Future Treasures: Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s Bargain by Tim Pratt

Thursday, May 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Pathfinder Tales Liar's Bargain-smallTim Pratt is one of the most popular and prolific authors in the Pathfinder Tales stable. His first two tales of Rodrick the thief were Liar’s Blade (called “Fafhrd-and-Grey-Mouser-style sword and sorcery adventure” by SF Signal) and Liar’s Island. The third in the series sees Rodrick and his talking sword Hrym pressed into service for the crime of theft in Lastwall… service that leads to some pretty hazardous duty, all in the name of defending the innocent.

Who Are You Calling Expendable?

When caught stealing in the crusader nation of Lastwall, veteran con man Rodrick and his talking sword Hrym expect to weasel or fight their way out of punishment. Instead, they find themselves ensnared by powerful magic, and given a choice: serve the cause of justice as part of a covert team of similarly bound villains — or die horribly. Together with their criminal cohorts, Rodrick and Hrym settle in to their new job of defending the innocent, only to discover that being a secret government operative is even more dangerous than a life of crime.

From Hugo Award winner Tim Pratt comes a tale of reluctant heroes and plausible deniability, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Our recent Pathfinder coverage includes free Soundclip samples from Macmillan Audio, a look at Liane Merciel’s Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight, and Nick Ozment’s popular piece on the Fellowship of the Pathfinders.

Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s Bargain will be published by Tor Books on June 7, 2016. It is 288 pages (plus a 12-page preview of Starspawn by Wendy N. Wagner), priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Raymond Swanland. See all our recent Pathfinder coverage here.


The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in April

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Star Trek 4 exact change

Good to see Star Trek is still enormously popular with our readers. The most widely read post at Black Gate last month was William I. Lengeman III’s review of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the latest installment in his ongoing Star Trek Re-Watch (his review of ST III was #2 last month).

Or maybe we’re just old. The most popular category last month was Vintage Treasures (that’s my favorite too!) When I get old enough, my eyesight will fade enough that I can’t read books, and then what will it be? Maybe Old Time Radio? That’ll be fun.

Number 2 on the list was our announcement on Black Gate‘s Hugo nomination, followed by M Harold Page’s article on Worldbuilding in the Warhammer 40K Universe, and Sean McLachlan on Vintage Trash: Reel Wild Cinema (Vintage again! We are old). Rounding out the Top Five last month was M Harold Page’s review of All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World.

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June 2016 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction June 2016-smallThe June issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction contains “What We Hold Onto,” a huge novella from Jay O’Connell, “Rats Dream of the Future” by Black Gate alum Paul McAuley, and a short story by Sarah Pinsker — who just won a Nebula for her short story in last year’s June Asimov’s, “Our Lady of the Open Road.” All that plus stories by Dominica Phetteplace, Mercurio D. Rivera, and Rick Wilber, and lots more. Here’s the full description from the website:

Jay O’Connell’s giant June 2016 novella takes an exquisite look at “What We Hold Onto” as well as what we are capable of letting can go. This story brilliantly imagines the future in robust details. With her marriage over and her mother dying, Sophia’s life is falling apart. To cope with the chaos, she hires a “Simplifier” and changes her life in ways she’s never anticipated. You won’t want to miss this remarkably inventive tale!

Paul McAuley envisions terrifying consequences when “Rats Dream of the Future”; as she is “Unreeled” back to reality, Mercurio D. Rivera’s astronaut may or may not be changed by her mission to a black hole; join Sarah Pinsker for a charming off-season visit to an Orchid Beach souvenir shop that has unusual post cards and tchotchke on sale in “Clearance”; Rick Wilber introduces us to a “Rambunctious” and unforgettable character; and this time, Bel speaks for herself as she explains what it’s like to live with a watcher in Dominica Phetteplace’s“Project Symmetry.”

In “My Trip to the Future,” June’s Reflections column, the intrepid Robert Silverberg muses on a brave new world; James Patrick Kelly’s On the Net reveals why “There’s Something About Mars”; Norman Spinrad’s On Books analyzes novels by David Walton, Ted Kosmatka, and Kim Stanley Robinson that could be all called “Very Hard Science Fiction”; plus we’ll have an array of poetry and other features you’re sure to enjoy. Look for our June issue on sale at newsstands on May 3, 2016.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Hope, Heroism, and Ideals Worth Fighting For: Darwyn Cooke, November 16, 1962 – May 14, 2016

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 | Posted by Thomas Parker

Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke

I was surprised and deeply saddened on May 14th to learn of the death from cancer of comic artist and writer Darwyn Cooke, at the much too early age of 53.

Over the past decade, I have gradually lost most of my interest in current comics, especially ones from DC and Marvel that deal with long established characters; the medium (always with some honorable exceptions, of course) has largely grown too violent, too jaded, too self aware and self indulgent to produce much work that engages me.

The shock for shock’s sake taboo breaking, the endless restarts and reboots, the universe-altering big events that promise to “change everything” — they all long ago began to merge together into one dull blur, like an old chalkboard that has been written on and erased too many times. How often can you really “change everything” before you are in danger of eradicating the ties of memory and affection and shared history that connect a medium and its audience? That’s what happened with me, anyway. What the hell — maybe I’m just getting old.

There are exceptions though, as I mentioned, and Darwyn Cooke was one of them. I was always eager to see anything he produced; when a new Cooke was in my hands, I felt as young as I did the day I bought my first comic book (House of Mystery 175, July-August, 1968).

I could go on and on about his gorgeous art, but I won’t; if you’re at all susceptible to the charms of the four color world, you know at one glance that you’re in the presence of a master, and in this context at least, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. Just find a Darwyn Cooke story and marvel at the dynamic beauty and storytelling skill that leap from the pages.

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New Treasures: The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The End of the End of Everything Dale Bailey-small

I don’t keep on top of modern horror and dark fantasy as much as I should, but I do make an effort to get the collections everyone is talking about. That means Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters, Laird Barron’s The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, John Langan’s The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies, Simon Strantzas’ Burnt Black Suns, and Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off. And the last one on my list was The End of the End of Everything, Dale Bailey’s second collection (following his 2003 Golden Gryphon volume The Resurrection Man’s Legacy and Other Stories). I’ve been hearing great things about Bailey for over a decade, and I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for a while. But it was James Patrick Kelly’s gonzo blurb that finally made me pull the trigger:

Here are nine gorgeously-written and closely-observed tales of ordinary people trying to hold it together when everything is falling apart. I’ve been a story aficionado for several decades now and I can’t think of a more accomplished master of the fantastic short form. Prepare to hunt feral Girl Scouts! Pack your bags for a dinosaur safari! Invite friends to your end of the world party! Dale Bailey is the poet of the apocalypse; his stories are guaranteed to haunt you.

If I ever get around to writing a book — or anything, really — I want James Patrick Kelly writing all my blurbs.

The End of the End of Everything was published by Arche Press on April 9, 2015. It is 229 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $3.99 for the digital version. The cover art is by Galan Dara. Click the image above for a bigger version.


Beneath the Shining Jewel by Balogun Ojetade

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_242157WrHge7mkFor the most part I don’t review new fantasy novels. They get all the press they need, and I don’t read that many of them (though I am seriously looking forward to R. Scott Bakker’s The Great Ordeal). Once in a while, though, there’s something that intrigues me. This week, Balogun Ojetade’s sword & soul horror story, Beneath the Shining Jewel, caught my eye. And then chewed on it and swallowed it raw.

A few years back Ojetade and fellow sword & soul/steamfunk/cyberfunk impresario and author, Milton Davis, released an anthology called Ki Khanga (2013). I reviewed it at my site, Swords & Sorcery: A Blog. Ki Khanga is a world where sorcery and super science exist side by side, Godzilla-sized beasts endanger civilization, and flame thrower-equipped elephants battle monster beetles. It’s a wild setting painted with boldness and liveliness. While I found some of the stories too thin, reading like little more than character backgrounds, others punched hard and I found myself hoping there would be more tales from Ki Khanga in the future.

Last month I asked Davis, apropos of nothing at all, if there was anything planned for his and Ojetade’s shared world. He told me Ojetade had a horror novel set in the world due the very next week. That book is Beneath the Shining Jewel.

Ki Khanga is a large ocean-ringed continent split nearly in two by a gigantic inlet called the Cleave. Tradition holds that it was made when Daarila, the creator god, used his great axe to destroy two warring magical races who had dared to storm Heaven. The axe came down and cut a hole through which all sorts of dangerous creatures and magic now creep.

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: The Nebulas and the College 7

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Tina Jens

2016 Nebula Awards College Seven Tina Jens-small

Six of the College 7 with their instructor. From left to right, back row first: C. T. Booth,
Lexi Baisden, T. Daniel Frost, Sara King. Front: Rissa Martin, Tina Jens (instructor), Kali Rose.
(Not pictured, because she does not do pictures, Tazmania Hayward)

The fact that the Nebulas were held at the Palmer House this year, which is just a handful of blocks from Columbia College, meant that a select group of students and I could finish the last week of classes, deal with graduation, and still take part in the SFWA festivities.

Thanks to the kindness of event coordinator Steven Silver, and the SFWA Powers That Be, they agreed to allow seven students, mostly seniors, to do volunteer work before, during, and after the Nebulas, in exchange for memberships to the weekend of panels, signings, and awards galas.

I taught two classes at Columbia this semester, meeting on Thursday and Friday afternoons. On Thursday, I was able to twist the arm of Laura Anne Gilman, a former high-powered SF/F acquisitions editor and now full-time novelist and editorial freelancer, to come speak to my Fantasy Writing Workshop class for the first hour. (As she told one of my students, it’s not like she could say no, she was sleeping on my library futon for the weekend.)

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Read “Recalled to Service” by Alter S. Reiss at Tor.com

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Recalled to Service Alter S Reiss-small

Now that I’m home from the Nebula Awards and the Windy City Pulp and Paper show (and aaalmost finished unpacking all the great loot I brought back), I can start getting caught up. I’m way behind in my reading at Tor.com for example, and they do some darn fine stuff. The Fantasy/SF tale “Recalled to Service” by Alter S. Reiss looks like a splendid place to start.

Ao Laiei does not know what happened to the great revolutionary war hero Uroie Aei since she resurrected him, but she has long intended to find out. Finally, a clue from an unlikely information source – the confusing art of dream-diving – enables her to be present for a surprising strike against an academic aligned with the revolutionary government. Laiei quickly discovers that it is not the physical target she is concerned with, but his field of study, which may unlock the secret of what mysterious deeds the elusive Uroie Aei has been up to since his disappearance. This compelling tale from writer Alter Reiss is a rich look at the world of the Shoesi and the magic that drives Ao Laiei’s unique abilities.

Alter S. Reiss is the author of the Tor.com novella Sunset Mantle. “Recalled to Service” was posted at Tor.com on February 24. It was edited by Liz Gorinsky, and illustrated by Sung Choi. It’s available here.

We last covered Tor.com with Delia Sherman’s science fiction detective story “The Great Detective.” For more free fiction, see our recent online magazine coverage.


The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The Gloria Scott – The Real Story

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Bob Byrne

The only on screen Holmes to film The Gloria Scott- Eille Norwood

The only on screen Holmes to film The Gloria Scott- Eille Norwood

“The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” appeared in The Strand Magazine in April of 1893 and was included in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. In it, Holmes recounts a tale of his university days to Watson. It is one of two tales Doyle gives us before Holmes meets Watson – and the earliest of the pair.

Take a few minutes and go read it. Then, come on back here to Black Gate. Below, I’ve got a very different account of that tale. A very plausible one. So,, come play The Game with me!

Mister Holmes,

Things were not exactly as they seemed when you visited Donnithorpe so many years ago. You are aware that my son, Victor, became a wealthy man in India, overseeing the largest tea plantation north of the Ganges. But he died a few years ago of the fever, so he is beyond suffering and my own time grows short. The consumption is about to take me.

I am pleased to see that you turned those fine talents of yours to professional detectin’. I would like to think I played a small part in that, if you remember my words to you that first time you came to stay with us.

The papers I left for Victor to read after my supposed death told a made-up story, Mister Holmes. You might ask what event from my past could be so bad that I would prefer people, even my own son, to believe that I was a mutineer, rather than know the truth? Let me tell you and maybe you’ll understand.

I’ll wager there’s not a man alive who hasn’t done somethin’ he’s ashamed of. If there is, I’d like to look him in the eye. It was many a year ago that I was a young man in Liverpool, full of fire and life. I was a rough sort without too much schoolin’.

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Future Treasures: A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

A Green and Ancient Light-smallFred Durbin is one of the most gifted fantasists at work today, and a new Durbin novel is a major event. Set in a world similar to our own, during a war that parallels World War II, A Green and Ancient Light is the tale of a boy sent to stay with his grandmother, until the crash of an enemy plane disrupts his idyllic summer and leads him to discover a riddle in the sacred grove of ruins behind his grandmother’s house.

As planes darken the sky and cities burn in the ravages of war, a boy is sent away to the safety of an idyllic fishing village far from the front, to stay with the grandmother he does not know. But their tranquility is shattered by the crash of a bullet-riddled enemy plane that brings the war — and someone else — to their doorstep. Grandmother’s mysterious friend, Mr. Girandole, who is far more than he seems, has appeared out of the night to ask Grandmother for help in doing the unthinkable.

In the forest near Grandmother’s cottage lies a long-abandoned garden of fantastic statues, a grove of monsters, where sunlight sets the leaves aglow and the movement at the corner of your eye may just be fairy magic. Hidden within is a riddle that has lain unsolved for centuries — a riddle that contains the only solution to their impossible problem. To solve it will require courage, sacrifice, and friendship with the most unlikely allies.

Fred is also the author of The Star Shard and Dragonfly. His story “World’s End” appeared in Black Gate 15. Patty Templeton interviewed Fred for us after the publication of The Star Shard, and Nick Ozment teamed with him to explore the magic of Halloween in Oz and Frederic S. Durbin Discuss Hallowe’en Monsters. We did a Cover Reveal for A Green and Ancient Light in November, including Fred’s thoughts on the art.

A Green and Ancient Light will be published by Saga Press on June 7, 2016. It is 300 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover and $7.99 for the digital edition.


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