When Morocco Really Was Adventurous: Reading Lords of the Atlas

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

9780330024365-uk-300For people who have never been there, Morocco conjures up images of decadent ports, imposing casbahs, mysterious medinas, and mountains filled with bandits. It’s a mystique the tour companies like to perpetuate for this modern and rapidly changing country.

I feel like a bit of a cheat tagging my series of Morocco posts as “adventure travel,” but I’m a blogger and that tag brings in the hits. While Morocco is safe and easy to travel in, it wasn’t so long ago that the mystique was the reality. A classic study of this freebooting era is Gavin Maxwell’s Lords of the Atlas.

Researched in the 1950s, it looks at the twilight era of the old Morocco. The book opens with a slave unlocking the gate to an aging, all-but-abandoned Casbah in the remote Atlas Mountains. This man was one of the last retainers of the Glaoui family, which for two generations grew an empire in Morocco’s rugged mountains, became pashas of important cities, and even played kingmaker.

Maxwell has an eye for lurid detail, especially beheadings. You can feel the writer’s enthusiasm when he speaks of how, just a little over a century ago, the city gates of Morocco would be festooned with the heads of criminals and traitors. The heads had been preserved in salt, a job reserved for the Jews. The Jewish quarter even earned the name mellah, Arabic for “salt.” Even well salted, the heads would eventually rot and fall down into the crowd below, once almost hitting a delegation from England.

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Future Treasures: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire by Rod Duncan

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

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter-small Unseemly Science-small The Custodian of Marvels-small

I’m cheating a little bit here because, technically, the first two books in this series are already out and thus don’t count as “Future Treasures.” But since I’m the kind of guy who waits until an entire trilogy is published before digging into the first volume, the upcoming pub date for the final book in Rod Duncan’s The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire means the series is available to me for the first time. Cancel my appointments for the rest of the week, because this looks like a good one.

The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire opens with the 2014 Phillip K. Dick Award finalist The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, the tale of Elizabeth Barnabus, who lives a double life as both herself and as her brother, a private detective, in the divided land of England. Caught up in the supernatural mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines, Elizabeth soon finds herself up against the all-powerful Patent Office. The Washington Post called it “All steampunk and circus wonder as we follow the adventures of Elizabeth Barnabas. The double crosses along the way keep the plot tight and fun, and the conclusion sets us up nicely for book two.”

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If Neil Clarke Didn’t Have a Day Job, He’d Win All the Awards

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Neil ClarkeNeil Clarke, the hardest working man in science fiction, has now also accepted the position of editor of the flagship magazine of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Bulletin. SFWA President Cat Rambo made the announcement yesterday. Here’s part of the press release.

Neil has been acting as the interim editor for the SFWA Bulletin since John Klima’s departure this past summer. SFWA would also like to take this opportunity, to thank John for his work in the organization. SFWA President, Cat Rambo adds, “I was overwhelmed by the talented applicants that applied for the position, and I’m happy that Neil was one of them. His editorial talents are rock-solid, he’s a congenial perfectionist, and I’m looking forward to having him as a more permanent part of the internal team. I expect great things for The Bulletin in 2016 and 2017.” Members and non-members interested in writing for the Bulletin should send a short pitch on their proposed topic, along with a bio of relevant experience, to bulletin@sfwa.org. Our guidelines can be found here.

Neil continues with his other projects, including editing Clarkesworld and Forever magazines and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthology series for Night Shade Books. But not sleep, apparently. His issued this statement on Facebook (though God knows where he found the time):

Just to clarify, my new job at the SFWA Bulletin doesn’t mean I get to quit the day job or that I’ll be doing less with Clarkesworld, Forever, or my anthologies. These side projects are all pieces of the puzzle that will eventually let me quit the day job. That day is one step closer.

Neil has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Editor three times, and Clarkesworld has won three Hugos and one World Fantasy Award. It’s probably a good thing Neil still has a day job… if he didn’t, he win all the awards.

Writerly Lessons from Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 | Posted by M Harold Page


…this literary failure is still a heroic one.

I read Louis L’Amour’s medieval adventure novel The Walking Drum so you don’t have to (link).

A thorough edit  would fix the expository intrusions (L’Amour keeps taking out his research and waving it around). However, this would not have fixed the structural problem (there was no structure).

Even so, this literary failure is still a heroic one. The book not only displays the craft of a veteran adventure writer, it is also an object lesson in career strategy.

As an author I benefited from reading this book. Let me tell you why…

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies 191 Now Available

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 191-smallThe January 21st issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, issue #191, has original short fiction from Chaz Brenchley and D.K. Thompson, a podcast, and a reprint by Dean Wells.

In Skander, for a Boy” by Chaz Brenchley
I was sure this boy did know a back way to the kitchens. That was his Skander, and his experience: covert, insinuating, conditional. Not mine. “This is my way, my king’s way,” in through the front door to ask straightforwardly for what I wanted. They would see Rulf at my back, and all his ships behind him; they would not refuse me. In and out.

Blessed are Those Who Have Seen and Do Not Believe” by D.K. Thompson
I chuckled, cracked open my pistol’s cylinder, and loaded it with the wooden ammunition. “Don’t worry, my dear,” I said, and tucked the gun in my waistband. “There’s plenty of time before sunrise.”

Audio Fiction Podcast:
Blessed are Those Who Have Seen and Do Not Believe” by D.K. Thompson

From the Archives:
To the Gods of Time and Engines, a Gift” by Dean Wells (from BCS #80, October 20, 2011)
The silent commands were with her all the time now, haunting and familiar.

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Win an Autographed Copy of Brandon Sanderson’s The Bands of Mourning

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Bands of Mourning-smallBrandon Sanderson’s The Bands of Mourning, the latest novel in the Mistborn series, was published today by Tor Books. To celebrate, Tor is making one autographed copy available to readers of Black Gate — and it could be yours.

How do you win? Just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the subject “The Bands of Mourning,” and a one-sentence summary of why you’d like to read it, and we’ll enter you into the contest.

That’s it! That’s all it takes. One winner will be drawn at random from all entries, and we’ll announce the winner here.

No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. Not valid where prohibited by law, or anywhere postage for a hefty hardcover is more than, like, 10 bucks (practically, that means US and Canada).

The Bands of Mourning was published today by Tor Books. It is 448 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover, or $14.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Chris McGrath.

Learn more about The Bands of Mourning, and the previous books in the Mistborn series, in our previous coverage here.

The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in December

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Storyteller-Tools M Harold PageBG blogger M Harold Page had a fabulous month in December, with three of the top four posts for the month, all dealing with Medieval Worldbuilding:

How to Get From Worldbuilding (or Research) to Story
An Adventurer’s Guide to the Middle Ages: What if There’s No Room at the Inn (or No Inn Whatsoever?)
Three Classic Books for Medieval Worldbuilders and Armchair Time Travellers

Mr. Page has clearly fired the imaginations of all the aspiring medieval novelists in our audience (and managed to keep things fascinating for the rest of us.)

The third most popular artcile for December was a guest post from editor Dominik Parisien, announcing the contents of his upcoming Clockwork Canada anthology. Rounding out the Top 5 was the second installment in William I. Lengeman III’s Star Trek movie rewatch, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Also on our top ten were two articles on collecting pulp art by Doug Ellis, the newest installment of our vintage paperback series, Collecting Robert E. Heinlein, Sean Stiennon’s review of Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, and Sarah Newton’s detailed review of the new Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls role playing game.

The complete list of Top Articles for December follows. Below that, I’ve also broken out the most popular overall articles and blog categories for the month.

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In the Wake Of Sister Blue: Chapter Nine

Monday, January 25th, 2016 | Posted by markrigney

In The Wake of Sister Blue Mark Rigney-medium

Linked below, you’ll find the ninth installment of a brand-new serialized novel, In the Wake Of Sister Blue. The battle for Vagen continues, with jeopardy enough for all and chaos stretching as far as the eye can see. Chapter Ten will follow in two weeks’ time, so stay tuned: same bat time, same bat channel.

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 (or perhaps my unexpectedly popular D&D-related post, “Youth In a Box,”) I think you’ll also find much to like in this latest venture. Oh, and if you’re only now discovering this portal, may I suggest you begin at the beginning? The Spur awaits…

Read the first installment of In the Wake Of Sister Blue here.

Read the ninth and latest installment of In the Wake Of Sister Blue here.

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New Treasures: Mind Magic by Eileen Wilks

Monday, January 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Mind Magic-smallThe first book in the World of the Lupi series, Tempting Danger, was published in October, 2004. It was Wilks’ debut novel, and it launched a bestselling series that has vaulted her to the forefront of the urban fantasy genre. The latest volume, Mind Magic, is the 12th in the series (not including the various novellas and short stories she’s produced over the last decade), and it sees FBI agent Lily Yu temporarily benched after the dangerous lessons in mindspeech she’s received from the black dragon.

FBI agent Lily Yu’s mind is a dangerous place to be in the latest Novel of the Lupi…

Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve — until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status — despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds — because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Mind Magic was published by Berkley on November 3, 2015. It is 416 pages, priced at $7.99 for both the digital and print editions.

3 Days of Nemo

Monday, January 25th, 2016 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

nemoSome years ago I brought the attention of Black Gate regulars to a nifty solitaire board game from Victory Point Games: Nemo’s War. (Here’s a link to my review of the original edition of the game.)

The Kickstarter for the second edition was launched several weeks ago and now only THREE days remain to join the voyage and pledge for a copy of the game yourself. All stretch goals have already been met (and quickly!).

The first version was a grand adventure where players took on the role of the famous Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and explored the seas of Earth while trying to stay clear of imperial powers. Well, actually, there are four separate ways to play the game, and not all of them involve staying clear of those powers… You can play as an explorer, a scientist, an anti-imperialist (voyaging around the world and inciting revolutions to lend support to captive peoples) or as a warrior. What goal you choose results in different ways to tabulate your final scores as the days wind down. For instance, scientist Nemo doesn’t get nearly as many points for blowing up ships as warrior Nemo.

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