Announcing the Winner of the Autographed Set of John R. Fultz’s Books of the Shaper Trilogy

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Seven SorcerersTwo weeks ago we told you about the arrival of Seven Sorcerers, the third and highly-anticipated final volume in John R. Fultz’s Books of the Shaper trilogy. The trilogy opened with Seven Princes (January 2012), and Seven Kings (January 2013). To celebrate the publication of the concluding book, we announced a contest to win a complete autographed set of all three, compliments of Orbit Books and John R. Fultz.

It’s too late to enter the contest now, but it’s not too late to discover Fultz’s unique heroic fiction, which Barnes & Noble calls “flawless epic fantasy.” You can try some of John’s exciting stories right here at Black Gate, including “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye,” which appeared as part of the Black Gate Online Fiction line, or the three stories that appeared in our print version: “Oblivion Is the Sweetest Wine”(BG 12); “Return of the Quill” (BG 13); and “The Vintages of Dream” (BG 15). And you can read more about John’s philosophy of fantasy in his recent article, “One Man’s Trash…

We received a record number of entries, which just shows the high level of excitement among our readers for everything written by John. All the entries were recorded on a spreadsheet, and the winner selected using the office percentile dice.

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the autographed set of John R. Fultz’s Books of the Shaper trilogy is Massimiliano Izzo. Congratulations, Massimiliano! We’ll be touch to let you know how you can claim your books.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and to John R. Fultz and Orbit Books for sponsoring the contest. Seven Sorcerers was published on December 10th by Orbit Books. It is 448 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. Look for it in bookstores everywhere.

Space 1999: The Fantasy in Your Mirror May Be Closer Than It Appears

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Space 1999When I was a kid, hurling rocks at dinosaurs and running away, there were not many otherworldly shows on TV. Battlestar Galactica ran for two years and then Buck Rogers for about the same, with some incomprehensible Land of the Lost or Dr. Who thrown in at seeming random. Saturday mornings were a rich source of imagination, with Tarzan, Space Academy, Jason of Star Command and Flash Gordon, but unfortunately, in my day, Saturday mornings were only on Saturdays.

Every so often though, I’d find Space 1999 in the TV Guide; it was pretty cool. The sets and ships were pretty different from the sleek models in every other scifi show, and the space suits and the Moon seemed so alien. Twenty-five years later, armed with a couple of science degrees, I ordered a season for nostalgia’s sake.

O. M. G.

It was awful. Aside from the terrible writing and passive characters, and the apparent scattering of Caucasian British humans throughout the cosmos, I could do nothing but choke on the science and toss this drivel into a corner (actually, I think I left the boxed set in Havana, but that’s a story for another time…).

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New Treasures: Weird Fiction Review 3

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Fiction Review 3-smallTwo years ago I reported on the first issue of S. T. Joshi’s new magazine devoted to the study of weird and supernatural fiction, Weird Fiction Review (not to be confused with Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s new online journal, also called Weird Fiction Review. Go figure.)

I recently stumbled across a pic of the third issue of Joshi’s WFR (at left), and it made me laugh out loud. I had to order a copy, and it arrived this week.

There’s lots to enjoy with the massive, 232-page issue. The front and back covers (see both here) are tributes to Mad magazine and the timeless artwork of Don Martin. Inside there are seven original stories from Michael Cisco, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr, and others.

There’s also a host of intriguing articles. Darrell Schweitzer looks at Lovecraft’s influence on one of the most important pulp SF stories ever written, “Who Goes There?”, in “John W. Campbell’s Lovecraftian Tale,” and Bradley H. Sinor presents a previously-unpublished interview from 1994, in “Excellence Demanded, Whiners Piss Off: The Last Interview of Karl Edward Wagner” (which picks up several of the themes in Wagner’s letter to editor Robert A. Collins published in Fantasy 55.)

There’s also a 16-page gallery of art by Jason Zerrillo, the latest installment of John Pelan’s column Forgotten Masters of the Weird Tale, a survey of the year in horror and gothic novels from Daniel Olson, a look at the classic 1966 kaiju film War of the Gargantuas (which author Stuart Galbraith IV calls “kind of a monster movie Nirvana, a film that delivers on the promise of its ingenious title in an orgy of gargantua vs gargantua action” — pic here), and lots more.

Weird Fiction Review 3 was edited by S.T. Joshi and published by Centipede Press on March 19, 2013. The issue contains fiction, poetry, and reviews on high quality paper with lots of color. It is 232 pages, priced at $25 for the sewn trade paperback. It’s a high quality package throughout. It’s limited to 500 copies, and is currently on sale for $20 from the publisher. Get more detail and order copies at Centipede Press.

Spotlight on Fantasy Webcomics: Lora Innes’s Dreamer Comic Captures 1776

Friday, December 27th, 2013 | Posted by alanajoli

Lora Innes's Alan and Beatrice -- starcrossed lovers?

Lora Innes’s Alan and Beatrice — starcrossed lovers?

It starts with a kiss.

That’s the first thing that modern teen Beatrice really remembers about the strange dreams that start plaguing her life. But the theater student with very little knowledge of history starts getting a crash course in the history of the American Revolution when she finds herself thrust into the middle of the Revolutionary War herself. In her dreams, she is still Beatrice Whaley, but she’s the daughter of a Tory from Boston, in love with an apple farmer patriot who’s given up rank and position in the army all for the chance of rescuing her from the Redcoats.

Portal fantasy — the subgenre where modern people (usually children) travel to a fantasy world — is supposedly not en vogue right now. Dream fantasy seems to me to be a subset of that. But Lora Innes’s comic The Dreamer is one of those stories that makes me wonder why more people don’t love this format. It is in many ways a perfect gateway into history. As a kid, I remember reading The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, in which a modern teen is transported into the middle of the Holocaust, and feeling that it was the book about the Holocaust (and there were many) that best made me understand what it was like to be in the middle of those horrific events. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in Best Children’s Literature in 2012, transports a girl from 1960 to 1860, and — even as an adult — gave me greater insight into both time periods. Having a Hannah or a Sophie, that modern voice I can identify with, introduce me to history makes it more real. And even though I’ve read a great deal about the American Revolution, watching Bea learn about it, both as she sleeps and — as her friends are threatened by the perils of the war — through the research she begins during her waking hours, brings that period to life in a fresh new way.

The romance angle, of course, doesn’t hurt.

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The Series Series: The Shadow’s Heir by K.J. Taylor

Friday, December 27th, 2013 | Posted by Sarah Avery

The Shadow's Heir-smallThis book is not the first volume in a new series, no matter what its cover says. It’s marketed as the first volume in a new trilogy, The Risen Sun, that happens to be in the same setting as The Fallen Moon, but with every page I read, I felt the lack of resonances that the author clearly intended and expected for readers who had already read her first three books.

The Shadow’s Heir was good enough that I may someday backtrack to Taylor’s debut, The Dark Griffin. Of course, since this is really the fourth volume in the series, it has enough spoilers about the first three volumes that I’ll need to wait years for my memory of this book to fade. The review quotes about those earlier volumes promise “twisty plots,” and they won’t be twisty for me until I forget nearly everything I just read.

If the book were bad, I’d just shrug and move on. As it is, I’m annoyed on the author’s behalf at the marketing folks at Ace. (This is, of course, an injudicious thing to admit, because I would give my eyeteeth to sell my trunk manuscript to Ace. Not that they’d want my eyeteeth. Imagine the slushpile horror story!) I would love to understand the marketing decision better, because it seems to me that telling people The Shadow’s Heir is a good entry point to Taylor’s fictional world might sell copies in the short run, but would surely turn readers off in the long run.

This book holds the payoff for several plotlines I could have been deeply invested in, had I read them from the beginning. Instead, I was keenly aware at every payoff point of how hollow the big scenes felt to me in comparison to structurally similar scenes in other series.

How on earth am I going to talk in any detail about the virtues and peculiarities of The Shadow’s Heir while avoiding spoilers about three previous volumes I haven’t read? Well, here goes.

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When One Window Closes . . .

Friday, December 27th, 2013 | Posted by Violette Malan

Princess BrideA friend of mine has stated – many times – that he won’t date anyone who doesn’t love The Princess Bride, or Rioja wine. It’s the former that’s important to me at the moment, even though I love a good Rioja myself. Actually, my friend thinks that Princess Bride is the best movie of all time, and I think he’s absolutely right. Except that he’s also absolutely wrong.

We’ve all had the experience of sharing some beloved book, or film, or piece of music with someone, and being disappointed by their tepid reaction. You know. They’re like, polite. What’s more, we’ve all disappointed others in the same way. Like it or not, when this occurs, we do feel differently about each other. And neither side is wrong, but neither side is right, either.

Welcome to my Window Theory of Emotional Response. Otherwise known as the Princess Bride Paradox, the Star Wars Syndrome, the Heinlein Hypothesis, or – dare I say it? – the Frodo Phenomenon. In a nutshell, here it is: for you to have a deep emotional response to something cultural, your exposure to it has to have come at the right time for you.

My theory builds from the phrase many of us have used in other contexts, “that window’s closed.” AKA “that ship has sailed.” Both phrases imply that there was a period of time when something was possible, that the window was “open,” and then, it wasn’t. The opportunity is lost. For a piece of culture to move you, to change the way you think about yourself and the world around you, you have to encounter it at precisely the right age, or the right level of emotional maturity or development or – call it what you will.

Or you haven’t, and that window’s closed for you.

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Blogging Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon, Part Eight

Friday, December 27th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

1157a55_d__0_FlashGordon1950sTVStarringStev2“Peril Park” by Dan Barry was serialized by King Features Syndicate from August 31 to November 13, 1954. I’ve begun to develop a fondness for Barry’s rather unique take on the character. He is a far cry from Alex Raymond, but his version is not without charm and these early 1950s strips did much to influence the Flash Gordon television series of the fifties.

“Peril Park” opens with a tranquil scene of Flash and Dale enjoying a summer day boating on the lake when Flash discovers a message in a bottle. The twist is that the message was written 600 years in the future by a woman called Elda who claims to be held captive on an island in the very lake where Flash and Dale are relaxing.

Dale is eager to let the matter lie, but Flash cannot and, with Dr. Zarkov’s help, he whisks forward six centuries via the time-space projector in Zarkov’s lab. The time travel scenes are rendered in a highly inventive fashion that suggests an influence on the trippy astral projection art pioneered by Steve Ditko on Marvel’s Doctor Strange a decade later.

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Goth Chick News: When Visiting Hemlock Grove, Better “Late” Than Never

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Hemlock Grove-smallDid someone give you a Netflix subscription for the holidays? Then I have two words for you and your shiny new queue.

Hemlock Grove.

Never heard of it? Neither have a lot of people. If you are anything like me, then you have never even seen Hemlock Grove pop up in your Netflix recommendations. Heck, chances are, you may have never heard about Hemlock Grove before reading this post.

But that’s OK; because Netflix didn’t make the show for us.

Unlike its other two pet projects which Netflix has spent a lot of effort promoting, Arrested Development and House of Cards, they purposely made very little fuss about Hemlock Grove when it launched back in April. It’s aimed at an audience of teenage horror fans and Netflix had the numbers to know that this audience is engaged enough on the streaming service to make a title like Hemlock Grove succeed.

So, why do the rest of us care?

Hemlock Grove is an American horror/thriller series from executive producer Eli Roth (Grindhouse and Hostel) and developed by Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman. It is based on McGreevy’s 2012 novel Hemlock Grove.

The show examines the strange happenings in a fictional town in Pennsylvania where a teenage girl is brutally murdered, sparking a hunt for her killer.

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Why Evil Overlords Need to be Competent

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 | Posted by M Harold Page


56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

 (From The Top 100 Things I’d Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord by Peter Anspach)

We geeks love to laugh at the incompetent evil overlords of TV and cinema Fantasy. In the past we tolerated them because — like 1970s gays embracing their own particular reading of Batman — we were pathetically grateful for whatever bones mainstream culture deigns to toss our way. However, we never really put up with this in printed Fantasy.

Obviously, if the Evil Overlord does not exploit his every possible advantage, then we cease to believe in them (if they are so stupid, how come they got to be an Evil Overlord?). Our suspension of disbelief collapses, and we are catapulted out of the story.

However, there’s a deeper reason to reject incompetent Evil Overlords. They result in stories that teach false wisdoms with obnoxious implications.

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New Treasures: The Yard by Alex Grecian

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

The Yard Alex Grecian-smallI’m always disciplined when I visit a bookstore. I go in, get what I came for, and leave. I look neither left nor right. Get in, get out, that’s my motto.

You’re right. I’m totally lying. I’m lucky if I even remember why I came to the bookstore by the time I get to the cash register. My arms are usually full, I have a dazed expression, and I’m no longer sure exactly where I am. Thank God the folks behind the counter recognize me by now. It saves a lot of time and embarrassment.

I usually stick to the SF and fantasy sections, but every once in a while something irresistible will cross my path. Something like The Yard, the start of a new gas-lamp mystery series by Alex Glexian, author of the popular Image comic Proof. A first glance The Yard doesn’t seem to include any of the gonzo steampunk action or bizarre characters of Proof — or indeed, anything overtly supernatural — but I find it very appealing nonetheless.

1889, London. Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror is finally over, but a new one is just beginning.

Victorian London — a violent cesspool of squalid depravity. Only twelve detectives — The Murder Squad — are expected to solve the thousands of crimes committed here each month. Formed after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure in capturing Jack the Ripper, the Murder Squad suffers the brunt of public contempt. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own…

A Scotland Yard Inspector has been found stuffed in a black steamer trunk at Euston Square Station, his eyes and mouth sewn shut. When Walter Day, the squad’s new hire, is assigned to the case, he finds a strange ally in Dr. Bernard Kingsley, the Yard’s first forensic pathologist. Their grim conclusion: this was not just a random, bizarre murder but in all probability, the first of twelve. Because the squad itself it being targeted and the devious killer shows no signs of stopping before completing his grim duty. But Inspector Day has one more surprise, something even more shocking than the crimes: the killer’s motive.

This is the author’s first novel. Grecian has already penned one sequel in what’s now being called the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad series: The Black Country, released in hardcover in May of this year. The Yard was published in April 2013 by Berkley. It is 422 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.

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