Romanticism and Fantasy: William Wordsworth, Part Two — The Prelude

Friday, August 31st, 2012 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

William WordsworthThis post is part of an ongoing series about fantasy and the literary movement called Romanticism, specifically, English Romanticism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The series began with this introductory post, continued with an overview of the neo-classical eighteenth century that the Romantics revolted against, considered the Romantic themes in English writing from 1760 to about 1790, then looked at elements of fantasy and Romanticism in France and Germany before returning to England to consider the Gothic. I wrote about the work of William Blake here, and last time I began a consideration of fantasy elements in the work of William Wordsworth.

As I said then, Wordsworth is not a writer with many overt fantastic elements in his major works. Still, I find there’s a fantastic feel that emerges from the use of certain structures and imagery. Comparing his work to the motifs of fantasy fiction in Clute and Grant’s Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I found parallels between his use of nature and the way “the Land” has been imagined in secondary-world fantasy. The notion of “thinning,” the fading of enchantment and meaning, seems to resonate with Wordsworth’s poetry as well.

Bearing all this in mind, I want to look here at perhaps Wordsworth’s greatest accomplishment, The Prelude, his epic poem on the growth of his own mind. Before doing that, though, I want to introduce some more concepts from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy, and then bring in some ideas from M.H. Abrams’ excellent critical study of Romanticism, Natural Supernaturalism. And with all that will come some ideas from J.R.R. Tolkien.

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The Top 30 Black Gate Posts in July

Friday, August 31st, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

best-of-robert-e-howard-grim-lands2Summer months are for sports, gardening, and getting together in the back yard with close friends. But apparently nobody told you people, because you spent the entire month on the computer, reading Black Gate blog posts.

July 2012 was one of the best months we’ve ever had, with solid traffic growth and nearly 70 new articles from writers such as Howard Andrew Jones, Joe Bonadonna, Patty Templeton, Patrice Sarath, D.B. Jackson, and many others. Here are the Top 30 most popular articles and links for the month.

And while I’m instructing you, don’t forget to go outside once in a while, maybe get a little sunshine. It’s good for you.

  1. New Treasures
  2. Under the hood with robert-e-howard
  3. Musing on villainy
  4. Six-sought-adventure-a-half-dozen-swords-and-sorcery short stories
  5. Art-of-the-genre-the-art-of-calvin-and-hobbes
  6. Confessions-of-a-guilty-reviewer
  7. How-I-met-your-cimmerian-and-other-barbarian-swordsmen
  8. Self-sabotage-is-easier-than-writing
  9. Black-Gate-goes-to-the-summer-movies-the-amazing-spider-man
  10. Vintage-treasures-henry-kuttners-the-graveyard-rats
  11. Leigh-brackett-american-writer
  12. Clockwork-angels-iii-hope-is-what-remains-to-be-seen
  13. Genre-prejudice
  14. Edgar-rice-burroughs-mars-part-6-the-master-mind-of Mars
  15. Art-of-the-genre-the-art-of-an-inspired-fake
  16. Read More »

Blogging Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu, Part Four

Friday, August 31st, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

daughteroffumanchu3daughter20of20fu20manchu42Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu was originally serialized as Fu Manchu’s Daughter in twelve weekly installments of Collier’s from March 8 to May 24, 1930. It was published in book form the following year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. Rohmer divides the novel into four sections, comprising three chapters each. This week, we examine the fourth and final installment.

The novel’s finale gets underway at a breakneck pace. Sir Lionel Barton has retreated to Abbots Hold, his estate in the English countryside. Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Police Superintendant Weymouth are there to oversee Sir Lionel’s safety as well as that of his right hand man, Shan Greville, and Sir Lionel’s niece (and Greville’s fiancée), Rima. Dr. Petrie and his wife, Kara are delayed while both Shan and Rima are ill-at-ease locked up in Sir Lionel’s ancient and mysterious home with his requisite menagerie of exotic wildlife (including his pet cheetah).

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Plethora of Howard Days Panels on Youtube

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 | Posted by Brian Murphy

howard-daysIf you didn’t make it out to Cross Plains Texas for Robert E. Howard Days this past June (I didn’t, and have not yet made the trip, though it is on my bucket list), despair not: You can experience the panels, vicariously, through the magic of Youtube.

Videographer Ben Friberg filmed several of the panels and generously posted them for public consumption. They’re all incredibly interesting and fun, if you like this sort of thing. Here’s a quick list of links.

First up is Howard and Academia, a panel discussion led by Mark Finn (author of the excellent REH biography Blood and Thunder), Jeff Shanks, and guest of honor Charles Hoffman. Despite the old labels (lightweight, escapist, etc.) that continue to dog his works, Howard is starting to creep his way into academia. Here Finn, Shanks, and Hoffman describe some of REH’s academic inroads and discuss what it will take to push Howard studies into the classroom.

Part 1

Part 2

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It Came From GenCon 2012: Young Kid Edition

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Magician's Kitchen

In Magician's Kitchen, players try to get the potions in the correct cauldron, then to light the fireplace. Beware the tripping stones!

GenCon is fun for gamers of all ages, but now that I have young children, I always have a special place in my heart for games that I can play with one or both of them. Given that my oldest is currently 7, though, this puts some pretty massive restrictions on what I can actually play. It has to be age-appropriate in both content level and rule complexity.

This year saw a number of games that caught my fancy in this regard. The charming Magician’s Kitchen, the enchanting Dixit, and, last but certainly not least, the upcoming game Mice and Mystics, which is available now for online pre-order with a significant discount.

Magician’s Kitchen

This is a fun little game where you’re playing a magician’s apprentice who is running around, trying to get potions in the cauldrons and then starting a fire. The trick to this game is that there are hidden magnets that cause your piece to drop the potions. For a more detailed description of Magician’s Kitchen, I recommend my review over at the Physics site, where I even proposed some ideas about how you could use this fantasy game to teach some cool scientific ideas to the young ones.

Magician’s Kitchen is designed for up to 4 players, aged 5 to 15. My youngest son (age 2) really gets enjoyment out of making the apprentices drop their potions. The game is available from and other retailers nationwide, with a retail cost of $29.99.

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Goth Chick News: Chicago Comic Con 2012: The Best (Creepy Stuff) at the Con

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image002Once again, it’s time to welcome the pop-culture bacchanalia that is Wizard World’s Comic Con back to Chicago; and this year’s event was bigger and more chocked full of celebrities, costumes ,and other “things that make you go umm?” than ever before.

Wizard World, Inc produces Comic Cons across North America that celebrate (and oh how they celebrate!) graphic novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, technology, toys, and social networking. The events feature celebrities from movies and TV, artists and writers, and events such as premiers, gaming tournaments, panels, and costume contests – this year was no exception.

And splattered amongst the super hero paraphernalia and 8-sided dice is enough tasty tidbits to make Comic Con a Goth Chick News favorite.

So as we prepare to wade into the sea of gratuitous spandex which is inexplicably drawn into the orbits of talented artists and other creative types wherever they gather, rest assured that if you missed out on San Diego or Chicago, fear not:  click here for a list of cities where there is still time to partake this year, or begin planning your road trip for 2013.

Now stay close, keep track of your buddy, and whatever you do, don’t talk to the shirtless guy in the unicorn costume.

Let’s go in…

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Teaching and Fantasy Literature: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens (Part II)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 | Posted by Sarah Avery

The Years Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens

Last week I got so carried away with my enthusiasm for my favorite SF/F anthology to use with students, I had to break the post into two parts. You can find Part I over here.

When last we saw our intrepid writing teacher, she was doing a story-by-story breakdown of how she uses The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens, Jane Yolen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s brilliant but insufficiently lucrative 2005 attempt to launch a new Year’s Best annual series.

Then, in a stunning cliffhanger, a pack of Red Martians from the troublesome vassal city of Zodonga attempted to kidnap her and carry her back to Barsoom.

She tricked them into arguing about the necessity of the serial comma, and while they resolved the question by means of roaring bloodshed, she fled to the nearest cafe to gather her thoughts about teaching the following short stories:

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Michaele Jordan Reviews Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

dark_tales_artDark Tales of Lost Civilizations: An Anthology of Horror and Speculative Fiction Stories Unearthing our Forgotten Worlds and Societies
Edited by Eric J. Guignard
Dark Moon Books (pp 241, 25 stories, $14.37 trade paperback, February 2012)
Reviewed by Michaele Jordan

Many readers might think they knew what to expect from this book, just from the title. They would be wrong. Mr. Guignard does an astonishing job of expanding the apparent range of his title into a varied and colorful collection of almost everything under the sun, or rather, everything hidden away from the sun.

Who knew there were so many kinds of lost civilizations? The civilizations visited in these stories range from historically documented civilizations—either trampled under the march of history, as in Jamie Lackey’s story, “Quetzalcoatl’s Conquistador,” or active participants in the trampling, as in “The Funeral Procession” by Jay R. Thurston—to the entirely mythical, like that of “Gilgamesh and the Mountain” by Bruce L. Priddy. In between these two extremes, we find an intriguing half historical, half legendary lost society in Jackson Kuhl’s “Quivira”.

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Art of the Genre: The Old School Renaissance

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 | Posted by Scott Taylor

When old is new again, the reprints of 1E AD&D by WotC

When old is new again: The reprints of 1E AD&D by WotC

Almost two years ago I got fed up with rules. Well, sure, I’ve probably never been one to take rules seriously anyway, but in RPGs they can become cumbersome very quickly. This is probably one of the biggest knocks on D&D 3rd Edition, although I was still taken with the game the moment I laid eyes on it.

Since 2000, I’d regularly played 3rd Edition in some form or other, either in 3.5 or Pathfinder, and found the boundless customizations, prestige classes, skills, and feats an addictive agent as my gaming world grew. Still, at some point, all the calculations begin to wear on you and you long for the ‘good old days’ when leveling up a character meant rolling for hit points, checking every third level to see if your saving throws went down, or adding a spell or two.

This feeling of being overburdened came to a head in 2011 as I decided I’d take down my long unused and dusty 1E AD&D tomes from the shelf where they looked longingly at me day after day. There, amid the wonder of my youth, I rediscovered the simplicity of the original Gygax and Arneson texts.

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Solomon Kane Crosses the Atlantic to U.S. Movie Theaters in September

Monday, August 27th, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

solomon-kane-alternate-us-posterUpdate: My review.

Next month, we colonials will finally have the chance to view Solomon Kane, the film version of Robert E. Howard’s famous puritanical hero, in movie theaters. It has been a long sea voyage over the Atlantic: the movie, directed by Michael J. Bassett and starring James Purefoy in the title role, and co-starring Max von Sydow, Rachel Hurd-Wood, and the late Pete Postelthwaite, was released in England and other territories in 2009, but lacked a U.S. distributor. I almost gave up on the movie getting any kind of theatrical release, and expected it would one day find its way to the straight-to-DVD/Blu-ray market.

However, last week, Michael J. Bassett announced on his blog that the Weinstein Company’s new division, Radius Films, had acquired Solomon Kane and would release it first on premium video-on-demand (already available if you want to spring for it) and then give it a theatrical release on September 28th. So mark the date and sharpen your rapier, people of the New World.

No word yet on how wide a release this will be, but I expect it will be “limited”: select theaters in major US cities. As a Los Angeles resident, I’m confident I’ll have it within easy driving range (I live in one of the most heavily theater-populated places in the city, and I can even guess right now which theater it will show at.)

Bassett’s comments on the release pattern:

I currently have no details on the extent of that theatrical run but I suspect it will be what’s called “key” areas — so probably 15 or so cities in the US. Not world beating and it’s going to need lots of support to find the audience but there’ll be enough interest to hopefully put Kane back on the map and in a place where we can sensibly talk of sequels.

Sequels! Ambitious. Not holding my breath.

Bassett also unveiled the amazing alternate poster for the US release, seen here. I’m in love with it: the pulp adoration dripping like the blood from this illustration is intoxicating. I want it on my wall now.

What about the movie itself? Since it’s been available in many English-speaking territories for three years and to anyone who had a region-free DVD or Blu-ray player, there are already numerous reviews and opinions on the ‘net. Here are two of them. Opinions I’ve heard from those I’ve personally talked to range from “dark and great!” to “Howard and Solomon Kane in name only.” Since I haven’t seen the movie, I have no observations to make at the moment, but those who have please weigh in on the comment thread.

Nonetheless, I will be in the theater on September 28 and will give Black Gate readers my opinion soon after.

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