Modular: Trouble in the ’80’s with Tales from the Loop

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

TalesFromTheLoopAs a child of the ’80’s, I grew up with the understanding that a group of kids might stumble upon a series of mysterious events and have to band together to deal with the challenges from it. Parents, law enforcement, and other authorities would be of no help, so there was no point in telling them what was going on. They either wouldn’t believe it or, worse, would stop the kids from fixing things. The kids, through determination and luck, were the only hope to set things right … whether it was finding a way to keep their families from being evicted, returning a strange visitor to another planet, or stopping rampaging monsters. Or, heck, even just making it through a day of detention.

E.T., The Goonies, Stand By Me, The Breakfast Club, Flight of the Navigator, The Last Starfighter, Lost Boys, SpaceCampGremlins. These are the types of films, along with more recent period pieces like The Iron Giant and Stranger Things, and maybe a touch of the SyFy Channel’s television series Eureka thrown in, that inspire the science fiction role-playing game Tales from the Loop from Modiphius Entertainment.

Tales from the Loop centers around a community in the 1980’s that is home to a research center and particle accelerator, called “The Loop.” There are actually two settings outlined in the book: the Swedish island of Svartsjolandet or the American town Boulder City. Whichever community your characters live in, you play a group of Kids who come into contact with a Mystery related to the particle accelerator, and join together to resolve the Mystery. The game can be extremely episodic, great for a standalone one-shot game, or played in a more “sandbox” format where the players are able to explore the setting in more depth, allowing for a more long-term campaign.

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Future Treasures: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Call Peadar O'Guilin-small The Invasion Peadar O'Guilin-small

Peadar O’Guilin has been one of our most prolific and popular contributors. He published his first story with us, “The Mourning Trees,” in Black Gate 5 (Spring 2003), and followed it with “Where Beauty Lies in Wait” (BG 11), “The Evil Eater” (BG 13), and “The Dowry,” which appeared as part of our Black Gate Online Fiction catalog.

His fourth novel The Call (2016) was an international sensation; here’s Howard Andrew Jones from his 2016 interview with Peadar:

What I discovered was a novel absolutely deserving of the hype it has received — a dystopian YA story about a fractured society, with heroic teenaged protagonists who are realistic AND don’t whine. There are moments of chilling otherworldly horror owing to the frequent presence of the fae folk, the force behind the terrible situation facing these Irish children. And there’s excellent pacing and characterization, and growth…

After keeping the world on tether hooks for the past two years, Peadar has finally revealed a sequel, The Invasion. It arrives in hardcover from David Fickling Books on March 27. Here’s the description.

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Son of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

Son of Tall Eagle-small

The tree was a god with a thousand arms.

Crawling on its skin I was less than an ant.

I had come to the khaba forest to hunt the Ghost Serpent. For six days I tracked it across the high realm of branch and leaf. I followed it past the ruined wrecks of Opyd nests and skeletal remnants of its former victims. I watched it stalk and devour a wounded jaguar, swallowing the carcass whole. Eventually I followed the great snake to one particular Tree God among the leafy millions. The one that was its home.

So begins John R. Fultz’s new book, Son of Tall Eagle (2017), sequel to The Testament of Tall Eagle (2015). The tale, a model of .swords & sorcery precision, picks up the story of the People, a tribe of Native Americans, 22 years after they were transported by the alien Myktu to their world in order to avoid their mutual destruction. This new home is a land of crystalline mountains, titanic trees, and other, non-human, races.

Once known for his great prowess as a warrior, Tall Eagle has become a passionate student of the Myktus’ advanced civilization, and endeavors to help lead the People into a new age of peace and growth away from the continuous all-consuming Circle of War. The Circle of War is Tall Eagle’s name for the cycle of raiding that occurred between the People and their enemies in the Old World. Now, the People are farmers and some have even given their children Myktu names. Others have taken Myktu spouses, creating a hybrid people. (Aside: technically, this might really be a sword & planet story, but there’s enough magic for me count it as S&S.)

To a great extent, Tall Eagle’s efforts have been successful. Instead of gaining a reputation for audacity in battle, his son, Kai, is known for his skill as a hunter and one of the rare non-Myktu able to ride their giant birds, the Opyds. The birds allow themselves to be ridden only by those they choose, and Kai is one of those few. He is the embodiment of his father’s aspirations for the People: brave but undesirous of being a warrior; instead, a man of peace with a foot in the Myktu world as well as the People’s.

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The 2018 Philip K. Dick Nominees

Monday, January 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Book of Etta-small After the Flare Deji Bryce Olukotun-small All Systems Red-small

The nominees for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award, given each year for distinguished science fiction originally published in paperback in the United States, have been announced. They are (links will take you to our previous coverage):

The Book of Etta by Meg Elison (47North)
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun (The Unnamed Press)
The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt (Angry Robot)
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (

This is a terrific ballot, with something for every reader. Over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Joel Cunningham sums things up nicely.

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Future Treasures: 95 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books to Read in 2018

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Myke Cole THE ARMORED SAINT-small The Robots of Gotham-small Outpost W. Michael Gear-small

Hand in hand with the new year comes brand new schedules from the major genre publishers like Tor, DAW, Ace, Angry Robot, Solaris, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and many others. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog has compiled a magnificent list of 95 Books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editors Can’t Wait for You to Read in 2018, and I was surprised and delighted to see Black Gate authors well represented, including Myke Coke, Todd McAulty, and Patrice Sarath.

There’s also plenty of other enticing titles, including books by W. Michael Gear, Tim Powers, Yoon Ha Lee, Seanan McGuire, Jim Butcher, S.K.Dunstall, Peter McLean, David Weber, Kristen Britain, Sylvain Neuvel, Carrie Vaughn, Dale Bailey, Molly Tanzer, Rich Larson, Kameron Hurley, Nancy Springer, Peter Watts, Ian McDonald, Dan Abnett, and many others. Here’s a few of the hightlights.

The Armored Saint, by Myke Cole (, 208 pages, $17.99 in hardcover, February 20)

This is a fabulous tale of bravery versus doubt, of magic versus religion and of humanity versus its demons (both real and metaphorical). A truly action-packed fantasy, with a heroine you can’t help but adore, and Myke Cole’s long-overdue foray into hardcover fiction. Book one in a series of three, and one not to be missed! — Lee Harris

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A Day at Black Gate World Headquarters: What’s Coming in 2018

Sunday, December 31st, 2017 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hudsucker_MailHere’s a look behind the curtain at the Black Gate World Headquarters in the Windy City:

I walked into the opulent penthouse office of Black Gate Global Headquarters. It was the first time I had been higher than the second floor mail room, where I mopped the floors every Thursday evening. I felt like Conan traversing the savannahs as I waded through the plush carpet.

I imagined myself as the mighty-thewed Cimmerian, searching for lions as I…

“BRYNE! Quit your daydreaming. I didn’t pull you out of the basement… errr…the journalist’s suite, to mash down the carpet in my office.”

“Yes sir, Mister O’Neill, sir!” I managed to reach his desk, where I silently waited for his shoe shine to finish.

“Have a seat, Bryne.”

I looked around, confused by the fact that there were no chairs. And the carpet was so thick that if I sat down I might be smothered. Short on options, I remained standing. He didn’t notice.

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January/February Analog Now on Sale

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Analog Science Fiction January February 2018-smallTwo Black Gate writers are showcased in the newest Analog. Jeremiah Tolbert has a short story, “The Dissonant Note,” and our Saturday blogger Derek Künsken presents the first installment of his highly anticipated debut novel The Quantum Magician. This morning I read the first chapter — a fast-paced tale of an attempted con in an icy subterranean casino, with AIs, religious soldiers, and robot puppets — and was immediately hooked. It has more action and intriguing SF concepts than the vast majority of short stories I read in the last year. Here’s Derek.

In The Quantum Magician, I wanted to look at all the humanities we will create. Some new humans will help civilization, some will spiral it backwards, and some will, through no fault of their own, be really good at confidence schemes and heists. Solaris already takes a complex look at space opera futures, so it’s really exciting to work with them.

And here’s the book description, from the Solaris website.

Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he’ll need a crew built from all the new sub-branches of humanity. If he succeeds, he might trigger an interstellar war, but success might also point the way to the next step of Homo quantus evolution.

The Quantum Magician will be serialised in two additional installments in Analog, and arrives in trade paperback from Solaris in October.

This issue of Analog also includes a brand new novella by Adam-Troy Castro featuring his retired black-operative Daiken, plus short fiction from David Gerrold, Alan Dean Foster, Ian Watson, Michael F. Flynn, Mary A. Turzillo, and many others. Here’s the complete issue summary from editor Trevor Quachri.

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Merry Christmas From All of Us at Black Gate

Monday, December 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Gate Christmas Tree-small

The Black Gate offices are dark and empty and, just like last Christmas, the only illumination is from the tiny tree the interns put on top of the filing cabinets during one of the brief moments Goth Chick wasn’t watching. Another year gone. Another 618 books and magazines discussed, 62 games reviewed, 29 comics examined, and numerous issues of critical importance to the genre fiercely debated. The staff are all at home with their loved ones, sleeping the sleep of the just (and the exhausted), and the office is strangely quiet.

It’s only during moments like this that I can truly reflect on how we’ve grown over the last 17 years. When we’re busy chasing deadlines, sometimes it can seem that we’re just another genre site, one more stop on the Internet where people loudly promote their opinions. But if that were true, Black Gate would still just be me, toiling away in my basement in St. Charles in near-total obscurity. Instead, we have grown into a thriving and growing collective of writers and artists who care about fantasy. We work together to promote forgotten classics and celebrate overlooked modern writers. And to help each other.

We have some of the finest writers in the industry and they work tirelessly week after week to keep you informed on a genre with hidden depths and constant surprises. It’s been an incredible run the last few years —  an Alfie Award, a World Fantasy Award, and many other honors. The source of all that newfound fame has been you, the fans, who have helped spread the word and bring new traffic to our humble site.

So thank you once again, from the bottom of our hearts. On behalf of the vast and unruly collective that is Black Gate, I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Continue being excellent — it’s what you’re good at.

Vintage Treasures: Red Dust by Paul J. McAuley

Thursday, December 21st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Red Dust Paul McAulley-small Red Dust Paul McAulley-back-small

Paul J. McAuley was the first book reviewer for Black Gate, way back in 2000-01. His first novel, the far-future space opera Four Hundred Billion Stars (Del Rey, 1988) won the Philip K. Dick Award, the sequels Of the Fall and Eternal Light appeared in 1989 and 1991.

His first standalone novel Red Dust, set on a far-future Mars colonized by the Chinese, was published by Gollancz in the UK in 1993 and AvoNova in the US in 1995. It was packed with big ideas and technologies that are still being explored in SF today, including personality downloads, biotech, virtual reality, nanotech, A.I, and a lot more. Kirkus Reviews raved, saying:

An extraordinary saga.. Seven hundred years hence, a depopulated Earth is ruled by the Consensus eco-fanatics who allow nothing to change; on Jupiter, a self-aware probe calling itself the King of the Cats broadcasts rock music and propaganda; various dwindling groups of dissenters inhabit the asteroid belt; and Mars, habitable but slowly reverting to dust and drought and populated mostly by Chinese, is ruled by a committee of ruthless old men called the Ten Thousand Years, who, in a secret pact with the Consensus, have agreed to let Mars die in return for personal immortality. Young technician Wei Lee, who believes himself beholden to his great-grandfather, one of the Ten Thousand Years, stumbles upon a spaceship crashed in the dust… McAuley’s Mars is at once satisfyingly familiar and disquietingly alien: cultural contrasts, persuasive inventions, and constant surprises are set forth with a weird yet compelling logic. Superb.

The novel has never been reprinted in the US, but copies are still fairly easy to find online. I bought the brand new copy above on eBay for $4 two months ago. It was published by AvoNova in November 1995; it is 392 pages, priced at $4.99 in paperback. The cover is by Tim Jacobus. A digital edition was published by Gollancz/Orion in 2010. Our previous coverage of Paul J. McAuley includes his recent Choice Series and his Confluence novels.

Read Black Gate in Italian!

Saturday, December 9th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Gate in Italian

Black Gate has partnered with Heroic Fantasy Italia (HFT) to translate and post some of our most popular articles in Italian. Here’s Editor Alessandro Iascy, from his original e-mail.

I’m Alessandro Iascy and I am the publisher and editor of the Heroic Fantasy Italia portal, I’m contacting you because I always read Black Gate with great pleasure and I would like to start a sort of joint venture with you. Heroic Fantasy Italia is the most important heroic fantasy divulgation portal in Italy, and I would like to be authorized to translate and publish some of your articles on our pages… I am writing to you on my friend Mark Lawrence’s suggestion.

Although BG articles have frequently been reprinted (sometimes without our permission), this is the first time we’ve partnered to present some of our content in a foreign language. The first article to get the multi-lingual treatment was Steven Silver’s November 24th post “Elric and Me.”

Alessandro and his team did top-notch work reformatting and presenting Steven’s article; check it out here. Thanks to Alessandro, we look forward to offering more BG articles to our Italian readers.

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