Future Treasures: In the Night Woods by Dale Bailey

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

In the Night Wood Dale Bailey-smallI’ve been writing about short fiction at Black Gate for over a decade, and over those years the name Dale Bailey keeps popping up.

He’s had a successful series of tales inspired by 50s monster movies (“I Married a Monster from Outer Space,” “Teenagers from Outer Space,” “I Was a Teenage Werewolf,” and “Invasion of the Saucer-Men”) in Asimov’s, Nightmare and Clarkesworld, and his fiction has appeared in many Year’s Best volumes. His novels include The Fallen (2002), House of Bones (2003), and The Subterranean Season (2015).

His latest is In the Night Woods, forthcoming from John Joseph Adams Books. The Kirkus review is pretty tantalizing:

Bailey’s novel has every aspect of gothic horror: the drafty manor, the shady servants, the tortured protagonists. The writing is dense with allusions and details, the narrative twisting and turning in the same way the Night Wood distorts the senses of anyone who wanders into it. The writing does get a bit convoluted and hard to follow at times, but it’s in keeping with the atmosphere of subtle dread that permeates the novel. The book is surprisingly short, and there’s a lot of buildup to a very quick climax… The succession of reveals in the frantic last 30 or so pages, however, is tense and disturbing, satisfying for any horror fan.

A modern gothic horror done right.

We previously covered Bailey’s 2015 collection The End of the End of Everything.

In the Night Woods arrives from John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 9, 2018. It’s 224 pages, priced at $23 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Andrew Davidson. Read more here.

Here’s the publisher’s description.

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New Treasures: The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The End of the End of Everything Dale Bailey-small

I don’t keep on top of modern horror and dark fantasy as much as I should, but I do make an effort to get the collections everyone is talking about. That means Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters, Laird Barron’s The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, John Langan’s The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies, Simon Strantzas’ Burnt Black Suns, and Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off. And the last one on my list was The End of the End of Everything, Dale Bailey’s second collection (following his 2003 Golden Gryphon volume The Resurrection Man’s Legacy and Other Stories). I’ve been hearing great things about Bailey for over a decade, and I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for a while. But it was James Patrick Kelly’s gonzo blurb that finally made me pull the trigger:

Here are nine gorgeously-written and closely-observed tales of ordinary people trying to hold it together when everything is falling apart. I’ve been a story aficionado for several decades now and I can’t think of a more accomplished master of the fantastic short form. Prepare to hunt feral Girl Scouts! Pack your bags for a dinosaur safari! Invite friends to your end of the world party! Dale Bailey is the poet of the apocalypse; his stories are guaranteed to haunt you.

If I ever get around to writing a book — or anything, really — I want James Patrick Kelly writing all my blurbs.

The End of the End of Everything was published by Arche Press on April 9, 2015. It is 229 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $3.99 for the digital version. The cover art is by Galan Dara. Click the image above for a bigger version.

Celebrating a Decade of Excellence: Clarkesworld Year Ten, Volumes One & Two, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld Year Ten Volume One-small Clarkesworld Year Ten Volume Two-small

Covers by Shichigoro-Shingo and Rudy Faber

Clarkesworld editors Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace have had a busy year.

For one thing, they’ve published a full 12 issues of one of the most acclaimed science fiction magazines on the planet. For another, there’s all those conventions, nominations, and shiny awards to keep them occupied — including a Best Editor Hugo nomination for Neil, a Hugo nomination for Simone Heller’s “When We Were Starless” (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018), and a World Fantasy Award win for Kij Johnson’s novella “The Privilege of the Happy Ending” (Clarkesworld, Aug. 2018). On top of that, Neil was presented with the 2019 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for distinguished contributions to the science fiction community at the Nebula awards weekend in May, one more award to polish on his mantlepiece.

They also have their own projects — Sean edits the fine magazine The Dark and runs Prime Books, and Neil has produced a pair of anthologies this year, The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Four and The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction.

But in addition to all of that, Neil and Sean are also keeping up a hectic pace of Clarkesworld annual anthology volumes — four in the past two months alone. Clarkesworld Year Ten, Volumes One & Two, containing a year’s worth of fabulous tales from 2015 & 2016, were published on October 3, 2019; Clarkesworld Year Ten, Volumes One & Two followed less than a month later, on November 1, 2019. I’m not sure how they do it, but someone should create an award for science fiction overachievement, and give it to both of them. If they can get either one of them to stop moving long enough to accept it.

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New Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019, edited by Rich Horton

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019-smallThe latest volume of Rich Horton’s Year’s Best snuck up on me. I know, I’m supposed to be on top of these things. For some reason I was expecting it later in the year, but it popped up in my Amazon cart last week, in stock and everything.

Rich produces my favorite Year’s Best every year, but hasn’t always seemed totally comfortable with all the trappings of being an editor. He hasn’t shown the same enthusiasm for lengthy introductions or Yearly Summations that Gardner Dozois famously did, for example. But in the last few years Rich seems to have really found his voice, and these days I find I really enjoy his intros. He avoids Gardner’s critical edge, for example, focusing instead on the collegial nature of the science fiction community.

This year he gives an affectionate shout out to his nominal competitors for your Best of the Year dollars, including editors Jonathan Strahan, Ellen Datlow, Neil Clarke, and even Gardner, who passed away last year, shortly before his Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection was released, ending an era. Have a look.

There are a lot of Best of the Year volumes in our field, and frankly I recommend them all. One of the features of SF in 2018 is how much of it there is. There’s enough short fiction that the Hugo shortlist can very nearly ignore men, and still be mostly full of strong stories. (There are a couple of duds, but so it always was.) There’s enough that both the Hugo and Nebula shortlists can completely ignore the traditional print SF magazines (F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone, let’s say), and still be mostly full of strong stories. How then to resolve that issue? Read as many of the Best of the Year volumes as you can, I say! (And, hey, why not subscribe to one of the print magazines, if that’s possible? And try some original anthologies as well.)

The main distinction, of course, for each of these books is the editor’s individual tastes. (Or so Hannibal Lecter tells us)… if I think my book is the best — and I do! — it’s for the obvious reason that my personal taste aligns pretty closely with the editor’s! But that said, I am abashed year after year to realize that Jonathan or Ellen or Neil or one of the other editors, (or, sigh, Gardner!) has chosen a gem or two I really should have taken myself.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents for the 2019 volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy.

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New Treasures: Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories edited by Ellen Datlow

Sunday, September 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Echoes The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories-small Echoes The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories-back-small

Saga Press has produced some really extraordinary Saga Anthology volumes over the last few years, all edited by John Joseph Adams. They include:

Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams (2015)
What the #@&% Is That?: The Saga Anthology of the Monstrous and the Macabre, edited by John Joseph Adams (2016)
Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies, edited by John Joseph Adams (2017)

Last week saw a massive new entry in their annual anthology series. Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories collects brand new stories (and three reprints) by a Who’s Who of modern horror writers: John Langan, Nathan Ballingrud, Paul Tremblay, Pat Cadigan, Seanan McGuire, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Bowes, Gemma Files, Nick Mamatas, Terry Dowling, Aliette de Bodard, Dale Bailey, Alice Hoffman, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, M. Rickert, and many others. It’s a feast for horror fans, in a year that hasn’t seen many decent scary anthologies. Over at Tor.com, Lee Mandelo already has an enthusiastic review.

Echoes is an absolute behemoth of an anthology… Some are ghost stories with science fictional settings, others purely fantastical, others still realist — but there’s always the creeping dread, a specter at the corner of the story’s vision. The sheer volume of work Datlow has collected in Echoes fills out the nooks and crannies of the theme with gusto… I was immensely satisfied by the big tome, and I’d recommend it for anyone else who wants to curl up around a spooky yarn — some of which are provocative, some of which are straightforward, all of which fit together well.

Here’s a few of Lee’s story recommendations.

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You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bookshelf: John DeNardo on the Best June Science Fiction & Fantasy

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Girl in Red Christina Henry-small The Iron Dragon's Mother Michael Swanwick-small Wastelands The New Apocalypse John Joseph Adams-small

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with John DeNardo, the most well-informed man in science fiction (way back in March, if you must know, when he recommended Titanshade and A Memory Called Empire to us.) John never slows down, and at the beginning of the month he surveyed the best new science fiction and fantasy arrivals in his regular column at Kirkus Reviews. Here’s a few of the highlights, starting with a post-apocalyptic version of Little Red Riding Hood from Christina Henry.

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry (Berkley, 304 pages, $16.00 in trade paperback/$11.99 digital, June 18, 2019)

With The Girl in Red, Christina Henry one again proves that retellings don’t necessarily lack originality. (Her previous re-spins of classic stories include 2015’s Alice, 2016’s Red Queen, 2017’s Lost Boy, and 2018’s The Mermaid.) In this post-apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood, a Crisis has decimated much of the world population, forcing survivors to huddle in quarantine camps. But that doesn’t mean that the woman in the red jacket is helpless against the new kind of monster that the Crisis has created.

Next up is Michael Swanwick’s long-awaited sequel to his World Fantasy Award nominee The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993), which came in #2 in the voting for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and The Dragons of Babel (2008).

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Alien Artifacts, Cosmic Mystery, and an Impossible Murder Weapon: July/August Print Magazines

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction July August 2019-small Analog Science Fiction and Fact July August 2019-small Alfred Hitchcock 's Mystery Magazine July August 2019-small

Nick Wolven and Leah Cypess both have stories in Asimov’s SF and Analog this month, which is quite an accomplishment. Chris Willrich, whom BG readers will remember from his story “The Lions of Karthagar” in Black Gate 15, has a short story in Asimov’s, with the intriguing title “Fragments from the Library of Cygnus X-1.”

Asimov’s also manages to cram two long novellas in the July/August double issue, by Suzanne Palmer and Tegan Moore, alongside fiction by Ian McHugh, Harry Turtledove, Dominica Phetteplace, Bruce Boston, and others. Analog has an even more impressive line up, with tales from Greg Egan, Paul Di Filippo, Catherine Wells, Joe M. McDermott, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Vester, Buzz Dixon, and others.

And although I don’t usually buy mystery magazines, I added Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to the pile at the checkout counter this month, mostly because of the cover. I’ll let you know what I think.

All three are published by Dell Magazines. As usual, all have detailed summaries at their respective websites. Here they are.

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The Tome of the Living Dead: Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! edited by Otto Penzler

Saturday, January 5th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!-small Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!-back-small

For Christmas this year I got Alice a copy of The Big Book of Female Detectives, a 1136-page anthology edited by Otto Penzler. It’s the 13th (I think?) of Penzler’s massive pulp-style anthologies from Vintage, which he’s published one per year (roughly) since 2007. I’ve been cataloging them here as I stealthily acquire them all. They are:

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps — 2007
The Vampire Archives — 2009
The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories — 2010
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! — 2011
The Big Book of Adventure Stories — 2011
The Big Book of Ghost Stories — 2012
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries — 2013
The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries — 2014
The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories — 2015
The Big Book of Jack the Ripper — 2016
The Big Book of Rogues and Villains –- 2017
The Big Book of Female Detectives — 2018

An oversight in my survey so far has been Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!, Penzler’s 2011 tribute to everyone’s favorite undead (“It’s so good, it’s a no-brainer.”) This one is packed with stories by Stephen King, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, HP Lovecraft, Hugh B. Cave, Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, Robert McCammon, Theodore Sturgeon, Seabury Quinn, Gahan Wilson, Ramsey Campbell, Micheal Swanwick, Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Rasnic Tem, Dale Bailey, Edgar Allen Poe, and many, many more — including a complete novel by Theodore Roscoe, Z is for Zombie (1989). I ordered a copy last year, and it turns out to be just as much fun as the previous volumes. Packed with fascinating intros and delicious pulp spot art, it makes an irresistible addition to your horror collection.

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Future Treasures: Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by Irene Gallo

Friday, August 31st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Worlds Seen in Passing Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction-smallTor.com is one of the finest genre websites on the planet. Originally created to promote Tor Books, it has taken on a very substantial life of its own, with news, art, commentary, thoughtful re-reads of many of my favorite novels (and more than a few that I’ve overlooked)… and especially fiction. It’s become widely renowned for its top-notch fiction, from many of the biggest names in the genre.

How did it all start? Tor.com publisher Irene Gallo tells all in the Preface to Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, a feast of a book collecting 40 of the best stories published at the site over the years.

Tor.com celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 20, 2018 — the forty-ninth anniversary of the first manned moon landing. It started out innocently enough. In 2006, our publisher, Fritz Foy, while attending the Tor Books holiday party, pulled Patrick and Theresa Nielsen Hayden and me aside and said he wanted to create “a river of conversation, art, and fiction” within the SF/F community — an online magazine that crossed the borders between publishers and media.

It took us a couple years to get off the ground. During that time, whenever we felt lost in the process, we’d come back to the word “genuine.” We wanted to build a place that treated science fiction and fantasy (and related subjects) with gravitas and humor, a place to have fun without shying away from weightier, more thoughtful subjects. In short, we wanted to build a place where we wanted to hang out…

We knew from the start that fiction was always going to be at the heart of Tor.com. As publishers it made sense, but also… the entire site is dedicated to storytelling. Of course we wanted fiction to be our focal point. We have since published hundreds of original stories, along with art, reprints, comics, and poems — all of which are a source of pride for us, as well as bringing enjoyment to our readers.

This is a very substantial volume — 567 pages! — and it’s packed with fiction from the best writers in the industry, including Kathleen Ann Goonan, Jeff VanderMeer, Leigh Bardugo, Lavie Tidhar, A.M. Dellamonica, Dale Bailey, Tina Connolly, Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, Genevieve Valentine, Kij Johnson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Rachel Swirsky, Ken Liu, Ruthanna Emrys, Isabel Yap, Helen Marshall, Pat Murphy, Kameron Hurley, Yoon Ha Lee, N. K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Charlie Jane Anders, and many, many others.

Here’s the publisher’s description.

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Hugo Nomination Thoughts, 2018

Sunday, March 4th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

Shiny Hugo Awards

Time for my annual post on what I’m thinking about for Hugo nominations. As ever, I’ll caution that I have read a lot of short fiction, but that I am less up on the other categories. I have seen a fair quantity of movies, too, however.

Let me reiterate something I said last year – though I participate with a lot of enjoyment in Hugo nomination and voting every year, I am philosophically convinced that there is no such thing as the “best” story – “best” piece of art, period. This doesn’t mean I don’t think some art is better than other art – I absolutely do think that. But I think that at the top, there is no way to draw fine distinctions, to insist on rankings. Different stories do different things, all worthwhile. I can readily change my own mind about which stories I prefer – it might depend on how important to me that “thing” they do is (and of course most stories do multiple different things!) – it might depend on my mood that day – it might depend on something new I’ve read that makes me think differently about a certain subject. And one more thing – I claim no special authority of my own. I have my own tastes, and indeed my own prejudices. So too does everyone else. I have blind spots, and I have things that affect me more profoundly than they might affect others. I’ve also read a lot of SF – and that changes my reactions to stories as well – and not in a way that need be considered privileged.

Anyway, as ever, in the lists below, I’ll suggest somewhere between 3 and 8 or so items that might be on my final ballot. Those will be in no particular order. And the other stories I list will all really be about as good – and I might change my mind before my ballot goes in.

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