In the Wake Of Sister Blue: Chapter Five

Monday, November 30th, 2015 | Posted by markrigney

In The Wake of Sister Blue Mark Rigney-medium

Linked below, you’ll find the fifth installment of a brand-new serialized novel, In the Wake Of Sister Blue. In this latest dice-roll of adventures and misadventures, Maer takes steps to learn self-defense, we re-visit the Spur, and we spend some quality time with my favorite villain, Mother Sand –– if villain she truly is. I do love a complex character…

Oh, and a bonus! We meet, at last, a Sindarin. Face-to-face. Yes, the hooks are baited for Chapter Six, to follow in two weeks’ time.

A number of you will already be familiar with my Tales Of Gemen (“The Trade,” “The Find,” and “The Keystone“), and if you enjoyed those titles, I think you’ll also find much to like in this latest venture.

Bear in mind that this is a true serial. I haven’t written to the end; I couldn’t publish all at once even if I wished to do so. I do have the overall arc of the piece ever more firmly in mind, but as to how exactly I’ll write from Point A to Point Z? I predict it’ll be one complication at a time – minimum. I do promise this: I’ll dole out the breadcrumbs of story just as fast as I can tear them from the fictive loaf, and when we reach the end, we’ll get there simultaneously.

Welcome to adventure, In the Wake Of Sister Blue.

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Discovering Robert E. Howard: Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Re-Read “The Devil in Iron”

Monday, November 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Tales August 1934-smallHoward Andrew Jones and Bill Ward wrap up their re-read of The Coming of Conan by Robert E. Howard, the first of the three Del Rey volumes, with “The Devil in Iron,” the last story in the collection, first published in the August 1934 issue of Weird Tales. Here’s Bill:

After an opening in which the supernatural juggernaut of the title is teased, we are treated to an outline of the plot to catch Conan on the very same island where we’ve just seen an ancient evil reborn. “The Devil in Iron” is heavily reminiscent of “Iron Shadows in the Moon” and “Xuthal of the Dusk,” but most especially the former… The story is a fitting capstone to this collection of the first Conan tales, being one more of the ‘formula’ stories, but also one of the best of those…

Overall “The Devil In Iron” feels in some ways like the remix of a favorite song, it’s old familiar territory that’s well worth traipsing through again, and a welcome return to form after last week’s “The Vale of Lost Women.” From this point on the stories get much longer, the plots more involved, and REH’s inspirations shift in new directions. It’s a fitting place to end the first of Del Rey’s Conan collections, The Coming of Conan.

Next up, Bill and Howard dive into the second Del Rey Robert E. Howard collection, The Bloody Crown of Conan, starting with the classic “The People of the Black Circle.” Stay tuned.

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Holdfast Magazine #7 Now Available

Monday, November 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Holdfast Magazine 7-smallLast month I was surprised to see Holdfast Magazine win the 2015 British Fantasy Award for Best Magazine or Periodical. Mostly because I’d never heard of it.

How is that even possible? I personally cover, like, a jillion magazines here at Black Gate. How does a new one sneak up on me like that?

Well, it’s true what they say. This industry will always surprise you, no matter how well informed you think you are. I’ve now done my homework on Holdfast, and am duly impressed. The magazine was founded in the UK by Laurel Sills and Lucy Smee; it is a free online quarterly that explores all things fantastic. They publish 3-6 pieces of original speculative fiction every issue; their website states that:

We interpret speculative fiction as an umbrella term for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Utopian, Urban fantasy, Alt History, Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Post-apocalyptic… and as many odd, weird and bizarre variations herein. We celebrate speculative fiction by focusing on specific aspects of the genres in themed issues, picking apart each topic in a detailed, analytical yet entertaining way. These genres have so much to offer the literary world, and we want to share our passion for this rich, fascinating and varied resource.

Previous themes have included Religion and Politics; Location and Landscape; Diversity; Objects, Artefacts and Talismans, and Animals, Beasts & Creatures. The theme this issue is Time, and it includes contributions from Elizabeth Hopkinson, Nicki Heinen, Deborah Walker, Sian Lorna Dawson, and Matt Harris.

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Vintage Treasures: The Five Star Novella Collections

Monday, November 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

In Another Country and Other Short Novels-small Behind the Eyes of Dreamers and Other Short Novels-small Immersion and Other Short Novels

Five Star Publishing was the short-lived but extremely prolific genre publishing arm of Gale, which produced almost exclusively hardcovers aimed at the library market. John Helfers at Teckno Books was the acquisitions editor, delivering an impressive 48 mystery, 36 romance, and 24 SF & fantasy titles per year.

Five Star didn’t get a lot of attention from the mainstream genre press, and many of their more interesting efforts sailed well below the radar. As a result, I didn’t learn that they’d produced a quartet of novella collections — by Robert Silverberg, Pamela Sargent, Gregory Benford, and Mike Resnick — until a few weeks ago. As soon as I discovered the existence of In Another Country and Other Short Novels by Robert Silverberg, I tracked it down immediately. I found a brand new copy for sale through Amazon for just $3.65, and ordered it on the spot. It arrived last week, and I’m extremely pleased with it.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Stanford Does Holmes and More…

Monday, November 30th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Stanford_CoverI don’t know how many Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle related books I have on my shelves. But it’s certainly several hundred. And I know almost every one of them and where they are. Some days, I like to simply pull various volumes out, look at them a bit and put them back. And once in awhile, I run across something I had forgotten about. Such happened to me as I was trying to decide what to write about this week.

Did you ever hear of the Stanford Victorian Reading Project? This admirable effort, currently on hiatus, released facsimiles of Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes stories. Regarding Dickens, they explored Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Hard Times.

I’m not much of a Dickens reader, so I’m only going to look at the Holmes project here.

You could sign up and they would send you, in the mail, free, an issue with a recreated cover from The Strand Magazine, a very short essay somehow related to Holmes or Doyle, a facsimile of a story with Sidney Paget’s illustrations, and annotations, often including a map or other picture. Quite simply, these are neat! Starting in January of 2006, I received (on a weekly basis), ”A Scandal in Bohemia,” The Speckled Band,” The Hound of the Baskervilles in nine installments, and “The Final Problem.”

Beginning in January of 2007, the sent out “The Empty House,” “Silver Blaze,” “The Musgrave Ritual,” “The Reigate Squire,” “The Greek Interpreter,” “Charles Augustus Milverton,” “The Abbey Grange,” “The Second Stain,” “The Bruce-Partington Plans,” “The Devil’s Foot,” “The Dying Detective” and “His Last Bow.”

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Pro-Tip From Elizabeth Massie

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Elizabeth Massie-smallOur Pro-Tip this week comes from Elizabeth Massie – a Bram Stoker Award- and Scribe Award-winning writer of horror and historical novels, short fiction, media tie-ins, poetry, and nonfiction, with works published by Simon & Schuster, Tor, Crossroad Press, Apex Books, Pocket Books, Berkley, Dark Fuse, and more.

What Do You Do to Get Unstuck and Solve Writer’s Block?

Some people believe there is no such thing as writer’s block…I know it to be a real problem at times, but it can be overcome. I always have at least two, sometimes three, projects going on at a time. A novel, a short story, a poem. Or any combination. When I get stuck on one, I can slide over to the other to work. Then when I come back to the first, that “locked down” feeling is usually gone and I can see it with a fresh eye.

Another trick is to always stop your day’s writing in the middle of a scene or in the middle of a sentence, even. Then the next day, when you come to it, you will find yourself more excited to get back into the story because you aren’t having to re-heat your engine from scratch.

A third suggestion is to give yourself a day away from writing. Sometimes we need to let our creative wells refill – and they will. So while there are times to push through, there are times to step back.

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John DeNardo on Why I Love Retro Science Fiction

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Thrilling Wonder Stories-smallOur bud John DeNardo, editor of the fabulous SF Signal, writes on a topic near and dear to our crusty little hearts, “Why I Love Retro Science Fiction,” over at Kirkus Reviews.

More than anything, retro-futurism is a flavor… It’s the way writers wrote science fiction in the past. Generally speaking, writers today are much more rigorous in their writing than the writers who were trying to meet the demand of weekly pulp publication serials. The resulting science fiction from that past era was plot-driven and didn’t spend pages discussing, say, some planet’s terrain. That made the stories shorter as well. Books from decades ago were 150 pages long and that was just fine.

Retro-futures are also kitschy. There’s a nostalgic quality to it. This is a little harder to describe. I tend to like the kind of science fiction that was written before I was born. Perhaps it’s because when I started reading science fiction, I often read older books that crossed my path. In the 1970s, I was weaned on sci-fi from the Golden Age and that mode of science fiction still appeals to me….

Today’s retro sci-fi is written by today’s writers, and while modern writers may try to emulate the science fiction of yesteryear, what they rarely, if ever, do is reflect the outdated thinking of those times. In today’s retro sci-fi, you will find more discussions of multiple viewpoints and philosophies, you’ll see diverse cultures portrayed on a galaxy-wide scale — and you’ll see it through the derring-do of space adventurers zipping around in the foreground.

Read the complete article here.


New Treasures: The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales edited by Justin Everett and Jeffrey H. Shanks

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales-back-small The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales-small

I was extremely pleased to receive a review copy of Justin Everett and Jeffrey H. Shanks’ The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales, a fascinating collection of essays exploring the history and enormous impact of the most important fantasy magazine of all time.

While it’s primarily an academic volume (the first essay, by Jason Ray Carney, is titled “‘Something That Swayed as If in Unison’: The Artistic Authenticity of Weird Tales in the Interwar Periodical Culture of Modernism”) the book has plenty to offer casual fans. I’ve spent a few days with it now, dipping into various articles, and found it both educational and highly entertaining. This is a great volume for anyone who wants to understand why Weird Tales was so crucially important to the development of American fantasy, and the fan who’s just looking for recommendations on the best fantasy from the early Twentieth Century.

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Sea Trolls, Spaceship Captains, and Immortal Warriors: Publishers Weekly on Warrior Women

Saturday, November 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Warrior Women-small

Publishers Weekly has given a starred review to Paula Guran’s latest book Warrior Women, calling it an “Epic anthology… truly impressive.”

Two dozen stories of women warriors form this epic anthology of stories about those forced to fight, those who chose to fight regardless of odds, those who ran from their destiny as warriors, and those who will end war at any cost. In Caitlín R. Kiernan’s “The Sea Troll’s Daughter,” the titular daughter of a fearsome beast reluctantly confronts the woman who slew her father. In Carrie Vaughn’s nonspeculative “The Girls from Avenger,” a WWII pilot tries to determine the cause of her friend’s mysterious crash. An immortal wandering warrior meets an immortal prisoner in George R.R. Martin’s hopeful but bleak “The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr.” Spaceship captain Tory Sabin must battle bureaucracy and physics to locate a missing friend in “The Application of Hope” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The warriors include girls as well as grown women: young Thien Bao is offered the chance to end a cataclysmic war at an unimaginable cost in Aliette de Bodard’s “The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile,” and a girl who discovers her father is a “monster” grows into a woman who tries to save others from his fate in Ken Liu’s “In the Loop.” Each story contains strength and compassion, even when the personal cost is high. The depictions of battle and trauma are rarely graphic, but they’re as hard-hitting as the subject demands. This is a truly impressive accomplishment for Guran and her contributors.

See the complete table of contents here, and the complete Publishers Weekly review hereWarrior Women will be published by Prime Books on December 17, 2015. It is 384 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback. The cover is by Julie Dillon. See more details at the Prime Books website.


Future Treasures: Your Brother’s Blood by David Towsey

Saturday, November 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Your Brother's Blood-smallHere’s an imaginative debut novel set centuries in the future, that sounds more like a weird western than science fiction. And you know how we feel about weird westerns! I’ve already pre-ordered a copy.

An unnamed event has wiped out most of humanity, scattering its remnants across vast and now barren lands reminiscent of the 19th century western frontier of America. Small clusters of humans still cling to existence in a post-apocalyptic world that is increasingly overrun by those who have risen from the dead — or, as the living call them, the Walkin’.

Thomas, a thirty-two year old conscripted soldier, homeward bound to the small frontier town of Barkley after fighting in a devastating civil war, is filled with hope at the thought of being reunited with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Mary, both named after characters in the Good Book. As it turns out, he also happens to be among the Walkin’.

Devoid of a pulse or sense of pain, but with his memories and hopes intact, Thomas soon realizes that the living, who are increasingly drawn to the followers of the Good Book, are not kindly disposed to the likes of him. And when he learns what the good people of Barkley intend to do to him, and to his family, he realizes he may just have to kidnap his daughter to save her from a fate worse than becoming a member of the undead.

When the people of Barkley send out a posse in pursuit of father and daughter, the race for survival truly begins…

Your Brother’s Blood will be published by Jo Fletcher Books on December 1, 2015. It is 336 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover and $11.99 for the digital edition.


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