Goth Chick News: The Gospel of Loki, Because All Girls Love a Bad Boy

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Gospel of Loki-smallI recently had the pleasure of experiencing the only US stop of the touring exhibit Vikings at the Field Museum in Chicago. There I learned much about the Norse “tribe of gods,” which included stories about Odin, the god of war and death, but also the god of wisdom and poetry credited with creating the world. I also learned about Loki, the trickster god and companion of Odin, who helped him with clever plans but sometimes caused a world of trouble (literally).

It is easy to see some similarities between Odin and Loki, and Christianity’s God and Satan, though Norse mythology is far less black and white. Odin and Loki often work together to teach mankind lessons, both directly and through their own failings.

All in all, a fascinating experience.

Which is why I was beyond thrilled to find a package from my friends at Wunderkind, waiting for me when I got home.

The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne M. Harris, is scheduled for release on May 5th and at first, I thought I was going to have a chance to delve deeper into the Norse myth of Loki, which in and of itself would have been a treat.

However, what I really received was so much more fun.

Now this may come as a shock, but my favorite type of humor is that which is liberally tinged with irreverence. In other words, I like no one I like better than someone with the ability to poke fun at topics which are normally taken seriously by everyone else.

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The Late April Fantasy Magazine Rack

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 171-rack Cemetery Dance 72-rack Clarkesworld 103-rack Fantasy Scroll Magazine 6.jpg-rack
Sword & Sorcery Magazine 39 Grimdark Magazine 3-rack Lightspeed Magazine April 2015-rack Nightmare Magazine April 2015-rack

The late April magazine rack is crowded with online and print magazines of all kinds, from horror (Cemetery Dance, Nightmare) to adventure fantasy (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Sword & Sorcery) to science fiction & fantasy (Lightspeed, Clarkesworld) and more. This month we welcome promising newcomer Grimdark Magazine, already on its third issue. Click on any of the images above to see our detailed report on each issue.

As we’ve mentioned before, all of these magazines are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. Many are marginal operations for whom a handful of subscriptions may mean the difference between life and death. Why not check one or two out, and try a sample issue? There are magazines here for every budget, from completely free to $7.50/issue. If you find something intriguing, I hope you’ll consider taking a chance on a subscription. I think you’ll find it’s money very well spent.

Our early April Fantasy Magazine Rack, covering 20 magazines, is here.

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New Treasures: Grimm Mistresses edited by Stacey Turner

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Grimm Mistresses-smallWhile I was at the Windy City Pulp and Paper show last week, I met a lot of Black Gate readers. Most of them had advice and suggestions of some sort or another. But I think the best piece of advice I got was to check out Ragnarok Publications, who have been producing some terrific work over the last 18 months.

Ragnarok was founded in 2013 by Joe Martin and Tim Marquitz. It was born as a result of the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, and it released an astonishing 22 titles in its first year alone — including Django Wexler’s John Golden novels, Kenny Soward’s Gnomesaga trilogy, Seth Skorkowsky Valducan trilogy, and many others. Their books are beautiful and inexpensive, and well worth checking out. Through their Angelic Knight imprint, managed by Stacey Turner, they’ve also produced some very intriguing dark fantasy anthologies, including the new Grimm Mistresses.

Remember the Brothers Grimm? Those dark fairy tales that made you leave the light on long before Disney went and sanitized them? Well, we do! Now the MISTRESSES GRIMM take back the night, five female authors who will leave you shuddering deliciously. Get ready to leave the lights on again with four pieces of short fiction bringing the Brothers Grimm’s tales into the present. Be advised: these aren’t your children’s fairy tales!

“The Night Air” by Stacey Turner
“Little Dead Red” by Mercedes M. Yardley
“Nectar” by Allison M. Dickson
“Hazing Cinderella” by C.W. LaSart
“The Leopard’s Pelt” by S.R. Cambridge

Ragnarok’s most recent release was Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries. and Rogues, edited by J.M. Martin, which we covered hereGrimm Mistresses was published by Ragnarok Publications on February 23, 2015. It is 238 pages, priced at $11.95 in paperback and $2.99 for the digital edition. The cover art is by Brittany Smith. Learn more at the Ragnarok website.

The 2015 Hugo Nominations

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 | Posted by Rich Horton

Loncon 3 Hugo statue-smallI am I suppose coming a little bit late to the party, but I wanted to join in and express my views on the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies slates, and their effect on the Hugos. I will mention up front that of all the points of view I have seen expressed, I am most in sympathy with George R. R. Martin’s … you can read his views at his Not a Blog.

I should add as well that I do have a horse in this race. I am a Hugo nominee again as part of the editorial team for Lightspeed, which was nominated for Best Semiprozine. (We were fortunate enough to win last year, one of my biggest thrills in my time in the field.) I’ll be honest: one of the things that bothers me about this whole kerfuffle is that I’ll be at Sasquan as a nominee, my first time to be at the Hugos in person as a nominee. (I was unable to make it to London last year.) And I can’t help but think that the whole experience will be, certainly not ruined, but marred, by the aftermath of the whole mess. (For example – it would have been pretty darn cool to receive a Hugo from Connie Willis, if we were so lucky!) But you have every right not to care about that – that doesn’t matter at all in reality.

Anyway, here’s a quick summary of my positions:

Bloc voting is wrong. Making recommendations is not wrong. Promoting your own work strikes me as distasteful, but I’m not going to condemn those who do so. Promoting other people’s work is good.

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies 171 Now Available

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 171-smallI’ve sort of lost count of all the magazines I’m tracking for Black Gate now. It’s like two dozen or something. I dunno. It’s a lot. A lot more than I can read, anyway.

But I wish I could read every issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Scott H. Andrews’ magazine of literary adventure fantasy seems the closest in spirit to the print edition of Black Gate, and I’m certain I’d really enjoy them. Issue 171 contains two new stories by Spencer Ellsworth and Thomas M. Waldroon, a reprint from Rachael Acks, a podcast, and more.

The Fires of Mercy” by Spencer Ellsworth
The sandstorm had blanketed the world the night before. Sand hung still on the leaves of the palm trees; sand sat on a skim atop the water; sand pillowed against rocks. Grains swept the crevices of palm trees, shone like jewels in the sun.

Sinseerly A Friend & Yr. Obed’t” by Thomas M. Waldroon
Mr. Stutley Northup is not a magistrate. Why, he’s not even a lawyer. But if people are free to come to him with their controversies, he is just as free to offer his opinion; and if they choose to act on it, well, that’s their own lookout.

Audio Fiction Podcast: “The Fires of Mercy” by Spencer Ellsworth
The assassin, the mother, and the child fled into the desert.

From the Archives: “The Book of Autumn” by Rachael Acks
I made the truth something those duty old men couldn’t ignore.

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Remembering Nepal’s Ancient Cultural Heritage

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

Darbar Square, Kathmandu. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Durbar Square (“Palace Square”), Kathmandu. Surrounding these two large temples are a host of palaces and smaller temples and shrines. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

There’s a downside to being well-traveled — any time there’s a disaster overseas it feels close to home. This week’s earthquake in Nepal was another one of those disasters.

I visited Nepal in 1994 at the end of a year-long trip across Asia. I’d been working as an archaeologist in Bulgaria and went overland through Turkey, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, and India to make it finally to Nepal. That trip gave me some of my favorite spots on Earth — Cappadocia, Damascus, Isfahan, Varanasi, and the Himalayas. Like most people who visit Nepal, I went for the trekking. While the view from Annapurna base camp is something I’ll never forget, the people and ancient art and architecture of the Kathmandu valley have also stuck with me after all those years.

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Vintage Bits: The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Icewind Dale-smallIan Williams at Paste Magazine has posted a fond retrospective of the great years of D&D videogaming, correctly noting the current trend towards retro-dungeon crawls among independent developers.

Everyone’s going old school in their computer roleplaying games these days. Recent games like Grimrock 2, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity: Original Sin, and the steady stream of roguelikes hark back to the golden era of the form, when kobolds were kobolds and the gold coins flowed freely. The biggest, best chunk of those old games came, of course, from the Dungeons & Dragons bloodline.

His list includes most of the great D&D games of my youth, including (of course) Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and the brilliant Pool of Radiance. I was especially pleased to see one of my favorites, Icewind Dale, rank so highly on his list.

Icewind Dale doesn’t have the literary aspirations of its predecessors in the Black Isle catalog. It wants to let you fight waves of monsters and crack open the best parts of the old AD&D 2nd Edition system… Icewind Dale is best viewed as a system first, narrative second, type of game. You make a party from scratch, something you weren’t strictly allowed to do in Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment. And they knew you were going to min-max it. There were no complicated voiceover interactions with your party members, no main character with an intense personal story. Just the cold winds of the North, a simple storyline, and the chance to play murderhobo with the greatest RPG engine the D&D games put out.

See news on the new Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale here, and enjoy Ian’s complete article here.

Future Treasures: The Hollow Queen by Elizabeth Haydon, Book 8 of The Symphony of Ages

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Hollow Queen Elizabeth Haydon-smallThe first volume in Elizabeth Haydon’s long-running fantasy series The Symphony of Ages, Rhapsody, was published by Tor Books way back in September, 1999. It was an immediate hit; Publishers Weekly called it “One of the finest high fantasy debuts in years,” and the series quickly became a bestseller.

Over the next 15 years she’s published seven more in the series, mostly recently The Merchant Emperor last June. On May 5th The Merchant Emperor will be reprinted in paperback, and next month Tor releases the eighth installment, The Hollow Queen.

Beset on all sides by the forces of the merchant emperor Talquist, the Cymrian Alliance finds itself in desperate straits. Rhapsody herself has joined the battle, wielding the Daystar Clarion, leaving her True Name in hiding with her infant son. Ashe tries to enlist the aid of the Sea Mages. Within their Citadel of Scholarship lies the White Ivory tower, a spire that could hold the key to unraveling the full extent of Talquist’s machinations. Achmed journeys to the reportedly unassailable palace of Jierna Tal, to kill emperor Talquist–all the while knowing that even if he succeeds, it may not be enough to stop the momentum of the war.

As they struggle to untangle the web of Talquist’s treachery, the leaders of the Cymrian alliance are met with obstacles at every turn. Rhapsody soon realizes that the end of this war will come at an unimaginable price: the lives of those she holds dearest.

The Hollow Queen will be published by Tor Books on June 30, 2015. It is 415 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

The Proxy Culture War for the Soul of Middle Earth

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by Sandy Ryalls

Culture War-smallThe culture war has been going on for a while. We’re used to it played out large. Trying to boil down 50 years of social history and politics into a paragraph is going to lose some nuance but, in broad strokes, you’ve people for whom established mores work, usually from homogenous communities, and people for whom they don’t — who are frequently labeled with various flavors of moral degeneracy. Usually to the scorn of history.

It’s played out in government, often in schools. We’re used to that. But now it’s also playing out in our fandom, our games, our conventions. This year the Hugo Awards took some collateral damage from being a battlefield in a war that is part of that narrative but is also somewhat removed from how we’ve been used to thinking of this fight.

Safe Space and the Geek Social Fallacy

There is a social movement of, largely, white male nerds misusing the concept of safe space to exclude people from geekdom.

Safe space is an area where anyone can be comfortable in who they are without recrimination, without bullying and without threat.

Most of our society isn’t safe. The litany of violence, abuse, and microaggression thrown at people because of fundamental aspects of their person is well documented

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Vintage Treasures: The Silken Magic Books by Elizabeth Gilligan

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Magic's Silken Snare-small The Silken Shroud-small

I published Elizabeth Gilligan’s short story “Iron Joan” in Black Gate 3 (read the complete story here), and it was an immediate hit. The tale of an indomitable woman — the daughter of the High Chief of Glen Cluain, shamed by her father’s house but gifted in her mother’s secret arts — who mysteriously leaves home at seventeen to settle in a tiny village, was a powerful story that SF Reader called “A deep, well-written tale. Highly recommended.”

Elizabeth Gilligan seemed to me like a writer destined for great things, and it wasn’t long before I was proven right. He debut novel, Magic’s Silken Snare, the first volume in Silken Magic, was published by DAW in April 2003, and was widely acclaimed. Locus called it an “Opulent tale and court intrigue and dark magics… [An] excellent first novel,” and Romantic Times said “An alternate Sicily is splendidly revealed… [with] robust characterizations, multiple storylines, and clever delivery.” It was followed by the second volume, The Silken Shroud, in April 2004, and it seemed obvious that this was the beginning of a stellar career.

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