Black Gate Online Fiction: “Disciple” by Emily Mah

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Emily MahIt’s tough to run a tavern — and customers carelessly tempting fate by using magic don’t make it any easier.

The woman was stunning. Long blonde hair that fell in ringlet curls framed a round face with high cheekbones and porcelain skin. The men in the room no doubt also noticed that her dress clung tightly to her generously proportioned curves. Dina, however, set her tray aside and grabbed the broom from the corner.

“Out!” she said, jabbing it at the woman.

The woman jumped sideways with a squeal of rage.

“I mean it,” said Dina. “That’s a glamour you’re wearing, and I don’t allow magic in my tavern.”

The woman pouted, her rosy red lips puckering just so. Behind her, Dina could hear the scrape of chairs against the stone floor as several of her patrons got to their feet.

“I mean it!” Dina shouted. “I run an honest business.”

Emily Mah’s first story for us was “The River People” in Black Gate 15. She tells us she “writes science fiction and fantasy as Emily Mah and chick lit and romance as the indie writer, E.M. Tippetts.” She also does audio interviews for Black Gate and designs book tie-in jewelry for her label, Emily Mah Jewelry Designs. She lives in London with her family.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, Aaron Bradford Starr, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.

“Disciple” is a complete 6,000-word short story of adventure fantasy. It is offered at no cost.

Read the complete story here.

The Top 12 Black Gate Fiction Posts in February

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

bones-of-the-old-onesHoward Andrew Jones held on to the top spot this month, with the excerpt from his second novel, The Bones of the Old Ones. Giving him a run for his money were new stories by C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, and Gregory Bierly, and a reprint from Joe Bonadonna.

If you haven’t sampled the adventure fantasy stories offered through our new Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Every week, we present an original short story or novella from the best writers in the industry, all completely free.

Here are the Top Twelve most read stories in February, for your enjoyment:

  1. An excerpt from The Bones of the Old Ones, by Howard Andrew Jones
  2. Life on the Sun,” by C.S.E. Cooney
  3. The Pit Slave,” by Vaughn Heppner
  4. The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” by Joe Bonadonna
  5. A Princess of Jadh,” by Gregory Bierly
  6. The Find” by Mark Rigney
  7. The Whoremaster of Pald,” by Harry Connolly
  8. The Poison Well,” by Judith Berman
  9. The Gunnerman,” by Jason E. Thummel
  10. The Trade,” by Mark Rigney
  11. Godmother Lizard,” by C.S.E. Cooney
  12. The Terror in the Vale,” by E.E. Knight

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Aaron Bradford Starr, John R. Fultz, David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here. The most popular Black Gate fiction from January is here.

We’ve got plenty more fiction in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Weird of Oz Wishes you a Happy Easter

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 | Posted by Nick Ozment


Mixed-media collage by Nick Ozment

Happy Easter! Or, if you do not celebrate that holiday, happy celebration of spring and the goddess of fertility!

I have nothing to review or to report today. I will soon be following my young children around as they fill their baskets with eggs. But for those of you who snuck away from the ham and hardboiled eggs long enough to log on and drop by, I wanted to be here to chat at the Gate a minute or two.

This weird blog of Oz’s is about three months old; last week, its entries entered the double digits. Today, for post number 11 (“This blog goes up to 11.” And thumbs up to those of you who get that allusion), I thought I’d mention a few of the projects I have in the works for upcoming posts. And, if you’re feeling chatty, you could help me out by letting me know if any topic in particular piques your interest, which may influence my prioritizing.

  • I’m reading Manly Wade Wellman’s complete John Thunstone collection, which I recently won in a Black Gate giveaway. When I’m done, I’ll post a review.
  • I have a stack of the complete run of Arak, Son of Thunder that is just crying out for a series of issue-by-issue breakdowns.
  • In a follow-up to an earlier post, I’d like to do an episode-by-episode guide to the new Scooby-Doo series Mystery Inc., “annotated” to note the fantasy/sci-fi/horror allusions and references peppered throughout.
  • In another follow-up, I’m hankering to try some more single-player RPGs similar to the Fighting Fantasy books that I reviewed a couple weeks back.
  • As I said from the outset, a large part of what fuels the engine of this blog is nostalgia. In that vein, I’ll be revisiting some vintage fantasy board games like Dungeon!.
  • Also — top secret confidential hush hush — over the past few years I’ve been doing some research to uncover the sources or inspirations for certain D&D monsters that burst straight from the mind of Gary Gygax, i.e., iconic D&D monsters that have no clear antecedent in myth or folklore (the rust monster, for example).
  • The last two comments to last week’s post inspired me to begin writing a piece considering the spectrum of RPG game-masters and players ranging across the continuum between pure gamers (the rules sticklers) and storytellers (those who may consult the dice, but the GM’s final call is always more bound to the service of the unfolding narrative over and above any game rules).

There are more — always more ideas floating around up here in this egg than I can pursue to all their rabbit holes — but I’ll leave it there for now.

See you in April.

Kirk Versus Gorn: The Rematch

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Star Trek GornWe like video games. We love Star Trek. And we believe William Shatner is the genetic template for a future race of supermen.

But when all three come together, as they have in this video spot for the upcoming Star Trek: The Video Game?


Check out the YouTube video below, and you’ll understand.

Star Trek: The Video Game will be released April 23, 2013 for the Xbox, PS3, and PC. It was developed by Digital Extremes. Get more details at the website,

[Thanks to SF Signal for the tip.]

Raising the Golden Fortress in Oil Country: Minister Faust’s The Alchemists of Kush

Saturday, March 30th, 2013 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Alchemists of KushWriting about fantasy fiction seems sooner or later to involve writing about myth. The two aren’t the same, but have a connection difficult to articulate. Similarities and contrasts both feel obvious and yet are hard to nail down. Perhaps it’s fair to say both fantasy and myth challenge consensus reality. But that they differ in the relation they have to truth, or to what is to be taken as truth.

Minister Faust is the pen name of Edmontonian Malcolm Azania. Faust is a novelist, as well as a journalist, radio host, activist, and former teacher. He’s written four novels; I want to write here a bit about his 2011 book The Alchemists of Kush. As I read it, it’s about a myth, both an exposition of that myth and an exploration of how the myth might be used in the contemporary world. How people can be affected by a story, and how a community can be created by the stories it tells itself. Mostly, though, I think the book’s about one person, and how he’s transformed — alchemised — by the story he finds.

Technically, the novel’s made up of three different books: ‘The Book of Now,’ ‘The Book of Then,’ and ‘The Book of the Golden Falcon.’ ‘The Book of the Golden Falcon,’ presented as a kind of appendix at the back of the novel, is divided into ten chapters and written in dense — mythic — langage which retells the story of Horus, Osiris, Anubis, and Set. Most of the novel consists of alternating chapters of ‘The Book of Then,’ which retells that story in a more novelistic (or, at least, less fable-like) style, and ‘The Book of Now,’ set in contemporary Edmonton, Alberta. ‘The Book of Now,’ by far the longest of the three books, tells the story of Rap, an Edmonton teen of Somali and Sudanese parentage, as he meets a society of adults who follow the moral and ethical lessons of ‘The Book of the Golden Falcon.’ Rap joins them and helps them to create a ‘golden fortress,’ a kind of organization of local youth, specifically Black youth. But as a community, the fortress faces a number of obstacles and enemies, just as Rap himself has to work out his own relationship to the community as it develops, and find his own path to maturity.

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New Treasures: Gygax Magazine, Issue #1

Friday, March 29th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Gygax Magazine 1I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hottest thing in role playing at the moment  is the rise of OSR. The Old School Renaissance has captured the interest of thousands of players — many returning to gaming for the first time in decades — and fostered the birth of a fresh generation of dynamic new companies. We’ve featured some of the best products here on the BG blog, including Carcosa, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Labyrinth Lord, and even the first edition Premium AD&D reprints from WotC. But truthfully this is just a small sample, and more exciting products are arriving daily.

In fact, even though the number of OSR players is still fairly small, in a strange way that’s part of the appeal. The size of the market, and the out-sized level of excitement and productivity associated with it, reminds players of the early days of D&D in the mid-70s, when only a core group of gamers were tuned in to the new phenomenon that would soon sweep the country. That was a tremendously exciting and dynamic time, and in some ways it feels like it’s happening all over again.

One thing that’s been lacking from this generation’s gaming renaissance though is a clear center. Ask old-school gamers what the center of the genre used to be, and most will give you the same answer: Tim Kask’s The Dragon, the print magazine published by TSR (and later WotC and Paizo) from 1976 to 2007, and published online since 2007. Launched to help nurture the rapidly growing fandom around Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon gradually became the publication for role-players of all persuasions. The magazine embraced the entire genre, and accepted advertising from virtually everyone, publishing news, unbiased reviews, and articles of interest to everyone in the hobby. To read Dragon was to be informed of everything of real importance to the industry, especially in the early days.

Dragon was essential to the growth of adventure gaming. The creators driving the fledgling OSR industry have managed to capture the spirit of original D&D, and the excitement it spawned, surpassingly well, and that’s led many to wonder: would it be possible to re-create the magic of the early Dragon as well? As the folks behind Gygax magazine — including Ernie and Luke Gygax, and The Dragon‘s founding editor, Tim Kask — have proven with their first issue, it is possible. The similarities with its spiritual parent magazine don’t end with the familiar name of the publisher: TSR, Inc.

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Stick This in Your Pipe and Smoke It

Friday, March 29th, 2013 | Posted by Violette Malan

FridgeSwearing. Profanity. “Cussing” (as opposed to “cursing” which is entirely different).

We’ve all been told at one time or another (usually by people we’re swearing at) that using profanity is a sign of a weak vocabulary. It’s lazy, they’ll say. It’s easier to tell someone what he can do with himself than to really go to town on him, Shakespeare-style.

But that phrase “go to town on someone” makes me think of another aspect of language. Whether we call it “slang”, or “figures of speech”, or just “common expressions”, we all use these devices every day, often without being aware of them – or of where they come from.

Though there are all kinds of sources in the real world to help us with that last one.

But what about our Fantasy and SF worlds? We’d certainly better be aware of expressions when we’re writing, hadn’t we? Just think of the extent to which verbal expressions depend on existing technology.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu, Part Four

Friday, March 29th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Trail TitanTrail WingateSax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from April 28 to July 14, 1934. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The book marked the first time Rohmer employed third person narrative in the series and dispensed with the first person narrative voice modeled on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The results dilute what would otherwise have been a stronger novel that saw the series return to its roots.

The story picks up in the aftermath of the Limehouse explosion one week earlier. Surprisingly, Sam Pak’s opium den only sustained minor structural damage. No bodies have been recovered, nor did the police launch sight any boat escaping on the Thames prior to the explosion. Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Chief Inspector Gallaho are hopeful that Fu Manchu might actually be dead, but unless bodies are recovered, Smith does not feel secure.

The matron watching over Fleurette Petrie during her captivity abandoned her post the night of the explosion, as did the Asian sidewalk vendor who kept vigil outside Sir Denis’s apartment. Smith takes both signs as suggestive that Fu Manchu is still at liberty. Proof arrives soon enough in the form of the constable who had the misfortune of standing guard at Pietro Ambroso’s studio at the beginning of the book. The constable leads Smith and Gallaho to chat up a night watchman on his beat, suggesting the man might have information that he will not completely share with the police. Smith passes himself off as a newspaperman and gains the night watchman’s trust through his generous nature and gift of gab. The man tells him how one week earlier, on the night of the Limehouse explosion, he saw a small party of Chinamen emerge from a manhole on the deserted street in the dead of night. Smith agrees it is an interesting story and that the police would never have believed him.

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Goth Chick News: More Fun Than A Pile of Zombies

Thursday, March 28th, 2013 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image004This week, Paramount Pictures released the first theatrical posters for Marc Forster’s World War Z, the zombie apocalypse movie based on the book by the same name, coming to a theater near you on June 21.

Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, and David Morse, both sheets display a mile-high pile of rotting, decaying zombies attacking a helicopter.

Now that’s what I call entertainment.

World War Z has been gaining notoriety ever since action stills of Pitt on set started hitting the Internet. The adaptation of author Max Brooks’s ‘oral history of the zombie war’ has had fans buzzing from the get-go, since the format of the book involved a U.N. employee interviewing survivors of the zompocalypse about their experiences – and the stills appear to show something entirely different.

Having just finished the book myself, I can understand the debate.

The WWZ novel is outstanding for its unusual approach to the first-person narrative, representing a possibly problematic format to translate to film.

Forster could have created the story in the style of a faux documentary, and initial chatter on the underground grapevine indicated that the WWZ film would indeed go this route, with U.N. worker Gerry Lane’s (Pitt) survivor interviews being the basis for flashback footage of grisly, zombie-war action.

It now appears WWZ the movie will be a significant departure from Brooks’s novel in both structure and story.

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Kissing My Axe

Thursday, March 28th, 2013 | Posted by FraserRonald

Kiss My AxeI’ve written previously about starting Sword’s Edge Publishing, mistakes I made in running the company, and publishing Sword Noir. When the time came to publish Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death, a role-playing game of Viking mayhem, I tried to follow the trail I had blazed with Sword Noir. If I mention the best laid plans of mice and men, you may see where I’m going here.

Sword Noir worked out because I knew everyone with whom I worked. I knew my friends wouldn’t let me down. Unfortunately, Ed Northcott, who did the art for Sword Noir (and was an industry professional long before working on my game) had quit as a freelance artist. A friend’s wife introduced me to an artist of her acquaintance who wanted to get into the RPG industry. I saw his portfolio and we made a deal. He would have accepted much less, but I wanted to pay the standard referenced by Steve Jackson Games – trying to be a professional over here.

I gave the artist three specific scenes I wanted to see and left the fourth to his imagination, suggesting anything inspired by the movie The 13th Warrior or the comic series Northlanders. I sent along links to pics on the Internet which could provide inspiration and references.

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