The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Amazons!, edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Sunday, December 8th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Michael Whelan

Cover by Michael Whelan

The World Fantasy Award was established in 1975 as part of the World Fantasy Convention. Seen as a fantasy version of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards (neither of which are strictly for science fiction), the nominees and winners are selected by a panel of judges, although currently, two positions on the ballot are opened up to nominations from members of the World Fantasy Convention. The Anthology/Collection Award was presented from 1977, when it was won by Kirby McCauley for Frights, through 1987 when James Tiptree, Jr. won it for Tales of the Quintana Roo.  For two years prior to the award’s establishment, a Best Collection Award was presented. In 1988, Best Collection and Best Anthology were each split out into their own categories and remain so until this day. Originally, the trophy was a Gahan Wilson created grotesque bust of H.P. Lovecraft. In recent years as more and more authors, fans, and winners of the award spoke out against Lovecraft’s misogyny and racism, the trophy was replaced by a sculpture of a tree created by Vincent Villafranca. In 1980, the award was won by Jessica Amanda Salmons for the anthology Amazons!

Salmonson’s introductions to each of the stories are lengthy and provide insight not only into the stories that follow, but also her process in creating the anthology. She discusses her motives for putting the book together, her reasons for selecting the specific stories, related anecdotes about how the stories came to her and, in the case of Charles Saunders’ story, addresses the fact that only one story by a male writer appears in the anthology.

Following the general introduction by Salmonson, in which she discusses both historical and mythological warrior women, the book presents the short story “The Dreamstone,” by C.J. Cherryh, which the author would eventually combine with her novella “Ealdwood” and publish as the novel The Dreamstone in 1983.

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Vintage Treasures: The Tomorrow’s Warfare Anthologies, edited by Joe Haldeman, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin Harry Greenberg

Sunday, November 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Body Armor 2000-small Supertanks-small Space-Fighters-small

Covers by Walter Velez

One of the things I miss about modern publishing is mass market anthologies. There’s still loads of anthologies being published, of course — we’ve covered dozens in just the last few months — but most come from small presses, and all of them are in hardcover or trade paperback. Casual buyers just don’t buy short fiction these days. Certainly not in enough volume to make inexpensive paperback anthologies viable, anyway. Which is a shame, since there were a ton of ’em in the 70s and 80s, and it was pretty much the way you discovered new authors back then. This fact was not lost on publishers, and the savvy ones — like Ace and DAW — promoted their stable of authors pretty regularly in themed anthologies.

Take the Tomorrow’s Warfare trilogy of anthologies, for example. Edited by the powerhouse trio of Joe Haldeman, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin Harry Greenberg, they appeared between 1986-88 from Ace Books. Each followed a loose future-war theme, and each was packed with stories from the top writers in the industry.

And such stories! A Hugo-nominated Alliance-Union novella by C. J. Cherryh, a Hammer’s Slammers novella by David Drake, the complete short novel Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny (a 1968 Hugo nominee), a Bolo story by Keith Laumer, a Berserker novelette by Fred Saberhagen, the original short story “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, an Instrumentality of Mankind tale by Cordwainer Smith, plus stories by Gene Wolfe, Harry Harrison, George R. R. Martin, Robert Sheckley, Gordon R. Dickson, Terry Carr, Christopher Anvil, Joe Haldeman, Edward Bryant, Ben Bova, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Keith Laumer, Ian McDonald, and many, many more.

Anthologies like this don’t exist in paperback anymore. But that’s okay, because I’m still discovering  the old ones — and they’re are still widely available, and they’re still cheap. I wasn’t even aware of this series until I stumbled on two of the three anthologies above in that gargantuan haul of $1 paperbacks I brought home from Windy City Pulp and Paper in April. And I just ordered the third one (Supertanks) on eBay for $1.94.

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Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2019 edited by Paula Guran

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2019

Usually when I write a Future Treasures piece, it’s about a book that hasn’t been published yet. And that applies in this case. The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2019, the tenth volume in Paula Guran’s excellent anthology series, definitely ain’t out yet.

Now, the official publication date was yesterday, so this is a little frustrating. I look forward to this book every year. It’s the companion to my favorite Year’s Best volume, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Paula is one of the most experienced editors in the business. She has a sharp eye for delightful and surprising fiction, and this year’s volume — with stories by Tim Powers, Jeffrey Ford, Simon Strantzas, Tim Lebbon, Naomi Kritzer, Mary Robinette Kowal, E. Lily Yu, Isabel Yap, Michael Wehunt, Steve Rasnic Tem, Brian Hodge, Robert Shearman, Angela Slatter, M. Rickert, and many others — looks like a terrific package. But despite having an official pub date of November 19, it’s listed as unavailable at every online outlet I’ve checked.

I assume this is something that the publisher, Prime Books, will sort out in the next few weeks (they usually do). In the meantime I shall wait patiently, as I look over the delicious Table of Contents with great anticipation. Here it is.

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New Treasures: The New Voices of Science Fiction edited by Hannu Rajaniemi & Jacob Weisman

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The New Voices of Fantasy-small The New Voices of Science Fiction-small

Covers by Camille André and Matt Dixon

Two years ago Tachyon published the groundbreaking anthology The New Voices of Fantasy, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman. It contained fiction by Sofia Samatar, Sarah Pinsker, Amal El-Mohtar, Hannu Rajaniemi, Carmen Maria Machado, and many others, and won the 2018 World Fantasy Award, beating out some very stiff competition. (See the complete TOC here.)

Since then I’ve been wondering when the companion volume would appear, and it has finally arrived. The New Voices of Science Fiction, edited by Hannu Rajaniemi & Jacob Weisman, contains 20 stories published in the past five years by the rising stars of SF, including the Hugo award winner “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer, Nebula winner “Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker, and Hugo and Nebula winner “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse, plus stories by Kelly Robson, Amal El-Mohtar, Rich Larson, Sam J. Miller, Lettie Prell, E. Lily Yu, and many others.

This looks like one of the major anthologies of the fall, and it has vaulted near the top of my TBR pile. It has already received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. Here’s a quick look at some of that early praise.

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A Four-Way Road to Darkness: The Pale Illuminations, edited by Robert Morgan

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 | Posted by Mario Guslandi

The Pale Illuminations-small

Dust Jacket Art by Paul Lowe

The Pale Illuminations
Edited by Robert Morgan
Sarob Press (145 pages, £35/$60 for a limited edition hardcover, September 2019)
Cover by Paul Lowe

Following up its long lasting tradition of providing elegantly produced volumes collecting old and new dark and supernatural stories, the excellent small imprint Sarob Press ( formerly based in the UK, then relocated in France) has just published a new anthology entitled The Pale Illuminations.

The book assembles four new stories ( one actually a novella) by four well respected authors of dark fiction, exploring the supernatural side of different geographical environments, where eerie mysteries are still lurking.

Peter Bell, a renowned author of refined modern ghostly tales, contributes “Labyrinth,” a complex, atmospheric novella set in the wilderness of the Peak District, where ancient worship, Roman old secrets and modern romance blend in a very disturbing, fascinating tableau.

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Future Treasures: The Best of Jerry Pournelle edited by John F. Carr

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best of Jerry Pournelle-smallJerry Pournelle was the author of the Falkenberg’s Legion series, including one of my favorite military SF novels, West of Honor (1976), as well as Janissaries, and dozens of other novels. He’s perhaps best remembered for his bestselling collaborations with Larry Niven, including The Mote in God’s Eye (1974), Lucifer’s Hammer (1977), and Footfall (1985), which contains a barely-disguised Robert A. Heinlein as a character. He died in 2017.

Pournelle was a controversial figure in SF. He was one of the writers who paid to have a pro-Vietnam War proclamation in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1968, and he described his politics as “somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan.” His novels, like The Legacy of Heorot (1987, written with Steven Barnes and Larry Niven) contain heroes who stroke their rifle lovingly, noting that they’ve never cared for a woman as much as they care for their guns. They contain lines that will make you drop the book on your foot.

Still, he was a tireless editor and short story writer. His anthologies include 2020 Vision (1974), a book that looked 46 years into the future, at the distant year 2020; Black Holes (1978), still one of the best introductions to the enigma of black holes in SF; the long-running Far Frontiers series (seven volumes, edited with Jim Baen), and ten volumes of a gonzo series that looked forward to future conflicts with near-sexual desire, There Will Be War (1983-2015).

Pournelle is not for everyone. Obviously. But he did produce some fine short fiction, much of it still worth a look today. Baen Books will release The Best of Jerry Pournelle next week, a fat 576-page collection gathering 15 stories — including a 162-page novella previously only available as an e-book, The Secret of Black Ship Island (2012, written with his long-time collaborators Steven Barnes & Larry Niven), and two previously unpublished stories.

It also contains some of Pournelle’s non-fiction (the preface to There Will be War, Volume I), and tributes by Larry King, David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Steven Barnes, and Robert Gleason.

Here’s the description, and the complete Table of Contents.

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The Boxed Set of the Year: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s edited by Gary K. Wolfe

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

American Science Fiction Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s-small

Cover by Paul Lehr

Gary K. Wolfe is one of my favorite Locus columnists. He also reviews science fiction for the Chicago Tribune and, with Jonathan Strahan, co-hosts the excellent Coode Street Podcast. But more and more these days I think of him as an editor. He edited the Philip Jose Farmer retrospective collection Up the Bright River (2011) and, even more significantly, American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s: A Library of America Boxed Set (2012), a massive 1,700-page, 2-volume omnibus collection of classic novels by Pohl & Kornbluth, Sturgeon, Brackett, Matheson, Heinlein, Bester, Blish, Budrys, and Leiber, all in gorgeous hardcover with acid-free paper, sewn binding, and full cloth covers.

So I was thrilled to hear that, seven long years later, Wolfe has fulfilled that promise of that first beautiful boxed set with a sequel: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s. Like the first, it will be sold as two separate hardcovers, and also available in a handsome boxed set edition. It contains eight of the finest SF novels of the 60s:

The High Crusade, Poul Anderson (1960)
Way Station, Clifford D. Simak (1963)
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1966)
…And Call Me Conrad (This Immortal), Roger Zelazny (1966)
Past Master, R. A. Lafferty (1968)
Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)
Nova, Samuel R. Delany (1968)
Emphyrio, Jack Vance (1969)

The whole package comes wrapped up in a boxed set featuring artwork from the brilliant Paul Lehr. It will be in bookstores on November 5th — and is available now at $15 below retail if you order direct from Library of America.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Scientifriction #11, edited by Mike Glyer

Sunday, October 13th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Scientifriction #11

Scientifriction #11

The Fan Activity Achievement Awards, or FAAN Awards were founded in 1976 by Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz. Created to highlight writing in fandom, they differed from the Fan Hugos in that they were voted on specifically by fanzine fans. The original awards were presented at various convention. Following the 1980 awards, the awards were on hiatus until 1994 and have been presented each year since, with the exception of 1996. Mike Glyer won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best Fanzine, Single Issue for Scientifriction #11. The first winner was Outworld #21/22, edited by Bill and Joan Bowers. The category was not revived after the hiatus, being replaced by the Best Fanzine category.

While Mike Glyer’s File 770 can be considered a newszine of the science fiction fannish community, his zine Scientifriction could be seen as an opinion related work, although it contained far more than simply opinion pieces. In issue 11, Glyer opened up with an inside-baseball discussion of a proposal to add a Non-North American zone to the then current three zone rotation for Worldcons. At the time the Worldcon would rotate between the Eastern US, the Western US, and the Central US, with foreign worldcons being allowed to bid for any year. The proposal would have added a fourth zone, limiting when foreign worldcons could be held, but ensuring one would be held every fourth year. The proposal raised quite a bit of debate, including the opinion that the change would actually further cement worldcon as a US event.

Glyer also published his own article on the game Hell is High, which he would later rework for the second issue of my own fanzine, Argentus, published 23 years later. Glyer’s description of the game mechanics, camaraderie, and rivalry make the evenings spent playing Hell Is High sound like a wonderful place and time to have been able to experience.

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New Treasures: Straight Outta Deadwood, edited by David Boop

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

Straight Outta Tombstone-smaller Straight Outta Deadwood-small

Cover art by Dominic Harman

I was impressed with David Boop’s 2017 anthology Straight Outta Tombstone, one of the better Weird Western volumes of the last few years. So I was excited to see the sequel, Straight Outta Deadwood, arrive this week from Bean. Boop gives us a taste of what to expect in his Foreword, “Histories Mysteries.”

My directive to all the authors in these anthologies [was] to give me the Old West the way it really was, where applicable. I wanted the history within to be accurate, the voices authentic… But I also asked them to give me, and you the readers, the world we wished to see: dragons flying overhead, or the ability to drink with dwarves, or hear how grandpappy fought off zombies in Deadwood…

For those of you who read read Straight Outta Tombstone, this second anthology is my Empire Strikes Back. It’s darker, and include a couple pieces that left me shaken afterward… Don’t worry if you get scared easily, though. I have broken the narrative up with humor, victories over evil, and gunfights.

Lots of gunfights.

There’s been a distinct lack of decent Weird Western recently, and Straight Outta Deadwood addresses that nicely. It contains brand new short fiction by Steve Rasnic Tem, Charlaine Harris, Stephen Graham Jones, Lacy Hensley, Jane Lindskold, Cliff Winnig, D.J. Butler, and many others. Here’s the complete table of contents.

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October 1 New Releases: Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss, and Hex Life, edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Aurora Blazing-small The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl-small Hex Life Wicked New Tales of Witchery-small

Welcome to October! It’s Release Day for a trio of terrific books, and I couldn’t decide which one to feature, so I’m going to cover them all. You’re welcome.

Let’s get right to it. The first one is the sequel to Jessie Mihalik’s debut novel, the space opera-romance Polaris Rising, which we covered back in February. Aurora Blazing (Harper Voyager, 400 pages, $16.99 trade paperback/$11.99 digital, October 1, 2019) is the second novel in The Consortium Rebellion.

As the dutiful daughter of High House von Hasenberg, Bianca set aside her personal feelings and agreed to a political match arranged by her family, only to end up trapped in a loveless, miserable marriage. When her husband unexpectedly dies, Bianca vows never to wed again. Newly independent, she secretly uses her wealth and influence to save other women stuck in dire circumstances. Information is power and Bianca has a network of allies and spies that would be the envy of the ’verse — if anyone knew about it.

When her family’s House is mysteriously attacked, Bianca’s oldest brother, the heir to House von Hasenberg, disappears. Fearful for her brother’s life, the headstrong Bianca defies her father and leaves Earth to save him. Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security — and Bianca’s first love — is ordered to find and retrieve the rebellious woman.

Ian is the last man Bianca wants to see. To evade capture, she leads him on a merry chase across the universe. But when their paths finally collide, she knows she must persuade him to help her. Bianca will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.

As the search takes them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely…

The third book in the series, Chaos Reigning, is tentatively scheduled for May 2020. Read the opening three chapters of the first volume here.

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