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

Sunday, December 26th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

bah-haBlack Gate‘s C.S.E. Cooney’s dark fantasy novella The Big Bah-Ha is finally available from Drollerie Press in a variety of electronic formats.

The Big Ba-Ha is a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, following a band of near-feral children who brave a plague-ridden landscape on a desperate quest to rescue one of their own:

Beatrice, who only moments before was the eldest member and leader of the Barka gang, wakes up dead. She was almost, probably, 12. Either the slap rash got her, as it gets everyone over the age of 12, or the Flabberghast got tired of waiting for her to drop dead and took her skin for a door and her bones for his stew. Who can say? What she can say is that she didn’t get to wake up in heaven. Instead, she’s in the Big Bah-Ha, a place that’s supposed to be a comfort to children after they pass on. Only something’s very, very wrong here and, despite all her bravery and cunning, she’s not quite sure how to fix it or if she’ll survive the afterlife long enough to try.

Gene Wolfe said:

It is deep and wise and fabulous, and will leave you shuddering and strangely at peace. You could found a religion on it — or it may found a religion without you. Or found some new thing that humankind has not yet seen. Only God knows what would happen after the founding. As someone (you’ll find out who) says deep in the story, ‘We’re all clowns now.’”

The Big Ba-Ha is available for just $4.25. You can also read an excerpt or pre-order the print (both trade paperback and signed and lettered hardcover) versions here.

Check it out!  You’ll thank us later.

A Review of The Wolf Age by James Enge

Saturday, December 25th, 2010 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

thewolfageThe Wolf Age, by James Enge
Pyr (465 pages, $17.00, Nov 2010)

Yes, here I am again, to talk about James Enge. Specifically, The Wolf Age.

You know, I wrote about Blood of Ambrose, and I wrote about This Crooked Way, but this time I’m really stymied. I’m sitting here on my bed, laptop on my knees, feeling unworthy of the task ahead, and I have to ask myself:

“Now, Self, are we prepared to write about the third Morlock Ambrosius novel in a calm, clear, concise manner? Are we willing to dispense with our usual capital letters and exclamation points (I used plenty of those in my personal blog about this book, oh, believe me), and give a proper synopsis, and cite examples of AWESOMENESS and, and, not disintegrate into helpless wails of, But Lev Grossman already said it better than I could! It’s right there in the BLURB!

And then I said:

“Well, Me, it’s tricky work all right. But someone’s got to do it! …Someone other than Lev Grossman.”

(I didn’t know who Lev Grossman was when I read The Wolf Age, but I envied his blurb, and then randomly picked up and read most of The Magicians before I realized that this Lev Grossman and that Lev Grossman were the same Lev Grossman!!! The Magicians is chilly-cool: like a cocktail of vodka on diamonds, lit with foxfire. So, whatever, I guess it’s okay that a bestselling author of a really good novel said what I meant to say about James Enge before I had a chance to say it. This being:

“James Enge’s books are like a strange alloy of Raymond Chandler, Fritz Lieber, Larry Niven and some precious metal that is all Enge’s own. They’re thrilling, funny, and mysteriously moving. I see 10 things on every page I wish I’d written. I could read him forever and never get bored.”

Speaking of cocktails, Morlock gets really, really drunk in The Wolf Age. For a very long time. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Oops. Should I have said “Spoiler Warning”? Well, I’ll try not to give too many of them.

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Just in time for Xmas (or whatever you celebrate this time of year)…

Saturday, December 25th, 2010 | Posted by Soyka

interzone-2010Just arrived in the mail is Interzone‘s concluding issue of 2010 featuring the cover artwork of Warwick 2651Fraser-Coombe; the combined pieces of the six issues this past year form a complete work called “Playground (Hide and Seek).”  

A signed and individually numbered limited edition print can be ordered from the artist’s website.

In terms of fiction, this issue features the work of Jason Sanford with three stories and introductions by the author.  Additional stories are by Matthew Cook and Aliette de Bodard.

Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Six: “At War with Ming”

Friday, December 24th, 2010 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

at-war-w-ming“At War with Ming“ was the sixth installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally printed between October 20, 1935 and April 5, 1936, “At War with Ming” picks up the storyline where the fifth installment, “The Witch Queen of Mongo” left off with Flash awaiting Ming’s recognition of Kira, the cavern kingdom he had conquered over the course of the last two installments as an official kingdom of Mongo.

Unsurprisingly, Ming rejects Flash’s claims that Azura has abdicated as valid and demands that she be vanquished before he will recognize Flash as a legitimate monarch. Sadly, just as in the real life it is a petty disagreement that is interpreted as justifiable cause for war.flashgordon2_1cvr2

Flash immediately declares war on Ming in response to the insult he received. Flash and Dale head the Black Lancers, while the Hawkman Khan heads the infantry and Dr. Zarkov heads Azura’s artillery unit. The first strip ends with Kira’s forces mobilizing for war despite being hopelessly outnumbered.

For the next five and a half months, readers thrilled to Alex Raymond’s glorious depictions of battle. It seems strange, from the vantage point of the 21st Century, to see that the attitude that a war fought over wounded egos was still considered glorious after the tragic and monumental loss of life during the First World War less than twenty years before.


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The Top 100 Out of Print Books of 2010

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

she-is-the-darknessTis the season for Top Ten lists (again), and there are plenty to be had. But Black Gate is all about the best in neglected fantasy and sadly, there aren’t nearly as many “Top Ten Most Neglected” book lists out there as there should be.

However, BookFinder.com recently published their list of the Top 100 in-demand out-of-print titles for 2010, and that’s pretty close. The list includes titles from Philip K. Dick, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Glen Cook, C.S. Lewis, Ray Garton, Ben Bova, Madeleine L’Engle, Cameron Crowe, and many others.

The Number One Out-of-print book for 2010 was Sex, Madonna’s 1992 collection of erotic photographs, good-condition copies of which still sell for $200 and up. I remember peeking at that book in Borders when it first came out; it’s not hard to understand why there aren’t a lot of copies that haven’t been pawed through.

Also on the list was Glen Cook, with the 1998  novel  She Is The Darkness, seventh in The Black Company series; Philip K. Dick’s early novel Gather Yourselves Together, first published posthumously in 1994; Ray Bradbury’s 1947 collection Dark Carnival, and two novels by Stephen King: Rage (by “Richard Bachman”) and the limited edition My Pretty Pony.

There are several surprises on the list, including a few books that aren’t widely known for being in hot demand.  For example, fan legend has it that Ben Bova’s The Star Conquerors (#23) is scarce because Bova has been gradually buying up all the copies on the market to remove it from circulation.

dark-carnivalSome of the titles of interest to fantasy fans on the list include:

2 – Ray Garton, In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting
9 – Stephen King (as Richard Bachman), Rage
22 – Stephen King, My Pretty Pony
23 – Ben Bova, The Star Conquerors
33 – Cameron Crowe, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
36 – Ray Bradbury, Dark Carnival
38 – Philip K. Dick, Gather Yourselves Together
40 – Glen Cook, She Is The Darkness
47 – Walt Kelly, I Go Pogo
56 – C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition
63 – Madeleine L’Engle, Ilsa

BookFinder.com’s  complete list of Top 100 out-of-print titles for 2010 is here.

My top five reads of 2010

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 | Posted by Brian Murphy

silmarillion_nasmith_coverFor my final post of 2010 I thought I would revisit something from my days as a writer for the now-defunct Cimmerian blog: My top 5 reads of the year. Not super-original, I know, but the New Year always seems to bring out the list-maker in me.

Some of these books were new to me and some were old favorites that I revisited, but all are highly recommended.

The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien

As 2010 began I returned to J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium after a span of several years. While reading I wrote a series of blog posts about it over on The Cimmerian (they start here if you’re interested). I was excited at the prospect of revisiting Middle-Earth’s back stories and foundational myths and hoped that The Silmarillion would reward a return voyage.

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Goth Chick News: A Very Bradbury Christmas

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 | Posted by Sue Granquist

womans-day2Last week’s post, about how ghosts and Yuletide have as close an association as brandy and eggnog, prompted a quantity of mail from you lot. Not surprisingly, the readers of Black Gate know all about the creepier part of the holidays. But you’re also sort of warm and gooey on the inside as well, going all sentimental on me about your own Christmas traditions.

And your emails reminded me about something I had forgotten for a very long time involving Christmas, Ray Bradbury and a ghost story.

Many years ago in the early fall, my beloved Grandfather passed away very peacefully in his sleep. Being nine, I was convinced that no one in the whole world could be more heartbroken than me; I had been my Papa’s only grandchild for most of my young life and he had made me the center of his whole world. However, though I remember my own first experience with grief, what I recall most vividly is seeing my own Dad cry over the loss of his Father. To this day it is the only time I’ve ever seen my stoic Dad shed a tear.

Back then, and until this day, Mom was an avid fan of Woman’s Day magazine. So much so that she kept and cataloged her back issues primarily for recipes but for other interesting tidbits as well. Some weeks after my Grandfather’s funeral, Mom went into her library of Woman’s Day and pulled out an issue from December, 1973. I remember her using a scrap of paper to mark a place in the magazine and leaving it on Dad’s desk for him to find.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. A Second Viewing

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Magill Foote

Earlier this week, Andrew Zimmerman Jones posted a review of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I’m here to provide a different take on the film…

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is, in my opinion, one of the best movies of 2010. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of my favourite films of the past five years, but after its lackluster release last August, viewers seem divided as to whether or not they enjoyed the whole Scott Pilgrim experience.

Scott gets a life

Scott gets a life

Some have said that it’s mostly style with very little substance or, as Mike Allen put it, “the cinematic equivalent of a box of Nerds – fizzling sweetly on the tongue, then gone and forgotten!” But I disagree, staunch Scott Pilgrim fan that I am, and I’m here to tell you why, if you found yourself wholly underwhelmed by the film, you should give it just one more chance. If you know where to look, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World will surprise you with its intricacies.

This all started when the lovely and mysterious C.S.E. Cooney posted as her Facebook status: “Didn’t like Scott Pilgrim VS the World as much as I wanted to. Entertaining, though.”

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Art Evolution 15: Liz Danforth

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Art Evolution, the project that shows the personal take on a single unifying character by the greatest artists in the RPG field, continues. But if you’ve missed some, you can find the beginning here.

After last week’s entry I had my ‘3rd Edition Lyssa’, and I was ready to move further back in my timeline. For that purpose, I got into my way-back machine and dialed in the dawn of RPGs, the year 1976.

tunnels-trolls-254If you go back further than 76’ you’re fooling yourself if you think anything a gamer played was more than an advanced miniatures game. However, in that year D&D was beginning its infant run and Flying Buffalo put out its first module Castle Buffalo for Tunnels & Trolls.

That now infamous and out of print module was graced with a cover by Liz Danforth, the Queen of the Role Playing Game. Liz was doing RPGs before the world knew what RPGs were, and although I was only five years old at the time, I would come to appreciate her grace and dedication when I later discovered Middle-Earth Role-Playing from Iron Crown Enterprises in the mid-eighties.

As you’ve already seen, the first book I ever read was The Hobbit, so it certainly came to pass that when I.C.E. started producing role-playing in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth I was right there ready to buy a part of the experience.

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Black Gate 14: Game Reviews

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

cryptofeverflameWe’re finally nearing the end of the Black Gate 14 online tour, just as issue 15 nears completion. Whew! Timing is everything.

Today we’re looking at the Gaming column, edited by Howard Andrew Jones. Like Reviews Editor Bill Ward, Howard pulled out all the stops to make sure it was the best we’d ever had for our blockbuster 14th issue.  The result was 20 pages of in-depth reviews of the most exciting gaming products of the year, including:

Alien Module 1: Aslan, Gareth Hanrahan (Mongoose Publishing)
Traveller: Tripwire, Simon Beal (Mongoose Publishing)
Traveller: FASA and Gamelords, CD ROM (Far Future Enterprises)
HeroScape Expansion Pack 1-4: Blackmoon’s Siege (Wizards of the Coast)
Legends of Steel: Savage Worlds, Jeff Mejia (Evil DM Games)
Level UP Issue 1, Magazine (Goodman Games)
Far Avalon, Martin Dougherty (Avenger/Comstar Games)
Shard RPG Basic Compendium, Aaron de Orive and Scott Jones (Shard Studios)
Hero’s Handbook: Tieflings, Edited by Ken Hart (Goodman Games)
Hero’s Handbook: Dragonborn, Edited by Aijalyn Kohler (Goodman Games)
Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song, Edited by Aeryn Blackdirge Rudel (Goodman Games)
Forgotten Heroes: Scythe and Shroud, Edited by Aeryn Blackdirge Rudel (Goodman Games)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, Jason Bulmahn (Paizo Publishing)
Pathfinder Module: Crypt of the Everflame, Jason Bulmahn (Paizo Publishing)

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