Dear Prudentia: How Do I Learn to Quest?

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

How Do I Learn to Quest


I would like to go on quests, but I’m told that’s not lady-like. Still, there must be someone who can help me become a warrior, because I don’t like dolls and I’m not a fan of the color pink. Can you help me become a hero?

Dress Hater


Now, I almost didn’t answer your question because I felt it was rather abrupt. I mean, you don’t like dolls? Perhaps you don’t like your dolls. But dolls are like tiny babies, so I’m sure that, as a woman-in-training (the most important education ever!), you love them. And as for pink, it is the color of newborns and I know you must love those.

But, I can certainly understand the allure of adventure. I myself have enjoyed quite a few sinister walks in the nearby forests (only during daylight, of course, as is proper). Since you’re obviously not up to speed on my posts and I’ve already chatted about ambition, I feel that I can perhaps redirect your naïve request toward more feasible career options for a young lady.

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Future Treasures: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Time Salvager-smallI first met Wesley Chu at the 2013 launch party for Mary Robinette Kowal’s Without a Summer here in Chicago. His first novel, The Lives of Tao, was about to be released by Angry Robot, and it was a thrill to meet another local author just beginning to get his career underway.

Well, that didn’t last long. Fast forward two years, and Wesley Chu is one of the hottest writers in the business. His second novel, The Deaths of Tao, appeared in October 2013, and in April he received a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Before most of us could even say “Congratulations!” however, Wesley announced that his third and fourth novels, The Rebirths of Tao and Time Salvager, would both be released this year. And on June 3, Wesley posted a brief announcement on Facebook pointing to this post at, which began:

Michael Bay to Adapt Wesley Chu’s Time Salvager

Ahead of its publication in July, Wesley Chu’s Time Salvager has already been optioned for a movie! According to Publishers Weekly, Paramount Pictures acquired the rights for a feature film franchise, with Michael Bay attached to direct and Chu set to executive produce.

Four novels, a major award nomination, a movie deal, and more. If you haven’t already heard of Wesley Chu, I suggest that now is the time to sit up and take notice.

Time Salvager is a great place to start. It’s a fast-paced time travel adventure featuring what Wesley describes as “an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues.” After the announcement, Tor quickly shipped a small number of advance copies to the Nebula weekend here in Chicago in early June, and I was lucky enough to grab one. It opens with a tense scene on the bridge of a starship on the verge of destruction, and things accelerate quickly from there.

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New Treasures: Multiverse: Exploring the Worlds of Poul Anderson, edited by Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Multiverse Exploring the Worlds of Poul Anderson-smallPoul Anderson was one of the greats of 20th Century science fiction and fantasy. He was astoundingly prolific, writing over 70 novels and numerous short stories before his death in 2001. He won virtually every award the field has to offer, including seven Hugos and three Nebulas, and the ambitious project to collect his short fiction, The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson from NESFA Press, stands at six thick volumes and counting.

Multiverse: Exploring the Worlds of Poul Anderson is a tribute anthology edited by Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois that collects all-original fiction from Larry Niven, C. J. Cherryh, Stephen Baxter, Robert Silverberg, David Brin, Harry Turtledove, Terry Brooks, Gregory Benford, Tad Williams, Nancy Kress, and many others. It also contains articles and reminiscences of Anderson by most of the authors involved, plus Jerry Pournelle, Poul Anderson’s wife Karen, his daughter Astrid, and his son-in-law, novelist and co-editor Greg Bear.

For Poul Anderson fans, and for those being introduced to him for the first time, this is a truly invaluable anthology featuring some of the brightest names in the field. Here’s the complete table of contents.

Introduction: My Friend Poul, by Greg Bear
“Outmoded Things” by Nancy Kress
“The Man Who Came Late” by Harry Turtledove
“A Slip in Time” by S. M. Stirling
Living and Working with Poul Anderson, by Karen Anderson

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Black Static #46 Now on Sale

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 46-smallThe Barnes & Noble near my house doesn’t carry Black Static magazine. The one near my old job did, but I don’t work there any more. I’m going to have to find another source for it here in Chicago. It may mean driving a few miles, but it’s definitely worth it.

Issue #46 is cover-dated May/June, and contains six stories:

“So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words” by Steven J. Dines
“The Secret Language of Stamps” by Neil Williamson
“Falling Under, Through the Dark” by Damien Angelica Walters
“My Boy Builds Coffins” by Gary McMahon
“Magnifying Glass” by Sarah Read
“Men Wearing Makeup” by Ralph Robert Moore

The magazine’s regular columns include Coffinmaker’s Blues by Stephen Volk and Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker (comment). Rucker’s column this month is titled “Reviews, What Are They Good For?”, and the website offers this snippet.

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Dear Prudentia: How Do I Find Motivation as a Female?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Cinderella the Barbarian-small


I find I’m really unmotivated. Like, I want to pick up a sword and maybe learn to fight like my brothers did, but I don’t really have the motivation to do anything except look pretty and wash dishes. But I’m single, and I hear quests can be a great way to meet men. So, can you help me find a reason to be as badass as my male relatives? Everyone knows that self-motivation and ambition in a woman is both tiring and unattractive, two things that can make it harder to secure a man. I’m hoping you know ways around that.


Wanna GripASword


I completely understand you. And yes, questing is a great way to meet men, but you must first find the right motivation. I’m here to offer you great motivation that relies on no personal strength or ambition, to spare you looking indeed tired and unattractive. BUT, I do so only with the promise that, when you find your eventual mate, you’ll settle down and raise multiple children while waiting for your man to return home from his long quest abroad so that you may wash his feet and tend to his needs, as a proper woman should. Now, onward to motivation!

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Alien Invasions, Transporters, and Restarting the Sun: A Review of Beyond Belief

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Beyond Belief Richard J Hurley-smallBeyond Belief
Edited by Richard J. Hurley
Scholastic Book Services (188 pages, $0.45, April 1966)

Given that Scholastic was the publisher of this anthology, it’s probably fair to assume that it was aimed at what was once called the juvenile demographic. I was in that demographic when the 1973 paperback edition was published.

However, as the publishing credits reveal, most of the stories are drawn from SF magazines of prior decades. None of which were geared to juveniles, as far as I’m aware. It’s a mixed bag, as anthologies often are, but for me the ups outweighed the downs by a bit.

Thumbs Up

“Phoenix,” by Clark Ashton Smith

When you’re listing writers who have a truly distinctive voice, Clark Ashton Smith should probably be near the top. I wasn’t aware that he wrote much science fiction, but this story of humans living on a cold Earth and striving to restart the sun fits the bill. The best story in the book, for me, and one of the best I’ve read for a long time.

“It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” by Isaac Asimov

An interesting effort from Asimov, set far enough in the future that no one goes outside anymore, instead getting from point A to B by using Doors. Any resemblance to transporters is coincidental, since Star Trek came along more than a decade after this story was published. The hook is that one day a young boy decides that he’d rather get around by using old-fashioned doors to go outside and walk from place to place. Naturally, his well-bred, high-toned mother is aghast over this turn of events.

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Vintage Treasures: Secret of the Lost Race by Andre Norton / One Against Herculum by Jerry Sohl

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Secret of the Lost Race Andre Norton-small One Against Herculum-small

Time to get back to some Ace Doubles.

I’ve covered 20 in the series so far, which, as die-hard collectors will know, is only scratching the surface of this marvelous series. As long as we’re returning to our survey after a lengthy hiatus, we might as well return in style. And that means Andre Norton.

So today we’ll look at Secret of the Lost Race, one of her classic novels of space adventure, paired with an early novel by future Star Trek writer Jerry Sohl, One Against Herculum. It was published as Ace Double #D-381 in 1959. Both short novels were original publications.

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Death Angel’s Shadow by Karl Edward Wagner

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

Best Kane cover ever – by Stan Zagorski

Best Kane cover ever – by Stan Zagorski

I’ve read  Karl Edward Wagner‘s Death Angel’s Shadow (1973), with its three stories of Kane, the Mystic Swordsman, numerous times since first finding it in my attic in the 1970s. Before Conan’s or Elric’s, Kane’s adventures sparked my interest in swords & sorcery. Only a few years ago, I wrote a long piece about Wagner and this book over at my site, Swords & Sorcery: A Blog. I figured it was time to give it a reread and review here at Black Gate.

For the uninitiated, Kane is, in Wagner’s own words, a villain-hero. Cursed with immortality, over the course of his career he’s been an evil wizard, a crime lord, a bandit, and the general of a demon cult’s army. Sometimes he’s up against someone more diabolical than he is, but he’s never the good guy, never the hero.

This description of him gives you a sense of the wrongness that clings to him even when he’s not embarked on some nefarious plan:

It was his eyes that bothered Troylin. He had noticed them from the first. It was to be expected, for Kane’s eyes were the eyes of Death! They were blue eyes, but eyes that glowed with their own light. In those cold blue gems blazed the fires of blood madness, of the lust to kill and destroy. They poured forth infinite hatred of life and promised violent ruin to those who sought to meet them. Troylin caught an image of that powerful body striding over a battlefield, killer’s eyes blazing and red sword dealing carnage to all before it.

The three Kane novels, Darkness Weaves, Bloodstone, and Dark Crusade, are decent enough, but it’s in the short stories that Wagner’s immense talents shine most brightly. Two years ago I reviewed the collection, Night Winds (1978) at Black Gate. That book contains some of the best and darkest S&S stories ever set to paper. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Review of Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Nick Ozment

Pathfinder Tales Plague of Shadows-smallI just read my second Howard Andrew Jones novel: Plague of Shadows (2011), which was the first of his two Pathfinder novels (I read them out of order). In my review of Stalking the Beast (2013) for Black Gate, I raved that it delivered everything I crave from such a tale. It did so with skill and panache, introducing me to characters who have stayed with me. So I was pleased to go back and read the true introduction to Elyana, the Forlorn elven ranger raised by humans, and Drelm, the half-orc who values honor and loyalty more than most humans (let alone most orcs) do.

Knowing that it was a first outing, I went in expecting it to be not quite as good — not as polished or assured, maybe — as its follow-up (indeed, I gave Stalking the Beast a perfect 5-star rating, arguing that sword-and-sorcery RPG tie-in novels just don’t get any better than that).

But then I finished the book: And I felt that peculiar sense that only certain works of art engender, as the last sentence echoes away or the curtain falls or the credits roll. It has impressed itself upon you, and you feel enriched but tinged with a bittersweet sadness — the characters have left, and you miss them. The characters have, in some sense, become more real; they have joined your own personal pantheon. With this second visit, Elyana and Drelm grew from being fun, engaging characters in a standalone book into characters about whom I want to read many books!

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Adventures In Shape-Shifting: Robert Stallman’s The Orphan

Monday, June 22nd, 2015 | Posted by markrigney

The Orphan Robert Stallman-smallI write this on an emotional high, a plateau from which I never wish to descend, for I’ve just managed the impossible: I’ve gone back in time. The vehicle employed? A book, prose, a worn paperback. It’s Robert Stallman’s The Orphan.

I first encountered this title somewhere in the Dark Ages, probably around 1980. I re-read it perhaps two years later, along with its two sequels, The Captive and The Beast. Even though large swaths of plot have faded from my mind over the years, I have never, ever forgotten the book’s opening lines.

I am and will be. There is no time when I am not.

This is the first lesson.

My need creates myself.

This is the second lesson.

Alone is safe.

This is the third lesson.

I’ve spent the last thirty-five years considering those quotes (and the ideas behind them), polishing each like a gem-cutter finishing off a jewel. I’ve road-tested them, too, as a survival mechanism when, in my earliest teens, I tried out (as actors might try a cape) the attitude of Kipling’s cat, the one that walked by himself. It was necessary, in a way, but also foppish, affected. Even so, I found in The Orphan echoes of that chilly, solo stance — the same adopted in Westerns by virtually every gunslinger known, from Joel McRae to John Wayne and back again.

So once upon a time, my time, these lines held great personal weight. They were talismans, of a sort, and in picking up this gorgeous, dangerous title afresh, I was face to face with my past and the self I have since become.

For a moment, I had to look away.

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