Cover Reveal: Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Mechanical Failure-small

Saga has released over two dozen books in 2015 — pretty darn good for a brand spanking new imprint — and their 2016 line up promises to be even more stellar, with titles from Kat Howard, A. Lee Martinez, Genevieve Valentine, and Black Gate author Frederic S. Durbin. Last week we gave you a peek at Mike Brooks’ debut novel Dark Run, a space opera SFFWorld calls “a Firefly-like tale.”

This week we take a look at Zor Zieja’s Mechanical Failure, the tale of a smooth-talking ex-sergeant and smuggler forced back into military service just as rumors of war begin to escalate, on sale from Saga Press June 7, 2016.

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Ten Terrifying Canadian Books For Halloween

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Ten Terrifying Canadian Books

Helen Marshall tipped us off this morning to this marvelous little article at the CBC website, promoting “10 of the scariest Canadian reads… From horrific dystopias to creepy, creaky old mansions.”

There’s plenty of familiar titles on the list, from Margaret Atwood’s famous bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale to Nick Cutter’s breakout novel The Troop, to Nalo Hopkinson’s dark fantasy Brown Girl in the Ring. But there’s also a nice assortment of surprises, including James Grainger’s tale of a weekend reunion of old friends that goes horribly wrong, Harmless; Samuel Archibald’s upcoming collection Arvida, packed with tales of wild beasts, haunted houses and spooky road trips; Jacqueline Baker’s novel of H.P. Lovecraft’s secret assistant, The Broken Hours; and Helen Marshall’s own 2012 collection Hair Side, Flesh Side.

It’s a great guide to some of the best seasonal scares north of the border. Check it out — and click on any if the pics in the article to read the full review.


Future Treasures: The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Shards of Heaven-smallMichael Livingston’s short stories in Black Gate revealed a keen talent for mixing history and fantasy — especially his acclaimed tale “The Hand That Binds (BG 9),” a fabulous retelling of the legend of Beowulf. His story “At the End of Babel(Tor.com) is another fine example. His first novel, on sale next month from Tor Books, reveals the secret history of Ancient Rome, and the hidden magic behind the history we know.

Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar’s ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar’s legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.

Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods — or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves… and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

Michael Livingston’s The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

The Shards of Heaven will be published by Tor Books on November 24, 2015. It is 414 pages. priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital version. It is the opening volume in an epic new historical fantasy series set against the rise of the Roman Empire.


The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_2654127zETQGQbIIn his 1978 essay “On Thud and Blunder,” Poul Anderson pointed out that heroic fantasy was “overpast for drawing inspiration from other milieus — Oriental, Near Eastern, North and Black African, Amerindian, Polynesian.” While I’m still looking for Polynesian swords & sorcery, Black Gate alumnus John R. Fultz, has written the first full Native American novel of heroic fantasy that I’m aware of: The Testament of Tall Eagle (2015).

I must admit I’ve corresponded and debated with John several times about heroic fantasy. He’s as deeply conversant with the history of S&S as anybody I know. He brings that knowledge plus a deep love for the genre to his writing. I recommend his collection The Revelations of Zang as well as his Books of the Shaper trilogy — both are wildly inventive and fun. So I went into his new book expecting good things and I was not disappointed.

Fultz’s novel is a wonderful throwback to the golden days of swords & sorcery of the 1970s. In only 324 pages, Testament recounts the adventures of Tall Eagle, a young man of a Great Plains Indian tribe in the days just before the introduction of horses to his people. It’s possessed of a straightforward narrative that’s as lean and fierce as a wolf. Instead of the Clark Ashton Smith-like prose of his previous books, much of Testament reads like a brutally realistic historical saga of 17th century Plains Indian life… until the monsters show up. And they do, in great, slimy droves.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Wrath of Fu Manchu, Part Two

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Tom Stacey Wrathdaw_fu_manchuWhen Rohmer scholar, Dr. Robert E. Briney compiled a posthumous hardcover collection of the author’s rare and previously uncollected short fiction in the early 1970s, he included three short stories that were first published in This Week magazine in between Rohmer’s last two Fu Manchu novels. The stories were subsequently reprinted in sequence in Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine between January and March 1966 where the latter two stories were retitled. The hardcover collection, The Wrath of Fu Manchu and Other New Stories was first published in the U.K. in 1973 by Tom Stacey. A U.S. mass market paperback edition from DAW Books followed in 1976. The collection was subsequently reprinted in 2001 as part of Allison & Busby’s Fu Manchu Omnibus – Volume 5. Titan Books will reprint the original collection as a trade paperback in March 2016.

“The Eyes of Fu Manchu” was serialized in two installments in This Week magazine on October 6 and 13, 1957. It first appeared in book form when Dr. Briney added it to the 1970 Ace paperback collection, The Secret of Holm Peel and Other Strange Stories. The story opens with Sir Denis Nayland Smith attending a lecture at the Sorbonne by an American scientist, Dr. Gregory Allen. Dr. Allen is a specialist in the possible chemical means of halting or even reversing the effects of aging. Sir Denis correctly believes Dr. Allen’s research will draw him to the attention of Dr. Fu Manchu. He makes plans to attend Dr. Allen’s upcoming lecture at King’s College in London with Dr. Petrie who is flying in from Cairo.

Rohmer mines one of his own life’s episodes when he encountered and began an extramarital affair with a young bohemian woman while on a voyage to Madeira. Here, Gregory Allen meets a young bohemian woman named Mignon while crossing the English Channel. Mignon is an artist and, upon learning Gregory abandoned his study of art for science, she makes some pointed remarks about his abandoning the bohemian life of freedom and truth for one of compromised values as part of the Establishment. Her words seem to sting Dr. Allen as much as her beauty and youth charm him just as Rohmer, the former bohemian turned established bestselling author and husband must have felt when he began his own affair with a younger free spirit on his voyage to Portugal years before.

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Apex Magazine #77 Now on Sale

Monday, October 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex Magazine Issue 77-smallIn his editorial this month, Jason Sizemore tells us a little about the latest issue, and dishes out some excellent Halloween advice.

This month, we offer four original short stories by D.K. Thompson, Aaron Saylor, Maurice Broaddus and Arkady Martine. These stories are nothing alike in tone, setting, style, or mood. But they all share a central theme of “protection.” If you enjoy unique explorations of a singular conceit, then we have a great issue for you. And if you want your eyebrows raised and your tropes turned upside down, then read “Super Duper Fly” by Maurice Broaddus. If this story doesn’t start a discussion, then I will be very disappointed in you!

Or if you simply like a good werewolf story, well, we have that, too. It is the Witching month, after all!…

While this issue comes out several weeks prior to Halloween, I would like to close with a word of advice. If you’re giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, remember that nobody likes candy corn. Nobody.

Here’s the complete TOC.

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Forbes on the Tragic Failure of Jem And The Holograms

Monday, October 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Jem And The Holograms-smallLast week Box Office Mojo reported that Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror film Crimson Peak “crashed and burned into 2,984 theaters to the tune of an estimated $12.8 million.” So what did it make of Jem And The Holograms‘ historically bad take of one-tenth of that total this weekend, $1.3 million from 2,413 theaters? It calls it one of “the year’s biggest flops… the fourth worst opening for a film in more than 2,000 theaters.”

Jem And The Holograms was a much-loved 80s cartoon produced by Hasbro, Marvel, and Sunbow (the same team behind G.I. Joe and Transformers). Featuring the plucky Jerrica Benton, whose father left her virtually flawless hologram technology that allowed her to disguise herself as a beautiful pop singer, Jem was the brainchild of comics writer Christy Marx (Sisterhood of Steel, Conan, Red Sonja). Forbes writer Scott Mendelson sees the massive failure of the live-action version as a genuine tragedy.

The film took a source material that is over-the-top colorful and over-the-top exciting, filled with larger-than-life characters and musically-charged action sequences where Jem and her friends had to both be kick-ass rock stars and kick-ass crime fighters at the same time, and made a toned-down, muted, and overly patronizing “young girl gets in over her head due to fame and artistic success and forgets what matters” fable that basically penalized its young heroes for wanting and achieving success and power…

It was the kind of film that Josie and the Pussycats spoofed a decade ago, and basically operated as a dark-n-gritty origin story that spent the entire film building up to the possibility of maybe seeing a Jem movie that Jem fans wanted to see the first time out in a would-be sequel. Okay, so a cheap film that spit on the source material bombed, who cares right? Well, here’s the rub: The overriding message of Jem and the Holograms is that a girl-centric action cartoon from the 1980′s doesn’t deserve or justify even 5% of the resources given without a second thought to boy-centric properties cashing in on 80′s nostalgia.

Read the complete article here.


Vintage Treasures: None But Man by Gordon R. Dickson

Monday, October 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

None But Man Pyramid-small None But Man DAW 1977-small None But Man DAW-small

When I was young, there was a peculiar sub-genre of science fiction that many folks attributed to the influence of John W. Campbell, the legendary editor of Astounding. If you were an SF reader in the 1950s-1980s, you read a fair share of novels in which mankind began a reign of conquest in outer space, carving a glorious empire among the stars. And when we inevitably crossed paths with aliens who frustrated our boundless ambitions, we’d show those godless E.T’s in relatively short order why you don’t mess with homo sapiens.

This always seemed to me to be a uniquely American branch of SF. Growing up in Ottawa, right across the river from the province of Quebec, my natural response when I met folks from an alien culture, with their own strange language and incomprehensible customs, was not to immediately attempt to assert my superiority. Instead you tried to score some French comics, and asked if they minded if you dated their sister. And if they drove a truck, you bought poutine from them, because that stuff was frickin’ manna from heaven.

To my mind Gordon R. Dickson (who was born in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1923) was never part of the Manifest Destiny in Outer Space crowd but, like most career SF writers at the time, he tried a little bit of everything. His 1969 novel None But Man, the tale of ‘brave human frontiersmen’ who defy a peace treaty and engage in guerrilla warfare against “unhuman Aliens” rather than surrender their homes, seemed pretty firmly in the “Nobody does war the way humans do” Campbell tradition.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Holmes, the Police & Scotland Yard

Monday, October 26th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

SY_MoranThe most common official police force encountered during Holmes’s sixty cases was Scotland Yard. One can safely say that Doyle’s portrayal of the men of the force was somewhat less than flattering. None ever outsmarted Holmes (though one came pretty close) and most of them are adrift until Holmes reveals all at the end of the story.

Scotland Yard was actually the descendant of an earlier police force in London. In 1748, Henry Fielding succeeded Thomas de Veil as Court Justice for Middlesex and Westminster, with headquarters on Bow Street. Fielding hired nine men to go out and catch criminals. This was, in essence, the first police force in London.

These ‘Bow Street Runners’ wore red vests and carried pistols. For eighty years, they were the only thief takers in London. Since there were never more than fifteen at a time, they were slightly outnumbered by the criminals.

In 1829, backed by Home Secretary Robert Peel, the Metropolitan Police Improvement Bill passed, creating an Office of Police for metropolitan London. It did not, however, include the one-square mile City of London, bounded by the ancient Roman walls. ‘The City’ retained that independence, which did not prove useful during the Jack the Ripper killings.

A nightstick and a rattle for summoning help were standard issue; guns were not. They were servants of the public and their power was to be based on the respect of the people, not fear.

It’s Elementary – ‘Peelers’ and ‘bobbies’ are nicknames for the London police and come from Sir Robert Peel’s name.

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New Treasures: In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Leslie S. Klinger

Monday, October 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe-smallWhen I do my Vintage Treasures posts, I usually end up lamenting the fact that the book I’m profiling is out of print. You think I’d be used to it by now. Many of the titles that were New Treasures at the beginning of the year are out of print already. Even the most popular fantasy writers in our field — Bradbury, Simak, Kuttner, Asimov, Poul Anderson, and countless others — have fewer titles in print every year. So imagine what it means for a fantasy writer to be consistently in print for the past 165 years. It means a kind of genius that transcends generations. In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe: Classic Tales of Horror, 1816-1914 is a new anthology that collects a century of horror from authors whose contributions have been lost in the shadow of one of the finest fantasy writers who ever lived: Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe did not invent the tale of terror. There were American, English, and Continental writers who preceded Poe and influenced his work. Similarly, there were many who were in turn influenced by Poe’s genius and produced their own popular tales of supernatural literature. This collection features masterful tales of terror by authors who, by and large, are little-remembered for their writing in this genre. Even Bram Stoker, whose Dracula may be said to be the most popular horror novel of all time, is not known as a writer of short fiction.

Distinguished editor Leslie S. Klinger is a world-renowned authority on those twin icons of the Victorian age, Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula. His studies into the forefathers of those giants led him to a broader fascination with writers of supernatural literature of the nineteenth century. The stories in this collection have been selected by him for their impact. Each is preceded by a brief biography of the author and an overview of his or her literary career and is annotated to explain obscure references.

Read on, now, perhaps with a flickering candle or flashlight at hand…

In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe: Classic Tales of Horror, 1816-1914 contains stories by Ambrose Bierce, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Theodor Gautier, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lafcadio Hearn, M. R. James, Bram Stoker, and many others. It was edited by Leslie S. Klinger and published by Pegasus on October 15, 2015. It is 320 pages, priced at $24.95 in hardcover, and $20.98 for the digital edition. The cover is by Faceout Studio/Charles Brock.


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