Collecting Philip K. Dick

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

Philip K Dick paperback collection-medium

Recently I wrote here about a handsome collection of 35 books by Isaac Asimov I bought on eBay for $82.17 — a lofty price for vintage paperbacks, but I wasn’t the only one who noticed what great shape they were in. Last week I also reported on the set of 32 paperback of the same vintage by Arthur C. Clarke I purchased at the same time. Clarke is still highly regarded these days, but not in the same category as Asimov. I expected to pay much less for them, and I was right — I won the auction for $27.

The same seller was also offering the striking set of Philp K. Dick books above (click for bigger version). While not virtually brand new like the Clarke and Asimov collections, they were nonetheless in terrific shape, especially for 40-year old paperbacks. I bravely took part in the auction, but bowed out before it hit $100. I expected it to go a lot higher, and it did.

The set sold for $536 and change, about $9.50 per book — a bargain, considering what Dick paperbacks in that kind of condition sell for individually.

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November/December Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction now on Sale

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

Fantasy and Science Fiction November December 2015-smallThe November/December issue of F&SF is packed with lots of great stories, including tales from Robert Reed, Jeffrey Ford, Carter Scholz, Bruce McAllister, Naomi Kritzer and others.

Robert Turner at Tangent Online enjoyed the issue, particularly the stories by Ford, Scholz, and Kritzer:

In “The Winter Wraith” Jeffrey Ford puts together a tale of dread based only on an old Christmas tree and some uncanny events tied to being home alone in winter. The language is evocative and effectively paints the picture of the house and the narrative voice. The inconclusive nature of the story fits well with the tone and provides the reader with an enjoyable frisson as the tale ends…

“Gypsy” by Carter Scholz is a novella length work that is well worth the time needed to digest. Starting from the standard refugees-from-a-dying-Earth narrative, Scholz creates a believable world in which desperate geniuses make a last ditch attempt to settle a new planet. The differing POV’s and the way in which they create a patchwork story is well done and provides a satisfying read. The story is at its best as the various characters deal with entropy over the course of their trip.

In “Cleanout” by Naomi Kritzer three sisters are faced with the task of cleaning out their mother’s home after she has a stroke. As they do, they come across hints that their immigrant parents came from further away than they had suspected. The story mixes the stresses and concerns of contemporary life with elements of magical realism and the conclusion is pitch perfect.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Decadent Alien Races and Electricity Creatures: Rich Horton on Warlord of Kor/The Star Wasps

Friday, November 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Warlord of Kor-small The Star Wasps-small

Terry Carr made his reputation in the field as an extremely talented editor. He edited 16 volumes of the Best SF of the Year, from 1972-1987, five volumes of Fantasy Annual (1978-1982), 17 volumes of Universe, and over a dozen standalone anthologies. But early in his career he also wrote a small number of novels, starting with Warlord of Kor, an Ace Double paired with Robert Moore Williams’ The Star Wasps (1963). Over at Strange at Ecbatan, Rich Horton took a look at the book as part of his ongoing series of Ace Double reviews.

This one qualifies as pretty forgotten, and mostly for good reasons… But it does feature a major major SF figure, Terry Carr. Carr is not widely known as a writer, but he was a hugely significant editor… while he didn’t write a whole lot of fiction, some of it was very good, including an admired novel (Cirque (1977))…

In all honesty, Warlord of Kor isn’t all that bad, though it’s not all that great either… The protagonist is Lee Rynarson, something of an archaeologist who is studying the only intelligent race humans have ever found in their expansion through the Galaxy (or perhaps multiple galaxies). These are the Hirlagi, sort of a horse/dinosaur mix on Hirlaj. There are only 26 Hirlaji surviving — they seem a tired [and] decadent race. They have a long racial memory, and Rynarson, in talking with one of them, hears stories of a warlord in the distant past, who united much of the planet, only to decide, after “communing” with the mysterious god Kor, that the Hirlaji must abandon not just war but science… a reasonable first effort.

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Writing in Shared Worlds: An Introduction to Hellmaw

Friday, November 27th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Hellmaw logo-smallEd Greenwood, of Forgotten Realms fame, just announced a slew of new worlds he’s created, all under the banner of Onder Librum. These are all shared world initiatives, meaning that creatives can come and create their own stories in the setting.  These worlds offer a variety of settings for readers, including sword and sorcery, space opera, hard SF, gothic romances… something for everyone.

It’s freaking cool, and at a scale that I’m not sure has ever been done before.  As soon as Ed told me about these new worlds, I jumped in enthusiastically and without looking (still falling off that cliff, and still haven’t hit a cactus). I signed up with a tight deadline for book set in Hellmaw, a dark urban fantasy shared world.  With daemons. It’s pretty fun (the second book in the series, Dragon Dreams by Chris Jackson, just came out).

I was a bit concerned about writing in a shared world. Questions bounced around my head like pop rocks in my mouth. Will I feel stifled? Will I understand the lore well enough? Will there be enough coffee????

So, with these concerns in mind, here’s what writing in a shared world helped me learn about my writing.

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Vintage Treasures: A Treasury of Fantasy, edited by Cary Wilkins

Friday, November 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

A Treasury of Fantasy-small

In the mid-90s, Gramercy Books had some success with a line of titles focusing on the supernatural and the occult, including The Book of the Dead, The Witchcraft Delusion, and A Treasury of Witchcraft (a collection of spells from ancient sources, which today has accumulated some hilarious Amazon reviews from folks reporting on their various effectiveness.) All of these were (at least nominally) non-fiction, but in early 1995 they added to their line up A Gothic Treasury of the Supernatural, a thick collection of half a dozen classic horror novels repackaged in an attractive hardcover.

The latter must have been successful enough for Gramercy to dabble in fiction anthologies at least one more time, since later in 1995 they repacked a 1981 Crown anthology by Cary Wilkins, A Treasury of Fantasy, with a brand new wraparound Romas cover (looking very much like Michael Whelan). Except for a rather embarrassing typo on the cover (they misspelled the editor’s name as “Wilkens”), this is the preferred edition of a thick omnibus collection of three novels and eight short stories by William Morris, George MacDonald, Lord Dunsany, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Ursula K. Le Guin, and others.

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Joel Cunningham on Why There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reader

Friday, November 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

New Science Fiction-smallI’ve lived through enough boom-and-bust cycles in this industry to have read plenty of “science fiction is doomed’ prophecies over the decades. It usually happens at the start of a bust cycle, as the publishing industry contracts and readers see steep cutbacks. Funny enough, I almost never see the opposite  — astute readers pointing out the signs of a boom. Joel Cunningham at Barnes & Noble seems to be the exception. Have a look as he catalogs many of the signs of an ongoing explosion in SF & Fantasy publishing.

Hachette Book Group today announced an ambitious expansion of its sci-fi/fantasy imprint Orbit… Beginning in the fall of 2016, Orbit will grow its list by 50 percent, publishing approximately 90 titles a year—and they’re hiring new editors, marketers, and book packagers to do it.

Nothing proves belief in a market like investment, and across the board, publishers are investing in SF/F. Just this year, we’ve welcomed to the fold Saga Press, the dedicated genre imprint from Simon & Schuster that has developed a roster of launch titles unparalleled in the industry (the debut novel from award-winning short story author Ken Liu, anyone?). Publishing has emerged out of Tor Books, the largest player in the genre space, with a new business model that focuses on digital-first novellas, allowing for a faster-moving, more innovative strategy that brings you, the reader, the kinds of books you might never have been able to read before…

Why is this happening? It’s because of all of us. We readers are a passionate bunch, and we’ve voted with our time, attention, and most of all, our dollars, propelling big-money, book-first franchises like Game of Thrones and the Marvel and DC superhero universes to the forefront of the cultural conversation. There’s no stigma about being a genre reader these days, because genre touches everyone — just try getting through December without hearing about Star Wars on the regular (spoiler alert: it isn’t going to happen).

We covered the news of the Orbit expansion here, the launch of Saga Press here, and‘s ambitious publishing venture here. Read Joel’s complete article here.

New Treasures: Night Music by John Connolly

Friday, November 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Night Music John Connolly-back-small Night Music John Connolly-small

John Connolly is the bestselling author of thirteen thrillers featuring P.I. Charlie Parker, which The Independent calls “the finest crime series currently in existence.” Ten years ago he published Nocturnes, a collection of supernatural tales. This follow-up volume contains thirteen new tales — eleven short stories and two novellas, the multi-award-winning “The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository” and “The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments” — set in Britain and Ireland. Here’s a clip from Mike Berry’s review in Portland Press Herald:

“The Blood of the Lamb” takes place in Dublin, focused on a married couple as they await the arrival of two Vatican priests who will examine their daughter. The girl has begun to exhibit miraculous healing powers, and her encounter with the visitors reveals itself to be a chilling exercise in misdirection. “Lamia” follows a woman’s quest for vengeance against her rapist, and “The Hollow King” employs the structure of a fairy tale to explore a hellish bargain.

It’s difficult to do anything new with the classic ghost story, but Connolly displays a sure hand when he puts his mind to the task. “A Dream of Winter” spins a creepy spell in exactly 300 words, and “A Haunting” examines the end of a long, loving marriage through the prism of a spectral visitation. Connolly moves farther afield geographically with “Lazarus,” in which the friends and family of the title character discover that corporeal resurrection has its drawbacks. And in “Razorshins,” a group of Maine bootleggers during Prohibition face off against a creature that demands tribute from any who cross its path…

The centerpiece of Night Music is “The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments,” another tale of the magical properties of literature. Across the centuries, unfortunate individuals in the book trade encounter a mysterious tome that seems intent upon rewriting the very essence of reality. The short novel is nastier and far more unsettling than most of the other offerings here, reminiscent of the darkest horrors of Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.

Night Music: Nocturnes 2 was published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on October 6, 2015. It is 464 pages, priced at $17.00 in trade paperback and $12.99 for the digital edition. Click on the covers above for bigger versions.

Goth Chick News: Dashing Through the Snow to the Days of the Dead Show

Thursday, November 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Chicago Days of the Dead

Granted, snow in the windy city in November is not exactly unexpected. But it is a bit surreal to be making our way to the last horror show of the year in white-out conditions.

And yet this is precisely the situation Black Gate photog Chris Z and I found ourselves facing last Saturday morning. Thankfully, the Chicago BG office is well equipped for such emergencies, though attempting to get John O out of bed before noon to requisition the keys to the company urban assault vehicle turned out to be only the first of many challenges we faced that day.

Still, we trundle into the unplowed parking lot of the venue in our jacked up Jeep Wrangler precisely at 9:45, to find roughly 500 other hard-core horror fans bent double against the howling wind, making their way through 18” of snow to pay homage to the season’s last genre-specific event.

Was it worth it?

Oh, hell yes.

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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Thursday, November 26th, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Star Trek the Motion Picture cast

My peak Star Trek watching years came in the seventies. Those of us who were too young to catch the show when it first aired in the mid-sixties could gorge ourselves on seemingly endless reruns of three seasons worth of shows. It was a far cry from Netflix and calling up any episode any time but we made do.

As the seventies wound down my interest in Star Trek waned and I wasn’t really cognizant of what came along later — four more TV series and a heap of movies. I sought to rectify this in the early years of the new century, watching as many TV episodes as possible and some of the movies, but my intake of the latter was sporadic.

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Announcing the Winners of This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda

Thursday, November 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

This Gulf of Time and Stars-smallWoo hoo! We have two winners!

Last week we invited you to enter a contest to win one of two copies of Julie Czerneda’s This Gulf of Time and Stars, the opening volume in a brand new adventure SF series from one of the most popular authors in the field. To enter, all you had to do was send us an e-mail with the subject “This Gulf of Time and Stars.”

We have two versions to give away — a copy of the hardcover, and an audiobook. Our lucky winners were selected from the pool of eligible entries by the most reliable method known to modern science: D&D dice. The winner of the hardcover is:

Paul Lipps

And our audiobook winner is:

Derek A. Neve

Congratulations all! Once again, we’d like to thank DAW Books and for providing the prizes and making the contest possible. Read Julie’s interview with Allyson Johnson, the voice of the edition of This Gulf of Time and Starsright here at Black Gate.

This Gulf of Time and Stars was published by DAW Books on November 3, 2015. It is 464 pages, priced at $25.95 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital edition.

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