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Author: SELindberg

S.E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing scientific and artistic skills to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (primarily under the banner “Dyscrasia Fiction”). With Perseid Press, he writes weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Pirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell). S.E. Lindberg co-moderates a Goodreads group focused on Sword & Sorcery.
Go Rogue!: Rogues in the House, the Ultimate Sword & Sorcery Podcast

Go Rogue!: Rogues in the House, the Ultimate Sword & Sorcery Podcast

Rogues in the House

In 1934, Weird Tales magazine published Robert E. Howard’s Conan story “Rogues in the House.” Bob Byrne covered the story on Black Gate as part of his “Hither Came Conan” series.

Just a few years ago, in late 2018, Sword & Sorcery enthusiasts and content creators forged Rogues in the House – the Ultimate S&S Podcast (the link is a portal page to multiple listening Apps). This post spotlights it because it is more than just a source of perspectives. The crew genuinely wants to support a growing community. Their roundtable discussions always start with the “Bazaar of the Bizarre” round table, in which the cast shares recent events or learning opportunities (the session a call out to Fritz Leiber’s 1963 Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story of the same name).

Beyond luring in S&S authors like Howard Andrew Jones, Scott Oden, John R. Fultz, and  Jason Ray Carney, they’ve got guests covering Movies, Video/Board Games, and Art. We embed three selections here:

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John C. Hocking’s Conan Pastiches Emerald Lotus and “Black Starlight”

John C. Hocking’s Conan Pastiches Emerald Lotus and “Black Starlight”

Ken Kelly cover art for Conan and the Emerald Lotus

John C. Hocking’s Conan Pastiches

Conan and the Emerald Lotus by John C. Hocking emerged from Tor in 1995 (Ciruelo Cabral cover artist), and was reprinted in 1999 (with a Ken Kelly cover); both paperbacks are insanely expensive now (i.e. $500+ on Amazon, 2021 price). In 2019 Hocking released a 12-part serialized novella “Black Starlight” published in the back of the recent Conan the Barbarian comic (the comic portion was written by Jason Aaron), a direct sequel to “Emerald Lotus” that tracks Conan’s adventures as he returns from Stygia.

An indirect sequel novel by Hocking called Conan and the Living Plague was pulled from publication in 2019 at the last minute. Its future is unknown (by certain graces, the author did provide me with a copy of the manuscript, and we plan to discuss it in an interview planned for 2022).

This post covers Hocking’s Conan pastiche as it evolves from Emerald Lotus in “Black Starlight,” with hints of more.

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Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh: Review, Interview, and Prelude to a Secret Chapter

Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh: Review, Interview, and Prelude to a Secret Chapter

Left, Paperback cover (artist unknown); Right cover art by Tim O’Brien.

Stephen Leigh is a Cincinnati-based, award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy, with thirty novels and nearly sixty short stories published. He has also published fantasy under the pseudonym S.L. Farrell. He has been a frequent contributor to the Hugo-nominated shared-world series Wild Cards, edited by George R.R. Martin. Stephen taught creative writing for twenty years at Northern Kentucky University, and has recently retired (but not from writing). His most recent novels have been Amid The Crowd Of Stars, the SunPath duology of A Fading Sun and A Rising MoonThe Crow of Connemara, and Immortal Muse. His latest novel, Bound To A Single Sun, will be published by DAW Books next year. Stephen is married to Denise Parsley Leigh; they are the parents of a daughter and a son; he is a musician and vocalist too, active in several Cincinnati bands.

In 2014, Stephen Leigh published his Immortal Muse novel (check out the 2014 Black Gate release), an alternative-history, fantasy fictionalizing alchemy’s role in artistic muses. Wow! Of course, Leigh had to be interviewed as part of the “Beauty in Weird Fiction” interview series. Indeed he was interviewed in 2016 before the interview series merged into Black Gate. If you are interested in the aesthetics of horror and weird fantasy, check out the thoughts of our recent guests like Darrell SchweitzerSebastian JonesCharles GramlichAnna Smith Spark, Carol Berg, & Jason Ray Carney (full list of interviews at the end of this post).

This post wraps up (1) a review of Immortal Muse, (2) the interview with the author on Leigh’s muses, and (3) teases readers within an announcement. Okay, we’ll cover that last one first. There is a missing/deleted chapter from Immortal Muse that Stephen Leigh will be posting on Black Gate soon, over 11K words with annotations on (a) why it was left out of the final book and (b) how facts were woven into this fantastical alternative-history. It serves as both a stand-alone short story and an engaging behind-the-scenes look at writing. The article with the missing chapter is posted (look here).

Let this review and interview stoke your creative fires.

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More Tales From The Magician’s Skull Live on Kickstarter!

More Tales From The Magician’s Skull Live on Kickstarter!

“More Tales From The Magician’s Skull Kickstarter” Is Live

Now through Nov 19th, 2021, you can amplify the success of the Tales from the Magician’s Skull (TftMS) magazine by participating in the Kickstarter campaign brought to you by Goodman Games. The campaign is on fire in its early days and rapidly earned a “Projects We Love” badge from Kickstarter.

The initial 2017 Kickstarter (Black Gate release link) kicked off the first two issues, and a follow-up campaign in 2019 carried us to issue #6. Throughout this journey, Black Gate has chronicled reviews for most issues: TftMS#3, TftMS#4, TftMS#5TftMS#6. A key post is John O’Neill’s epic interview with Joseph Goodman (publisher) and Howard Andrew Jones (chief editor). This interview captures the origins of the Skull from its two primary champions (who appear possessed by the undead celebrity).

Current readers already know that the magazine magically blends (a) homages to pulp magazines with superior paper quality & inked illustrations with (b) contemporary masters in storytelling. The result? We get officially licensed pastiche of Leiber’s Fafrhd and the Gray Mouser/Lankhmar (Nathan Long’s contribution to #6) and Elak of Atlantis tales from Adrian Cole (issues #4 and #5); and we get fresh perspectives on Sword & Sorcery from John C. Hocking, Clint Werner, Violette Malan, James Enge, and others. And there is more! RPG players rejoice since each issue provides stats for playing with the characters, items, and spells featured in each story.

Read On! The Secrets to Pledging Are Revealed

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Fun, Fresh Fantasy: Mad Shadows: The Heroes of Echo Gate by Joe Bonadonna

Fun, Fresh Fantasy: Mad Shadows: The Heroes of Echo Gate by Joe Bonadonna

Mad Shadows III: The Heroes of Echo Gate (Pulp Hero Press, February 2021). Cover artist uncredited

Joe Bonadonna’s third installment of his Mad Shadows, Dorgo the Dowser series, The Heroes of Echo Gate, was announced this Feb 2021 at Black Gate. We covered Dorgo’s world and Bonadonnoa’s cinematic narrative, which we’ll touch upon again during this review. Also on Black Gate, the author of the internationally acclaimed IX Series, Andrew Paul Weston, reviewed all three books of the Mad Shadow series. This post reinforces those articles and highlights this fresh fantasy adventure’s (a) Epic Scope, (b) Cinematic Style, and (c) Faith theme.

The Heroes of Echo Gate is fun, fresh fantasy. Dorgo and his fellowship of Harryhausen-like creatures defend a magical portal from a horde of demons. Epic!

As the cover implies, we have our beloved weird-fiction investigator & mercenary Dorgo (the guy front and center on the cover with the dowsing rod and sword) defending the titular portal with a band of friends (most of whom could have stared in a Ray Harryhausen movie. For the young readers take note that Harryhausen was the “Frank Frazetta” of cinema who gave life to the fantastical creatures before computer graphics were invented). There are three acts that follow the classic purposes: setup, rising tension, and an epic battle. The climax consumes a full third of the book and resonates with all the grandeur of defending Tolkien’s Helm’s Deep. The city of Soolaflan, on the island of Thavarar, is the fortress and it is situated around Echo Gate. Demons from across time want access to it. The portals across the world of Tanyime (and even across time and space) echo those from C. J. Cherryh’s Morgaine Cycle and even Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Saga.

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Weirdbook Annual #3: Zombies: Available now!

Weirdbook Annual #3: Zombies: Available now!

Cover by Fotolia

Wildside Press, ‎ 295 pages. ISBN 978-1479463312

(US Amazon prices: $3.99 Kindle/ $15.00 Paperback/  $29.99 Hardcover)

Zombies! Available now for your Halloween needs!

In 2015, Douglas Draa resurrected Weirdbook with issue #31 (the weird fiction magazine had been dormant since 1997). Fast forward to 2021, and issue #44 is now available. In addition to the core issues, there are themed anthologies spawning. Annual #1 Witches came out in 2017; and Annual #2: Cthulhu appeared in 2019 (discussed on Black Gate).

This year, for Annual #3, Weirdbook challenged authors to come up with memorable takes on zombies. The result is this fantastic collection of 34 new stories. Draa looked for tales that were fun, entertaining and scary. He also wanted fresh meat (i.e., he didn’t want to serve up a bunch of Romeroesque, plague zombies).

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Tales From the Magician’s Skull #6: Available Now; and Skull TV Announces a Kickstarter

Tales From the Magician’s Skull #6: Available Now; and Skull TV Announces a Kickstarter

Doug Kovacs cover art

Published by Goodman-Games. Paperback, PDF, eBook (80pages). ISBN 9781950783816.

Announcing the availability and contents of the Tales From the Magician’s Skull #6, a magazine of all-new swords & sorcery fiction! Issue #6 features cover art by Doug Kovacs of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Yes, mortal dogs, you read that correctly. The Skull brings readers a new series of stories set in Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar! Licensed by Leiber’s estate, the forthcoming stories and novellas faithfully expand upon the legendary tales of Lankhmar’s most famous duo.

Issue #6 is available at the publisher’s website Goodman-Games, in Paperback, eBook, and PDF (PDF’s are also available on DriveThru RPG). In the future, expect the paperback of issue#6 available from Amazon, like many of the previous issues.

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Sublime, Cruel Beauty: An Interview with Jason Ray Carney

Sublime, Cruel Beauty: An Interview with Jason Ray Carney

Jason Ray Carney (aka Ayolo)

Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction

It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque/weird, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven by strange muses. To help reveal divine mysteries passed through artists, this interview series engages contemporary authors on the theme of “Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction.” Recent guests on Black Gate have included Darrell SchweitzerSebastian JonesCharles GramlichAnna Smith Spark, & Carol Berg. See the full list of interviews at the end of this post.

This one features Jason Ray Carney who is rapidly becoming everpresent across Weird Fiction and Sword & Sorcery communities (in fact you can probably corner him in the Whetstone S&S Tavern (hosted on Discord)). By day, he is a Lecturer in Popular Literature at Christopher Newport University. He is the author of the academic book, Weird Tales of Modernity (McFarland), and the fantasy anthology, Rakefire and Other Stories (Pulp Hero Press, reviewed on Black Gate). He recently edited Savage Scrolls: Thrilling Tales of Sword and Sorcery for Pulp Hero Press and is an editor at The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies, for Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Sword and Sorcery and for Witch House Magazine: Amateur Magazine of Cosmic HorrorIncidentally, Jason Ray Carney has also contributed here at Black Gate with a post on Robert E. Howard’s Bran Mak Morn character and musings on How Sword & Sorcery Brings Us Life.

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C. Dean Andersson Tribute Interview and Tour Guide of Hel: Bloodsong and Freedom!

C. Dean Andersson Tribute Interview and Tour Guide of Hel: Bloodsong and Freedom!

…And on the day two hundred
There it stood white to the sky
The house of the God of the cross
Big enough to take two dragon ships inside
All of Asa bay did watch
The wonder raise to the sky
Now must the God of the cross be pleased satisfied
Just outside the circle of the crowd

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Explore the Beautiful Darkness: Worlds Beyond Worlds by John R. Fultz

Explore the Beautiful Darkness: Worlds Beyond Worlds by John R. Fultz

Worlds Beyond Worlds by John R. Fultz
DMR Books (182 pages, $12.99 in trade paperback, April 3, 2021)
Cover by Brian LeBlanc

Volume I: Transcending the Illusions of Modernity and Reason.: The first thing you must understand is that the One True World is not a figment of your imagination, and it does not lie in some faraway dimension. To help you understand the relationship between the True World and the False, you must envision the True World lying beneath the False, as a man can lay hidden beneath a blanket, or a woman’s true face can be hidden by an exquisite mask.

(Fultz, “The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria” )

You Want A Piece of Me?

The Brian LeBlanc cover of Worlds Beyond Worlds: The Short Fiction of John R. Fultz shows the revenant Chivaine displaying the trophy head of his enemy. As a reader, do you want to accept his challenge? You are invited to explore the beautiful darkness. The tile and cover set up expectations well, so get ready to explore planetary landscapes, witches, twisted creatures, and villainous heroes. Worlds Beyond Worlds is exactly what it says, a collection that takes the reader/protagonists into other worlds which are beyond even stranger ones.

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