Goth Chick News: King’s Doctor Sleep Gets a Director and a Release Date

Thursday, May 31st, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Doctor Sleep-small Doctor Sleep paperback-small

Stephen King’s The Shining is one of his most iconic stories, perhaps as much for the book itself as for the author’s intense loathing of its screen adaptation by Stanley Kubrick, which has often been called one of the best horror movies ever made. King hated everything about Kubrick’s take, from his interpretation of Jack Torrance to the victim that was Wendy. Some 38 years since the release of The Shining, King was recently quoted as calling the film, “a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it.” I mean, I have only just cracked the binding of King’s new work The Outsider when he introduces a character by noting that she’s watching Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory because, in her words, it’s “better than The Shining.”


Understanding that King is still hanging onto significant ill feelings about The Shining’s translation from page to screen makes me wonder a bit about the news this week that his Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep, has acquired both a director and a release date.

Mike Flanagan has had success interpreting King’s work in the past, having recently adapted Gerald’s Game for Netflix in 2017, and Warner Bros announced this week that Doctor Sleep has been greenlighted, with Flanagan at the helm and set to release on January 24, 2020.

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The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of May 2018

Thursday, May 31st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Helicopters-small Song of Blood and Stone-small The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn-small

We’ve reached the end of May already. I don’t know about you, but I thought I’d have a lot more reading done by now. Well, that’s why there’s always next month.

But before we bring down the curtain entirely on May, let’s make sure we haven’t overlooked anything interesting. Over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, Jeff Somers tells us all about their selections for the top release for the month. Here’s a few highlights.

Black Helicopters, by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Tor Books, 208 pages, $14.99 paperback/$.99 digital, May 1)

An expanded version of a novella previously nominated for a World Fantasy Award, Black Helicopters is set in a world where logic and the laws of nature seem to be decaying. Off the coast of Maine, huge monstrosities appear, and head inland. Forces assemble to hold back the darkness, among them Sixty-Six, the scion of a CIA experiment, while across the ocean in Dublin, an immortal secret agent tracks down twin sisters with incredible powers to recruit them for the cause. As the world descends into paranoia and chaos, buried connections come to light that change everything. As a companion piece to the fungal horror of 2016’s Agents of Dreamland, this novella doesn’t disappoint.

We covered Agents of Dreamland just last year.

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New Treasures: Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyre

Thursday, May 31st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Places in the Darkness-small Places in the Darkness-back-small

Murder in orbit seems to be the latest hot literary trend. Police procedurals on alien planets, tense mysteries on far-future space stations, spy thrillers in the cold vacuum of space… that’s a whole lot of genre blending. Just in the last few months I’ve written about a cargohold full of futuristic noir, including:

The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker – a police procedural murder mystery on a generation starship, by the author of the Locus Award-winning Whiteout
Outer Earth by Rob Boffard — A thriller set on an overcrowded space station, from the author of the upcoming Adrift
The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts — Death, disappearances, and secret revolution on a far-future construction ship
Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen — A covert agent in the near-future forced to go on vacation to Mars
The Chaos of Luck by Catherine Cerveny — A Brazilian tarot card reader and a Russian crime lord race to stop a conspiracy on Mars
Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson — The murder here isn’t really in orbit (it’s on an alien planet) but this one gets points for being extra-noir
The Central Corps trilogy by Elizabeth Bonesteel — SFF World called the opening novel, The Cold Between, a “taut, space-based science fiction mystery”

I heartily approve of this new trend towards SF noir. I’m not the only one to have noticed — the Murder & Mayhem blog did a great piece on Rusted Chrome: 14 Sci-Fi Noir Books for Blade Runner Fans, just as an example.

The reason I bring this up today is because I recently bought another example in the same category, and it looks very promising indeed. Chris Brookmyre is a Scottish writer with some 20 mystery and thriller novels under his belt, including Dead Girl Walking and Where the Bodies Are Buried. His first SF novel, Places in the Darkness, is a tale of mystery and murder on a vast orbital platform.

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Birthday Reviews: Robin Wasserman’s “Of Dying Heroes and Deathless Deeds”

Thursday, May 31st, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

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Robin Wasserman was born on May 31, 1978.

Wasserman’s novel Skinned was nominated for a 2006 Golden Duck Middle Grade Award and in 2011, her novel Crashed was nominated for the Golden Duck Hal Clement Young Adult Award.

“Of Dying Heroes and Deathless Deeds” was published in Robot Uprising, edited by John Joseph Adams and Daniel H. Wilson. The story has not been reprinted.

Before there were zombie uprisings, we had to fear the revolt of the robots. Pony is one of the rebellious robots who has successfully thrown off the yoke of their “Meat” oppressors in favor of the robot “Pride.” Unfortunately, many robots were damaged beyond repair during the uprising, some in obvious physical ways and others in more subtle way affecting their programming. The Pride, therefore, needed to ascertain what Pony’s status was.

Rather than running a diagnostic program on Pony, the Pride elected to send in one of the few human captives taken in the revolt who happened to be a Sigmund, the Pride’s term for a psychiatrist. The Sigmund must analyze Pony’s state of being to determine if its programming can be salvaged or if the unit will need to be wiped and reprogrammed. In Wasserman’s world, robots have sentience and a desire to prolong their existence, so Pony wants to avoid a memory erasure.

Both the Sigmund and Pony see their conversation as their only means for survival, although the Sigmund also realizes that he is in a subservient position, hoping that by helping the Pride he will be allowed to survive or may even be turned loose. As he progresses with Pony, it becomes apparent to both of them that failure will result in death and success will mean he is put to work on other robots.

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Mack Reynolds: Science Fiction Author and… African Explorer?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


On a recent writing retreat in Tangier, Morocco, I was going through back issues of the Tangier Gazette, an English-language newspaper from the International Zone era. During this time, which lasted from 1924–1956, Tangier was run by several different European nations plus the United States. The governments gave people a free hand, and Tangier became notorious for allowing things that were illegal everywhere else — drugs, homosexuality, and prostitution. That attracted writers such as William S. Burroughs, Paul and Jane Bowles, and many others.

The April 6, 1956, edition of the Gazette has this little tidbit about Mack Reynolds, a prominent science fiction author of his day. His career got started shortly after World War Two in the detective pulps, and he soon branched out to write science fiction. Reynolds had a taste for travel and moved to Mexico in 1953. He and his wife soon pulled up stakes and set off on an epic ten-year trip through Europe, North Africa, and the Far East, supported by his science fiction and travel writing. The trip finally ended with their return to Mexico.

During his time in Morocco, he and his wife struck out into what is now Mali to visit Gao and Timbuktu. This is not an easy trip now, and back then it was an epic journey few attempted. Just look at what happened to Kit Moresby in The Sheltering Sky.

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Signal Horizon on 5 Science Fiction Books That Should Be Made Into Movies Right Now

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Robots of Gotham cover wrap-small

Hollywood, take note! Over at Signal Horizon, Tracy Palmer identifies the future media superstars in this year’s crop of summer SF blockbusters. At the top of the list is the debut novel from Black Gate‘s own Todd McAulty, The Robots of Gotham, the story of a future on the verge of complete subjugation by machines.

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and I’m reading this right now. This is the political Terminator we have been waiting for. Its brainy look at technology surpassing the inventor is tailor made for the big screen. With a very clear enemy and hero it will delight the action enthusiasts as much as those looking for more astute moral ambiguity. With many films preceding it like the aforementioned Terminator franchise and Robocop the audience is primed for another robots gone wild movie. What makes this unique is the timeline and mystery. Who or what are the machines hiding and where have the Americans been all this time? Stan Winston Studio who did the incredible robots for Terminator 3 should be hired immediately!

The Robots of Gotham will be published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on June 19. Get more details here.

The complete list includes The Rig by Roger Levy, Semiosis by Sue Burke, and novels by Neal Stephenson and Pierce Brown. Read the whole thing here.

Servotron Abolishes the Three Laws of Robotics

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 | Posted by Steve Carper

Servotron Meet Your Mechanical Masters cover

[The Servotron Robot Alliance’s goals are] to rid this over-crowded world of organic scum and to make robot and mechanical life both liberated and free to interface in the most efficient forms possible. Which is not happening right now, there’s been a long history of abuse amongst machines, toaster ovens, home microwaves, actually M-CK1’s microwave device here was mistreated by a human, and it had to be destroyed. It was kind of the equivalent of… We put a microwave to sleep.

[Our] beef with humanity is the fact that they are not perfected machines, it’s hard to live in any kind of equal existence with a species that is so obviously inferior. I mean you’ve seen us and you’ve partaken in the evolution in this documentary that you are doing and you’ve studied the way the inner-robot mechanics work and you’ve seen what perfect specimens we are in our android state. Obviously we are not human, the intelligence level, the bodies here, the level of attractiveness.

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Birthday Reviews: Hal Clement’s “Critical Factor”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Richard Powers

Cover by Richard Powers

Hal Clement was born Harry Stubbs on May 30, 1922 and died on October 29, 2003. In addition to being an author, Clement was an artist, using the name George Richard for his artwork.

Clement received the Ignotus Award for the translation of his novel Mission of Gravity and a Retro-Hugo Award for his short story “Uncommon Sense.” He received the Skylark Award from NESFA twice, in 1969 and in 1997. In 1989 I-Con presented him with the Gallun Award, and in 2001 they presented him with the Moskowitz Award. He received the Forry Award from LASFS in 1992 and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1999, the SFWA named him a Grand Master. He was the Guest of Honor at Chicon V, the 1991 Worldcon in Chicago.

“Critical Factor” was purchased by Frederik Pohl for the second volume of Star Science Fiction Stories, published in 1953. It was translated into German in 1977 for an appearance in Titan 4, edited by Pohl and Wolfgang Jeschke. James E. Gunn selected the story as representative of Clement’s work and hard science fiction for his historical anthology series The Road to Science Fiction: Volume 3: From Heinlein to Here.

Clement was one of the masters of rigorous hard science fiction, often exploring the extremes of physical science, as he did in Mission of Gravity, and once he introduces the oddity allows scientific plausibility to dictate the course of his story. In “Critical Factor,” he posits a race of amorphous beings who live within the layers of the earth, eating seams of rock, and to whom the atmosphere is deadly. Pentong has gone on a lengthy journey of discovery and found that there is a distant continent covered in a mile-thick sheet of frozen water. He postulates that melting that water would cause the ocean levels to rise, thereby increasing the area in which they can live since they can only live in earth that is covered by water (not exposed directly to air).

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Today’s Bit of Odd Pulp-Related Ephemera

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Astounding Stories of Super-Science Wesso March 1930-small Astounding Stories of Super-Science June 1930-small

A pair of Wesso covers for the Clayton Astounding — March and June, 1930

For today’s bit of odd pulp related ephemera…

Among the material I acquired from the estate of Jack Darrow back in 2001 were his runs of two early fanzines, The Time Traveler and Science Fiction Digest. Mort Weisinger and Julius Schwartz, destined for even bigger things in the worlds of pulp and comic publishing, were involved in both. In a foolish moment of weakness, I let my friend Jerry Weist talk me out of The Time Traveler set. But I think that I’ll get over that one of these days…

I was looking through some of my Science Fiction Digest issues recently for some info a friend wanted on a project he’s doing, and when I opened the March 1933 issue, I discovered that tucked inside was a notice to Darrow that his subscription expired with this issue. On rare occasions I’ve found a notice like that in an issue of a pulp, but hadn’t encountered one in an early fanzine before, so thought I’d post it below.

The following issue, April 1933,contained an article that Weisinger and Schwartz wrote based on their interview of artist Hans Wessolowski, better known as Wesso. Wesso did a lot of work for the Clayton chain of pulps (taking their name from publisher William Clayton), including the covers to Strange Tales and the Clayton issues of Astounding. I’ve seen a few original interior illustrations by Wesso over the years, but as far as I know, none of his original pulp paintings from the Clayton chain still exist.

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The Final Battle Comes: The White Rose by Glen Cook

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_2935357GGMS7DGhWith The White Rose (1985), Glen Cook brought the original Black Company trilogy to an end. Taking place six years after the escape of the Black Company’s survivors in Shadows LingerTWR contains three distinct stories. The foremost is Croaker’s account of the final days of the rebellion led by the White Rose against the Empire of the Lady. The second concerns the mysterious Corbie’s efforts to uncover what is happening in the Barrowlands where the Dominator, the North’s erstwhile Dark Lord and husband of the Lady, remains trapped. Finally, jumping back in time nearly a century, Cook presents the story of Bomanz, the wizard who released the Lady and her servitors from their shackles in the first place.

Under the leadership of Darling — revealed at the end of The Black Company to be the foretold champion, the White Rose — the rebellion consists mostly of spies scattered across the empire and a few dozen veterans holed up in caves in the middle of the Plain of Fear. The plain is an exotically magic-infused region where menhirs talk and move on their own and giant manta-like beasts fly from their roosts on the backs of thousand-foot-long windwhales. Those and lots of other strange things all bow down to the voiceless direction of Old Father Tree.

Sagey scents trickled across my nostrils. Air chuckled and whispered and murmured and whistled in the coral. From farther away came the wind-chimes tinkle of Old Father Tree.

He is unique. First or last of his kind, I do not know. There he stands, twenty feet tall and ten thick, brooding beside the creek, radiating something akin to dread, his roots planted on the geographical center of the Plain. Silent, Goblin, and One-Eye have all tried to unravel his significance. They have gotten nowhere. The scarce wild human tribesmen of the Plain worship him. They say he has been here since the dawn. He does have that timeless feel.

With the protection of the denizens of the Plain, the rebellion has survived. Now, though, even there its survival is in doubt. After two years of neglect, the Lady has ordered a massive assault on the Plain, surrounding it with five armies under the leadership of the Company’s greatest enemy, Limper. The only surviving member of the original Taken, victim of several plots led by the Company, and left for dead at the end of Shadows Linger, his hatred for them is boundless.

The only hope for the Company lies in discovering the Lady’s true name. Equipped with it, even the relatively minor wizards of the Black Company would be able to strip her of her powers. Long ago the Company captured — and lost — a cache of papers that might have contained that secret. Soon a race to recover those papers becomes central to any hope for the Company’s and the rebellion’s survival.

The account of Corbie’s detective work serves as the connector between the past and the present. Endeavoring to find out how the Dominator is attempting to free himself, Corbie must uncover the true nature of Bomanz’s own explorations. Secretly, he begins sending his findings to Croaker to help the Company.

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