New Treasures: Black Rain by Matthew B.J. Delaney

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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Matthew B.J. Delaney’s first novel, Jinn, won the International Horror Guild Award. His latest is a near future science fiction thriller in which cures to terrible diseases are brokered on the Stock Exchange, and humanity has become dependent on a new race of synthetic slaves… slaves who are on the verge of revolt.

Read an except from Black Rain here, and see author Matthew B.J. Delaney describe the book in just 15 seconds on YouTube.

Black Rain was published by 47North on September 1, 2016. It is 373 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the digital edition.

Rich Playboys, Mad Scientists, and Venusian Monsters: The Best of Stanley Weinbaum

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 | Posted by James McGlothlin

The Best of Stanley G WeinbaumA few short years ago, here at Black Gate, John O’Neill did several posts on Del Rey’s Classic Science Fiction series. Those posts were loving, nostalgic homages.

I have never been a huge sci-fi book fan. Fantasy and horror are more my thing. Yet, I found those posts really intriguing, especially the cool covers. I had read some of the stories of certain of these writers, but by and large John’s posts introduced me to most of these authors for the first time. After reading a couple, I was hooked and eventually tracked them all down through eBay and Abebooks.

As a newcomer to these books, and to many of these authors, I thought I would give a review of each. As with John’s original posts, I hope these reviews inspire some newer readers to seek out some of these older treasures, or at least to track down some other works by these authors.

Before reviewing our first volume, let’s get a little background on this series. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database ( refers to these books as Ballantine’s Classic Library of Science Fiction. However, I can’t find that designation on any of the books so I’ll simply refer to them as “Del Rey’s” (an imprint of Ballantine) “Classic Science Fiction” series, just like the covers say. This series began in the early seventies and continued to be published up through the eighties, sometimes with multiple printings of certain volumes. There were twenty-two books published in all.

Each book in this series was a collection of short stories highlighting a single author within the Del Rey publishing fold. According to John O’Neill, this was one way for Del Rey to promote the authors in their stable (especially de Camp, Eric Frank Russell, and others). That’s why there are no volumes dedicated to Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, etc. None of those “big guns” were Del Rey authors. That’s not to say that there weren’t some heavy hitters in this series though. Writers like Philip K. Dick and Fritz Leiber, to name only two, have dedicated collections within.

I thought it might be best to go through this series in chronological order of publication. Each post will focus on one volume. My main goal is try to give some brief reviews of some of the stories within, at least those that struck me as the most enjoyable, but I’ll also give my overall impressions about the book, and writer, as a whole.

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The 2016 British Fantasy Awards Winners

Monday, September 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

rawblood-catriona-ward-smallThe winners of the 2016 British Fantasy Awards have been announced by the British Fantasy Society. Tea and crumpets for everyone!

Since we forgot to report on the nominees three months ago, we’ll make up for it here by listing both the winners and the nominees in each category. Ready? Here we go.

Best Fantasy Novel — The Robert Holdstock Award

Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Macmillan)

Half a War, Joe Abercrombie (Harper Voyager)
Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho (Macmillan)
Signal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Solaris)
Guns of the Dawn, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)
The Iron Ghost, Jen Williams (Headline)

Best Horror Novel — The August Derleth Award

Rawblood, Catriona Ward (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)

Welcome to Night Vale, Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (Orbit)
The Silence, Tim Lebbon (Titan)
A Cold Silence, Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher)
Lost Girl, Adam Nevill (Pan)
The Death House, Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
Rawblood, Catriona Ward (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)

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Future Treasures: Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 3, edited by Simon Strantzas and Michael Kelly

Monday, September 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

years-best-weird-fiction-volume-3-smallMichael Kelly’s Year’s Best Weird Fiction has fast become one of my favorite Year’s Best series. Kelly is the editor of the acclaimed anthology series Shadows and Tall Trees, and every year he invites a guest editor to help select the finest strange and weird fiction from the last 12 months.

Laird Barron and Kathe Koja ably assisted with the first two volumes, and this year Simon Strantzas (Burnt Black Suns, Shadows Edge) bent his considerable editorial talents to the task. It arrives in hardcover and trade paperback from Undertow Books next month.

Showcasing the finest weird fiction from 2015, volume 3 of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction is our biggest and most ambitious volume to date.

Acclaimed editors Simon Strantzas and Michael Kelly bring their keen editorial sensibilities to the third volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. The best weird stories of 2015 features work from Robert Aickman, Matthew M. Bartlett, Sadie Bruce, Nadia Bulkin, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Conn, Brian Evenson, L.S. Johnson, Rebecca Kuder, Tim Lebbon, Reggie Oliver, Lynda E. Rucker, Robert Shearman, Christopher Slatsky, D.P. Watt, Michael Wehunt, Marian Womack, Genevieve Valentine.

No longer the purview of esoteric readers, weird fiction is enjoying wide popularity. Chiefly derived from early 20th-century pulp fiction, its remit includes ghost stories, the strange and macabre, the supernatural, fantasy, myth, philosophical ontology, ambiguity, and a healthy helping of the outre. At its best, weird fiction is an intersecting of themes and ideas that explore and subvert the Laws of Nature. It is not confined to one genre, but is the most diverse and welcoming of all genres.

This series is perfect for those Black Gate readers who prefer dark fantasy, or who are looking for something just a little left of ordinary.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Holmes & Watson (more from Otto Penzler’s SH Library)

Monday, September 26th, 2016 | Posted by Bob Byrne

roberts_holmeswatson(Third in a series of posts about the nine-volume Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes Library)

So, I’ve done a post on Vincent Starrett’s two books in Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes Library. And a second post looked at the two books from James Edward Holroyd. So, that covers four of the nine tiles in this series. As I wrote in the Starrett post:

“Bear in mind, every bit of anything you ever wanted to know wasn’t available on the internet back when Penzler republished these books. Heck, the Baker Street Journal wasn’t even available as a collection on CD yet. This collection of Sherlockiana was uncommon for the time.”

Sir Sidney Castle Roberts’ Holmes & Watson first saw the light of day in1953. He had already been Secretary of Cambridge University Press, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge by that time and was at the time Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, Chairman of the British Film Industry (BFI) and President of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Add in the many books he had authored and it is a pretty impressive resume.

Roberts opens the book with a long chapter featuring several Holmesian themes: his creation, his life, his temperament, his attitude to women, his music and his kinship with Doctor Johnson. There are far more through pieces of Sherlockiana out there on these topics, as well as full-blown biographies and memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. But this slender volume offers an enjoyable look at each of the topics.

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Phileas Fogg Finds Immortality

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

51dx9hyli-lchapbook-cover-jpegWhen Jules Verne created gentleman adventurer Phileas Fogg in his 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, he had no way of imagining the bizarre turn his character’s chronicles would take a century later. When Philip Jose Farmer added The Other Log of Phileas Fogg to his Wold Newton Family series in 1973, he had no way of imagining that four decades later there would exist a Wold Newton specialty publisher to continue the esoteric literary exploits of some of the last two centuries’ most fantastic characters.

Farmer’s concept, in a nutshell, is that Verne’s globetrotting adventure is part of a far larger extraterrestrial conflict between two powerful alien races, the Eridani and the Capellas. Phileas Fogg was raised by the Eridani it turns out and, in the course of Farmer’s work, we learn that Verne’s Captain Nemo (the anti-hero of his 1870 classic, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and its 1874 sequel, The Mysterious Island) is not only a Capellan agent, but is also the same man known as Professor Moriarty in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

Josh Reynolds was the first author to follow in Farmer’s footsteps in a substantial fashion when he authored two direct sequels to The Other Log of Phileas Fogg for Meteor House: 2014’s Phileas Fogg and the War of Shadows and 2016’s Phileas Fogg and the Heart of Osra. Both books are set in 1889 and see Phileas Fogg coming out of retirement as the extraterrestrial conflict between the Eridani and the Capellas reaches Earth once more. The second of these titles involves Ruritania, the fictitious country from Anthony Hope’s Ruritanian Romances trilogy that began with the famous 1894 novel, The Prisoner of Zenda.

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September/October Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Now on Sale

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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the-magazine-of-fantasy-and-science-fiction-september-october-2016-smallWhen I was at Worldcon last month, I attended the Friday morning reading group hosted by F&SF. It featured five writers reading their stories from the magazine — Cat Rambo, David Gerrold (above middle), Sarah Pinsker (right), William Ledbetter, and Esther Friesner — and was moderated by editor C.C. Finlay (above left).

It was a lot of fun… and it certainly built up anticipation for the upcoming September/October issue. Two of the authors, David Gerrold and Sarah Pinsker, read extremely enticing excerpts from stories appearing in that issue. At the end of the panel Charles Finlay announced early copies were available in the back. I got in line to get one, but ended up giving my precious copy to someone at the con, and I wasn’t able to retrieve it before flying back to Illinois (*sob*). So I had to wait impatiently for several weeks until the issue arrived in my local bookstore, and I snapped up a copy a few days ago.

It’s a David Gerrold Special Issue, featuring two new novellas by Gerrold, a memoir, and an appreciation by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “The Amazing Mr. Gerrold.” It’s F&SF‘s first author special in over a decade, and I’m glad to see Finlay bringing the idea back. (Gerrold is having quite a renaissance in the pages of F&SF… his novelette “The Thing on the Shelf,” featuring a horror writer nominated for the coveted Stoker Award, appeared last issue.)

The issue’s “The Dunsmuir Horror,” a Lovecraft pastiche starring author David Gerold, is both funny and very disturbing. Written in the form of a letter to Gordon van Gelder, F&SF‘s publisher and former editor, from the narrator as he recovers in a mental institution (as I said… very Lovecraftian), the story relates Gerrod’s investigations into a sinister American town that tries to lure weary travelers into stopping.

It’s an exceptional piece and a very fun read, and already getting some good notice. Here’s Clancy Weeks at Tangent Online.

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The Shadow over Innsmouth as a Generational Family Saga in Rural Alabama: Michael McDowell’s Blackwater

Sunday, September 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill


Michael McDowell’s Blackwater was a paperback horror series originally published in six volumes by Avon in 1983. It’s a tough set to track down these days, but not impossible. For those wiling to settle for a modern edition, Amazon offers a complete omnibus Kindle volume for just $9.99 and, at the other end of the spectrum, Centipede Press produced a hardcover slipcased set of all six books in 2014 for $350.

I don’t own any of the original Avon paperbacks (although it’s certainly possible that one or two are buried somewhere in my basement). But my interest was piqued this week by a September 22 Facebook post by author Nathan Ballingrud:

I’m in the midst of reading Blackwater, by Michael McDowell. It is, you might say, as if The Shadow over Innsmouth was written as a generational family saga set in rural Alabama. It is strange, funny, warm, and frightening, and a true pleasure to read.

You gotta admit, as blurbs go, that one certainly gets your attention.

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Wreaking Carnage Everywhere: Marvel’s New Horror Comic

Saturday, September 24th, 2016 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

309462__sx640_ql80_ttd_carnage_vol_2_1_perkins_variantI’ve been thinking about horror again, as a genre. I’ve been trying to read some Cthulhu stuff; I’ve reread some Image and Marvel horror comics; and I’ve also recently read Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year #8. Lots to mull over.

And a newer Marvel series I read was Carnage, the first 11 issues, by writer Gerry Conway, artist Mike Perkins and colorist Andy Troy.

Carnage is new territory for me. I’m not much of a post-Ditko Spider-Man reader, and I was slightly too old in the 90s to cotton to those incarnations of Venom and Carnage. So, fast-forward to 2015 and 2016 and me catching up with Venom Space-Knight and Carnage.

If you’ve never met Carnage either, he’s an offspring of that symbiotic black suit that Peter Parker returned home with after the original Secret Wars. The symbiote went on to have its own stories sans Spider-Man by covering a new host.

In the early 1990s, a darker character was needed, so they had the symbiote…. fission… to create a new symbiote that wrapped itself around psychopath and homicidal sadist Cletus Kasady. Carnage played villain for a while and then disappeared with only some minor surfacings until this new series in 2015.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of a series centered on a serial killer. How much can you do with a single serial killer? I decided to give it a try anyway, and was very pleasantly surprised, and in fact, Carnage is turning into one of my favorite Marvel titles.

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The Mystery of New Dimensions 13

Saturday, September 24th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill


Robert Silverberg’s New Dimensions was one of the most celebrated anthology series of the 70s. It published an impressive amount of award-winning fiction, including R. A. Lafferty’s “Eurema’s Dam” (1973 Hugo), Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1974 Hugo), James Tiptree, Jr’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1974 Hugo), Suzy McKee Charnas “Unicorn Tapestry” (1981 Nebula), and many others.

New Dimensions 11 and 12 were co-edited with Marta Randall. The final volume, New Dimensions 13, was solely edited by Randall, and it boasted a dazzling range of writers, including Vonda McIntyre, Robert Silverberg, R.A. Lafferty, Lucius Shepard Michael Swanwick, Barry N. Malzberg, and many others. There’s just one problem with it, however: no finished copies are known to have survived. The entire print run was reportedly pulped, and the only copies that exist today were advance copies sent out to reviewers.

Why? That’s part of the mystery. Gunter Swain posted the cover above on Facebook today — the first image I’ve ever seen of the book. He reports the book “was published but was never distributed.” In the comments section, Marta Randall shed some light on the mystery.

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