The Novels of Black Gate

The Novels of Black Gate

childoffire“Why do the review pages always seem to be full of books which no one buys and the bestseller lists full of books no one reviews?”

This was tweeted the other day by a lit. agent called missdaisyfrost and the first thing it brought to my mind was Black Gate.

Day by day, genre short fiction magazines seem to grow more literary even as their sales plummet, while BG — may I call you BG? — is one of the few to proudly assert its pulp roots and to cater to the majority of people who like, you know, something to happen in the stories they read.

So, it’s interesting that while a lot of my fellow BG buddies haven’t had stellar success in most of the Big Mags out there in the wild, many of them are now kicking ass in the real market, novels: the only place outside of Hollywood that writers can make an actual living from their craft.

The first story I ever read in the magazine was Harry Connolly‘s The Whoremaster of Pald. It totally knocked my socks off.

Nor was I the only one to suffer from sudden chills in the foot area — people raved about that story and now, years later, Child of Fire, by the same author has 108 reviews on, most of them equally thrilled.


It was also in BG that I first had the pleasure of following James Enge up This Crooked Way. Who can be surprised now to see him nominated for awards in the US and France?

inferior1John O’Neill saw the potential of these guys and many others. In a way, you could say, he predicted their future success by simply picking from the slush the tales that he himself enjoyed regardless of their suitability for Nobel Prizes or analysis in University Publications where readership can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

My own first novel, The Inferior, wasn’t even the shadow of an idea when The Mourning Trees appeared in Black Gate 5. The translation rights for the book sold to nine different countries and so far, it has been published in Italian, German, Turkish and Bulgarian.

Not bad for a story that would have been in Black Gate had it been short enough, but wouldn’t have had a hope in hell of selling to any other Big Mag out there.

It’s not that I’ve got anything against the Big Mags or literary SF stories — especially not the kind written by people like Kelly Link and the amazing Margo Lanagan.

the_deserter1All editors pick out the work they like the most. It’s just that their taste doesn’t intersect with that of the reading majority any more. When it did, in the Golden Age, the big names in the field were mostly writing pulp.

The Deserter, my second “child”, came out in the UK this week* and to celebrate, I have produced a free ebook containing a mix of previously published short stories.

Some are more literary than others, but about half of them got their first outing in the pages of Black Gate.

No surprise then that the book is named for my tale in BG 11 or that the only editor to be explicitly thanked in the acknowledgements, is John O’Neill.

*North America won’t see it until March of next year.

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Good post with a lot of food for thought. And congratulations on your new novel!

John ONeill

Thanks Peadar!

You are too kind. And I’m thrilled to hear about THE DESERTER. My son still won’t return my copy of THE INFERIOR. I may have to buy a third copy. 🙂

Off to check out that free eBook!

John ONeill

> thanks to whoever cleaned up the messy pictures

That was the Black Gate gnomes, I believe. They’re everywhere.

C.S.E. Cooney

I liked this post! Cool!

Very good post Peadar! Very nicely said.

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