Mothra vs. King Ghidorah: Which Toho Monster Will Appear in the Next U.S. Godzilla Movie?

Monday, May 26th, 2014 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

godzilla_vs_kingghidorah_91mothra vs GodzillaCaution: This article discusses some details about Godzilla ‘14 that viewers who have yet to see the film may consider spoilers. (Non-spoiler review here.) Viewers who haven’t seen the film should also go take care of that now.

Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. felt confident enough about the almost $200 million that the new Godzilla took in at the global box office during its opening weekend — the biggest International opening of 2014 at that point — to announce a few days later what everyone knew the moment the movie started pulling in heaps of cash: “Yep, we’re gonna make another one.”

We know little more at the moment. In the build up to Godzilla ‘14, all parties involved avoided sequel speculation. Director Gareth Edwards — whose association in a follow-up is uncertain at this time, especially since he signed on to direct the first Star Wars spin-off movie — made brief mention of doing something with the “Monster Island” concept introduced in Destroy All Monsters (1968), but nothing specific. Which means we can all speculate freely and wildly about what might happen in Godzilla Raids Again or whatever title “Godzilla II” has.

The big question about any Godzilla sequel: What other monster(s) will appear? Although it’s possible for Legendary Pictures to go with an original creature — and they did well with the MUTOs — it’s almost a guarantee they’ll negotiate with Toho Studios for the rights to one of the classic kaiju. Toho is reportedly through the roof with excitement over the new movie, so the negotiations won’t be aggressive.

There are many monster possibilities, but most online speculation has landed on two superstars: Mothra and King Ghidorah. Any Godzilla fan would place these kaiju at the top of a list of “must haves.”

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Everything’s Coming up Aces: All the Covers of Galactic Derelict

Monday, May 26th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Galactic Derelict 1961-big Galactic Derelict 1971-small Galactic Derelict 1978-small

Click any of the images to see the complete wrap-around covers.

Last week I wrote a brief Vintage Treasures article about Andre Norton’s classic SF adventure novel Galactic Derelict. Here’s what I said about the book’s printing history:

Galactic Derelict was published in 1959 by the World Publishing Company and has been reprinted in eight different editions over the last half-century. It first appeared in paperback from Ace Books in 1961. It is 192 pages in paperback, priced at 35 cents. The cover is by Ed Emshwiller. If I have a few moments this weekend, I may assemble some of the other covers to display them here.

Well, on this leisurely Memorial Day weekend, I finally have a few minutes to pull together half a dozen covers from the book’s five decades in print, and here they are.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The Hammer Hound

Monday, May 26th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne


There are several good posters for this film.

Last week, we looked at Tom Baker’s relatively unknown Hound of the Baskervilles. As this post is being published on May 26, which is the birthday of a classic Holmes, we’ll look his version of The Hound. For on this date in 1913, Peter Cushing was born in Surrey.

Basil Rathbone’s contract expired in 1946 and, feeling imprisoned in the role of Sherlock Holmes, he refused to renew it. So great was his shadow that it would be thirteen years before another studio even attempted to make a Sherlock Holmes movie. Hammer Films is legendary in England for their run of horror films, starting in the fifties.

Those old Universal classics from America had never caught on across the pond. Hammer, however, made a series of successful horror films, frequently co-starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

In 1959, Hammer broke new ground with the first colorized version of The Hound. Not surprisingly, they turned to Cushing and Lee to carry the movie.

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Sumerian Zombies, Chicago Vampires, and Stephen King: David C. Smith’s The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories David C Smith-smallDavid C. Smith has been a friend to Black Gate almost as long as we’ve been around. I remember attending a World Fantasy Convention with Howard Andrew Jones many, many moons ago when we were both four years old (or thereabouts), when Howard dragged me excitedly to an autograph session to meet him. Dave was astoundingly gracious to two young sword & sorcery fans, entertaining us with tales of writing Red Sonja novels with Richard L. Tierney and the wild S&S publishing scene in the 1970s.

In person and on the page, Dave is a natural storyteller. We both live in Chicago and I’m honored that we’ve become friends over the past few years. We’ve published his fiction and non-fiction here at Black Gate — including an excerpt from his new noir thriller Dark Muse, and one of the most popular works of fiction we’ve ever posted: an excerpt from his supernatural pirate dark fantasy novel Waters of Darkness, written in collaboration with Joe Bonadonna

Dave and Joe co-wrote one of our most popular blog posts in 2012, “The Big Barbarian Theory,” and Dave followed it up with a classic article that still brings traffic to our site today, “New Pulp Fiction for Our New Hard Times.” Howard interviewed Dave for us in 2007, and Jill Elaine Hughes conducted a interview/career retrospective a few months later.

Dave’s latest book is a new collection of four new short stories, a novella, and more — including “The Man Who Would Be King,” the tale of a writer who resents Stephen King’s success, until an odd encounter with the most popular horror writer in America changes his life. The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories also includes a story set in the universe of his popular novel Oron, a zombie tale, a sample chapter from The West Is Dying, author notes, and much more.

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Vintage Treasures: The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series XIII edited by Karl Edward Wagner

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Year's Best Horror Stories 13-smallI’m still working my way through the fabulous collection of pulps, digest magazines, and paperbacks I brought back from the Windy City Pulp & Paperback show in April.

I found the artifact at left mixed in with a delightful assortment of 80s horror paperbacks near the back of the Dealer’s Room. It’s the 13th volume of The Year’s Best Horror Stories, which Karl Edward Wagner took over from editor Gerald W. Page in 1980 with the eighth volume.

The Year’s Best Horror was a long-running paperback horror anthology published by DAW. Like Donald Wollheim’s World’s Best SF and Lin Carter and Arthur Saha’s Year’s Best Fantasy, both also from DAW, it was a staple on bookstore shelves through the late 70s and early 80s, and served as a terrific introduction to a wide range of new and established writers every year.

For young readers new to science fiction, fantasy, and horror, DAW’s annual Best collections were a terrific way to explore the field. They were ubiquitous, extremely well edited, and — best of all — marvelously inexpensive.

Wagner edited fifteen installments in the series, until he drank himself to death in 1994. The last one was volume XXII, and the series died with him.

If you want to collect DAW’s World’s Best SF and Year’s Best Fantasy, you’re on your own, relegated to tracking down tattered paperbacks in the collector’s market — and paying a pretty penny when you found them. Karl Edward Wagner Year’s Best Horror volumes, however, established an early and enviable reputation as a treasure trove of high-quality horror… so much so that Underwood Miller made the unprecedented decision in the early 90s to collect them  in hardcover omnibus editions, three per volume, under the title Horrorstory — and what gorgeously packed volumes they were.

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Love in War and Realms Beyond Imagining: The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl-small

“Your commander reaches for yonder stars and gods do eye him. And there are more Fates in the wide worlds of men than those whom he has aided.” – from The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl.

The Fish, the Fighters and the Song Girl
Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Revised Author’s Cut, published by Perseid Press (386 pages, May 24, 2012, $24.95)
Cover art: Peter Paul Rubens, “The Consequences of War” (detail), 1637-1638

The team of Janet Morris and Chris Morris once again grace us with another excellent collection of Homeric Heroic Fantasy, featuring Tempus, Niko and their Sacred Band of Stepsons. This compilation is comprised of both new stories and earlier tales, herein revised from the original Thieves’ World® series, stories such as “What Women Do Best,” “Power Play,” and “Sanctuary is for Lovers.” Brand-new tales, written especially for this book, include “Shelter from the Storm,” “Lemnian Deed,” “Ravener, Where Art Thou?” and the title story.

All the magic, action, adventure, humor and human drama I’ve come to expect from Janet and Chris Morris are here in spades, and there are enough revelations and plot twists along the way to keep you on your toes.

This collection takes place after the Morris’ masterpiece, The Sacred Band, and gives us more of the history of the Sacred Band as Tempus takes his Stepsons and Thebans north, a world away, into unexplored regions and a mythic country. Though they are courageous, these fighters, they are no strangers to fear. Though they are warriors, hard and tough, they are not immune to love and compassion, to decency and common humanity.

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Future Treasures: Thrones & Bones: Frostborn by Lou Anders

Saturday, May 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Thrones and Bones Frostborn-smallLou Anders is the editorial director of Pyr Books, one of the most exciting publishers on the market for adventure fantasy fans. Last month, while talking about the latest upcoming title from Pyr, I described Lou as “the closest we have to Lin Carter in the field today: an editor with impeccable taste and boundless energy, who has also been a tireless champion for sword & sorcery.”

Here’s a secret: one of the reasons I described Lou as “tireless” is that — just like Lin Carter — he’s also a talented fantasy writer in his own right. His debut novel Frostborn, an adventure-filled Viking-inspired middle grade series featuring two charming and humorous heroes, arrives in two months from Crown Books. Keep an eye out for it — you won’t want to miss it.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones. Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery. Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Frostborn, the first book of Thrones & Bones, will be published by Crown Books on August 5, 2014. It is 310 pages, priced at $16.99 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital version.

New Treasures: Space Opera edited by Rich Horton

Saturday, May 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Space Opera Prime Books-smallHallelujah! Rich Horton’s Space Opera anthology is finally here. And it’s massive.

I’ve been waiting for this book since it was announced over six years ago, back in April of 2008. Rich shared his proposed table of contents at the time (and it was groundbreaking enough to be picked up as a news story at places like SF Signal, and listed at ISFDB), but the volume was eventually canceled. I thought that was the end of it, until I saw it back on the Prime Books schedule last year.

I am delighted to finally have it in my hot little hands. The project has become much more ambitious over the years. Did I mention it was massive? Rich’s original TOC listed 11 stories — the finished product has twice that many, from authors like Greg Egan, James Patrick Kelly, Chris Willrich, Kage Baker, Jay Lake, Alastair Reynolds, Ian McDonald, Aliette de Bodard, Robert Reed, Ian R. MacLeod, and many others.

Rich also provides a fascinating introduction, exploring the genesis of the term “space opera” in early SF and the way perceptions of it have changed over the years — as well as a survey of overlooked classics. Here’s a taste:

The term space opera was coined by the late great writer/fan Wilson (Bob) Tucker in 1941, and at first was strictly pejorative… Even so, much work that would now be called space opera was written and widely admired in that period…. most obviously, perhaps, the work of writers like Edmond Hamilton and, of course, E.E. “Doc” Smith…

It may have been Brian Aldiss who began the rehabilitation of the term with a series of anthologies in the mid-70s: Space Opera (1974), Space Odysseys (1974), and Galactic Empires (two volumes, 1976). Aldiss, whose literary credentials were beyond reproach, celebrated pure quill space opera as “the good old stuff,” even resurrecting all but forgotten stories like Alfred Coppel’s “The Rebel of Valkyr,” complete with barbarians transporting horses in spaceship holds. Before long writers and critics were defending space operas as a valid and vibrant form of SF…

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Galaxy, September 1972: A Retro Review

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Rich Horton

Galaxy September 1972-smallI don’t usually look at magazines quite this recent in these reviews… though now that I think about this, this issue appeared well over 40 years ago! It’s a fairly significant issue in context, though coming from a period in Galaxy’s history usually disparaged.

This period was the editorship of Ejler Jakobsson, which extended from 1969 to 1974. He succeeded Frederik Pohl, and preceded Jim Baen, two extremely important figures in SF editing. Indeed, the only other editor of Galaxy before Pohl was H. L. Gold, yet another absolutely central SF editor. So Jakobsson was bound to have a hard time being compared to that crowd. A number of writers complained that Jakobsson was an editorial meddler (ironically, the same complaint was often made of Gold).

I confess I have never thought much of Jakobsson’s reign myself. I began reading Galaxy in October 1974, shortly after Baen took over. And I loved Baen’s Galaxy. The few issues of Jakobsson’s I’ve seen before this one have been rather dull.

I often have read words to the effect that he knew little or nothing about SF, but that’s not quite true. He was Finnish and emigrated to the US in 1926, aged 15. In the ’40s, he worked on the magazines Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories, and indeed edited the latter for a couple of years starting in 1949. But he had been out of the field since that time – so perhaps it was more accurate to say he knew little about then contemporary SF.

He did have a couple of important assistants: Judy-Lynn Benjamin was Managing Editor and Lester Del Rey was Features Editor. (Del Rey and Benjamin married later, of course, and co-founded the Del Rey Books imprint.)

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Meet You In The Bar

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Violette Malan

talesLast week I introduced the topic of the bar story and I saw from the comments that I struck a popular chord.

As I mentioned, the bar story is an example of a framing device, a literary tool which enables a writer to link a series of stories, in this case by having them told by people who have gathered together in a bar. The question of whether the “club story” qualified as a “bar story” came up, and on thinking it over, I realized that it did. For purposes of tale-telling – to say nothing of drinking – one’s club is essentially the same as one’s local.

This week, I’d like to talk in a little more depth about the anthologies edited by George H. Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer, Tales From The Spaceport Bar (1987) and Another Round at the Spaceport Bar (1989).

As they tell us in the preface to Tales,  the editors were inspired to collect these stories by what they call “that magnificent old cliché with chairs” the spaceport bar – as depicted in the scene from Star Wars (Episode IV, for those of you who weren’t around at the time). The preface also gives us a more detailed history of the sub-genre of “bar story” than I gave you last week.

I think we can all agree, however, that the important contents here are the 22 stories, not the preface. Many, if not most, of the stories are examples of framework “bar stories”, like Larry Niven’s “The Green Marauder” from his Draco’s Tavern series, “Elephas Frumenti” from the Gavagan’s Bar series of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, “Strategy at the Billiards Club” from Lord Dunsany’s Joseph Jorkin series, or Spider Robinson’s “The Centipede’s Dilemna” from Callahan’s Bar.

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