Call for Backers! Unique Anthology THEN AGAIN Blends Literary and Speculative Fictions Through Art

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Emily Mah

Then Again cover-small

Where can you find original short stories by John Crowley, Sofia Samatar, Sarena Ulibarri, Tina Connolly, Mary Ruefle, Elizabeth Hand, Paul Park, Jim and Karen Shepard, Paul Di Filippo, Akiko Busch, Safia Elhillo, Jeffrey Ford, Kij Johnson, Kirsten Imani Kasai, Renee Simms, and others all in one place? Now this is a Kickstarter campaign worth backing — one of the rewards is a special edition of this book.

Laura Christensen is a visual artist who has developed a technique for painting on found vintage photographs. Her seamlessly altered photographs are like stills from dreams: surreal, but real-seeming. By the time she finds a photograph, its chains of personal connections have broken. Subjects are freed to become characters cast and costumed, players in other stories. As an extension of this practice, she has invited 30 award-winning authors to write stories and poems in response to her art.

THEN AGAIN: Vintage Photography Reimagined by One Artist and Thirty Writers, is the singular anthology that assembles these richly imagined stories and poems with the captivating images that inspired them.

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A Pocketful of Lodestones, Book Two of The Time Traveler Professor by Elizabeth Crowens

Monday, April 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Silent Meridian A Pocketful of Lodestones

Elizabeth Crowens began writing for us two years ago, and she quickly became one of the most popular writers in the Black Gate community. She’s interviewed a host of fascinating subjects — including Martin Page, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, Nancy Kilpatrick, Charlaine Harris, Gail Carriger, Jennifer Brozek, and many others — and collected her lengthy interviews in two highly readable volumes of The Poison Apple.

Many BG readers are unaware that Elizabeth is also a talented and successful fiction writer. Her first novel Silent Meridian, which James A. Moore (Seven Forges, Tides of War) called “fun, entertaining and delightfully different… a rollercoaster ride with a side of the sublime,” was published to wide acclaim in 2016. This summer A Pocketful of Lodestones, the second volume in The Time Traveler Professor, arrives from Atomic Alchemist Productions, and expectations are high among Crowens’ many fans.

The Time Traveler Professor is a game-changer of a series. Jonathan Maberry calls it “a delightful genre-twisting romp through time and possibilities,” and A Pocketful of Lodestones significantly ups the ante. This installment is fast-paced and exciting, and jumps into the action immediately. It introduces ghosts, a series of supernatural murders, and a strange and fascinating form of magic. Crowens expertly juggles a complex and engaging plot involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the outbreak of World World I, an enigmatic time traveler, and the mysterious red book that tantalized readers in the first volume, The Thief of Tales.

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Is Truth Knowable? Matthew Surridge on Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Sunday, March 31st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Golden State Ben Winters-smallOver at Splice Today, Matthew Surridge reviews a book a novel I overlooked back in January, but I wish I hadn’t: Golden State by Ben Winters. Matthew says it’s “in the vein of Philip K. Dick mixing detective stories and science-fiction dystopias. It’s a story about truth, the pursuit of truth, and whether truth is knowable.” Here’s the part of his review that grabbed me.

I take it on faith that California exists. Various sources I trust tell me it’s a real place, despite its presence in movies, and I believe most of those sources even though I’ve never been to the so-called Golden State. Much of life is like that: one patches together an idea of the world based on a sense of what information can be trusted and what can’t.

Ben H. Winters’ novel Golden State imagines a world in which that’s no longer the case, or at least imagines a strange version of California where the residents believe in the knowability of what is Objectively So. Cameras record everything that happens, everywhere. Citizens keep a record of their daily lives in Day Books, meticulously filing every note and receipt. Some keep a record of their dreams and other nocturnal activities in a Night Book. Fiction as we know it is unheard of. Lying is utterly forbidden by law on pain of exile to the desert beyond the State’s borders. And a force of secret police, Speculators, keep residents in line with a psychic ability to detect falsehood in their vicinity. Or, at least, what they believe is a psychic ability…

Golden State evokes the great science-fictional dystopias of the 20th century… [it] is a meditation on truth wrapped up in a science-fictional detective story.

Ben Winters is also the author of The Last Policeman trilogy, which we covered back in 2013.

Read Matthew’s complete review of Golden State at Splice Today.

Golden State was published by Mulholland Books on January 22, 2019. It is 336 pages, priced at $28 in hardcover and $14.99 in digital formats. See all our recent coverage of the best new fantasy and science fiction here.


Why I’m Releasing My New Novel Online (for Free!)

Thursday, March 28th, 2019 | Posted by John R. Fultz

A Few Odd Souls Fultz-smallWhat do you do when you’ve written a novel that’s so weird and unclassifiable that it doesn’t seem to “fit” anywhere? Well, you can throw it in the fireplace and watch it burn along with all your hopes and dreams. Or you can self-publish.

Self-publishing doesn’t have the stigma it used to have. There are plenty of self-publishers who sell thousands of books–many of them in e-book only format. Apparently there is a set of skills and procedures that can lead to self-publishing e-book success. However, self-publishing traditionally in either paper or digital format involves far more marketing and “business” work than simply turning over your latest manuscript to a publisher. As a writer, I’m interested in telling stories. I don’t care much for the other aspects of self-publishing: marketing, management, promotion, etc. I’m in this game to WRITE, not to market, promote, or run a business.

I want to write good books/stories and find readers who might enjoy them. So I thought: Outside of a traditional publisher, and without jumping through the hoops of e-publishing, what is the quickest, easiest, and least painful way to get my new novel to readers across the globe? I pondered this question for many months. Then I heard about a guy named Andy Weir.

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For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_53921t7oYJGMSWhen comes my numbered day, I will meet it smiling. For I’ll have kept this oath.

I shall use my arms to shield the weak.

I shall use my lips to speak the truth, and my eyes to seek it.

I shall use my hand to mete justice to high and to low, and I will weigh all things with heart and mind.

Where I walk the laws will follow, for I am the sword of my people and the shepherd of their lands.

When I fall, I will rise through my brothers and my sisters, for I am eternal.

 

 

Pledge of the Altenerai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyrkenall, veteran of the great war that almost destroyed the realm of Darassus, and Elenai, a young squire, both members of the Altenerai, an elite corps of warriors, find themselves on the run from their comrades in Howard Andrew Jones’ rapid-fire new book, For the Killing of Kings. At an almost brief 350 pages, it moves at an astounding pace, each chapter ratcheting up the suspense and the danger until everything seems ready to spin out of control. This is exciting storytelling from one of the best and most knowledgeable writers of heroic fantasy around. If you haven’t yet read Jones, this is an awesome place to start.

A little less than a decade before the book begins, the barbarian Naor almost conquered Darassus. In the end, the Naor were driven to near collapse by the Altenerai under the leadership of N’lahr. Following their massive battlefield defeat, the queen of Darassus, against the advice of the Altenerai, offered the barbarians peace. They accepted and withdrew to their ancestral lands. As the book begins, though, it seems the barbarians are on the move, threatening to bring fire and death once more to Darassus.

During the war a prophecy had been made that Mazakan, warlord of the Naor barbarians, would die at the hand of N’lahr by his sword, Irion. Though Mazakan surivived and N’lahr died, Irion hangs in the Altenerai’s hall and has remained a totem strong enough to deter the Naor from a full invasion. Until now.

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Future Treasures: Warhammer Horror: The Wicked and the Damned by Josh Reynolds, David Annandale, and Phil Kelly

Monday, March 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Wicked and the Damned-smallFive years ago, when I was commuting to Glenview and in the car three hours a day, I got hooked on Warhammer 40K audio books. My favorites were the Horus Heresy volumes, especially Ben Counter’s epic tale of betrayal and revenge Galaxy in Flames, but I devoured them all.

I take the train these days, and don’t keep up on the unfolding drama in the dark days of the 40th Millennium the way I used to, but I still pay attention when I can. So I was very intrigued to hear about the launch of Warhammer Horror, a new line of books and audio plays (wait… like the current line isn’t dark enough??) It arrives next month with three launch titles, the short-story anthology Maledictions, an audio drama titled Perdition’s Flame, and a collaborative novel titled The Wicked and the Damned, from three stars of the Warhammer stable. That last one is the one that really interests me, and mostly because of this description:

A chilling mosaic novel by masters of their craft.

On a misty cemetery world, three strangers are drawn together through mysterious circumstances. Each of them has a tale to tell of a narrow escape from death. Amid the toll of funerary bells and the creep and click of mortuary-servitors, the truth is confessed. But whose story can be trusted? Whose recollection is warped, even unto themselves? For these are strange stories of the uncanny, the irrational and the spine-chillingly frightening, where horrors abound and the dark depths of the human psyche is unearthed.

“A chilling portmanteau. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. The perfect combination of horror and Warhammer 40,000.” – Paul Kane.

Josh Reynolds wrote the popular Nightmare Men series on occult detectives here at Black Gate, David Annandale is the author of the Yarrick series and a contributor to The Beast Arises, and Phil Kelly is the man behind War of Secrets and Crisis of Faith.

The Wicked and the Damned will be published by Warhammer Horror on April 2, 2019. It is 400 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback. No word on a digital version yet. See all our previous Warhammer coverage here.


A Time Travel Epic of Grand Scale and Everyday Life: Time’s Children by D.B. Jackson

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Margaret S. McGraw

Times-Children-DB-Jackson-smallerTime’s Children is the first novel in a new series called The Islevale Cycle, by D. B. Jackson, one of my favorite fantasy authors. Jackson excels at fully realized worldbuilding, including nature, culture, history, religion, politics — the grand scale and everyday life. Islevale is no exception: a large collection of islands with a great variety of culture and nature among them, as well as travel by ship on the waters between. Our young hero Tobias has been raised in Trevynisle, trained in practical and magical studies. He is quickly swept into his travel adventure on a merchant sailing ship, and then to various city and wilderness locations throughout Islevale.

The magic of Islevale centers around Travelers: Walkers, who can travel through time; Spanners, who can move instantly between great distances; and Crossers, who can move through solid objects. The magic is a combination of innate talent and the use of special tools to calibrate each destination. Tobias is a Walker, and we learn the intricacies of these magical abilities through his experiences.

Time travel is a challenge for any storyteller, and Jackson builds a solid and realistic framework for the Walkers. The amount they move forward or back in time is added to their physical body. For instance, if Tobias goes back one week in time and then returns the one week day to his original “present,” his body ages two weeks, although his mind and memory would only have aged the amount of time he experienced during the “trip.” Trevynisle’s governing rules prevent Walkers from going more than one year past or future. But Tobias accepts a mission to go fourteen years in the past — he leaves his “present” as a fifteen-year-old boy and arrives in the body of an almost-thirty-year-old man. The characters wrestle with the mechanics and morality of time travel and their actions in the past, present, and future — their choices have real consequences, anticipated or not.

I also particularly enjoyed the elements of daily life that affect the characters and the action. When Tobias is called before the Lord Chancellor of Trevynisle, he comes immediately from sword practice — hot, sweaty, and concerned about appearing in such rough condition. When he rescues infant Sofya, he suddenly has to deal with feeding, changing and caring for a baby — in addition to evading assassins still intent on completing their mission!

Tobias is not our only point of view character — in fact, we see the story from many different perspectives, including the antagonists. I enjoy this kind of storytelling, and Jackson does an amazing job building the richness of the world and presenting each point-of-view character with their own voice. In addition to the broad cast of human characters, there are other intriguing species in Islevale — mostly dangerous to humans. On Trevynisle, Tobias has befriended Droë a mysterious Tirribin who becomes an integral part of the story. Through Droë, we learn of other magical creatures whom the humans only know as “demons,” such as the predatory Belvora, all bound by the oaths and laws of the Distraint. I was pleasantly surprised to see Droë become a more central character, and I hope to see more of her and the other “demons” in the rest of the series.

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Weird and Wonderful and Frightening: An Interview with Fantasy Renaissance Man Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

For the Killing of Kings-smaller Howard Andrew Jones thinks big thoughts-small

Howard Andrew Jones is a true renaissance man of modern fantasy. He began writing short stories featuring his Arabian heroes Dabir & Asim for magazines and anthologies like Paradox, Sages & Swords, and Black Gate. He switched to novels with the widely acclaimed The Desert of Souls, one of the major works of fantasy of 2011. He followed that with a sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones (2011), and a 4-book sequence for Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows, Stalking the Beast, Beyond the Pool of Stars, and Through the Gate in the Sea.

In addition to writing, he’s also a gifted editor. He edited eight volumes of the collected tales of Harold Lamb for Bison Books, rescuing the early short fiction of one of the greatest adventure writers of the 20th Century from the moldering pages of pulp magazines. He was Managing Editor for the early e-zine Flashing Swords from 2004-2006, and in 2006 accepted the position of Managing Editor of Black Gate. He is the founding editor of Goodman Games’ new sword & sorcery magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull, which published two issues last year. And in late 2018 he became Executive Editor at Perilous Worlds, where he oversees the publication of new titles for some of most popular properties in fantasy, including John C. Hocking’s Conan and the Emerald Lotus and Conan and the Living Plague.

Though that keeps him plenty busy, he has not neglected his own writing. For the Killing of Kings, the first novel in a brand new series, The Ring-Sworn trilogy, arrives today from St. Martin’s Press. It’s the top pick of the month of March for Bookpage, and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying it “will have readers laughing, crying, and cheering.” Somehow Howard found time to sit down with us for a lengthy interview about his writing process, his influences (including Zelazny, Raymond Chandler, and Leigh Brackett), and the fast-changing trends he sees from his catbird seat in the industry. Enjoy.

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Read an Excerpt from Howard Andrew Jones’ Upcoming For the Killing of Kings at Tor.com

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

For the Killing of Kings Andrew Jones

Howard Andrew Jones upcoming novel For the Killing of Kings is the finest thing he has ever written — and considering his previous books include the modern fantasy classics The Desert of Souls and The Bones of the Old Ones, that’s saying a great deal. It is the opening volume The Ring-Sworn Trilogy, and one of the major fantasy releases of the year. I had a chance to blurb the hardcover release from St. Martin’s Press, and did so enthusiastically. Here’s what I said:

For The Killing of Kings is a white knuckle murder mystery brilliantly set in a Zelazny-esque fantasy landscape. It has everything ― enchanted blades, magic rings, edge-of-your seat sword fights, Game of Thrones-scale battles, ancient legends… It is the finest fantasy novel I have read in years.

The Tor.com excerpt features one of my favorite scenes, as Kyrkenall and Elenai approach a strange tower and find it defended by a mysterious ring of obelisks… and something far more sinister. Read the complete chapter here.

If you find yourself captivated by the excerpt, you won’t have long to wait. For the Killing of Kings will be published by St. Martin’s Press in three weeks, on February 19, 2019. It is 368 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover artist is uncredited. In addition to the exclusive Tor.com excerpt, you can also read the first chapter at the Macmillan website here, and keep up with the latest news at Howard’s website here.


Future Treasures: Fog Season, Book II of Tales of Port Saint Frey by Patrice Sarath

Monday, January 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sisters Mederos Patrice Sarath-small Fog Season Patrice Sarath-small

I was proud to publish Patrice Sarath’s short story “A Prayer for Captain LaHire” in Black Gate 4, and see it reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy 3 (2003). She turned to novels with the popular Gordath Wood trilogy (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl). But her real breakthrough came last year with her first release from Angry Robot, The Sisters Mederos, the tale of a once-great family fallen on hard times, and the two sisters — one a masked bandit, and another with secret supernatural powers — who reverse their family’s downfall. Louisa Morgan (A Secret History of Witches) called it:

A colorful Dickensian fantasy that leads the reader on an unpredictable path of murder, intrigue, and mystery… It’s a tale of magic lost and recovered, fortunes made and squandered, and broken lives healed, all of it engineered by Yvienne and Tesara, two resourceful and delightful protagonists, in the company of some charming and often dangerous sidekicks.

Publishers Weekly gave it a rousing review 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.

I’m delighted to see the sequel, Fog Season, scheduled to arrive February 5, less than a year after the release of the first, and I hope it’s the sign of more to come. Here’s the description.

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