The Late June Fantasy Magazine Rack

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Albedo One 45-rack Apex Magazine Issue 73-rack Asimovs-Science-Fiction-July-2015-rack Black Static 46-rack
Lightspeed-61-rack Fantasy Scroll Magazine 7 June 2015-rack Nightmare Magazine June 2015-rack Swords and Sorcery Magazine June 2015-rack

The big news this week is that we’ve started coverage of Ireland’s long-running magazine of the Fantastic, Albedo One, with issue #45, and the huge (432 pages!) Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue of Lightspeed — which is also available in a special trade paperback edition.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our mid-June Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

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.

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New Treasures: The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Revolutions Felix Gilman-smallMatthew David Surridge called Felix Gilman “one of the strongest new novelists in fantasy fiction today.” Over the past eight years Gilman has been gradually making a name for himself, with popular steampunk novels like Thunderer, Gears of the City, and the duology The Half-Made World and The Rise of Ransom City. For his latest, The Revolutions, now available in paperback from Tor, Gilman has written a sweeping stand-alone tale of Victorian science fiction, arcane exploration, and planetary romance.

In 1893, young journalist Arthur Shaw is at work in the British Museum Reading Room when the Great Storm hits London, wreaking unprecedented damage. In its aftermath, Arthur’s newspaper closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiancé Josephine takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. At one of her meetings, Arthur is given a job lead for what seems to be accounting work, but at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, as the workers spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad, but the money is compelling.

Things are beginning to look up when the perils of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come to a head: A war breaks out between competing magical societies. Josephine joins one of them for a hazardous occult exploration-an experiment which threatens to leave her stranded at the outer limits of consciousness, among the celestial spheres.

Arthur won’t give up his great love so easily, and hunts for a way to save her, as Josephine fights for survival… somewhere in the vicinity of Mars.

The Revolutions was published in hardcover by Tor Books on April 1, 2014, and reprinted in trade paperback on April 7, 2015. It is 416 pages, priced at $16.99, or $9.99 for the digital edition.


June Issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine Now Available

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Swords and Sorcery Magazine June 2015-smallIssue 41 of Curtis Ellett’s Swords and Sorcery Magazine, cover-dated June 2015, was published today. Each issue of Swords and Sorcery contains two short stories, and is available free online. This issue includes new fiction from Kevin Cockle and Cameron Huntley.

Wind Song,” by Kevin Cockle, is a story of aerial warfare pitting magical flying machines against dragon riders. Cockle’s novel Spawning Ground is due out in 2016. He has also written numerous short stories, and co-written a short film, The Whale, with Mike Peterson. This is his first publication in Swords & Sorcery.

The King’s Blacksmith,” by Cameron Huntley is the story of a young craftsman who must decide if his devotion to his art is worth the cost. This is Huntley’s first story in Swords & Sorcery but his work has previously been seen in The Dream Quarry and Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi.

Read the current issue here. We last covered Swords and Sorcery Magazine with Issue #40.

Swords and Sorcery Magazine is edited by Curtis Ellett, and is available free online. Fletcher Vredenburgh reviewed issue #40 in his May Short Story Roundup.

See our mid-June Fantasy Magazine Rack here, and all of our recent Magazine coverage here.


The Novels of Tanith Lee: Days of Grass

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Days of Grass-smallWe’re continuing with our look at the extraordinary 40-year career of Tanith Lee, who passed away on May 24th. So far I’ve focused on her highly regarded series work, but I don’t want to neglect her standalone novels.

Today I’d like to briefly highlight Days of Grass, subtitled After the Fall of Humanity, one of the first Tanith Lee novels I ever bought. I wish I could tell you I was drawn by her reputation, but truthfully it was Michael Whelan’s gorgeous cover that seduced me. Click on the image at right for a bigger version — and be sure to note the man hiding in the rocks, and the alien striding machine rounding the cliffs on the far left.

Days of Grass might do better today than it did when it was first published. It’s a postapocalyptic dystopia with a strong female protagonist, and the world didn’t know how to treat a book like that in 1985. As it is, it has never been reprinted, and has now been out of print for 30 years. Copies are available online for not much more than the original cover price.

The free humans lived underground, secretive, like rats. Above, the world was a fearsome place for them – the open sky a terror, the night so black, and the striding machines from space so laser-flame deadly.

Esther dared the open; she saw the sky; she saw the Enemy. And she was taken – captive – to the vast alien empty city. Surrounded by marvels of science not born on earth, Esther did not know what they wanted of her. There was mystery in the city, dread in the heavens, and magic in the handsome alien man who came to her.

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The Dark Island by Henry Treece

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

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Britain is a dark island of mists and woods. It lies farther north than any other known land, so that the sun is seldom seen there. The people of this island are brave in battle but fearful of their gods and priests.

Arminius Agricola, Ambassador to Camulodunum, A.D. 25 – A.D. 30

The first written of Henry Treece’s Celtic Tetralogy, the second chronologically, and the third to be reviewed by me, The Dark Island (1952) is a story of 1st century AD Britain. I’ve previously reviewed The Great Captains and Red Queen, White Queen here at Black Gate. The fourth is The Invaders. Together, they present one of the most artistically successful attempts to portray ancient Britain and its people. Treece’s ancient Britons are the inhabitants of a dark and violent world, where signs and portents are seen in every event. For them, the gods and their blessings and curses are real. Fiercely independent as they believe themselves to be, even kings and princes bow down before the blood-soaked hands of the Druids. Under their direction human sacrifices to the gods are a regular occurrence. It is a world alien to us today and Treece presents it without condescension or sentimentality, and as completely believable.

The Dark Island is a story of trying to hold on to ideals in the face of overwhelming forces. Gwyndoc, cousin of Caradoc (better known as Caractacus), is a prince and a warrior. He was raised to be loyal, brave, and to fear the gods. In the wake of the Roman invasion, the shattering of the British army at the Battle of the Medway, and the easy acquiescence of most of the population to Roman rule, holding true to his ideals becomes difficult and self-destructive.

Gwyndoc and Caradoc are as close as brothers when they are young. They come of age during the golden days of the rule of Caradoc’s father, Cunobelin (more commonly known as Cymbeline). While Caesar’s invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 BC failed, Roman commerce and culture have made great inroads there. The merchants of Camulodunum and the tribal kings and princes have become richer than ever before. Their sons are educated by Roman tutors. Times are peaceful and plentiful.

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Displaced Genre Bookshop Crowdfunds for New Chicago Location

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by G. Winston Hyatt

Bucket O Blood-smallOn Monday, June 29, Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records posted a song to their store’s Facebook page: “We’re Desperate,” from the 1981 X album Wild Gift.

Though the Chicago bookshop specializing in all things cult doesn’t, as the lyrics proclaim, need a new address every other week — it does need one soon. They’re facing the termination of their lease at the end of July and must vacate their current storefront.

They don’t want to leave their neighborhood, and the store’s devoted local following certainly don’t want to see them go. (Black Gate is based in Chicago, and more than a few contributors have perused the shop’s shelves or attended one of its events.)

They’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to offset the high cost of moving. It’s down to the wire, with less than a week left, and every little bit helps.

Owners Grant and Jenny with Peter S. Beagle

Owners Grant and Jenny with Peter S. Beagle

The shop’s expertly curated collection of genre fiction, vinyl oddities, horror and sci-fi films, and assorted weird artifacts have made it a beloved destination among casual fans and avid collectors alike.

When most bookstores can’t be bothered to separate their fantasy from their science fiction, and have a horror section consisting of a ramshackle shelf of VC Andrews and Stephen King, Bucket O’ Blood is something special.

They’re seeking not just a new space, but an expanded location to better serve the community, offering space for book clubs, writing workshops, author events, live music, and perhaps the occasional arcane ritual when the stars are right.

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A Brief Guide to Space Race Movies

Monday, June 29th, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Apollo 13 poster-smallYou could sweat the details, but it’s probably safe to say that the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union lasted nearly 12 years. The Soviets kicked it off on October 4, 1957 with the launch of the little satellite that could, the one known as Sputnik. The Americans fell behind on nearly every front in those early years but then grabbed the brass ring on July 21, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

Nowadays, four decades after humans last walked on the moon, space exploration fails to stir the public imagination like it once did. Ticker tape parades for astronauts are a thing of the past, and Canadian Chris Hadfield is arguably the closest thing to a “celebrity” astronaut to come along in decades.

But it was not always thus. If you’d like a fictional perspective on how things were in the pioneering days of space flight, you could do worse than to check out the six movies listed below.

Marooned (1969)

Marooned seems to have slipped into something like obscurity in the nearly half a century since it was made. It’s a movie that concerns an Apollo-like mission which runs into difficulties that prevent them from re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Thus, they are marooned in orbit around Earth with a limited supply of oxygen.

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Darker and Deeper: Darkest Dungeon Update — Fiends and Frenzy

Monday, June 29th, 2015 | Posted by Josh Bycer

Darkest DungeonDarkest Dungeon by Red Hook Games has been on a roll since its successful kickstarter last year and releasing on early access a few months ago. The developers are taking a slow and steady approach in terms of adding new content. With the first major content patch, Fiends and Frenzy, Darkest Dungeon grows ever more menacing, and has become a treat to play.

A Grim Inheritance

For people who haven’t heard of Darkest Dungeon, here’s a brief recap. The game is a fantasy RPG with strong Rogue-like and Lovecraftian elements. Taking a team of four adventurers, your mission is to explore the corrupted remains of your former estate for resources, and to slowly drive back the bandits, undead, and other things that now inhabit your home.

Party member belongs to one of the game’s many classes, which dictate their equipment, skills in combat, and what tactics they bring to your party. The twist of Darkest Dungeon is that every person comes with personality quirks, both good and bad, that affect their stats.

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Future Treasures: The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

Monday, June 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dinosaur Lords-smallVictor Milán is the co-author of Runespear, and the author of the Star Trek novel From the Depths. His latest novel has the good fortune to be released while the hottest movie of the summer, Jurassic World, makes dinosaurs a hot property again. The Dinosaur Lords is the opening volume in a sprawling new fantasy series that George R. R. Martin calls “A cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.” It will be released by Tor next month.

A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden — and of war. Colossal plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meat-eaters like Allosaurus, and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from bat-sized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.

Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán’s splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics… except the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engage in battle. During the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac — and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.

The Dinosaur Lords will be published by Tor Books on July 28, 2015. It is 448 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital edition.


The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Carroll John Daly and the Birth of Hard-Boiled

Monday, June 29th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Daly_ManShadowsQuiz time: Who invented the hard-boiled school of fiction? And who was the first hard-boiled private eye? If you answered Carroll John Daly and Race Williams, you’d be like most folks. And you’d only be half right.

In December of 1922, Daly’s “The False Burton Combs” appeared in Black Mask Magazine and the hard-boiled school was born. In April of 1923, “It’s All in the Game” (which I’ve yet to read), with an unnamed protagonist, was printed. And on May 15, 1923, “Three Gun Terry” gave us Three Gun Terry Mack, first of the unnumbered hardboiled private eyes to follow for almost a century now.

In June, 1923, the first Race Williams story, “Knights of the Open Palm,” appeared in Black Mask and it is this story which most folks erroneously point to as the first one to feature a hard boiled private eye. In case you’re wondering, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op made his debut in “Arson Plus” in October of that year.

Three Gun Terry Mack only appeared in one more short story, (“Action! Action!” – Black Mask, January, 1924) and in one novel (The Man in the Shadows, 1928). But no matter, as he was really just a prototype for Race Williams, who would appear in some forty-ish stories and six serials/novels for Black Mask, a well as in other publications.

The tone is set from the first sentence on: “My life is my own, and the opinions of others don’t interest me, so don’t form any, or if you do, keep them to yourself. If you want to sneer at my tactics, why go ahead; but do it behind the pages – you’ll find that healthier.”

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