Goth Chick News: Pride, Prejudice, Zombies and Seth Grahame-Smith

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies poster-smallAs you probably know by now, the author-side of Seth Grahame-Smith is fond of taking classic tales and turning them into horror stories. And if you’ve ever read one of those stories you might be of the mind that he’s a better screen writer / producer than he is an author.

Or at least I am.

Case in point: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was one of those books I couldn’t get my hands on fast enough back in 2010, having been previously gifted with a copy of SGS’s book How to Survive a Horror Movie (which to this day never fails to make me chuckle). But in spite of the fact it debuted at number four on the NYT’s Best Seller List, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter felt a little like SGS had conscripted a public-domained biography of Abraham Lincoln and stuck in some paragraphs here and there about vampires.

No – it actually felt a lot like that.

Which is primarily why I never backtracked and read SGS’s previous foray into this reworked genre, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Published in 2009, the idea for the novel came from SGS’s editor at Quirk Books. Using Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice as a platform, it was suggested that SGS mix a zombie plot into the novel; which is precisely what he did, comparing the entire creative process to doing “microsurgery” on Austen’s original text.

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Hearing Gulf: A Conversation With Allyson Johnson

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Posted by Julie Czerneda

This Gulf of Time and Stars-smallI’m delighted to have the chance to introduce you to the voice of the audiobook edition of This Gulf of Time and Stars, as well as the Trade Pact trilogy. Hi Allyson!

Allyson: Hi Julie! It is truly a pleasure to be having a conversation with you about the Trade Pact world. Ordinarily, the only person I’m able to speak with about a book is the engineer who’s recording me. So this is a real treat!

For me too. I didn’t expect to be involved with the audiobook process at all, let alone meet the actor! You and I have had a few phone calls to discuss vocabulary over the four books. Anyone who clicks on the sample of the latest will know at once what a wonderful job you’ve done, Allyson. I know you prepared well in advance. You told me you listened to your own recordings of A Thousand Words For Stranger, Ties of Power, and To Trade the Stars before you tackled Gulf. What did that help you accomplish?

Thanks so much for your kind words. To be honest, although I tuned into a few choice sections of the other two titles, I only had time to listen to Trade all the way through, prior to recording Gulf. But I always take copious notes about character descriptions, vocal characteristics, accent choices, pronunciations, etc. whenever I prep a book. So I was able to refer back to the index cards I’d previously created for the trilogy and create a spreadsheet that would allow for quick and easy reference in the booth. It had, however, been three years since I’d last entered Trade Pact space, as it were, and there’s nothing like hearing long passages of dialogue to refresh my mind. Listening also reminded me of plot points I hadn’t thought about in a long time, which allowed me to pick up where the story left off once I actually began narrating Gulf. I try to be mindful of the fact that listeners sometimes elect to hear books in a series back-to-back. So I need to make the transitions between those stories as seamless as possible.

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Short Speculative Fiction: “Tragic Business” by Emil Ostrovski

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Posted by Learned Foote

Today’s column is devoted entirely to Emil Ostrovski’s short story “Tragic Business,” published in this month’s Lightspeed. You can read it for free here. To entice you to click, behold the opening sentence:

“Once, an apple named Evan fell in love with a hummingbird, as moldy apples lying in irradiated playgrounds are sometimes wont to do.”

There now. You can’t possibly resist reading a story with that opening line, can you? At only 2,369 words, it’s brief and witty and zips by in ten minutes or less. In its surrealistic, witty logic it reminds me most of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. From here I’ll delve into spoilers, so go read your Ostrovski and then come back for the full discussion.

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Future Treasures: The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffith

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Geomancer-smallClay and Susan Griffith are the authors of The Vampire Empire trilogy from Pyr, set in an alternate future in which a horrible plague of vampires swept first over the northern regions of the world in 1870, and the popular Crown & Key trilogy from Del Rey. Now they’ve launched a brand new urban fantasy series set in the Vampire Empire universe, featuring the vampiric couple Gareth and Adele.

The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele’s geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale.

The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele’s geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can’t, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill.

From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.

The Geomancer: Vampire Empire will be published by Pyr on November 3, 2015. It is 319 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Chris McGrath.

Mindjammer Returns

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

mindjammer1Longtime Black Gate visitors and readers might remember a time, long ago, when  I gushed about a great new FATE powered science fiction role-playing game, Mindjammer. Back then, it was an expansion for the excellent space opera setting Starblazer Adventures.

Now it’s an animal on its own, and was nominated for two Ennies (the role-playing award handed out each year at GenCon) just this year. I can see why.

I was already impressed with Mindjammer. Back in 2010 Sarah Newton did a fabulous job creating strange new societies and making the far future gameable, including the concepts of neural implants, synthetic humanoids with thanograms (deceased human personalities), sentient starships, and other impressive ideas.

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Werewolves, Haunted Castles, and Scottish Legends: Terror By Night by R. Chetwynd-Hayes

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Terror by Night Chetwynd-Hayes-small

Terror By Night
By R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Tandem (186 pages, $1, June 1974)

I’m reasonably familiar with the horror and SF genres, but I have to admit that the name R. Chetwynd-Hayes didn’t ring any bells. But the kind of tacky cover — and the fact that this collection dated from 1974, before the great horror boom of the Eighties kicked in — was enough for me to take this one out for a spin. Chetwynd-Hayes wrote about ten novels and many more collections during his long career, most of them in the horror genre but some leaning more toward SF.

I’d place most of the stories in this collection in the category of solid but not exceptional, with the exception of a pair of stories that stood out. I liked it well enough that I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of his books in the future. I’ve listed all of the stories but only reviewed the ones I found interesting.

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Clarkesworld 109 Now on Sale

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld 109-smallNeil Clarke’s editorial in the latest issue of Clarkesworld (a sequel of sorts to last issue’s editorial, “The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews“) is titled “The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Magazines.”

Did you know that there are only three genre fiction magazines that completely support themselves from the revenue they generate? These are Analog, Asimov’s, and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, collectively known as the Big Three. Others, like and Subterranean (now closed), are supported by the revenue of their parent companies. Below them are four more groups: the non-profits (like Strange Horizons and Beneath Ceaseless Skies); the hobbyists or beginners (typically characterized by low or no pay for authors); the aspirants (they pay authors SFWA-qualifying rates or better, but haven’t found reliable way to cover that cost); and the conceivable (the aspirants that have learned to generate enough revenue to cover costs, but not adequately compensate their staff)…

Lately, I’ve started seeing projects to resurrect dead magazines or save those that couldn’t get enough subscribers to sustain their ambitious goals. It’s uplifting to see our community rallying around these causes, but are we setting ourselves up for a fall in the process? Are we simply delaying the inevitable, like what happened with Realms of Fantasy? (For those who don’t know, Realms of Fantasy was a print magazine that kept coming back from the dead because there were people passionate enough about it to want to see it continue, but not enough to make it a viable business.)

When people debate the future of short fiction magazines in our industry, it tends to turn grim pretty quickly, and Neil’s article is no exception. Still, it’s impossible to argue with his final reasoning: if you care about the future of short fiction — and you definitely should — the most important thing you can do is try new magazines, find a few you enjoy, and support them.

Issue #109 of Clarkesworld has seven stories — five new, and two reprints — from A.C. Wise, Rich Larson, Kola Heyward-Rotimi, Karen Heuler, Hao Jingfang, G. David Nordley, and Chris Becket.

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The Winners of the 2015 British Fantasy Awards

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Cuckoo Song Frances Hardinge-smallCherrio! The winners of the 2015 British Fantasy Awards have been announced by the British Fantasy Society.

The nominees in 13 categories were announced in July, and the complete list of winners follows. Congratulations to all the winners!

Best Fantasy Novel – The Robert Holdstock Award

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Best Horror Novel – The August Derleth Award)

No One Gets Out Alive, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)

Best Novella

“Newspaper Heart,” Stephen Volk (The Spectral Book of Horror Stories)

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New Treasures: Shadows of Carcosa, edited by D. Thin

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Shadows of Carcosa-smallI think there’s something about October that drives publishers to repackage classic horror tales for a new generation.

Earlier this week we looked at Leslie S. Klinger’s new anthology In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe, which collects tales published between 1816-1914; today it’s D. Thin’s handsome new book from New York Review Book Classics, Shadows of Carcosa: Tales of Cosmic Horror by Lovecraft, Chambers, Machen, Poe, and Other Masters of the Weird, published on October 6th. It collects tales from roughly the same era, 1833-1927, all with the theme of the cosmically weird.

“The true weird tale has something more than a secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains. An atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; a hint of that most terrible conception of the human brain — a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.” —H. P. Lovecraft

This collection features some of the greatest masters of extreme terror, among them Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Bram Stoker, and Henry James, and includes such classic works as Arthur Machen’s “The White People,” Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows,” and of course Lovecraft’s own weird and hideous “The Colour Out of Space.”

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Down These Mean Streets the Obsessive Biographer Must Go

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

NOTE: The following article was first published on February 28, 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.

Long EmbraceChandler catLiterary biographies can sometimes prove to be a peculiar form of torture. I suppose their purpose is to see if the reader is still capable of mustering the same affection for the author’s work after reveling in every personal flaw the biographer was able to uncover. Biographies are the ultimate way of evening the score with those whose talent we will never equal. They reassure us that the gifted individuals who gained immortality through their work were certainly no better and frequently even worse human beings than those of us who admire them. Thanks to literary biographies, many view the father of sword & sorcery as a clinically depressed mama’s boy angry at the world and the father of hardboiled fiction as…well, let’s face it… there was nothing you could ever say about Hammett he didn’t already tell you about himself. This article concerns itself with Judith Freeman’s biography of Raymond Chandler, The Long Embrace.

I would not say that the book is unworthy of attention. Judith Freeman is an exceptional writer. She traces Chandler’s footsteps (even though it has been more than half a century since his death) by visiting every place he lived, worked, and vacationed and describes what she finds in a voice that Chandler fans will frequently recognize. It is a voice that is as evocative of Chandler’s work as the book’s title. The trouble is that Freeman isn’t writing a new Philip Marlowe mystery so much as transposing herself in Chandler’s shoes as a fellow author and kindred spirit. As the book unravels, she comes to share Chandler’s devotion to his wife and muse of over thirty years. The result is a bit like watching Otto Preminger’s classic film noir, Laura (1944) in that The Long Embrace shifts its focus and unfolds into a growing love story between a living person and a dead woman the narrator never met. Some readers will find the result enchanting, others will just find it creepy.

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