Future Treasures: The Stephen King Companion: Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror by George Beahm

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Stephen King Companion Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror-smallI believe I’ve read more novels by Stephen King than by any other writer. King has done more to promote and publicize the horror genre — and, by association, his fellow horror writers — than any other person in the last half-century. His books are highly collectible, and he’s produced such an enormous body of work, some of it connected in enigmatic and cool ways, that he makes a fascinating study.

No surprise then that there have been many books about King. But I think George Beahm’s massive new volume The Stephen King Companion, an authoritative look at King’s personal life and professional career, from Carrie to The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, is something special. It’s mind bogglingly complete, with lengthy chapters dedicated to each of his major works, and crammed full of photos and interesting tidbits — including a 16-page color section devoted to Micheal Whelan’s striking cover art.

But best of all, it’s extraordinarily readable, packed to the brim with all kinds of fascinating details, such as the phone call between King and Don Grant that finally got King to agree to reprint The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, and how King saw his first photos of his father. This is the kind of book you pick up to check a quick detail, and wind up reading for hours. Highly recommended, for both dedicated fans and casual readers alike.

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Where Truemen Struggle to Preserve Genetic Purity: The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

The Iron Dream-smallEvery now and then, fandom needs to take a good, hard look at itself. Considering the recent Hugo kerfuffle, I thought it a fine time to read Norman Spinrad’s famous skewering of fan culture, The Iron Dream.

First published in 1972, this is a masterpiece of metafiction. It is a book within a book, containing the 1955 Hugo Award winner Lord of the Swastika, written by none other than that famous science fiction writer, Adolph Hitler. We are informed that after dabbling in radical politics in Germany, Hitler moved to New York in 1919. In the 1930s he became a sought-after illustrator for pulp magazines and started writing fiction. He was popular in fannish circles for his fanzine work and for his witty banter at conventions.

His best-known work is Lord of the Swastika, a post-apocalyptic tale where the world has been ravaged by nuclear war and most people have become foul mutants. Luckily there is one nation, Heldon, where the Truemen struggle to preserve humanity’s genetic purity.

Enter Feric Jaggar, a Trueman whose family was exiled due to political machinations and forced to live among the mongrel horde. Lord of the Swastika is the tale of Jagger’s triumphant return to Heldon, where he unmasks a plot by the mutants to take over the country and sully the genetic purity of the last real humans. Jagger’s political star rises, the masses rallying around him as he first faces off against a corrupt government, then unites the nation around him in order to start a massive war to wipe the Earth clean of genetic inferiors once and for all.

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John W. Campbell Jr. and the Knack for Being Wrong About Everything

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by Darrell Schweitzer

Analog October 1965-smallI’ve been listing copies of Analog (from a lot I acquired over the summer) on eBay for some time, and looking through them as I have. What strikes me forcefully — though of course I had been aware of it for years, being old enough to remember when JWC was still editing — is how John Campbell had an eerie ability to be wrong about just about everything, from Dianetics to the Dean Drive to supporting George Wallace in the 1968 election to the statement that television would never catch on because you’d have to stop what you’re doing and WATCH it.

It goes on and on, rather relentlessly. Only in Analog would you find, as late as the 1960s, an article on the positive benefits of smoking.

The latest one I’ve come across is the editorial in the October 1965 issue, in which Campbell lambastes largely straw-men “Litteraeurs” on their inability to write, dismissing approved mainstream literature (about which I suspect he knew very little) as “sex in suburbia” and making the famous claim that he gets more printable manuscripts from Cal Tech or Harvard Law School than from the Harvard Literature department. “How come they keep turning out Literature graduates that can’t sell stories?”

Of course the fallacy here is that the purpose of Literature departments is to turn out writers, and that “sell stories” means sell stories to Analog. I am sure the editors of The New Yorker or the major literary magazines would have had a different view. But this was a very common Philistine cant at one time. From at least the New Wave period, all the way up to the Sad Puppies, we have heard the complaint that these damned Literature majors are ruining Science Fiction.

That John Campbell was unquestionably a great editor while being so wrong about so many things is hard to explain — thought it does explain why the field seemed to be leaving him behind by the last few years of his life.

Darrell Schweitzer’s last article for us was Donald Westlake’s Famous Complaint.

Weirdbook 31 Now on Sale

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Weirdbook 31-smallI am delighted to announce that Weirdbook 31, the latest issue of one of the greatest sword & sorcery and weird fantasy magazines in history, is now on sale.

New editor Doug Draa, the former online editor for Weird Tales, has done an tremendous job resurrecting Paul Ganley’s classic weird fantasy magazine, and dressing it up for the 21st Century. Weirdbook produced thirty annual issues between 1968 and 1997, publishing fiction by Stephen King, Joseph Payne Brennan, H. Warner Munn, Robert E. Howard, Tim Powers, Darrell Schweitzer, Delia Sherman, and countless others. The magazine was also renowned for its gorgeous interior artwork by Gene Day, Allen Koszowski, Stephen E. Fabian, and many others.

This is the first issue since 1997; its new publisher is Wildside Press, publisher of Adventure Tales, Wildside Pulp Classics, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. The cover is by Dusan Kostic, and the back cover is a piece by the great Stephen E. Fabian, who did most of the covers for the original run.

The magazine is a large digest format on book paper, in the same format at Adventure Tales and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. It’s available directly from Wildside, from online distributors, and through Amazon.com.

The new issue includes brand new fiction and poetry from John R. Fultz, Adrian Cole, Paul Dale Anderson, Darrell Schweitzer, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Wade German, and many others. Here’s the complete table of contents.

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Ghost Stories, Lovecraft, and a Monster Detective: The Dark Fantasy of IFWG Publishing

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Gate at Lake Drive-small Peripheral Visions The Collected Ghost Stories-small

IFWG Publishing is a small, independent speculative fiction press based in Melbourne, Australia. Two of their recent dark fiction/horror titles caught my eye: a horror-Lovecraftian-noir detective mashup from Canadian horror writer Shaun Meeks, and a huge 800-page collection of ghost stories from Robert Hood, the father of Australian horror.

The Gate at Lake Drive by Shaun Meeks
Meet Dillon, the Monster Dick. He’s a detective of sorts, a man hired to hunt down things that have come into our world that have no right to be here. Whether it’s a monster made up of paint cans and rags, spirits that hide in carpets, or animals possessed by demons, Dillon will dispatch them as soon as he finds them. His new job is up in northern Ontario, where the mayor has hired him to deal with creatures that seem to be coming from a whirlpool in the middle of the lake. When he hears this, he’s more worried than he’s ever been. In all the years Dillon has been a hunter, he’s never once heard of a flock of monsters coming into this realm. Dillon heads there with his new friend, Rouge Hills, and finds nothing is what it seems. It’s not just one type of monster, but something far worse trying to be born into our world. The odds are stacked against him, but since the money is good, there’s no turning back.

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DRACULA THE UNDEAD by Freda Warrington

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

NOTE: The following article was first published on January 22, 2010. Thank you to John O’Neill for agreeing to reprint these early articles, so they are archived at Black Gate which has been my home for over 5 years and 250 articles now. Thank you to Deuce Richardson without whom I never would have found my way. Minor editorial changes have been made in some cases to the original text.

draclargeDracula The UnDeadDracula the Undead by Freda Warrington is a true rarity – a sequel to a literary classic that doesn’t pale in comparison. Warrington is a respected British fantasy and horror author with a loyal following in the UK. Her prose is worthy of greater acclaim. Dracula the Undead was first published as a paperback original in the UK in 1997 to coincide with the centennial of Stoker’s classic. The book gained some decent reviews but never made it across the Atlantic and seemed doomed to fade into obscurity.

Flash forward to October 2009 and the publication of Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt’s “authorized” sequel, Dracula the Un-Dead. Their book received a great deal of media attention and was displayed prominently in retail bookstores. It was the sequel I wanted to love as a Stoker fan, but I’m afraid I am far too much of a purist to embrace it. However, I did note that Severn House (a British publisher that started out in the mid-seventies recycling titles from another British bargain-priced reprint specialty press, Tom Stacey) was bringing the Freda Warrington book back in a hardcover edition to capitalize on the attention granted the nearly identically-titled Stoker/Holt sequel. I was aware of the Warrington book and since my book shelf already contained a few Severn House titles from decades past, I was happy to see they had now acquired US distribution so I made a point of picking the book up.

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Announcing the Winners of Gestapo Mars

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Gestapo Mars-smallLast week we invited Black Gate readers to win one of three copies of Victor Gischler’s brand new novel of interstellar Nazi mayhem, Gestapo Mars, by submitting a one-sentence review of their favorite Nazi science fiction story. As you can imagine, we received a wide range of entries, and today we announce our three winners. Winners were selected from the pool of eligible entries by the most reliable method known to modern science: D&D dice.

Our first winner is Dave Ritzlin, who submitted this concise gem:

The Little People by John Christopher sucks, but it has a whip-wielding Nazi leprechaun on the cover, so that’s my favorite NS SF story.

Can’t argue with that. Our next winner is Don Carpenter:

Lightning! by Dean Koontz is my favorite Nazi Science Fiction because you don’t find out they’re involved until the origin of the mystery man is revealed. (Trying to avoid spoilers)

We appreciate the lack of spoilers, Don. Finally, congratulations to Kevin Walters, for his comic-themed entry:

The Nazis of Hellboy (first story arc) and their scheme to combine science & sorcery to rule the world but resulted in bringing Hellboy to Earth.

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New Treasures: If Then by Matthew De Abaitua

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

If Then Matthew De Abaitua-smallI spend a lot of talking talking to publicists, reading review copies, following blogs, and generally keeping up on the latest books and hot new writers in the genre. But to really stay informed, nothing beats a trip to a well-stocked bookstore. Case in point: Matthew De Abaitua’s latest novel If Then, which I discovered on the New Releases shelf on my Saturday trip to Barnes & Noble. The book description piqued my interest — and when I saw it was published by Angry Robot, that sealed the deal.

In the near future, after the collapse of society as we know it, one English town survives under the protection of the computer algorithms of the Process, which governs every aspect of their lives. The Process gives and it takes. It allocates jobs and resources, giving each person exactly what it has calculated they will need. But it also decides who stays under its protection, and who must be banished to the wilderness beyond. Human life has become totally algorithm-driven, and James, the town bailiff, is charged with making sure the Process’s suggestions are implemented.

But now the Process is making soldiers. It is readying for war — the First World War. Mysteriously, the Process is slowly recreating events that took place over a hundred years ago, and is recruiting the town’s men to fight in an artificial reconstruction of the Dardanelles campaign. James, too, must go fight. And he will discover that the Process has become vastly more sophisticated and terrifying than anyone had believed possible.

Matthew De Abaitua’s first novel, Red Men, was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

If Then was published by Angry Robot on September 1, 2015. It is 412 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Raid 71. Learn more at Angry Robot.

A Meditation on Writer’s Block

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Posted by Aaron Starr

And the route was wide open just hours before

And the route was wide open just hours before

Lights-out had come two hours before, but I couldn’t sleep with the deadline looming. Rising from the squeaky metal cot, I left my cubicle and padded through the darkened corridors of the Black Gate writer’s bullpen. From all sides, the satisfied snores of my fellow writers echoed in the cavernous space just below the boiler rooms. Further up the narrow passage, I saw light spilling from one of the cubicles, and recognized with relief that it was the cell belonging to Ryan Harvey.

Creeping quickly along the narrow passages between the darkened cubes, pausing only to avoid the searchlights that raked the area from above, I ducked through the bead curtain that separated Ryan from his fellows. In the center of the cubicle, atop a small cushion on a richly woven rug, was the man himself. His eyes were nearly closed, his legs crossed, his fingertips gently touching, the very picture of serenity. At the faint rattle of the beads, his eyes opened fully.

“Mr. Harvey, sir?” I ventured.

“I’ve been expecting you,” he said, gesturing to a nearby cushion.

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Future Treasures: The Last Witness by K. J. Parker

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Last Witness-smallBestselling fantasy author K.J. Parker, author of The Scavenger trilogy and The Engineer trilogy, disclosed that he’s actually famed British novelist Tom Holt on the Coode Street Podcast on April 22. It was a revelation that stunned many (me included), as over the last 17 years Holt has continued his prolific output under his own name, while simultaneously writing over a dozen novels as K.J. Parker. That’s an impressive accomplishment. Parker’s latest release is the fifth book in Tor.com‘s new line of premium novellas. The Last Witness is a classic Parker tale, with a strong supporting cast of princes, courtiers, merchants, academics, and generally unsavory people.

When you need a memory to be wiped, call me.

Transferring unwanted memories to my own mind is the only form of magic I’ve ever mastered. But now, I’m holding so many memories I’m not always sure which ones are actually mine, any more. Some of them are sensitive; all of them are private. And there are those who are willing to kill to access the secrets I’m trying to bury…

Check out all ten Tor.com fall novellas (including sample chapters!) here.

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