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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A Tale of Two Covers: Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan

Saturday, July 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sweet Dreams Tricia Sullivan UK-small Sweet Dreams Tricia Sullivan Titan-small

Covers by Andrzej Kwolek (Gollancz, 2017) and Natasha Mackenzie (Titan, 2019)

Tricia Sullivan’s third novel Dreaming In Smoke won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her first, Lethe, was nominated for the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1995; her most recent was Occupy Me, which we discussed earlier this year. She writes cyberpunk, space opera, and near-future satire, and has been shortlisted for the BSFA Award, the Tiptree Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Titan is reprinting her 2017 near-future thriller Sweet Dreams later this month, with a brand new cover designed by Natasha Mackenzie (above right). It’s quite a departure from the Gollancz (UK) cover by Andrzej Kwolek (above left), which has a strong YA dystopian vibe; the Mackenzie version seems more reminiscent to me of Inception-style cyber-thrills and conspiracies. Tough to say which one I prefer… here’s the description; let me know which one you think is more appropriate in the comments.

Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked in an exam — Charlie will step into your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. In London 2022 her skills are in demand, though they still only just pay the bills.

Hired by a celebrity whose nights are haunted by a masked figure who stalks her through a bewildering and sinister landscape, Charlie hopes her star is on the rise. Then her client sleepwalks straight off a tall building, and Charlie starts to realize that these horrors are not all just a dream…

Sweet Dreams will be published by Titan Books on July 23, 2019. It is 410 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. Read the first 40 pages at Google Books, and check out our other Tales of Two Covers here.

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Jim Burns

Monday, July 1st, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Deathworms of Kratos

Deathworms of Kratos

Farnham's Freehold

Farnham’s Freehold

Son of Man

Son of Man

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented by the British Science Fiction Association since 1970 and were originally nominated for and voted on by the members of the Association. The Artist Award was created in 1980, when the inaugural award was won by Jim Burns, who would go on to win it three more times before the award was changed in 1987.  In 1987, the British Science Fiction Association changed the award to honor specific art as the Artwork Award, which Burns has won eleven times, including a five year winning streak.  His most recent win was in 2018 when his painting for the cover of The Ion Raider tied Victor Ngai’s painting for “Waiting on a Bright Moon.”

After leaving the Royal Air Force, Burns studied at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, graduating in 1972, when he signed on with the Young Artists Agency.  He began providing covers and interior illustrations for British publishers in 1973 and his work appeared exclusively in British editions through 1980. During that time, he also moved from using water colors to gouache to oils.

Some of Burns’ work that appeared in 1979 included a cover for Robert A. Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold for Corgi Books showing the main characters standing in a valley watching a flying city. His cover by Robert Silverberg’s Son of Man has an alien figure curled up in the foreground with a naked man reclining in the background. His cover for Edmund Cooper’s The Deathworms of Kratos is less easy to decipher, but appears to show a man in heavy space armor being attacked by the titular worms.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Michael Whelan

Thursday, June 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver



A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars

The Gods of Mars

The Gods of Mars

The Best Artist category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, but was introduced at the second awards in 1955, when it was won by Frank Kelly Freas. Since then, some version of the award has been a constant, with the exception of 1957, when the award was not presented. Originally called the Hugo for Best Artist, it eventually became the award for best Professional Artist when the Best Fan Artist award was introduced in 1967. Michael Whelan won his first award in 1980, beginning a seven year run of winning the award. He eventually won the award thirteen times, most recently in 2002, along with two other Hugo Award for Best Nonfiction Book (in 1988) and the first award for Best Original Artwork (in 1992). He has been nominated for the Hugo a total of 31 times.

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 Artist award dates back to 1974, although in the three previous years, a Best Paperback Cover Artist award was presented and in the previous two years a Best Magazine Artist awards was presented. The first Professional Artist award was won by Frank Kelly Freas. Michael Whelan won his first award in 1980, beginning a twenty-one year run of winning the award. He eventually won the award thirty times, with one additional win for Best Art Book in 1994. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist: Tim Kirk

Saturday, June 1st, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Tim Kirk Phantoms and Fancies-small Tim Kirk CSA nyctalops-small Tim Kirk Under the Green Star-small

The Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist has been given since 1967. The first award went to Jack Gaughan, which should be a hint that it has often gone to people very well known for their professional artwork. (A similar statement applies to the winners for Best Fan Writer.) That said, these artists have all definitely done significant work in fannish publications.

Tim Kirk, another artist who has had a major professional career, was nominated for Best Fan Writer 8 times in the between 1969 and 1977, winning the Hugo in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1976. It would be fair to say that for me, coming into contact with fandom in this period, my image of “fan art” was formed by Tim Kirk’s work, along with two more artists who won for their 1970s work, William Rotsler and Alexis A. Gilliland. (Not to slight the excellent Phil Foglio, but for whatever reason his art didn’t enter my consciousness until later. And Alicia Austin, four-time nominee and 1971 winner, was and is a favorite artist of mine, but for her professional work.)

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Don Maitz

Thursday, May 30th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

R. Bertram Chandler's The Far Traveler

R. Bertram Chandler’s The Far Traveler

C. J. Cherryh's Hestia

C. J. Cherryh’s Hestia

Jeff Rovin's Fantasy Almanac

Jeff Rovin’s Fantasy Almanac

The World Fantasy Awards are presented during the World Fantasy Convention and are selected by a mix of nominations from members of the convention and a panel of judges. The awards were established in 1975 and presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Traditionally, the awards took the form of a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson, however in recent years the trophy became controversial in light of Lovecraft’s more problematic beliefs. The Best Artist Award has been part of the award since its founding, when it was won by Lee Brown Coye. In 1980, the year Maitz received the award for his work, the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. The judges were Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Belknap Long, andrew j. offutt, Ted White, and Susan Wood.

After graduating from the Paier School of Art in 1975, Don Maitz broke into the field with a black and white illustration for and ad that appeared in Marvel’s Kull and the Barbarians. In 1976, he provided the cover for the Science Fiction Book Club edition of Leigh Brackett’s The Book of Skaith: The Adventures of Eric Stark as well as books by L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, and Lloyd Alexander.

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