A Tale of Two Covers: Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Outside the Gates Molly Gloss-small Outside the Gates Molly Gloss Saga-small

Molly Gloss has published only a handful of novels, but she’s accumulated an enviable number of awards and nominations, including the Ken Kesey Award and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award for the non-genre The Jump-Off Creek (also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award), and a James Tiptree, Jr. Award for SF novel Wild Life (2000). Her first novel Outside the Gates was published as a slender hardcover by Atheneum in 1986 (above left, cover by Michael Mariano), and Ursula K. Le Guin called it “The best first novel I’ve seen in years.” It has been out of print for over three decades, but Saga Press is finally rectifying that situation by reprinting it in January with a spare new cover by Jeffrey Alan Love (above right). Hard to say which one I like more; they’re both clear products of their time. Here’s the description.

Villagers were always warned that monsters live outside the gates, but when a young boy named Vren is cast out, he finds a home in the world beyond, in Whiting Award winner Molly Gloss’s classic fantasy novel.

Vren has always been told that the world beyond the gates of his village is one filled with monsters, giants, and other terrifying creatures. But when he confides with his family about his ability to talk to animals, he’s outcast to the very world he’s been taught to fear his whole life. He expects to die alone, lost and confused, but he finds something different altogether — refuge in a community of shadowed people with extraordinary powers.

Thirty years later, Molly Gloss’s dystopian fantasy novel is just as timely, poignant, and stirring as ever, in a brand-new edition!

This slender book is more a novella than a true novel; to sweeten the deal Saga is packaging it with Gloss’ 18-page story “Lambing Season,” which was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Outside the Gates was published by Atheneum in September 1986. It was 120 pages, priced at $11.95 in hardcover. It will be reprinted by Saga Press on January 1, 2019. It is 115 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition. See all our recent Tales of Two Covers here.


That’s All (for now)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

The Way I Feel

The Way I Feel

Over five years:

55 Short Story Roundups, each of at least four stories, making for a minimum of 220 reviewed. It’s probably at least half-again as many.

157 Book Reviews, including 11 books by Glen Cook, 7 by PC Hodgell, 7 by Andre Norton, 6 by TC Rypel

12 Essays

That’s how much I’ve written at Black Gate since my inaugural post, The Best New Sword & Sorcery of the Last Twelve Months. I should also add I co-wrote a review of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood books with Howard Andrew Jones and conversed with Adrian Simmons and Chris Hocking on the subject of CJ Cherryh’s award-winning Downbelow Station. I’m happy with most of the posts I’ve written and actually proud of more than a few of them. I bring this all up because I’ve decided it’s time to hang up my sword for at least a little while. I’ve reached the point where readingreviewingediting every week has become a grind. In fact it’s been a bit of a hard slog for a while now, which is why I mixed things up with classic sci-fi last year and the entirety of Glen Cook’s Black Company series this year. Both of those undertakings were a lot of fun. It’s been years since I’ve read any of those books. Some, like Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity, I had never read ever. Still, it wasn’t enough to thwart this hiatus.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the time doing these posts is a tremendous amount of fun. Discovering writers I didn’t know or had forgotten all about (or discovering those I had once loved who were better left forgotten) was a blast. If I hadn’t done these posts I probably would never have read Paul Kingsnorth or Tim Willocks or made friends with scores of fellow S&S fans out in the digital wild. Even the weakest books I read still offered me something: how to find the best parts of something bad and how to treat an author’s efforts with respect even if the end result was poor.

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Birthday Reviews: L. Sprague de Camp’s “The Figurine”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by John Bierley

Cover by John Bierley

L. (Lyon) Sprague de Camp was born on November 27, 1907 and died on November 6, 2000.

De Camp won his only Hugo Award in 1997 for his non-fiction book Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He also won the International Fantasy Award for the non-fiction book Lands Beyond, written with Willy Ley and won the British Fantasy Award for The Fallible Fiend. In 1996 he was recognized with the first Sidewise Award for Lifetime Achievement and in 2003 received a Southeastern SF Life Achievement Award. He was named a Grand Master of Fantasy with a Gandalf Award in 1976 and received a Forry Award in 1977. In 1979 SFWA named him a Grand Master and in 1984 he received a Life Achievement World Fantasy Award. H was inducted into the First Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1989 and, along with his wife Catherine Crook de Camp, earned a Gallun Award in 1993. SFRA presented him with a Pilgrim Award for lifetime contribution to SF and F scholarship in 1998. De Camp was the author Guest of Honor at Tricon, the 24th World Science Fiction Convention held in Cleveland in 1966.

“The Figurine” was first published in the February 1977 issue of Fantastic, edited by Ted White. De Camp included it in his 1980 collection The Purple Pterodactyls, which was translated into German in 1982 by Thomas Schlück. The story has not, otherwise, seen print.

A trip to Guatemala in “The Figurine” results in Willy Newbury returning home with a small statue of a god that he places in his office. His children begin to joke that the god is ruining the television reception and they jokingly give the god a sacrifice of some plastic flowers, which clears it up. Newbury doesn’t really believe that the statue has magical powers, but he brings it along on a business trip, where he finds himself in the middle of a riot. He jokingly offers to sacrifice a chicken to the statuette in return for escaping unharmed. When he manages to get away from the rioters and gets home, he suddenly finds that things that were working previously aren’t anymore, and the figurine is no longer fixing things for plastic flowers.

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Vintage Treasures: The Dreamhaven Box

Monday, November 26th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Windycon box-small

49 beautiful vintage paperbacks for $36, courtesy of Dreamhaven Books

On years I attend the World Fantasy Convention I don’t usually do Windycon, the local convention here in Chicago, the very next week. I don’t typically have the stamina for two back-to-back cons. But this year Richard Chwedyk, who runs the Saturday Writer’s Workshop at Windycon, asked me to fill in as a judge, and I learned that my friend Rich Horton and his wife Mary Anne were making the long drive from Missouri. So I decided to register for the con.

I made it to the Dealer’s Room only a few minutes before they closed Friday night. And who did I find in the back but the tireless Greg Ketter and his wife Lisa Freitag, manning the well-stocked Dreamhaven Books table. I’d seen both of them at World Fantasy, where they’d also had a table. They’d packed that up, driven from Baltimore to Minneapolis, and then here to Chicago — with brand new stock! Talk about stamina.

While we were chatting in front of their booth I discovered eight boxes at my feet, tightly crammed with paperbacks. “They’re all a dollar,” Lisa said, noticing my distracted gaze. “Less than that if you buy a bunch.”

Gentle reader, I bought a bunch.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Back Deck Pulp #3

Monday, November 26th, 2018 | Posted by Bob Byrne

DBP_DeckBushEdited“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

Hopefully, discerning reader of this column…

What? No, there is no guest poster this week. I wrote the column. Really? Well, I’m SOOO sorry you’re disappointed that I’m actually writing my own essay for my own column this week. The hardboiled genre is full of setbacks and kicks in the teeth. You just have to overcome.

Anywhoo…as I was saying: by now, you are aware that I put up posts on my Facebook page under the moniker, Back Deck Pulp. They usually relate some tidbit to something I’m reading for this column, and I include a picture – usually taken out on my back deck. Thus, the title. The first two Back Deck Pulp essays were ‘as is.’ I’ve added a little context this time, to help. I hope it does, anyways. So, read on!

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Birthday Reviews: Frederik Pohl’s “Bialystok Stronghead and the Mermen”

Monday, November 26th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Frank R. Paul

Cover by Frank R. Paul

Frederik Pohl was born on November 26, 1919 and died on September 2, 2013.

Pohl won the Hugo Award seven times. He won for Best Professional Magazine from 1966-1968 for If, each time beating himself for his work on Galaxy. In 1973, he won his first fiction Hugo for the short story “The Meeting,” in collaboration with the late C.M. Kornbluth. The story tied with R.A. Lafferty’s “Eurema’s Dam.” He won the Hugo for Best Novel in 1978 for Gateway and a second short story Hugo in 1986 for “Fermi and Frost.” In 2010 he won his last Hugo, for Best Fan Writer. Pohl won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in consecutive years for Man Plus and Gateway. His novels Gateway and The Years of the City both won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Gateway also won the Prix Apollo and Jem won the American Book Award. In 1996, Pohl won the Clareson Award from the Science Fiction Research Association.

Pohl received the first Skylark Award from NESFA in 1966. In 1989, he was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was named a Grand Master by the SFWA in 1993, received the Forry Award from LASFS in 1994, and the Milford Award in 1995. In 1998 he received the Gallun Award from I-Con and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Writers and Illustrators of the Future and from the Prix Utopia in 2000. In 2009, he was awarded the Eaton Award and in 2013 was recognized for Distinguished Service by the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He was a Guest of Honor at LACon I, the 30th Worldcon, held in Los Angeles in 1972.

“Bialystok Stronghead and the Mermen” was written for the bid to host the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago. It was the first of several stories commissioned by the bid from a variety of authors for promotional purposes and was given out at various conventions. Pohl’s story was the first to appear and has not been reprinted. Pohl, and later authors, were asked to write a story which featured a lantern-jawed super-scientist with the initials B.S., his brilliant girlfriend Elaine (Pohl supplied the last name, used throughout the series), and the arch villain Dr. D. Vice.

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A High-Octane Thriller in a Post-Pretty World: Imposters by Scott Westerfeld

Sunday, November 25th, 2018 | Posted by Elizabeth Galewski

Impostors Scott Westerfeld-small Impostors Scott Westerfeld-back-small

Bullets fly as an assassin shoots up the ballroom with an assault rifle. On stage, teenager Frey huddles behind a fallen table with her twin sister Rafia, taking cover. Rafia just finished delivering her first public speech when the attack began. In the audience, people die.

Frey has been training for this moment her entire life. She’s probably going to fall under the bullets, but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that does is saving Rafia. Grabbing her military-grade pulse knife, she rises from the table and rushes the gunman.

He never even has a chance.

Frey isn’t just her sister’s body double. She’s also Rafia’s secret last line of defense. She knows how to use every weapon with lethal force, as well as every quotidian object – scarves, tablets, vases. Rafia was born twenty-six minutes before her, so she’s the heir. Their father, a ruthless dictator, rules over the city-state of Shreve.

Successfully taking down the assassin, Frey feels giddy with triumph. Finally, she has done what she was born to do. Better yet, the way the attack went down, no one saw there are two Rafias. The secret of Frey’s existence has been preserved.

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New Treasures: The Nissera Chronicles by Hannah West

Sunday, November 25th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Kingdom of Ash and Briars-small Realm of Ruins-small

I’m still not done unpacking my free book bag from the World Fantasy Convention, but the wheels of publishing stop for no man. Review copies continue to pile up at the Black Gate headquarters, and they demand attention. At least, that’s what Realm of Ruins did when I pulled it out of an envelope on Tuesday, anyway.

First, Daniel Burgess’ cover is great. He also did the cover for the first volume, Hannah’s debut novel Kingdom of Ash and Briars, released by Holiday House in 2016. I was completely unaware of that book until Tuesday but, second, there’s ample praise for it on the back of Realm of Ruins, including a snippet from this starred review from Kirkus:

Bristal, a teenage kitchen maid, never expected to survive being forced into the Water, a pool designed to prove that a mortal may be an elicromancer, an ancient breed of ageless and immortal beings that once populated the realm of Nissera. But she does.

With elicrin stone in hand, Bristal is thrust from the Water, proving her birthright as an elicromancer. With Bristal’s true identity revealed, the last two remaining elicromancers, Brack and Tamarice, materialize to rescue Bristal from kidnappers. They begin to train her to use her gift as a Clandestine: the ability to transform into any human or animal form… Greatly influenced by the likes of “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Hua Mulan,” and arguably Harry Potter, debut author West mixes fairy-tale charm with contemporary mysticism to create a world both terrifying and wonderful… Sweet romance and strong supporting characters complete this impressive debut.

Third, all the Black Friday madness put me in a buying mood. so I ordered a copy of the first book yesterday. Will it turn out to be as lightly sweet and charming as promised, or was I just another victim of unchecked consumerism? Stay tuned to find out.

Realms of Ruins goes on sale December 4th. Here’s the description for the first book.

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Birthday Reviews: Poul Anderson’s “The Valor of Cappen Varra”

Sunday, November 25th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Hannes Bok

Cover by Hannes Bok

Poul Anderson was born on November 25, 1926 and died on July 21, 2001.

Anderson won the Hugo Award for Short Fiction for “The Longest Voyage” and “No Truce with Kings.” He won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette for “The Sharing of Flesh,” “Goat Song,” and “Hunter’s Moon.” Anderson won the Hugo for Best Novella for “The Queen of Air and Darkness” and “The Saturn Game.” Both of those novellas and “Goat Song” also earned the Nebula Award. His novel Hrolf Kraki’s Saga won the British Fantasy Award and his novel Genesis won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. His novel Tau Zero was recognized with a Seiun Award and A Midsummer Tempest won the Mythopoeic Award. Four of his works won the Prometheus Award: Rader to the Stars, The Star Fox, The Stars Are Also Fire, and “No Truce with Kings.” He received a Forry Award in 1968, was named a Grandmaster of Fantasy with a Gandalf Award in 1978, a Skylark Award in 1982, was named a Grand Master by the SFWA in 1998, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2000, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prometheus Awards in 2001. He was the guest of Honor at Detention, the 17th Worldcon in Detroit in 1959. He has published under the pseudonyms Winton P. Sanders, A.A. Craig, and Michael Karageorge. He frequently collaborated with his wife, Karen, and with Gordon R. Dickson, Gergen, F.N. Waldrop, Midred Downey Broxon, and Gordon Eklund.

“The Valor of Cappen Varra” initially appeared in the January 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe, edited by Hans Stefan Santesson. It was reprinted by L. Sprague de Camp in the anthology Swords and Sorcery: Stories of Heroic Fantasy and by Anderson in his collection Fantasy and later The Armies of Elfland. Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois used the story in their anthology Bestiary! The story has been reprinted in a chapbook on its own as well as with other stories by Anderson. It has been included in the Anderson collection The Star Beast and Other Tales and in Wildside Press’s The Third Golden Age of Science Fiction Megapack. It was translated into German in 1973 and into French in 1988.

I was first introduced to Cappen Varra as a character in Robert Lynn Asprin’s anthology Thieves World, not realizing that he had a history prior to that story. In fact, 22 years before Cappen Varra showed up in Sanctuary, Anderson described his adventures amongst a northern tribe in “The Valor of Cappen Varra.” With the introduction of Cappen Varra into Asprin’s world, it seems Anderson imported the world of the earlier story entirely, although it wasn’t referenced again.

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Fantasy on an Postapocalyptic Frontier: The Raven’s Mark Trilogy by Ed McDonald

Saturday, November 24th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Blackwing-small Ravencry-small

Ed McDonald’s debut novel Blackwing is a curious mix of genres. Set on a postapocalyptic frontier, it’s a gritty fantasy of a bounty hunter caught in an attack that may signify an end to a century-long peace. Anthony Ryan (Tower Lord, Queen of Fire) calls it “A remarkably assured fantasy debut that mixes of the inventiveness of China Miéville with the fast paced heroics of David Gemmell,” and that’s a pretty rousing endorsement in my book.

Blackwing was published by Ace in October 2017, and slid under my radar. Ace sent me a copy of the sequel Ravencry this summer, and it intrigued me enough to go searching out the first book. The concluding volume, Crowfall, arrives in June. Here’s the book blurbs for all three.

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