Birthday Reviews: Steven H Silver’s “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium”

Thursday, April 19th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

Galaxy's Edge March 2018-smallSteven H Silver was born on April 19, 1967. Despite allegations that the H stands for Hodputt, Horatio, or Horseshoes, in fact the initial is his entire middle name.

Silver has been nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo 12 times, putting him in contention for the Susan Lucci Award in that category. He is the long-time editor and publisher of Argentus. He has edited three anthologies for DAW in collaboration with Martin H. Greenberg, celebrating the first sales of prominent SF, Fantasy, and Horror writers. His first story appeared in Helix magazine in 2008, and he has published several further stories in anthologies such as Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies; and Little Green Men — Attack! He is widely regarded as the primary heir to the legacy of the great Jerome Walton.

“Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” was published in the March 2018 issue of Galaxy’s Edge magazine. Shockingly, the story has not been reprinted since.

As the titles of the anthologies mentioned above might hint, many of Silver’s stories are comical in nature. So it is with “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium.” The narrator, Garoa, is an alien who has come to the title location, a notorious black market. He’s planning to sell his crop of hydroponically grown Brussels Sprouts, which evidently are a prized drug to a certain category of aliens.

He is accosted by a thug working for a gangster with whom he had done business, accusing him of cheating his boss before. He denies this, and things might get tricky, but the huge Hodputt intervenes. However, when Garoa unwisely agrees to leave the premises with a prospective customer, he is beaten up by the aforementioned thug, and on reviving, realizes that all his valuables are gone, including the key to his spaceship. He makes his way back there and begins to take revenge — but the prospective customer instead makes him an offer…

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Future Treasures: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Twelve, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Twelve-smallI recently discovered the Coode Street Podcast, hosted by editor Jonathan Strahan and Chicago Tribune critic Gary K. Wolfe, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. They discuss a wide variety of topics of interest to SF and fantasy readers every week — everything from the Hugo nominations, the best debuts of the year, art in science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin, conventions, upcoming releases, and so much more — and they’re both so articulate and knowledgeable, and so darn enthusiastic, that you can’t help coming away from each hour-long conversation with a lengthy list of brand new books you just have to check out.

I feel the same way about Jonathan Strahan’s annual Best Science Fiction of the Year. The latest volume makes it an even dozen, and each one has helped me discover a handful of delightful new authors. It’s a book I cherish every year, and this one — with stories by Samuel R. Delany, Yoon Ha Lee, Caroline M. Yoachim, Rich Larson, Indrapramit Das, Charlie Jane Anders, Linda Nagata, Theodora Goss, Greg Egan, Mary Robinette Kowal, Scott Lynch, Maureen McHugh, Alastair Reynolds, Karl Schroeder, Kai Ashante Wilson, and our very own C.S.E. Cooney — looks even more stellar than most.

It arrives in trade paperback from Solaris next week. Here’s the Table of Contents.

“The Mocking Tower,” Daniel Abraham (The Book of Swords)
“Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue,” Charlie Jane Anders (Boston Review)
“Probably Still the Chosen One,” Kelly Barnhill (Lightspeed)
“My English Name,” R. S. Benedict (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance,” Tobias Buckell (Cosmic Powers)
“Though She Be But Little,” C.S.E. Cooney (Uncanny)
“The Moon is Not a Battlefield,” Indrapramit Das (Infinity Wars)
“The Hermit of Houston,” Samuel R. Delany (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine,” Greg Egan (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
“Crispin’s Model,” Max Gladstone (Tor.com)
“Come See the Living Dryad,” Theodora Goss (Tor.com)

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March/April 2018 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction March April 2018-smallI tell myself that I read Asimov’s SF primarily for the fiction, but the fact is that I always flip to the same things first, issue after issue: Sheila Williams’ always-thoughtful editorial, and Robert Silverberg’s excellent Reflections column. In the March/April issue Bob’s article, Rereading Fletcher Pratt, is particularly fascinating, as he discusses Pratt’s 1948 fantasy classic The Well of the Unicorn.

I have just reread Well of the Unicorn with the same admiration and delight as before, and find myself regretting that this great fantasy writer is now just about completely unknown to today’s readers… Pratt’s primary reputation as a writer of historical works carried the book into disaster from the first moment of publication. Instead of taking it to one of the small publishing companies specializing then in fantasy and science fiction, which might not have been receptive to anything so esoteric in manner, he brought it to the mainstream house of William Sloane Associates, a short-lived company with strong literary predilections. They made the catastrophic decision to publish the book not under Pratt’s name (which was associated mainly with his works of military history), but under a new byline entirely, “George U. Fletcher,” a pseudonym used for the one and only time here. Thus, at a single stroke, the novel was cut off from the readers of Pratt’s previous fiction, particularly the well-beloved Harold Shea stories, and from those readers of his books of history who might have been attracted to a work of fantasy that reflected his knowledge of warfare. Bookstores and reviewers thus had no idea of how to deal with the book, and although Sloane put it out in an elegant edition with a handsome jacket and many internal maps, it sank out of sight instantly and not long after publication day arrived at the remainder tables, where I, a high-school student at the time, happily bought a copy for fifty-nine cents. (I knew about the book, despite the opacity of the “Fletcher” byline, because Sprague de Camp had done his old collaborator a favor by reviewing it in Astounding Science Fiction, calling it “a colorful and fast-moving adventure fantasy” that any connoisseur of fantasy would want to have, and hinting broadly and unmistakably at the identity of its author.)

So I laid out my fifty-nine cents (not all that inconsiderable a sum back then) and bought the book, and read it immediately, and loved it, though I was not really a “connoisseur of fantasy” and indeed rather preferred science fiction. I thought it was just grand. And have cherished it ever since.

If you act fast (before the May/June issue arrives on April 24) you can read Bob’s complete column online here.

This issue has a “blockbuster novella” from Black Gate author — and my former Motorola colleague — Bill Johnson (“Mama Told Me Not to Come,” BG 4), the long-awaited sequel to his Hugo Award-winning story “We Will Drink a Fish Together.” Plus a second novella, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and stories by Robert Reed, James Gunn, Rich Larson, Mary Robinette Kowal, James Van Pelt, and more. Here’s editor Sheila Williams’ issue summary.

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Black Gate on the list for the 2018 REH Foundation Awards

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 | Posted by Bob Byrne

REHaward_ShanksIf you were to take a poll at Black Gate World Headquarters, asking for the staff’s favorite author, I’d put my money on Robert E. Howard coming in at the top spot. ‘Conan’ appeared in a Black Gate headline over a decade ago (thank you, Charles Rutledge!). Ryan Harvey, John Fultz, Bill Ward, William Patrick Maynard, Brian Murphy, Howard Andrew Jones, Barbra Barrett and more have written about Howard and his works under the Black Gate banner.

And the respect and love of Howard’s work has only increased over the past few years. All with the standard Black Gate quality. For the third year in a row, there is a solid Black Gate presence on the Robert E. Howard Foundation Preliminary Awards List. Our nominees for 2018:

The Cimmerian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay (Online)

(Essays must have made their first public published appearance in the previous calendar year and be substantive scholarly essays on the life and/or work of REH. Short blog posts, speeches, reviews, trip reports, and other minor works do not count.)

BOB BYRNE – “Robert E. Howard Wrote a Police Procedural? With Conan?? Crom!!!”

JAMES McGLOTHLIN – “A Tale of Two Robert E. Howard Biographies”

M. HAROLD PAGE – “Why Isn’t Conan a Mary Sue?”

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Future Treasures: The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath

Monday, March 19th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sisters Mederos-smallPatrice Sarath’s story “A Prayer for Captain LaHire” appeared in Black Gate 4 and was reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy 3 (2003). She published the Gordath Wood trilogy (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl) between 2008 – 2012. Her latest is something brand new, the tale of a once-great family that has fallen on hard times, and the two sisters — one who becomes a masked bandit, and another with secret supernatural powers — who set out to reverse their family’s downfall. Publishers Weekly praised it saying,

The young women, newly returned from boarding school to a fantasy version of a preindustrial European port city, are determined to restore their family’s fortune and revenge themselves on the corrupt Merchant’s Guild, whose machinations lie behind House Mederos’s downfall. Yvienne, “the smartest girl in Port Saint Frey,” provokes through newspaper editorials, takes a governess job as an entrée into the houses of the powerful, and eventually discovers the excitement of committing armed robbery. Tesara, who conceals supernatural powers that she blames for the shipwreck that ruined her family, ingratiates herself with the upper classes at gambling tables… [The] heroines are entertaining company, and the dynamic between the two sisters — occasionally contentious, often secretive, always loving — is the most enjoyable part of this effervescent tale.

Here’s the official description.

Two sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure.

House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…

Together the sisters must trust each another to keep their secrets and save their family.

The Sisters Mederos will be published by Angry Robot on April 3, 2018. It is 368 pages, priced at $12.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Paul Young. Read an excerpt at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, and a brief discussion at Patrice’s website.


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 (Tor.com)

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 (Tor.com, 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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