Goth Chick News: Spending an Interesting Day at Days of the Dead

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Ripley and Newt

As another “season” winds down here in the Windy City, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I once again find ourselves at one of the most interesting, yet largely unheralded shows of the year which has never failed to turn up some notable tales to tell.

Days of the Dead is touted as a “by the fans, for the fans” convention which had its inaugural show in 2011, and which currently tours through Atlanta, Charlotte, Indy and Louisville, wrapping up the year here in Chicago in November. According to their site, the con’s primary goal is to bring back the idea of the genre convention being a welcoming communal gathering of like-minded friends and fans. Each event is tailored to the local audience with an active after-hours scene of horror themed parties, along with a robust guest list of celebrities, artists, and up and coming independent film makers.

Which makes it a Goth Chick News perennial favorite.

Forgiving the fact that the suburban hotel where the Chicago event is held, has a bar that doesn’t open until lunchtime – meaning our standard show Fireball shots have to wait until midday, Days of the Dead is smaller and more intimate than the mega-cons like C2E2 and ComicCon. This allows for actual conversation with the attendees without the crush of too many sweaty people in spandex. However, its size doesn’t stop it from attracting some very interesting celebrities. Past years have seen us chatting with the likes of Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects), Sandahl Berman (Conan the Barbarian), William Sanderson (Blade Runner) and Heather Donahue (The Blair Witch Project).

A-listers? No. Interesting? Absolutely.

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John DeNardo on the Best SF and Fantasy in November

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Jade City Fonda Lee-small Ironclads Adrian Tchaikovsky-small The Overneath Peter S Beagle-small

I do a lot of work sifting though all the science fiction and fantasy releases every month to select those few that are worth highlighting. Sometimes it seems that I could save myself a lot of time if I just listened more to John DeNardo.

Over at Kirkus Reviews, John selects the most interesting new releases to showcase in his column, including new books by Rachel Neumeier, Tim Pratt, Mira Grant, Richard Baker, Brandon Sanderson, James Van Pelt, and many others. Here’s a few of the highlights.

Jade City by Fonda Lee (Orbit, 512 pages, $26, November 7)

What do you get when you set The Godfather in an Asia-inspired city and add some magic and kung fu? You get Jade City, set on the island of Kekon, where Jade is the lifeblood of society, a precious commodity that that is mined, traded, stolen, and a motivation for murder. The Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities while becoming the dominant force on the island. They care about nothing other than protecting their own power and those within their family. But now it’s a new generation and when a powerful new drug allows anyone to wield the power of jade, the war between the Kaul family and their rivals explodes into violence.

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Modular: The Capharnaum RPG: A Kickstarter Combining the Campbellian Hero Path, Arabian Nights Multiculturalism, and Compelling Worldbuilding

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 | Posted by Sarah Newton

Capharnaum RPG

Two years after running our very successful Kickstarter for the transhumanist SF RPG Mindjammer, Mindjammer Press is back with a new project — the English-language version of a fascinating French-language RPG “Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked.” As a soundbite it’s billed as “a fantastic Arabian Nights RPG of deserts, dragons, and crusaders” — but it’s so much more than that. I first came across Capharnaum and its gorgeous artwork in the Paris Games Fair in 2009, and even then I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been brought to the English-speaking gamer. Now, with Capharnaum‘s second edition, the case is even more compelling.

The brains behind Capharnaum — The Tales of the Dragon-Marked are two experienced French game designers, Raphaël Bardas and François Cedelle. They’re joined by a large and extremely active gaming community based in Montpellier, the ancient town on the Mediterranean coast, but active throughout France, bringing together enthusiasts of ancient world Mediterranean and Arabian Nights-style gaming. In the aftermath of 9/11, Raphaël and François wanted to create a setting which refracted the cultural conflicts of our time in a historical-fantasy context, but which equally provided a gameplay which transcended those conflicts and offered a route to coexistence and appreciation of our diversity.

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The Late November Fantasy Magazine Rack

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Albedo-One-Issue-47-Cover-Smaller Back Issue 101-small Lightspeed magazine November 2017-small Meeple Monthly November 2017-small
Apex Magazine November 2017-small Locus magazine November 2017-small Outposts-of-Beyond-18-Tyree-Campbell-small Skelos magazine 3-small

If you’re a magazine fan, November continues to be very, very good to you. The latest crop of magazines include brand new fiction by BG regulars John C. Hocking and John R. Fultz, plus Charlie Jane Anders, Ashok K. Banker, Bruce McAllister, Keith Taylor, Nick Mamatas and Tim Pratt, and many more. Here’s the complete list of magazines that won my attention in late November (links will bring you to magazine websites).

Albedo One — issue 47 is a bumper 88 pages, with stories by Teis Teng, Bruce McAllister, Karla Schmidt, and Michele Piccolino — plus the winners of the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest
Back Issue— issue #101 is 84 pages in full color,  featuring an interview with the star of Flash Gordon, Sam J. Jones
Lightspeed — issue #90 has original fiction from Ashok K. Banker, Charlie Jane Anders, Kathleen Kayembe, and Max Wynne
Meeple Monthly — with coverage of the newest board games, featuring Blue Orange Games, Galakta Games, Greenbrier Games, Pandasaurus Games, and Renegade Game Studios
Apex Magazine — with new fiction from S.B. Divya, K.A. Teryna, and “The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft” by Nick Mamatas and Tim Pratt
Locus — interviews with David Marusek and Aliette de Bodard, a column by Cory Doctorow, obituaries and appreciations of Kit Reed, Julian May, and Yoji Kondo, and reviews of books by Victor LaValle, Jane Yolen, Tim Pratt, Sarah Gailey, and many others.
Outposts of Beyond — stories by Karen & Bill Otto, Pedro Iniguez, Vaughan Stanger, and editor Tyree Campbell
Skelos — issue #3 has contributions from two popular Black Gate authors, John C. Hocking and John R. Fultz, plus fiction from Keith Taylor, Chris Gruber, Ed Erdelac, Josh Rountree, and many others

Click any of the thumbnail images above for bigger images. Our early November Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

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Off on Another Writing Retreat in Cairo

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

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The title of this post is a not-so-clever way to say I’m taking the month of December off from blogging. Back in February, I spent a few weeks in Egypt writing my neo-pulp detective novel The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, which recently won the Kindle Scout contest. It’s coming out soon and I’m using part of my advance to head on back to Cairo to write the next one, The Case of the Shifting Sarcophagus.

I’ll be seeing friends, hopefully making new ones, helping a colleague with his fascinating book proposal, and visiting some sights. Mostly I’ll be wandering around the old medieval neighborhood, where one of my heroes has his antiquities shop. Nothing like walking the actual streets to get the old brain pan bubbling!

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New Treasures: The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Stone in the Skull-smallElizabeth Bear won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005, and followed that in quick succession with two Hugo wins: in 2008 a Best Short Story nod for “Tideline,” and in 2009 a Best Novelette award for “Shoggoths in Bloom.”

Her biggest commercial hit so far has been her Eternal Sky trilogy (Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, Steles of the Sky). Last month she returned to the world of Eternal Sky with a brand new trilogy, The Lotus Kingdoms, which kicked off with The Stone in the Skull, now available in hardcover from Tor.

The Stone in the Skull, the first volume in her new trilogy, takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.

The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort.

They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.

Tor.com usually offers up sample chapters of new Tor releases, and they didn’t disappoint us this time. Check out Chapter One here, and Chapter Two hidden in a completely different place here.

The Stone in the Skull was published by Tor Books on October 10, 2017. It is 368 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Richard Anderson.


Stories of Wild Childhood Adventure: The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Wildwood Colin Meloy-small Under Wildwood Colin Meloy-small Wildwood Imperium Colin Meloy-small

Colin Meloy is a talented guy. As the frontman for the rock band The Decemberists he’s sold over a million records around the world. His debut novel, Wildwood, became a New York Times bestseller, and grew into a bestselling trilogy that has been called “full of suspense and danger and frightening things the world has never seen,” (Lemony Snicket), and which Michael Chabon calls “Dark and whimsical, with a true and uncanny sense of otherworldliness… the heir to a great tradition of stories of wild childhood adventure.” Here’s the description for the first volume.

Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. That is, until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland.

So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

All three novels in the series are illustrated by Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society. Here’s a look at all three back covers.

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A Homecoming: Son of Mfumu by Milton J. Davis

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

DIhhmcBUQAAjNxv“…keep it old school. Don’t make it boring, pack it with action, don’t invert it, converge it, or subvert it. Have a hero even if he is a rascal. Have some gothic atmosphere and a touch of cosmicism. Give it technicolor and dream dust instead of shades of gray. Have the ending mean something.”  -Morgan Holmes, on writing a classic S&S story.

Milton Davis’ five volume series about the mighty and wily Changa Diop is swords & sorcery cast from a classic mold, the dimensions of which were first set down ninety years ago by Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and C.L. Moore. Changa is a hero through and through. Even when he’s got one eye focused on making a profit, the other is on his own honor and courage. There are wonderful descriptions of a vibrant, exciting world designed perfectly as a stage for mighty adventures, but done so well it never impedes the action. Of action, there’s more than enough for any S&S fan, ranging from duels with pirates to epic battles with demonic conjurations. Heroes are bold and villains deadly. This is the root stuff of which good S&S is made.

Whenever you get bummed out about the current state of S&S, rest assured that there are authors hewing to something like Holmes’ cri-de-coeur. And they aren’t making copies of the tried and true, but crafting their own myths and legends, adding their rousing additions to this genre we love.

Starting with Changa’s Safari (2011), and continuing for four more books, Milton Davis has sent our titular hero to the ends of the earth in search of the means to avenge his father’s murder, and claim the throne of Kongo from the usurper and sorcerer, Usenge. Each comrade with whom he surrounds himself is skilled and memorable in his own way. Foremost, there is the blue-robed and silent swordsman known only as the Tuareg. Zakee is a young Yemeni prince rescued from a disastrous marriage, the irascible navigator Mikaili is an Ethiopian with plans to become an priest someday…just never today, and finally there is Panya, Yoruban sorceress and beloved of Changa.

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Amazing Science Fiction Stories, February 1960: A Retro-Review

Monday, November 27th, 2017 | Posted by Rich Horton

Amazing Science Fiction Stories February 1960-smallHere’s a pretty early Cele Goldsmith issue. The names on the TOC reflect that — a lot different than in the 1963-1965 era — only Ben Bova would be familiar from latter days, and he mostly did nonfiction.

The cover is by Edward Valigursky, another contributor who didn’t appear as much later on. (His last cover was for the May 1960 issue.) Interiors are by Leo Summers, Varga, and Virgil Finlay. The editorial, extremely brief, is as ever by Norman Lobsenz, and concerns suspended animation. S. E. Cotts’ book reviews cover Manly Wade Wellman’s The Dark Destroyers, which she enjoyed a great deal more than I did; The Outward Urge, by John Wyndham and Lucas Parkes, a fixup of four stories from Fantastic, which she didn’t like much at all; and John Brunner’s The World Swappers, which she thought quite good.

The lettercol has contributions from Chester F. Milburn, Mike Deckinger, Ronald Felty, Philip A. Harrell, Arthur B. Prag, and Tobey Reed.

The stories are:

Complete Novel

“Transient,” by Ward Moore (35,000 words)

Short Stories

“A Long Way Back,” by Ben Bova (6,000 words)
“Divvy Up,” by Milt Lesser (4,700 words)
“It’s a Good Trick If …,” by Kate Wilhelm (1,900 words)
“A Jar of Jelly Beans,” by Franklin Gregory (4,900 words)

To begin with the short novel. Ward Moore (1903-1978) published five novels, beginning with Greener Than You Think (1947). His most famous novel by far is Bring the Jubilee (1953), a very well-regarded alternate history in which the South wins the Civil War. He is also remembered for his last novel, Joyleg (1962), a collaboration with Avram Davidson, about a Revolutionary War veteran discovered to be still alive in the present time; and for a stunning post-Apocalyptic (or “during the Apocalypse”) story, “Lot,” along with its sequel, “Lot’s Daughter.” As a writer he started late and finished early, with the great bulk of his fiction appearing between 1947 and 1962 (though a few more stories appeared in the ’70s).

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Vintage Treasures: The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year 1, edited by Terry Carr

Monday, November 27th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year 1 Terry Carr-small The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year 1 Terry Carr-back-small

Some of the most rewarding books I’ve read in the past few years have been anthologies edited by Terry Carr. Even though he died 30 years ago, in April 1987, his books remain splendid reading for modern audiences, and I think it’s very possible Carr may have been the most gifted editor our field has ever seen. The sixteen volumes of The Best Science Fiction of the Year (1972-1987) he edited may well be the high water mark for Year’s Best anthologies.

In 1979 and 1980, Carr convinced Lester del Del at Del Rey Books to allow him to try an experiment. In effect, to see if the market would bear an additional Terry Carr Best SF, this one showcasing the best SF novellas of the year. It was a noble ambition, and a great idea, but that didn’t mean the market was ready for it. The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year died after two volumes, and Carr went back to the frustrating task of trying to fit as many novellas as he could into his slender Best SF paperbacks every year.

I’ve never read either of his Best Novellas books before. But, like his regular Best SF series, both volumes are packed with classic fiction that has stood the test of time, as well as genuine finds. I recently came across the first one in a collection I bought on eBay. I was expecting greatness, and I was not disappointed.

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