Vintage Treasures: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s To the High Redoubt

Thursday, July 26th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

to-the-high-redoubt2When I think of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, it’s usually in the context of her hugely successful Count Saint-Germain novels, the tales of gentleman vampire Saint-Germain and his adventures down through the centuries, beginning with Hôtel Transylvania (1978).  Yarbro’s 26 novels featuring Saint-Germain have covered a lot of historical ground, from the reign of emperor Heliogabalus in 3rd century Rome (Roman Dusk) to his escape from Genghis Khan in Tibet and India (Path of the Eclipse), 6th Century China (Dark of the Sun), and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany (Tempting Fate). The most recent, Commedia della Morte (March 2012), finds our dark protagonist in France during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.

But Yarbro has had a very successful career as a noted fantasist quite apart from her Saint-Germain books, with some 65 novels to her credit, including Time of the Fourth Horseman (1977) and A Baroque Fable (1986). Two of her earliest novels, The Palace (1979) and Ariosto (1980), were nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and in 2003 she was named a Grand Master at the World Horror Convention. In 2005 the International Horror Guild named her a “Living Legend,” and in 2009 she was presented with a Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers’ Association.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t know any of this if I hadn’t stumbled on some of her paperbacks among a few of the collections I recently purchased, and become intrigued enough to give Yarbro another look. Perhaps the most promising is To the High Redoubt, a 1985 paperback that has received little attention (it’s not even listed on her otherwise comprehensive Wikipedia page) but immediately caught my eye. Here’s the typically dramatic 80s back cover copy:

The Bundhi — Lord of Darkness, stealer of souls. This master of evil had destroyed all who fought against him, all but the beautiful Surata, last surviving adept in tantric alchemy. From Surata he had taken family, vision, and freedom, selling her into slavery in a distant land. But even the Bundhi could not comprehend how deep Surata’s power flowed, even he could not foresee that destiny would bring Surata her champion, Arkady, soldier of fortune.

United by a growing trust, and their astral crusade against the deadly forces of the Bundhi, Surata and Arkady rode forth to challenge their enemy in the very heart of his empire, racing against both time and terror.

To the High Redoubt was published by Questar in 1985, with a cover by the fabulous Rowena Morill. It is 370 pages of promising 80s fantasy. I’ll let you know if it’s any good.

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New Treasures: 21st Century Dead

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

21st-century-deadAh, Zombies. We still love ’em. I know this is a trend that will soon begin to peak and die off (if it hasn’t already), but until then I’m enjoying all the attention to one of my favorite undead.

Christopher Golden’s 2010 anthology The New Dead was one of the more successful recent zombie books. With stories by some of the top fantasy writers in the field, including Joe R. Lansdale, Joe Hill, Kelley Armstrong, Tad Williams, John Connolly, Aimee Bender, Jonathan Maberry, and many others, it demonstrated the zombie story could still be fresh and exciting, even in the era of The Walking Dead and innumerable sequels/re-makes of Night of the Living Dead.

The New Dead was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology, a rare honor. Now Golden returns with a second volume of all-original zombie stories, and the cast of writers he’s assembled is just as impressive as the first.

21st Century Dead includes “Tic Boom: A Slice of Love,” the first published fiction by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter; “Parasite,” a short story set in the world of Daniel H. Wilson’s popular novel Robopocalypse; and short fiction from Orson Scott Card, Mark Morris, Simon R. Green, Jonathan Maberry, Duane Swiercyznski, Caitlin Kittredge, Brian Keene, Amber Benson, John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow, and many more.

21st Century Dead is 339 pages in trade paperback. It is published by St. Martin’s Press. It is $15.99 in print and $9.99 for the digital edition. It was released on July 17, 2012.


Art of the Genre: The GameMaster Series Covers

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

axisandalliesboxBack in the mid-80s, I would go out to my dad’s house in Las Vegas and spend a few weeks of every summer seeing how he lived his life in the city of sin. It always had its ups and downs, but certainly even twenty-five years later I’ve got some lasting memories that bring a smile to my face.

One such memory is that of going to my first Toys “R” Us, at age 14, with my father to look for a game to bring to his cabin in Utah. Even to this day I can see a ‘wall of games’ in my head, so much bigger than life and beyond what I’d ever thought possible for a kid from the small town cornfields of Indiana.

The game my father and I chose was a huge one, the box seemingly larger than a board game had the right to be. It was called Axis & Allies and it had the most brilliant painted cover you could imagine.

It was produced by Milton Bradley, part of their GameMaster Series, something that took a step beyond what any other company in those days dared to do, make a mass market adult game. To this point, games were almost exclusively for children, and the graphics of such games were similarly geared.

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How Galaxy Magazine Saved Robert Silverberg from a Life of Smoking

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

galaxy-issue-1-smallI’ve been neglecting Galaxy magazine in my recent Vintage Treasures articles. I’ve covered some of the great fiction in Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Worlds of If, but the truth is that Galaxy was on its last legs by the time I started reading science fiction and fantasy in 1976, and it folded in 1979.

But I’m not wholly ignorant of the contribution Galaxy made to the field, especially under the editorship of H.L. Gold (1950 – 1961) and Frederik Pohl (1961 – 1969). Until 1950 the field was almost entirely dominated by John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding, who was legendary in his ability to spot talent, but also held a fairly narrow view of what kinds of SF and fantasy would sell. Gold was interested in tales of social and psychological upheaval, not just the hard science puzzle fiction in Astounding, and quickly proved that readers would buy stories with that bent — as well as satire, humor, and tales where mankind didn’t always triumph in its march to the stars and inevitable conflict with alien races.

Mike Ashley, one of our field’s finest historians, credits the success of Galaxy for the huge boom in science fiction and fantasy in the fifties, when the field grew from a handful of magazines to over two dozen, saying Galaxy “revolutionized the field overnight.”

Author Robert Silverberg, however, has a more personal tale of how Galaxy changed his life. He writes:

It was the founding of Galaxy that saved me from a life of smoking. It was September, 1950, and I was a teenager with about forty cents in my pocket. A pack of cigarettes cost about a quarter then. So did the first issue of Galaxy, which had just come out. I went into a newsstand thinking I might buy some cigarettes (I had been smoking a few, not with any pleasure, but simply to make myself look older) and there was the shiny Vol One Number One Galaxy. I could afford one or the other, not both. I made my choice and lived happily ever after.

While I was too late to buy more than a handful of issues of Galaxy on the newsstand, I rectified that later in life, amassing a fair collection going back to that famous first issue in 1950. I’ve been enjoying them over the last few years, and will report in here with the very best stories I find.


Graphic Classics Half-Price Sale

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

horror-classics-graphic-classics-10-2I’ve been collecting Eureka Press’ Graphic Classics for over ten years, ever since we received a review copy of Volume 1: Edgar Allan Poe, in 2001 (back when they were Rosebud Graphic Classics, a spin-off of Rosebud magazine). Tom Pomplun, longtime Art Director for Rosebud, started up Eureka Press that year to produce high quality comics anthologies, and in the last decade he’s published nearly two dozen volumes, including several that have gone through multiple editions.

A typical issue of Graphic Classics is 144 densely-packed black & white pages, containing loving adaptions of classic stories by some of the best talents in comics — including Rick Geary, Gahan Wilson, Richard Sala, Mark A. Nelson, Alex Nino, Skip Williamson, Richard Corben, Hunt Emerson, and many others. Matt Howarth’s 22-page rendition of “The Shadow Out of Time” in Graphic Classics: H. P. Lovecraft may be the finest comics adaptation I’ve ever read, period. It captured the chilling mood of that piece perfectly.

Eureka has just announced a limited-time half-price sale on their entire line of in-stock GRAPHIC CLASSICS. The sale runs August 1 through August 14, 2012, and applies only to direct sales through their website. A partial list of titles in the sale include:

  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: EDGAR ALLAN POE – $12.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE — $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: H.P. LOVECRAFT  —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: JACK LONDON  —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: AMBROSE BIERCE  —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: BRAM STOKER  —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON  —  b&w / $12.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • HORROR CLASSICS: Graphic Classics Vol 10  —  $9.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • ADVENTURE CLASSICS: Graphic Classics Vol 12  —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GRAPHIC CLASSICS: RAFAEL SABATINI   —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • GOTHIC CLASSICS: Graphic Classics Vol 14   —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • FANTASY CLASSICS: Graphic Classics Vol 15  —  $11.95 retail / ON SALE $5
  • SCIENCE FICTION CLASSICS: Graphic Classics Vol 17  —  color / $17.95 retail / ON SALE $7.50
  • POE’S TALES OF MYSTERY: Graphic Classics Vol 21  —  color / $17.95 retail / ON SALE $7.50

Note that some volumes are in low supply, and there is a $10 minimum purchase.


New Treasures: Jeff Strand’s A Bad Day for Voodoo

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

a-bad-day-for-voodooHorror and comedy don’t usually mix. But when they do, the results can be spectacular. Ghostbusters, Young Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tremors, Army of Darkness, Scream, Shawn of the Dead… you see my point.

Three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist Jeff Strand has walked this road before. His Andrew Mayhem novels, including Single White Psychopath Seeks Same and Casket For Sale (Only Used Once) have built his reputation as a master of the modern gothic comedy. His first YA novel is A Bad Day for Voodoo, and the jacket copy grabbed my attention immediately.

When your best friend is just a tiny bit psychotic, you should never actually believe him when he says, “Trust me. This is gonna be awesome.”

Of course, you probably wouldn’t believe a voodoo doll could work either. Or that it could cause someone’s leg to blow clean off with one quick prick. But I’ve seen it. It can happen.

And when there’s suddenly a doll of YOU floating around out there — a doll that could be snatched by a Rottweiler and torn to shreds, or a gang of thugs ready to torch it, or any random family of cannibals (really, do you need the danger here spelled out for you?) — well, you know that’s just gonna be a really bad day …

No word on whether this is the first installment of a new series (when asked, Strand replies “I don’t know. I depends on whether at the end all of the characters get killed.”) But the book is already getting a lot of attention. Jonathan Maberry, the New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin, weighed in with:

Jeff Strand is the funniest writer in the game, and A Bad Day for Voodoo is wicked, wicked fun. Dark, devious and delicious.

I think this book is what I need this week. A Bad Day for Voodoo is 251 pages from Sourcebooks Fire. It is $8.99 in trade paperback and digital format. It was released on June 5, 2012.


Summer 2012 issue of Subterranean Magazine now Available

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

subterranean-magazine-summer-2012-2Subterranean magazine is one of the best sources of online fantasy, and also one of the most reliable. They’ve published a total of 23 issues; the first seven were print, and it became an online publication in Winter 2007. It used to be presented in a rolling format, with new fiction and articles available every week, but with the latest issue they’ve switched to posting the complete contents all at once.

Which means you can now enjoy brand new novellas by K J Parker and Robert Jackson Bennett, and original short stories by Ian R MacLeod and Mike Resnick, as well as a Notes from the Otherworld Column by Kelley Armstrong. Here’s the complete table of contents:

  • “Let Maps to Others,” by K. J. Parker
  • “Tumbling Nancy,” by Ian R MacLeod
  • “To Be Read Upon Your Waking,” by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • “The Puce Whale: A Lucifer Jones Story,” by Mike Resnick
  • Column: Notes from the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong: “The Sky is (Probably) Not Falling”

In her mid-July fiction review column at Locus Online, Lois Tilton had high praise for the first story:

The K J Parker in particular quite restores my enthusiasm for stories… A brilliant and intriguing work, full of hidden documents, maps, codes, and forgery, as well as adventure, voyages mercantile and military, rivalry, politics, and war. There’s a high degree of historical verisimilitude, based on meticulous attention to realistic detail.

– HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Subterranean is edited by William Schafer, and published quarterly. The Summer 2012 issue is completely free and available here.

We last covered Subterranean magazine with their previous issue, Spring 2012.


Musing on Villainy

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

capI’m a writer, not a psychotherapist. As an adventure writer, though, I spend an awful lot of time thinking about heroism and villainy. I think that we forget too easily that real heroes exist as well as real villains. We remember the underwear bomber, but how many of us recall the name of the Dutch man who leapt from several rows back to take him down? In the aftermath of the attack on Congresswoman Giffords, we heard courageous tales of people throwing themselves in front of their friends and loved ones to protect them. Many of them died when they did so. As the events unfold after this most recent tragedy, we are certain to learn of people in the cinema who risked or even sacrificed their lives for their friends and loved ones. We know already that policemen risked their lives to advance into who knew what to find and stop the man (or men – they didn’t know) who had committed this horrible crime.

Yet it is the villain whose face we continue to see whenever these tragedies are discussed upon the news.

These days we seem constantly to be facing tales of an angry young man with a gun. Or eight guns, and plans that are inevitably more ambitious than the horror that catapults them into the limelight. Sometimes we hear that they were loners, and were quiet but pleasant enough. Former friends will be found by journalists, and they’ll speak in disbelief and tell us how they would never have thought it would happen… although sometimes we hear of an acquaintance who’d been afraid one day this particular individual would snap, and nobody did anything about it. I don’t know which is more frightening.

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Vintage Treasures: The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction, edited by Margulies and Friend

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-giant-anthology-of-science-fiction2Those four boxes of books I purchased from the Martin H. Greenberg collection have been the gift that keeps on giving. In the third box I found about 30 hardcover anthologies, dating from the 40s to the 70s, including The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction: 10 Complete Short Novels, edited by Leo Margulies and Oscar J. Friend.

This book is a treasure trove of vintage novellas from the Golden Age of SF and fantasy. Despite the “Science Fiction” in the title, a great many of the delights on offer are fantasy, as the term was used pretty much interchangeably with science fiction at the time. Just check out this table of contents, with original dates of publication:

  • “Enchantress of Venus,” Leigh Brackett (1949)
  • “Gateway to Darkness,” Fredric Brown (1949)
  • “The Girl in the Golden Atom,” Ray Cummings (1919)
  • “Forgotten World,” Edmond Hamilton (1946)
  • “By His Bootstraps,” Robert A. Heinlein (1941)
  • “Sword of Tomorrow,” Henry Kuttner (1945)
  • “Things Pass By,” Murray Leinster (1945)
  • “Rogue Ship,” A. E. van Vogt (1950)
  • “Island in the Sky,” Manly Wade Wellman (1941)
  • “The Sun Maker,” Jack Williamson (1940)

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New Treasures: Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2012

Saturday, July 21st, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-years-best-science-fiction-fantasy-2012-2We’re deep into Best of the Year anthology season now. Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection arrived on July 3 (29th volume!), Paula Guran’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 on June 19, David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer’s Year’s Best SF 17 on May 29, and Night Shade Books published Volume 6 of Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (which we covered here) on March 6.

Naturally, my favorite Best of the Year anthology takes the longest to arrive: Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2012. This is fourth volume in this format; prior to 2009 Rich published separate Best of the Year volumes from science fiction and fantasy, from 2006 to 2008. So all told this is his tenth Best volume (eleventh, if you count Unplugged: The Web’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy in 2008. Which we do.)

The highlight of theses books for me is frequently the introduction, customarily the place where the editors rattle off statistics and lament the imminent death of the short fiction market (traditional since the late 1970s), or even publishing in general.  Rich seems to be growing more self-assured in his intros, and they can be quite entertaining. This from the latest volume:

There are also a few writers appearing here for the first time who have been doing exciting work for several years — I’m a bit late to the party, perhaps, with Lavie Tidhar, certainly, and with Nina Allan… Alan de Niro, Gavin Grant, Chris Lawson, Vylar Kaftan, and Marissa Lingen are all also writers I’ve had my eye on for a few years. (Speaking of the perils of gender identification, I recall that I publicly listed Lavie Tidhar as a woman and Vylar Kaftan as a man… at least my aggregate totals were correct!)

And I should probably also mention that some of the writers I’ve already anthologized twice are quite young, or at any rate quite new to publishing, such as C.S.E. Cooney, Genevieve Valentine, and Alexandra Duncan. The field remains in good hands.

This volume includes much of the most highly acclaimed SF and Fantasy short fiction from last year, including “The Last Sophia,” by BG website editor C.S.E. Cooney, Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland — For a Little While,” Kij Johnson’s “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” “Choose Your Own Adventure” by Kat Howard, and many more. There’s also a Recommended Reading list, which includes Rosamund’s superb tale from Black Gate 15, “Apotheosis.”

We covered last year’s volume here. The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2012 is 575 pages. It is published by Prime Books for $19.99 (trade paperback) or $6.99 (Kindle). Highly recommended.


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