsf/.

We covered the Nov/Dec issue of F&SF here.


Don’t Look Now, It’s the Birds: The Weird Tales of Daphne du Maurier

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

dont-look-now-nyrb-coverDon’t Look Now: Stories
By Daphne du Maurier, selected by Patrick McGrath
NYRB Classics (368 pages, $15.95, October 2008)

I have recently started an immersive journey through Cornwall, although not of the physical variety, since economically I don’t have the luxury of taking myself there. After a few years of vague fascination with the tip of the southwestern peninsula of Great Britain, which reaches out into the Atlantic to terminate in the pincer claw of Lizard Point and the Penwith Peninsula, I started to do harder research into its history and customs that separate it in weird and wonderful ways from the rest of the island that lays east of the river Tamar. My reason for this intensification of interest is, of course, for writing purposes. And if anyone wants to make a journey into Cornwall that involves fiction, he or she will have to spend some quality time with the Grand Dame of the land of tinners and smugglers, Daphne du Maurier.

Du Maurier (1907–1989) achieved enormous success as an author of twentieth century popular literature. On first publication, most of her novels received dismissive critical notices as “romantic thrillers for women,” while they ran through printing after printing to satisfy public demand. However, du Maurier’s novels have managed to escape the dustbin of most bestsellers of yesteryear and they remain in print and popular as ever today. Critical opinion has also turned around, and the author is now respected as an excellent wordsmith and crafter of plots, a literary descendant of Wilkie Collins, and as the twentieth century “voice” of Cornwall.

Most of du Maurier’s novels are historicals with emphasis on romantic suspense and Cornish settings: Jamaica Inn (1936), Frenchman’s Creek (1942), and The King’s General (1946). Her most famous work is Rebecca (1938), a contemporary-set Gothic masterpiece about an unnamed woman who marries into a sinister legacy in a mansion perched on the cliffs of what must be—although never stated as such—the jagged coast of north Cornwall. Rebecca’s reputation was furthered immortalized in the 1940 film version that brought Alfred Hitchcock from the U.K. to Hollywood for the first time and set the standard for the “creepy maid” figure in Judith Anderson’s Oscar-winning performance as Mrs. Danvers.

But du Maurier had an impact on the “weird tale” as well in her short stories, where she explored supernatural and perverse aspects that are only shadows on the Gothic fringes of her novels. Two of them, “The Birds” and “Don’t Look Now,” are classics of supernatural horror that have also received the compliment of popular film adaptations, although du Maurier expressed dislike for Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.

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New Treasures: Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez

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

too-many-cursesI have the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. Much of will be spent laying out Black Gate 15, to be sure, as well as catching up on my towering e-mail backlog.

But if you can’t recline in the glow of the Christmas tree and read at least one new book, it hardly counts as a vacation, does it? Santa brought me several great titles this year, but the one I’ve got my eye on at the moment is the latest novel by A. Lee Martinez: Too Many Curses. Martinez is the author of The Automatic Detective, Gil’s All Fright Diner, and A Nameless Witch, and his newest promises to continue in the same light-hearted vein as those:

The wizard Margle the Horrendous takes special pride in never killing his enemies. Instead, he transforms them into various accursed forms and locks them away in his castle. His halls are filled with his collection of fallen heroes and defeated villains, along with a few ordinary folk who were just unfortunate enough to draw Margle’s attention.

It’s Nessy’s duty to tend this castle. It’s a lot of work, but she manages, taking pride in housekeeping talents that keep the castle from collapsing into chaos. But when Margle suddenly dies, everything begins to unravel. Nessy finds herself surrounded by monsters, curses, a door that should never be opened, and one very deadly dark wizardess.

Happy Holidays to all Black Gate readers out there, and here’s hoping that your loved ones found a way to express their affection for you in the form of a great book.


Vexed Hierarchies

Sunday, December 26th, 2010 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Heroes in the WindAnother year’s drawing to a close, and with it the first full decade of the twenty-first century. It’s a time for looking back, for thinking over what’s happened and what’s going on, in fantasy fiction and elsewhere. I don’t pretend to be in a position to make any worthwhile assessment of fantasy as a whole; but I do want to write about a change that seems to be in process right now. I think it’s a positive change, and potentially a radical one. And I can remember the moment I realised it was happening.

It was when I saw a collection of Robert E. Howard short stories published by Penguin Books.

Let me firstly explain why this was a shock. When I was a kid, Penguin seemed to be a publisher of self-consciously literary books; orange-spined paperbacks featuring mostly English people doing resolutely ordinary everyday things. This wasn’t accurate, as Penguin published sf writers, from Fred Hoyle to Keith Laumer to Fred Saberhagen, as well as mysteries, and writers like Ian Fleming and P.G. Wodehouse; but the perception was that the orange-spined books were realist fiction, and ambitious on a level above the rest. They didn’t interest me at the time, but I gathered from the adults around me that these books represented, in some way that was never clearly articulated, a literary quality beyond the sf and fantasy that I was reading.

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