“As Good As it Gets:” B&N Explorations on John Fultz’s Seven Princes

Friday, February 17th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

seven-princesThe accolades continue to come in for John Fultz’s debut novel Seven Princes, the first installment in the Books of the Shaper. Here’s Paul Goat Allen from Explorations,  Barnes & Noble’s Science Fiction & Fantasy blog:

Set in a sprawling world saturated with dark magic and inhabited by giants, humans, and a vast array of fantastical creatures, the novel begins with the realm on the verge of war. An ancient sorcerer named Elhathym has returned and, after a necromantic bloodbath, has usurped the throne of Yaskatha… the singular brilliance of this novel – the reason it succeeds when so many others come across as formulaic – comes down to Fultz’s ability to tell a story so richly detailed, so emotionally powerful and soulful, that readers will become completely immersed in the narrative.

Fultz’s fluid, lyrical writing style and meticulous attention to detail make for a gloriously immersive read. Literally every single page is filled with some kind of vibrant description… It’s a wondrous read filled with countless jaw-dropping plot twists and I would hate to diminish anyone’s experience by revealing something inadvertently. And even though this is the first book in a trilogy, the conclusion is immensely satisfying and sets the stage for a grand-scale story that could rival the very best fantasy sagas on the shelves today.

The bottom line is this: Fultz’s debut novel is flawless – and timeless – epic fantasy. For fans of epic fantasy, Seven Princes is as good as it gets.

Read the complete piece here.

This is just the latest great coverage for Fultz — we summarized some of the other glowing reviews he’s received just a few weeks ago. You can read more about Seven Princes here, or sample excerpts from the highly acclaimed short stories he’s published in Black Gate, including “Oblivion Is the Sweetest Wine” (BG 12), “Return of the Quill” (BG 13), and “The Vintages of Dream” (BG 15).

Seven Princes is now on sale at better bookstores and virtual outlets around the country, and you can take advantage of our back issue sale to buy issues of Black Gate at a great discount in our online store.


New to the Interwebs: D&D Next

Friday, February 17th, 2012 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Wizards of the Coast has just announced the creation of a new online portal which will feature information about the upcoming next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons. They seem to be specifically avoiding the “5th edition” label for the moment, instead going with the working title of D&D Next for the naming convention of the websites (although that name itself doesn’t appear in the text of most of the pages).

dndnext

The website includes links to some recent Q&A’s and other resources about the game, based upon the handful of demonstrations at the D&D Experience convention (and perhaps elsewhere), until the time when wide scale playtesting begins.

I repeat: Playtesting has not yet begun, but this portal allows you to sign up, in the hopes of getting access as early as possible. Once playtesting does begin, the relevant materials will be available for download through this website.

What are your thoughts on the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons? What aspects of the game would you like to see kept (or reintroduced) from previous editions?


Blogging Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Part Twenty-One – “Triumph in Tropica”

Friday, February 17th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

61jkjnlw5ml_sl500_aa300_1triumphintropica“Triumph in Tropica” was the twenty-first installment of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday comic strip serial for King Features Syndicate. Originally published between February 13 and August 13, 1944, “Triumph in Tropica” marked the transition from Alex Raymond to Austin Briggs as artist for the strip. The storyline picks up where the preceding installment, “Battle for Tropica” left off with Flash and Dale entering the capitol with Tartara and her son, Timor. The cowardly Timor turns Flash and Dale in to the secret police. A gunfight ensues ending in Timor’s death. Flash, Dale, and Tartara manage to elude the police with the aid of Trico, the beggar who poses as a half-blind cripple.

Trico hides the fugitive in his home and when the secret police arrive, searching all the houses in the neighborhood, he serves them poisoned brandy. Flash and Trico disguise themselves in the uniform of the secret police and, along with Tartara and Dale, they follow Trico to Tropica’s hidden criminal underworld from a secret passage beneath his home. Tartara is reluctant to trust the lowlife criminals. Gypsa, an exotic dancer who is the most desired woman in Tropica’s underworld, performs a wild Saraband dance with Flash. The revelry abruptly finishes when Brazor interrupts with a special broadcast announcing that Desira will be executed for treason the next day.

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Part I of C.S.E. Cooney’s Jack o’ the Hills Audiobook now Available

Friday, February 17th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

jack-of-the-hillsYou know that here at Black Gate we toil day and night to bring you the latest news, reviews and opinion on the vast and varied field of modern fantasy. Some of us, however, are not content with merely reporting on great fantasy — we must create it ourselves. When that happens, we celebrate it here with joy and fellowship.

Some of us, mind you, aren’t content with merely creating. No no no. There are those among us who, once they’ve finished creating, skip right along to organizing mass readings, commissioning cover art, and even making an audiobook. Which they read themselves. These folks we don’t so much celebrate as stand around and gawk at in awe.

Of course, I’m talking about the mighty C.S.E. Cooney, Website Editor here at Black Gate, who published the much-praised Jack o’ the Hills, a collection of two linked short stories, in trade paperback just last year through Papaveria Press. Now comes word that C.S.E. has released the first part of Jack o’ the Hills as an audiobook:

Jack Yap is “his Marm’s good boy, maple-syrup mouth, toffee-tongue, such sweetness” — or is he? He’s a rascal, a rapscallion, a downright ragamuffin, and he’s one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever read. It is therefore with great delight that I announce the release of the audiobook of “Stone Shoes,” the first of the two tales that make up Jack o’ the Hills, read by author C.S.E. Cooney and arranged by Jeremy Cooney. Many thanks go out to Jeremy, who also helped with “this GarageBand mumbojumbo.” The audiobook can be purchased exclusively from Papaveria for the outrageously low cost of £1.69 — that’s approximately $2.99 for our American friends.

To celebrate the release of the audio, Papaveria Press has also made the paperback more widely available. You can now purchase Jack at Amazon.com for $9.99 — or just 99 cents for the Kindle version!

Papaveria Press promises to get the audio version of the second half of Jack o’ the Hills, “Oubliette’s Egg,” produced soon.


Styrbiorn the Strong, a review

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 | Posted by Brian Murphy

styrbiorn1There is but one way for a man, and that is to remember that none may avoid his fate. This is to a man as the due ballast to the ship, which maketh the vessel indeed loom somewhat deeper, but keepeth it from tossing too lightly upon the uncertain waters.”

–E.R. Eddison, Styrbiorn the Strong

As a youth, E.R. Eddison (1882-1945) so loved William Morris’ translations of the Old Norse sagas that he taught himself Old Icelandic, desiring the pure injection of North Sea ice water into his veins that the stories in their original tongue delivered. He carried that love of the Sagas with him as a writer of fantasy fiction. Their echoes can be felt in Eddison’s best known work, The Worm Ouroboros (1922), but four years after the Worm Eddison set to work on the real thing, trying his hand at his own saga Styrbiorn the Strong (1926).

Styrbiorn the Strong tells the story of Styrbiorn Olaffson, teenage heir to the throne of Sweden. Denied his birthright and exiled from Sweden, Styrbiorn spends three years a-viking, during which his power and influence waxes mightily. Three years later he returns to claim his share of the kingdom. Except for a few minor characters everyone in the story is an historical figure. The main facts of the tale are also historical, including the concluding bloody Battle of Fýrisvellir, but the details and characterizations are of Eddison’s own making.

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Josh Wimmer Reviews Shades of Milk and Honey

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

milkhoney_fnlcoverShades of Milk and Honey
Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor (304 pp, $14.99, trade edition June 2011)
Reviewed by Josh Wimmer

If you have read anything about Shades of Milk and Honey, then you have seen it described as “Jane Austen, but with magic” or something along those lines. That is pretty much unavoidable. The novel, the first by Hugo nominee Mary Robinette Kowal, isn’t just written in a style and voice resembling that of the British author’s Regency-era romances, but also features sisters – one pretty, one smart – yearning for suitable suitors; a low-key but loving father who wants to see his girls married because he can’t provide for them forever; a cavalcade of potential husbands of various sorts; and a lot of house parties. In other words, the book takes plenty from Pride and Prejudice and the rest of Austen’s oeuvre.

What it adds is a mild but meaningful undercurrent of fantasy, and a slightly more modern-day message than might be found in the early-19th-century works that inspired it. Jane Ellsworth is unmarried and, at age 28, likely to remain that way. To recommend her, she has her wits, her emotional steadiness, and her skill with glamour – the magical crafting of visual and audible illusions, typically for aesthetic purposes. All fine qualities, but perhaps not enough to make up for her plain appearance (which Jane resolutely and admirably refuses to enhance with glamour).

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Goth Chick News: Welcome to Scotland, Where Vampires Still Suck

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image0041A few nights ago my inbox lit up with an email entitled, “They still suck over here.”

Now I believe I’ve already explained that one of the job hazards I face regularly (besides the toilet seat being left up in Black Gate’s unisex bathroom) is being the recipient of email clearly meant for an entirely different “Goth Chick” in an entirely different profession which is substantially older than my own.

However, in this particular case I recognize the sender as a former colleague from my time as an expat residing in the UK. “Ian” lives in eternal hope of enhancing Black Gate’s content by passing along what he considers appropriate Goth Chick fodder from the British Isles.

Honestly, to talk about the British horror industry is nearly as much of an oxymoron as British top chefs or British fashion designers. And as snarky a sweeping generalization as that may appear; suffice to say that if I ever penned the book A Yankee Goth Chick at Cambridge it would now stand as the primary source on adult bullying.

But even still, I did become chummy with a few nice, normal folks who weren’t still harboring secrets resentments over July 4th and one of these was my good friend Ian.

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Walter Jon Williams Explains Why UFOs Are Actually Made of Bread, and Other Little Known Facts

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 | Posted by Emily Mah

williams1The first time I saw Walter Jon Williams, he was singing a song to mock Asimov’s then editor, Gardner Dozois. Melinda Snodgrass, Ellen Datlow, and Pat Cadigan sang backup.

My second sighting was a picture in that month’s Locus of Walter standing with Daniel Abraham and his bride, Kat, several other writers, and a toilet prominently displayed in the foreground. Said toilet was the writers’ group gift to the newlywed couple. Rather than slip a gift receipt into a card, or have the toilet delivered to the house, the writers group decided to carry the appliance into the reception on their shoulders.

And no, neither of those are the craziest stories I know about the award winning, bestselling author, Walter Jon Williams. By all means, read on!

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Art of the Genre: Curse of the Crimson Throne

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

pzo9007_500Ok, so I don’t get to game as much as I like, and that’s a shame, but there are still times when I do get to have fun with RPGs. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 28 years, and during that period the bulk of what I’ve run as a Dungeon Master has been all home brew, which in gamer terms means I made it up. There is something to be said for the creativity of doing so, and as an imagination centered guy I get a great kick out of creating adventures, timelines, histories, legends, and anything else you can name.

That being said, I’ve also had the opportunity to sit back and use someone else’s creative spark to frame my adventures when I DM. In Old School terms this means using a module, and many and many again famed ones exist from the 1980s when D&D was new to the mass populace and DMs were raw and could use a little help when driving their business.

I’d like to say in my time within the genre ‘I’ve played them all’, which of course isn’t true, but I will debate the concept that I’ve played all the ones that truly matter… Yet for all their old school wonder, I was always on the lookout for something, anything, in today’s market that could rival the simple genius that were those original supplements.

Enter Paizo’s Pathfinder Adventure Paths. With ‘Edition Wars’ in full swing and Wizards of the Coast trying to rally a bloodied banner with 5th Edition, I’m not going to disparage any game that helps creative people gather around a table and share face time for fun, but I will hold up Paizo’s Pathfinder as an example of what ‘good’ really is in today’s RPG market.

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Real Magicians: Interviewing the Editors of Podcastle

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

bgpodcastleThe thing is, I love Podcastle.

I can’t help it. I love theatre and oral storytelling, I read a lot, I listen to audiobooks myself; I love big collaborative projects that involve massive influxes of talent, that are broad-minded and multi-faceted, that promote both exciting new voices and the old classics. Podcastle — with its podsisters EscapePod and Pseudopod — does all that.

Every time I hear a story over at Podcastle that guts me or makes me fly a little, I want the whole world to hear about it. I only wish my voice were louder.

So, one day in the not too very distant past, riding on some Podcastle story high — maybe a Tim Pratt or a Leah Bobet — I asked the editors, Dave Thompson and Anna Schwind, if they wouldn’t mind doing an interview for Black Gate magazine. Like most collaborations (especially the ones I’m involved in, oops), this took more months than anticipated, but — also like most collaborations — was ultimately worth it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce you to the movers and shakers of the Fantasy Podcast?

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