Future Treasures: Women of Futures Past, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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

Women of Futures Past-smallBaen is one of the few publishers still producing quality paperback anthologies — and indeed, they’ve had some excellent ones in the past few years. They look to continue that tradition next month with Women of Futures Past, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which contains 11 classic tales by Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, C.J. Cherryh, Pat Cadigan, Nancy Kress, James Tiptree, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, Connie Willis, Zenna Henderson, Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Andre Norton.

As usual, Baen offers some free content online, including Rusch’s introduction, and the first two stories. Here’s the complete Table of Contents, with links to the online content.

Introduction: Invisible Women by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Indelible Kind by Zenna Henderson (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1968)
The Smallest Dragonboy by Anne McCaffrey (Science Fiction Tales, 1973)
“Out of All Them Bright Stars” by Nancy Kress (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March, 1985)
“Angel” by Pat Cadigan (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1987)
“Cassandra” by C.J. Cherryh (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1978)
“Shambleau” by C.L. Moore (Weird Tales, November, 1933)
“The Last Days of Shandakor” by Leigh Brackett (Startling Stories, April 1952)
“All Cats Are Gray” by Andre Norton (Fantastic Universe, August/September 1953)
“Aftermaths” by Lois McMaster Bujold (Far Frontiers: The Paperback Magazine of Science Fiction and Speculative Fact, Volume V, Spring 1986)
“The Last Flight of Doctor Ain” by James Tiptree, Jr. (Galaxy, March 1969)
“Sur” by Ursula K. Le Guin (The New Yorker, February 1, 1982)
“Fire Watch” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 15, 1982)

And here’s the complete description.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in July

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

Xanth Piers Anthony-small

Black Gate had 1.26 million page views last month, very nearly a record. Much of that bump in traffic was due to a series of very popular posts. Derek Kunsken has long been one of our most popular bloggers — his interview with Christopher Golden was our third most popular article in October, and last month his piece on Rebirth: DC’s corrective reboot was #5. But he thoroughly dominated the charts in July, claiming both the #2 slot, with his look back at Marvel’s Star-Lord, and the top spot, with his examination of the soaked-in misogyny of Piers Anthony’s famed Xanth series. Remember to leave room for the rest of us, Derek!

Bob Byrne was #3 on the list, with the second half of his two-part history of Necromancer and Frog God Games. Nick Ozment had our second most popular comic article in July, claiming the fourth spot on the list with his retrospective of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Rounding out the Top Five was our look at Chaosium’s classic Runequest campaign Borderlands.

Also in the Top Ten were Adrian Simmons’ belated review of Hudson Hawk, M Harold Page’s review of The Trojan War: A New History, some comments on James Wallace Harris’ popular post “Who Still Reads 1950s Science Fiction?”, Bob Byrne’s examination of a century of John D. MacDonald, and our look at the 2016 David Gemmell Award Nominees.

The complete list of Top Articles for July 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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Last Chance to Get a Free Copy of Mysterion: Rediscovering the Mysteries of the Christian Faith

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

Mysterion-smallTwo weeks ago we told you that Enigmatic Mirror Press was offering free review copies of the new anthology Mysterion: Rediscovering the Mysteries of the Christian Faith in digital format to Black Gate readers, in return for honest reviews (e.g., at Amazon, Goodreads, etc.) There’s still time to get in on the offer, but you have to act fast.

What is Mysterion? It’s a groundbreaking anthology of Christian fantasy, edited by Black Gate author Donald Crankshaw (“A Phoenix in Darkness“) and his wife Kristin Janz. It will be released this week, and contains original fiction from Beth Cato, Pauline J. Alama, Stephen Case, David Tallerman, and many others. Here’s the description:

The Christian faith is filled with mystery, from the Trinity and the Incarnation to the smaller mysteries found in some of the strange and unexplained passages of the Bible: Behemoth and Leviathan, nephilim and seraphim, heroes and giants and more. There is no reason for fiction engaging with Christianity to be more tidy and theologically precise than the faith itself.

Here you will find challenging fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories that wrestle with tough questions and refuse to provide easy answers or censored depictions of a broken world, characters whose deeds are as obscene as their words and people who meet bad ends — sometimes deserved and sometimes not. But there are also hope, grace, and redemption, though even they can burn like fire.

Join us as we rediscover the mysteries of the Christian faith.

If you’re willing to read the book and provide a review, just send an e-mail to john@blackgate.com with the subject “Mysterion,” and we’ll forward it along to the publisher. But we must receive your request before the publication date.

Mysterion: Rediscovering the Mysteries of the Christian Faith will be published by Enigmatic Mirror Press on August 31, 2016. It is 324 pages, priced at $9.99 in digital format. See the complete Table of Contents here.

When Men Were Men and Aliens Were Green and Up to No Good: The Pulp Tales of Robert Silverberg

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

In the Beginning Tales from the Pulp Era Robert Silverberg-small Early Days More Tales from the Pulp Era Robert Silverberg-small

Robert Silverberg’s career as a science fiction writer spans over six decades. His first short story, “Gorgon Planet,” appeared in the February 1954 issue of Nebula Science Fiction, when he was 19 years old, and his first novel, Revolt on Alpha C, was published in 1955. He won a Hugo in 1956 for “Best New Writer,” and for the next few years — until the market for SF magazines collapsed in 1959 — he was extraordinarily prolific, routinely publishing five stories a month, and producing roughly a million words a year.

He published over 80 stories in 1958 alone, in magazines like Imaginative Tales, Fantastic, Amazing Stories, Imagination, and many others. His story “Re-Conditioned Human” appeared in the February 1959 issue of Super-Science Fiction (see the cover below left), and he had two novelettes in the April issue (below right): “Vampires from Outer Space” (under the name Richard F. Watson) and “Mournful Monster” (as Don Malcolm).

Those magazines are almost impossible to find now (unless you’re Rich Horton, of course), but Subterranean Press has done a favor for Silverberg fans — and pulp fans — everywhere by assembling two handsome volumes of his early work. In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era was published in hardcover in February 2006, and Early Days: More Tales from the Pulp Era will arrive on August 31, 2016.

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Black Static #53 Now on Sale

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

Black Static 53-smallBritish horror magazine Black Static #53, cover-dated July-August, is now available. Over at Dread Central, Gareth Jones has penned a rave review of the entire issue. Here’s a snippet:

One of the best stories to appear in Black Static in recent months (and that’s saying something!), Priya Sharma’s “Inheritance or The Ruby Tear” kicks off Black Static’s 53rd issue in formidable style. Part gothic romance, part Bone Tomahawk-esque rescue/revenge story, “Inheritance” follows the sorrows of Lord William Mansell, a wealthy aristocrat whose wife and daughter appear lost to the sea when their wagon falls from the cliff edge and is dashed upon the rocks… a thoroughly absorbing novelette that deftly blends elegant tension, mystery, frenetic violence and stark horror…

Harmony Neal’s “Dare” sees a group of teenage girls sitting around playing Truth or Dare whilst drinking vodka mixers. As expected for a genre work, things quickly get dark – the girls’ own unique demons sending them down a path of unified expression that sees “keeping up appearances” extend to collective disfigurement.

“The Rim of the World” by Kristi DeMeester paints an increasing sense of foreboding as it progresses, telling the story of couple Laurel and Jacob as they return to the ramshackle home of Laurel’s deceased grandmother. Laurel’s reminiscing reminds Jacob of the horrific run-up to his own sister’s death, tied in with a mysterious sand pile located not far from where the couple now lay. Atmosphere is the name of the game in this entry, DeMeester painting the sense of unseen, esoteric horrors lurking in the shadows, just waiting for the right moment to make themselves known…

Read the complete review here.

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The Flaw in Everything: Warren Ellis’ Karnak the Shatterer

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

karnak2cov-e50d0It’s the best part of the reading experience to run across a story with a new voice. Warren Ellis, of The Authority and Transmetropolitan fame, has assumed various voices, but I love his newest one: the narrative perspective of Marvel’s Karnak the Shatterer, a character associated with the Inhumans.

The Inhumans, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, have been around since The Fantastic Four was in double-digits. Some of you may recall that Karnak is the one with the big head and the super-effective karate chops because his special talent is finding the structural flaws in things.

(Although, to be accurate, Karnak isn’t technically an Inhuman because was never exposed to the Terrigen mists — bring that up at a dinner party for a No-Prize!)

Over the years, Karnak’s powers and perceptions have expanded to include seeing the flaws in arguments, concepts, and people. His greatest achievement is finding the flaw in death, thereby returning from the dead.

It may sound a bit blithe to say it that way, but Karnak’s philosophical viewpoint has been strengthened over the years and bears some thematic resemblances to people like Iron Fist’s warriors of K’un-Lun or the Ancient One (of Dr. Strange fame).

The Inhumans of course, have been increasing in their importance in the Marvel Universe. I’ve seen internet theories that Marvel is downplaying the X-Men while up-playing the Inhumans, because Marvel doesn’t hold the X-Men movie rights.

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Two Interesting Roleplaying Kickstarters!

Saturday, August 27th, 2016 | Posted by M Harold Page


70s Military Space Opera or screen SciFi with a horror element

I Love the Corps

The rules nicely balance story simulation with tactical gaming

We interrupt normal programming to draw your attention to two roleplaying-related Kickstarter campaigns!

First we have a fast-paced Military SF Horror game.

Earlier this year at Conpulsion, I had the fun of playing the beta version of I Love The Corps. My son — 12 — and his mate — 13 — also had a go and loved it.

It’s a Military SF game with a feel that’s best described as 70s Military Space Opera or screen SciFi with a horror element — think Halo, Verhoven’s Starship TroopersBabylon 5 or Aliens. This is not the super science far future war of, say, Ken McLeod’s Corporation Wars.

Rather, this is the kind of game where Special Forces in powered armour exchange laser fire on the surface of Mars, while ground support drops combat trucks reminiscent of Warthogs.

The rules nicely balance story simulation with tactical gaming  — there are the usual points you can exchange  for stunts and stunning escapes, but ultimately the dice are a harsh mistress… which lends an edge to the experience.

Not only is action structured around cinematic scenes and montages, the mechanics support it! There is a neat system for automatic ability check scores when doing something in what I would think of as narrative summary. Characters can also satisfyingly rampage through low powered NPCs. Most of what you need is on the character sheet. The end result is fast-paced but substantial.

Go check out the Kickstarter page and take a look at the more detailed material there.

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New Treasures: The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

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

The Cold Between-small The Cold Between-back-small

I see that Amazon.com is taking pre-orders for Remnants of Trust, the second Central Corps novel and the sequel to Elizabeth Bonesteel’s debut The Cold Between.

That means it’s definitely time for me to read the first one. I love an ambitious space opera, and The Cold Between looks like just the ticket. It’s is a military SF novel with romance elements that SFF World calls a “taut, space-based science fiction mystery.” Here’s the verdict from Publishers Weekly.

Bonesteel’s space opera debut, the first in the Central Corps series, expertly revitalizes familiar plot elements… Bonesteel keeps the plot moving briskly… The headlong action will attract readers, but they’ll find themselves paying more attention to the characters’ convincing and satisfying emotional relationships.

The Cold Between was published by Harper Voyager on March 8, 2016. It is 528 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback, and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Chris McGrath (click the images above for bigger versions).

See all of our recent New Treasures here.

Fantasia 2016, Day 7: Immiscible Propaganda (Momotaro, Sacred Sailors; The Alchemist Cookbook; and Library Wars: The Final Mission)

Friday, August 26th, 2016 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

MomotaroAs I’ve said before, sometimes the movies I see at Fantasia on a given day have a common theme. And sometimes they don’t, however much it might look like they ought to. On Wednesday, July 20, I’d go downtown to the Hall Theatre to watch an oddity: a restored Japanese propaganda cartoon from World War II, Momotaro, Sacred Sailors (Momotaro, Umi No Shinpei). Then I planned to head across the street to the De Sève and watch an independent American horror film, The Alchemist Cookbook. I hoped to make it back to the Hall after that in time to watch the second in a series of Japanese science-fiction action movies, Library Wars: The Last Mission (Toshokan Sanso: The Last Mission). It looked like a packed day, and I wondered how the movies would play off of each other.

Momotaro was written and directed by Mitsuyo Seo, and released in 1945. Seo was apparently told by the Japanese Ministry of the Navy to make a propaganda film for children, and given Disney’s Fantasia as an example of what the Ministry had in mind. Seo, who’d already made a 37-short retelling the bombing of Pearl Harbour, produced the 74-minute Momotaro. It was believed lost during the American occupation, until a VHS copy turned up in Japan in the 1980s. Recently the original negatives were found, a 4K restored version was made, and Momotaro screened at Cannes in the Cannes Classics section.

Momotaro’s a mashing-up of the war in the Pacific with the Japanese legend of the peach boy Momotaro. The basic story of the tale has an elderly couple finding a boy in a peach that washes downstream past their house; when Momotaro grows up he sets out to defeat an island of demons, or oni, and does so with the help of various animal companions. Seo’s mapped that story onto the Japanese war effort in the Pacific. The movie begins with a group of anthropomorphic animals on leave from the Japanese navy and returning to their village to be celebrated as heroes. Various knockabout gags follow, and the animals join forces to save a child from falling over a waterfall. They rejoin their unit, and we see them at a navy base working and taking classes.
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Air Pirates, Acrobats, and Zeppelin Fleet Action: The Ring of Seven Worlds

Friday, August 26th, 2016 | Posted by M Harold Page


(click to enlarge)

Ring of the 7 Worlds - Cover

…very hard to review without spoilers.

The Ring of Seven Worlds  (by Gualdoni, Clima, Piana, and Turotti) is a meaty Steampunk graphic novel sent to me by Sloth Comics when I was looking for reading for my daughter… and it’s very hard to review without spoilers.

It delivers a Steampunk (or is it Valve Punk?) setting with a Studi Ghibli feel in which Seven Worlds connect through a now sealed gate — the ring of the title — and of course the gate unseals and there’s an invasion that kicks off a rollicking adventure for two teenagers: a girl air-acrobat and a highborn boy.

And of course there are air pirates and zeppelin-on-zeppelin fleet action.

Meanwhile, in the background we have threads for clearly delineated power politics, gritty insurgency, and, ultimately… ah well, no spoilers.

Unlike some graphic novels, it does have a proper plot that makes a breathtaking kind of sense and takes you on a real journey. But again; no spoilers!

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