Clarkesworld #68 plus PKD and Gnosticism

Saturday, May 26th, 2012 | Posted by Soyka

cw_68_300The May  issue of Clarkesworld is currently online. Featured fiction: “Prayer” by Robert Reed, “Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop” by Suzanne Church and “All the Things the Moon is Not” by Alexander Lumans.  There are also audio versions of all three stories, read by Kate Baker. Non fiction by Aletha Kontis, Jeremy L.C. Jones and Elizabeth Bear.  The cover art is by Jessada Suthi.

All of this is available online for free. However, nothing is really free. The magazine is supported by “Clarkesworld Citizens” who donate $10 or more. There’s also a Kindle edition.

One personal reaction to Bear’s very funny essay, “Another Word: Dear Speculative Fiction, I’m Glad We Had This Talk”: I agree that Lenny Bruce didn’t get funnier when he got angrier (his drug problems certainly didn’t help), but I found George Carlin to be more interesting the angrier he got. Maybe he wasn’t quite as funny, but his anger certainly resonated with me.  Sometimes having your “face pressed down into a trough of human misery until the bubbles stop” is necessary to remind people that life is not a television sitcom. At least the ones who haven’t already drowned.

Someone else who got less interesting when he started taking himself too seriously (and, once again, the drugs didn’t help) was Philip K. Dick. Simon Critchley examines Dick’s metaphysical worldview as expressed in Exegeiss, a posthumously published series of philosophical 133948681ramblings. While I tend to think all this stuff really is the result of a bad acid trip, Critchley as a professor of philosophy for the most part keeps a straight face. Some of you may laugh out loud not only at the source material, but the attempt at exegesis.

We last covered Clarkesworld with issue #67.


One Week Left to Win a copy of Thunder in the Void from Haffner Press!

Friday, May 25th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

thunder-in-the-voidWe’ve received some great entries in our Thunder in the Void giveaway, which we announced last week. Here are some that came in today:

  • Midnight in the Robot Graveyard
  • The Cult of the Broken Sun
  • Message from the Haunted Asteroid

Doesn’t that sound like fun? You could be part of it — all you have to do is submit the title of an imaginary Space Opera story.

What’s at stake is the latest archival quality hardcover from Haffner Press, Thunder in the Void, a massive collection of 16 Space Opera tales by Henry Kuttner. The most compelling title — as selected by a crack team of Black Gate judges, renowned experts in quality pulp fiction all — will receive a free copy, complements of Haffner Press and Black Gate magazine.

Thunder in the Void gathers classic pulp fiction from Planet Stories, Weird Tales, Super Science Stories, and even rarer sources, including “War-Gods of the Void,” “Raider of the Spaceways,” “We Guard the Black Planet,” “Crypt-City of the Deathless Ones,” and the previously unpublished “The Interplanetary Limited.”  Most appear here in book form for the first time.

One submission per person, please. Submissions must be received by May 31st, 2012. Winner will be contacted by e-mail, so use a real e-mail address maybe. All submissions must be sent to john@blackgate.com, with the subject line Thunder in the Void, or something obvious like that so I don’t randomly delete it.

All entries become the property of New Epoch Press. No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. Decisions of the judges (capricious as they may be) are final. Employees of New Epoch Press are ineligible to enter. Not valid where prohibited by law. Or anywhere postage for a hefty hardcover is more than, like, 10 bucks. Seriously, this book is heavy and we’re on a budget.

Thunder in the Void is 612 pages in high-quality hardcover format, with an introduction by Mike Resnick and a cover price of $40. Cover art is by Norman Saunders. It is available directly from Haffner Press.


Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Golden Scorpion, Part One – “The Cowled Man”

Friday, May 25th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

golden-scorpion-2golden-scorpion-1Sax Rohmer’s The Golden Scorpion was first printed in its entirety in The Illustrated London News Christmas Number in December 1918. It was published in book form in the UK the following year by Methuen and in the US in 1920 by McBride & Nast. Rohmer divided the novel into four sections which is how we shall examine the book over the next four weeks. “The Cowled Man” is the title Rohmer selected for the first part of the book and comprises the first eleven chapters.

Despite featuring several characters from Rohmer’s 1915 novel, The Yellow Claw, The Golden Scorpion marked a return to the style and feel of Rohmer’s Fu-Manchu thrillers which had concluded the previous year with the publication of The Si-Fan Mysteries (1917). Rohmer maintained the more realistic Limehouse crime novel approach of The Yellow Claw for his contemporaneous Red Kerry detective series which started with Dope (1919), but chose to fashion The Golden Scorpion from the same Yellow Peril weird menace cloth that made his reputation as an author. The key difference from the Fu-Manchu thrillers is that Rohmer maintains a third person narrative voice (as he had in The Yellow Claw) rather than recreating the frantic paranoia that marked Dr. Petrie’s first person narratives.

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Gary Gygax’s Hall of Many Panes

Friday, May 25th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

hall-of-many-panes-gygaxWhew. What a week. I bought a collection of 240 new SF & fantasy paperbacks on Monday, and trying to squeeze them into already-crowded bookshelves in my library is taking some determination. Tomorrow morning I’m throwing some clothes in a bag for a trip to Madison with Patty Templeton and Katie Redding for Wiscon, one of the best conventions in the Midwest.

But tonight, I relaxed and dusted off some of the goodies waiting patiently for my attention. The most intriguing one in the pile is Gary Gygax’s Hall of Many Panes, a boxed mega-adventure from Troll Lord Games, which I purchased on eBay back in March.

Panes was released in 2005, so don’t get too excited if you haven’t heard of it. It’s not a recently-discovered manuscript by the creator of D&D, or anything like that. It was originally written for Gygax’s latter day RPG Lejendary Adventures, but has also been statted for d20 systems, which makes it usable with virtually any of the popular retro-clones on the market like OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord.

Gygax was a master of the mega-adventure, and I’m not sure why he didn’t write more of them, especially at the end of his career when he was experiencing a resurgence.

But then again, I wonder at the fact that the ones he did write — like Necropolis and the massive Castle Zagyg — weren’t more popular, and perhaps that helps explain it.

Anyway, we’re here to talk about Hall of Many Panes. Troll Lord has done a great job assembling a package clearly modeled after the classic TSR boxed sets: inside are three sizable books (76, 96, and 102 pages) and a pamphlet of maps and gaming handouts. The books are a little light on art, but sturdy and highly readable.

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Of Red Moon and Black Mountain and the Anxiety of Tolkien’s Influence

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 | Posted by Brian Murphy

red-moonRed Moon and Black Mountain
Joy Chant
Ballantine Books (268 pages, $0.95, 1971)

The shadow of The Lord of the Rings is long, indeed. In the 1960s Frodo lived and the reading public was hungry for more, and derivative works like The Sword of Shannara met that demand. This pattern continued into the 1980s with the publication of works like Dennis McKiernan’s Iron Tower trilogy, the series showing the clearest Tolkien “influence” of them all and one that literally provided more of the same. Now, this stuff wasn’t all bad; it filled a need and offered a safe, enjoyable formula. I willingly read many of these works back in the day and occasionally still do. But decades later many of the Tolkien clones haven’t aged all that well. I seem to have a lot less patience for them these days, even though I understand the environment in which they were written, and can appreciate that avoiding the influence of The Lord of the Rings 30-40 years ago must have been very difficult, if not impossible.

Take Joy Chant’s Red Moon and Black Mountain (1970). It’s well-written, not hackwork by any stretch. In 1972 the Mythopoeic Society bestowed its Fantasy Award upon the novel, denoting it as a work that best exemplified “the spirit of the Inklings.” Red Moon and Black Mountain has an unquestionable Tolkien-Lewis quality about it, if by spirit one means rewriting The Lord of the Rings with the framing device of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe tacked on. After a solid start it descends into full-on Tolkien-clone, which probably explains why it’s largely forgotten today.

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Goth Chick News: Joss Whedon’s Other Summer Movie

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

cabin-in-the-woodsJohn O’Neill here, on behalf of Goth Chick. Goth got a callback for the part of Morticia in the upcoming production of The Addams Family at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, and she was outta our offices like a comet.  I found a scrawled note in my chair reading, “Gone all week — cover for me, and there free tickets for opening night in it for you.  Ta!”

So I’m currently sitting at her desk, hoping to tell you about the week’s best goth entertainment, hottest new trailers, and overlooked 80’s horror films. Man, how does she find anything? Her desk is covered in morgue photos, news clippings and — I swear to God — a voodoo doll collection. I’m scared to touch anything, and every one of her interns jumps at least a foot when I try to speak to them.

The heck with it. Stick with what you know. And what I know is that all my friends refuse to talk to me about The Cabin in the Woods.

The Cabin in the Woods, in case you haven’t heard, is Avenger‘s director Joss Whedon’s other summer movie. He was the producer and co-writer of the film, which was directed by Drew Goddard, staff writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the writer of Cloverfield. I ‘d tell you more about the movie, but I don’t know anything. All I can find is this sparse description on IMDB:

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Seriously, the hush level on this film is amazing. No one will talk about it. It’s like everyone who’s left the theater has been sworn to secrecy. My friends say things like, “Dude, what did you think of that moment, about 30 minutes in?” I tell them I haven’t seen it yet and they mutter under their breath, and say “Go see it.  Immediately.”

Which isn’t going to be easy. While The Avengers is well on the way to becoming, like, the most profitable film in the history of the world, The Cabin in the Woods is more closely following the trajectory of Joss Whedon’s earlier films: it was released on April 13 and has nearly vanished from theaters. Those penetrating and silent stares from my friends are becoming more urgent.

I’m here to pass that urgency along to you. It’s too late for me, but maybe it’s not for you. Somewhere in your town there’s a theater still showing this movie. Don’t be left out. Catch it before it’s gone.

Save yourselves.


Art of the Genre: The Art of the DM

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Me at right, Murph in middle, and my personal DM Mark to left, circa 1990 as we prepare for a Shadowrun adventure.

Me at right, Murph in middle, and my personal DM Mark to left, circa 1990 as we prepare for a Shadowrun adventure.

Yes, it’s true, I’m posting a day late on my Art of the Genre blog, but hey, when you’ve been the Gamemaster for six straight days of 14 hour gaming, I think even the great John O’Neill can cut me a little slack. I’m mean, this is my vacation after all, so I think having anything, even this odd article, to post should show how much I love my readers!

Still, it was kind of tough, amid all the chaos of gaming, to settle in on a subject for this week’s AtoG. However, the more I sat around the gaming table, the more I began to understand the Art of being a Gamemaster and how that translates into something cool.

I mean, I’ve been doing this since I was a tween… well actually before the word tween even existed. Even early on I would sit at a table, screens before me, and paint pictures with words that are vivid enough to keep my friends coming back for more. And when I say coming back for more, I mean really, truly, coming back, no matter from where, for more story spinning than I’ve the right to foist on you here.

I’ve gamed with the same group of friends since middle school, and it’s not like we all live three minutes from one another. Nope, we are now stretched from Maryland to California, but one week a year, we make a sojourn back to the Midwest to roll dice like we did when we were twelve.
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The Sword & Sorcery Anthology Now on Sale

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

sword-and-sorcery-anthologyOne of the year’s most anticipated books has arrived — a few days ahead of its official June 1 publication date.

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology, edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman, is now on sale. This massive 480-page tome contains classic S&S tales from the writers who created the genre — including C. L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, Poul Anderson, Karl Edward Wagner and Michael Moorcock — as well as modern masters such as Charles R. Saunders, Glen Cook, George R. R. Martin, Jeffrey Ford, and Caitlín R. Kiernan.

It also includes “Epistle from Lebanoi,” an original tale by Michael Shea, author of the classic Nifft the Lean, and “The Year of the Three Monarchs,” a new story by Michael Swanwick.

The early reviews have already been filled with praise, including this one from Publishers Weekly:

Hartwell and Weisman have selected some of the best short-form work in the genre… This is an unbeatable selection from classic to modern, and each story brings its A game.

With an introduction by David Drake, “Storytellers: A Guided Ramble into Sword and Sorcery Fiction” and a tantalizing assortment of stories I’m unfamiliar with — including “Gimmile’s Song” by Charles R. Saunders, “Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat” by Glen Cook, “Six from Atlantis” by Gene Wolfe, and “Path of the Dragon” by George R. R. Martin — this ones leaps right to the top of my want list.

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology is published by Tachyon Publications, and priced at $15.95 for the print version and $10.95 in digital format. More complete details are here, and the complete Tables of Contents is here.


Jaym Gates Reviews Mind Storm

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

mind-stormMind Storm
K.M. Ruiz
Thomas Dunne Books (304 pp, $24.99, Hardcover May 2011)
Reviewed by Jaym Gates

Science fiction is inundated with post-apocalyptic and dystopian settings, super-powers and corrupt governments, with varied results. Mind Storm is a nice blend of the familiar and the new, packed with action, and it introduces some pretty fun new characters. It is the first book of a series of unspecified length.

Mind Storm opens with psions Threnody and Quenton traveling to the slums of Los Angeles. It is the year 2379. Humans have stripped the Earth of nearly all resources. Crowded and afraid, nuclear war was unleashed…everywhere. By the time the war was over, most of the populated areas were dead zones, unfit for human life. The majority of the human race had been wiped out. But a small percentage of the human population finds their DNA altered, leaving them incredibly powerful and unique. They are called psions, and brainwashed and put in service to the world government as soldier-slaves.

Their power comes at a cost, burning out more of their bodies with every use. Only the fortunate make it to the age of thirty five. They are feared and hated by the humans, who regard them as dangerous vermin. Most of them are found early and pulled into the Stryker Syndicate, fitted with kill-switches controlled by the World Court. The ones who escape the Strykers are found and enslaved by the Warhounds, a rogue group of powerful psions serving a shadowy figure.

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Catherynne M. Valente parts ways with Night Shade Books

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-habitation-of-the-blessed2Catherynne M. Valente has announced her third Prester John novel, following The Habitation of the Blessed and The Folded World, will not be published by Night Shade Books. In a statement on her blog last week she said:

I continue to think that Night Shade puts out wonderful books and I hope for their success. I did not take this step lightly. But their recent troubles have made our business relationship difficult, and I could not in good conscience proceed with a third book given the circumstances. Obviously I’m being a bit vague – there’s no point in airing laundry in public… What this means is that at the moment, The Habitation of the Blessed and The Folded World are for the most part unavailable. Some copies will float around for awhile yet, but most of the e-versions are gone. I hope to fix this in the next week – I have relicensed the covers from the excellent Rebecca Guay and Night Shade has been very kind and accommodating with regards to physical copies and digital files…

As for the third and final book in the series, The Spindle of Necessity, I am committed to finding a way to make sure you get to see it. I owe you a finish. Oddly enough, Prester John is my longest series to date, and I want to bring it all to a close the way I planned to from the beginning… Given the market realities, the most likely avenue for this is a Kickstarter campaign to fund a self-published version.

At press time, both The Habitation of the Blessed and The Folded World are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, in both print and Kindle versions. But if you’re interested in getting copies, you want want to move quickly.


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