The Desert of Souls Now Available in Kindle Edition

Saturday, February 26th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

desert-of-souls21Howard Andrew Jones’ first novel The Desert of Souls is now available in Kindle format through’s online store.

The Kindle edition is priced at just $11.99, a thirteen dollar discount from the hardcover.

Rave reviews continue to pour in for The Desert of Souls, including these recent comments from some well-known fantasy authors:

“A grand and wonderful adventure filled with exotic magic and colorful places — like a cross between Sinbad and Indiana Jones.” — Kevin J. Anderson

“Like the genie of the lamp, Howard Jones has granted this reader’s wish for a fresh, exciting take on the venerable genre of sword-and-sorcery!” — Richard A. Knaak

“Howard Andrew Jones spins an exciting and suspenseful tale in his historical fantasy debut. A rich, detailed tapestry — part Arthur Conan Doyle, part Robert E. Howard, and part Omar Khayyam, woven in the magical thread of One Thousand And One Nights.” — E.E. Knight

The upcoming Black Gate 15 will excerpt the first two chapters of The Desert of Souls. But don’t wait — order your copy today!

Short Fiction Review 34c: Interzone #232 Et Al…

Saturday, February 26th, 2011 | Posted by Soyka

The last couple of weeks I looked at Douglas Lain’s “Noam Chomsky & the Time Box” and “Intellectual Property” by Michael R. Fletcher from the January/February Interzone.  Rounding out the issue’s fiction are stories by Sue Burke, Sarah L. Edwards and James Bloomer.  All share to one extent or another the time honored science fictional Frankenstein theme that ponders the relationship between technology and personal responsibility.

interzone-289_largeThe Edwards tale, “By Plucking Her Petals” is the one out right fantasy among the science fiction, though, for those who care about making such distinctions, arguably alchemy could be considered a “science” and the ethical implications of manipulating human appearance purely for cosmetic reasons is a longstanding SF trope.

Monticello Dabney makes potions that, while painful, can improve the looks of his mostly female clients. Typically, the alchemical applications are brewed from plants and animals, but on rare occasion a human donor can provide a particularly valuable elixir.

Dabney becomes fixated on the motivations of one such mysterious donor.  A “beauty and the beast” riff that has a few creaky plot points, but aims to place humanity over mere technology.

interzone-291-2Burke’s “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise” is a bit more ambiguous on that subject.  The narrator is a “Friend,” an Artificial Intelligence that belongs (though who exactly who or what belongs to whom is part of the point) to a U.S.  college student, Brianna, seking to escape her dreary midwestern existence through an exchange program trip to Madrid. One requirements, however, is for Brianna to be the caretaker of Letitia, an unmarried, non-professional middle aged woman in cancer treatment. Letitia doesn’t much care for Brianna for reasons partially related her health, but also her age and social standing.  The Friend works to try to patch things up between the two.  However, even such a seemingly altruistic gesture to improve human relations carries with it a subtle hint of perilous prospects.

Bloomer’s “Flock, Shoal, Herd” is the 2010 James White Award winning story. This is a “going native” story in which the consciousness of military operatives can are somehow or another embedded in the animals and fauna of the title. The war is over, and the narrator’s lover has decided she much prefers her expanded  consciousness somewhere other than in human form.  The narrator wants her back to resume the pleasures of human existence as does the government (represented by a character named Humphrey that I have to think is a nod to Bogart) for other reasons than reuniting the lovelorn.  Love doesn’t win out, because you can never go home again, but you can escape it.

For my money, overall a particularly strong issue.

Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu, Part Six – “The Silver Buddha”

Friday, February 25th, 2011 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

silver-buddha-full“The Silver Buddha” was the sixth installment of Sax Rohmer’s Fu-Manchu and Company. The story was first published in Collier’s on May 15, 1915 and was later expanded to comprise Chapters 18-20 of the second Fu-Manchu novel, The Devil Doctor first published in the UK in 1916 by Cassell and in the US by McBride & Nast under the variant title, The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu.returnofdrfumanchu

The story sets off at a frantic pace with a desperate Dr. Petrie returning to J. Salaman’s antique shop on Museum Street where he believes he glimpsed Karamaneh in the previous installment. Petrie has foolishly decided to investigate the shop without informing Nayland Smith of his plans.

Posing as an antique collector, he is compelled to handle a silver Buddha that the shopkeeper tells him has already been sold. The statuette in question releases a concealed door and Petrie unexpectedly finds himself face to face with Dr. Fu-Manchu.


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Goth Chick News: Satan Needs GPS

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image0021Fueled by several adult beverages, someone recently asked me what I would take with me, should I know in advance that I was about to be stranded on a deserted island.

The question was a set up, so this highly evolved individual could answer his own question with “beer.”

Partially to be a smart ass, but mostly because it was the truth, my answer was “a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and PEZ.”

PEZ immediately came to mind for tiny little bites of happiness that always lift my spirits, whether eaten out of my Wolfman dispenser or not. Hitchhikers, being one of my most often quoted book / TV epic / radio show is never far from being an answer to any query. However, I thought of it even quicker than usual being that I’m currently listening to the audio book for about the hundredth time.

It never, ever gets old, especially with the late, great Douglas Adams reading it to me.

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Fantasyscapes 2: At the Crossroads

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | Posted by Erik Amundsen


Middle Earth

Let’s take a walk.

I like to move when I think; exercise clears the mind and after all that time in the swamp, I think anyone would be grateful for a chance to stretch their legs.  We’re taking this show, as the man says, on the road.

I thought this was going to turn out a lot easier than it has.  Fantasy, after all, is a genre all about journeys, both in the one simply walking into Mordor sense and the journey, comma, hero’s sense.  The road leads ever onward, and one thing I’ve discovered in a gradual but gradually increasing pace and desperation, roads don’t get as much love as I expected, and I think that’s really unfortunate.

Road plays synecdoche for journey; for travel and conflict and development, and it does this so often that it’s harder to find roads that are characters in their own right than I thought, even though they share a lot of characteristics in common.

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower

Roads are complex creatures, or, at least, they are more complex than they seem at first.  They come from a place and they go to a place and, in between, they pass through a lot of other places, and though that comes off as obvious to the point of being foolish to just say, it’s the basis for what makes as road something special.

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Black Gate Interviews Howard Andrew Jones, Part Two

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Bill Ward

hannibal2In part one of Black Gate’s interview with Howard Andrew Jones we heard about one of Howard’s new novels, The Desert of Souls, and the joys and pitfalls of writing fantasy stories set in an historical milieu. In our second installment we talk about Howard’s reverence for the greatly under-appreciated historical adventure writer Harold Lamb, and the massive project Howard undertook to collect and republish Lamb’s fiction to preserve it for new audiences.

All this talk about historical fiction naturally brings us around to Harold Lamb. When and where did you first encounter his work?

I first found him as a high school sophomore. I had to write a short history paper on a famous historical figure, and I happened to find Lamb’s biography of Hannibal on the library shelves. I loved that book. I had reread books in the past, but they were always novels or short story collections. Hannibal  was the first non-fiction text I revisited again and again. Lamb presented what was almost a Shakespearean drama about a man blessed by the gods with brilliance and charisma, doomed never to achieve the one thing he truly fought for, which was the preservation of his homeland, the citystate of Carthage. A military genius, Hannibal won battles employing tactics that are still studied today, but no matter how clever he was, he could not win the war. He had luck in abundance, but it was almost a curse, for while he continued to survive, all those closest to him fell. When he returned home to Carthage after the war, he turned his intellect to reforming the state. He eliminated graft and corruption, and  overhauled the elective system so that senators, appointed to lifetime power, had to be elected every two years by the people. Though beloved by the commoners, his sweeping changes drew only ire from the ruling elite, who lied to Rome, saying Hannibal was still plotting against them. He had to flee his city and wander for the rest of his life, taking employment with more and more distant places as a military adviser while the Romans expanded their holdings. Hunted to the end by Rome, he finally died by his own hand rather than permitting them to capture him alive.

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Art of the Genre: Outsourcing Art

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Last year I was in a pickle concerning a project I’d been working on for a decade. I was looking to complete a demo deck of a card game but to do that I needed art. Art, however, isn’t cheap, and although I had a dozen established friends in the industry who were artists, even ‘friend’ rates for color renderings were running minimally just over one-hundred dollars per card. With one-hundred fifteen individual pieces, that would come to $12,650 just for art.

David Deitrick sets the tone for my game by channeling a little Michelle Rodriguez

David Deitrick sets the tone for my game by channeling a little Michelle Rodriguez

During a discourse with David Deitrick, we talked over numbers and what some of his art might look like. I invested the going rate of $110 to see what I’d be getting for the game because I thought David’s talents lent very well to the post-apocalyptic theme.

David did up this wonderful piece, and although I loved the style, in the end there was no way I could afford to pay him for the entire project. Knowing that all my other artist contacts were in the same range or much higher, I did what any red-blooded entrepreneur would, I looked to outsource.

The advent of the Internet has made finding artists easy, just take a look at a full world of ready to employ artists on DeviantArt or Elance. It’s simple, just log in, find a message board, post what you want, and let the portfolios flow in.

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Howard Andrew Jones reviews Far Avalon RPG

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

csrt0043-far_avalon-1In honor of the coming conclusion of Howard Andrew Jones month (no relation) here at Black Gate, we present another fine game review from his vast oeuvre of gaming reviews in Black Gate 14.  This review is an interesting contrast to his earlier review of the space adventure game Traveller.

Far Avalon

Martin Dougherty
Avenger/Comstar Games (313 pp, $17.99 PDF, 2009)
Reviewed by Howard Andrew Jones

Martin Dougherty’s one of the best writers that Traveller’s ever had. He’s been responsible for a number of outstanding supplements, from introductory adventures like the deceptively dully titled Type-S to Mongoose’s new Spinward Marches – a book wherein Dougherty had to bring 16 subsectors of Traveller space to life – to the truly phenomenal, and sadly out-of-print-too-soon Gateway to Destiny supplement from QLI. Martin has a knack for bringing his places to life with interesting challenges and adventure hooks, even canon Traveller worlds that long seemed dull in the hands of other writers. I think highly enough of his work that I go out of my way to read new supplements with his name on it.

Far Avalon is a game setting with sectors and spaceships, but it’s not Traveller.

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Nebula: It Rhymes with Amalebula (sort of)

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

amalOur own Amal El-Mohtar, who has blogged for us about Saladin Ahmed and Fantasy in the Middle East, and about whom our other own Patty Templeton has blogged, has received a Nebula Award nomination for her short story, “The Green Book.”

So, first of all, YIPPEE!!! Regardless of outcome, I have promised to make her a TIARA fashioned from the ANDROMEDA GALAXY, with the Flame Nebula for a center stone! This will take mighty sorcery, so if you see any explosions coming from the direction of Palatine, Illinois… run.

honeymonth1And second of all, here’s where you can read “The Green Book” online. It first appeared in the November 2010 issue of Apex Magazine, edited by Cat Valente.

And third of all, Rich Horton will be reprinting “The Green Book” in his upcoming anthology, The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, so there will soon be an opportunity to HOLD it and LOVE it and sleep with it UNDER YOUR PILLOW!

(…I mean, not that you ALL have to do that. Some of us have a long-term intimacy with Ms. El-Mohtar’s fiction and poetry. Some of us have signed copies of The Honey Month. Not to make you jealous or anything. ‘Cause, you know, jealousy’s the green-eyed monster and all. So beware. )

Again, Amal — one thousand congratulations on your pretty head!

How to Support Peter S. Beagle with The Last Unicorn Blu-ray

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

last-unicorn-blu-rayToday is the street date for the Blu-ray release of The Last Unicorn, the 1982 Rankin/Bass-ITC Entertainment animated film version of Peter S. Beagle’s classic 1968 fantasy novel, for which Beagle also wrote the screenplay. After a poor-quality DVD release in 2004, which came from inadequate masters and was presented pan & scan, Lionsgate Entertainment released an excellent two-disc DVD in 2007 as a 25th Anniversary Edition. Now that version is making the leap to 1080 lines of resolution for the new generation of Hi-Def presentation.

But, if you plan on purchasing either the new Blu-ray disc (which includes a DVD copy) or the still available two-disc DVD, please buy them through Conlan Press, the company owned by Connor Cochran, Peter Beagle’s business manager.

Why? As Conlan Press explains on the page for the 25th Anniversary DVD:

Except for the copies that were purchased through Conlan Press via this website, or at Peter’s sales table at various conventions, none of the other Last Unicorn DVDs have ever paid him a cent. That’s right — at least 1.5 million DVDs have been sold around the world since 1999, and only the 4,000 copies sold here have earned him any money. From all the rest, Peter has gotten absolutely nothing.

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