New Treasures: The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

Sunday, February 28th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Winged Histories-smallI met Sofia Samatar at the World Fantasy Convention in 2014, and I was very impressed. She was gracious and extremely well spoken, in public and in private, and won the Best Novel award that year for her acclaimed first novel A Stranger in Olondria (and also addressed “the elephant in the room” with her passionate comments on being presented with a statue honoring H.P. Lovecraft).

A Stranger in Olondria also swept the British Fantasy and William L. Crawford Awards (and garnered a Nebula nomination along the way). The sequel, The Winged Histories, arrives next week from Small Beer Press, and it is unquestionably one of the year’s most anticipated novels.

Four women — a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite — are caught up on opposing sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their loyalties and agendas and ideologies come into conflict, the four fear their lives may pass unrecorded. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history.

Here is the much-anticipated companion novel to Sofia Samatar’s World Fantasy Award-winning debut, A Stranger in Olondria. The Winged Histories is the saga of an empire — and a family: their friendships, their enduring love, their arcane and deadly secrets. Samatar asks who makes history, who endures it, and how the turbulence of historical change sweeps over every aspect of a life and over everyone, no matter whether or not they choose to seek it out.

Sofia Samatar received the John W. Campbell Award in 2014. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and many other publications. The Winged Histories will be published by Small Beer Press on March 1, 2016. It is 300 pages, priced at $24 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition. Read the first chapter at

Superhero TV, Part V: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Saturday, February 27th, 2016 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

dc legendsheaderIn the finest tradition of superhero cross-overs, Black Gate is doing a blog cross-over (collect them all, including the foil cover variants!). In Part I, I talked about Supergirl.

In Part II, Marie Bilodeau waxed eloquent about The Flash. Our cross-over continued with Part III by John O’Neill talking about Gotham, which led to an exciting cliffhanger in Part IV when Violette Malan covered Agent Carter and then made a daring escape by flying off to Spain!

Some of these blog posts are sure to become collector’s items, so check them out now!

Welcome to Part V of this Black Gate blog cross-over, where I take a weird look at DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.  I say weird because I have two strong feelings about this show, and I’ll use those feelings to structure this post.

The first feeling is, I wouldn’t watch this show on my own. The second feeling is that my 11-year old son and I never miss an episode.

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Future Treasures: Borderline by Mishell Baker

Saturday, February 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Borderline Mishell Baker-smallMishell Baker is the Communications Director for the Clarion Foundation. Most of what I know about her comes from her bio at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which states “She lives with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles, where she is currently at work on a novel set in the early history of the world featured in ‘Throwing Stones.'” Borderline, which arrives in trade paperback from Saga Press next week, could be that novel. Probably is. If it sounds intriguing, it couldn’t hurt to check out “Throwing Stones,” which appeared in BCS 47.

Borderline follows the misadventures of a cynical, disabled film director with borderline personality disorder who is recruited into a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland. It’s the opening volume in a new urban fantasy series, and is Mishell Baker’s debut novel.

A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.

For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she’ll have to smooth-talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble’s disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.

No pressure.

Borderline will be published by Saga Press on March 1, 2016. It is 390 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition.

February 2016 Lightspeed Magazine Now on Sale

Saturday, February 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed February 2016-smallEditor John Joseph Adams talks about his latest big project in his editorial this month.

We’re currently in the midst of crowdfunding our next Destroy project. In 2014, we asked women to destroy science fiction, and they did — spectacularly — in our first crowdfunded, all-women special issue, Women Destroy Science Fiction!. Then, in 2015, we asked queers to destroy science fiction, they did — again, spectacularly — in Queers Destroy Science Fiction!

This year, we’re turning the reins over to People of Colo(u)r, with People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!, guest edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim. Joining Nalo and Kristine will be a team of wonderful POC creatives, including Nisi Shawl (reprint editor), Berit Ellingsen (flash fiction editor), Sunil Patel (personal essays editor), Grace Dillon (nonfiction editor), and more!

We launched our Kickstarter campaign on January 18 and surpassed our original goal in just a manner of hours. Our first day’s totals surpassed that of QDSF and WDSF, and as I write this (on the evening of January 31), we’re currently at nearly $26K (518% of our original goal). Thanks so much to all of you who have supported the project thus far!

Our two biggest stretch goals are the same as last year: If we receive enough pledges, we’ll not only publish POC Destroy Science Fiction!, we’ll also publish additional special issues POC Destroy Horror! (at $30K) and POC Destroy Fantasy! (at $40K).

The kickstarter wrapped up on February 18, blowing through virtually all of the stretch goals and raising $51,734. I’m looking forward to seeing these special issues of Lightspeed and, just as we always have, we’ll report on them here.

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The Books of David G. Hartwell: The Canadian Anthologies

Saturday, February 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Northern Stars-small Northern Suns-small

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

By the early 90s, as a result of the success of books like The Dark Descent and its follow up, Foundations of Fear, David Hartwell had found his market niche: weighty anthologies that had a solid claim to being definitive surveys of the fantastic. David started with fantasy and horror, and quickly expanded into science fiction, with books like The World Treasury of Science Fiction (1989) and The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF (1994), co-edited with Kathryn Cramer.

In the mid to late 90s, David produced two highly regarded anthologies of Canadian science fiction, both edited by Canadian SF writer and critic Glen Grant: Northern Stars: The Anthology of Canadian Science Fiction (1994) and Northern Suns (1999). The former is a fine collection of the best Canadian SF produced in the late 20th Century (1973-1994), and the latter serves as an excellent snapshot of the best Canadian writers working in the field in the late 90s.

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Vintage Treasures: The Finnbranch Trilogy by Paul Hazel

Friday, February 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Yearwood-small Undersea-small Winterking-small

I don’t know much about Paul Hazel, but I became curious recently when I stumbled on his complete Finnbranch Trilogy, a Celtic fantasy published between 1990 and 1985, on eBay. All three books, plus his only other fantasy novel, The Wealdwife’s Tale, for just $3.99.

I dithered for a bit, but hey. What can I tell you? I’m a sucker for vintage paperbacks in perfect condition. They are now mine.

Hazel remains something of a mystery though, and there isn’t a lot out there about him. I did find an entry at the online Science Fiction Encyclopedia, however. Here it is.

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SF Signal on the Top 15 Science Fiction Comics of 2015

Friday, February 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Copperhead Volume One-smallI don’t have as much time to keep up as I like, but even I noticed at 2015 was a great year for science fiction and fantasy comics. Titles like Saga, Monstress, Bitch Planet, Gotham by Midnight, ODY-C, Rat Queens, Pretty Deadly, Rumble, COWL, and many others did not escape my notice.

The editors of SF Signal have also been paying attention, and last week they produced a handy list of the Top 15 Science Fiction Comics of 2015. Frankly, it’s a dynamite list, and there’s something on it for everyone. If you’re curious about all the recent excited talk about comics, this is the place to start. Here’s #6 on the list, Image Comics’ Copperhead, by Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski.

I’ll admit right up front, that as a long time Firefly fan boy, I have a strong bias in favor of space westerns, but I feel more than justified in including Copperhead in the top half of this list. Even Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan dubbed the comic the best debut of the year.

Copperhead is a fascinating series that blend the best conventions of Westerns and sci-fi without kitsch and without imitating its other successes of the genre. It’s hard to imagine a setup riper for sci-fi flavored action sequences, but where Faerber really shines is in his character development. Unlike Firefly, which follows outlaws, Copperhead focuses on breathing new life into the “arrival of a new Sheriff in town” trope with a protagonist who also happens to be a single mom. She’s a fierce female lead of the kind all too rare in comics with a big heart and an over-protective streak where her son in concerned. Rarely have I seen a science fiction title lavish such care on character development. Each and every one of Faerber’s character, no matter how small, feels fully fleshed out. Finally, let me add that there are “alien hillbillies.”

Read the complete article here.

Superhero TV: That’s Agent Carter To You

Friday, February 26th, 2016 | Posted by Violette Malan

Carter 1I don’t know how I forgot “superhero” when I wrote about characters and their jobs a couple of weeks ago, but I was powerfully reminded of my lapse – and inspired – by two excellent posts from my friends and fellow BG bloggers, Derek Kunsken (Supergirl) and Marie Bilodeau (The Flash). Today I’d like to put in a word for the Marvel TV universe, where there’s at least one heroine that’s neither an alien, nor a human with superpowers: Peggy Carter of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) is 100% human.

A number of factors make this show stand out for me. For one, the creators have managed to pull off a series that is a little bit prequel, a tad bit sequel, as well as a sort of spinoff, that doesn’t rely on deep knowledge of either Captain Americ or Agents of Shield – or anything else in the Marvel universe for that matter. Plus, it avoids the drawback of most prequels: you know who isn’t going to die.

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Goth Chick News: Your Dark and Stormy Night Reading List Has Arrived – Meet the 2015 Stoker Nominees

Thursday, February 25th, 2016 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Bram-Stoker Award-smallAs it does each year at this time, the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) has announced this year’s nominees for the coveted Stoker Award.

In case you aren’t familiar with the coolness that is the Stoker, it is named in honor of the man himself, Bram Stoker, and awards are presented annually for superior writing in eleven categories including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenplays and non-fiction. Previous winners include Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Joyce Carol Oates and Neil Gaiman, if that tells you anything.

Basically, this is the Oscars for us horror bibliophiles, only with a much more progressive wardrobe.

In addition, far better than a stoic naked dude dipped in a coating that is comprised of less “gold” each year, the Stoker award is a creepy mansion whose door opens to review a plaque with the winner’s name engraved.

So without further ado, the 2016 Stoker nominees are…

Superior Achievement in a Novel

  • Clive Barker – The Scarlet Gospels (St. Martin’s Press)
  • Michaelbrent Collings – The Deep (self-published)
  • JG Faherty – The Cure (Samhain Publishing)
  • Patrick Freivald – Black Tide (JournalStone Publishing)
  • Paul Tremblay – A Head Full of Ghosts (William Morrow)

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New Treasures: The Arcana Familia by Randy Henderson

Thursday, February 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Finn Fancy Necromancy-small Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free-small

Randy Henderson’s 2015 debut, the opening volume in the The Arcana Familia series, was horror/comedy Finn Fancy Necromancy, the tale of teen aged necromancer Finn Gramaraye, imprisoned for 25 years in the Other Realm for a crime he didn’t commit, and released into an adult body in the present day with a head full of 1980s memories. Greywalker author Kat Richardson called it “Absolutely marvelous. A funny, quirky, and compelling tale full of fantastic twists and dire conspiracies… hands down the best fantasy debut novel of the year.” It was published in hardcover by Tor last February, and the paperback arrived on January 5th.

Darkly funny fantasy novels don’t come around that often, and it’s good to see them succeed when they do. The second volume in the series, Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free, arrived earlier this month. Here’s the description.

Finn Gramaraye is settling back into the real world after his twenty-five-year-long imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. He’s fallen in love with a woman from his past, though he worries she may love a version of him that no longer exists. He’s proved his innocence of the original crime of Dark Necromancy, and he’s finding a place in the family business — operating a mortuary for the Arcane, managing the magical energies left behind when an Arcane being dies to prevent it from harming the mundane world.

But Finn wants more. Or different. Or something. He’s figured out how to use the Kinfinder device created by his half-mad father to find people’s True Love, and he’d like to convert that into an Arcane Dating Service. It’s a great idea. Everyone wants True Love! Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find Finn, and when he agrees to help his friend, the Bigfoot named Sal, they walk right into a Feyblood rebellion against the Arcane Ruling Council, a rebellion being fomented by unknown forces and fueled by the drug created by Finn’s own grandfather.

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free was published by Tor Books on February 16, 2016. It is 432 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

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