Darker Than Weird by John R. Fultz (Jackanapes Press, April 15, 2023). Cover art & interior illustrations by Dan Sauer
I devoured John R. Fultz’s 2021 Worlds Beyond Worlds collection (Black Gate review link). His action-fueled, weird short fiction has graced many venues like Weird Tales & Weirdbook, and his novel The Testament of Tall Eagle (and The Son of Tall Eagle) and the Books of the Shaper series have garnered praise from pillars in the field:
“A master of his craft.” —DON WEBB, Author of Building Strange Temples
“Fultz delivers the goods.” —HOWARD ANDREW JONES, Author of The Ring-Sworn Trilogy
“An author with an exceptional talent for characterization and world building.” —The Library Journal
Longtime Black Gate readers will recall John R. Fultz illustrated & published a series on this site called Skulls (Chapter One Link). I interviewed him back in 2017 for the Beauty in Weird Fiction series (right before that was picked up by Black Gate; keep an eye out for a re-interview in the coming year!).
With cover art & interior illustrations by Dan Sauer, John R. Fultz releases another dark & weird collection; well, specifically, it’s Darker than Weird – Fourteen Tales of Horror (Just released April 15th, 2023 by Jackanapes Press; available from the publisher and Amazon).
Witch King by Martha Wells (Tor.com, May 30, 2023). Cover art by Cynthia Sheppard
Martha Wells was one of the most popular authors we published in Black Gate. Her terrific Ile-Rien tales (“Reflections,” Black Gate #10, “Holy Places,” BG #11, and “Houses of the Dead,” BG #12) were set in the same world as her nebula-nominated novel The Death of the Necromancer, and her popular Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy (The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods).
Of course, her career really took off with the appearance of Muderbot. The first two books in the series, All Systems Red and Artificial Condition, won back-to-back Hugo and Locus Awards; after that Martha graciously declined further nominations to give other nominees a chance. That didn’t stop the Hugo electorate from voting The Murderbot Diaries the 2021 Hugo Award for Best Series (the same year that Network Effect, the 5th volume, won the Hugo for Best Novel).
Martha’s upcoming Witch King, her first new fantasy novel in over a decade, arrives from Tor.com at the end of the month and, as you can imagine, it’s one of the most highly anticipated books of the year. Martha has promised us a guest post on the book in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
I never met Rick Robinson. I knew him, as many of you did, as R.K. Robinson, one of Black Gate‘s most enthusiastic readers. He began by subscribing to our print version two decades ago, and became a regular supporter of the blog when we switched to electronic publication in 2011. He left over 500 comments here over the years, and that’s how I came to know him, as a knowledgeable and friendly reader whom we could always count on to kick off the discussion in the Comments section, especially when we were talking vintage science fiction and fantasy.
Here’s a typical Rick comment, from a 2019 New Treasures piece on Megan E. O’Keefe’s Velocity Weapon, lamenting the sheer volume of fabulous new stuff on the shelves.
This sounds really good. John, you’re like the candy man of new books. I’m getting overwhelmed, sinking, slowly, into the swamp of hardcovers, paperbacks, ebooks… I’m drowning here.
It’s here! You probably know that back in 2019, many of the leading Robert E. Howard experts and fans contributed to a terrific series here at Black Gate on REH’s Conan stories. Prior to that, Black Gate’s own Howard Andrew Jones, along with Bill Ward, had over on his own blog, done a deep dive into each story as well.
Jason Waltz and his Rogue Blades Foundation combined those two series’ and added much more content. Now, Hither Came Conan is a print book that is THE definitive guide to REH’s sword-swinging Cimmerian (Hollywood added ‘the Barbarian’ tag – that’s not REH).
Howard wrote 20 Conan short stories, and one novel. Plus, there’s one unfinished tale (“Wolves Beyond the Border”). Each of the twenty-two stories has an essay from the Black Gate series, as well as Howard and Bill’s blog entry. Plus, there are thirteen new essays related to various stories. Finally there, are eleven additional essays not tied to a specific story.
KICKSTARTER FOR ISSUES 1 & 2 Thirty-day crowdfunding campaign begins on Feb 2nd, with issues shipping in Fall 2023
The legendary Michael Moorcock will have a brand new, original story featured in issue #1.
He joins twenty other fiction & non-fiction authors, such as Canadian horror master Gemma Files, Margaret Killjoy, David C. Smith, Hugo Award-winner Cora Buhlert, Milton Davis, and more. There will also be a tale by Jesús Montalvo, an author from the burgeoning S&S scene south of the US border, translated from its original Spanish.
Each issue will feature seven original stories and four works of non-fiction: one book review, one essay, one in-depth interview, and one historical literary profile of figures like Charles Saunders or Cele Goldsmith. All stories, essays, and the profiles will be paired with at least one original B&W illustration.
Cinema of Swords by Lawrence Ellsworth (Applause, June 15, 2023)
Hellooooo, Black Gate! If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen my circa-weekly Cinema of Swords articles about swordplay adventure films, but this week we’re here to talk about the full Cinema of Swords volume coming your way this summer, 2023, from Applause Books. This happy event is thanks in large measure to your support and that of Black Gate’s esteemed editor John O’Neill, so thank you! For an author, every new book is an anxious roll of the dice, and it’s a thrill and a relief when your work actually makes it to publication.
So, what will you find in Cinema of Swords? The book’s mouthful of a subtitle is “A Popular Guide to Movies about Knights, Pirates, Samurai, and Vikings (And Barbarians, Musketeers, Gladiators, and Outlaw Heroes) from the Silent Era through The Princess Bride.” Fully illustrated, it compiles 400+ informative short reviews of live-action movies and TV shows on those subjects up through the ‘80s, where I stopped because that’s all I could fit into one volume. I included only films and shows that an interested person can find on streaming services or disc without paying a fortune, so long out-of-print or otherwise unavailable titles didn’t make the cut.
Reviews are listed alphabetically, but in addition to a straight title index, the book includes genre indexes so you can easily find films related to a specific interest. Conveniently, that also provides a way to give you a fuller taste of the book’s contents. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Tales From the Magician’s Skull #8. Cover by Ken Kelly
What have Howard Andrew Jones and his cabal of mad writers and artists been toiling to create, deep in the abandoned publishing mines below Evanston, Illinois?
Many bothans died to bring us early word, and now at last we can share it with you: it’s issue #8 of the world’s greatest Sword & Sorcery magazine, Tales From the Magician’s Skull!
According to hand-written notes scrawled by dying bothans, the long-awaited new issue is packed with fiction of keen interest to Black Gate readers, including a new Morlock tale by James Enge, a new Tale of Gaunt and Bone by Chris Wilrich, and fiction by C. L. Werner, Robert Rhodes, Jeremy Pak Nelson, and many others — all packaged under a cover by legendary artist Ken Kelly. The issue is available to buy today; check out all the details below.
We have exciting news to share about Howard Andrew Jones and Sword & Sorcery.
Howard Andrew Jones in Magazines
Howard Andrew Jones is a titan amongst the Black Gate staff, having served as Manager Editor of the paperback magazine from 2004 onward. He has also been a champion of adventure fiction, being the driving force behind the rebirth of interest in Harold Lamb’s historical fiction (assembled and edited 8 collections of Lamb’s work for the University of Nebraska Press). On the Sword & Sorcery front, he has been blogging about the genre for decades (and his posts on the now-obsolete Flashing Swords e-zine… and subsequently on Black Gate… regarding REVISITING THE NEW EDGE would eventually coin the term “New Edge S&S”). Howard Andrew Jones is currently the Editor for the sword-and-sorcery magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull, published by Goodman Games.
HAJ in Books
Howard Jones’s debut historical fantasy novel, The Desert of Souls (Thomas Dunne Books 2011), was widely acclaimed by influential publications like Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly, made Kirkus’ New and Notable list for 2011, and was on both Locus’s Recommended Reading List and the Barnes and Noble Best Fantasy Releases list of 2011. Its sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones, made the Barnes and Noble Best Fantasy Release of 2013 and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. He is the author of four Pathfinder novels, an e-collection of short stories featuring the heroes from his historical fantasy novels, The Waters of Eternity, and the Ring-Sworn trilogy from St. Martin’s, starting with For the Killing of Kings, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and concluding with When the Goddess Wakes, which received the same recognition.
Now There is Even More!
Baen Books signed Howard Andrew Jones to pen five books: The Chronicles of Hanuvar (the first book to arrive August 2023). Press release below.
Catalyst by Brandon Crilly (Atthis Arts, October 11, 2022). Cover artist uncredited.
Hello, Black Gate folks! Normally I spend my time here raving about other people’s books, but this time I’m in the very weird position of talking about my own. Yikes. Catalyst is my debut fantasy novel, releasing in October from Atthis Arts, and John has graciously invited me to talk a bit about the world of the book.
Catalyst centers on three estranged friends: Mavrin, a street magician who doesn’t believe in real magic, other than what the Aspects provide; Eyasu, labeled a heretic by the Aspects’ followers but determined to prove a secret history everyone else rejects; and Deyeri, a retired soldier whose adopted city is threatened by forces tied to that history. They begin the story in different corners of Aelda, a world that split apart at its core a little over three centuries earlier, and would have been destroyed completely if not for the intervention of the Aspects: massive, cephalopod-like beings the people of Aelda believe to be their gods, who have been circling the planet ever since providing atmosphere and holding what remains of Aelda together.
Experience Skallagrim – In the Vales of Pagarna by Stephen R. Babb in all its forms. This post covers everything to get you hooked, from a summary, review, excerpts, and links to the complementing albums from Glass Hammer. Reading Skallagrim feels like you are a witness to the live version of Frazetta’s “Against the Gods” painting! You actually witness a hero grab a sword from the sky.
The opening scene poses a set of mysteries as the titular protagonist is brutally attacked in the streets of Archon, the Dreaming City. He loses his memory during the struggle, by wounds or sorcery, so the hero and the reader want to know: Why Skallagrim in a melee? Who is he, really? Why does he feel protective over a maiden kidnapped during the conflict? Why are multiple sorcerers after him? Why the hell can he grab a sentient, screaming sword that materializes from a sudden storm?
The rest of the book unravels these questions, as Skallagrim races against time to save the mystery maiden. He’ll wrestle with eldritch, chthonic creatures, a herd of ghouls, a few necromancers, and an assassin. As Skallagrim unearths the weird history of Andorath’s Southern Region, we get to learn about it as he battles. The book stands alone, but did you know that Stephen R. Babb has been a progressive rocker and theatrical-album-leader for thirty years (more on Glass Hammer below!). Poems and lyrics infuse the prose. For the full effect, readers should listen to the complementary Skallagrim albums. These are not Audio Books. These are thematic rock sets chronicling Skallagrim’s heroic journey. Embedded below are the opening songs to (1) and (2). Listen to these! Babb is creating a rich world here.