Goth Chick News: A Black Gate Indy Film Exclusive: Outpost 13

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image0041There’s almost nothing as cool as getting an exclusive — unless it’s an exclusive from an up-and-coming film maker.

When one considers that every director who ever created a blockbuster was once a struggling artist thrashing about in the low-budget trenches, one imagines that when said directors finally hit the big time, they’ll remember those who recognized genius and encouraged them in their leaner years, then invite those people to high-power lunch meetings and red-carpet events which steadfast supporters can only daydream about today.

Right, Wyatt?

Wyatt Weed from Pirate Pictures, along with his colleagues at State of Mind Productions, are the creative force behind the new indy short-film project Outpost 13 and they’ve granted an exclusive screening to Black Gate readers before the film is released to the wider viewing audience.

Yes, that’s right. An exclusive. Which ranks Wyatt Weed above Ridley Scott, who only sends us the trailers about five minutes before everyone else gets them.

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New Treasures: Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

deadfall-hotelI don’t get to cover horror fiction as often as I like to — mostly because I don’t get to read much these days. So it’s always a delight when a surprise like Deadfall Hotel arrives at my door. The seed of the novel was the acclaimed short story “Bloodwolf,” published by Charles L. Grant in his anthology Shadows 9 back in 1986. For over 25 years author Steve Rasnic Tem has nurtured that seed, and it has finally grown into a complex and original horror novel.

This is the hotel where our nightmares go… It’s where horrors come to be themselves, and the dead pause to rest between worlds. Recently widowed and unemployed, Richard Carter finds a new job, and a new life for him and his daughter Serena, as manager of the mysterious Deadfall Hotel. Jacob Ascher, the caretaker, is there to show Richard the ropes, and to tell him the many rules and traditions, but from the beginning, their new world haunts and transforms them.

It’s a terrible place. As the seasons pass, the supernatural and the sublime become a part of life, as routine as a morning cup of coffee, but it’s not safe, by any means. Deadfall Hotel is where Richard and Serena will rebuild the life that was taken from them… if it doesn’t kill them first.

Weird Fiction Review had this to say about Deadfall Hotel:

The novel provides a smorgasbord of sweet spots for the weird fiction connoisseur. Nightmares, supernatural creatures, cults, eccentric characters, and the atmosphere of the titular hotel all combine for a fascinating read. With the popularity of TV shows like American Horror Story, the timing seems right, as well (although we think Deadfall is much more interesting.)

And Fear.com raves:

Horror legend Steve Rasnic Tem returns with Deadfall Hotel, a modern fairytale, haunted house story, vampire novel, cult novel, werewolf novel, zombie story, and just plain old “weird tale”… It’s a masterful hodgepodge of genre tropes and devices that — much like Peter Straub’s magnificent Floating Dragon — in the hands of a lesser writer would have collapsed… Deadfall Hotel is everything a horror novel should be. Steve Rasnic Tem is at the height of his powers with this effort.

Deadfall Hotel is 301 pages in paperback for $9.99. It was published by Solaris on April 17. It is illustrated by Danish artist John Kenn Mortensen, whose creepy, Edward Gory-like style is both classic and richly modern — click on the cover above to get a closer look at his work. WFR.com offers a long self-contained excerpt, “The King of the Cats,” presented in four parts that you can sample here.


Andrea Grennan Reviews The Immortality Virus

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

immortalityvirus_medThe Immorality Virus
Christine Amsden
Twilight Times Books (266 pp, $18.95, June 2011)
Reviewed by Andrea Grennan

In a world where aging has been erased, the “Change” may have ended Alzheimer’s and arthritis, but it hasn’t ended starvation, murder or suicide. The Immoratity Virus explores a dystopian view of a world where immortals aren’t a vampire few, but a human many, and looks at the problems that could ensue from such a “Change.”

Grace Harper has been born into this new world, and lived 180+ years in it, most of them uncertain and miserable. When hired by a wealthy man to find the person who created the immortality virus to see if it can be undone, she embarks on a quest which results in nearly every faction of society being arrayed against her, for a variety of reasons.

Why would anyone want to give up immortality?

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A Wiscon Reading Report: The Best in Upcoming Fantasy

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-unnaturalists-2Last weekend I drove to Madison, Wisconsin, for Wiscon, one of the best SF conventions in the Midwest. My travel companions were four young women, and the two-hour drive from Chicago was filled with enthusiastic discussions of My Little Pony, how to cook kale, the most satisfactory sexual positions, and who that hot-looking agent was. When I wasn’t driving I sat in the back and kept my mouth shut.

You can learn a lot about life by keeping your mouth shut. For example, I learned I definitely need to check out My Little Pony.

I learned some important stuff at Wiscon, too. Wiscon has some pretty heavy panels, with titles like Intersectionality and Feminist Community, Dogmatic Rationalism, and Performing Katniss in Print and On Screen: Gender Performativity and Deconstructing Reality TV in The Hunger Games.

No, I didn’t learn what any of those things meant. The first thing I learned at Wiscon was: Don’t volunteer to be on panels. It’s like picking my teeth with a golf club — it’s painful, and it makes me look stupid.

But the second thing I learned was: Wiscon has the best reading program on the continent. And if you’re not listening to talented authors reading their work, you’re wasting your precious hours here on Planet Earth.

So I packed my hours with as many readings as I could. At the last two Wiscons I simply followed the brilliant C.S.E. Cooney — the Queen of Wiscon, and her most gifted reader-poet — as readings seemed to spontaneously spring  forth wherever she wandered. But this year she was in Ottawa giving a command performance at the most prestigious venue in the country, Canada’s National Art Centre, so we were forced to rely on our own devices. When there weren’t any readings, my driving companions and I simply created our own. In the process we were introduced to some of the hottest new writers on the fantasy scene, and several really terrific new, upcoming, or wholly undiscovered SF and fantasy novels.

Below is a list of the best of the best.

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Art of the Genre: Spelljammer Reloaded: AKA Pathjammer!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Distant Worlds, or as I like to call it, 'Pathjammer!'

Distant Worlds, or as I like to call it, 'Pathjammer!'

So as you may have seen last week, I was on my annual pilgrimage to Indiana for a full week of hardcore gaming with my boys. The ‘Week 2012’ included several games like AD&D 1E, Deadlands D20, Stars Without Number, and even a go at Pinnacle’s Savage Worlds: Tour of Darkness, which was outstanding.

My responsibility during the week was to DM what is considered our ‘super campaign’ which will take up to five full days of gaming. At a bit over 14 hours a day, that equates to roughly 70 hours behind the DM screens (this week I was enticed to do 6 days and 84 hours). To do this I’ve got to come up with an original idea, typically something that will throw the players for a loop, and certainly hold their attention as we move through an epic tale of adventure.

This year, as I sat staring at my shelves of RPG books, I couldn’t help but keep coming back to the old AD&D 2nd Edition campaign setting, Spelljammer. Now Spelljammer was an interesting and inherently simple idea, take D&D and put it in space. To do this, the development team found a way to make fantasy ships fly through space while they explored worlds around the base worlds TSR had created through the 1980s like Krynn, Greyhawk, and the Forgotten Realms.

Back in the day, I’d played Spelljammer no more than three or four times on mini-adventures with my most famous elven thief, Sefron Silvershoe. Thus, my DM, Mark, dubbed the game ‘Sefron in Space’ to be funny. Because of our devotion to Forgotten Realms and other science fiction games like Paladium’s Robotech, Spelljammer didn’t stick and we quickly went back to other things.

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The Weird Horror of Karl Edward Wagner, Part 2: Why Not You and I

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 | Posted by G. Winston Hyatt

whynotyouand1Unlike Karl Edward Wagner’s earlier work, Why Not You and I does not depend so heavily upon abominations lurking in warped dimensions or monsters gathering in subterranean underworlds. In a Lonely Place, his first collection, deals primarily with threats from beyond and from beneath: dark forces seeking entry into our world through the strange totems in “Sticks,” inhuman armies mustering beneath the Southern kudzu in “Where the Summer Ends,” and cave-dwelling legions emerging in “.220 Swift.”

His second collection sees a shift in focus from the otherworldly to more terrestrial terrors. Why Not You and I deals primarily with characters seeking respite from life’s miseries through art, fandom, and fame; but finding only the more toxic avenues of excess, madness, and death. It tells of monstrosity everywhere, within and without us.

You and I live in an insane world; you and I are at its mercy. “Into to Whose Hands,” the collection’s first story, makes this clear. One could debate whether it’s truly a “horror story” in the traditional sense. Set in an English military base turned psychiatric hospital, we follow a doctor through the paces of his shifts. He is the keeper of something worse than hell — the perdition of humans broken, imprisoned, and punished by arbitrary cruelties of fate and failures of the mind. The existence of God and Satan is irrelevant here, as are the ideas of good and evil. Both doctor and patient alike are damned to live in an inescapable madhouse of corridors without end. In Why Not You and I, this world is our own.

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Black Gate Goes to the Summer Movies: Men in Black 3

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

men_in_black_3Before getting into Men in Black Part the Third, I must retract a promise made in an earlier post, where I vowed to review eighteen of this summer’s genre movie releases. But the blame rests with Paramount, not with me. In a move that can best be described as a vote of “less-than-zero confidence” in their own product, Paramount has delayed the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation from next month to March 2013. With only a month to go before its originally slated release, and with a promotional campaign already going full throttle, G.I. Joe just got banned from the summer leagues. The excuse: “3D conversion.” Uh huh. I can’t imagine how terrible the film must actually be if Paramount chose to ditch it this late and swallow a few million bucks of promotion. I estimated that The Amazing Spider-Man would viciously pound G.I. Joe in its second frame, and Paramount apparently decided that G.I. Joe’s first frame would be so poor that they didn’t want to go through the embarrassment. I wonder how much Hasbro’s Battleship flop affected Paramount’s decision to drop the toy company’s other movie of the summer?

Anyway, Men in Black 3, a.k.a. MIIIB, pronounced “Mieb” and known on Arrakis as “Mi’i’d.” The film that, whatever else it may achieve, has the distinction of taking down The Avengers from the #1 box-office slot after reigning for three weeks.

The original Men in Black was a minor miracle in the summer of 1997. (Keep in mind, this was the same summer as Batman and Robin; we were desperate.) It was compact, clever, breezy, and crackled with the chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith at the height of his comic powers. It also looked like ideal sequel material, but when Men in Black II arrived and stunk in 2002, the first film began to look like a perfect one-off: nothing more was needed.

Men in Black 3 is a large improvement over Men in Black II, and even though it runs more than fifteen minutes longer — the longest of the three films — the second sequel moves faster and gets back some of the click of the ’97 movie. However, the first Men in Black still seems like a one-off. Men in Black 3 is a bland film at worst, and somewhat enjoyable at its select best.

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Weird Tales Reopens to Submissions

Monday, May 28th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

weird-tales-359aAttention all aspiring fantasy writers! (Yeah, I know that’s most of you.) Weird Tales has re-opened to submissions.

Now, I know you never read Submission Guidelines. But before you run off to send editor Marvin Kaye your latest short fiction masterpiece, I urge you to check out the guidelines. There’s lots of news — for example, the pay rate has dropped from 5 cents/word to 3 cents/word — but perhaps most interesting is the announcement that the magazine has shifted to themed issues. Upcoming themes include Elder Gods & Cthulhu (#360), Fairy Tales (#361) and Undead (#362), and if you’ve got a story in the latter two categories, the editors are especially interested:

Please know that each issue of Weird Tales – beginning with issue 360 – will be featuring a theme. This means that HALF of each issue will be devoted to strange and innovative takes on that theme. This also means that HALF of each issue will be devoted to the unclassifiable and eclectic tales that have always been the soul of Weird Tales.

Our current needs are… Stories for our Undead issue (#362). This issue is quite far along, but we seek unusual and radical takes on Zombies, Ghouls, chiang-shih’s, the Lich and other creatures yet undefined. Even vampires, if you have found a new wrinkle. Theme-related poetry is welcome.

We also have a bit of space left in the Fairy Tales issue (#361), so if you have worked on something for us, send away.

Be sure you are submitting an unpublished story or poem.

Because we publish half of the magazine as unthemed content, you may submit any variety of fantasy including science fiction (though we will not use much of the latter). We are currently most interested in stories between 3,000-5,000 words, but longer stories are acceptable. However, it may take quite a while for a long or unthemed story to be published. Short shorts, i. e., flash fiction, are definitely of interest to us.

The complete guidelines are here.


Triptych, by J.M. Frey: A Review

Sunday, May 27th, 2012 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

TriptychTriptych
J.M. Frey
Dragon Moon Press (286 pp, $19.95, March 2011)

Science fiction typically makes certain assumptions about alien races. For example, that they use language in ways we understand. Or, that they imagine gender and sex in ways familiar to us. The second is a far more unlikely assumption; language, or communication more broadly, is something one would expect to develop in intelligent species, and in a way defines for humans what intelligence is. But sex necessarily is a thing of the body, and so will vary with the composition of the body. An alien body won’t have human sexual responses.

J.M. Frey’s novel Triptych tries to tell a story with that awareness in mind. I’m not entirely convinced by the book, but I think it’s effective overall. Both its flaws and virtues seem to me to follow from specific genre traditions, with the result that it feels oddly like an old-fashioned science fiction novel that happens to have some twenty-first-century attitudes about sexuality.

A triptych is a work of art, typically a painting, in three parts. Usually the central part is the most prominent. That’s essentially the structure of the novel: three parts, plus a prologue and epilogue. The prologue sets up a near-future world in which alien refugees have come to earth. Their integration into human society comes through working with a multinational organization called the Institute, physicists and linguists and other specialists, all given military training. The first part of the story proper then skips back to 1983, setting up a time travel plot. The second part gives us the tale of one of the alien refugees, up to the point where the prologue begins. The third part, and the epilogue, wrap up the plot and solve the remaining mysteries. And through all these sections, the book is actually telling a love story, or at least the story of an unconventional relationship: another triptych, a polyamorous love between an alien and two humans.

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Charlene Brusso Reviews The Cloud Roads

Sunday, May 27th, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

the-cloud-roadsThe Cloud Roads
Martha Wells
Night Shade Books (300 pp, $14.99, February 2011)
Reviewed by Charlene Brusso

I always look forward to reading anything by Martha Wells, because she always gives me something marvelous and new–and The Cloud Roads doesn’t disappoint.

Moon is an outsider. He’s drifted all over, living with one tribe or clan or family after another, and never met another soul like himself. Because Moon has a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. With a little concentration he can alter his body from something that appears human and “normal” to a scaly humanoid with big dragon-like wings and sharp, retractable claws. Orphaned as a child, he’s been on his own ever since, never quite fitting in, and never staying long. It’s not safe to stay, because if anyone found out what he was, what he could become, they’d be certain to think he was one of the vile, noisome Fell, creatures from nightmares who live to hunt and consume humankind.

Moon isn’t Fell. Hes’ not sure what he is. And Moon doesn’t want to be alone. That’s just how things are.

Then he meets another shapeshifter: Stone, someone like himself. From Stone, Moon learns about the Raksura, who shift between groundling and dragonish shapes and live in courts run by Queens. There’s a long list of hierarchical rules to learn, but Moon is welcome to come back with Stone to Indigo Cloud Court and become one of its warriors. More than welcome, in fact.

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