The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of November 2019

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

Fortuna by Kristyn Merbeth-small Made Things Adrian Tchaikovsky-small The Killing Light Myke Cole-small

It’s December already. Hard to believe, I know. But it’s true.

It’s many ways I’m not sad to have November in the rear view mirror. For one thing, the weather was terrible. More importantly, it brought disturbing changes to one of my favorite genre websites, the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, which fired all their freelancers on November 26th. I don’t know if the ongoing changes will also impact folks like founding editor Joel Cunningham, or Jeff Somers, who writes the top-notch book survey every month, but I really hope not. We’ve benefited greatly from their work here at Black Gate, and I hope it continues.

In particular, Jeff Somers’ monthly survey of the best genre books is something I always look forward to, and he never disappoints. His November column — with 25 titles by Neil Gaiman, Myke Cole, Walter Jon Williams, and many others — is a classic example. Packed in there with the blockbuster new books by E.E. Knight, Howard Andrew Jones, and Rebecca Roanhorse, are several genuine surprises. Here’s a look at the best unexpected books on the list.

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Gahan Wilson, February 18, 1930 — November 21, 2019

Friday, November 29th, 2019 | Posted by Andy Duncan

Gahan-Wilson-I-think-its-his-beeper cartoon

The cartoonist Gahan Wilson, who died last Thursday, was a Guest of Honor at the first International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts that I ever attended, in 1995, and that is the scene of this story.

I arrived at the con hotel a day early, knowing no one, and mostly roamed the halls, hoping someone might talk to me. Seeing a propped-open door, I walked through it, and found myself in a big room set up for an art show, a maze of temporary walls. Hanging on them were dozens of original Gahan Wilson drawings. So much larger than the published versions, several feet to a side, these were museum-quality works, in pen and ink and pastel, their captions handwritten across the bottom.

I slowly roamed the exhibit, taking my sweet time in front of each piece. I examined them up close and from a distance. I savored every moment of that private viewing, that wholly unauthorized VIP preview experience.

And repeatedly, my path kept crossing that of the only other person in the room: a balding man in a safari jacket, holding a clipboard, who stopped in front of each piece and jotted a note. I assumed he was a conference official, some sort of curator, and I expected him to ask me, politely, to leave, and to come back when the exhibit was open.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Gunslinger Girl 1-small Gunslinger Girl-small

Covers by Mark Owen/Trevillion Images (left) and uncredited

While I was at Windycon here in Chicago last week, I stopped by Larry Smith’s booth in the Dealer’s Room and ended up buying a small pile of books from Sally Kobee. Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely was an impulse buy, but a good one, I think. It’s part of the James Patterson Presents line, and was an Amazon and B&N Best Book of the Month, and an Indie Next pick. It’s also the tale of a female sharpshooter in a dystopian near-future West, and I like the sound of that. Here’s the description.

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

My problem with the book is that I bought the trade paperback on the left, and when I was checking out the details online I discovered the mass market paperback edition on the right, with the gorgeously colorful cover. It was vividly different and inexpensive enough ($5.49) that I decided to get a copy of that one as well, this time as a gift for my daughter. I ordered it from Amazon… and promptly received a second copy of the book at left. Every edition Amazon lists online has the cover at right (including the audio, paperback and hardcover editions), but I don’t see any way to actually get one.

Well, I love a book challenge, and I’m not ready to give up yet. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Here’s the back cover of the trade edition.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Alexis Gilliland

Friday, November 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

by Alexis Gilliland

by Alexis Gilliland

Alexis Gilliland

Alexis Gilliland

by Alexis Gilliland

by Alexis Gilliland

The Best Fan Artist category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, not introduced until 1967, when it was won by Jack Gaughan. The award has been presented every year since then. Gilliland was nominated for the Hugo every year between 1978 and 1985, winning that award in 1980 and for three years running from 1983 to 1985. While several fan artists have won the award more times than Gilliland, his three year streak ties those of Tim Kirk and Brad W. Foster for consecutive wins.

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. Alexis Gilliland won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best Fan Artist—Humorous, his third sequential win. The first winner was Bill Rotsler. The category was not revived after the hiatus, being combined with the Best Fan Artist—Serious category and replaced by the Best Fan Artist category. Gilliland was nominated for The FAAN Award for Best Humorous Art in three consecutive years from 1978 through 1980.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Joan Hanke-Woods

Sunday, November 10th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Mariner over Mars

Mariner over Mars

Joan Hanke-Woods

Joan Hanke-Woods

Metropolis: Maria with Friends at Play

Metropolis: Maria with Friends at Play

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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. Joan Hanke-Woods won the last of the original run of FAAN Awards for Best Fan Artist—Serious, her second consecutive win. The first winner was Jim Shull. The category was not revived after the hiatus, being combined with the Best Fan Artist—Humorous category and replaced by the Best Fan Artist category.

Over the years, joan hanke-woods used a variety of monikers for her artwork. By the time I got to know her, she was using the name delphyne woods. She first discovered fandom in 1978 at Windycon V and rapidly began providing artwork for fanzines. She won the FAAN Awards in 1979 and 1980. While the FAAN Awards are given by fanzine fandom and the Hugos are presented by a more varied electorate, her work gained recognition and from 1980 through 1986, she was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, eventually winning in 1986.

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A Trip to Venus

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 | Posted by Thomas Parker

(1) the Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery

The summer of 2019 is in the books, and for me, the dog days just past were the most memorable of my life. As an elementary school teacher, I have June and July off and as I’ve shared here before, for my summer breaks I have a plan that I never deviate from – I hew my way through a big pile of science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, just like I did during those long-ago vacations when I was a kid.

Why? I won’t deny that stoking the fires of nostalgia plays a big part in it. But beyond that, why do any of us read all this science fiction and fantasy in the first place, instead of, say, westerns or police procedurals or genteel comedies of manners? Your reasons may be different, but speaking for myself, in voyaging to another planet or to a realm of wizardry, I’m looking for some sort of transcendence, some intimation or even confirmation that this routine, workaday world is not all that there is. Ah, but how rarely does any work of fiction truly satisfy that deep desire.

This year was different, though. Instead of galloping through as many pages of pulp as my bleary old eyes could manage, I spent three weeks in Italy, seeing Rome, Florence, and Naples, wearing out my feet and my savings account as well as my eyes. Sorry, Edgar Rice Burroughs; I love you but I finally got a better offer. (I did manage to get some Jack Vance and Brian Aldiss read even in Europe, though.)

Not surprisingly, my trip was full of memorable sights and amazing moments, but there is one that stands head and shoulders above them all, because it supplied in spades that very glimpse into a world of deeper meaning that I’m always looking for in my reading.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials, by Wayne Barlowe

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Wayne Barlowe

Cover by Wayne Barlowe

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Art or Illustrated Book Award was only given in two years, 1979 and 1980 and was won by Ian Summers for Tomorrow and Beyond. In 1994, Locus introduced the Best Art Book Award, which was won by Michael Whelan for The Art of Michael Whelan: Scenes/Vision. The category has been dominated by the Spectrum series, which has won in all except six subsequent years. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

Wayne Douglas Barlowe and Ian Summers have created a catalog of aliens as described in numerous works of science fiction, by authors as diverse as Larry Niven, Ursula Le Guin, and Jack Vance. Each alien is according a two page spread in which the author and artist provide the name of the alien’s race, the author who created them and the work in which they appear and a full page image of the creature. The aliens are also described and frequently Barlowe has illustrated details of their hands, textures, or other things that make each race unique.

The book includes a fold-out centerfold that shows 48 of the aliens more or less at their relative sizes, from the wormlike Mesklinites from Hal Clement’s novel Mission to Gravity to Jack Williamson’s jellyfish-like Medusians from The Legion of Space. Summers admits that in many cases the size comparisons are approximate since the authors often just gave hints about an alien’s size relative to humans, who are also included in the comparison chart.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Locus Award for Best Fan Artist: William Rotsler

Sunday, August 4th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

William Rotsler Locus 5-small

The Locus Awards have been presented since 1971. In that first year, there was an award for Best Fan Artist, and another for Best Fan Cartoonist. William Rotsler won the latter, and that was the only year of that award. The Best Fan Artist award continued through 1975 (since then there has only been a Locus Award for Best Artist.) Alicia Austin won the first Best Fan Artist Locus Award, and William Rotsler won in 1972 and 1973. Tim Kirk won the final two Locus Awards for Best Fan Artist.

William Rotsler was born in 1926 and died in 1997. He began doing illustrations for fan magazines by the mid ‘40s, and indeed he won a Retro Hugo in 1996 for Best Fan Artist for that work from 50 years before. (As with many Retro Hugos, I suspect he won that award more for his later notoriety than for any knowledge voters in 1996 had of that earlier work.) Rotsler was a highly regarded fan artist by the late 1960s at least, when he began consistently appearing on Hugo ballots. He won the Hugo for Best Fan Artist in 1975, 1979, 1996, and 1997.

Like many fans who first made their mark in fanzines, Rotsler later became a well-regarded professional. What’s interesting about Rotsler is that in fandom he was best known as an artist – but he made his mark as a professional as a writer. His best known work is probably Patron of the Arts, which was a Nebula, Hugo, and Locus nominee in its first appearance as a novelette in 1972. He expanded it to a novel in 1974. He also collaborated with Gregory Benford on the novel Shiva Descending (1980). His other fiction is less well remembered – much of it was work for hire, in such universes as Star Trek, Marvel, Planet of the Apes, and Tom Swift.

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Cover Reveal: The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, edited by Leslie S. Klinger

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

HP Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft

One of the most exciting books to cross my desk this summer was an advance proof of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham. It’s the follow-up to Leslie S. Klinger’s monumental 928-page The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, published by Liveright in 2014, which Harlan Ellison called “an Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature.” Beyond Arkham is an absolutely gorgeous book, packed with 22 more Lovecraft stories, including several of his most famous, and 200 vintage photographs and illustrations. Liveright gave us an exclusive sneak peek of the final cover, and it’s truly a work of art. We want to share it with you below. But first, here’s the description.

No lover of gothic literature will want to be without this literary keepsake, the final volume of Leslie Klinger’s tour-de-force chronicle of Lovecraft’s canon.

In 2014, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft was published to widespread acclaim― vaunted as a “treasure trove” (Joyce Carol Oates) for Lovecraft aficionados and general readers, alike. Hailed by Harlan Ellison as an “Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature,” the volume included twenty-two of Lovecraft’s original stories. Now, in this final volume, best- selling author Leslie S. Klinger reanimates twenty-five additional stories, the balance of Lovecraft’s significant fiction, including “Rats in the Wall,” a post– World War I story about the terrors of the past, and the newly contextualized “The Horror at Red Hook,” which recently has been adapted by best- selling novelist Victor LaValle. In following Lovecraft’s own literary trajectory, readers can witness his evolution from Rhode Island critic to prescient literary genius whose titanic influence would only be appreciated decades after his death. Including hundreds of eye- opening annotations and dozens of rare images, Beyond Arkham finally provides the complete picture of Lovecraft’s unparalleled achievements in fiction.

Ready? Feast your eyes on the beautiful cover for The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, arriving from Liveright on September 24.

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July/August Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Now on Sale

Sunday, July 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July August 2019-small Black Gate 8-small

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (July/August 2019) and Black Gate 8 (Summer 2005). Covers by Mondolithic Studios

One of the great pleasures of publishing a print magazine like Black Gate — which we did for fifteen awesome issues, from 2000 until 2011 — is discovering new writers, like James Enge, Derek Kunsken, Sarah Avery, Todd McAulty, Harry Connolly, and many others. Of course, writers aren’t the only things you discover. We published a lot of artists in the early stages of their careers as well, folks like Charles Keegan, Jim Pavelec, Chuck Lukacs, Chris Pepper, and others.

In the years since we retired the print mag, it’s been marvelous to see those authors and artists go on to scale greater and greater heights. So I was delighted to open an email from publisher Gordon Van Gelder last month, with a sneak peek of the cover of the July/August cover of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (above left), and immediately recognize the brilliant work of Kenn Brown and Chris Wren, who together are Mondolithic Studios.

Kenn and Mondolithic did the cover for Black Gate 8 way back in the summer of 2005 (above right). It was one of the most creative and popular of our early covers, and I was thrilled to be able to feature it. The cover of July/August F&SF is ever more awesome, with its wonderfully retro-robots rampaging across a grisly post-apocalyptic cityscape. Fittingly, this is the “Robots Invade” issue, with Robot War tales by Alex Irvine and Cassandra Khaw, plus stories by Dominica Phetteplace, Molly Gloss, Albert E. Cowdrey, Eliza Rose, and many more.

Here’s the highlights of Kevin P Hallett’s review at Tangent Online.

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