It Is A Busy Omniverse: The Sword of Shadows: The Voidal Vol. 3 by Adrian Cole

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh


Tyrandire, the Palace of Pain, moves secretly and silently through unseen tunnels between the many dimensions of the omniverse, traversing any of them that its grim master wishes to visit. A minute moon, perfectly circular, colder than terror, Tyrandire speeds on its way like light, sometimes lingering like a biting frost. The energy that charges this oval missile is greater than that of any sun, indeed greater than the energy contained within an entire universe, for it is the will of the outlaw god, Ubeggi the Deceitful. Where Ubeggi seeks to go, his Palace of Pain takes him. He has many missions, all of them selfish, all of them corrupt, for the Weaver of Wars exists solely for his own amusement and he delights in knotting together the workings of more thoughful gods or undoing their orderly tapestries of fate. All the gods know of Ubeggi, and when his Palace of Pain nears their own haunts in the omniverse, they curse him, knowing that his mischief will be upon them.

                                                                                                                from Part One: The Weaver of Wars

And so, with The Sword of Shadows, we come to the end of the Voidal’s saga. For a series I have already called favorably “a study in sensory overload,” and “excessive, over the top, and incredibly phatasmagorical,” author Adrian Cole ends things as madly and wildly as a reader could hope.

Three of its eight chapters, were published previously as short stories: “The Weaver of Wars,” “At the Council of Gossipers,” and “Dark Destroyer.” Unlike the two previous books, this one reads more like a coherent novel than as a fix-up.

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Dracula: The Definitive Edition

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

NOTE:  The following article was first published on January 17, 2010. Thank you to John O’Neill for agreeing to reprint these first 20 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.

Drac Def EdDracula by Bram Stoker is the subject of my very first article as a blogger. I follow several book review blogs, but had mixed feelings about starting my own. Blogs serve no useful purpose save providing a few minutes of distraction from the mundane. As a result, they are fairly inconsequential in the Grand Scheme of Life, but infinitely more useful than a politician.

Dracula is slowly gaining acceptance in literary circles as more than just a genre classic and deservedly so. Of course, mass acceptance for a novel that has never been out of print in its 118 years on the planet means that there are literally hundreds of public domain copies to choose from for the unwary consumer. The focus of this review is on Dracula: The Definitive Edition available from Fall River Press. This edition is recommended not only for Edward Gorey’s fine illustrations and Marvin Kaye’s impressive essays and notes on the text, but it is also affordably priced.

This gets my nod over the many annotated editions out there for the simple fact that Mr. Kaye gives the modern reader all they need to know to enjoy the novel in the context it was written without getting bogged down endlessly in railway timetables and notes on Transylvanian culture, cuisine, superstition, or topography. Nor does he become sidetracked in speculation on Stoker’s marriage, sex life, or physical and mental health. Mr. Kaye provides the salient biographical details and expounds on details that are relevant to better appreciating the text and nothing more. His essays are a model of efficiency and stand on the strength of their factual accuracy above the more verbose and salacious theories one comes to expect with literary classics.

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Adventures in Spellcraft: Rope Trick

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Posted by markrigney

Calling all old-school gamers, the folks who cut their teeth on the Players1st-edition-players-handbook Handbook, the Monster Manual, or even those long-lost oddities like Eldritch Wizardry and Greyhawk. For those of us still standing, which I do hope is the majority, I’d like to take a quick stroll down Memory Lane.

Don’t worry, it’s only a block or so away, just past Green Town, Illinois, and not so far from my last (highly opinionated) write-up on the ill-behaved sorcery known as Chain Lightning.

Great. Now that we’re walking, let me ask, do you remember that clever little escape hatch spell, Rope Trick? Very handy for “taking five” in the midst of a battle not otherwise going well. Very useful for getting undisturbed shut-eye while camped overnight in hostile territory. Very helpful when the goal of your particular role-playing adventure is to drive the GM bats.

The basics, for those who may not recall, is that the casting of a Rope Trick causes a length of rope to suspend itself vertically in mid-air. Anyone shinnying up the rope will disappear, arriving in a pocket of extra-planar space. The Players Handbook phrased it this way:

The upper end is in fact fastened in an extra-dimensional space, and the spell caster up to five others can climb up the rope and disappear into this place of safety where no creature can find them.

(I’m on page seventy-one, second level magic user spells, for those of you following along on the app.)

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Peril on the Purple Planet

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

purple planet 1With NASA announcing astonishing news about the red planet, I thought it high time to talk about the purple planet, and the perils therein.

Maybe YOU were clued in, but despite a widely advertised Kickstarter campaign the impending release – nay, even the existence – of the purple planet completely passed me by until I swung by and read an enthusiastic review of a splendid sword-and-planet setting. I determined then and there to lay my hands on the product and learn about those perils myself.

purple planet 2My verdict? If you love sword-and-planet you need it. Even if Dungeon Crawl Classics isn’t your role-playing system of choice, you need it. Hell, you might even need if if you like sword-and-planet and don’t intend to game, because it’s just a blast. And I can highly recommend getting the boxed set. In his own review at tenfootpole, Bruce Lynch laments that it could be even cooler if there are more locations, because he read only the basic adventure. Voila, there ARE, within the set.

For once, the hype on the back cover copy delivers on all that it promises. If this sounds good to you, go ye forth and buy it: “The Purple Planet: Where Tribes of man-beasts wage an endless war beneath a dying sun. Where might death orms rule the wastes, befouled winds whistle through ancient crypts, and forests of fungi flourish in the weirdling light. Where ancient technologies offer life… or a quick death.” If that doesn’t sound interesting, I won’t bother trying to convince you to look within.

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Vintage Treasures: The Sword and the Satchel by Elizabeth Boyer

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sword and the Satchel-small The Sword and the Satchel-back-small

Elizabeth Boyer’s first novel, The Sword and the Satchel, launched her on a successful career as a fantasy author in the 80s and early 90s. Rather uniquely at the time, she drew heavily from Norse mythology, and the setting of every one of her novels is the Scandinavia of Norse myth — packed with deadly frost giants, sinister dark elves, quarrelsome trolls, mist-shrouded burial mounds, wizards, sorcerers, and dwarves. Her first series, World of Alfar, began with The Sword and the Satchel and continued in three additional volumes:

The Elves and the Otterskin (1981)
The Thrall and the Dragon’s Heart (1982)
The Wizard and the Warlord (1983)

Her other books include the four volume Wizard’s War series, The Clan of the Warlord (1992), and her final novel, Keeper of Cats (1995).

The Sword and the Satchel was published as a paperback original by Del Rey in May 1980. It is 312 pages, priced at $2.25. The cover is by Robert Florczak.

Apex Magazine #76 Now on Sale

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex Magazine Issue 76-smallIn his editorial this month, Jason Sizemore celebrates the rich world of international SF.

I offer my customary welcome with a bit more glee than usual. This is a special month for Apex Magazine as we spotlight one of my favorite things: international SF. To make this happen, I turned to Cristina Jurado, a Spanish author and editor-in-chief of SuperSonic, the first bi-lingual semiprozine for the English and Spanish speaking markets. She did a wonderful job selecting the original fiction this month.

When Lavie Tidhar and I did the first volume of The Apex Book of World SF in 2009, few Anglo readers could name more than a handful of non-Anglo (specifically the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain) genre authors. On the eve of the release of The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 4, it pleases me to report that the scope of the genre has broadened substantially in the last six years. Perhaps the most buzzed about science fiction novel of the year is Chinese writer Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem. The world owes Ken Liu a debt of gratitude for bringing Liu’s work to English readers.

This issue of Apex also includes a new story from Liu Cixin, “Mountain.”

Here’s the complete TOC.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Holmes on Screen

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

HoS_BarnesHolmes enthusiasts have their peculiarities. One of mine is that I enjoy just grabbing Alan Barnes’ Sherlock Holmes on Screen from the shelf and randomly reading about some past tv or film effort starring the great detective.

Almost twenty years ago, I couldn’t find a single picture of Ronald Howard’s Holmes on the internet. So I scanned one from a book and that was the basis for, which for about a decade, had more info about Holmes television and film projects than any other site on the web. With the coming of Guy Ritchie’s Holmes, I decided to shut down the site (surprisingly, I enjoyed the movie) and soon thereafter set up

But Holmes on screen has remained a major interest area for me. By my count, twenty-one The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes posts have covered that subject! Now, I’m not saying that if you read every one of the links below, you’d be a leading expert on Holmes on screen. But you’d probably know more than most folks you talk to on the subject. And hey; they’re all free!

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Airship Hunters Take Flight

Monday, September 28th, 2015 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Airship Hunters-smallcapra-dirigibleThis weekend I read and thoroughly enjoyed a New Pulp novel called Airship Hunters recently published by the fine folks at Meteor House. I really try and make these articles be about classic pulp, but new titles do catch my eye and while I am a fan of co-author Jim Beard’s occult detective, Sgt. Janus, it was actually the airship that caught my attention.

I first read about airships as a kid in several Edgar Rice Burroughs titles. A film dramatizing the Hindenburg disaster and then an adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Black Sunday terrified me when I was just starting grade school. My introduction to the New Pulp world in 2009 came via Airship 27 with their nifty logo on each book. I even put an airship in my second Fu Manchu novel a few years later as a result. Far and away, my crowning achievement with airships was discussing their use in two cult classic films of the early 1970s: Darling Lili and Zeppelin with one of the principals involved in their production. So yes, suffice to say if you tell me Meteor House is publishing an airship title from Jim Beard, you have my attention.

Now in all fairness, it should be noted this new title is a collaborative effort between Jim and his co-author, Duane Spurlock. I know of Duane, but I had not previously read his work. Much like Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain a century earlier with Fantomas, the two men authored alternating chapters while compiling the book. Spurlock hails from Kentucky while Beard is my fellow Ohioan. There is a distinct Midwestern flavor to the adventure which lends an undeniable charm and authenticity to the proceedings.

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Choosing Your Narrative Point of View, Part One: A Few Questions to Get You Started

Sunday, September 27th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Princess With SwordThis is Part 1 in the Choosing Your Narrative POV Series.

When you’re trying to choose which point of view (POV) to write your short story from, you need to ask yourself several questions. It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to all these questions immediately.

The point of these questions is to get you thinking about these things and help you figure some of the answers out. (Many of these questions are equally relevant for novel writing.)

1. Whose Story is It?

Who is your lead character? (Also known as the protagonist or hero.)

This is not necessarily an easy question. The most obvious choice may not be the best one. Sometimes a more interesting story comes out of choosing a character who is not heroic or powerful in traditional ways. We’ve seen many a knight in shining armor kill a pesky dragon. But what if all the knights are away, and the princess, or her handmaiden, has to tackle the problem?

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Black Gate Online Fiction: Souldrifter by Garrett Calcaterra

Sunday, September 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Souldrifter-small2Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Souldrifter by Garrett Calcaterra, Book Two of The Dreamwielder Chronicles.

“Arm the ballistas!” Giorgi commanded from the helm. “Ready the naphtha charges!”

The crew sprang into action around Taera, taking up their battle stations and readying their weapons… Giorgi had been forthright in admitting that naval battles never went to plan. That was doubly true with the Old World — they were bound to have their own tricks. Explosive weapons. Firewielders. Beastcharmers with whales or giant squids at their command. Stormbringers who could very well negate the Pyrthin stormbringers’ efforts and snuff out the wind altogether, leaving both fleets still in the water. If that happened, it would turn to hand-to-hand combat. The grappling hooks would come out and then the cutlasses.

I hope you were right, Makarria, Taera thought as the enemy fleet loomed closer. The Old World armada was massive, easily outnumbering the Pyrthin fleet two vessels to one. And they weren’t backing down.

Garrett Calcaterra is author of the YA fantasy series The Dreamwielder Chronicles. His other full-length books include The Roads to Baldairn Motte and Umbral Visions, and his short fiction and non-fiction has appeared places such as Wet Ink, Pirates & Swashbucklers 1 & 2, Membrane SF, Arkham Tales, and here at Black Gate.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by John Fultz, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner,  Howard Andrew Jones, David Evan Harris, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

Souldrifter will be published by Diversion Publishing on September 29, 2015. It is 298 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the digital edition. Learn more here.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Souldrifter here.

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