Future Treasures: The Golden Age of Science Fiction: A Journey into Space with 1950s Radio, TV, Films, Comics and Books by John Wade

Saturday, February 16th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Golden Age of Science Fiction A Journey into Space with 1950s Radio, TV, Films, Comics and Books-smallJohn Wade is the author of more than thirty books published in the US and the UK, including London Curiosities and The Ingenious Victorians. His newest is The Golden Age of Science Fiction: A Journey into Space with 1950s Radio, TV, Films, Comics and Books, a gorgeous hardcover that celebrates classic science fiction in all its forms. Well, the early forms that made vintage SF what it is, anyway.

John Wade grew up in the 1950s, a decade that has since been dubbed the ‘golden age of science fiction.’ It was a wonderful decade for science fiction, but not so great for young fans. With early television broadcasts being advertised for the first time as ‘unsuitable for children’ and the inescapable barrier of the ‘X’ certificate in the cinema barring anyone under the age of sixteen, the author had only the radio to fall back on – and that turned out to be more fertile for the budding SF fan than might otherwise have been thought. Which is probably why, as he grew older, rediscovering those old TV broadcasts and films that had been out of bounds when he was a kid took on a lure that soon became an obsession.

For him, the super-accuracy and amazing technical quality of today’s science fiction films pale into insignificance beside the radio, early TV and B-picture films about people who built rockets in their back gardens and flew them to lost planets, or tales of aliens who wanted to take over, if not our entire world, then at least our bodies. This book is a personal account of John Wade’s fascination with the genre across all the entertainment media in which it appeared – the sort of stuff he revelled in as a young boy – and still enjoys today.

Science Fiction has long been a genre of obsession, though modern fans have a healthy range of sub-genres to obsess over, like video games, anime, role playing games, comics, television, Marvel movies, Star Wars, toys, Star Trek, George R.R. Martin, and many others. In the 1950s there was just magazines, movies…. and radio.

The Golden Age of Science Fiction has a lot of appeal for me, since I hope it will be a look at the genre from a fresh perspective…. well, fresh to me, anyway. I don’t know much about classic SF radio and 1950s monster movies, I’m looking forward to it. It will be published by Pen and Sword Books on February 28, 2019. It is 240 pages, priced at £25.00/$42.95 US. Get more details at the Pen and Sword website here.

See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy releases here.


Slugs, Slime Trails, and the Muse: Can You Separate the Art from the Artist?

Saturday, February 16th, 2019 | Posted by Nick Ozment

BG John CarterMost of our participation in the Great Conversation these days is taking place, not in the halls of academia or in fireside clubrooms, but on social media virtual spaces like Facebook. One conversation that many people have been engaging in lately is prompted by the question “Can you separate the art from the artist?”

Another fact of our present moment is that the most sordid and intimate details of public figures are dragged into the light, subjected to intense scrutiny and immediate judgment. Some of our most beloved actors, our most cherished writers, our most celebrated musicians are suddenly being exposed as pariahs, shameful corrupted beings who must be exiled from the spotlight – and, possibly, from our bookshelves and our stereos and our movie streams.

It is not just entertainers currently in the spotlight who are subjected to this new scrutiny. We hear about how certain renowned science fiction writers of the past might have behaved like some of the characters on the TV show Mad Men. Do we jettison the touchstones they left us in disgusted protest? Reaching further back, can we still curl up for some chills with H.P. Lovecraft when we know he was a racist? Can we unabashedly thrill to the adventures of John Carter and Tarzan when we know Edgar Rice Burroughs reinforced some colonialist “great White savior” views?

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A World of Puzzles, a Society Based on Beauty, and a Space Princess: The Latest from Harper Voyager

Saturday, February 16th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Lost Puzzler-small Fearless Sarah Tarkoff-small Polaris Rising-small

Last Saturday, during my bi-weekly trip to our local Barnes & Noble, I picked up a copy of Rachel Dunne’s The Shattered Sun, published by Harper Voyager. In a brief post that afternoon I noted that a single publisher had dominated my attention as I browsed the shelves.

One thing I noticed this week is that half the books that caught my eye, including The Shattered Sun, the debut fantasy The Lost Puzzler by Eyal Kless, and the space opera Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik, were from Harper Voyager. Man, Voyager is really firing on all cylinders this season. I need to find out who the editors are over there.

A few keystrokes revealed that there are four editors at Voyager: Angela Craft, David Pomerico, Kayleigh Webb, and Pam Jaffee. There’s a great intro to the talented crew at their Meet the Team page, and a good intro to their current and future line-up here.

The books that commanded my attention that morning included The Lost Puzzler, Eyal Kless’ tale of a lowly scribe sent out in world full of puzzles, tattooed mutants, and warring guilds, to discover the fate of a child who mysteriously disappeared over a decade ago; Sarah Tarkoff’s Fearless, the sequel to last year’s Sinless, set in a near future where morality is rewarded with beauty, and crime with ugliness; and a space opera featuring rival houses, a rebellion, and a princess fleeing an arranged marriage: Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik. Here’s the back covers for all three.

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New Treasures: The Ingenious by Darius Hinks

Friday, February 15th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Ingenious-smallDarius Hinks has had a distinguished career as a fantasy writer. His first novel, Warrior Priest, won the Gemmell Morningstar award. Most of his fiction has been set in the Warhammer and Warhammer: 40K universes, including the Orion trilogy, Sigvald (2011), Blood of Sanguinius (2017), the just-released Mephiston: Revenant Crusade (Jan 8, 2019) and the upcoming Blackstone Fortress (May 14, 2019).

His latest novel (and the second of three planned for release this year) is his first non-licensed work, and it’s certainly the first to catch my eye. In his article “7 Impossible Fantasy Cities Worth the Visit” at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Sam Reader says:

Floating outside of time and space and only coming to rest once a year for the annual Conjunction — during which it adds new districts to itself — Athanor is a massive living city controlled by a secretive group of alchemists known as the Curious Men. While the danger of the place is immediately obvious within two chapters of Darius Hinks’ new novel — its lower levels are ruled by a twisted gang of mutants, the cops know how to hide a body way too well (and also all wear cultist uniforms), and one of the Curious Men has been straight-up murdering people with a skin-shroud so he can take control of and literally bend reality. At the same time, the place feels vibrant and alive in a way few fictional metropolises do, literally pulsing and teeming with life as it travels through and around spacetime. Its constantly changing nature gives it the sense of a wild, beautiful, protean place, its danger as seductive as it is horrifying.

Here’s the book description.

Political exiles are desperate to escape from the impossible city that imprisons them, in this bloody and brilliant epic fantasy

Thousands of years ago, the city of Athanor was set adrift in time and space by alchemists, called “the Curious Men.” Ever since, it has accumulated cultures, citizens and species into a vast, unmappable metropolis.

Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles live off petty crime and gangland warfare in Athanor’s seediest alleys. Though they dream of returning home to lead a glorious revolution, Isten’s downward spiral drags them into a mire of addiction and violence. Isten must find a way to save the exiles and herself if they are ever to build a better, fairer world for the people of their distant homeland.

The Ingenious was published by Angry Robot on February 5, 2019. It is 349 pages, priced at $12.99 in trade paperback. The cover is by John Coulthart. Read an excerpt from the first chapter here, and see all our recent New Treasures here.


Cual Es Su Direcho – Scenes In The Life Of A Fantasy Writer

Friday, February 15th, 2019 | Posted by Violette Malan

Alicante castlePeople, I could not make this stuff up.

Many of you know that my family is Spanish, and even though I was born in Canada I identify culturally as Spanish.

What you may not know is that recently my husband and I have been planning to move to Spain. Paul has wanted to move since our first visit there together, but to be honest, I wasn’t that keen – mainly because of the complexity of the Spanish infrastructure. Spain pretty much invented bureaucracy in the 1500’s figuring out how to deal with all that gold from the new world. I well remember the time I had to stand in 3 lines to buy stamps.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction” Dragondrums, by Anne McCaffrey

Friday, February 15th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Steve Weston

Cover by Steve Weston

Cover by Fred Marcellino

Cover by Fred Marcellino

Cover by Elizabeth Malczynski

Cover by Elizabeth Malczynski

The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. A Balrog Award for Novel was presented each of the years the award existed.

Anne McCaffrey first introduced her world of Pern in “Weyr Search,” the cover story of the October 1967 issue of Analog. Although the story had all the trappings of a faux Medieval fantasy tale, McCaffrey claimed from the very beginning that it was a science fiction story, a claim bolstered by its presence in Analog, a science fiction magazine. The story went on to win the Hugo Award and McCaffrey used it in her first Pern novel. By 1978, she had published three novels in the Dragonriders of Pern series and the first two novels in the related Harper Hall series, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. She had also clearly demonstrated the science fictional underpinnings of her world.

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Goth Chick News: When Pixar Met Christine…

Thursday, February 14th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Stranger Cars

Okay, admittedly I’m way late on this since it was uploaded to YouTube in October, but as it was just brought to my attention, and killer cars are always in vogue in my world, I had to share.

On the YouTube channel Fabulous Cars VEEVOOO, some complete genius took liberties with the John Carpenter classic Christine (1983) along with other vehicular horrors and “Pixarized” them. As you likely recall, Christine is the movie based on Stephen King’s story about a demonic 1958 Plymouth Fury of the same name, who was hard core in love with her rather backward teenaged owner and went about systematically destroying anyone who mistreated him or took too much of his attention.

If you haven’t read the book, trust me when I say it’s way more interesting than I’m making it sound, and this gem of a movie short has sent me back to read it again. If you ever fell in love with a car, you’ll get it.

The short, called Stranger Cars, has all the magic of Pixar with the imagination of John Carpenter, and blends them into one big Disney nightmare.

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Vintage Treasures: Doomsday Morning by C.L. Moore

Thursday, February 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Doomsday Morning-small Doomsday Morning-back-small

Art by Vincent DiFate

C.L. Moore is a name to conjure with. One of the finest early contributors to Weird Tales, she helped define and create the sword-&-sorcery genre alongside Robert E. Howard, with her tales of Jirel of Joiry. Her other great pulp hero was Northwest Smith, whose adventures have remained in print for the greater part of the past eight decades.

Perhaps best remembered today for her nearly career-long collaboration with her husband Henry Kuttner, Moore nonetheless made numerous major solo contributions to the genre, including the groundbreaking collections Judgment Night (1952) and Shambleau and Others (1953). Her last novel, Doomsday Morning (1957), would be called dystopian science fiction today. Something of a departure for Moore, it’s a more thoughtful and mature work that still reads well. Here’s an excerpt from Sandy Ferber’s review at the Fantasy Literature blog.

[Moore] capped off a glorious writing career with a solo SF novel, her last, Doomsday Morning.

A companion piece in title only to Moore’s 1943 novel Judgment Night, this is a very fine tale indeed. It is a bit unusual for the author in that its setting is not Venus, or deep space, or the distant future, or some unusually named fantasy world, but rather America — New York City and rural California, to be precise — of only 50 years in the future; in other words, around 2007, or right now! The America of Moore’s early 21st century has become a quasi-totalitarian regime run by a far-reaching entity known as Comus (short for Communications of the United States). This government department in essence controls not only all the communications in the country, but also the schools, transportation network, the hospitals, the entertainment industry, the military divisions, et al. Howard Rohan, a washed-up alcoholic wreck who had once been one of Broadway’s greatest stars, is pressured by Comus into putting on a traveling, open-air play called “Crossroads,” along with a troupe of five other actors, to entertain in California. That state, it seems, had been rebelling openly against Comus, and activists there had been purportedly hard at work perfecting some kind of “Anti-Com” device that might miraculously bring about Comus’ downfall. The story of how Rohan becomes a whole man again, after three years of grieving for his late wife, and how he becomes involved in nothing less than a second Revolutionary War of sorts, is the story of Doomsday Morning.

Read Sandy’s complete review here.

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Telepathic Invaders and Desperate Revolutionaries: The Shattered Kingdoms by Evie Manieri

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Blood's Pride Evie Manieri-small Fortune's Blight Evie Manieri-small Strife's Bane Evie Manieri-small

Every time a fantasy trilogy wraps up, we bake a cake in the Black Gate offices.

Evie Manieri’s The Shattered Kingdoms trilogy ends this month with Strife’s Bane, published in hardcover last week, four years after the last volume appeared. The series opened with Manieri’s debut novel Blood’s Pride (2013), the tale of a secret rebellion against telepathic warriors twenty years after they enslaved a nation, and continued with Fortune’s Blight (2015). Although it’s received praise from multiple quarters — Publishers Weekly says “The suspense, character development, and worldbuilding are all superior,” and Sharon Shinn called the opening novel “A fast-paced tale of honor and betrayal, hope and despair, secrets, revelations, and a whisper of divine magic”– the series has flown under the radar for many readers. Fortune’s Blight has only two reviews on Amazon, and (so far) Strife’s Bane has none at all — and has an Amazon Sales Rank of 932,782 a week after publication, not a promising sign.

I know there’s a popular trend (certainly among Black Gate readers, anyway) to stay clear of epic fantasy series until they’ve successfully completed. I hope that now that The Shattered Kingdoms has wrapped up, it will spur some fresh interest in the trilogy. Unlike many writers afflicted with late-series bloat, Manieri has kept her series lean. The first book in fact was by far the longest (528 pages); the second came in at 377, and Strife’s Bane weighs in at a trim 317. Here’s the description for the final book.

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Book of Space Adventures

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Book-of-Space-Adventures-1963-small

British kids thrilled to real-world rockets and space travel as did American kids. Sputnik conquered space in 1957. By 1963 both the Russians and the U.S. boasted about astronauts circling the Earth. Canada launched the Alouette 1, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to enter space, signals had been bounced off communications satellites, probes flew by the Moon and Venus. The Dyna-Soar project promised a reusable space craft that looked like the coolest rocket plane ever.

Publishers around the world jumped on the trend. A UK firm called Atlas Publishing & Distributing Ltd. wanted a piece. It released Book of Space Adventures, called on the inside the “Boys’ Book of Space : With factual features on the World’s space programme AND fictional adventures of SPACE ACE – intrepid Commander of the Galactic patrol”.

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