Black Gate Online Fiction: “The Duelist” by Jason E. Thummel

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

jason-e-thummelA master swordsman finds himself caught in a web of deceit and intrigue in Jason E. Thummel’s fast-paced tale of action in a violent city.

Androi Karpelov watched with detached calm the youngster’s cool and confident demeanor slowly erode, and felt a certain amount of empathy. But not much.

“Do you yield, Sir, and admit that the insult which your patron directed at my liege was incorrect and entirely without merit?” It was a formulaic question which Androi had asked times beyond count.

“Sir?” his opponent wheezed, keeping up a respectable guard despite the obvious signs of fatigue. “I fear I cannot. It is to the death.”

“Ah, then… ” Androi paused. “I suppose your last lesson will be that it is foolish indeed to undertake such a contract when you will be matched against your superior. Shall we?”

The boy nodded in acknowledgement. He took one deep and lasting breath, glanced over his right shoulder to where a young woman watched, striving to quench her great heaving sobs with a small silk kerchief, gave her a short curt bow that almost broke Androi’s heart, and then came at him.

Androi allowed him some ground, parrying and dodging with a show of far more concentration than he felt. The swordsmanship was truly uninspired and his muse had abandoned him. It was all for the best, he supposed, for it gave the lad some time to make an impression on the young woman. Perhaps she would remember him, but most likely would find herself another to whom she would attach her dreams in short order. Such always seemed to be the way.

Jason E. Thummel’s fiction has appeared in Rage of the Behemoth, Flashing Swords magazine, and Magic and Mechanica. His first novel, The Spear of Destiny, was published in 2011 and his short story collection In Savage Lands appeared earlier this year.

“The Duelist” is a complete novelette of adventure fantasy offered at no cost. You can read the complete story here.

September/October Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine now on Sale

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

fantasy-and-science-fiction-sept-oct-2012Andy Duncan gets the cover this issue for “Close Encounters,” a rural tale of alien abduction. Here’s what Lois Tilton says about it in her review at Locus Online:

Old Buck Nelson claims he doesn’t want to be bothered by reporters, even pretty girl reporters, sniffing around after the stories he used to tell about the alien who took him up to Mars and Venus and the dog he brought back with him. No one cares anymore, no one believes him. But now they’re making a movie and people are interested…

A really strong character, a narrative voice with strong authenticity, a strongly-realized setting. And a perfect ending to it all – RECOMMENDED.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents:


  • “Close Encounters” – Andy Duncan
  • “The Sheriff”  – Chet Arthur
  • “12:03 P.M.” – Richard A. Lupoff
  • “The Goddess” – Albert E. Cowdrey
  • “Arc” – Ken Liu
  • “Troll Blood” – Peter Dickinson


  • “Give Up” – Richard Butner
  • “A Diary from Deimos” – Michael Alexander
  • “Where the Summer Dwells” – Lynda E. Rucker
  • “Theobroma Valentine” – Rand B. Lee


  • “Contact – Sophie M. White

The cover price is $7.50, for a generous 258 pages. Additional free content at the F&SF website includes book and film reviews by Charles de Lint, Chris Moriarty, and Kathi Maio; Paul Di Filippo’s Plumage From Pegasus column, “Call Me Ishmael”; and the “Curiosities” column by Chris De Vito. Cover artist this issue is Kent Bash. We last covered F&SF here with the July/August issue.

The Top 40 Black Gate Posts in August

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

fifty-shades-of-greyAugust was a busy month here at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters. Theo Beale observed that 50 Shades of Grey, “according to its description it is little more than John Norman’s Gor brought back to Earth, minus the sword battles and the awesome tarn birds.” Brian Murphy reported on the debate surrounding breaking The Hobbit into three films, and Andrew Zimmerman Jones, live at the scene for the Dungeons & Dragons Next keynote at GenCon 2012, checked in with all the details.

I covered the controversy at Weird Tales magazine as the editorial team abruptly aborted plans to publish an excerpt of Victoria Foyt’s Saving the Pearls: Revealing Eden, and Scott Taylor brought us several more installments of his popular Art of the Genre column. Howard Andrew Jones explored the pleasures of the classic Jungle Stories pulp, and C.S.E. Cooney reviewed William Alexander’s novel Goblin Secrets. And that’s just a sample of the Top 10 articles.

Missed any of the news and updates when they were hot off the press? Not to worry — here’s your chance to catch up. What follows are the 40 most popular articles on the Black Gate blog in August. Don’t thank us, it’s our job.

  1. 50 shades of Paedo?
  2. Weird-Tales Pulls Novel Excerpt Following Fan Uproar
  3. Category: New Treasures
  4. Three Hobbit films for the LOTR fans =Trouble
  5. GenCon 2012: Dungeons & Dragons Next keynote Liveblog
  6. Vintage Treasures: The Barbarians Anthology Series
  7. Art of the Genre: The Art of Steampunk Couture
  8. Art of the Genre: When Music and Gaming mix
  9. Escape to the Jungle
  10. Goblin Secrets: A Review
  11. A Brick-and-Mortar bookstore score
  12. The thrill of the Unexpected: Why I Edit Clockwork Phoenix
  13. Black Gate Goes to the Summer Movies: Total Recall 2012
  14. Black Gate Goes to the Summer Movies: The Bourne Legacy
  15. Solomon Kane Crosses the Atlantic to U.S. Movie Theaters in September
  16. Category: Comics
  17. Read More »

Black Gate to Publish Online Fiction Starting Sunday, September 30

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

black-gate-4-smallWe are very pleased to announce that Black Gate magazine, your home for the finest in adventure fantasy, will begin publishing original online fiction starting Sunday, September 30.

Holy crap, that’s tomorrow.

Wow. Uh, well, into the breach. Best way to do this is to jump right in, and figure it out as we go.

New fiction will be published right here on our website every Sunday, starting tomorrow. Here’s what’s coming in the next two months:

  • “The Duelist,” by Jason Thummel
  • “The Quintessence of Absence,” by Sean McLachlan
  • “The Daughter’s Dowry,” by Aaron Bradford Starr
  • “A Phoenix in Darkness,” by Donald S. Crankshaw
  • Novel excerpt: Queen of Thorns, by Dave Gross
  • “Godmother Lizard,” by C.S.E. Cooney
  • “The Poison Well” by Judith Berman
  • Novel excerpt: Bones of the Old Ones, by Howard Andrew Jones
  • Novel excerpt: The Black Fire Concerto, by Mike Allen

What can you expect from online fiction at Black Gate? We will be presenting original fiction from some of our most popular contributors, as well as exciting new authors and many of the best writers in the industry. All stories are presented completely free of charge.

We will be offering fiction at all lengths, including short stories, novellas, and novel excerpts. It’s just like reading an issue of Black Gate, except you can do it from the comfort of your couch. Or that uncomfortable chair in front of the computer, whatever.

Join us tomorrow as Jason Thummel brings us a riveting tale of a talented swordsman who finds himself caught up in a web of deceit and far-reaching ambition in a fast-paced tale of action in a violent city, “The Duelist.”

Solomon Kane Movie Needs More Solomon Kane

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

solomonkaneposterThe sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Puritan adventurer Solomon Kane is my favorite of Robert E. Howard’s serial characters: a fascinating mixture of obsession, religion, righteousness, history, and dark fantasy awesomeness. However, it’s the character I love, not necessarily the stories in which he appeared. With the exception of “Wings in the Night,” the Solomon Kane stories are mid-range pieces in Howard’s canon, not at the consistent level he delivered later with Conan, King Kull, or many of his one-shots. Solomon Kane appeared early in Howard’s short professional pulp career, with the first published story in the August 1928 issue of Weird Tales. Perhaps if Howard stayed longer with the Puritan hero while his storytelling skills increased, he might have equaled the Conan series in quality.

But a great character is always an excellent starting point to make a great movie, and in concept a Solomon Kane film should be an easy third-base hit for any talented filmmaker. The 2009 British-French-Czech Solomon Kane, which finally received its limited U.S. theatrical release today (also on VOD if you can’t find a local theater), showed many hints of not only getting on third, but possibly stealing home. Tonally, it captures the 1930s version of Weird Tales. The violence is graphic and bloody without falling into the slapstick idiocy of Marcus Nispel’s Conan the Barbarian. The production design is top-tier for a mid-budget movie and feels saturated with the benighted European dreariness of Kane stories such as “Skulls in the Stars” and “Rattle of Bones.”

What the movie does not have: Solomon Kane. This tends to undermine most of the right steps the filmmakers take, as you might imagine.

It makes no difference if audiences know the first thing about the character of Kane or even know the name Robert E. Howard. The film’s failure to exploit what makes Solomon Kane so fascinating spills over into the story and pacing. Solomon Kane is an origin tale that stretches out for a hundred minutes — an origin for a character who doesn’t even need an origin. As James Purefoy’s voiceover at last declares Solomon Kane’s intentions to battle evil wherever it lies, and the hero leaps onto his horse decked with the swirling black coat and the wide-brimmed slouch hat, the audience will be primed to see this strange avenger work his bloody craft. But then the director’s name appears and the end credits start. Sorry folks, movie is over.
Read More »

New Treasures: Chrysanthe by Yves Meynard

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

chrysantheI first met Yves Meynard at the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal in 2001. Yes, that was the year of 9/11, when the entire country stopped flying for weeks. I still remember my flight into Montreal… it was scarcely a month after the attacks and the cabin was virtually empty. You could wander around and take whatever seat you wanted.

Sadly, the same was more or less true of the convention. The World Fantasy Convention typically sells somewhere around 1,000 memberships, but a lot more were sold than used that year. Some estimates put the number of attendees at around 200. Whatever the case, it was the smallest and most intimate convention I’ve ever attended.

Which wasn’t wholly a bad thing. I remember the convention chiefly for the many great conversations I had. I’d lived in Ottawa — less than two hours away — until 1987, and this was a chance to re-connect with Canadian friends, including Mark Shainblum, Don Bassingthwaite, Claude Lalumiere, Rodger Turner, and Charles de Lint. In short order, I found myself introduced to some of the best French Canadian fantasy writers on the scene, including Jean-Louis Trudel and Yves Meynard.

I hit it off with Yves immediately. He was a fellow editor, the literary editor for French Canadian SF magazine Solaris, and his widely-praised first novel, The Book of Knights, had been published by Tor in 1999.

He was already being recognized as a major talent. Ursula K. Le Guin called The Book of Knights “An unpredictable, brilliantly imaginative, and very engaging fantasy,” and Locus magazine, commenting on editor David Hartwell’s annual accomplishments, said:

In terms of both mature craft and originality of imagination, Hartwell’s major discovery this year has to be the French-Canadian writer Yves Meynard.

Yves turned out to be a fascinating guy with a deep appreciation of Canadian fantasy in both French and English. He wrote fluently in both languages, a skill I envied, and we had several great talks.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part Three

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

251054_1020_afu-manchu-dsd-mask-mask-giveawaySax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy that made it into theaters later that same year.

The third part of the book sees Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, Sir Lionel Barton, and Shan Greville make their way to the Great Pyramid where Sir Lionel will hand over the relics of El Mokanna to Dr. Fu Manchu in exchange for the release of his niece, Rima, who is being held hostage. Sixty Egyptian police officers are employed to surround the Great Pyramid in an effort to bring Fu Manchu to justice and to aid the others in the event they are walking into a trap. Sir Denis insists that Petrie and Barton stay behind while he and Greville make their way to the King’s Chamber, the arranged meeting place.

Rohmer wrings every last bit of suspense from Smith and Greville’s descent into the King’s Chamber. Having actually made the journey himself prior to writing the book enabled him to perfectly capture the claustrophobic anxiety of his heroes’ predicament. Upon arriving in the King’s Chamber, they find Dr. Fu Manchu awaiting them. The fact that he handles the matter in person without any bodyguards emphasizes the new strength and confidence with which Rohmer has imbued the character now that he has at last perfected the elixir vitae.

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Goth Chick News – 13 Questions for Author F. J. Lennon

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image0042A while back, I developed a crush on bad-boy musician and ghost hunter, Kane Pryce.

And without examining the psychology behind that statement too closely, let me clarify that technically speaking, my crush is actually focused on Kane’s creator and storyteller extraordinaire, Mr. F. J. Lennon, author of Soul Trapper and Devil’s Gate.

Normally the object of my obsessive stalking behavior that is part and parcel of the season simply becomes the center of a little shrine in the underground offices of Goth Chick News, where the blender generally sits.  They remain blissfully unaware of their elevated state until sometime around mid-November when the shrine comes down, the blender goes back up and my attention returns to annoying former child stars who are trying to stay “former.”

A shrine to anyone located in any basement can be a little off-putting; which is why it doesn’t get discussed much.

So you can imagine (or maybe you shouldn’t) that I was as giddy as a Twilight fan at a flannel shirt sale when Mr. Lennon actually agreed to a little chat with me about his personal experiences which gave birth to such an intriguing and haunted character as Kane Pryce.

However, the creep-factor goes way beyond Mr. Lennon’s imagination and spills right over into reality, as you will soon see.

Mr. Lennon, meet everyone.

Everyone, meet author, game designer, and the paranormally tuned-in Mr. Lennon.

You’re about to find out what the attraction is…

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Roy Thomas’s Alter Ego looks at Sword & Sorcery in the Comics

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

alter-ego-80Roy Thomas’s Alter Ego is a terrific magazine — packed with articles, interviews, and loads of art from vintage comics. So packed, in fact, that I can’t remember the last time I read one cover-to-cover. These days when a new issue arrives, I flip though it joyfully, then add it to the teetering stack to be enjoyed later.

That stack finally toppled, spilling all over the floor, and while I was cleaning it up and carting it to the basement (excuse me, to the Cave of Wonders), I found a handful of issues from 2008 and 2009 I’d been meaning to blog about. Specifically, those containing a massive three-part investigation of, and tribute to, Sword & Sorcery in the Comics.

Better late than never, I thought, and brought them back up out of the subterranean vault. Let’s start with the first one, Alter Ego #80, dated August 2008. It is wrapped in a new cover by Rafael Kayanan and contains John Wells’s fabulously detailed 34-page article “Sword & Sorcery in the Comics: Part I of a Study of Robert E. Howard’s Legacy in Four Colors — and in Black-&-White.” As Thomas says in his editorial:

You’d have thought I’d have done this a long time before now, wouldn’t you? Devote an issue of Alter Ego to sword-and-sorcery in comics, I mean… I just kept putting it off. It’s a big subject, after all, because, much as I’d like to think otherwise, comic book S&S didn’t begin with Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian #1 in 1970 — or even with the couple of forerunners at DC (“Nightmaster”) and Marvel (“Starr the Slayer”) in the previous twelvemonth…

“Sword & Sorcery in the Comics” proved way too big a subject to cover in one issue… in the end, because we wanted to illustrate nearly every one of the examples of the game we were discussing, we found ourselves with only room for the S&S overview I talked John Wells into writing especially for this magazine… in Alter Ego #83, Part Two will be slashing its way toward you. After that, we’ll keep the S&S segments coming, every few issues, till we’ve covered the genre the way we’ve always intended to! We figured it’s high time.

Appropriately enough, Wells begins his article with a look at Robert E. Howard and his profound influence on the entire field.

Read More »

Twilight Sector Kickstarter

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

six-guns-lasers-kickstarter-imageIf you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard of the renowned Traveller role-playing game of science fiction in the far future. And if you’ve played Traveller recently, you MAY have heard of the work from Terra/Sol. If not, you should have. I’ve been raving about each of their products that I’ve reviewed for Black Gate because they’re inventive, engaging, and well-written.

Today, I’m turning over the site to Mike Cross of Terra/Sol so he can tell you about a new Kickstarter project and the alternative Traveller setting used for all of their products.

I asked Mike to describe the game setting a little, and then he describes the new Kickstarter. The one thing he doesn’t mention here is that it’s going to be authored by one of my very favorite RPG authors, Martin Dougherty. I scramble to read everything that the man writes! Anyway, take it away, Mike:

Welcome to the raggedy edge of human space, the Orion Frontier. This is the edge of human exploration. Rimward from here: There be Dragons! No star chart or encyclopedia tells us what lies beyond, only the whispered tales of scouts and pirates provide us myth-inspired answers.

The Twilight Sector Campaign from Terra/Sol Games is a science fiction setting specifically designed to tell stories across a wide range of mediums. These include role-playing games, fiction, comics and electronic games. The setting seeks to provide a level of detail reminiscent of “Known Space” or “Middle Earth”. The tone is of Transhumanist evolution against a grand space opera background of far flung planets and stellar nations stretching over a 1,000 light year canvas. With 26 products in the last three years Terra/Sol Games has painted an ever evolving picture of this setting.

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