Black Gate Online Fiction Presents the Complete The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

Friday, May 31st, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

The Death of the Necromancer KindleBlack Gate is very proud to announce that we will be presenting the complete fantasy novel The Death of the Necromancer, by Martha Wells, as part of our Online Fiction series, starting this Sunday, June 2.

The Death of the Necromancer is one of the most important fantasy novels of the past 20 years. When I ran SF Site, we received an advance proof in 1998, and it electrified our entire office. In his review, senior editor Wayne MacLaurin wrote:

Take a great Sherlock Holmes novel, mix in a heavy dose of Steven Brust’s Jhereg, and you’ll have some idea of what you can expect… Martha Wells’ first two novels, The Element of Fire and City of Bones, were praised for their rich detail and original concepts. The Death of the Necromancer raises those two points to new levels… It’s a stunning achievement.

When we polled all 40 regular reviewers for our “Best of the Year” awards, The Death of the Necromancer topped more ballots than any other book, and to no one’s surprise it was nominated for a Nebula Award.

Martha Wells has a long history with Black Gate. We published three long novellas featuring her heroes Giliead & Ilias, starting with “Reflections” in Black Gate 10; followed by “Holy Places(BG 11), and “Houses of the Dead (BG 12). Her stories are fast-paced mysteries, filled with deeply human characters on a splendidly realized stage, and her appearance in BG brought us a whole new audience. Her most recent article for us was “How Well Does The Cloud Roads Fit as Sword and Sorcery?,” which appeared here March 13.

Martha Wells is the author of fourteen fantasy novels, including City of BonesThe Element of Fire, The Cloud Roads, and The Serpent Sea. Her most recent novel is the YA fantasy Emilie and the Hollow World, published by Strange Chemistry Books in April. Her web site is www.marthawells.com.

The Death of the Necromancer was originally published in hardcover by Avon EOS in 1998. The complete, unedited text will be serialized as part of our Black Gate Online Fiction line, starting this Sunday, June 2.


Is This a Kissing Book?

Friday, May 31st, 2013 | Posted by Violette Malan

Tanya Huff Blood Price Blood TiesLet me get one thing out of the way immediately: It’s my belief that the increase in the numbers of female protagonists in the last thirty years (yes, it’s been that long) is directly related to the increase in the numbers of female authors (yes, it’s that simple). Female readers have been here all along. You can trust me on that one.

Last week I was talking about dual heroes, when is a pair a true pairing, and when a hero/sidekick combo? I mentioned Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, for me the original hero pair, and some of their literary descendants. But I left it until this week to talk about a much more recent phenomenon, the female/male hero pair.

Now, just to be clear, I don’t mean a book with a male protagonist, and his female companion – until recently known as a “regular book.” Nor do I mean a book with a female protagonist and a male second lead – until recently known as a “romance novel.” What I mean is the same kind of dual hero I talked about before, where both main characters are equally important to the story, but where one happens to be a woman, and one happens to be a man.

Having established the usefulness of a pair of protagonists (each brings a unique perspective and different skills to the problem-solving; the presence of a “friend” establishes the emotional accessibility of both characters; the chance to reveal character through conversation [thanks to Alex Bledsoe for some of these ideas], and, especially, the usefulness of a country/city pair) does having a female/male pair do anything in particular for us?

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Blogging Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon, Part One

Friday, May 31st, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

1157a$(KGrHqF,!qsFCyOZfKsuBQ8Ij2JJjw~~60_35While Mac Raboy kept alive the Flash Gordon Sunday strip from 1948 until his death in 1967, Dan Barry emerged on the scene to take the reins of a revived daily strip in November 1951. Barry became the longest running artist ever associated with the character and eventually took over the Sunday strip after Mac Raboy’s untimely demise. He illustrated the strip for nearly forty years before stepping down in 1990.

Interestingly, Barry’s revival of the daily strip marked a radical departure from past continuity and would be seen as a reboot of the property in modern parlance. The strip established Flash Gordon and his girlfriend Dale Arden as seasoned space explorers who have visited Mars on more than one occasion and are currently leading an expedition to Jupiter. This marks Earth’s third Jupiter mission (the first two having ended in disaster). As an amusing aside, the strip places the site of the U.S. space program in Ohio.

“Space Prison” was serialized by King Features Syndicate from November 19, 1951 to February 16, 1952. The story kicks off with the X-3 mission running into immediate problems when one of the booster rockets fails. The ship is forced to make an emergency landing on a space station that also serves as a space prison.

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Goth Chick News: Hanging with Head Smash Creator Vlad Yudin

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image008At this year’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (“C2E2”), you couldn’t spit a piece of gum without hitting a promotional plug for Head Smash.

To be honest, you couldn’t spit a piece of gum without hitting a lot of unusual things at the May event, but Black Gate photog Chris Z and I couldn’t help but notice that the sheer quantity of Head Smash promotion was on par with the visual assault launched by Marvel for its own upcoming releases.

We had to admit, the curiosity factor was being driven off the scale for a graphic novel that hadn’t yet been released — not to mention an indy film adaptation barely into pre-production.

I had read that Yudin was creating Head Smash (penned by Erik Hendrix and illustrated by Dwayne Harris) for Arcana Comics, as well as writing the film adaptation of the story.  He is also producing and adapting the film’s screenplay with The Twilight Saga producers Mark Morgan and Michael Beckor.

So thanks partially to our nosiness–  but mostly to the tenacity of the PR company handling Head Smash and its creator — Chris and I got an early morning exclusive chat with the Russian-born-US-raised writer, director and producer Vlad Yudin.

And yes, I admit it, there’s no way I’m not going to talk to a guy named “Vlad…”

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Jack Vance, August 28, 1916 — May 26, 2013

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dying Earth HillmanJack Vance, one of the greatest fantasists of the 20th Century and one of the last living links to the pulp era, died Sunday at the age of 96.

Vance was an electrician in the naval shipyards at Pearl Harbor in 1941, working for 56 cents an hour. He left a month before the Japanese attack; during World War II, he was in the Merchant Marines.

His first published story, “The World-Thinker” in the Summer 1945 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, was written at sea. Over the next six decades, he wrote more than 60 books (and perhaps as many as 90).

Vance was a prolific contributor to the pulp magazines in the 40s and 50s, especially Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder. Some of his most famous work during this period included “The Five Gold Bands” (Startling Stories, 1950), “Son of the Tree” (Thrilling Wonder, 1951), “Telek” (Astounding Science Fiction, 1952), “The Houses of Iszm” (Startling Stories, 1954), and “The Moon Moth” (Galaxy, 1961).

Vance won his first Hugo Award for the brilliant novella “The Dragon Masters” (Galaxy, 1962); “The Last Castle” (Galaxy, 1966) won both the Hugo and Nebula Award.

During this period, he also wrote most of the stories that were collected as The Dying Earth in 1950. Famously, Vance was unable to sell his collection to genre publishers, as a result one of the most important works of American fantasy was published by tiny Hillman Periodicals, who chiefly published comics.

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New Treasures: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

The RithmatistBrandon Sanderson is one of the hardest working writers in the business — and one of the most successful.

It’s not unusual for a prolific novelist to release a book a year. What is unusual is to consistently beat that pace while producing highly acclaimed, massive fantasy epics.

Just consider the last few years — starting with the 688-page Warbreaker (2009), which our reviewer Charlene Brusso called “the cure for trilogy fatigue” (not to be outdone, our Reviews Editor Bill Ward also noted that portions “approach the compulsive readability of the best page-turners.”)

A year later, Sanderson released the 861-page Wheel of Time novel Towers of Midnight, written from Robert Jordan’s notes. The same year (!), his massive 1,008-page novel The Way of Kings won the 2011 David Gemmell Legend Award (our review is here.)

In 2011, it was the new Mistborn novel The Alloy of Law; in her review Charlene said it was “full of neat ideas, crackling dialogue, and a very big helping of dry wit.”

In 2012, Sanderson published the unusual science fantasy The Emperor’s Soul, from Tachyon Publications.

That’s not even including the various short fiction and novellas he published during the same period — or the two complete novels in his juvenile fantasy series, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (2009) and Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (2010).

Seriously, I’m getting tired just typing all the titles. How does he do it?

Moving into 2013, Sanderson’s first release was the 912-page A Memory of Light in January (our coverage here); he also has the upcoming science fiction novel Steelheart in September.

That’s not all, of course. His third 2013 book is the just-released The Rithmatist, a comparatively short (for Sanderson) 372 pages. For those not doing the math at home, that brings his published page count for the year to 1,696 — down from 2,173 in 2010, but we try not to judge.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Blog Posts in April

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Pressure mounts, but Tales was my most successful and well received novel, so I'm still feeling the love.We presented nearly 100 new articles on the Black Gate blog last month, covering virtually every aspect of fantasy — from Kickstarter to Red Sonja , Space: 1999 to exotic food.

Why do we do it? Here’s a clue: it’s not the great pay, or the breezy offices of our rooftop headquarters here in downtown Chicago. It’s not the allure of maverick journalism, and the way publishers tremble when we walk into a room. It’s not the travel, or the lousy expense accounts, or the drunken nights playing poker with George R.R. Martin and Gordon van Gelder (man, that guy can bluff). It’s not the endless review copies of the latest fantasy releases, or the —

Hold up there, Sparky. Review copies? Ummm, those are pretty cool. Yeah, free books never get old. Forget what I just said. We pretty much do it for the freebies.

Plus, we do it for you, our fans. For the great letters to send us, and the thoughtful comments, and those books you mail us with sticky notes that say, “Just thought you’d like this!” Seriously, you guys rock. Also, free books. Those are great too.

Here’s what the Black Gate supercomputer tells us were the 50 most popular articles we published last month. Enjoy. And keep those comments and mail coming!

  1. Art of the Genre: The Joy and Pain of Kickstarter [and How Backed Projects Still Fail]
  2. An Open Letter from Jeremy Lassen at Night Shade Books
  3. Vintage Treasures: Chaosium’s Thieves World
  4. Red Sonja: The Novels
  5. Teaching and Fantasy Literature: Writing Fantasy Heroes
  6. Night Shade Attempts to Avoid Bankruptcy with a Sale to Skyhorse Publishing
  7. The Company That Time Will Never Forget: A Visit to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Incorporated
  8. Red Sonja: The Movie 
  9. Are You Going to Eat That?
  10. Vintage Treasures: The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard 

     

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Teaching and Fantasy Literature: Or Should That Be Teaching Versus Fantasy Literature?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Sarah Avery

The Woman Upstairs Claire MessudTeaching and writing can feed one another.

My students needed me to articulate how I work, so I had to examine my own processes. My writing processes didn’t serve all my students well, so I had to learn other writing processes, ones I might never have considered for myself otherwise, deeply enough to help my students try them.

As a student, I could get away with not revising, until about three years into grad school. My students couldn’t get away with that, and I learned to revise from watching their successes when they followed the advice I’d been hearing all along, and passed on to them, but had never put to use.

Above all, my students made me fit, as a human being, to write fiction. All the characters I tried to write when I was in my teens and in college were either my own doubles or cardboard cut-outs.

Only when I had to think my way into my students’ experiences and thought processes did I develop the imaginative empathy to write a character fundamentally unlike myself. There are days when it’s hard to remember all that. It is worth remembering.

Teaching and writing can tear at one another.

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My Youth Was Delivered Yesterday: AD&D 2nd Edition Re-Released

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

I was introduced to roleplaying in as a teenager in the early 90’s, and the game that did it was 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D). However, I’ve never had a real strong sense of nostalgia, so years ago – when I switched over to D&D 3rd edition – I got rid of my old 2nd edition books.

Since then, I’ve occasionally missed the streamlined simplicity of 2nd edition and lamented the loss of these books.

So imagine my pleasure when I received a package yesterday from Wizards of the Coast containing review copies of the three core 2nd edition rulebooks, repackaged and re-released for a new generation:

ADDpix

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Fantasy Face-Off: Henry Kuttner’s Elak of Atlantis vs. Robert E Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Connor Gormley

Weird Tales, July 1938, featuring Elak of Atlantis in "Spawn of Dagon"

Weird Tales, July 1938, featuring Elak of Atlantis in “Spawn of Dagon”

Now, before I start actually looking at these two heroes, I should probably explain why I’m doing what I’m doing.

You see, when Robert E Howard — creator of the sword and sorcery sub-genre, bare-fisted boxer, and all-round amazing writer — killed himself at the age of thirty, he left a pretty substantial gap in the pulp fiction market, one that was very hard to fill, but one that had to be filled. So Henry Kuttner, a fellow writer more famous for his science fiction than his fantasy, was called in to take up the sword and sorcery mantle — and stumbled in doing so.

The blurb describes the Elak stories as “exciting tales that helped establish a genre,” and “a major step in the evolution of the genre.” (I read Gateways kindle collection.)

Yeah that’s… an overstatement, not much more than a writer’s hyperbole. To be frank, the Elak tales are most easily comparable to a Saturday morning cartoon or a SyFy B-movie, what with all the hackneyed prose and clichéd characters.

Kuttner makes no attempt to advance the formula that Howard established, no attempt to evolve the genre as the over-enthusiastic blurb suggests. What you get instead is a readable adventure, entertaining, but not much more; it’s plot and prose, its action and characters merging with all the other yarns you’ve read and books you’ve consumed.

But then perhaps that’s the point. Pulp is meant to entertain; it’s not The Lord of the Rings or The Game of Thrones, it’s not supposed to make you think or take sides, not intended to evolve anything. Just to entertain.

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