June 2016 Lightspeed Magazine, the People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction Issue, is Now Available

Monday, June 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed Magazine June 2016-small Lightspeed Magazine June 2016-back-small

Lightspeed has produced some really exceptional special issues over the last few years, including the groundbreaking Women Destroy Science Fiction and Queers Destroy Science Fiction issues. June sees the People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction special issue, weighing in at a massive 464 pages. It was funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign that wrapped up on February 20, and is guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim (original short fiction), Nisi Shawl (reprints), Grace L. Dillon (nonfiction), and Sunil Patel (personal essays).

Even folks who didn’t contribute to the Kickstarter get to share in the benefits, as much of this issue’s massive payload of fiction is already up and freely available at the Lightspeed website — including brand new stories by Sofia Samatar, John Chu, JY Yang, S.B. Divya, and many others. But that’s not all…there’s also a rich assortment of paid content — including original fiction, a novella, flash fiction, reprints, and much more — available to backers, and anyone who purchases the digital edition for just $3.99. This issue is also available in a special trade paperback edition, with all the bonus content, for $17.99.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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New Treasures: The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman

Monday, June 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Suicide Motor Club-smallChristopher Buehlman is a fast-rising horror star. His debut novel, Those Across the River, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he followed it quickly with The Necromancer’s House and Between Two Fires. Last year’s The Lesser Dead, a novel of vampire clans in New York, won the American Library Association’s award for Best Horror Novel of the Year, and Tor.com called it “surprising, scary, and, ultimately, heartbreaking.” Based just on the gonzo description his latest, The Suicide Motor Club, may be his best yet. Check it out.

Remember that car that passed you near midnight on Route 66, doing 105 with its lights off? You wondered where it was going so quickly on that dark, dusty stretch of road, motor roaring, the driver glancing out the window as he blew by.

Did his greedy eyes shine silver like a coyote’s? Did he make you feel like prey?

You can’t remember now.

You just saw the founder of the Suicide Motor Club. Be grateful his brake lights never flashed. Be grateful his car was already full.

They roam America, littering the highways with smashed cars and bled-out bodies, a gruesome reflection of the unsettled sixties. But to anyone unlucky enough to meet them in the lonely hours of the night, they’re just a blurry memory. That is — to all but one…

Two years ago, they left a witness in the mangled wreck of her family car, her husband dead, her son taken. She remembers their awful faces, despite their tricks and glamours. And she’s coming for them — her thirst for vengeance even more powerful than their hunger for blood.

On the deserted highways of America, the hunters are about to become the hunted…

The Suicide Motor Club was published by Berkley on June 7, 2016. It is 368 pages, priced at $26 in hardcover, or $12.99 for the digital edition.

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Lt. Columbo

Monday, June 27th, 2016 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Columbo_HandsUpThe mystery field is full of great detectives and private eyes, both amateur and professional, created by authors. Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, Father Brown, Inspector Morse, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, The Continental Op: and of course, Sherlock Holmes. The list goes on and on.

There have also been quite a few detectives created for television. McCloud, Matt Houston, Magnum PI and Jim Rockford to name a few. The germaphobic Adrian Monk was immensely popular. But perhaps the supreme television detective is Inspector Columbo.

A prototype Columbo, if you will (heck – even if you won’t), appeared in Enough Rope: a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Hour, played by Bert Freed. It was then turned into a play, Prescription Murder, starring Thomas Mitchell, who died of cancer during its run.

Next, the play evolved into a two-hour television movie. The under-appreciated Lee J. Cobb was approached but unavailable and Bing Crosby turned down the part (imagine that). Though he was considered too young at the time, Peter Falk was given the part and the movie aired in 1968.

The network ordered another TV movie to see if a series was feasible. Ransom For a Dead Man did well and Columbo became part of a rotating series of shows, including Dennis Weaver’s McCloud and McMillan and Wife, with Rock Hudson.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in May

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Hugo Award-smallBlack Gate had 1.16 million page views in May, slightly more than our monthly average last year. We’ve gotten used to significant traffic increases year after year, so it’s actually something of a relief to have traffic stabilize for a bit. Nonetheless, we’re grateful to you, our readers, for all the time you spend with us each month, and we hope we keep things interesting for you.

How did we keep things interesting last month? Our top story for May was Black Gate‘s second Hugo nomination… which we declined (again). The brief statement announcing our decision was read 8,200 times, making it our number one post for the month. It was followed by an article questioning whether Weird Tales had quietly folded, and Rich Horton’s analysis of the 2016 Hugo situation.

Rounding out the Top Five for May were Martin Page, with his thoughtful piece on the 80’s moral panic surrounding Dungeons & Dragons, and Bill Maynard’s examination of the Abuses of Public Domain Fiction.

Coming in at number 6 for the month was our report on the launch of one of the most exciting magazines of the past decade, Skelos, followed by our photo-essay on the 2016 Nebula Awards weekend. Peadar Ó Guilín clocked in at #8 with his detailed review of Michael Swanwick’s modern classic The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, followed by our announcement that SF Signal was shutting down.

Closing out the Top Ten for last month was Thomas Parker’s thoughtful and frequently hilarious review of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake, titled Shut Up, You Freak!

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

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2016 Locus Award Winners Announced

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Uprooted-Naomi-Novik-smallThe Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the winners of the 2016 Locus Awards, and you know what that means. Cake and drinks for everybody!

The winners are selected by the readers of Locus magazine. The awards began in 1971, originally as a way to highlight quality work in advance of the Hugo Awards. The winners were announced yesterday, during the annual Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA.

The winners are:


Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)


Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit)


The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper)

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Future Treasures: The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Unnaturalists-small The Unnaturalists-back-small

Tiffany Trent is the author of the six-volume Hallowmere historical fantasy series, published in paperback by Mirrorstone. But my first exposure to her was in 2012, when I attended a superb reading series hosted by Wiscon in Madison. Here’s what I said in my convention report.

The first reading of the con for me was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Corset, featuring Tiffany Trent, Franny Billingsley, Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer… my favorite tale from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Corset was Tiffany Trent’s The Unnaturalists.

Set in an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in museums, The Unnaturalists follows plucky young Vespa Nyx, who is happily cataloging unnatural creatures in her father’s museum until she becomes involved in Syrus Reed’s attempts to free his Tinker family, who have been captured to be refinery slaves. Funny, fast-paced, and packed with lively characters, Tiffany Trent’s novel captured my attention immediately.

The Unnaturalists was a success, and it spawned a sequel, The Tinker King, published in hardcover in February 2014. The Unnaturalists was published in hardcover by Simon & Schuster on August 14, 2012, and in trade paperback on August 13, 2013. It will be reprinted in mass market paperback by Saga Press on June 28, 2016, to be followed by the mass market edition of The Tinker King, on July 26. The Unnaturalists is 311 pages, priced at $7.99. The cover is by Aaron Goodman.

Barnes & Noble on 7 Essential New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Story Collections

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

A Natural History of Hell-smallThe Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog continues to be a great source of recs for the discerning reader. They had a fine summary of the Best SF and Fantasy of 2015, and their monthly list of the best new books on the shelves is an excellent resource (our most recent look was back in March, when their list included Myke Cole’s Javelin Rain and Adrian Selby’s Snakewood.)

This week Sam Reader takes a look at seven recent SF and fantasy short story collections, including Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble, Joan Aiken’s The People in the Castle, and Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. His list also includes the latest collection from Jeffrey Ford, whose spectacular story “Exo-Skeleton Town” was one of the most memorable tales in Black Gate 1. Here’s Sam’s description of A Natural History of Hell: Stories.

Jeffrey Ford is probably writing your dreams. It’s the best way to describe his surreal style, which frequently relies on an internal structure and logic to convey images that teeter between odd fantasy and unsettling horror, while remaining impossibly grounded in a tangible reality. A Natural History of Hell (out in July) goes to some odd places, with genre-bending stories about artists trapped on a rocket ship, imaginary serial murderers, and God being torn apart by an angry mob, but it leaves plenty of room for beauty, however dark. It also contains one of my personal favorite stories from last year, “Word Doll,” in which children are lured into a world of make-believe. If you’re looking for something you haven’t seen before, look no further than these 13 stories.

Standout stories: “A Rocket Ship to Hell,” “The Blameless.”

A Natural History of Hell: Stories will be published by Small Beer Press on July 26, 2016. It is 256 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback.

See the complete article at the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Vintage Treasures: The Pollinators of Eden by John Boyd

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Pollinators of Eden-back-small The Pollinators of Eden-small

Here’s an odd little book.

It was fairly routine for publishers to use sex to sell paperbacks in the 60s and 70s (and 80s, and 90s, and….) But usually they teased the reader with sexy cover art, or code words like “sensuous” and “spicy” (or “French”) to signal sexual content. The Pollinators of Eden has a more overt sexual theme, dealing with an intelligent and sexually voracious species of tulip discovered on a distant planet.

It was Boyd’s second novel, following The Last Starship from Earth (1968), and preceding The Rakehells of Heaven (1969) and Sex and the High Command (1970), and critics at the time didn’t really know what to make of it. Analog reviewer P. Schuyler Miller praised it as “A treat for its picture of intra- and interagency intrigue alone… a worthy candidate for the next round of ‘best novel’ awards,” but M. John Harrison called it “a feebler look at The Ring of Ritornel,” and Kirkus Reviews said it “has enough Freudian fertilizer to swamp any Eden.”

It was not a hit in the US, and has never been reprinted here. But in the UK it appeared in four separate paperback editions between 1970-78,  from Gollancz, The Science Fiction Book Club (UK), Pan, and Penguin. It has been out of print for 38 years.

The Pollinators of Eden was published by Dell in November 1970. It is 212 pages, priced at 75 cents. I bought the copy above (along with The Last Starship From Earth) in an online lot for $2.99. The cover is by Paul Lehr; click the images above for bigger versions. There is no digital edition.

Swastikas Over the Sahara: The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville

Saturday, June 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Afrika Reich-small The Afrika Reich-back-small

Who doesn’t love a good Nazi alternate history? I sure do. Twenty years ago I read Richard Harris’ riveting Fatherland, about a relentless detective who stumbles on the long-buried evidence of the Holocaust in 1964 Nazi Berlin, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Something else I like? Discount books. I’ve found a few online sellers who specialize in new-condition titles at remaindered prices, and I’ve spent waaay too much money cozying up to them. They call on the weekend and send birthday cards now. I think we’re all going walleye fishing in Alberta this August.

One of those sellers had a curious book called The Afrika Reich in stock and, well, let’s just say we came to an arrangement. I admit to buyers remorse about the Star Trek cookbooks and picture books on Damascus architecture, but this one, about the realization of the Third’s Reich’s diabolical plans for Africa, definitely has my interest. It made the Sunday Express Books of the Year list in 2011, The Times calls it “An horrific reimaging of the Dark Continent,” and Daily Telegraph says it’s “Fatherland for an action movie age.” That all sounds great to me. I’m sold (literally, in this case).

The Afrika Reich was published by St. Martin’s Griffin on January 13, 2015. It is 379 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback. The cover was designed by David Shoemaker (click the images above for bigger versions). BookOutlet USA currently has new copies in stock for $1.98.

July 2016 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Friday, June 24th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimovs SF July 2016-smallerOver at Tangent Online, Chuck Rothman finds plenty to like in the latest issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.

July’s Asimov’s begins with “Ten Poems for the Mossums, One for the Man” by Suzanne Palmer and starts out with a protagonist — a poet — attending what is essentially a writing retreat alone on an alien world with strange life forms, including the Mossums, described as “green fuzzy boulders.” The poet writes a series of poems about his impressions, and slowly begins to discover that the Mossums are more complex than he imagines. The story started a bit slowly, but quickly drew me in, and it was nice to read something that portrayed aliens by hints and without any clear-cut answers…

“Masked” shows a future where the wealthy use both makeup and holographic techniques to make themselves as beautiful as they can. Bess is about to meet again with her friend Vera, who has suffered a computer virus that wreaked havoc with the computer programs she uses to adjust her appearance. Vera is supposedly recovered, but Bess can see that she doesn’t seem right. Rich Larson’s version of the future and the styles are well imagined, and one of the strengths of the story is the way that Bess begins to understand what’s really important…

The set up to Will McIntosh’s “Lost:Mind” is convoluted, but once that’s past it becomes a fine story. Colonel Walter Murphy’s wife Mimi is dying of Alzheimer’s and, desperate, he turns to technology, creating a recording of her mind so she can live on. But such experimentation is illegal in the US, so it has to be smuggled in from India. A full mind would raise alarms, so it’s broken into 32 pieces of a chess set, to be assembled later. And the chess set is stolen. What follows is a race against the clock to find the pieces (from a noted sculptor) before the battery dies, along with Mimi’s mind. There’s a great mixture of action, dead ends, and emotional roller coasters to make the story one of the best of the year.

Read the complete review here.

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