New Treasures: Ghost in the Cogs edited by Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Ghost in the Cogs-back-small Ghost in the Cogs-small

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the new book from Broken Eye Books, Ghost in the Cogs, an anthology of steam-powered ghost stories, and not just because it has a story by our very own Howard Andrew Jones. Here’s what Howard had to say about it:

It’s the first time in years I’ve had a story published that didn’t feature Dabir and Asim or one of my Pathfinder characters. In this instance, it’s an alternate steampunk world with zeppelins and haunted temples and a sort of Robin Hood, Gentleman Jim, who adventures with his trusty second story gal Big Jane. They get into a scrape when they’re hired to steal a fabulous treasure that turns out to come with a few drawbacks. I had a blast writing it and I might draft more in the same world with the same characters.

The book contains no less than 22 stories, from such talented writers as Siobhan Carroll, Howard Andrew Jones, Eddy Webb, Nayad Monroe, Christopher Paul Carey, Scott Fitzgerald Gray, Richard Dansky, Nick Mamatas, Liane Merciel, James Lowder, and many others.

The always reliable Keith West saw fit to give the book a feature review at his excellent blog, Adventures Fantastic. Here’s part of his review.

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Jeffrey Ford on Scott Nicolay’s After

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Scott Nicolay After-smallJeffrey Ford took a chance on an unknown magazine, and sold us a story for the very first issue of Black Gate. (And a terrific story, too — a gonzo mystery set on an alien world, “Exo-Skeleton Town.” You can read the entire thing at Infinity Plus.) We’ve been pals ever since. One of the things I like about Jeff is he treats his Facebook friends to great, punchy mini-reviews of some excellent (and often hard-to-find) titles. That was the case yesterday, when he wrote the following about Scott Nicolay’s creepy horror tale After. He gave me permission to post it here. Enjoy.

if you get a chance, check out Scott Nicolay’s stand alone novella, After. About a woman who returns to her home in Seaside Heights after super storm Sandy to check on the damages. FEMA says she’s not allowed to stay but she does only to find out that some strange creature has been brought in by the storm and is lurking beneath her house.

This one’s got everything I like in a horror story — the slow burn, deep characterization so I care about the character, and the rare instance of a metaphorical resonance between the fearsome aspect of the world (the monster) and the defining condition of the character (in this case an abusive relationship). All this in a neat little book, well made (from Dim Shore Press) with a great cover and nice illustrations by Michael Bukowski.

Scott Nicolay is also the author of Do You Like to Look at Monsters? and Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed.

After was published by Dim Shores on August 4th 2015. It is 104 pages, priced at $10 in trade paperback. The cover is by Michael Bukowski. The Dim Shores website is here.

See all of our recent Reviews here.

Breathtaking and Truly Epic: Barnes & Noble on Michael Livingston’s The Shards of Heaven

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Shards of Heaven-smallMichael Livingston’s stories for Black Gate were widely acclaimed by our readers. So I’m looking forward to seeing how the wider world reacts to his first novel, on sale this month from Tor. I got my first taste when I saw this rave review from Sam Reader at Barnes & Noble:

The Shards of Heaven is breathtaking in scope. With the first volume of a planned series intertwining Roman history and myth with Judeo-Christian mythology, Michael Livingston has created something truly epic… He uses real events and characters as the backbone for a truly inventive epic fantasy like novel, a massive undertaking that launches a tremendously ambitious series.

With Julius Caesar dead, a civil war threatens to destroy Rome. On one side is Octavian, Caesar’a ruthless successor, who will resort to any means to assert his power over the Empire. On the other are Caesar’s former ally Marc Antony and his lover Cleopatra… But then history twists, and Octavian’s half-brother Juba, a Numidian prince and thrall of Rome, uncovers something that will upend the conflict completely: the Trident of Poseidon, which gives the wielder the ability to control any fluid with an extension of will. The discovery comes with the knowledge that the trident is but one of the legendary Shards of Heaven, artifacts whose immense power hints at the existence of a strength greater than man’s…

The action here is big and bloody… Livingston uses violence in sudden, sparing bursts, each fight given a sense of purpose and consequence — until he doesn’t: the book’s centerpiece is the Battle of Actium, a massive naval conflict both grand in scope and enormously complex in its intricacies. Livingston keeps tight control over both.

The Shards of Heaven will be published by Tor Books on November 24, 2015. It is 414 pages. priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital version. It is the opening volume in an epic new historical fantasy series set against the rise of the Roman Empire. See our previous coverage here.

Future Treasures: The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Shards of Heaven-smallMichael Livingston’s short stories in Black Gate revealed a keen talent for mixing history and fantasy — especially his acclaimed tale “The Hand That Binds (BG 9),” a fabulous retelling of the legend of Beowulf. His story “At the End of Babel( is another fine example. His first novel, on sale next month from Tor Books, reveals the secret history of Ancient Rome, and the hidden magic behind the history we know.

Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar’s ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar’s legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.

Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods — or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves… and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

Michael Livingston’s The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

The Shards of Heaven will be published by Tor Books on November 24, 2015. It is 414 pages. priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital version. It is the opening volume in an epic new historical fantasy series set against the rise of the Roman Empire.

The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_2654127zETQGQbIIn his 1978 essay “On Thud and Blunder,” Poul Anderson pointed out that heroic fantasy was “overpast for drawing inspiration from other milieus — Oriental, Near Eastern, North and Black African, Amerindian, Polynesian.” While I’m still looking for Polynesian swords & sorcery, Black Gate alumnus John R. Fultz, has written the first full Native American novel of heroic fantasy that I’m aware of: The Testament of Tall Eagle (2015).

I must admit I’ve corresponded and debated with John several times about heroic fantasy. He’s as deeply conversant with the history of S&S as anybody I know. He brings that knowledge plus a deep love for the genre to his writing. I recommend his collection The Revelations of Zang as well as his Books of the Shaper trilogy — both are wildly inventive and fun. So I went into his new book expecting good things and I was not disappointed.

Fultz’s novel is a wonderful throwback to the golden days of swords & sorcery of the 1970s. In only 324 pages, Testament recounts the adventures of Tall Eagle, a young man of a Great Plains Indian tribe in the days just before the introduction of horses to his people. It’s possessed of a straightforward narrative that’s as lean and fierce as a wolf. Instead of the Clark Ashton Smith-like prose of his previous books, much of Testament reads like a brutally realistic historical saga of 17th century Plains Indian life… until the monsters show up. And they do, in great, slimy droves.

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My Bookish Ways Interviews Howard Andrew Jones

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beyond the Pool of Stars-smallKristin Centorcelli, Editor in Chief at book blog My Bookish Ways, interviewed our Managing Editor this week about the release of his new Pathfinder Tales novel, Beyond the Pool of Stars. Here’s a snippet in which Howard talks about the Pathfinder setting.

Golarion is a rich and vibrant world, and part of why I was a fan of Paizo products long before I started working for them. It generally has a high medieval technological level, with magic intercalated into many aspects of various of the world’s cultures.

One of the reasons I set this book (and its sequel – more on that in a moment) down in tropical Sargava is that I wanted to take my readers to somewhere new. There are a lot of fantasy stories with elves and dwarves set in and around feudal societies with stone castles and mighty forests.

Mirian’s world is one of beaches and ships and the lap of waves, and the cool darkness of mysterious ocean depths. She doesn’t wear armor or carry a long sword, although she might carry a cutlass. She doesn’t contend with goblins or the fey, but with monsters of the deep and lizard folk, and even the prejudice of the colonial culture ruling her homeland. She’s of mixed race, but owing to her coloration the colonials see her as native.

Read the complete interview here, and see our previous coverage of Beyond the Pool of Stars here.

Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars was published by Tor Books on October 6, 2015. It is 347 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Tyler Jacobson (see the complete wraparound art here). Read more at Howard’s website.

Announcing the Winners of Carter & Lovecraft

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Carter & Lovecraft-smallEarlier this month we invited Black Gate readers to enter to win one of two pre-release copies of Jonathan L. Howard’s new novel of Lovecraftian mystery, Carter & Lovecraft, on sale this month from Thomas Dunne Books. To enter, all you had to do was submit a one-sentence suggestion for the ideal Lovecraft team-up — and what dark horrors your dream team should investigate.

We don’t have room to present all the entries here, but we can offer up some of the better ones. The very first one we received was from Jeff Lowrey, with this remarkably concise suggestion:

Gilligan and Agent 99

The mind boggles. Next up is John T. Curtis, who reaches deep into pulp history for his suggestion:

Seabury Quinn’s character Jules de Grandin and Sax Rohmer’s character Moris Klaw should team up to investigate the disappearance of Harley Warren, as related in Lovecraft’s tale “The Statement of Randolph Carter.”

Sounds like an epic TV mini-series to me. John Burt suggests something a little more modern:

A Constantine – Lovecraft teamup, where they determine whether nicotine or depression is worse.

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Kickstarting a Belated Black Gate Story: The Imlen Bastard

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Avery

"Aliosha Popovich" by Kate Baylay, from a collection of Russian Fairy Tales. Used by kind permission of the artist.

“Aliosha Popovich” by Kate Baylay, from a collection of Russian Fairy Tales. Used by kind permission of the artist.

Back in the age of print magazines, I made my first professional sale to a fellow named John O’Neill who published a gorgeous quarterly called Black Gate. We went through three deep revisions on that manuscript, a process we both enjoyed enough that, after I finally produced a version of “The War of the Wheat Berry Year” good enough for John to buy, he asked if I had anything else featuring that heroine. And I did. To our surprise, my novella “The Imlen Bastard” needed only a little polish to be ready for print. And so it took its place in the publication queue. Forthcoming from Black Gate, I said of it in my author bio all over the internet, for a few years.

Those years were hard on print magazines, and they weren’t much kinder to online fiction markets. “The War of the Wheat Berry Year” appeared in BG‘s last print issue. Ultimately, John stopped publishing fiction online before “The Imlen Bastard” could make its debut here.

But to me it’ll always be a Black Gate story.

So when I found an artist, Kate Baylay, whose work felt like my favorite old BG print covers — luscious, menacing, full of subtle story implications — I knew I’d found the right cover artist for “The Imlen Bastard.” Everything else I wanted to do with the self-publishing project that has grown up around the novella came together for me quickly after that. Best of all, Kate Baylay embraced the manuscript, and we’ve had so much fun going over the story together to find the most iconic moments for interior illustrations.

Then I enlisted superstar editor Betsy Mitchell — now retired from Del Rey after a career of editing people like Naomi Novik, Michael Chabon, William Gibson, and Octavia Butler — to give the novella an editorial boost. I figured, there’s a difference between standing as the longest piece in a magazine issue and standing alone as a book. I’m still kind of amazed that she took me on as a freelance client, when she’s in a position to work only on manuscripts she really enjoys. So that boded well.

At first, we all agreed that I’d launch a Kickstarter campaign over the summer, but then I got shortlisted for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. I held off on self-publishing for a few months so I’d know whether to say Finalist or Winner in my promotional material. After the award, I needed to readjust my hubris levels — a story that’s done me the kindness of coming to me to be written deserves the best promotion I can give it, and now I had to work up more brazenness than ever before on my stories’ behalf. Brazenness is harder than it looks. This month, with the thank-you notes for the award all written and sent out, and a trophy to feature in my Kickstarter video, it was finally time.

I clicked on the launch button at noon. You can find the campaign here.

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Victorian Horror: Rippers Resurrected

Thursday, October 15th, 2015 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

rippers 1rippers 2I’ve been waiting for this Kickstarter for years. You see, more than a decade ago, when Savage Worlds was newly launched, one of their very first expansions was a setting called Rippers, where brave heroes in Victorian times fought those things-man-was-not-meant-to-know. Those especially daring, or foolish, could harvest the organs or powers of the creatures of the night in the fight against them. These were the Rippers.

It’s only been available as a PDF or (very) expensive used book. I picked it up as a PDF and loved it, both for the setting and included adventures, and for the system. And I’ve been waiting for the an update, rumors of which have been swirling for ages.

I’ve become quite the fan of Savage Worlds because it really is, as advertised, Fast, Furious, and Fun. Savage Worlds places a premium on being streamlined and cinematic so that players and GM can worry about the story and not about the rules.

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New Treasures: Souldrifter by Garrett Calcaterra

Monday, October 12th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Souldrifter-small2Garrett Calcaterra’s most recent posts for us were “Fantasy Clichés Done Right and “Can SF Save the World From Climate Change?” In addition to investigative reporting, he also dabbles in writing fantasy novels. Dreamwielder, the opening novel in his Dreamwielder Chronicles, is a terrific sword & sorcery adventure, and has been widely acclaimed. James P. Blaylock called it “fast-paced, colorful, and richly detailed… My kind of book,” and Tim Powers proclaimed it a “good solid fantasy adventure.” Souldrifter, the long-anticipated second volume in the series, finally went on sale last month.

In the shadow of Emperor Guderian’s fallen empire, young Queen Makarria finds her throne ― and her life ― in grave danger. The Old World Republic has come, demanding that Queen Makarria bring order to the struggling Five Kingdoms by forming a new empire, one she would rule as the Old World’s puppet. When Makarria refuses them, the Old World threatens war and unleashes a nefarious spy to sow discord in her court. Before she knows it, Makarria’s budding romance with Prince Caile has been exploited by the spy, and Makarria finds herself embroiled in a complex game of power and lies in which she can trust no one.

Betrayed and lost, Makarria is forced to shed all pride and discover the true nature of her power as a dreamwielder in order to recreate herself and face the sprawling threat that is the Old World Empire.

Souldrifter was published by Diversion Publishing on September 29, 2015. It is 298 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the digital edition. Try a sample chapter right here at Black Gate.

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