Black Gate Online Fiction: An Excerpt from Mad Shadows II by Joe Bonadonna

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Mad Shadows 2 cover by Erika M. Szabo-small MAD SHADOWS 2 BACK Cover-small

Joe Bonadonna’s Dorgo the Dowser novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” part of Joe’s first swords and sorcery collection, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, is one of the most popular pieces of fiction ever posted at Black Gate. Joe’s other contributions to the Black Gate Online Fiction library include an exclusive excerpt from Waters of Darkness, his supernatural pirate dark fantasy novel co-written with David C. Smith, and his recent story “Queen of Toads,” an old-fashioned pulp horror tale.

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Part Three of Mad Shadows II — Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent, published in trade paperback and digital formats this month.

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The Late January Fantasy Magazine Rack

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Ares-4-rack Asimovs-SF-January-February-2017-rack Clarkesworld-124-rack Lightspeed-January-2017-rack
The-Ultimate-RPG-Handbook-rack Black-Static-56-rack Shimmer-35-rack Some-of-the-Best-from-Tor-2016-rack

This month the first issues of Analog and Asimov’s SF in their new bimonthly format arrived — with an extra 16 pages each — and I like the change already. We also welcome PC Gamer to our magazine checklist for the first time, courtesy of the irresistible Ultimate RPG Handbook special issue. But the big news for short fiction fans was the release of the massive annual compilation of Some of the Best From, containing 25 recent stories from one of the most acclaimed digital magazines in the genre. I hope you managed to nab a free copy at while they were available! If not, free copies are still available through and B& for a limited time.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our early January Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

As we’ve mentioned before, all of these magazines are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. Many are marginal operations for whom a handful of subscriptions may mean the difference between life and death. Why not check one or two out, and try a sample issue? There are magazines here for every budget, from completely free to $35/issue. If you find something intriguing, I hope you’ll consider taking a chance on a subscription. I think you’ll find it’s money very well spent.

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You Live in Pellucidar: The Weird Inner World of Cyrus Teed and the Koreshan Unity

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

model-of-cellular-cosmogonyWhen Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote At the Earth’s Core (1914) and Pellucidar (1915), he brought to a summit the previous century’s passion to explore the fantastic possibilities of what lies below the crust of the Earth. Numerous Victorian scientific romances arose from these theories about the interior of the planet. It’s only natural that once you state, “The world is round,” you follow up with, “Yeah, but what’s inside it?”

A man named Cyrus R. Teed provided perhaps the strangest answer of all: “You.”

Cyrus Teed, his theory of Cellular Cosmogony, and the utopian religious commune movement that arose from it are among the most beguiling offshoots of hollow earth theories. They’re also a peculiar parallel with Burroughs’s fantastic adventure tales. Cyrus Teed believed in a concave inner world with the sun at its center, similar to the popular theory of John Cleves Symmes. But for Teed there was no reason to search for an entrance to the Earth’s interior, because the human race was already living in it. In other words, Pellucidar is real, and it’s your home.

The tale of Cyrus Teed and the Koreshan Unity is a curious historical footnote. But it has intriguing things to say to readers of fantasy and science fiction, as well as to historians interested in the utopian communes that ballooned and popped across the U.S. in the nineteenth century. Edgar Rice Burroughs certainly knew about it, since after writing At the Earth’s Core he kept notes on different hollow earth theories. (The fictional ERB even mentions this in Tanar of Pellucidar.) His curiosity is easy to understand, especially when it leads to discovering something like this…

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Books and Craft: The Power of Point of View

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by David B. Coe

Slow River Del Rey-small Slow River Del Rey-back-small

Today, I begin a new column here at Black Gate. I’ve been toying with the idea for “Books and Craft” for some time now. As an avid reader, a professional author, a writing mentor and instructor, and a lifelong student of craft, I have long been interested in what it is about certain books that capture our imaginations and elicit our passions. Why do we return again and again to certain stories? What qualities define “classic” novels and “must-read” new ones?

In this column, I hope to address those questions. I plan to look at a variety of fantasy novels, and science fiction as well, with an eye toward identifying an element of craft that contributes to their success. Sometimes the books will be familiar — those classics of the genre we know so well. Sometimes they’ll be more obscure titles — hidden gems that you might not know, but ought to. And sometimes they’ll be new works that demand our attention.

Let me be clear: I am not so presumptuous as to suggest that the specific craft element I identify is necessarily THE single factor in a given book’s success. Just because I might focus on, say, world building in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, that doesn’t mean his character work (or his prose, or his pacing) isn’t spectacular as well. My articles are intended to be illustrative and even instructive, but certainly not definitive. Whether as readers or as writers, we have something to learn from the work of successful artists. My hope is that these articles will help you see aspects of storytelling that you might not have noticed previously.

And so…

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Modular: The New Mongoose Traveller RPG #0: Transported by Free Trader Beowulf!

Friday, January 27th, 2017 | Posted by M Harold Page

Traveller First Edition-small

Like a ray of grit into my comfortable early teenage existence

This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone… Mayday, Mayday… we are under attack… main drive is gone… turret number one not responding… Mayday… losing cabin pressure fast… calling anyone… please help… This is Free Trader Beowulf… Mayday….

35 years and those words still send a chill run down my spine.

I can even see the shelf in the now defunct gaming shop on Edinburgh’s Forest Road. I was there to pick up Chivalry and Sorcery. Even at thirteen, I was a howling medievalist and that game seemed like it would be my game.

However it was a box of little black books — Traveller RPG! — that I came away with that day.

Sure, I’d played it before… briefly… with a kid in the year above and I’d liked firing pulse lasers and negotiating the mean streets of human space.

However, I hadn’t seen the possibilities.

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Future Treasures: A Perfect Machine by Brett Savory

Friday, January 27th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

A Perfect Machine Brett Savory-smallBrett Savory is co-Publisher (with Sandra Kasturi) of the World Fantasy and British Fantasy Award-winning ChiZine Publications, one of the finest small press publishers out there. He’s also an accomplished writer, with over 50 short stories two novels (In and Down and The Distance Travelled) to his credit.

His newest novel is set in a future city where Runners and Hunters carry out a sacred ritual chase every night. Runners survive being shot and grow more and more metallic. But when two Runners transform into something much more (or less) than human, their worlds will change forever. Paul Tremblay calls it “A destabilizing gutshot of science fiction, crime, and existentialism that will leave your head spinning,” and Paul Goat Allen says it’s “An existential horror story featuring a monster robot — the illegitimate lovechild of David Cronenberg and Isaac Asimov.” Sounds edgy to me! It arrives in paperback from Angry Robot next month.

Henry Kyllo is a Runner, a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. Every day he is chased through the city by Hunters whose goal is to fill him with bullets. It is a secret war steeped in history, tradition, and mutual fear.

Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves ascension, but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure. Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again.

This time, to Henry Kyllo.

A Perfect Machine will be published by Angry Robot on February 7, 2017. It is $7.99 in paperback, and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Erik Mohr. Read more details at

In 500 Words or Less … Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Friday, January 27th, 2017 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Calamity Brandon Sanderson-smallCalamity
By Brandon Sanderson
Random House (432 pages, $18.99 hardcover/$10.99 paperback, February 2016)

To begin, let’s cue the music:

Finally, I made it to Calamity, which concludes Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while because it’s the only series of Sanderson’s that I’ve really taken to; The Stormlight Archive tired me out halfway through the second book, and I haven’t felt the urge to start Mistborn. But the Reckoners trilogy is just a blast. It’s superhero YA, pulpy and exciting and admittedly un-scientific (which is a sort of running meta-joke among the characters) but with the sort of excellent character work that I look for in fiction.

The final installment doesn’t disappoint with regard to the above. Narrator David Charleston is just as optimistic, determined and corny as before, though he’s grown out of his quest for vengeance against the super-powered Epics that destroyed the world. Now that he’s saved one (and started dating her) he’s out to save another, his friend and mentor Prof, to prove that the Epics can learn to fight their darker impulses, like Anakin turning from the dark side (except more successful, hopefully).

What seems like a pretty straightforward storyline – find Prof, save Prof, then destroy the source of the Epics’ powers – goes in some unexpected directions, eventually losing momentum. Realizing that the solution to the Epics is even more complicated and out of reach than it’s painted at the start of the novel added an extra layer of tension that kept me up one night finishing off the damn thing so I could get some sleep.

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Goth Chick News: Get Ready, Here Comes Your 2017 Binge List…

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Stranger Things poster-small penny-dreadful-season-2-poster-small The Witch poster-small

Just when it seemed like the bleakness of winter would give rise to a whole lot of cabin fever weirdness, The Horror Writers Association (HWA) swoops in to save us by announcing the Preliminary Ballots for the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards.

In case you’ve got to believing that horror was the avocation of an over-imaginative (and slightly dark) few, the HWA dispels that notion by being the premier writer’s organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with over 1,300 members. They have presented the Bram Stoker Awards to a talented group of writers in various categories every year since 1987.

Like every year at this time, the list probably contains names and titles you are familiar with, along with a whole lot of new finds. For instance, I sincerely hope you’ve already discovered Stranger Things and Penny Dreadful, but perhaps you skipped The Witch; a situation you should remedy immediately.

Also, you may be familiar with the work of Elizabeth Hand (12 Monkeys, Star Wars: Bobo Fett series), but have not yet discovered Greg Chapman and his unique take on a haunted house story, Hollow House.

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January 2017 Lightspeed Magazine Now Available

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Lightspeed January 2017-smallBlack Gate author Jeremiah Tolbert (“Groob’s Stupid Grubs”) has had a nice run of stories in Lightspeed recently, including “Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus” (August 2016) and the Dungeonspace tale “The Cavern of the Screaming Eye” (October 2016). Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews speaks very highly of his new story in the January issue, “The West Topeka Triangle.”

The story unfolds at a time that many would point to as the golden days of modern America. Reagan’s America. And for Jason, growing up at that time means mostly absent parents and a neighborhood and world that seems poised to swallow him up. He’s not exactly popular, and as part of his social isolation he is obsessed with a theory that his town has a triangle like the Bermuda Triangle that explains a string of disappearances. And I like how the story builds this world… It’s also a world that’s full of danger, not just because people are disappearing though that comes to dominate the story, the mystery of what’s happening. For Jason it’s a diversion, a way to escape a stifling home life that seems to defy any attempt to change it… It’s a weird but also haunting story that lingers for me, that remains like a weight on my chest.

Read Charles’ complete review of the January issue here.

This month’s Lightspeed offers original fantasy by Kat Howard and Jeremiah Tolbert, and fantasy reprints by Jeffrey Ford and Kima Jones. It also has original science fiction by Adam-Troy Castro and Molly Tanzer, along with SF reprints by James S.A. Corey and Mary Rosenblum. The non-fiction includes an editorial from John Joseph Adams, author spotlights, movie reviews by Carrie Vaughn, Book Reviews by Andrew Liptak, and an interview with Kij Johnson.

The exclusive content in the ebook version this month includes Judith Berman’s Nebula-nominated novella “Awakening,” which originally appeared in Black Gate 10. Along with the story by Jeremy Tolbert, and the reprint from BG author Jeffrey Ford (who wrote the brilliant “Exo-Skeleton Town“), it’s making me positively nostalgic.

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Dazzling Dreamscapes: Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 | Posted by Damien Moore

Dreams of Distant Shores-small Dreams of Distant Shores-back-small

Dreams of Distant Shores
by Patricia A. McKillip
Tachyon Publications (288 pages, $15.95 in trade paperback/$7.99 digital, June 14, 2016)

I fell in love with Patricia A. McKillip’s writing the same way you fall in love with a dessert: once I had had a small taste, I craved more. And then along came Dreams of Distant Shores, a collection of enchanting short stories sure to mesmerize the reader with every turn of phrase. Every discerning reader fortunate enough to find it will find something they enjoy. They’ll likely find some old favorites as well, considering a good deal of the stories were previously published elsewhere.

In the case of “Weird,” the first story in the collection, the setting is as elsewherian as you can imagine. A boy and a girl are secluding themselves in an odd bathroom from a persistent man who keeps knocking on the door. As the nameless individual continues interrupting them, the boy and girl swap stories about the singular weirdest experiences they’ve had to date. As so often happens with loved ones, it turns out they have common knowledge of a young man in an extraordinary story shared between them. The story tumbles on down a passage of spellbinding wonder from there. I must say this is my favorite story in the collection, what with being a storyteller myself. This one will keep you engaged like a child enraptured by their first book.

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