Jane Lindskold gives Black Gate its First Ever Audio Interview

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 | Posted by Emily Mah


photo by Pati Nagle

Jane Lindskold was kind enough to talk to me in her home about a month ago. We discussed wolves, TreeCat culture, enduring friendships with other writers, and of course, her writing. This is the first audio interview I’ve ever done, and as I’ve just learned from Jane, hers too. I found that rather shocking, given how eloquent she was.

The duration of this interview is approximately forty minutes, so find a good time to kick back, relax, and be edified and entertained.

Interview with Jane Lindskold

Conducted by Emily Mah, September, 2012


The link to the audio file is above. A picture of the book cover for Fire Season, which we discuss in some detail, is below.


It’s A Small World After All

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-mindwarpersI sold a copy of Eric Frank Russell’s The Mindwarpers at Worldcon last week, for three bucks. This usually isn’t a big deal. I buy a lot of vintage SF and fantasy collections, and I end up with a lot of duplicates. A lot of duplicates — thousands of ’em, packed in dozens of boxes in my bedroom, garage, and basement. Years ago, I hit on the bright idea of bringing some with me when I get a booth at science fiction conventions. Beside all the bright, shiny Black Gate issues for sale, I spread out a few hundred paperbacks from the 60s and 70s, and let nostalgia do the rest. (Howard published some snapshots of our booth, including the paperbacks, in his Worldcon Wrap-up last week.)

Sometimes I’ll get compliments from folks who stop by the booth. “You have a terrific collection,” they say with admiration, fingering a 50-year old Ace paperback. It’s a little awkward to admit that this isn’t my collection. It’s a small portion of the duplicates from my collection. But admitting that is akin to confessing to a compulsive mental disorder, so I usually just smile and say, “Thanks. I hate to part with them, but I need the space.”

But the woman I sold The Mindwarpers to thought it was a big deal. She was evidently a big Eric Frank Russell fan, and she had no idea the book existed. It was originally published by Lancer in 1965 with a Richard Powers cover and a cover price of 50 cents, and she was thrilled to find it. She practically did a happy dance right there in the booth. I took her three bucks and told her I was glad it had found a good home.

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Electric Velocipede Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Publish 4 Issues in 2013

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 | Posted by John Klima

electric-velocipede-24John O’Neill gave me the opportunity to write here and talk a little bit about a Kickstarter campaign that I launched in the week leading up to Worldcon for my magazine Electric Velocipede, an eclectic, speculative fiction magazine. The magazine was founded in 2001 and has published at least two issues (and the occasional double issue) every year since. In 2009, it won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. It’s also been nominated for the World Fantasy Award four times and had several of its stories reprinted in year’s best anthologies.

In addition to its critical acclaim, Electric Velocipede has been a place for people to encounter excellent writing that’s just a little different. We particularly pride ourselves on finding new short fiction voices in the field. Among the writers who published early work with Electric Velocipede are Catherynne M. Valente, Hal Duncan, Aliette de Bodard, Rachel Swirsky, Shira Lipkin, and many more.

And it’s not just new voices; established writers have also graced Electric Velocipede‘s pages. Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer, Liz Williams, Jay Lake, Alex Irvine, Marly Youmans, Chris Roberson, Genevieve Valentine, Ken Liu, and others have all been here. Here, check out some examples of what we’ve published:

We’re looking to raise $5,000 to cover the costs of publishing four issues of the magazine in 2013. We’re putting out two issues in the second half of 2012 (most of issue #24 has come out already), so we’ll already be on a quarterly schedule and ready to continue that pace next year. At the time of writing this, we’ve raised almost 85% of our funding with more than two weeks to go. While reaching our goal looks very much in our grasp, we don’t want to lose our early momentum and miss out on the chance to bring great content to our current and future readers.

You can view complete details on the Kickstarter campaign here.

Genevieve Valentine Comments on Readercon Harassment in “Things You Should Know About the Fallout”

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

Genevieve Valentine. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Genevieve Valentine. Photo by Ellen Datlow

Author Genevieve Valentine, who was the victim of a sexual harassment incident at Readercon 23 that resulted in the resignation of the entire convention board, has posted a lengthy and thoughtful essay on the continued repercussions of the event, titled “Things You Should Know About the Fallout”:

Nearly two months ago, I went public about harassment I experienced at Readercon. Things happened. The outcome was positive….

However, for those thinking of going public with their own experiences with con harassment, I want to talk about how it looks nearly two months on. Because it’s still going, two months on.

In particular, she addresses the naked hostility she has faced from individuals who were not present at Readercon:

The fallout may not be, but will certainly seem like, a Kafka novel.

There will be creeps in comments. (I’ve opted not to publish some anonymous ones, including the person who informed me, “You have absolutely no right to deny someone looking at you or in your eyes.”)

There will be threats. (I won’t link to the worst of these, but it’s not hard to find if you search Readercon and “they take people like you and kill them with rocks” together. Trigger warning for pretty much everything. It’s not a fun read.)

The responses by self-proclaimed rational people questioning your veracity, or the necessity of the discussion, will be somehow worse. In discussing the idea of actively discouraging harassment at conventions, they will use phrases like “thought police” and “mob mentality” and “lynching.”

It’s a fascinating and insightful read. You can read the entire post here.

New Treasures: Stefan Petrucha’s Dead Mann Running

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

dead-mann-runningI’m keeping my promise to spend a few days focusing on paperback arrivals in my New Treasures column. It’s easy to do, as there’s been plenty to grab my attention recently.

Case in point: Dead Mann Running by Stefan Petrucha, sequel to Dead Mann Walking. David Wellington, author of Monster Island, called it “Fast-paced zombie noir with a melancholy bite, a sure antidote for the blandness of traditional zombie fare.”

It kills me that there’s such a thing as “traditional zombie fare” these days. As a kid growing up on monster movies, there was no such thing as “traditional zombie fare.” Zombie fare was all gourmet, let me tell you. Anyway, I’m intrigued by the “zombie noir” blurb, and the book description, narrated by dead detective Hessius Mann:

Just because a bullet has your name on it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t duck…

Either I’m stubborn or it’s rigor mortis, but being dead didn’t stop me from being a detective. But it’s tough out there for a zombie. These days the life-challenged have to register and take monthly tests to prove our emotional stability. See, if we get too low, we go feral. And I’ve been feeling down lately myself.

So when a severed arm – yeah, just the arm – leaves a mysterious briefcase in my office, my assistant Misty thinks figuring out where it came from will keep me on track. But this job goes deeper and darker than I imagined.

Turns out the people after the briefcase know more about my past life than I can remember, and even more about what I’ve become.

Believe it or not, this is not the only zombie detective novel I plan to cover this week (maybe David Wellington was on to something after all). But you’ll have to wait until later in the week to hear about the second one.

Dead Mann Running was published by Roc on September 4. It is 339 pages in paperback or digital format for $7.99. You can read a free excerpt here.

Read all of our recent New Treasures articles here.

It’s Halloween Already with Graphic Classic’s Halloween Classics

Monday, September 10th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

halloween-classics2Goth Chick gets all excited as we approach the Halloween season every year, decorating the Black Gate offices in black ribbons and plastic tombstones. If we left it up to her, Halloween decorations would be up between Labor Day and Christmas Eve.

But she’s not the only one. Plenty of publishers offer up exciting books around Halloween, and I never really get tired of them. Last week, I received word that Graphic Classics (whom we last wrote about back in July) have released a new comic anthology collecting five scary stories in the tradition of EC Comics, presented by your horrible host Nerwin the Docent:

Eureka Productions is pleased to announce the release of Halloween Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 23, the newest volume in the Graphic Classics series of comics adaptations of great literature.

Halloween Classics presents five scary tales for the holiday, each with an EC Comics-style introduction by famed horror author Mort Castle. Featured are Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Arthur Conan Doyle’s mummy tale “Lot No. 249,” Mark Twain’s “A Curious Dream,” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.” Plus, a comics adaptation of the great silent film, “The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari,” illustrated by Matt Howarth, with a terrifying cover by Simon Gane.

Halloween Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 23 is edited by Tom Pomplun, and published September 2012 by Eureka Productions. It is 144 pages in full color oversize paperback, priced at $15.00.

Get more details at the Eureka Productions website.

Abney Park’s Airship Pirates: A Music-inspired Steampunk Extravaganza

Monday, September 10th, 2012 | Posted by Ken Walton

airship-pirates-smallLast month, Peter Cakebread of Cakebread & Walton told you about our alternate English Civil War fantasy RPG, Clockwork & Chivalry. This month, it’s Ken Walton here, and I’ll be taking a look at our music-inspired steampunk extravaganza, Abney Park’s Airship Pirates RPG.

“Abney Park?” I hear some of you say. “Isn’t that a cemetery in London?” While the rest of you are saying, “No, Abney Park is a really cool steampunk band from Seattle who play music like this.”

Most of their songs, written by lead singer “Captain” Robert Brown, tell of the fictional exploits of the band in their time-travelling steampunk airship Cordelia. On discovering their music, we quickly realised there was a really cool background here that would make a kick-ass role-playing game.

We contacted the band, thinking, “This is mad, they’ll never go for it, no-one’s ever written a RPG based on a band’s songs!” But Captain Robert thought the idea was awesome.

When we emailed our publisher, Cubicle 7, Angus Abranson (who worked at Cubicle 7 at the time) was on the phone in five minutes. “Why didn’t I think of that?” Turned out he was an Abney Park fan too. Who knew? And so, a new game was born!

Of course, then we had to sit down and design it. Cubicle 7 offered us use of the game mechanics from their Victoriana RPG, which we tweaked and simplified for a more swashbuckling feel.

Captain Robert, it turned out, was a graphic artist as well as a rock star, and he designed the look of the game, as well as recruiting a host of amazing artists to contribute the full-colour artwork for the rulebook. And we took the song lyrics and Robert’s (then unfinished) novel, The Wrath of Fate, and set about expanding them into a game world with a particular feel.

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Death and the Book Deal

Monday, September 10th, 2012 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

eowynI realized yesterday that my hard learned lesson about publishing (“it’s a long distance run, not a sprint”) can’t help someone dying of cancer. What do you say to someone who will mostly likely be dead before she reaches the age you were when you first got a book contract?

I have a friend who’s been dying of cancer for a long time. Since she was in her teens, in fact. She keeps beating back Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and sometimes she even manages to kill off subsidiary cancers that bloom up in the meantime. But here’s the thing about Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It might go into remission but it never really goes away. And now it’s stopped responding to treatment. Because Non-Hodgkin’s can go slow, or fast, or change its mind about where it pops up or how fast it wants to develop, there’s really no telling how much longer my friend has. It could be months, or it could be years.

Before any rumors or speculations start flying, I’m not talking about anyone here on the Black Gate staff. For the sake of my friend’s privacy, let’s call her Eowyn, because she’s smart, gutsy, and beautiful.

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Candas Jane Dorsey and Black Wine

Monday, September 10th, 2012 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Black WineSome time ago, at one book fair or another, I took a chance on a book I’d never heard of: Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey. I’m not sure why; I’d already had reasonable luck at the sale, as I recall, so I didn’t feel the need (as one sometimes does) to grab a book for the sake of coming away with something. I don’t normally buy books based on cover art, and in any case this cover was more stylish than striking, a black pattern on black. It may have been the mention on the cover that the book had won an award for Best First Fantasy Novel. Most likely, it was the puff quotes on the back, featuring praise from Elisabeth Vonarburg and Ursula Le Guin (who compared Dorsey to Gene Wolfe). At any rate, buy it I did, for whatever reason; and having finally gotten around to reading it, I’m happy I went for it. Black Wine is an excellent, excellent book.

Published in 1997, it not only won the IAFA/Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel, but also the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and the Aurora Award for Best Long Form Work in English by a Canadian Science Fiction or Fantasy Writer. Dorsey herself (I find from Wikipedia and the ISFD) is a poet and prose writer from Edmonton. She’s published one other novel, A Paradigm of Earth, along with two collections of short fiction, and has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She also co-wrote a novel called Hardwired Angel with Nora Abercrombie.

Black Wine is a tricky book to describe. It begins by presenting three different narratives in three consecutive chapters; those narratives then coil back and forth. It’s not too difficult to work out how they interlock, but it does require careful attention and (in my case) considerable flipping around to re-read earlier parts. Further, names are powerful in this book, sometimes seeming to be guarded like treasures; which makes keeping track of characters and their family relations a challenge — particularly as so many of those characters are mother and daughter, a recurring relationship that seems to shape the story: the dominant narrative, we eventually realise, is set off by a daughter’s quest for her mother, a mother gone missing as a result of her relationship with her own mother and (especially) her mother’s mother.

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Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

Sunday, September 9th, 2012 | Posted by Sean Stiennon

of-blood-and-honey-by-stina-leicth-adoiOf Blood and Honey
By Stina Leicht
Night Shade Books ($14.99, trade paperback, 296 pages, January 2011)
Reviewed by Sean T. M. Stiennon

Perhaps I’ll be accused of going below the belt by saying this, but the most damning criticism I can offer of Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey is that it took me several weeks of intermittent reading to finish.  It’s not an awful book by any means, but I never felt as though it generated enough momentum or sympathy to pull me from one reading session to another.

But let me discuss what I did like, which is quite a bit.  Although Leicht is ultimately writing a tale of faeries, demons, and inquisitors, she opts for a clean, modern style that’s well in keeping with the setting in 1970s Ireland.  The sentences flow smoothly from paragraph to paragraph and page to page.  There are some nice snatches of dialogue which, to me at least, rang as distinctly Irish: “It’s married I am, and it’s married I’ll stay.”  Leicht never resorts to spelling out accents, instead relying on vocabulary and syntax to convey dialect, which is a far higher and finer art.

The picture the book paints is rather grim, but ultimately I thought the book came through strongest on atmosphere and milieu.  I know very nearly jack-squat about the Troubles (my ancestors left Ireland much earlier, more around the time of the Potato Famine), but the sense of constant fear and persecution Leicht evokes is powerful.

She tells the story of Liam, a young man who has never known any father besides his step-father Patrick.  His mother tells him that he’s the product of her forbidden union with a Protestant, but Liam has always suspected that there’s something more alien about his origins.

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