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Author: John R. Fultz

I've written stories for BLACK GATE, WEIRD TALES, SPACE AND TIME, LIGHTSPEED and others. My tales have appeared in the anthologies WAY OF THE WIZARD and CTHULHU'S REIGN, as well as various comic books including my own PRIMORDIA (with artist Roel Wielinga). A series of "Big Fantasy Novels" is forthcoming...
Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume One, edited by Laird Barron

Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume One, edited by Laird Barron

Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume One-smallYEAR’S BEST WEIRD FICTION, Vol. 1, edited by the great Laird Barron for Undertow Press, is scheduled for an August release. You can pre-order it right here. This will be a brilliant inauguration for the series. Each volume will be edited by a different “guest editor” and Undertow could not have made a better choice for their first book: Barron is one of the best weird/horror writers in the field. Here is the complete Table of Contents:

“Success” by Michael Blumlein, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov./Dec.
“Like Feather, Like Bone” by Kristi DeMeester, Shimmer #17
“A Terror” by Jeffrey Ford,, July.
“The Key to Your Heart Is Made of Brass” by John R. Fultz, Fungi #21
“A Cavern of Redbrick” by Richard Gavin, Shadows & Tall Trees #5
“The Krakatoan” by Maria Dahvana Headley, Nightmare Magazine/The Lowest Heaven, July.
“Bor Urus” by John Langan, Shadow’s Edge
“Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn, The Grimscribe’s Puppets
“Eyes Exchange Bank” by Scott Nicolay, The Grimscribe’s Puppets
“A Quest of Dream” by W.H. Pugmire, Bohemians of Sesqua Valley
“(he) Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror” by Joseph S. Pulver Sr., Lovecraft eZine #28
“Dr. Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron” by A.C. Wise, Ideomancer Vol. 12 #2
“The Year of the Rat” by Chen Quifan, The Mag. of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August.
“Fox into Lady” by Anne-Sylvie Salzman, Darkscapes
“Olimpia’s Ghost” by Sofia Samatar, Phantom Drift #3
“The Nineteenth Step” by Simon Strantzas, Shadows Edge
“The Girl in the Blue Coat” by Anna Taborska, Exotic Gothic 5 Vol. 1
“In Limbo” by Jeffrey Thomas, Worship the Night
“Moonstruck” by Karin Tidbeck, Shadows & Tall Trees #5
“Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks” by Paul Tremblay, Bourbon Penn #8
“No Breather in the World But Thee” by Jeff VanderMeer, Nightmare Magazine, March.
“Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” by Damien Angelica Walters, Shock Totem #7.

One Man’s Trash…

One Man’s Trash…

Seven SorcerersWhen I was growing up, everybody tried to tell me what to read.

My parents wanted to me read “normal” books, not “trashy” books with Frank Frazetta covers featuring scantily-clad maidens, sword-wielding barbarians, or hideous monsters. My teachers wanted me to read Modern Literature — and they made sure I was exposed to as much as possible — although my favorites were Hamlet and Beowulf.

In college my instructors pushed Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver toward me and I read them, but only because I was required to. None of this depressing and introspective realism caught my fancy. I was made for more fantastic stuff. Oh, I read. Voraciously. From the time I was old enough to hold a book I read non-stop. It began with The Hobbit in third grade, and before I finished middle school I had finished The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But I read what I loved, not what people THOUGHT I should read. I read fantasy. (With liberal doses of horror and sci-fi.)

I read Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Moorcock, Lin Carter, Weird Tales magazine, and later Tanith Lee, Robert Silverberg, William Gibson, and Lord Dunsany. I read fantasy fiction with a dark edge, sword-and-sorcery, horror, and sci-fi. I even read my share of Stephen King, David Eddings, Piers Anthony, and John Norman. I didn’t give a damn what people thought I SHOULD be reading. Still don’t. I didn’t care that most of my literary heroes were from the pulp fiction era, and that their work was largely dismissed as “trash” when they were producing it. I read their works three or four generations after the fact, and I loved it.

Today I enjoy discovering new authors who take those pulp-inspired roots and do something entirely new with them–who breathe fresh life into classic concepts. I’ve found such writers in A.A. Attansio, R. Scott Bakker, and Guy Gavriel Kay, to name a few. If somebody recommends a book or an author to me, I’ll check it out. But it doesn’t take me all that long to figure out if it’s for me. If I like it, great! I’ll spread the word about that author and his/her work. I love to shout about the things I really dig. But if I don’t care for it, that simply means that a particular piece of fiction didn’t meet my personal taste. No harm done.

Because that’s all that really matters, when it comes to fiction. Personal taste.

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DRACULA Has Risen From the Grave…Again

DRACULA Has Risen From the Grave…Again


The Original Vampire is back. No, I’m not talking about Christopher Lee in the 1968 classic Dracula Has Risen from the Grave. This time, Vlad Tepes Dracula has risen in a most unexpected and delightful place. Television.

Last Friday, just in time for Halloween, NBC aired the pilot of its new limited series Dracula, starring the great Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The show is a “re-imagining” of the original Bram Stoker novel and is supervised by show runner/head writer Daniel Knauf (HBO’s Carnevale). Currently, it is set to run as 10 episodes seeped in blood, romance, and horror, driven by the vampiric charisma of Ryhs Meyers. He stole the show in the BBC’s legendary Gormenghast mini-series, but is perhaps best known for his award-winning role as Henry VIII on Showtime’s The Tudors.

So, is this new incarnation of Dracula any good? The pilot episode is immediately engaging, with its crypt-raiding, blood-soaked resurrection, its turn-of-the-century London, and its decadent world of aristocracy and privilege. The classic story of DRACULA is entirely familiar, so the producers/writers have gone out of their way to put interesting twists in the story and freshen up the legend. New blood indeed.

Dracula-CloseUpIn the first of several clever twists, Dracula isn’t really the villain in this story. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times–our modern culture tends to worship the outlaw, venerate the villain, and glorify the gangster. TV has been moving this way ever since The Sopranos changed television with its shades-of-grey morality and fascinating criminal protagonists. So the trick here is to make Dracula a sympathetic lead without completely stripping him of his “monster” status and thereby turning him into a “sparkly vampire” a la Twilight. Fortunately, the producers of Dracula manage to pull off this feat in a skillful manner. This Dracula is hungry for some bloody justice.

Dracula (posing as an American industrialist in London) is out to annihilate the Order of the Dragon, a secret society of elitist conquerors who have always hidden behind the Cross (i.e. Christianity). He assembles a “list” of modern-day members, accusing them of murder, rape, torture, and the wholesale slaughter of innocents. Ironic that a man remembered by history as “Vlad the Impaler” would be so against these savage practices.

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CONAN: “Caveman Battle Doom”

CONAN: “Caveman Battle Doom”

Cover to CONAN’s split release “Conan Vs. Slomatics” (2011)

What is the sound of Sword and Sorcery?

It probably sounds a lot like CONAN. This U.K.-based power trio gives a whole new meaning to the word heavy. But these guys aren’t hampered by “Cookie Monster” vocals or the demonic noise-worship that often plagues today’s heaviest acts.

CONAN have coined their own genre, calling themselves “caveman battle doom.” For hardcore fans, this is simply a new sub-category of the “Doom Rock” scene. For the rest of us, it’s an amusingly accurate description of CONAN’s unique sound.

As the band’s own bio puts it: “CONAN are as heavy as interplanetary thunder amplified through the roaring black hole anus of Azathoth.” christened them “Europe’s heaviest battle-sloths…” It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

After releasing an indie debut EP in 2010 entitled “Horseback Battle Hammer,” the trio signed to Burning World Records and released their critically acclaimed magnum opus, “Monnos.”

Both albums are perfect for headbanging, slow-grooving, couch-tripping, or simply cranking up loud enough to vibrate the walls of your apartment. And your skull. They are super sludgy brilliance in the vein of early BLACK SABBATH, KYUSS, MELVINS, and TOOL. Call it “stoner rock” if you will, but absolutely no drugs are necessary.

Fantasy and sword-and-sorcery themes are essential to CONAN’s lyrical cosmology, which makes perfect sense for a band named after Robert E. Howard’s famous barbarian. 

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The Revelations of Zang: Now In Print

The Revelations of Zang: Now In Print

The Revelations of Zang-small

THE REVELATIONS OF ZANG: Twelve Tales of the Continent is finally available in print format from Fantastic Books. 

The e-book version (from 01 Publishing) has been out for several months, but now readers have their choice of an electronic or good-ol’ paper-and-ink book.

Both versions are now on sale at

For more info on the collection, see the previous Black Gate posts HERE and HERE.

Deepest, Darkest Eden: Return to Hyperborea

Deepest, Darkest Eden: Return to Hyperborea

HyperboreaCoverDEEPEST, DARKEST EDEN: New Tales of Hyperborea is a new fantasy anthology from Miskatonic River Press. Editor Cody Goodfellow has assembled 17 stories (and two poems) set in the primordial world of Clark Ashton Smith‘s Hyperborea.

Although it officially launches this month at the Rhode Island NecronomiCon, the book is available right now through Amazon. Here is the Table of Contents:

Nick Mamatas – “Hostage”
Joe Pulver – “To Walk Night…Alone”
Darrell Schweitzer – “In Old Commoriom”
Ann K. Schwader – “Yhoundeh Fades” (poem)
Cody Goodfellow – “Coil Of The Ouroboros”
John R. Fultz – “Daughter Of The Elk Goddess”
Brian R. Sammons – “The Darkness Below”
Dieter Meier – “The Conquest Of Rhizopium”
Lisa Morton – “Zolamin And The Mad God”
Brian Stableford – “The Lost Archetype”
Ran Cartwright – “One Last Task For Athammaus”
Don Webb – “The Beauties Of Polarion”
Robert M. Price – “The Debt Owed Abhoth”
Marc Laidlaw – “The Frigid Ilk Of Sarn Kathool”
Charles Schneider – “The Return Of The Crystal”
John Shirley – “Rodney LaSalle Has A Job Waiting in Commoriom”
Zak Jarvis – “The Winter Of Atiradarinsept ”
Jesse Bullington – “The Door From Earth”
Ann K. Schwader – “Weird Of The White Sybil” (poem)

Most of Smith’s original Hyperborean tales ran in WEIRD TALES in the 1930s. They featured lost cities, haunted jungles, strange sorcery, and terrible demon-gods such as Tsathoggua and Abhoth. His entire cycle of these tales was gathered into a single volume first in 1971’s HYPERBOREA from Ballantine Books, then again in 1996 for THE BOOK OF HYPERBOREA from Necronomicon Press.

(See the entire wrap-around cover after the jump…)

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FUNGI #21: The Urbille Appears, Thongor Returns, and more…

FUNGI #21: The Urbille Appears, Thongor Returns, and more…

Front cover of FUNGI #21.

There’s a place called The Urbille that exists in some distant corner of the space/time continuum. It’s a time/place/city where fractured realities collide, where lost souls amble in prisons of rust or dance in clockwork bodies, and where human flesh is a weakness to be discarded and devoured.

I wrote two stories set in The Urbille. They are positively the WEIRDEST stories I’ve ever written, and now they’re being published together in the jumbo-sized 30th Anniversary Edition of FUNGI. The first Urbille story is called “The Key To Your Heart Is Made of Brass.” The second is “Flesh of the City, Bones of the World.” Both are epic journeys into strangeness, mystery, and horror.

FUNGI #21 is available now and it’s 420 pages of glorious weird fantasy. In addition to my two Urbille tales, which bookend the issue, it includes tons of other stories and articles.

“The Sword of Thongor” is a new tale of Lin Carter’s barbarian hero by Robert M. Price. Weird fiction master Wilum H. Pugmire contributes a new novelette entitled “A Presence of Things Past.”

Back cover of FUNGI #21.

Additional contributors include:

David Daniel
H.P. Lovecraft
Thomas Ligotti
William F. Nolan
Richard F. Searight
William Hope Hodgson
Ann K. Schwader
Glynn Barrass
James Person, Jr.

Publisher/Editor Pierre Comtois says of the fully illustrated issue: “FUNGI #21 features a stellar lineup of the most incredible talent in the weird fiction field from contemporary hit makers to talented newcomers to yesteryear’s classic authors… including special spotlights on Richard F. Searight and West Coast authors Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Charles Beaumont and many others. It also features a new interview and fiction from Twilight Zone writer Earl Hamner, Jr.”

The cover painting is a classic piece from Murray Tinkelman, first seen on the cover of Ballantine Books’ edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s THE HORROR IN THE MUSEUM in 1976. Another stellar Tinkelman piece graces the back cover, one Ballantine used as the cover of it’s ’76 edition of Lovecraft’s THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD.

To order a copy of FUNGI #21 click here.

Once Upon a Time in Zang…

Once Upon a Time in Zang…

zangcover (1)…a fugitive author and a devious cutthroat began a revolt against the nine Sorcerer Kings whose power displaced the gods themselves. Like the revolt, which began in far-flung places, the Zang Cycle of stories would grow slowly and cover a lot of ground.

Now at last the entire story cycle is complete with the publication of The Revelations of Zang on Amazon Kindle. 

It all started with “The Persecution of Artifice the Quill,” in the pages of Weird Tales #340 (2006). The cover of that issue featured a horde of the faceless warlocks known as Vizarchs, who drag Artifice the Quill away in the story’s opening scene, a scene painted by the talented Les Edwards.

The Vizarchs are coming!

The story was a turning point for me: The fulfillment of a long-standing dream (getting published in Weird Tales) and the introduction of two characters I would return to many times: Artifice the Quill and Taizo the Thief.

I wrote eleven more Zang Tales and moved the series to the welcoming pages of Black Gate, where it flourished for many issues.

The first story to grab BG founder John O’Neill’s attention was “Oblivion Is the Sweetest Wine” — a tale of Taizo and his infamous heist in spider-haunted Ghoth. It ran in BG #12 (2008). I wrote one Zang story after another over a 3- to 4-year period, building toward a single climactic tale.

The cycle’s penultimate story, “Return of the Quill,” wherein Artifice finally returns to Narr and sparks a revolution, was featured in BG #13 (2009). By this time, Artifice has embraced the sorcery that he once loathed and learned to alter reality with his Great Art. He is the leader of the mystical troupe known as The Glimmer Faire.

Meanwhile, Taizo has taken his own dark journey through tragedy, sorcery, and suffering toward vengeance. These two main characters only meet twice during the cycle: Once in the first story, and once again in the last.

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Echoes of the Goddess: Schweitzer’s Newest Classic

Echoes of the Goddess: Schweitzer’s Newest Classic

Echoes of the GoddessImagine a golden treasure chest filled to overflowing with rare and sparkling jewels. Now imagine the literary equivalent of that bounty: The jewels are visions of a fantastic world filled with dark magic, dead gods, and exotic cultures.

The latest book from Darrell Schweitzer is a treasury of obscure tales woven into a single, epic tapestry of high fantasy. Echoes of the Goddess collects eleven stories set in the same weird world as Schweitzer’s second novel The Shattered Goddess (1982). However, Echoes is not a sequel to Shattered. Instead it serves as a prequel, and a fine introduction to both the world of Goddess and the superb fantasies of Darrell Schweitzer.

Echoes of the Goddess: Tales of Terror and Wonder From the End of Time was released by Wildside Press in February 2013, but it was literally decades in the making. All of these stories were written between the years 1979 and 1985. Wildside describes the book: “This is an Earth of the far future, when the planet has declined into chaos, and darkness looms at the end of human history. Here you’ll meet… a wizard’s shadow attempting to become a man; two sorcerers grotesquely transformed by their fratricidal hatred; a musician who becomes the lord of death; a boy-priest consumed by divine visions; and a witch who loves a god, and many others. Here’s strangeness, wonder, and terror in the tradition of Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique or Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth.”

Nobody works in the “story cycle” tradition quite as well as Schweitzer does. While most of today’s writers focus on cranking out novels, he prefers the short story form and is one of the widely acknowledged masters of the form. Some of his previous story cycles have been collected as the books We Are All Legends and The Book of Sekenre. Yet the stories in Echoes of the Goddess represent the author in the formative stages of his career, when his imagination was raw and unbounded. This was years before he would go on to win a World Fantasy Award for co-editing Weird Tales with the late George Scithers, and well in advance of his “To Become a Sorcerer” novella being nominated for that same prestigious award.

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SEVEN KINGS: Chapter 1 Online

SEVEN KINGS: Chapter 1 Online

seven-kingsOnly 17 days until the release of SEVEN KINGS

Black Gate posted the entire first chapter online last week.

Here’s the downlow:

In the jungles of Khyrei, an escaped slave seeks vengeance and finds the key to a savage revolution. In the drought-stricken Stormlands, the Twin Kings argue the destiny of their kingdom: one walks the path of knowledge, the other treads the road to war.

Beyond the haunted mountains King Vireon confronts a plague of demons bent on destroying his family. Iardu the Shaper weaves history like a grand tapestry, spinning sorceries into a vision of apocalypse.

Giants and Men march as one to shatter a wicked empire.

The fate of the known world rests on the blades of Seven Kings…



To the official SEVEN KINGS book launch on Saturday, January 19 @ 1:00 pm,
at Borderlands Books in glorious San Francisco.

Amazon is taking SEVEN KINGS pre-orders right here.