New Treasures: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Thursday, November 16th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Oathbringer-smallBrandon Sanderson is one of the most prolific writers in the genre. By any measure, he’s certainly one of the hardest working. Back in 2015 I estimated that he was producing, on average, 1,270 pages per year (not counting short stories and the like). His first novel of 2017, Oathbringer, the third novel in The Stormlight Archive, weighs in at a whopping 1,248 pages — and still manages to bring down his average.

Oathbringer is the sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling The Way of Kings (2011) and Words of Radiance (2014), both of which were over 1,000 pages in hardcover. The series is projected to be 10 volumes, over 10,000 pages, about ten times the length of The Lord of the Rings. Get a cozy reading nook for this one, you’re going to need it.

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together ― and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past―even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

Nice to see Michael Whelan do the cover art. The wraparound cover is quite striking; here’s a look at the entire piece.

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In 500 Words or Less … Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Friday, January 27th, 2017 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Calamity Brandon Sanderson-smallCalamity
By Brandon Sanderson
Random House (432 pages, $18.99 hardcover/$10.99 paperback, February 2016)

To begin, let’s cue the music:

Finally, I made it to Calamity, which concludes Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while because it’s the only series of Sanderson’s that I’ve really taken to; The Stormlight Archive tired me out halfway through the second book, and I haven’t felt the urge to start Mistborn. But the Reckoners trilogy is just a blast. It’s superhero YA, pulpy and exciting and admittedly un-scientific (which is a sort of running meta-joke among the characters) but with the sort of excellent character work that I look for in fiction.

The final installment doesn’t disappoint with regard to the above. Narrator David Charleston is just as optimistic, determined and corny as before, though he’s grown out of his quest for vengeance against the super-powered Epics that destroyed the world. Now that he’s saved one (and started dating her) he’s out to save another, his friend and mentor Prof, to prove that the Epics can learn to fight their darker impulses, like Anakin turning from the dark side (except more successful, hopefully).

What seems like a pretty straightforward storyline – find Prof, save Prof, then destroy the source of the Epics’ powers – goes in some unexpected directions, eventually losing momentum. Realizing that the solution to the Epics is even more complicated and out of reach than it’s painted at the start of the novel added an extra layer of tension that kept me up one night finishing off the damn thing so I could get some sleep.

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What Happens After the Greatest Con in History: The Quantum Garden by Derek Kunsken

Monday, October 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Quantum Magician-small The Quantum Garden-small

Covers by Justin Adams

Derek first appeared in Black Gate in issue 15 with his short story “The Gifts of Li Tzu-Ch’eng.” He’s been our regular Saturday evening blogger since 2013, producing nearly 150 articles on diverse topics such as web comics, Alan Moore, Star Trek, New York ComicCon, Percy Jackson, Science Fiction in China, and much more.

His first novel, The Quantum Magician, was published by Solaris on October 2, 2018. In his Black Gate review Brandon Crilly said,

The worldbuilding here is intricate, compelling and absolutely fascinating. From the moment concepts were introduced I wanted to know more, especially the different subsets of humanity that Künsken presents, each the product of generations of genetic manipulation. I mean, an entire population of neo-humans nicknamed Puppets because of their diminutive size, who double as religious zealots worshipping their divine beings’ cruelty? Or an intergalactic political hierarchy based on the economics of patrons and clients, complete with the inequalities and social issues you might expect?…

The core plot is a con game perpetrated by a team of ragtag scoundrels, trying to sneak a flotilla of warships through a wormhole controlled by another government… but don’t ask me to explain more than that. Künsken does an amazing job of presenting a bunch of quirky protagonists who play off each other well, but the characters that stand out do so powerfully; between that and the rich worldbuilding of things like the Puppets, I forgot about that flotilla and the original aim of the con for a good third of the novel, until they came back into focus.

Much as I rooted for protagonist Belisarius (who would be the Danny Ocean of these scoundrels) and his partner/love interest Cassandra (who I suppose is Tess and Rusty from Ocean’s Eleven combined), the secondary characters stole the spotlight for me, particularly AI-on-a-religious-mission Saint Matthew and the creepily dangerous Scarecrow hunting these scoundrels down.

Solaris releases the sequel The Quantum Garden tomorrow. Here’s a look at the back cover.

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In 500 Words or Less: The Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff

Friday, February 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

An Ancient Peace Tanya Huff-small A Peace Divided-small The Privilege of Peace-small

The Privilege of Peace (Peacekeeper #3)
by Tanya Huff
DAW Books (352 pages, $7.99 paperback, $12.99 eBook, June 19, 2018)

I’ll often come back to one of my favorite lines from Peter Capaldi’s run as The Doctor:

Everything ends, and it’s always sad. But everything begins again, too, and that’s always happy.

It’s one of those simple quotes that applies to a lot in life, and guess what – it applies to writing and reading, too. As much as we clamor for the next book in a favorite series, eventually every series comes to an end (unless you decide to write Harry Bosch books into perpetuity or something) and then there’s a void, like a friend has gone away and you’re never going to see them again.

(Okay, yes, you can always reread the series again, but I’ve reread maybe three books in my life, so just work with me here.)

Last year, DAW Books released the last of Tanya Huff’s Torin Kerr novels (at least as far as she’s indicated), finishing the Peacekeeper trilogy with The Privilege of Peace. And man has this been a ride. I came to Tanya’s writing very late, when she was a Guest of Honor at Can*Con a few years ago, and devoured both the Confederation books and the Peacekeeper follow-up.

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Wordsmiths: An Interview with Waubgeshig Rice

Friday, February 8th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly


A while back at Can*Con 2017, I had the pleasure of meeting author and journalist Waubgeshig Rice for a panel discussion on post-apocalyptic fiction and First Nations perspectives in Canada. The panel came together partly because Waub was beginning to promote his then-forthcoming novel Moon of the Crusted Snow, which released in 2018 from ECW Press (and I reviewed a little while ago here). Despite being incredibly busy with different projects, Waub was game for a one-on-one interview to discuss Moon and some of his other work, which I’ve included in full below. Before that, here’s a little more information about Waub, courtesy of his website:

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community, and won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014. A French translation was published in 2017.

He got his first taste of journalism in 1996 as an exchange student in Germany, writing articles about being an Anishinaabe teen in a foreign country for newspapers back in Canada. He graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002. He currently works as a multi-platform journalist for CBC News in Sudbury, where he lives with his wife and son. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling.

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Adventure in One of the Most Famous Locales in Fantasy: The City of Brass by S. A Chakraborty

Friday, February 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The City of Brass-small The Kingdom of Copper-small

The fabled City of Brass, magical home to djinni and efreet, is the setting for but a single tale from The Arabian Nights, but it has nonetheless loomed large in readers hearts and minds through the centuries. For D&D players of course it has a special significance, as it features prominently in the history of the game (including on the famous cover of Gary Gygax’s Dungeon Masters Guide). But no modern writer has laid claim to it as passionately and as effectively as S. A Chakraborty, with her bestselling debut novel The City of Brass, named one of the Best Books of 2017 by Library Journal, Vulture, The Verge, and SYFYWire.

Some of you may recall Brandon Crilly’s enthusiastic review of The City of Brass at Black Gate. Here’s the highlights.

Chakraborty creates a world that’s nuanced and detailed. It has exactly the vivid freshness we continue to need in the fantasy genre, as a balance for the variations on the same Eurocentric worldviews that are still widely common…. But the novel is much more than its world – at the end of the day, my interest is always characters. Our two main protagonists, Cairo street urchin Nahri and immortal warrior Dara, are great counterparts; they’re equally passionate and protective, but in different ways, and both are seeking to find their place in the world… The City of Brass is excellent. It’s rare that I find a fantasy novel that’s so vividly detailed.

Last week the sequel The Kingdom of Copper, the second novel in what’s now being called The Daevabad Trilogy, arrived in hardcover from Harper Voyager. Here’s the description.

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Future Treasures: Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds

Friday, January 4th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Revenger-Alastair-Reynolds-medium Shadow Captain Reynolds-small

Alastair Reynolds’ Revenger was one of the most acclaimed SF novels of 2016. It was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and won the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book. SFX called it “By far the most enjoyable book Reynolds has ever written,” and The Guardian labeled it “”A swashbuckling thriller — Pirates of the Caribbean meets Firefly.” In his enthusiastic review for Black Gate, Brandon Crilly said:

Reynolds’ work is always fast-paced and interesting, weaving the detailed science with just enough of the fantastic to add that sense of wonder and a perfect balance of action and character work. Revenger, for example, has the pacing of Firefly or Star Wars, so that even as he’s explaining the steampunkiness (is that a word?) of the starships and personal technology in the novel, you’re never mired in an info-dump or bored by too much scientific description, just to understand how everything works.

Revenger is particularly good because it’s a very human story: it focuses on two sisters who want to escape their homeworld and sign on with a starship crew not for pure escapism like Luke Skywalker, but specifically to earn money to help their father’s struggling business. What begins as a story of adventure and wild-eyed wonder as these sisters get to know their very first crew becomes a dark and harrowing tale almost immediately, as Reynolds takes his protagonists through multiple twists and unexpected locales.

The long-awaited sequel Shadow Captain will be published by Orbit on January 15, 2019. It is 448 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. Get more details and read the complete first chapter here.

Handling Wonderful Changes: The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken

Sunday, October 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Quantum Magician-medium The Quantum Magician-back-small

Black Gate has some of the best writers in the business, and we’re always proud when one of our bloggers has a new publication. But we’re doubly pleased when one of our writers produces a debut novel — and especially one as widely acclaimed as The Quantum Magician, by our Saturday blogger Derek Künsken.

The Quantum Magician was published in trade paperback by Solaris earlier this month, and it’s already won rave accolades from writers such as Yoon Ha Lee, and Cixin Liu, who said “Technology changes us — even our bodies — in fundamental ways, and Kunsken handles this wonderfully.” In his Black Gate review Brandon Crilly called it “intricate, compelling and absolutely fascinating,” and in a feature review at Locus British SF writer Adam Roberts wrote:

This debut novel will do well. It is a fat, fun SF heist-thriller, a sort of Ocean’s 2487… We’re in a 25th century in which humanity has spread to the stars, enabled by wormhole gates left over from a long vanished interstellar civilization. Access to these gates is, as you’d expect, tightly controlled, and when a group wants to smuggle a fleet of advanced spaceships across the galaxy without paying the requisite fee, they approach the galaxy’s finest con-man, Belisarius Arjona, for help. Belisarius gets the gang back together one last time to pull off the most audacious heist of his career… Künsken has a wonderfully ingenious imagination.

Derek first appeared in Black Gate in issue 15 with his short story “The Gifts of Li Tzu-Ch’eng.” He has been our regular Saturday evening blogger since 2013, writing some 128 articles for us. The Quantum Magician was published by Solaris on October 2, 2018. It is 475 pages, priced at $11.99 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Justin Adams.

Interested in keeping up to date on the latest from BG bloggers and staff? We do our best to share  news with you here, and you always see the latest from our talented crew by reading posts with the BG Staff tag.

The Strangest Alien: Julie E. Czerneda’s Esen-alit-Quar Returns in Two New Books

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Webshifters Julie E Czerneda-small

Julie E. Czerneda is one of the leading SF writers of the 21st Century. A biologist by trade, she’s brought a unique appreciation for the far-ranging possibilities of extraterrestrial biology to her fiction, and the result has been some of the most joyously alien characters in all of modern SF. One of her most popular characters is Esen-alit-Quar, the alien protagonist of the Web Shifters trilogy (Beholder’s EyeChanging Vision, and Hidden in Sight), published by DAW between 1998-2003. Who or what is Esen? Here’s Julie, in an essay she wrote for The Little Red Reviewer.

Short answer? A blob of blue, shaped like a teardrop. Who happens to be a semi-immortal shapeshifter. Who has really good intentions… but is working on her life skills.

Writing Esen’s attempts to protect life in the universe – or at least keep it civil – makes me happy and always has. As it turned out, Esen made you happy too, dear readers. I’ve received more feedback and love from you for the Dear Little Blob than for all my other work combined.

For those unfamiliar with my work, I’m a biologist by training, an optimist by preference, and have been writing the stories I want to read for quite a while now, thanks to Sheila Gilbert and DAW Books. If you read and enjoy my other SF, you’ll find Esen’s stories funnier, with more aliens and their worlds, but with no less — and sometimes more — heart. I came across this email from Tanya Huff the other day, about Esen’s first book. “…this was so much fun. It reminded me of all the reasons why I started reading SF in the first place.” Yup. Grinning.

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Experience an Alternate History Space Program with Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut Series

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky

Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2014 (after some shenanigans that caused it to be weirdly disqualified in 2013). All that — not to mention her other accolades, including multiple Nebula nominations for her popular Glamourist Histories fantasy series — helped make it one of the most talked-about SF stories of the last decade. Read the complete text at

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” is the tale of Elma York, who led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars, and the impossible decision she faces when she’s given the opportunity to return to space years later. Mary returns to the world of “Lady Astronaut” with her debut science fiction novel The Calculating Stars, available tomorrow from Tor Books. Fast on its heels is the sequel The Fated Sky, shipping in August. offered us the following teaser back in September.

The novels will be prequels, greatly expanding upon the world that was first revealed in “Lady Astronaut.” The first novel, The Calculating Stars will present one perspective of the prequel story, followed closely by the second novel The Fated Sky, which will present an opposite perspective — one tightly woven into the first novel. Kowal elaborates: “The first novel begins on March 3, 1952 about five minutes before a meteorite slams into the Chesapeake Bay and wipes out D.C. I’ve been doing historical fantasy and I keep saying that this is historical science fiction, even though I know full well that ‘alternate history’ is already a genre. It’s so much fun to play in.”

Omnivoracious selected The Calculating Stars as one of 15 Highly Anticipated SFF Reads for Summer 2018, and just today the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog picked it as one of the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of July

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