A Crossover Too Far

Friday, January 29th, 2016 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Combined-ForcesBulldog_Drummond_1st_edition_cover,_1920A. J. Smithers is a respected author of fiction and non-fiction titles with a special dedication to the Clubland fiction of Dornford Yates, John Buchan, and H. C. “Sapper” McNeile. His 1983 novel, Combined Forces was subtitled Being the Latter-Day Adventures of Richard Hannay, “Bulldog” Drummond, and Berry and Co. Clubland literary scholar Richard Usborne praised the book and Smithers’ willingness to expose the dark sides of its characters’ lives. Wold Newtonians sometimes seek out this rare work because of the literary crossover within its pages. I approached the book first as a Bulldog Drummond completist and secondly as a fan of Richard Hannay.

While most people know of The Thirty-Nine Steps thanks to Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated film version, they are unaware of how different the character of Richard Hannay is in John Buchan’s fiction. Most are unaware that Hannay appeared in a total of seven spy thriller novels by Buchan published between 1915 and 1940. Unlike many long-running series, Buchan chose to have Hannay age in real time and grow as a person as he marries and settles down and even retires. Buchan’s approach appears to have influenced some of Gerald Fairlie’s modifications to Hugh Drummond’s character and life as he continued the series after Sapper’s death.

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Future Treasures: Pathfinder Tales: Pirate’s Prophecy by Chris A. Jackson

Friday, January 29th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Pirate's Honor-small Pirate's Promise-small Pirate's Prophecy-small

For the past three years Chris A. Jackson, author of The Warcaster Chronicles, has been writing an ambitious fantasy saga for the Pathfinder Tales line, featuring pirate captain Torius Vin and his snake-bodied naga navigator Celeste, who forsake pirating to chase slave galleys and set the prisoners free. According to his bio, Jackson is a marine biologist who, with his wife Anne, has lived on a 45-foot sailboat since 2009, cruising the Caribbean and writing full time. Sounds like an ideal lifestyle to write pirate sagas to me.

The series began in 2013 with Pirate’s Promise, and the third volume, Pirate’s Prophecy, will be released next week from Tor.

Pirate’s Honor (400 pages, $9.99, $6.99 in digital format, May 14, 2013)
Pirate’s Promise (400 pages, $14.99, $6.99 in digital format, January 6, 2015) — cover by Michael Ivan
Pirates Prophecy (357 pages, 14.99, $9.99 in digital format, February 2, 2016) — cover by Remko Troost

The first two were published by Paizo; Pirates Prophecy is the first in the series to be published by Tor Books.

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You May Be A Writer

Friday, January 29th, 2016 | Posted by Violette Malan

MeredithDo you enjoy planning? When you want to give a party, do you start making lists? Thinking about the menu? Who to invite? When there’s a trip coming up, are there lists? Are you usually the first one packed? Or have you at least given considerable thought to your packing?

Is organizing an event almost more fun than the event itself? Then you may be a writer.

Do you think planning’s for squares? Do you decide at 6:00 pm to have a party and let people know via Twitter? Are you rushing through the airport at the last minute with your passport in one hand and a pair of (mismatched) socks in the other?

Are you all about the spontaneity? Seizing the moment? Then you may be a writer.

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Book Pairings: Sorcerer to the Crown and My Beautiful Enemy

Friday, January 29th, 2016 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

BGsorcerer-to-the-crownYou know, way back when, I had such MASTERFUL IDEAS for this ongoing Book Pairings blog. I had A List. It was great.

Unfortunately, I texted it to John O’Neill Once Upon a Hallowed Age, and then promptly forgot all about it. Sneaking back up to the idea now, I realize that I read all those books Oh So Very Long Ago, and I’d have to read them all over again in order to do the pairings properly.

Not that it would be a bad thing…

BGQueenVictoriaI’d gotten off to a pretty good start with my first book pairing, which compared Ancillary Justice and Cordelia’s Honor, and my second, when I stood an anthology called Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells side by side with Sharon Shinn’s Royal Airs.

They were BRILLIANT! And long. And then I sort of… pooped out.

I dunno. I got busy. New job. Crowdfunded for/put together a couple of EPs. Short story collection came out. Where did 2015 GO anyway?

But recently, I read this BEAUTIFUL book– and it reminded me of this OTHER great book, and I just had to write about them.

You know they’re good when you HAVE to write about ’em, right?

Okay! Okay! Since all y’all at Black Gate love your Sword and Sorcery, OH HEAVENS TO MURGATROID, have I got a pairing for you!

One of each. One Sword. One Sorcery. Full of WOMEN! And WIT! And SUBVERSIVE WORLD VIEWS! And, oh, yes — LE ROMANCE, MES PETITES!!!

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. And My Beautiful Enemy, by Sherry Thomas.

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Goth Chick News: Tim Burton’s Used Napkins… Yes, Please

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Things-You-Think-About-in-a-Bar-The-Napkin-Art-of-Tim-Burton-small

When I got hold of this news, I was about to type “pinch me!” But then I realized that phraseology would not end well here.

Suffice to say, this is at the “epic” end of the coolness scale.

On Tuesday, Steeles Publishing announced their new title, The Napkin Art of Tim Burton; Things You Think About in a Bar. Which is literally what the title claims. The book is a collection of doodles Tim Burton has done on napkins… in bars.

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January 2016 Lightspeed Magazine Now on Sale

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed January 2016-smallEditor John Joseph Adams makes a welcome announcement in his editorial this month.

You might notice something a little different this month in the magazine. That’s because we’re changing the way we select our covers. Previously we sought out existing artwork and licensed it for use on our covers, but henceforth we’ll be commissioning original cover illustrations, based on one of the stories in the issue. First up is Galen Dara, with an illustration of Will McIntosh’s “The Savannah Liars Tour.”

Our current plan is to use a small team of artists we know and like, and rotate among them — and since that means we’ll be repeating the same artists fairly frequently, we’re doing away with the artist spotlight feature. So in lieu of that we’ll be presenting a new rotating nonfiction column, starting with a new movie review column by bestselling author Carrie Vaughn. Carrie’s column will appear a couple times a year (probably quarterly), and we’ll rotate in other nonfiction in the other months; as for what will be in that “slot” next — stay tuned! We’ll have more information about that next month.

Lightspeed has always had fabulous cover art, and I’m delighted to see that it will now showcase the fiction inside as well.

This month Lightspeed has original fantasy from Will McIntosh and Kat Howard, and fantasy reprints by Peter S. Beagle and Leena Krohn, and original SF by JY Yang and the collaborative team of Keith Brooke and Eric Brown, plus SF reprints by Jason Gurley and Kate Bachus. All that plus their usual author spotlights, an interview with J. Michael Straczynski, and book reviews by Andrew Liptak. eBook readers get a bonus reprint of Michael Swanwick’s Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella “Griffin’s Egg,” and an excerpt from the new novel Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen.

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The Books of David G. Hartwell: The Dark Descent and The World Treasury of Science Fiction

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dark Descent-small The World Treasury of Science Fiction-small

We lost David Hartwell on January 20th. This is our second article in a series that looks back at one of the most productive careers in our industry.

Last time we looked at two of David’s earliest anthologies, Masterpieces of Fantasy and Enchantment and Masterpieces of Fantasy and Wonder, released in 1988 and 1989. Here I want examine two more monumental anthologies he produced in the late 80s, both seminal to the field: The Dark Descent (October 1987) and The World Treasury of Science Fiction (January 1989).

The Dark Descent, subtitled The Evolution of Horror, is one of the most important horror anthologies ever published. Weighing in at a massive 1104 pages, it’s one of the most detailed and insightful surveys of horror fiction we have. Showcasing 56 of the best horror stories ever written, it traces the development of modern horror from the classic work Edgar Allan Poe, M. R. James, Charles Dickens and H. P. Lovecraft, all the way to Shirley Jackson, Manly Wade Wellman, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, Philip K. Dick, Gene Wolfe, and Stephen King. The Dark Decent won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology.

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The Series Series: Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 | Posted by Sarah Avery

The Shards of Heaven-small[This review may contain trace amounts of David Bowie.]

The jacket copy for Michael Livingtson’s Shards of Heaven sounded promising. I asked for the ARC immediately, and bounced with joy when I found it in my mailbox. Alas, the press release tucked into the book described it as Dan Brown meets Indiana Jones.

Who am I to say Dan Brown is unreadable? Clearly millions of people find him otherwise. To me, though, Brown’s sentences and paragraphs are so relentlessly clunky, ugly, and boring, I am unable to care what happens to any of Brown’s characters. My one attempt to read The Da Vinci Code found me fighting the urge to throw the book across the room, several times on every page.

So the press release made me fear for the well-being of Michael Livingston’s novel. I also feared for my own domestic tranquility: Now that I have children, my household’s penalty for throwing books is a five-minute time-out.

Which was I to believe? The blockbuster-bluster elevator pitch, or the cover copy?

[A]s civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may truly shape the course of history: two sons of Caesar have set out on a ruthless quest to find and control the Shards of Heaven, legendary artifacts said to possess the very power of the gods — or of the one God. 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.

Shards of Heaven has so many of the things Black Gate readers love — epic sweep, battle and brawl, ancient secrets, women one underestimates at one’s peril, and world-shaking magic. Michael Livingston has some nice writing chops. The secret history clearly has a mountain of real historical research to give it depth. How can such a book go wrong?

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New Treasures: Kurt Vonnegut: Novels 1987-1997

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Kurt Vonnegut Novels 1987 - 1997-smallThe Library of America,  a publisher with a fine reputation as a nonprofit cultural institution, has done three previous omnibus volumes of Kurt Vonnegut’s fiction, collecting a dozen novels and many stories published between 1950 and 1985. The fourth and final volume, published earlier this month, gathers his last three completed novels into one archival quality hardcover.

Here are the final three novels of the visionary master who defined a generation. Bluebeard (1987) is the colorful history of a phenomenally gifted realist painter who, in the 1950s, betrayed his artistic vision for commercial success. Now, at seventy-one, he writes his memoirs and plots his revenge on the worldly forces that conspired to corrupt his talent. In Hocus Pocus (1990), a freewheeling prison memoir by a Vietnam vet and disgraced academic, Vonnegut brings his indelible voice to a range of still-burning issues — free speech, racism, environmental calamity, deindustrialization, and globalization. Timequake (1997), the author’s last completed novel, is part science fiction yarn (starring perennial protagonist Kilgore Trout), part diary of the mid-1990s (starring the author himself). The result is a perfect fusion of Vonnegut’s two signature genres, the satirical fantasy and the personal essay, and a literary magician’s fond farewell to his readers and his craft. Rounded out with a selection of short nonfiction pieces intimately related to these three works, this volume presents the final word from the artist who the San Francisco Chronicle, reviewing Timequake, called an “old warrior who will not accept the dehumanizing of politics, the blunting of conscience, and the glibness of the late-twentieth-century Western world.”

Kurt Vonnegut: Novels 1987-1997 was published by Library of America on January 19, 2016. It is 754 pages, priced at $35 in hardcover. There is no digital edition. Our previous coverage of Library of America includes:

The Library of America Publishes Elmore Leonard
A Princess of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s, edited by Gary K. Wolfe
American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny, edited by Peter Straub

See all of our recent New Treasures here.


Art of the Genre: AotG releases The Folio: The Roslof Keep Campaign

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 | Posted by Scott Taylor

Folio 1-6 once again available in print!

Folio 1-6 once again available in print!

Today marks several large releases for Art of the Genre. The small press has recently restocked its The Folio: Roslof Keep Campaign books and now has them all available at their online store both individually, and in a package containing all 6 issues from 2015.

In a homage to TSR‘s Dungeon Magazine, The Folio combines incredible masterwork covers (featuring the likes of Jeff Dee, Jeff Laubenstein, Daniel Horne, Jim Holloway, Todd Lockwood, and David Martin thus far) that can be fully removed like the classic TSR modules of the 1970s & 1980s, along with detailed 3D maps, ‘Blue’ OSR maps, a fully formed campaign Gazetteer booklet and Dungeon booklet. Named for former TSR artist and art director Jim Roslof contribution to the cover of B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, this first campaign set takes characters from 1st thru 12th level in both 1E AD&D and 5E mechanics. If you’ve ever enjoyed campaigns the likes of Against the Giants, Bloodstone, or The Temple of Elemental Evil, then this is for you!

This series has been run exclusively on Kickstarter to this point so it is with great excitement that AotG now has the ability to offer these to all those who missed it. Copies can be purchased as a single unit or issue by issue, and remember all are in shrink wrap to keep them in mint condition. Interior adventures include: ROS1 Beneath Roslof Keep, ROS2 Tremors in the Machine, ROS3 Curse of the Violet Corruption, ROS4 Glade of the Burning Dead, ROS5 Deep Dive into Flooded Halls, and ROS6 Realms of Madness and Despair. The AotG website also includes digital bonus supplements for the campaign to help flesh out world and parties as they explore Mithelvarn’s Labyrinth and match wits against the Infernal Machine that drives it.

Coupled with the announcement of this release, AotG has also provided an incredible preview of two module trilogies for 2016 that can be pre-ordered with a Folio Subscription. Press releases for these promise the following.

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