Feast Your Eyes on Robert McGinnis’ New Covers for Neil Gaiman’s Early Paperbacks

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

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I know I’m not the only one out there who’s purchased a new edition of a favorite book just because I loved the new cover.

And I’ll definitely be getting in line to pick up the new mass market paperback editions of Neil Gaiman’s American GodsNeverwhereAnansi Boys, and Stardust, all gorgeously rendered by famous paperback 50s artist Robert McGinnis, who’s now in his 90s but still doing brilliant work. Neil takes about how the new covers came about on his blog:

About a year ago, Jennifer Brehl and I were talking. Jennifer is my editor at William Morrow… I went off about how paperback covers used to be beautiful, and were painted, and told you so much. And how much I missed the covers of the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, the ones I’d collected and bought back in the dawn of time. And somehow the conversation wound up with me asking if Harper Collins would publish a set of mass market paperbacks of my books with gloriously retro covers and Jennifer saying that yes, they would….

I sent a note to Jennifer asking if there was even the slightest possibility that Mr McGinnis would be interested in painting the covers for the paperback set we wanted to do. He said yes. I say that so blithely. But he has retired, pretty much, and he doesn’t have email, and it was only because the Morrow art director had worked with him, and he was intrigued by the commission… and ROBERT MCGINNIS SAID YES.

Neil has been talking about each cover in more detail on Tumblr. Check it out here.

The new mass market paperback edition of American Gods was published August 16, Stardust arrives on September 27, Anansi Boys on October 25, and Neverwhere on November 29. All four covers are painted by Robert E McGinnis, with lettering by Todd Klein. Click the images above for bigger versions.

New Treasures: The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent, Book II of The Unnaturalists

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

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I discover a lot of great writers by attending readings, and that’s exactly how I found Tiffany Trent. I was at Wiscon — which has one of the most rewarding reading tracks of any convention in the country — back in 2012 , where one reader in particular really impressed me. Her writing was fresh and original, with a marvelously inventive world and a compelling and instantly likable main character. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

My favorite tale… 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 published in hardcover in 2012, and the sequel, The Tinker King, arrived in 2014. Saga Press published the paperback edition of The Unnaturalists (above) in June of this year, and the paperback edition of The Tinker King followed on July 26. Both are available for $7.99 in print, and $6.99 in digital format. The covers are by Aaron Goodman (click for bigger versions).

Fantasia 2016, Day 10, Part 2: Sharp and Short, Long and Languid (Born of Woman Showcase, Realive, and Tank 432)

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

SkinThe evening of Saturday, July 23, was going to be busy for me, with three shows at the De Sève Theatre. First, a showcase of short films called Born of Woman, which the Fantasia program told me would feature nine films by women directors “centred largely around themes of the body and interpersonal malaise.” Then after that two science-fiction features. The first would be Realive, about a man from our time (or close to it) who dies and is cryonically revived in 2083. The second would be Tank 432, about a squad of soldiers seeking shelter from a surreal battle within a battered tank. It looked like a promising night, and it got off to a good start in the late afternoon with the Born of Woman showcase.

The first film in the showcase was “Skin,” written, starring, and directed by Jessica Makinson. It’s an ambiguous but character-based piece, in which (if I’m reading it right) a woman (Makinson) charms a lover (Johnny Sneed), using a piece of herself. It’s beautifully shot, drenched in light, and the minimalist dialogue allows the story to be told almost entirely in visuals. Languid yet brief, the film created an almost fable-like atmosphere.

Next was “Venefica,” by Maria Wilson (director, writer, and star), following a nervous young witch as she approaches a nighttime ritual that will determine her destiny. Will she follow the path of the magic of the dark, or the magic of the light? It’s a quiet story, with long leisurely shots, in which at least one life hangs in the balance. At seven minutes, the piece is short, builds nicely, and leaves an audience with just the right amount of questions at the end. What is determined by the ritual, and what by Venefica’s own character? She has very definite ideas about which path she wants to follow, and it’s possible that the actions she’s taken to prepare the ritual show who she is as much as do the results of the ritual itself: she gets what she hopes for, but then perhaps also the hopes are a sign of what her path must be. Character, then, is destiny.

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The Print Version of the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu is Now Available

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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The Kickstarter for the long-awaited Seventh Edition of Call of Cthulhu, one of the greatest role playing games of all time, was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in gaming history, pulling in over $560,000 on a $40,000 goal. The PDF versions were released back in 2014, but the promised print edition took a lot longer to arrive. But it is now here — officially announced on the website on August 26, and already offered for sale at various online outlets.

The 7th Edition, based on the original rules by Sandy Peterson and Lynn Willis, was significantly revised by Paul Fricker and Mike Mason. It weighs in at 448 pages in hardcover, with an eye-catching cover by Sam Lamont and some color interiors. A significant amount of supporting material is already available, including the Call of Cthulhu Keepers Screen, a hardcover Investigator Handbook, the S.Petersen’s Field Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors, and the first 7th Edition adventure collection, Nameless Horrors.

If you’re new to Call of Cthulhu, or just curious, great! CoC is one of the most innovative and creative role playing games ever made, and — almost uniquely in the industry — its supplements and adventures make great reading, even if you never have the chance to sit down at a table with fellow players. It was the first semi-contemporary RPG, and also the first to feature ordinary folks as protagonists. But don’t just take my word for it… here’s a dead-on quote from Ed Grabianowski’s io9 article, “Call Of Cthulhu Was The First Role-Playing Game To Drive People Insane.”

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Peadar and The Call: Behind the Scenes

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

the-call-peadar-oguilin-smallA few weeks ago I read, nay, inhaled Peadar O’Guilin’s The Call. Peadar and I are friends and fans of each other’s work, but I went into this one not having a clue about what it was. I knew the manuscript was YA, and had elements of horror.

What I discovered was a novel absolutely deserving of the hype it has received — a dystopian YA story about a fractured society, with heroic teenaged protagonists who are realistic AND don’t whine. There are moments of chilling otherworldly horror owing to the frequent presence of the fae folk, the force behind the terrible situation facing these Irish children. And there’s excellent pacing and characterization, and growth…

But this isn’t a review, it’s an interview. After devouring the novel I naturally had questions about how it was composed, and since I knew Peadar I asked him if I could take those questions and his answers public. I did my best to avoid spoilers, although there might be mild ones ahead.

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September 2016 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

asimovs-science-fiction-september-2016-smallThe September issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction looks like a very solid issue, with fiction from Carrie Vaughn, Ian R. MacLeod, Robert Reed, Rich Larson, Jack Skillingstead, and others. Here’s the full description from the website:

Jack Skillingstead’s September 2016 novelette takes us on a terrifying journey across universes. Pursued by malevolent forces, a brilliant mathematician struggles to clean up “The Whole Mess.” Failure means destruction and subjugation. The penalty for success could be worse.

New York Times best selling author, Carrie Vaughn exposes the debilitating consequences space travel holds for some in “The Mind Is Its Own Place”; appearing in Asimov’s with her first professional sale, Tegan Moore shines a light on some dark and twisted relationships in “Epitome”; Human and Alien intelligence slowly learn to communicate in Rich Larson’spoignant excavation of “All that Robot…”; World Fantasy Award winner Ian R. MacLeod introduces us to the enigmatic “Visitor from Taured”; Peter Wood runs  us around in some vicious, yet funny and perhaps all too recognizable, “Academic Circles”; and Robert Reed tells the old tale of migration and the promised land — this time with aliens — in “Dome on the Prairie.”

Robert Silverberg’s hilarious Reflections column reveals why it’s not a good idea to exclaim, “‘Darn,’ He Smiled”; Peter Heck reviews works by Charlie Jane Anders, Laura Anne Gilman, Fred Chappell, and others; plus we’ll have an array of poetry and other features you’re sure to enjoy.

The cover is by the great Michael Whelan.

Over at Tangent Online Bob Blough raves about the issue, and especially Ian M. McLeod’s “A Visitor from Taured,” which he calls “a potential award nominee.”

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Goth Chick News: Midnight Syndicate Releases Zombies!!! Board Game Soundtrack

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Sue Granquist

zombies-official-board-game-soundtrack-midnight-syndicate-smallOh be still my little black heart…

Award-winning composers, dark music pioneers and my goth-boy-band crush, Midnight Syndicate has released the Zombies!!! Official Board Game Soundtrack. The new release features Midnight Syndicate’s signature, sultry blend of sound effects and instrumental music set in the modern day, post-zombie apocalypse world of the Zombies!!! board game.

Darkly brooding front man Edward Douglas explains;

We wanted to design a soundtrack that would not only heighten the Zombies!!! game play experience, but also appeal to all fans of zombies and our friends in the haunted attraction industry. I think we were able to achieve that.

Given the character and core elements of the game, I think we immediately felt this album should focus on having a more modern, aggressive sound. In order to achieve that, we brought in a lot of electronic and percussive instruments and kept the fundamental game scenarios firmly in mind, approaching it more as an actual soundtrack than as a collection of songs built around a particular theme or setting. While there are a few tracks that are more situation or location-specific, most are intended to evoke the general feel and atmosphere of the game world, allowing you to play along without interruption.

“The soundtrack is a perfect complement to the game,” added Twilight Creations co-founder, Kerry Breitenstein. “I couldn’t be more excited for the Zombies!!! fans to hear it, let alone the rest of the world!”

Picking up this album is a no-brainer… get it? Zombies? “No brainer”?

Never mind…

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A Sorceress Hiding From the Most Powerful Sorcerer in the World: Annie Bellet’s Level Grind: The Twenty-Sided Sorceress

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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Annie Bellet’s Twenty-Sided Sorceress books are a USA Today bestselling series… pretty impressive for a small press outing from a relatively unknown writer. Last year Bellet was (like Black Gate) nominated for a Hugo Award on the Rabid Puppy slate, for her short story “Goodnight Stars” from The End is Now anthology. And (also like Black Gate) she declined the nomination… that principled stand won her an Alfie Award at George R.R. Martin’s Hugo Losers party, a coveted award in its own right.

Now Saga Press is gathering the first four novels in the popular series into one handsome omnibus edition, Level Grind: The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, Volume One. The books follow the adventures of Jade Crow, a sorceress hiding from the most powerful sorcerer in the world: her ex-boyfriend, who wants to consume her heart. They are:

Justice Calling (152 pages, July 23, 2014)
Murder of Crows (162 pages, August 23, 2014)
Pack of Lies (226 pages, October 14, 2014)
Hunting Season (204 pages, Dec 2, 2014)

Here’s a look at the original covers, all from Domed Muse Press.

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John DeNardo on the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Historical Fiction You Won’t Want to Miss in September

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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There aren’t many folks who pay more attention to publishing schedules than me, but John DeNardo is clearly one of them. (He also works harder than I do, which is doubly annoying.) Over at Kirkus Reviews, he’s assembled a list of the sixteen most intriguing SF, fantasy, and historical books arriving this month, including Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s new anthology Women of Futures Past, Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle, Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black, Everfair by Nisi Shawl, and Age of Heroes by James Lovegrove. Here’s his summary for Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark (a pseudonym for David Wellington).

In the far future, a distant planet on the edge of the galaxy is attacked by alien machines, so its representatives enlist the aid of a ragtag team of would-be heroes to come to their defense.

And on Necrotech by K.C. Alexander

In an apathetic society devoid of ethics or regulation, a street thug named Riko has her memories wiped, her reputation destroyed, and a girlfriend who’s turned into a tech-fueled zombie. Her only salvation may be a group of mercenaries who unfortunately think she screwed them over… Mixing together high-tech imagination and conspiracy, this one is sure to satisfy the cyberpunk craving you didn’t know you had.

See John’s complete article here.

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Troublesome Magic and High-Stakes Adventure: Marc Turner’s Chronicles of the Exile Trilogy

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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In his article for Black Gate last December, Marc Turner described the opening novel in The Chronicles of the Exile series this way:

My epic fantasy debut, When the Heavens Fall, came out in May this year, and it can best be summed up as The Lord of the Rings meets World War Z. It’s not a zombie apocalypse novel, but that’s going to come as scant consolation to the characters who find themselves having to wade through an army of undead.

The second book in the series, Dragon Hunters, was published in February. Here’s what RT Book Reviews said about the first two volumes:

Wildly imaginative settings, wonderfully empathetic characters, troublesome magic and high-stakes adventures… [Turner] balances an enormous setting and legendary monsters with flashes of insight and humor that keep the story consistently captivating, all while crafting a battle of wits and determination that builds to a riveting climax.

The third book in the trilogy, Red Tide, arrived in hardcover from Tor Books yesterday.

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