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

Friday, August 24th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

roh_fu4_dj1saxrohmersigned-761x10231Sax 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 third part.

The section begins with Shan Greville’s delirious account of his and Sir Denis Nayland Smith’s foolhardy infiltration of a meeting of the Si-Fan’s Council of Seven while disguised as Mongolian monks. Sir Denis recognizes Ki-Ming among the attendees and fears the mandarin will likewise remember him if he gets a good look at his features beneath the monk’s cowl. Greville sees Madame Ingomar enter the room and recalls her true identity as Fah lo Suee, the daughter of Fu Manchu. Unable to understand the council’s conversation, the truth promptly reaches him when a gong sounds and the two Mongolian monks appear while all eyes turn upon Sir Denis and his companion.

 

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Athans & Associates Releases Tales From The Fathomless Abyss

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

tales-of-the-fathomless-abyss2I’ve never been a huge fan of shared-world anthologies — which is strange considering I was a voracious fantasy reader at the height of the genre, the late 80s, the era of Terri Windling’s Borderlands, C. J. Cherryh’s Merovingen Nights, Will Shetterly & Emma Bull’s Liavek, George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards, and the great granddaddy of them all, Thieve’s World.

But some recent projects have begun changing my mind. It started with Welcome to Bordertown, the 2011 anthology that our own Patty Templeton called, in her own special manner, “Really GD awesome. I freakin’ loved it.” It continued with Scott Taylor’s Tales of the Emerald Serpent, the tremendously successful 2012 project that includes fiction from Lynn Flewelling, Harry Connolly, Juliet McKenna, Martha Wells, Julie Czerneda, and many more.

Now comes word of a shared world project that sounds just as intriguing: Tales From The Fathomless Abyss.

Descend into the world of the Fathomless Abyss, a bottomless pit that opens who-knows-when onto who-knows-where, just long enough for new people from a thousand different worlds and a million different times to fall in and join the fight for survival in a place where the slightest misstep means an everlasting fall into eternity.

Tales from the Fathomless Abyss features six new short stories, and it’s only the beginning. From here, each author will branch out to spin a series of new books sharing this impossible, explosive, infinite setting.

The anthology is edited by Philip Athans. It includes an intro by Ken Scholes and original contributions from Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen, Jay Lake, Mel Odom, J.M. McDermott, Cat Rambo, and Philip Athans. Two of the promised follow-on titles have already been released: Devils of the Endless Deep by Phil Athans, which expands on his short story from the anthology and plays with the strange time travel aspects of the Fathomless Abyss setting, and J.M. McDermott’s Nirvana Gates, which takes the setting to the next, deeper level. It also features an excerpt from the next book by Cat Rambo, due in two months. That one will be followed by standalone novellas by Mel Odom, Mike Resnick and Brad Torgerson, and Jay Lake.

Best of all, the introductory anthology Tales From The Fathomless Abyss has been released at the can’t-turn-it-down price of $0.99 for the digital version. Check it out, and get in on the ground floor on an exciting new series. You can buy it today from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.


Goth Chick News: Knocking (Tentatively) on the Devil’s Gate

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

devils-gate2Devil’s Gate: A Kane Pryce Novel
F. J. Lennon
Atria/Emily Bestler Books (400 pp, $15 in paperback, $9.99 eBook, August 7, 2012)
Reviewed by Goth Chick

First, a disclaimer.

I began reading an advanced copy of Devil’s Gate on August 5th, a full two weeks before the tragic news that Hollywood director Tony Scott took his own life by jumping from the Vincent Thomas suspension bridge in San Pedro.

Devi’s Gate could be about this bridge, but it isn’t.

Still, the creepiness factor remains.

Devil’s Gate, in which a “suicide bridge” plays a pivotal role, is actually the second in F. J. Lennon’s series which kicked off in 2011 with Soul Trapper and follows the turbulent life of rogue ghost hunter Kane Pryce. Without having read the first installment, I was initially concerned Devil’s Gate would seem diminished without the knowledge of Soul Trapper’s back story.

I am as excited as a goth chick ever gets, to report this is entirely not the case.

Here’s the low down…

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

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Sarah Avery

In a small infinity of alternate universes, The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens isn’t just a single volume — it’s an annual Year’s Best that every library, especially every school library, collects, and that genre geeks of all ages look forward to. Alas, in our universe, Jane Yolen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden could only give us a 2005 volume. It’s a delightful cross-section of styles and subgenres, full of short stories that seasoned, adult readers of SF/F can sink their teeth into.

As Yolen notes in her preface, the YA market’s appetite for fantasy and science fiction novels doesn’t seem to have extended to short fiction:

[T]he book you hold in your hand now is chock-full of SF and fantasy stories Appropriate for Young Adults published last year — 2004. However, the majority of them have been gleaned from adult magazines, Web sites, collections, and anthologies. Why? Because there is very little being published in the field specifically for Young Adults. So we have taken it upon ourselves to seek out the gems for you.

The “you” Yolen and Nielsen Hayden address in their short introductions to all the stories is maybe twelve, maybe fourteen years old — at the real Golden Age of Science Fiction. Try to imagine picking this collection up the year you first realized you wanted to read every book the library had that the librarians had labeled on the spine with that little stylized rocket ship sticker.

About half of my students live in the Golden Age of Science Fiction, so this is my go-to teaching anthology. Here’s a story-by-story breakdown, how I use it, and how I don’t:

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William Patrick Maynard’s The Terror of Fu Manchu

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

the-terror-of-fu-manchu2The Terror of Fu Manchu
William Patrick Maynard
Black Coat Press (248 pp, $20.95 in paperback, $6.99 eBook, April 2009)
Reviewed by Joe Bonadonna

Usually I don’t read stories and novels based on a character created by one author and then later written by another—not if I have already read the original author’s work. Back in the day, I read all the pastiches: Conan, Red Sonja, Bran Mak Morn, Cormac, Kull, Black Vulmea… and have enjoyed many of them. I’m even friends with a few of the writers (and a collaborator with one) who were lucky enough to have been chosen to carry on with Robert E. Howard’s characters. But nowadays there are just too many new characters, too many new stories and novels to read, and time and money seem to be in limited supply the older I get.

All that being said, let me tell you a little bit about William Patrick Maynard’s wonderful novel based on Sax Rohmer’s immortal character, The Terror of Fu Manchu, which was published in 2009 in a beautiful edition by Black Coat Press. I had already heard many great things about Maynard’s novel and was familiar with his writing from the stories he published through Airship27 Productions.

So I decided to read this novel and man, I’m glad that I did. It opened up a whole new world for me, and as a fellow writer, it taught me a few things, too.

Now, I have never read any of Rohmer’s original novels, though of course I’m very familiar with Fu Manchu by way of the Boris Karloff, Warner Oland, and Christopher Lee films. So I did a little digging around and sampled enough chapters of several of Sax Rohmer’s novels in order to familiarize myself with his writing, and to see how well Maynard’s style captures the essence of his work.

Doing that also added to my enjoyment as I immersed myself in Maynard’s version of the Chinese mastermind and one of literature’s greatest villains. However, this being the 21st century and not the early part of the 20th, I thought some of Rohmer’s writing to be a bit old-fashioned and a little slower-paced than we are accustomed to in this fast-moving age of cell phones, CGI, and all things high-tech. But Maynard breathes new life and a touch of modern sensibility in his novel, while remaining faithful to Rohmer’s original vision.

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New Treasures: Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

anno-dracula-bloody-red-baronOkay, technically, this is both a Vintage Treasure and a New Treasure. It’s a brand spanking new edition of a novel that came out nearly two decades ago, in 1995.

But what a novel. The sequel to Anno Dracula, one of the most acclaimed vampire novels of the 90s — an alternate history in which Count Dracula has killed Van Helsing, married Queen Victoria, imposed a police state and launched a terrifying new era of British vampire domination — The Bloody Red Baron picks up the story a few years later, at the dawn of World War I:

It is 1918 and Graf von Dracula is commander-in-chief of the armies of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The war of the great powers in Europe is also a war between the living and the undead. Caught up in the conflict, Charles Beauregard, an old enemy of Dracula, his protégé Edwin Winthrop, and intrepid vampire reporter Kate Reed go head-to-head with the lethal vampire flying machine that is the Bloody Red Baron…

One of the most fascinating aspects of Anno Dracula was the adroit manner in which Newman drew from real and fictional historical characters for virtually his entire cast — including Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Lestrade, Allan Quatermain, Billy the Kid, Orson Welles, Oscar Wilde, Fu Manchu, The Invisible Man, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Carmilla, Doctor Moreau, Kurt Barlow (Salem’s Lot), Carnacki, Barnabas Collins (Dark Shadows), Daniel Dravot (The Man Who Would Be King), Count Orlok (Nosferatu) and even Carl Kolchak (The Night Stalker).

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Cynthia Ward Reviews Lost Things

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

lostthingswebLost Things: Book I of the Order of the Air
Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
Crossroad Press (350 pp, $17.99, Paperback, $4.99, eBook, 2012)
Reviewed by Cynthia Ward

I first encountered Melissa Scott’s fiction in her second novel, The Roads of Heaven (1988), which is the first book of the Silence Leigh trilogy. I ended up reading all three novels, intrigued by their smart blending of familiar science fiction and fantasy elements (magic, interstellar travel, a gender-inequitable future) with a strong female lead, sharp prose, excellent characterizations, exceptional world-building, a quick pace, and an insightful exploration of gender roles. Despite a major lack of reading time, I made sure to read all subsequent Scott novels I saw, including her occasional collaborations with her partner, the writer/editor Lisa A. Barnett.

Shortly after the turn of the millennium, I stopped seeing new novels from Scott. I would puzzle over the sudden disappearance of a favorite author until, years later, I would learn that Scott’s partner of 27 years had passed away after a long struggle with cancer. I hoped that Scott would eventually return to writing, while understanding why she might not.

Well, Melissa Scott has returned. And she’s done so in less a whirlwind of activity than a tornado. She’s released a pair of new collaborative novels set in the Stargate Atlantis universe, and a new solo novella set in the Elizabethan-esque world of Astreiant, which she created with her late partner. Their previous Astreiant titles are being reissued, along with several of Scott’s other backlist titles. And she recently released another new novel, set in the shared world of the Orphic Crisis Logistical Taskforce series, and written in collaboration with Jo Graham, an author previously unknown to me. It is this last work, Lost Things: Book I of the Order of the Air, which concerns us here.

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Vintage Treasures: The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-startling-worlds-of-henry-kuttner2I have fun with these Vintage Treasure pieces. For one thing, they’re a great excuse to shine some light on interesting items that cross my path.

Take Henry Kuttner’s paperback collection, The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner. Published in 1987, nearly 20 years after his death, it’s unusual in several respects. For one thing, it includes only novellas. And all originated from a single source: the long-dead pulp magazine Startling Stories.

I think this is a neat idea. The best writers of the pulp era — and Kuttner certainly qualifies — have seen most of their short fiction studiously reprinted. In fact, we’ve covered four generous collections of Kuttner’s pulp fiction just in the last few years: the weird-menace collection Terror in the House, the first volume in The Early Kuttner series; Thunder in the Void, gathering his early space operas; Detour to Otherness, the massive retrospective of his collaborative work with C.L. Moore; and none other than the distinguished James Enge reviewed his Gallagher stories for us, collected in Robots Have No Tails.

But short novels, 40,000-word epics printed in a single pulp issue, rarely (if ever) get reprinted. They’re too long for most collections, and generally too short for a standalone novel, so most of them have slipped through the pages of history. The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner rescues three such wonders and puts them under one cover.

But that’s not even the most interesting thing about The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner. Since all three novels appeared in a single source, this isn’t just a collection of Kuttner’s work. It’s an anthology that celebrates Startling Stories. Just as most collections give us insight into the recurring themes in an author’s work, this book offers us a  generous sampling of the kind of fiction that appeared in that grand old pulp.

The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner collects The Portal in the Picture (originally published in 1949), Valley of the Flame (1946), and The Dark World (1946). It’s one of the most intriguing collections I’ve come across in the past year. At press time, there are 23 used copies available on Amazon.com, ranging in price from $2.25 to $9.99.


Black Gate Goes to the Summer Movies: The Expendables 2

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

001_expendables2_posterTwo years ago I walked out of a theater showing The Expendables, shaking my head in mild bewilderment. I don’t just have a high tolerance for ‘80s action cheese; I actively embrace it. I was nearly as excited about the release on Blu-ray last week of Death Wish 3 as I was about Jaws’s simultaneous hi-def debut. (Well, not really, but that’s my way of drawing your attention to what an over-the-top great/stupid movie we have in Death Wish 3.) But 2010’s The Expendables pushed none of my buttons. It was dull, the action flat, and Stallone seemed to think audiences would care about the tangled romantic lives of his and Jason Statham’s characters (at the expense of the rest of the cast). Stallone also seemed ignorant of the premise’s goofy appeal and played too much of it straight. The film ended up wasting most of the names on the marquee and couldn’t live up to its modest goals. It was also badly tarted-up with occasional post-production blood to get an R rating after it was shot for PG-13. It was a misfire for what looked like a simple shot.

Yet it made enough money for them to take a second shot, and when I left the theater after seeing Expendables 2, I felt they hit the target. I won’t go so far as to say “they got it right,” because “right” isn’t something a movie like The Expendables 2 would even know how to define, but the folks aboard this go-round sure “got it better.” It’s the best dumb fun movie of the summer for fans of the old-school testosterone action pics.

Here’s all you need to know about what kind of movie the filmmakers on Expendables 2 have put together: During the finale and within the space of thirty seconds, there are three lines quoting The Terminator, a line from Die Hard, and a reference to Rambo. Chuck Norris strides onto the screen through a haze of combat dust to the whistling strains of the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Stallone grunts “Rest in pieces!” after he and company shred some fools with a rain of bullets. Dolph Lundgren plays the brains of the team. And Jean-Claude Van Damme is the villain.

How much more of a review do you need after that? The Expendables 2 is utterly silly, and everybody seems aware of it and rides the wave of ludicrous puns and over-the-top action with bloody smiles. Between making the two films, someone must have gotten the memo that the whole concept is actually a gag.

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Weird Tales Pulls Novel Excerpt Following Fan Uproar

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

weird-tales-359aIt’s been an interesting day for Weird Tales, the oldest genre magazine on the market.

It began with the abrupt resignation of Ann VanderMeer as a senior contributing editor, “due to major artistic and philosophical differences with the existing editors.” As reported here last year, VanderMeer was replaced as editor by Marvin Kaye as the magazine transitioned to new Publisher Nth Dimension Media, run by John Harlacher. While Ann commented that her resignation “has been in the works for several months, ever since I was removed as the editor-in-chief,” it was apparently hastened by Kaye’s decision to publish an excerpt from Victoria Foyt’s novel,  Saving the Pearls: Revealing Eden. The “Pearls” in the title refer to whites, who find themselves a persecuted minority after an ecological disaster. In praising the book, Kaye wrote:

Weird Tales seldom prints SF, but this story is a compelling view of a world that didn’t listen to the warnings of ecologists, and a world that has developed a reverse racism: blacks dominating and detesting not just whites, but latinos and albinos, the few that still survive of the latter are hunted down and slaughtered.

[Kaye’s post, and the comments it generated, have since been removed from the WT site; a Google webcache of the page is here.]

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