Your Favorite Novellas In One Sentence: Announcing the Winners of‘s March Releases!

Sunday, March 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Martian Way Isaac Asimov-smallLast week we invited the readers of Black Gate to submit a one-sentence review of their all-time favorite novellas.

Every qualifying entry was entered into our contest to win one of‘s March novella releases: The Devil You Know by K. J. Parker, Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal, or Pieces of Hate by Tim Lebbon.

We received a huge number of entries, covering a vast number of novellas both famous and obscure — proof once again (as if we needed it) that you folks are the most widely-read fantasy fans on the planet. At the bottom of this article we announce our three winners.

But first, we’ve selected ten of the best entries to share with you here. The very first one we received was from Jeff Rogers, who kicked things off with an old school classic from a science fiction master, Isaac Asimov:

Hard to beat the classics: “The Martian Way” by Asimov stands out for its elevation of rational, evidence-based thought; its portrayal of can-do attitude mixed with engineering know-how; and its foreshadowing of The Expanse in setting!

Nice one, Jeff. I re-read “The Martian Way” just a few months ago, and you’re quite right… it put me in mind of The Expanse immediately.

Next up is Andrew Slater, who went really old school.

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Vintage Treasures: Voice of Our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll

Saturday, March 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Voice of Our Shadow Jonathan Carroll-small Voice of Our Shadow Jonathan Carroll-back-small

Jonathan Carroll has been nominated for the Hugo, World Fantasy Award, and British Fantasy Awards multiple times. He won the World Fantasy Award for his short story “Friend’s Best Man,” the British Fantasy Award for his novel Outside the Dog Museum (1991), and the Bram Stoker for his collection The Panic Hand (1995).

I read his first novel The Land of Laughs (1980) the year it was released, and was enormously impressed. Carroll is a true original — his fantasy is hard to quantify, but I consider it an effective blend of magic realism and horror. His second novel, Voice of Our Shadow, appeared in hardcover from Viking in 1983, and was reprinted in paperback by Ace the following year. As you can see from the cover above, it was originally marketed as horror, but later printings have treated it more as dark fantasy. In 1992, it was reprinted by Gollancz as Fantasy Masterwork #25, and published in ebook format by Open Road Integrated Media in 2012.

Voice of Our Shadow was published by Ace Books in December 1984. It is 197 pages, priced at $2.75. The cover is by Joe DeVito. It is not hard to find; I bought an unread copy for $1 on eBay earlier this month.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories: An Interview with Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-Winner Ken Liu

Saturday, March 26th, 2016 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

ken Paper-Menagerie-his-rezKen Liu has so far been principally known for his short fiction in science fiction and fantasy, although The Grace of Kings, the first novel in his Dandelion Dynasty trilogy, has been released by Saga Press. Ken’s short fiction has been nominated for tons of awards, and he won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. Recently, Saga Press also released his short story collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (which John O’Neill covered here, and about which BG blogger Amal El-Mohtar said “I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction.”)

It features some of Ken’s most impressive work, although he’s written so much that he could have filled a few more collections of similar quality and size without any trouble. The collection contains: “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species,” “State Change,” “The Perfect Match,” “Good Hunting,” “The Literomancer,” “Simulacrum,” “The Regular,” “The Paper Menagerie,” “An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition” (previously unpublished), “The Waves,” “Mono no aware,” “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel,” “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King,” and “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary.”

I managed to catch up with him to e-talk about The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories.

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April Analog Magazine Now Available

Saturday, March 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Analog April 2016-smallWe don’t cover every issue of Analog. To be honest, I have my hands full keeping up with 40-odd fantasy magazines, without trying to cover science fiction as well.

But I’ve been trying to work out a system that allows me to showcase the occasional issue, and I think I’ve finally stumbled on it. We’ll cover every issue that has a dinosaur on the cover. Genius!

Here’s editor Trevor Quachri’s description from the website.

This year’s April issue has a bit more gravitas than we typically expect this time of year, with mysteries galore. Our lead story is one such: a corpse and an unusual religious practice might be the keys to a larger mystery than anyone is expecting in “Seven Ways of Looking at the Sun-Worshippers of Yul-Katan” by Maggie Clark. Then dubious deeds are afoot at a radio show, in Edward M. Lerner’s “Soap Opera,” and we have Steven L. Burns’ story of one cop’s fight against his own limitations — and a society rotten beneath the surface — in “Playthings.”

Our fact article is a bit outside the norm as well, with Mark C. Childs’ look at “Composing Speculative Cities.” Then we have our shorter pieces, such as “Alloprene” by Stephen R. Wilk; “Early Warning” by Martin L. Shoemaker; “Sleep Factory” by Rich Larson; “Most Valuable Player” by Eric Choi; and “Diamond Jim and the Dinosaurs” by Rosemary Claire Smith.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Future Treasures: A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell

Saturday, March 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

A Shadow All of Light-smallFred Chappell won a World Fantasy Award for his short story “The Lodger” (1993). He’s also the author of the classic horror novel Dagon (1968) and I Am One of You Forever (1985), and was the subject of a deluxe Masters of the Weird Tale volume from Centipede Press last December.

His latest is an epic adventure featuring pirates, master thieves, monsters, and fantasy detectives. It arrives in hardcover from Tor next month.

Fred Chappell’s A Shadow All of Light, a stylish, episodic fantasy novel, follows the exploits of Falco, a young man from the country, who arrives in the port city of Tardocco with the ambition of becoming an apprentice to a master shadow thief. Maestro Astolfo, whose mysterious powers of observation would rival those of Sherlock Holmes, sees Falco’s potential and puts him through a grueling series of physical lessons and intellectual tests.

Falco’s adventures coalesce into one overarching story of con men, monsters, ingenious detection, cats, and pirates. A wry humor leavens this fantastical concoction, and the style is as rich and textured as one would hope for from Chappell, a distinguished poet as well as a World Fantasy Award-winning fantasy writer.

A Shadow All of Light will be published by Tor Books on April 12, 2016. It is 384 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition. Read a lengthy excerpt at

See all of our coverage of the best upcoming fantasy here.

Amazing Stories, March 1964: A Retro-Review

Friday, March 25th, 2016 | Posted by Rich Horton

Amazing Stories March 1964-smallHere’s a latish Cele Goldsmith issue… indeed, she became Cele Lalli with the August issue (and her tenure ended with the June 1965 issue). This one has a cover by Emsh for Robert F. Young’s “Arena of Decisions.” Interiors are by George Schelling and Virgil Finlay.

Norman Lobsenz’ Editorial is about SFnal games, referring to Lewis Carroll’s notion of Circular Billiards. In the book review column, The Spectroscope, a new reviewer is introduced: Lester del Rey. The column had missed one issue, with the January issue having been longtime reviewer S. E. Cotts’ last. Curiously, del Rey lasted only one issue, though the Editorial implies a long run was coming. Robert Silverberg took over with the next issue – I don’t know the story behind this. Del Rey did later have long runs at If and Analog doing review columns. In this issue he praises Simak’s Way Station and (with reservations) Dean McLaughlin’s The Fury from Earth, and he is quite negative about Heinlein’s Glory Road.

The letter column features Jeff Rensch (wants to ditch the magazine’s name), Jim Hawkins, Ricky Hautala, Georgia Covington, Michael L. Abraham, and Robert Lewis. Of those I know Hautala’s name – he was a fairly prolific horror novelist in the ‘80s.

Ben Bova contributes the Science article, “The Time of Great Dying,” which discusses the Cretaceous Extinction, summarizing the current theories and adding one of his own (the proliferation of grasses led to the extinction of the dinosaurs). Bova’s summary is sensible and clear, but as with almost all such on this particular event, it can largely be thrown in the dustbin of history. (He does suggest a nearby supernova as a possibility, though.)

The fiction, then:

Sunburst (part one of three), by Phyllis Gotlieb (18500 words)
“Arena of Decisions,” by Robert F. Young (6,800 words)
“Now is Forever,” by Dobbin Thorpe (5,200 words)
“Jam for Christmas,” by Vance Simonds (7,300 words)

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Future (Video Game) Treasures: Conan – Age of Exiles

Friday, March 25th, 2016 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Conan_ExilesShot1Funcom is the developer of the MMO Age of Conan – Unchained. AoC is the only MMO I ever played more than a few times and stuck with. I think it’s an excellent game with a novel fighting system and superb graphics. It did a nice job of using the Conan world setting and I enjoyed playing it.

Sadly, as with most MMOs which aren’t named World of Warcraft, it just doesn’t have a ton of players. There were many times I would roam an area and only see one or two other characters. But it if you’re looking to check out an MMO, I highly recommend it.

Well, Funcom is bringing Conan to PCs and consoles with Conan Exiles:

An open-world survival game in the brutal lands of Conan the Barbarian.

You are an exile, one of thousands cast out to fend for themselves in a barbaric wasteland swept by terrible sandstorms and besieged on every side by enemies. Here you must fight to survive, build and dominate.
Hungry, thirsty and alone, your very first battle is that against the harsh environment. Grow crops or hunt animals for food. Harvest resources to build weapons and tools. Build a shelter to survive. Ride across a vast world and explore alone, or band together with other players to build entire settlements and strongholds to withstand fierce invasions.

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New Treasures: Skyborn, Book One of Seraphim by David Dalglish

Friday, March 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Skyborn David Dalglish-small Fireborn David Dalglish-small

American writer David Dalglish is the author of several popular series, including Shadowdance (six novels, starting with A Dance of Cloaks and A Dance of Blades, from Orbit), The Half-Orcs (seven books, starting with The Weight of Blood, self-published), and The Paladins (two volumes, also self-published). His latest is the opening volume of the new Seraphim trilogy, featuring floating islands holding the last remnants of humanity, and the elite winged soldiers who protect them.

Six islands float high above the Endless Ocean, where humanity’s final remnants are locked in brutal civil war.

Their parents slain in battle, twins Kael and Brenna Skyborn are training to be Seraphim, elite soldiers of aerial combat who wield elements of ice, fire, stone and lightning.

When the invasion comes, they will take to the skies, and claim their vengeance.

Skyborn was published by Orbit on November 17, 2015. It is 464 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition. It will be followed by Fireborn (November 22, 2016), and Shadowborn. The covers are by Tommy Arnold.

The New Old West

Friday, March 25th, 2016 | Posted by Violette Malan

Silver on the Road-smallFor years fantasy writers, and to some extent SF writers, have been looking for new worlds to write about, and wondering what the next big thing is going to be. I don’t mean just “are werewolves the new vampires” or what we can do to make zombies more interesting. Those are, if I can put it this way, single-trope problems.

More complicated is the general feeling that we’ve pretty much exhausted Celtic mythology as the magical/supernatural basis for our stories, and the pseudo-middle-ages as the setting of choice. Not to say that many wonderful stories aren’t still being told using those tropes – and being welcomed enthusiastically by mainstream audiences (even my Spanish cousins are reading/watching Juego de Tronos) but it’s getting more and more difficult to come up with something that feels fresh and innovative.

Of course we’ve already seen successful forays into non-white, non-western mythologies and cultures, but those of us who are white, and western, tend to tread carefully when we borrow from other cultures. No one wants to be guilty of any kind of appropriation.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen successful use of areas of western culture that don’t involve cousins of the Green Man. Dave Duncan’s Alchemist series successfully mines the European Renaissance, for example, while the success of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, set in the Napoleonic era, just proves how hungry we are to see dragons in a new light. And let’s not forget the Victorian Steampunk phenomenon, which has fired the imaginations of Fantasy and SF writers alike.

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Goth Chick News: 13 Questions for Double Stoker Nominee Michaelbrent Collings

Thursday, March 24th, 2016 | Posted by Sue Granquist

MbC and his look of smoldering intensity

MbC and his look of smoldering intensity

Mr. Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally-bestselling author who also currently happens to be a double Stoker Award nominee for 2016.

His work The Deep is nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel while The Ridealong is up for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. And though you might expect a horror writer with these types of creds to be long in the “EA Poe” persona and short in the humor department, Collings is… well… downright funny — which makes him perfect for fodder for a Goth Chick News interview, where it’s not about how many gallons of blood you can sling, but how entertaining you are.

So without further ado; everyone, this is Michaelbrent.

Michealbrent, meet everyone…

GC: How did you first get into writing? Was it to meet girls?

MC: It was definitely to meet the ladies. I’d go to parties, lean suave-like-Bond-style against the nearest booming woofer and lay down my opening line. Then, when I realized they couldn’t hear me because I was standing next to a frickin’ booming woofer, I’d move to a tweeter (yeah, I went to weird parties), and say, very casual-like, “So I researched today how to make a tent out of the face-skin of virgins.” I never did get a phone number, but I’m pretty sure they all talked about me when they ran to the bathroom.

No, strike that, I did get a phone number once. I thought it was pretty strange at first that it had eighteen digits, but the girl must have been an exchange student, because I got some kind of Chinese phone number and some other woman showed up at my house a few days later claiming to be my wife. It was really weird. Especially for my parents, who didn’t know how to feel about the fact that my wife was older than they were. Plus I still lived at home at the time.

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