The Love Witch Opens in New York City

Friday, October 28th, 2016 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Love WitchLast July, I was lucky enough to see Anna Biller’s film The Love Witch at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival. After screening there and at various other festivals, it opens today in New York, with more cities to follow. Here’s how I described it back in August:

The Love Witch is a mix of horror, satire, and melodrama which follows Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a witch and murderess, as she moves to a new home and seeks love. Unfortunately for the men she desires, she’s both unforgiving and possessed of high standards. Any sign of weakness or emotional neediness is a sign of her partner’s unfitness, which she puts to an end both swift and fatal. Will Elaine finally find the man of her dreams? Or will her interest in Richard (Robert Seeley), the husband of her friend Trish (Laura Waddell), bring about her downfall?

I was tremendously impressed with it. As I wrote:

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Goth Chick News: Why, Universal Studios? Why?

Thursday, October 27th, 2016 | Posted by Sue Granquist

the-mummy-tom-cruise

In the midst of my favorite time of year, I must hang my head and sigh over the undeniable fact that Universal Studios plans to continue its reboot vendetta against its own iconic monster catalog.

This, in spite of the proverbial box office stake being driven straight through the heart of Dracula Untold back in 2014.

Never heard of it? Nope, and you probably never will after this.

Still, to date we have pseudo-confirmations of everything but The Mummy, which has a confirmed release date of June 9, 2017.

  • The Mummy (2017), starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella
  • Untitled Invisible Man film (TBA), starring Johnny Depp
  • Untitled Wolf Man film (TBA)
  • Untitled Creature from the Black Lagoon film (TBA)
  • Untitled Bride of Frankenstein film (TBA)
  • Untitled Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (rumored), starring Russell Crowe
  • Untitled Frankenstein film (rumored), starring Javier Bardem

Why you ask?  Or at least that is what I ask as I mix up another pumpkin spice martini.  I mean, its one thing for Hollywood to be bereft of any novel ideas, and quite another to mess with classics of this magnitude.

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Vintage Treasures: The Best Science Fiction of JG Ballard

Thursday, October 27th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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On September 3rd of this year, I attended the 2016 Chicagoland Pulpfest. It’s a friendly gathering of Chicago area pulp fans and science fiction readers, held ever year at Doug Ellis’ house in Barrington Hills. I’d been hoping for an excuse to get out to Doug’s house for the last four years, ever since he invited me to dig through the massive — and I do mean massive — collection of paperbacks in his garage, originally belonging to famous editor Martin H. Greenberg.

Doug and Bob Weinberg had acquired the collection from Marty’s family shortly after his death, and Doug was looking for a buyer for the paperbacks. I wrote about my first encounter with Marty’s incredible collection (and acquiring a small portion of it) at the 2012 Windy City Pulp & Paper show. The sheer scale of the collection defeated me then, but I was spoiling for a re-match, and Doug’s invitation to dig into it during the party was just too tempting to resist.

Well, I tried to be social (honestly I did), but the lure of thousands of vintage paperbacks in the garage was just too strong. After a few hours I wandered away from the party and soon found myself elbow deep in boxes, happily sorting through an incredible selection of books — including some I’d been searching for for decades. Virtually all were in fabulous, like-new condition, and it wasn’t long before other book enthusiasts joined me.  Soon enough it seemed like the party had moved into the garage, as one after another most of the boxes were opened and we collectively cooed over the contents.

I walked away with nearly 300 paperbacks (which I bought from Doug for a criminally bargain price), including numerous treasures. Of course, I wasn’t the only one to make fabulous finds. I saw copies of The Best of Clifford Simak, a complete set of Wild Card volumes, and numerous vintage Lovecraft collections dug out of boxes and gleefully set aside by my fellow book prospectors. But for me the big regret of the evening, the one that got away, was The Best Science Fiction of JG Ballard, a 1977 Futura paperback that I didn’t even know existed until I saw it pulled out of a box in Doug’s garage.

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World Fantasy Convention 2016 Begins Tomorrow

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Tomorrow, the annual World Fantasy Convention begins in Columbus, Ohio.  It’s an exciting year of nominations, and I wish everyone well, especially those who have ties to Black Gate.

For me, WFC is a time to reconnect with friends and meet new people.  I enjoy going to readings – hearing the authors tell their tales in person.  And the panel discussions are usually thought-provoking and entertaining.  I’m also hoping to find more issues of Galaxy and Unknown in the Dealers Room… for the right price.

For those unable to attend, I’ll be tweeting live and posting to my blog daily:

world-fantasyconvention

I wasn’t able to attend the convention last year, so I’m really looking forward to attending again this year.  For me, the trip begins later today.  Columbus or Bust!


Yes, The Civil War Was About Slavery (The Confederates Said So)

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

John Singleton Mosby

John Singleton Mosby

In June of 1902, former Confederate cavalry raider John Singleton Mosby wrote to his friend Judge Reuben Page about the war that had given him his fame, bemoaning the fact that the causes of that war were already being lost in the public’s consciousness.

In retrospect, slavery seems such a monstrous thing that some are now trying to prove that slavery was not the Cause of the War. Then what was the cause? I always thought that the South fought about the thing that it quarreled with the North about.

Mosby, whose family had owned slaves, was talking about an increasing trend among Confederate veterans and former Confederate politicians to whitewash the reasons for the war. In a letter five years later to another friend, Sam Chapman, he wrote,

I wrote you about my disgust at reading the Reunion speeches: It has since been increased by reading Christian’s report. I am certainly glad I wasn’t there. According to Christian the Virginia people were the abolitionists & the Northern people were pro-slavery. He says slavery was ‘a patriarchal’ institution – So were polygamy & circumcision. Ask Hugh if he has been circumcised.

Christian quotes what the Old Virginians said against slavery. True; but why didn’t he quote what the modern Virginians said in favor of it – Mason, Hunter, Wise &c. Why didn’t he state that a Virginia Senator (Mason) was the author of the Fugitive Slave law – & why didn’t he quote The Virginia Code (1860) that made it a crime to speak against slavery, or to teach a negro to read the Lord’s prayer.

I have written two military history books on the Civil War, as well as two novels and numerous shorter works, and I constantly come up against the notion that the war was fought for “states rights.” As a political science professor friend of mine rebuts, “The right to do what?” The answer, of course, was the right to own other people. Confederate documents at the time make this abundantly clear, but after the war many rebels were embarrassed that they ripped the nation apart over slavery and sought to bury that idea.

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New Treasures: Swift to Chase by Laird Barron

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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In his review of the 2014 Laird Barron tribute volume The Children of Old Leech, James McGlothlin wrote:

If you’re not familiar with Laird Barron, you really should be. He’s a multiple Shirley Jackson Award winner and currently on the 2014 World Fantasy Award ballot. I’ve raved about him several times on Black Gate, including here and here and here. Barron’s writing is often called Lovecraftian; but not in a pastiche sort of way.  Rather, Barron is really good at capturing a cosmic-horror-feel in his stories that many believe Lovecraft perfected.

In addition, Barron is also like Lovecraft in that in his stories have recurring regions, locations, characters, and even a recurring evil book… [Barron is] one of the true masters of the weird that we currently have.

Barron is not resting on his laurels, however. In the last 12 months he’s released two novellas, Man With No Name and X’s For Eyes, and his highly anticipated fourth collection Swift to Chase arrived in hardcover, trade paperback and digital format earlier this month. Click on the images above to read the complete back cover copy.

Swift to Chase was published by JournalStone on October 7, 2016. It is 294 pages, priced at $29.95 in hardcover, $18.95 in trade paperback and $7.95 for the digital edition. See all our recent Laird Barron coverage here.


October 2016 Nightmare Magazine, People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! Special Issue, Now on Sale

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

nightmare-magazine-49-smallUber-editor John Joseph Adams has had enormous success with his Kickstarter-funded DESTROY special issues of Lightspeed, Fantasy, and Nightmare. The original idea sprung from the ludicrous Alt-Right claim that women were destroying science fiction; that gave birth to the brilliant and groundbreaking Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of Lightspeed, a massive 479-page issue released in 2014.

Since then there have been multiple successful iterations, including Queers Destroy Science Fiction in June of last year, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction, in June of this year. The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! special issue of Fantasy will be published in December, and The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! special issue of Nightmare magazine arrived this month. Here’s the description from the website.

Nightmare was founded on the core idea that all horror is real horror. The whole point of this magazine is that horror fiction is vast. It is inclusive. Horror is about all people and for all people.

The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! special issue exists to relieve a brokenness in the genre that’s been enabled time and time again by favoring certain voices and portrayals of particular characters. Here we bring together a team of POC writers and editors from around the globe to present horror that explores the nuances of culture, race, and history. This is horror for our present time, but also — most of all — for our future.

People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! is 100% written and edited by people of color, and is lead by guest editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia, with editorial contributions from Tananarive Due, Maurice Broaddus, Arley Sorg, and others. It features four original, never-before-published short stories, from Valerie Valdes, Nadia Bulkin, Gabriela Santiago, and Russell Nichols. Plus, there’s four classic reprints by Nisi Shawl, Priya Sharma, Terence Taylor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz. On top of all that, we also have an array of nonfiction articles and interviews, from Alyssa Wong, Chesya Burke, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, and Chinelo Onwualu, as well as original illustrations by Kimberly Wengerd, SainaSix, Maggie Chiang, and Reiko Murakami.

Enjoy the destruction!

Here’s the complete TOC for this special issue.

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Sheri S. Tepper, July 16, 1929 – October 22, 2016

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

sheri-s-tepperSheri S. Tepper, the prolific fantasy author who was awarded the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement last year, died on Saturday.

Sheri S. Tepper was the author of dozens of popular fantasy and science fiction novels. Her first published novel was King’s Blood Four (1983), which became part of an ambitious 12-novel series set in The True Game universe, and which spanned her entire career. The seres included The True Game trilogy, the Mavin Manyshaped trilogy, the Jinian trilogy, and the Plague of Angels trilogy, which wrapped up with Fish Tails (2014). She authored many other popular series, including The Marianne Trilogy, the Ettison novels, The Awakeners novels, and especially the Marjorie Westriding trilogy, which began with the Hugo-nominated Grass in 1989.

Tepper’s standalone novels included The Revenants (1984), After Long Silence (1987), The Gate to Women’s Country (1988), The Locus Award-winner Beauty (1991), Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (1996), The Visitor (2002), and The Companions (2003). In his tribute to Tepper this week, John Scalzi writes:

She was one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers, and an influence on my thinking about SF/F writing… Her novel Grass has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series; the (very) loose sequel to Grass, Raising the Stones, is in many ways even better… If you haven’t read Grass, I really suggest you find it and put it near the top of your SF/F reading queue. You won’t be disappointed… It’s a stone classic.

Tepper began publishing poems and children’s stories in the early 60s under the name Sheri S. Eberhart. Her first genre appearance was the poem “Lullaby, 1990” in the December 1963 Galaxy. Her 1989 novella “The Gardener” was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. She was 87 years old. See our prior coverage of her work here.


One Last Time into the Primal Land: Sorcery in Shad by Brian Lumley

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_242034314rvenvucAll good things must come to an end. I get that, and as I’ve gotten older I appreciate that more than ever. However, they do not all have to end badly. Sometimes, though, as with Brian Lumley’s Primal Lands stories, they do. Despite some rough-hewn edges and some too-purple prose, I completely enjoyed the first two collections in the series, The House of Cthulhu and Tarra Khash: Hrossak! (follow the links to my Black Gate reviews). I looked forward to the culmination of these tales in the final volume, Sorcery in Shad (1991). Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a flop. Only Lumley’s easy-going style, colorful world-building, and a clear love for his characters kept its reading from being drudge work.

Lumley is a controversial figure in the world of Lovecraft Mythos fiction. By inclination, he is a writer of action and adventure. What he brought to Mythos stories were heroes who fought back, unwilling to acquiesce in the face of existential dread (and monsters), which didn’t always work very well.

It served him splendidly here, though, in his stories set on Theem’hdra, the continent-sized remnant of a gigantic volcano, in the earliest days of Man on Earth. House of Cthulhu introduced the setting and several recurring characters, most notably the sorcerer, Teh Atht, through a series of mostly independent short stories. Tarra Khash, through several linked stories, told the escapades of its titular good-hearted barbarian wanderer. By the end, Tarra Khash and his friends had saved the world from demonic domination and he had decided to head back home.

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An Experiment in Gor: What Are John Norman’s Books About, Really? The Hidden Secret of the Counter-Earth Saga is an Over-Abundance of…

Monday, October 24th, 2016 | Posted by Nick Ozment

tarnsman_of_gor_vallejo_coverI’m positive that I read the first book in the [Counter-Earth Saga/Tarl Cabot Saga/Chronicles of Counter-Earth/Gorean Cycle/Gorean Saga/take your pick], sometime back in junior high. That would be Tarnsman of Gor, first published in 1966 by Ballantine, which recounts how Earth professor Tarl Cabot is mysteriously transported to our solar system’s hidden tenth planet orbiting the sun in a position exactly counter to Earth’s. There he encounters a Barsoomian-inspired sword-and-planet environment. He quickly adapts, becoming a Gorean swordsman and assimilating into the culture of his adopted planet.

If I read any of the sequels, I can’t recall — although I remember enjoying the first book, at least the first part of it recounting Talbot’s strange experiences (involving a mysterious package, I believe) and subsequent relocation to another world. As The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997), a huge tome sitting here on my bookshelf, notes, the first Gor books were passable Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiches, and that’s the impression I came away with too. As a boy, I was a huge fan of ERB’s John Carter of Mars stories and was looking for something else along those lines.

The Encyclopedia goes on to condemn later volumes in the series (which now total 34), noting that they “degenerate into extremely sexist, sadomasochistic pornography involving the ritual humiliation of women, and as a result have caused widespread offence.” DAW, which published the series from volumes 7 through 25, apparently dropped Norman for this reason (Naughty Norman!), and the subsequent 9 volumes are only available in e-book editions.

As a collector and purveyor of vintage sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks, I happen to have several Gor books sitting in a pile here beside my office desk. I will be posting them to eBay soon. I have, on occasion, picked one up and opened it at random to read a paragraph or two.

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