Interzone #236 September-October 2011

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Posted by Soyka

374The new Interzone features contains stories by Jason Sanford (“The Ever-Dreaming Verdict of Plagues”), Mercurio D. Rivera (“Tethered”), Jon Ingold (“The Fall of the City of Silver”), Fiona Moore (“The Metaphor”) and Stephen Kotowych (“A Time for Raven”); art by Richard Wagner, Ben Baldwin, Jim Burns and Martin Hanford. There’s also the regular columns, Ansible Link by David Langford, Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe,  and Laser Fodder by Tony Lee; book reviews including an interview with Lavie Tidhar conducted by Maureen Kincaid Speller.

You can also download issue 230 for free, containing stories by Aliette de Bodard, Nina Allan, Lavie Tidhar , Patrick Samphire and Tim Lees.

In other news, Locus reports that the Amazing Stories trademark has been acquired, possibly for use as the title for an online magazine. This would be how many times the dead magazine has been resurrected? Although this time, a true resurrection, as it wouldn’t have a physical paper form.

Tangent Online reviews Matthew David Surridge’s “The Word of Azrael”

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

yearsbest2011Reviewer Nader Elhefnawy at Tangent Online offers a detailed review of the latest volume of Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011, including Matthew David Surridge’s story from Black Gate 14, “The Word of Azrael.”

In Matthew David Surridge’s “The Word of Azrael” (which first appeared in the Winter issue of Black Gate magazine, an excerpt of which can be read on the magazine’s web site), warrior Isrohim Vey encounters the Angel of Death on the battlefield. Having seen the Angel’s smile once, he spends the rest of his life pursuing another glimpse of it – a colorful, wide-ranging, action- and adventure-filled epic journey in the tradition of Conan the Cimmerian and Elric of Melnibone. The resulting piece is one of the strongest heroic fantasies I have seen in years.

Fine praise indeed, for a terrific story that’s been one of the most acclaimed pieces we’ve published in recent years.

You can read the excerpt from “The Word of Azrael” here, and the complete Black Gate 14 Table of Contents is here.

And you can read more about Rich’s excellent The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011 here.

Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Fourteen – “Power Men of Mongo”

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

flashgordonpowermenofmongopower-men1“Power Men of Mongo” was the fourteenth installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally published between April 14, 1940 and January 12, 1941, “Power Men of Mongo” picks up the storyline where the thirteenth installment, “The Ice Kingdom of Mongo” left off with Flash, Zarkov and Katon speeding by rocket-engine to Mingo City in a desperate attempt to rescue Dale. The rocket-engine is hijacked by Logun and the remnants of the Freemen who happily rejoin the battle to overthrow the Emperor of Mongo. They succeed in infiltrating the city, but one of the Freemen, Pital betrays Flash for the reward promised by Ming. The Emperor sets a trap to capture Flash and the Freemen when they meet in a warehouse at night. Dale starts a chemical fire in the warehouse to warn Flash of the danger. Ming leaves her to burn. Unable to remove her from the blazing warehouse, Flash settles for putting out the fire and then making a daring escape.

Flash successfully infiltrates Ming’s royal guard and very nearly succeeds in rescuing Dale, but Ming outmaneuvers him. Hunted by the police, Flash is rescued by Katon who leads him to the underground electrical works where the Power Men of Mongo are employed. Ergon, head of the Lodge of the Power Men has already befriended Zarkov and is eager to have the Power Men join the rebellion against Ming. The Power Men cause a blackout in the palace during which Flash and Zarkov (disguised as Power Men) eventually succeed in rescuing Dale. It is interesting to note that Flash’s Power Man outfit makes him look suspiciously like DC’s superhero, The Flash. Zarkov is given more of a chance to show his heroism. A turning point comes when Flash finds many of his former Freemen working in Ming’s munitions factory. Flash orchestrates a workers’ revolt and has the men turn on their foremen and seize control of the factory.

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Is The Lord of the Rings Literature?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Posted by Brian Murphy

alan_lee_the20lord20of20the20rings_coverPart 2 of a 2-part series

Part 1 of this article set the stage for the question, Is The Lord of the Rings literature? Part II examines six criteria commonly used to define works of high literary quality and applies them to The Lord of the Rings.

1. Popular appeal

The argument against: The Lord of the Rings might be popular, but that doesn’t make it literature.

The counterargument: There’s popular, and then there’s an omnipresent, mammoth, overshadowing level of popularity.

How popular is The Lord of the Rings? At last count, it has been translated into 57 languages and is the second best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold. Its also a repeat winner of multiple international contests for favorite novel (note the broad term novel, not just fantasy novel). For example:

  • In 1997 it topped a Waterstone’s poll for Top 100 Books of the Century.
  • In 2003 a survey (The Big Read) was conducted in the United Kingdom to determine the nation’s best-loved novel of all time. More than three quarters of a million votes were received, and the winner was The Lord of the Rings.
  • A 1999 Amazon poll administered to its customers yielded the same result.

In short, readers of all stripes, from all around the world, adore this book more than just about any other.

All that said, I will fully admit that this is the least convincing argument, because mass appeal is not necessarily a good indicator of quality. See Justin Bieber. So let’s look at some other criteria.

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Sara Douglass, June 2, 1957 — Sept 27, 2011

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

wayfarer-redemptionSara Warneke, the Australian fantasy author who wrote under the name Sara Douglass, died of ovarian cancer on September 27, 2011, at the age of 54.

Sara wrote a total of 19 novels, beginning with the first book of what became The Axis Trilogy, BattleAxe, in 1995.

All told she wrote five major fantasy series: The Axis Trilogy, The Wayfarer Redemption, The Crucible, The Troy Game, and Darkglass Mountain.

Outside of Australia, The Axis Trilogy and The Wayfarer Redemption were combined into a single six-book series, called simply Wayfarer Redemption.

Sara also wrote Beyond the Hanging Wall (1996), Threshold (1997), The Devil’s Diadem (2011), and the non-fiction The Betrayal of Arthur. The Hall of Lost Footsteps, a collection of short stories, is due from Ticonderoga Publications this year.

Sara was born in Penola, South Australia, and attended Annesley College in Wayville. She became a registered nurse, and eventually completed her Ph.D. in early modern English History. She was a lecturer in medieval history at La Trobe University in Bendigo, where she completed her first novel, BattleAxe, in 1995.

Her Wikipedia entry, with a complete listing and links for her novels, is here.

She lived in Tasmania, and was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. She underwent successful treatment that year, but the cancer returned in 2010.

Goth Chick News: New Haunted Tunes and Something Cool to Read While You Listen to Them

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image008Question: If grungy rock musicians from Seattle get all the Barbie-doll girls, then who gets the Goth Chicks?

Answer: Moody dudes in top hats and capes playing disturbing, dark dirges, that’s who.

Cue the organ music and pull back the black velvet curtains to reveal the boys of Midnight Syndicate and their newest title Carnival Arcane; just in time for your Ray-Bradbury-inspired, Something Wicked This Way Comes themed cocktail party.

You all have one of those, right? Or is it just me…?

The Bradbury reference is inevitable as a haunted, night circus is what immediately came to mind when I listened to this CD. And if clowns are your nightmare, I wouldn’t fall asleep with the track “Sea of Laughter” playing in the background.

The narrative of the disc surrounds the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival, a turn-of-the-century traveling circus with more than a few skeletons in its closet.

Inspired by historical research into carnivals of that time period, Carnival Arcane co-creator (and my musician-groupie crush) Ed Douglas describes the music this way:

We wanted to push the boundaries on this disc. For a band that’s made a career of making “soundtracks to imaginary” films, I think this one feels more like a movie than anything we’ve done to date.

And co-creator Gavin Goszka says:

It’s definitely the most complete and intricate soundscape we’ve ever produced. You can practically smell the popcorn and Fairy Floss (cotton candy). “There’s also a tremendous amount of variety. There are moments where I think the listener will find themselves caught up in this strange sense of wonder and macabre fascination, and others that will leave them shaking in their boots. We were able to expand our instrument roster on this disc in ways that we’d only touched on before.

Each one of the twenty-five tracks is a self-contained gem of a storyline that will strike a nerve with anyone who believes there’s something more disturbing at traveling carnivals than employees without good dental plans.

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Art Evolution 2011: Chuck Lukacs

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 | Posted by Scott Taylor


Ok, so I work as Art Director here at Black Gate L.A., and that means I get to see a good amount of really fantastic art, especially where Art Evolution is concerned. That being said, it’s not often I get introduced to talent on the magazine that I wasn’t previously aware of. Still, it does happen, and one such artist is Chuck Lukacs.

Now that’s not to say Chuck is new to the fantasy industry, far from it, but as I’ve never been a Magic the Gathering player, and with the mass of D20 D&D books hitting the shelves since 2000, you can’t always identify every artist you see.

Chuck, however, was doing his due diligence during the 2000s, and his talents were recognized by many youthful minds along the way. He’s graced the pages of dozens of RP books, as well as Magic collections, and his art finally made it to me as I read the tales of Morlock the Maker which appeared in the pages of Black Gate’s print edition. Here, Chuck helped define James Enge’s character that would eventually go on to produce full novels in his own right.

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Book Jewelry by Emily Mah Jewelry Designs

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 | Posted by Emily Mah

pendantEmily Mah Jewelry Designs is a company I formed when I decided that raising two small children; writing speculative fiction short stories, romance novels, and jewelry making articles; taking classes in new jewelry media; selling jewelry on Etsy; and figuring out how to stay within my husband’s student stipend budget in London weren’t keeping me busy enough. I was merely overstretched, not fully flirting with insanity, and as a Clarion West survivor and law school graduate, I found that abnormal. So I decided to make use of my law degree, Clarion West connections, and jewelry making skills.

I contacted my workshop-mate, Stephanie Burgis, author of The Un-ladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, a middle grade fantasy trilogy set in Regency England. The first book, Kat Incorrigible came out this year in the US (it was released last year in the UK as A Most Improper Magick). Though Steph and I are both Americans, we live as ex-patriates in the UK – me in London and she in Wales. She was immediately in support of the idea and has been the ideal business partner, which is to say, she’s maintained her enthusiasm and been endlessly forgiving as I hit dead ends, overrun self imposed deadlines, and bumble my way through this whole venture. I send her what free jewelry I can to show my gratitude.

Draft pendantAnd now, months later, our collaboration is taking shape. I’ve produced three designs, a pendant that I released at the same time that Kat, Incorrigible hit bookstores, a pair of earrings that debuted at the launch party for the second book, A Tangle of Magicks (this will be released as Renegade Magic in the US next year), and a charm bracelet that just went on the market about an hour before I sat down to write this post. One might ask, how big is the market for book tie-in jewelry like this? I have no idea. Ask me in a year or two. What I can talk about, though, is how we started this venture. Read More »

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Venus, Part 4: Escape on Venus

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

escape-on-venus-1st-edition-coverI love Edgar Rice Burroughs. His novels have had an enormous influence on me as a writer and as a pulp fan. But, I must admit, sometimes he wrote … this kind of thing….

Oh, let’s just leap into this and get it over with.

Our Saga: The adventures of one Mr. Carson Napier, former stuntman and amateur rocketeer, who tries to get to Mars and ends up on Venus, a.k.a. Amtor, instead. There he discovers a lush jungle planet of bizarre creatures and humanoids who have uncovered the secret of longevity. The planet is caught in a battle between the country of Vepaja and the tyrannical Thorists. Carson finds time during his adventuring to fall for Duare, forbidden daughter of a Vepajan king. Carson’s story covers three novels, a volume of connected novellas, and an orphaned novella.

Previous Installments: Pirates of Venus (1932), Lost on Venus (1933), Carson of Venus (1938).

Today’s Installment: Escape on Venus (1942)

The Backstory

At the start of the 1940s, Edgar Rice Burroughs decided to try an experiment with three of his properties, all of which had sailed into creative doldrums: Mars/Barsoom, Pellucidar, and Venus/Amtor. The previous Barsoom novel, Synthetic Men of Mars (1939), is one of the few stains on that otherwise superlative series. The Pellucidar novels went into a decline with 1937’s Back to the Stone Age and hit bottom with Land of Terror, which Burroughs failed to sell to any magazine when he wrote it in 1938 and waited to publish it on his own in 1944. Carson of Venus has some positives, but the Venus novels are already much lower on the quality scale of Burroughs’s work. Something wasn’t going right, and the failure to sell Land of Terror must have worried ERB.

It wasn’t just that Burroughs’s writing was in a slump — although it was — that was causing problems, but also the economic realities that were starting to kill the pulp magazines. Comic books exploded at the end of the 1930s and competed for the same young male audience that read the pulps. The magazine companies started cutting back their titles and publishing schedules; this led to reducing the number of serials they ran. Serials work well for a weekly magazine; for a monthly, not so much. Readers wanted their stories complete in each issue, and the publishers couldn’t afford to argue.

Read More »

Star Trek: Where No Comic Has Gone Before

Monday, September 26th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

star-trek-1And here I had grand ambitions to write a quick post or two about some recent magazine acquisitions tonight. Instead I’m dropping all that to tell you about a comic book I’ve never even seen (and is reportedly already sold out). Blame, where I stumbled across this story.

Now I know you saw 2009’s Star Trek reboot, staring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, and directed by J.J. Abrams. Whether you loved it or hated it, I’m pretty sure your mind went the same place mine did after exiting the theater: HuhI wonder how that fresh crew of punks would handle The Doomsday Machine. Or that nasty Klingon captain Kor from “Errand of Mercy.” Is that Quinto guy even old enough to grow a beard for  a “Mirror Mirror” remake?

We’ll have to wait until at least 2012 to see how (or even if) J.J. Abrams chooses to answer those questions in the coming sequel. But now IDW, the company behind the excellent Star Trek: Year Four comic series, has teamed up with Star Trek writer/producer Roberto Orci to launch a new comic that explores those very questions.

From the IDW website:

The adventures of the Starship Enterprise continue with the new cast from the film as they embark on missions that re-imagine select stories from the original television series, along with new threats and characters never seen before.

Under the creative direction of Orci, fan-favorite Star Trek writer Mike Johnson and artist Stephen Molnar bring this alternate universe to life and begin the countdown to the highly anticipated Star Trek sequel. The series kicks off with a dramatic new envisioning of The Original Series second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” The conclusion of this reimagined episode will be available in October. In November, the adventures of the new Enterprise crew continue with a new take on the classic episode “The Galileo 7,” as Mr. Spock finds himself in command of a stranded shuttle crew fighting for survival.

Yeah, that sounds pretty damn cool.  IDW has already announced that a second printing, with a variant cover, will be available soon. Worth a trip to the comic shop, anyway. I’ll be the guy in line in front of you, haggling for a free mylar bag.

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