Vintage Treasures: The Perfect Lover by Christopher Priest

Saturday, July 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Perfect Lover Christopher Priest-small The Perfect Lover Christopher Priest-back-small

Cover by Walter Bachinsky

Christopher Priest is one of the most celebrated modern British science fiction authors. He won a World Fantasy Award for his 1995 novel The Prestige (filmed under the same name in 2006 by Christopher Nolan, with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale), the British Science Fiction Award award for Best Novel no less than four times (for Inverted World, The Extremes, The Separation, and The Islanders), and he’s been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Non-Fiction Book (that last one for his epic expose on Harlan Ellison’s Last Dangerous Visions, The Book on the Edge of Forever).

But in the mid-70s he was still a young SF writer trying to make a name for himself, building on the Campbell nomination for his second novel Fugue for a Darkening Island (1972) and the BSFA win and Hugo nomination for his third, The Inverted World (1974). His fifth novel, A Dream of Wessex, is the one I want to talk about today. It was a very early take on virtual reality — published a full 30 years before the first Oculus Rift prototype.

A Dream of Wessex is the tale of a group of volunteers who create a utopian consensus VR world where they’re unable to remember their past lives. It appeared in the UK in 1977, and was published in the US by Dell under the name The Perfect Lover. Here’s an excerpt from the Kirkus Review of the novel in December of 1977.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll

Saturday, July 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Janice Bogstad

Janice Bogstad

Janus 15, Cover by Jeanne Gomoll

Janus 15, Cover by Jeanne Gomoll

Jeanne Gomoll

Jeanne Gomoll

The Fan Activity Achievement Award (FAAN) were presented from 1976 through 1980 to recognize achievement by those who write, edit, and illustrate fanzines. The awards were revived in 1994 and have presented every years since, with the exception of 1996. The Best Fan Editor Award was only presented during the initial run of the award from 1977 to 1980. It was won in each of the first two years by Rob Johnson. Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll won the FAAN Award for Best Editor in both 1979 and 1980 for their editorial work on the fanzine Janus. They were also nominated in both those years (as well as 1978) for the Hugo Award.

Janice Bogstad began editing the fanzine Janus in 1975. She was joined in editorial duties by Jeanne Gomoll with issue 2 and the two co-edited the zine from 1975 through 1980, producing a total of 18 issues of the fanzine. The zine was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo three times, in 1978, 1979, and 1980. When Bogstad and Gomoll decided to stop editing the zine, the editorial duties to Diane Martin, who continued publishing another 8 issues between 1981 and 1990 under the auspices of SF3, although name of the fanzine was changed to Aurora. Following the publication of Janus, Bogstad began publishing the zine New Moon in 1981.

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Transformed: A Primer on Minister Faust

Friday, July 26th, 2019 | Posted by ZZ Claybourne

The Coyote Kings Book One-small The Coyote Kings Book One -back-small

The Coyote Kings, Book One: Space-Age Bachelor Pad (Narmer’s Palette, February 2013)

In a career that has seen the author tackle fan boy culture (both the good and the bad of it), superhero deconstruction, immigration & enculturation, and gritty space opera that fixes what George Lucas tried to do with the Wars prequels, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad (since re-released as The Coyote Kings, Book 1: Space-age Bachelor Pad, as the author is currently working on the hugely-anticipated book 2) began author Minister Faust’s cult journey, and he’s blazed new indie trails ever since. Are you a fan of smart and subversive? Faust is one of the best in the business. One line into Kings and I was hooked.

In advance, shut up. I know epilogues go at the end. My point here, which should have been obvious in my opinion, is that I am telling you some of the end of this story so as to get you to comprehend the mindset under which I am currently operating and during which I am escaping.

Here’s a writer who manages to pack more imagination and mega-wattage of writing into a single page than most writers get out of an entire series, turning every book he writes into a full-body experience. Also? Humor. Faust is funny as hell. Even in what I consider to be his masterpiece, The Alchemists of Kush, a book that can shatter and rebuild you if you let it, he’s fully aware that the broken and confused laugh on the darkest of days. Maybe especially then.

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Goth Chick News: Hanging with the Paranormal Cirque

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Paranormal Cirque 4

I love it when ‘scary’ engulfs something one would normally not associate with the haunt industry. I’ve been to a haunted flea market, played haunted mini golf, and even been onboard a haunted cruise. And though the circus, or at least carnivals, have their own creepy vibe, spectacles like Cirque du Soleil have generally remained wholesome, light-hearted, family entertainment. Okay, there is that Zumanity show which brought a blush even to my pallid cheeks, but it exists only in Las Vegas, making it less unexpected.

But last weekend I attended my first ever, ‘over 18’ haunted circus event, complete with zombies, vampires and clowns. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Paranormal Cirque.

This honest-to-goodness traveling circus takes place under a ginormous black and red (what looks like) latex tent, kicking off your experience with a vaguely S&M vibe. The outer vestibule is like a mini haunted house populated by “freaks” who jump at you, scream at you, thrust chainsaws at you and generally prod you down the connecting hallway into the main tent with elevated seating on three sides of a center stage (ring?).

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Sam Moskowitz’s Classics of Science Fiction

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sam Moskowitz History of Science Fiction-small

Sam Moskowitz was one of the great science fiction historians. A writer, editor, and collector extraordinaire, he was the chairman of the very first World Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939. He was one of the first nonfiction writers to take the new field of science fiction seriously, and produced a number of anthologies and histories considered early classics today.

They’re also hard to track down, dammit. Especially his history of Science Fiction fandom, The Immortal Storm, which was printed in miniscule numbers in its original hardcover edition, and which today sells for, like, a billion dollars. It was never reprinted in paperback, unless you want to count the 1974 paperback Hyperion edition, which I didn’t even know existed until yesterday. What the hell, man. I could have saved myself a lot of collecting heartache if I’d known about this thing 20 years ago.

I discovered the Hyperion edition while I was researching Moskowitz’s Modern Masterpieces of Science Fiction, a 1965 anthology containing stories which, let’s just say, are no longer modern. But it’s still an excellent survey of early 20th Century SF, perfectly suited for a Vintage Treasures post. At least it was, until I discovered at the last minute that it was one of no less than six Moskowitz volumes published by Hyperion in 1974. So I guess I’m writing about them instead.

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A Feminist Retelling of Cinderella: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Galewski

Stepsister CoverIsabella is ugly and mean, and that’s why readers love her.

She isn’t pretty. She isn’t perfect. She likes things she’s not supposed to like, such as military history, swordplay, and horseback riding. She does things she’s not supposed to do. She says what she actually thinks, rather than what men want to hear.

Isabella’s nonconformity makes her a target. Her mother tries to control everything she does, shoehorning her into the rigid mold for a marriageable young woman. Acquiring a wealthy husband is the only acceptable future her mother can imagine in this patriarchal society.

Yes, Isabella knows she’s been a real bitch to Ella, her stepsister. But Ella is beautiful, sweet, and unfailingly pleasant. She always fits in. Men are eager to give her whatever she wants, including chocolate bonbons.

When the prince comes to their house with a glass slipper, looking for his lost love, her mother coerces Isabella to cut off her toes to fit her foot into the shoe. The prince and his retinue accept Isabella as the new princess until she’s walking to the coach, when her blood gives her away. The prince sets her aside and turns to leave, when Ella bursts out of the house.

There she is – the love he was looking for.

The captain of the guard comes forward with the glass slipper, nested on a pillow. He trips on something, falls… The glass slipper shatters.

But then Ella pulls its partner out of a pocket in her dress. It goes on her foot perfectly, as we knew it would.

Reunited, the prince and his beloved climb onto the coach and ride off into the countryside.

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Mystery on a Generation Starship: Medusa in the Graveyard, Book Two of the Medusa Cycle by Emily Devenport

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Medusa Uploaded-small Medusa in the Graveyard-small

Emily Devenport’s Medusa Uploaded, the opening novel in the Medusa Cycle, arrived last May to wide acclaim. Vulture called it one of the 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2018, SF Revu proclaimed it “One of the best generation starship novels,” and The Illustrated Page said it was “A fantastic, fast paced, twisty sci-fi thriller that builds mystery on top of mystery.” The sequel Medusa in the Graveyard arrived this week from Tor. In his weekly sum-up at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, Joel Cunningham gives it an intriguing write up. Here’s the detail.

Oichi Angelis was nothing but a worm aboard the generation ship Olympia, harmless until (literally) pushed too far (as in out of an airlock). With her band of insurgents, they led a revolution that put them in charge of the starship (see: the events of last year’s Medusa Uploaded); now, they’re headed deep into the Charon System in hope of uncovering a mystery that’s buried within Oichi’s DNA: three colossal sentient starships wait for them on the planet Graveyard, engineered by the same extinct race that made Oichi’s people. If the travelers are judged worthy, they’ll gain control of unimaginable power. Book two of the Medusa Cycle is just as dark, daring, and propulsive as the first.

Read Joel’s complete mid-July rundown — including a Mexican folklore-inspired epic from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Last Astronaut by David Wellington, and a brand new novella by our very own C.S.E. Cooney — here.

Medusa in the Graveyard was published by Tor Books on July 23, 2019. It is 304 pages, priced at $18.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. See all our coverage of the best new series SF and fantasy here.

Cover Reveal: The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, edited by Leslie S. Klinger

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

HP Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft

One of the most exciting books to cross my desk this summer was an advance proof of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham. It’s the follow-up to Leslie S. Klinger’s monumental 928-page The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, published by Liveright in 2014, which Harlan Ellison called “an Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature.” Beyond Arkham is an absolutely gorgeous book, packed with 22 more Lovecraft stories, including several of his most famous, and 200 vintage photographs and illustrations. Liveright gave us an exclusive sneak peek of the final cover, and it’s truly a work of art. We want to share it with you below. But first, here’s the description.

No lover of gothic literature will want to be without this literary keepsake, the final volume of Leslie Klinger’s tour-de-force chronicle of Lovecraft’s canon.

In 2014, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft was published to widespread acclaim― vaunted as a “treasure trove” (Joyce Carol Oates) for Lovecraft aficionados and general readers, alike. Hailed by Harlan Ellison as an “Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature,” the volume included twenty-two of Lovecraft’s original stories. Now, in this final volume, best- selling author Leslie S. Klinger reanimates twenty-five additional stories, the balance of Lovecraft’s significant fiction, including “Rats in the Wall,” a post– World War I story about the terrors of the past, and the newly contextualized “The Horror at Red Hook,” which recently has been adapted by best- selling novelist Victor LaValle. In following Lovecraft’s own literary trajectory, readers can witness his evolution from Rhode Island critic to prescient literary genius whose titanic influence would only be appreciated decades after his death. Including hundreds of eye- opening annotations and dozens of rare images, Beyond Arkham finally provides the complete picture of Lovecraft’s unparalleled achievements in fiction.

Ready? Feast your eyes on the beautiful cover for The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, arriving from Liveright on September 24.

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New Treasures: Sefira and Other Betrayals by John Langan

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sefira and Other Betrayals-small Sefira and Other Betrayals-back-small

John Langan is the author of the collections Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (2008) and The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (2013), and the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman (2016). His newest gathers eight stories from Ghosts by Gaslight, Black Wings 2, Supernatural Noir, and others, including an original novella, “Sefira,” and an original novelette, “At Home in the Devil’s House.” Rue Morgue Magazine says it’s “certain to solidify his place among the strongest voices in modern literary horror,” and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, saying (in part):

In the title tale, a woman tracks the femme fatale who has seduced her husband across the country, gradually acquiescing to the realization that her rival is a formidable succubus from time immemorial. “In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos” is a slice of supernatural noir whose characters are trapped in a web of double-crosses and deceptions designed to propitiate the dark forces controlling their fates. “At Home in the House of the Devil” features an appearance by Old Scratch himself as the personal tormentor of a man who abandoned his drug-addicted lover in her hour of need. Langan laces his tales with allusions to the work of Henry James and other heavyweight writers, but the horrors he evokes are unique to their stories, as in “Bor Urus,” in which the reality-bending storms its narrator chases seem an externalized expression of his own troubled psyche, and “The Third Always Beside You,” in which “the other woman” feeds vampirically off a marital relationship. This book is a treasure trove for lovers of literary horror fiction

Sefira and Other Betrayals was published by Hippocampus Press on April 20, 2019. It is 352 pages, priced at $20 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Santiago Caruso. Order copies directly from Hippocampus Press, and see all our coverage of Hippocampus recent releases here.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

A Letter from the Mighty Skull

Monday, July 22nd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3-small Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3 contents-small

Cover by Sanjulian

There’s been lots of buzz about the Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter here in the Black Gate offices. The first two issues — packed with sword & sorcery stories by James Enge, John C. Hocking, Chris Willrich, Howard Andrew Jones, C.L. Werner, James Stoddard, and Violette Malan — were a huge hit both with our staff and our readers. The brand new campaign to fund the third and fourth issues of the magazine wraps up this week, and it’s already been a huge success, more than quadrupling the stated goal of $7,500. There’s still time to pledge (and get the next two issues at a great price in the process).

Rumors were going around the office that if, using the usual arcane methods, you posed a question to the mighty Magician’s Skull before the campaign ended on Thursday, he would deign to answer (or perhaps destroy you — the specifics were lacking). You don’t get an opportunity to consult an ancient and powerful demigod like the Skull often, so I decided to chance it. It took longer than I thought to find a one-eyed toad, tie a note around his neck, and lower him into that well at midnight, but it paid off. This morning a pair of vultures delivered a parchment smelling of sulphur to my back window. Here’s what was scribbled on it.


Dare you ask why you should support my magazine? If you crave the finest of all fiction, which is sword-and-sorcery, then you should be well pleased by what I have wrought!

Last year I launched two glorious issues overflowing with thrilling adventures in time-lost lands. Now I have decreed that the magazine is to continue! My newest Kickstarter extends my vision for four more issues, and beyond! There was rejoicing in the streets at this announcement, and the Kickstarter funded upon its first day!

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