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Letters to Black Gate: Ed Carmien, Scott Taylor, Matthew David Surridge, and our Digital Future

Sunday, August 12th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

Ed Carmien's "Before the Wind," from Black Gate 10. Art by John Kauffman.

Ed Carmien's "Before the Wind," from Black Gate 10. Art by John Kaufmann.

John Burt writes:

I am really enjoying the back issues of Black Gate I purchased. The Morlock series is awesome! The next article for me is the Choose Your Own Adventure in issue 12.

Other writers I enjoyed: Ed Carmien’s “Before the Wind” (BG 10) blew my socks off, probably my favorite story so far. Martha Wells is always enjoyable, Mark Sumner’s “Leather Doll” was the best until “Before the Wind.” Todd McAulty is very good. Those are the ones that come to mind while writing this.

I am a rebel when reading these as well, I start at the beginning and read from end to end, skimming over the RPG stuff (I play boardgames mainly), Which leads me to a comment about an earlier article, when discussing the magazines of the 70s that are gone, the writer mentions that Rodger MacGowan disappeared from the scene, he did, sort of. He is the art director of GMT Games and has RBM Studios, which does art for games (mainly wargames) and publishes the house organ for GMT Games, C3i.

Thanks for the feedback, John. We have fiction in inventory from Martha Wells and Todd McAulty that I think you’ll enjoy, as well as more Morlock stories by James Enge. Stay tuned!

Simone Stubbs comments on our plans to switch to a digital format:

John, I am writing to say that I won’t read the new Digital Issue. I prefer a hard copy sent to my address. Yes, it is what the new generation wants to do, read by hand held devices. But, I am sixty nine years old and my husband and I just have one desktop computer and one Track Phone between us for communication. Whenever you publish hard cover please send it to my address.

Simone, I know what you mean — a lot of our readers are constantly asking for digital versions of the magazine, and I know we’ll have to make them happy to survive. But I still prefer a physical copy of the magazine myself. I’m 48, and my house is filled with old books and magazines. It would make me very sad to have to totally give up print.

It will be some time before we’re able to do another physical edition of the magazine, however. If you’re missing any of the print issues, I’d be happy to offer you print back issues while you wait.

Gus Gyde writes:

I saw a blurb on the website that you are considering a print edition for subscribers. Is that true? If so, I will become a subscriber. Please let me know. Thanks for the fun website and the excellent magazine.

BTW — I frequently search bookstores for sci fi mags, and I saw two nice back issues of Black Gate at a bookstore on the Oregon Coast a few days ago. Just thought you’d like to know your magazine is circulating well on the west coast :)

Gus, we are hoping to find a way to do a print version of our upcoming digital editions of Black Gate, but we have no firm plans. I appreciate your offer to become a subscriber, but because of the uncertain future of the magazine, we are currently not selling subscriptions.

Glad to hear back issues of BG are making an appearance on the West Coast! That warms my heart. :)

bg-15-cover2Oliver Klages writes:

I just ordered issues #11 to #14 as PDFs after reading Black Gate 15. I am very impressed both by the stories in #15 as well as the editorials (except Mr. Resnik’s, which seems a bit disjointed; his selection of classic black and white movies is pretty flawless though, even if I personally would have added The Invisible Man).

The production values, that is, layout and illustrations, were very high too. This is worth mentioning because I recently tried out the epub edition of Interzone, which,while too having top notch content, pardon the language, looks like shit.

My only problem was that reading Black Gate on a notebook forced me to scroll up and down rapidly due to the two column layout. That, however is a minor gripe as reading on a tablet (an Acer A500 in my case using Perfect Viewer) worked beautifully. You might want to consider epub as an alternative format for future editions as it contains reflow support (but plays hell with complicated layouts) and would enable me to enjoy Black Gate on my Sony reader as well (selfish, I know; works with Analog though).

On to the content.

Especially enjoyed “Art Evolution” by Scott Taylor. It was a fascinating insight both into what someone with an obsession can accomplish and into the artist scene of past and present RPGs.

On the fiction side, Chris Willrich’s “The Lions of Karthagar” is my favorite for managing to have a quite nasty ending while still giving its protagonist a “happily ever after”.

I don’t get Michael Livingston’s “Purging Cocytus,” but will read it again. Maybe on second try…

Regarding your editorial, I do remember that, at least in the german version of the three investigators, they actually met Alfred Hitchcock. Jupiter Jones did a very good impression of him which got Mr. Hitchcock pretty mad.

Finally, a small request, if you don’t mind: Once you start selling the rest of the Black Gate back issues as PDF (or epub or mobi), please notify me so i can place an order (do I get a discount for 10 issues? :)

Glad you enjoyed the PDF conversions of our recent issues, Oliver. PDF sales have been brisk for the past two years, and still growing — you can buy PDFs of Black Gate 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 on our Back Issue page.

And have no fear — we’ll let you know when we complete the conversion of our earlier issues!

And finally, Ryan Pennington writes:

How did I discover Black Gate? I read a story by Matthew David Surridge in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I liked it so much that I wanted to see what else he had written. When I found he had written “The Word of Azrael” for Black Gate, I wanted to read the magazine, so I ordered it.

I am very impressed with the quality of writing in your magazine, and, in time, I hope to submit my own work for consideration for publication with you.

Thanks, Ryan. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is another excellent market for fans of adventure fantasy… glad to see some of their readers are discovering us as well!

You can write the editor of Black Gate at Letters published in our Letters Column may be edited for length or clarity. You can read previous letters columns here.

Thanks to all who wrote letters to us. Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.


  1. because of the uncertain future of the magazine, we are currently not selling subscriptions.

    Oh, say it ain’t so! Just how “uncertain” is “uncertain”? :(

    Comment by peadarog - August 12, 2012 4:08 pm

  2. Hey Peadar!

    Well, nothing apocalyptic. The digital version of Black Gate 15 has been selling well — about a hundred issues sold so far — but that’s less than 5% of our average print run for the earlier issues.

    Switching to digital format will allow us to save a lot of money, but it’s clear it won’t allow us to expand our readership the way we’d like. So we’re also exploring other options.

    One thing we’re considering is putting fiction on the website, like other online magazines. The website gets around 750,000 visits/year… about 10,000 times the number of readers of the digital magazine. I’ve already contacted a few authors, and they’ve been supportive of the idea.

    In any event, until we figure out exactly how we want to proceed, it made sense to stop selling subscriptions. Hope that makes sense.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 12, 2012 5:05 pm

  3. I, for one, will happily buy every single issue you put on Kindle.

    Comment by Joe H. - August 12, 2012 7:41 pm

  4. […] out this week for Mark Sumner’s “Leather Doll” (the first was in today’s Letters Column). Not bad for a story which appeared over eight years ago in Black Gate 7. You can read Jim’s […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » “Quit Messing Around and Subscribe”: James van Pelt Reviews Black Gate 11 - August 12, 2012 7:50 pm

  5. @John

    That does make sense. I for one, have no issue with my work appearing on-line. On the contrary!


    I too, would buy the whole lot on Kindle.

    Comment by peadarog - August 13, 2012 10:12 am

  6. > I, for one, will happily buy every single issue you put on Kindle.

    Thanks, Joe. The future is in digital publication, no doubt about it. Handling the transition is the tough part!

    Comment by John ONeill - August 13, 2012 9:30 pm

  7. > That does make sense. I for one, have no issue with my work appearing on-line. On the contrary!


    Glad to hear it! I’ll be in touch with you more formally in the next few weeks to let you know our exact plans.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 13, 2012 9:32 pm

  8. ack…sorry to read about this development. I have a kindle, which I do use, but I really prefer to read a hard copy, which is why I bought hard copies of the entire series a few years ago when I discover BG.

    I don’t have enough facts re: the economics of the magazine, but I do note that for many years the page count was approximately 200 before the length of the magazine started to grow. While bigger is better given the quality, does it make sense to issue two (or more) smaller digital copies a year and then do a print compilation every other year!

    Or perhaps a kickstarter campaign!

    Comment by pulpster - August 15, 2012 7:43 pm

  9. […] Letters to Black Gate: Ed Carmien, Scott Taylor, Matthew David Surridge, and our Digital Future […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 40 Black Gate Posts in August - September 30, 2012 1:37 am

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