On Sale Today: Gods of Opar by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey

Monday, April 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

gods-of-oparI love these Philip José Farmer collections from Subterranean Press. They’re gorgeous, for one thing, with wonderful Bob Eggleton covers and the top-notch design typical of Subterranean. They look great lined up on my bookshelf.

But they’re also a terrific and economical way to obtain some of Farmer’s best work, whether you’re interested in his short fiction — collected in Up the Bright River, Venus on the Half-Shell and Others, Pearls from Peoria, and the massive The Best of Philip Jose Farmer — or his linked novel series, such as The Other in the Mirror.

The latest offering from Subterranean Press is no exception, collecting two long out-of-print novels and the conclusion to the trilogy, co-written with Christopher Paul Carey, which appears here for the first time:

Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa collects for the first time anywhere Philip José Farmer’s epic Khokarsa cycle, including the never-before-published conclusion to the trilogy, The Song of Kwasin.

In Hadon of Ancient Opar, the young hero Hadon journeys from his outpost city to the heart of the ancient African empire of Khokarsa, battling in the Great Games for the chance to win the king’s crown. But just as Hadon stands upon the precipice of victory, the tyrannical King Minruth usurps the throne and overturns the beneficent, centuries-old rule of the priestesses of Kho. Now Hadon must set out upon a hero’s journey unlike any other—to hunt down a living god and return with his bounty. The saga continues in Flight to Opar, as a decree by the oracle hurtles Hadon upon a perilous quest that will determine the fate of the next twelve millennia. In The Song of Kwasin, Hadon’s herculean cousin returns to Khokarsa after long years of exile in the Wild Lands. But soon Kwasin finds that in order to clear his name he will have to take up the cause against King Minruth himself and stop him before he fulfills his mad quest for immortality high atop the sun god’s bloody ziggurat.

Gods of Opar is 576 pages in hardcover. The trade edition is $45; there’s also a $65 Limited Edition with loads of additional content, including The Song of Kwasin Outline, a Khokarsan Glossary and Calendar, and more. You can find complete details at the Subterranean Press website.

New Treasures: Henry Kuttner’s Thunder in the Void

Monday, April 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

thunder-in-the-voidThis weekend here in Chicago was the 12th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, one of my favorite local shows. I met fellow BG bloggers Jason Waltz, Joe Bonadonna, and David C. Smith on Saturday, as well as Bill “Indy” Cavalier, Morgan Holmes, and the always engaging Bob Garcia. Late on Sunday I heard someone call my name and turned to discover none other than William Patrick Maynard, our distinguished Friday blogger, who was selling his new novels The Terror of Fu Manchu and The Destiny of Fu Manchu at an impressively-stocked table. Despite having worked together for years it was the first time we’d ever meet, and I really enjoyed our conversation. He’s a fascinating fellow, and I kept him until well after the show had ended.

But the highlight of the show is always seeing the new titles at the Haffner Press booth, and this year didn’t disappoint. Stephen Haffner’s archival quality hardcovers are works of art, and his taste is excellent. He has published the definitive short fiction collections of many of the finest early pulp writers, including Leigh Brackett, Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, C.L. Moore, and Henry Kuttner.

Still, Stephen may have outdone himself with his newest release, Henry Kuttner’s Thunder in the Void, a massive collection of 16 Space Opera tales from Planet Stories, Weird Tales, Super Science Stories, and other classic pulps. Before Kuttner married C.L. Moore in 1940, he wrote blood-n-thunder Space Opera in the style of one of his favorite authors, Edmond Hamilton — with winning titles like “Raider of the Spaceways,” “We Guard the Black Planet,” and my favorite, “Crypt-City of the Deathless Ones” — all of which are collected here.

The book looks terrific, even by the high standards of Haffner Press. Most of the these tales are appearing in book form for the first time. Also included is a previously unpublished story, “The Interplanetary Limited,” and an introduction by Mike Resnick.

Stephen mention to me that Thunder in the Void may be the fastest-selling book he has ever printed. It was released on April 4th in a printing of 1000 copies, of which only 200 are left. If you want a copy, I urge you to act fast. Thunder in the Void is 612 pages in a high-quality hardcover, with a cover price of $40. Cover art is by Norman Saunders. It is available directly from Haffner Press.

Previous Haffner releases covered here include Kuttner and Moore’s Detour to Otherness, Henry Kuttner’s Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner, Volume One, and the upcoming The Complete John Thunstone, by Manly Wade Wellman.

The Return of SEP

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 | Posted by FraserRonald

sword-noirBack in 2004, a friend and I decided to become role-playing game publishers, possibly for the wrong reasons – we wanted publish our stuff rather than wanting to be publishers. Given that, we still went forward in as professional a manner as possible.

While we established Sword’s Edge Publishing as a business, I’m afraid I ran it as hobbyist. I made decisions based on my interests and enthusiasms. I should have been looking to build the brand and increase SEP’s audience. In the end, when I lost interest, SEP went to sleep.

It has only recently returned to bring forth some new games, and then quickly returned to its slumber. This last year, from April 2011 (when it released Sword Noir) to January 2012 (when it released the adventure Suffer the Witch), SEP did things a little different than it had before.

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The Primacy of History

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 | Posted by Theo

the-kings-bloodDaniel Abraham attacks the idea of historical authenticity in fantasy:

The idea that the race, gender, or sexual roles of a given work of secondary world, quasi-medieval fantasy were dictated by history doesn’t work on any level. First, history has an almost unimaginably rich set of examples to pull from. Second, there are a wide variety of secondary world faux-medieval fantasies that don’t reach for historical accuracy and which would be served poorly by the attempt. And third, even in the works where the standard is applied, it’s only applied to specific, cherry-picked facets of the fantasy culture and the real world.

This is a fascinating assertion. We need less authenticity in fantasy? Let’s begin by looking at Abraham’s three initial assertions. First, history does not have “an almost unimaginably rich set of examples to pull from”. In fact, those of us who study history either professionally or on an armchair basis tend to be impressed by the way in which the historical patterns tend to repeat themselves. For example, the economic notions of the Mongol ruler Gaikhatu Khan, whose issuance of paper currency in 1294 promised reduced poverty, lower prices, and income equality, eerily prefigured both the General Theory of John Maynard Keynes as well as most of the Federal Reserve statements since 2008. Granted, neither Bernanke nor Geithner met with the unfortunate fate of the Khan’s chief financial officer, but as they say, history rhymes rather than repeats.

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Rich Horton Reviews Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

fox-and-phoenixFox and Phoenix
Beth Bernobich
Viking ( $17.99, hc, 368 pages, October 2011)
Reviewed by Rich Horton

A few years ago Beth Bernobich published a delightful YA novelette called “Pig, Crane, Fox: Three Hearts Unfolding” in Steve Berman’s anthology Magic in the Mirrorstone. Now her first YA novel has appeared, a sequel to the earlier story. It’s also very nice, another benchmark in an evolving career that may become something quite special if Bernobich keeps doing work as interesting as she has done to date.

In “Pig, Crane, Fox” the main protagonist, Kai, is a boy working in his Mother’s magic shop. He (as with most people in his milieu) has a spirit companion, the pig Chen. He and his friends regard themselves as pretty streetwise – and maybe they are, to some extent. Then they get involved with the Princess Lian, as her father, ruler of their city-state, establishes a contest for her hand. Kai is mature enough to ask instead for Lian to be granted her real wish – to study at the major university in the Phoenix Empire.

The setting is explicitly Chinese-derived, though not in any recognizable China. It’s quite fantastical in nature – magic is everywhere – but with a distinctly Science-Fictional attitude informing things, such as the way magic is used. That setting, that mix of SF and Fantasy (a characteristic of much of Bernobich’s work, in different ways) was a big part of the attraction of the story, but so were the well-realized characters.

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The Best of Modern Arabian Fantasy, Part II: Judith Tarr and Alamut

Saturday, April 28th, 2012 | Posted by Emily Mah

imagesNo series on the best of modern Arabian fantasy would be complete without going back to the book that many credit with starting the whole trend, Alamut by Judith Tarr.

I had the privilege of talking with Judy about the book and her process for research and writing, and her answers are insightful and fascinating. In what follows, I ask how she took her strong academic background and applied it to building the world and characters that captured the fascination of readers and writers alike.

She lists her favorite source materials and works of Middle Eastern literature that she’d recommend to readers today, and gives us a sneak peek into her exciting, upcoming projects, which also will feature the setting and culture of the Middle East.

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April-May Black Static Magazine Arrives

Saturday, April 28th, 2012 | Posted by Soyka

455_largeThe April-May Black Static features new horror fiction from Carole Johnstone (”The Pest House”), Jon Ingold (”Cracks”), Priya Sharma (”The Ballad of Boomtown”), Joel Lane (”The Messenger”) and Daniel Kaysen (”Pale Limbs”).

Nonfiction by the usual suspects, Peter Tennant, Christopher Fowler, Tony Lee, and Mike Driscoll. The editor is Andy Cox.

Black Static alternates monthly publication with sister SF and fantasy focused Interzone.

In other news, check out this NPR feature about Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Come, which should resonate with anyone who, as I did,  read the book9780380977277_custom as a young boy.

Art of the Genre: Review, Paizo’s Dragon Empires!

Saturday, April 28th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

pzo9240_500I’m sure I’ve mentioned TSR’s Oriental Adventures on more than one occasion from my soap box of a blog. This book is the only 1E D&D book I have with water damage because the day I bought it I was so enthralled that I thought I could take a bath while reading it [bad idea].

Anyway, from that moment forward I was deathly intrigued by the Orient, be it Kara-Tur in the Forgotten Realms, the T’ung in my home brew world, the non-magic stage of feudal Japan in Bushido, or of course the realms of Rokugan in Legend of the Five Rings.

Three weeks ago, as my six-year old son broke apart a flex pole tent system and began using it as a weapon, I had the pleasure of showing him firsthand what a three piece staff looked like in the Oriental Adventures book, making it also a fine teaching tool as well as a gaming supplement.

Therefore, you can well imagine my unchecked delight to find that Paizo was not only producing two source books for their Pathfinder system concerning the Orient in Golarion, but also a full Adventure Path that dealt with the region.

In this article I’m going to talk a bit about three outstanding products newly released in the past six months from Paizo concerning their Dragon Empires setting.
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Matthew Stover returns to Caine with Caine’s Law

Friday, April 27th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

caines-lawIn 1996, when I founded the SF Site, I became professionally involved with genre science fiction and fantasy for the first time. I covered it virtually in its entirety, publishing 50+ articles and reviews every month, written by over 40 contributors.

It was tremendously exciting. I still remember the first review copies I ever received, from Andy Heidel at Avon Books. By the end of 1998 I was receiving dozens of review copies a week, but that first box in the summer of 1997 meant that publishers were starting to take us seriously for the first time. I still remember every book into that small box; how wonderful they felt in my hands, and how vibrant and alive SF & fantasy publishing seemed at the time.

Something else I remember about those days is the new authors appearing on the scene; how much I envied them, and how closely I watched their careers. Virtually every month an author published her first novel, many to great acclaim. We paid a lot of attention to new authors at the SF Site, and tried to get them as much coverage as we could.

Over a decade later I hate to tell you how many of those authors made it: virtually none. I can count on one hand the writers who started publishing in the first years of the SF Site, and who are still working in the field today.

I’m very glad to report that one of them is Matthew Stover — whom we knew as Matthew Woodring Stover back in the day, when Del Rey published his first brutal and riveting fantasy novels Heroes Die (1998), and Blade of Tyshalle (2001). They were the first two novels in what became known as The Acts of Caine series, which became a trilogy in 2008 with Caine Black Knife. On April 3, Del Rey published the fourth in the series, Caine’s Law:

Caine is washed up and hung out to dry, a crippled husk kept isolated and restrained by the studio that exploited him. Now they have dragged him back for one last deal. But Caine has other plans. Those plans take him back to Overworld, the alternate reality where gods are real and magic is the ultimate weapon. There, in a violent odyssey through time and space, Caine will face the demons of his past, find true love, and just possibly destroy the universe.

Hey, it’s a crappy job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Caine’s Law is 496 pages; it’s now available in trade paperback for $16. Get more details at Del Rey’s site here.

Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Yellow Claw – Part Four

Friday, April 27th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

200px-yellowclaw11300px-yellow_claw_vol_1_3Sax Rohmer’s The Yellow Claw was originally serialized in five installments in Lippincott’s from February through June 1915. The serial was subsequently published in book form later that same year by Methuen Press in the UK and McBride & Nast in the US. The novel chooses to divide the story into four sections. This week, we examine the fourth and final part.

Rohmer really delivers with the final section of the novel with the development of the Eurasian femme fatale, Mahara who was previously referred to only under the mysterious moniker of Our Lady of the Poppies. Mahara becomes a flesh and blood character fiercely jealous to think that her lover, Gianopolis has been thinking of leaving her for another. The object of his affections is Helen Cumberley, Henry Leroux’s neighbor who despises Gianapolis as much as she pines for the unhappy thriller writer. Such a tangled web of unrequited love is uncommon for Rohmer, but it added to the novel’s appeal in its day and is surely one of the reasons that Stoll chose it as the first of his works to bring to the silver screen.

The narrative then switches to Gaston Max in the observation chamber of the opium den. The famous French detective feigns smoking opium, but only exhales through the pipe. Faking a drug-induced stupor, Max waits while Ho-Pin enters the room to check on him and is then startled to discover that upon his exit, Mahara has entered. Rohmer relished creating memorable femme fatales and Mahara seems to have been his first notable accomplishment with such a character. The Eurasian temptress passionately kisses the supposedly unconscious Max while lying upon him and cooing to him how she is going to enter his dreams. The image of a man forced to feign unconsciousness while a seductive female grinds into him is certainly powerful and far from the norm for fiction in 1915.

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