Goth Chick News: The (Hot, Vampire) Boys Are Back in Town

Thursday, January 31st, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Lost Boys for Goth Chick News

Long before new-age, flannel-wearing vampire Edward Cullen pouted and emo’d his way through not drinking blood in the Twilight series, there were the dangerously sexy boys from Santa Carla who introduced the 80’s to motorcycle-riding vampires with incredible fashion sense.

The Lost Boys premiered in the summer of 1987 with the tag line, “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die,” basically summing up every 80’s kid’s deepest desires. Though The Hunger arguably provided vampires with their first 20th century panache, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland brought us the idea of a teen-vamps in all their dark, leather-clad, bad-boy glory; effectively changing the genre forever by then giving rise to the Joss Whedon-helmed television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its subsequent universe.

Two unfortunate and highly-forgettable sequels followed, neither of which managed to capture the magic of the first. Lost BoysThe Tribe (2008) saw the return of only one original cast member, Cory Feldman, and tried to make up for its shortcomings of pretty much ripping off the original plot, by throwing in a whole lot of skin. Lost Boys – The Thirst followed two years later with Feldman still in tow and fared slightly better with fans, but it was clear the whole concept either needed to be dropped, or get a reboot for the 21st century.

And voila… here we go.

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Future Treasures: Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks

Thursday, January 31st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Break the Bodies Haunt the Bones-small Break the Bodies Haunt the Bones-back-small

Chicago is being crushed by record-breaking cold this week. Trains aren’t running, the post office isn’t delivering mail, and I haven’t gone to work for two days.

But it’s a great time to cuddle under blankets with a good book. What kind of book do you read when it’s bone-chillingly cold outside? A bone-chilling book, of course. Micah Dean Hicks’ horror debut Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones, “set in the creepiest screwed-up town since ’Salem’s Lot” (Sci Fi Magazine), looks like a perfect pick. It arrives in hardcover next Tuesday. Here’s the description.

Swine Hill was full of the dead. Their ghosts were thickest near the abandoned downtown, where so many of the town’s hopes had died generation by generation. They lingered in the places that mattered to them, and people avoided those streets, locked those doors, stopped going into those rooms… They could hurt you. Worse, they could change you.

Jane is haunted. Since she was a child, she has carried a ghost girl that feeds on the secrets and fears of everyone around her, whispering to Jane what they are thinking and feeling, even when she doesn’t want to know. Henry, Jane’s brother, is ridden by a genius ghost that forces him to build strange and dangerous machines. Their mother is possessed by a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. In Swine Hill, a place of defeat and depletion, there are more dead than living.

When new arrivals begin scoring precious jobs at the last factory in town, both the living and the dead are furious. This insult on the end of a long economic decline sparks a conflagration. Buffeted by rage on all sides, Jane must find a way to save her haunted family and escape the town before it kills them.

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones will be published by John Joseph Adams Books on February 5, 2019. It is 298 pages, priced at $24 in hardcover and $12.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Chris Thornley. See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming fantasy here.


Today with Mr. Rivets

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Mr. Rivets promo card c1954

It was front page news in the Pocono Record, serving Stroudsberg, PA, on August 8, 1955. The headline read: “‘Mr. Rivets’ Show Filmed for Television/At Waterfront Farm Near Marshalls Creek.” Intrepid Record reporter Leonard Randolph drove his ancient station wagon the seven miles from town to check out the famous Philadelphia television star for the locals.

Look, I says to an intelligent-looking young boy of about seven standing near a tree, what’s this Mr. Rivets like?

In the manner children reserve for their plodding elders, the boy turned and said, he’s funny.

He turned back to the tree. Another man, standing nearby, spoke up, rather ill-advisedly it turned out. Well, he says, what makes him funny?

The boy fixed this innocent bystander with a gaze you might imagine someone giving to a soggy pork chop left over from lunch three days before. What makes anything funny? he asked.

That answer is so perfect that I’m tempted to end this article here, even before the Read More jump. What can I say that would top such wisdom? Nevertheless, join me after the jump and I’ll fill in the backstory of “Television’s original mechanical man.”

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Ballantine/Del Rey

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Darrell K. Sweet

Cover by Darrell K. Sweet

The World of Science Fiction

The World of Science Fiction

Cover by Doug Beekman

Cover by Doug Beekman

Peter Graham is often quoted as saying that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12. I was reminded of this quote last year while reading Jo Walton’s An Informal History of the Hugo Awards (Tor Books) when Rich Horton commented that based on Graham’s statement, for him, the Golden Age of Science Fiction was 1972. It got me thinking about what science fiction (and fantasy) looked like the year I turned twelve and so this year, I’ll be looking at the year 1979 through a lens of the works and people who won science fiction awards in 1980, ostensibly for works that were published in 1979. I’ve also invited Rich to join me on the journey and he’ll be posting articles looking at the 1973 award year.

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Book Publisher Award dates back to 1972, although in 1975 and 1976 the Publisher Award was split into paperback and hardcover categories. Ballantine Books won the award each year from its inception through 1977 (winning the paperback for the two experimental years with the Science Fiction Book Club winning the hardcover award). In 1978, when Del Rey was established as an imprint of Ballantine, Ballantine/Del Rey began winning the award. The award was not presented in 1979 for works published in 1978, but when it was reinstituted in 1980, Ballantine/Del Rey picked up its winning streak. In 1980, the Locus Poll received 854 responses.

Del Rey published eight hardcovers in 1979, including Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonquest, Katherine Kurtz’s Camber of Culdi, Roger Zelazny’s Roadmarks, Han Solo at Stars’ End and Han Solo’s Revenge, by Brian Daley, and Dark Is the Sun and The Lovers, by Philip José Farmer. The three trade paperbacks they published included a reprint of Raymond Healy & J. Francis McComas’s landmark anthology iAdventures in Time and Space, the collection The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle, and Lester del Rey’s non-fiction work The World of Science Fiction: 1926-1976: The History of a Subculture. They also published more than 100 mass market paperbacks with several, such as McCaffrey’s Dragonflight and Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Power That Preserves having multiple reprints throughout the year.

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Exploring the Weird through Poetry: Spectral Realms

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Spectral Realms 9

I’m not much a poetry buff, I admit. But I want to be.

Coincidentally, I’m also a huge fan of Hippocampus Press, whom I first discovered when I stumbled on their amazing booth at the World Fantasy Convention in 2015. I’ve been sampling more and more of their wares over the years. BG blogger James McGlothlin famously labeled them “A very excellent publisher, and at the forefront all things Lovecraftian and weird – new and old,” but in the last few years they’ve been expanding well beyond their original Lovecraft-esoterica focus with popular titles such as Simon Strantzas’ collection Burnt Black Suns, John Langan’s acclaimed The Wide, Carnivorous Sky, and John Langan’s upcoming Sefira and Other Betrayals.

One way to make modern poetry more accessible to casual readers like me is to package it in an attractive and easy-to-read package, and that’s precisely what Hippocampus has done with their bi-annual weird poetry journal Spectral Realms. It’s been published since Summer 2014, and the 9th issue (above) includes poems by John Shirley, Ashley Dioses, Fred Chappell, Darrell Schweitzer, Wade German, K. A. Opperman, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and many others. As usual, it also includes a few classic weird poems and non-fiction articles as well.

Issues are perfect bound, 130+ pages, and retail for $10 — and frequently have terrific art, like the wraparound piece above by Daniel V. Sauer. You can order copies (with free shipping) right from their website, as well as through online booksellers like Amazon.

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Read an Excerpt from Howard Andrew Jones’ Upcoming For the Killing of Kings at Tor.com

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

For the Killing of Kings Andrew Jones

Howard Andrew Jones upcoming novel For the Killing of Kings is the finest thing he has ever written — and considering his previous books include the modern fantasy classics The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones, that’s saying a great deal. It is the opening volume The Ring-Sworn Trilogy, and one of the major fantasy releases of the year. I had a chance to blurb the hardcover release from St. Martin’s Press, and did so enthusiastically. Here’s what I said:

For The Killing of Kings is a white knuckle murder mystery brilliantly set in a Zelazny-esque fantasy landscape. It has everything ― enchanted blades, magic rings, edge-of-your seat sword fights, Game of Thrones-scale battles, ancient legends… It is the finest fantasy novel I have read in years.

The Tor.com excerpt features one of my favorite scenes, as Kyrkenall and Elenai approach a strange tower and find it defended by a mysterious ring of obelisks… and something far more sinister. Read the complete chapter here.

If you find yourself captivated by the excerpt, you won’t have long to wait. For the Killing of Kings will be published by St. Martin’s Press in three weeks, on February 19, 2019. It is 368 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover artist is uncredited. In addition to the exclusive Tor.com excerpt, you can also read the first chapter at the Macmillan website here, and keep up with the latest news at Howard’s website here.


New Treasures: Breach by W.L. Goodwater

Monday, January 28th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Breach W L Goodwater-smallFantasy comes in all shapes and sizes. I enjoy epic fantasy (like The Lord of the Rings), sword & sorcery, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, dark fantasy, weird westerns, and virtually everything in between. But more and more these days I find myself drawn to work that truly strikes out into new territory.

W.L. Goodwater’s debut novel Breach is a great example. It was published late last year by Ace, and is described as the opening novel in a new Cold War fantasy series, in which the Berlin Wall is made entirely of magic. When a breach unexpectedly appears, spies from both sides descend on the city as  World War III looms ever closer.

I discovered Breach almost wholly by accident, as I browsed the shelves at B&N a few weeks ago. I knew nothing about it, and the cover didn’t particularly grab me. But the brief blurb on the back cover did, pretty much immediately. As modern fantasy goes, this is about as original as it gets. This is the kind of book that kicks off a whole new sub-genre. Alternate history political thriller fantasy? Cold War apocalypse fantasy? Whatever; I’m on board. Here’s the blurb that grabbed my attention.

AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.

When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now, after ten years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable…

THE WALL IS FAILING.

While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to either stop the crisis, or take advantage of it.

Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and determine if it can be fixed. Instead, she discovers that the truth is elusive in this divided city — and that even magic itself has its own agenda.

THE TRUTH OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.

Breach was published by Ace on November 6, 2018. It is 336 pages, priced at $16 in paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Pete Garceau. See all our recent New Treasures here.


Hither Came Conan: Jason M Waltz – “The Tower of the Elephant”

Monday, January 28th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

The great Mark Schultz

The great Mark Schultz

Every Monday morning for Hither Came Conan, a Robert E. Howard expert looks at the merits of one of the original Conan stories from REH. Up this week is Jason M Waltz with “The Tower of the Elephant.”

The Tower of the Elephant is #1!

That’s the chant I heard rising above the darkened canopy shrouding the mighty yews and other overgrown vegetation blocking any chance I might have had to see the Pictish village. The heavy hand upon my shoulder kept me from ever knowing if the wattle huts truly stood there, cavernous doorways gaping wide like entrances to giant earthworm tunnels, shadowed gates to a scarcely known past few dared to poke and muck about in.

Pulled backward until I was off my feet and set hard upon the trunk of a fallen giant, I craned to my left to see my captor. A mane of black hair, shaggy strands barely covering the flash of sullen eyes, twisted away, the hand that had never left my neck squeezed tight, forced my face forward. A downward glance caught a mighty foot and shin of brown skin girthed in high-strapped sandals, before they too were snatched from my sight by that iron grip jerking my head upright. A chuckle sounded low behind me, shook the arm up which it traveled till I shook as well.

“You’ve been asking which of my tales is best; none better to tell you than those who know me best. A man’s story is only as good as his foes tell it, after all. You think these Picts will praise the tales within which I slaughter them? Ha! Those are the tales they tell their whelps over the fires to hone their hatred. Their favorite tales, the ones they retell strangers, are my adventures outside their territories.

“Now my favorites are those times with Bêlit, my queen…” A gigantic sigh echoed, followed by a shake of that mane and a rueful laugh. “Ah, if only I’d met the elephant-man later, there is much I might have asked. But it is he who taught me to open my eyes, he who made me take heart.

“The best of my tales? It must be “The Tower of the Elephant”, all else follows, for I’d not be the man I am without it.”

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Dreams More Perfect Than Your Own: J.G. Ballard: The Complete Short Stories, Volumes One & Two

Sunday, January 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

JG Ballard The Complete Short Stories Volume One and Two-small

In the world of science fiction, J.G. Ballard is a Big Deal.

His early work includes the novels The Wind from Nowhere (1962), The Drowned World (1962), and High-Rise (1975), and the seminal collection Vermilion Sands (1971). Outside science fiction, Ballard is also a Big Deal. His 1984 novel Empire of the Sun, loosely based on his experiences as a child in Shanghai during Japanese occupation, was described by The Guardian as “the best British novel about the Second World War” and filmed by Steven Spielberg in 1987, starring a young Christian Bale. His influence on modern literature has been powerful enough that “Ballardian” has become a common term, defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity…” He died in 2009.

Ballard’s short fiction, virtually all of it SF, is some of the most vital and studied science fiction of the 20th Century. His stories “Souvenir” (1965) and “Myths of the Near Future” (1983) were nominated for the Nebula Award, and his collections — including Passport to Eternity (1963), The Terminal Beach (1964), Vermilion Sands (1971) and Chronopolis and Other Stories (1971) — are very highly regarded. In 2006 Harper Perennial published J.G. Ballard: The Complete Short Stories in two thick volumes in the UK; they were reprinted in 2014 by Fourth Estate with an introduction by Adam Thirlwell. There aren’t a lot of writers for whom it pays to read their complete short work; Ballard I think is the exception.

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Embers to Ashes: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Sunday, January 27th, 2019 | Posted by Thomas Parker

Earth Abides-small Earth Abides-back-small

Maybe it’s just the times we live in, but I increasingly find myself drawn to narratives of defeat: Confederate military memoirs, histories of the Decline and Fall of This and That, accounts of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow or Custer’s Last Stand. I suppose that’s why this summer, forty years after I blew it off when it was assigned in one of my first college classes, I finally got around to reading Earth Abides.

George R. Stewart’s 1949 post-apocalyptic novel is one of the most famous one-offs in the history of science fiction; it won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951, and in all the decades since, the book has rarely been out of print.

Stewart was primarily an English professor and historian and an only occasional novelist. In his first specialty he wrote books on English verse technique and composition; in the latter his most well-known works are a history of the Donner party, Ordeal by Hunger (1936), and a finely detailed, minute-by-minute account of the climax of the battle of Gettysburg, Pickett’s Charge (1959). Storm (1941) and Fire (1948), two novels Stewart wrote before his sole foray into science fiction, show his concern with large, impersonal forces and their effects on the enduring land and the ephemeral creatures that inhabit it. His most famous book takes that scientific detachment and interest in process many steps further, to powerful effect.

Earth Abides tells the story of Isherwood Smith, a young college student who lives in Berkeley, California. When the book begins, Ish is camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, doing the fieldwork necessary for his graduate thesis, The Ecology of the Black Creek Area, intended to be an investigation of “the relationships, past and present, of men and plants and animals” in the region. The thesis will never be written, though Ish will spend the rest of his life wrestling with fundamental questions regarding the connections between human beings and the natural world they so briefly occupy.

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