Reflecting The World

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019 | Posted by S.M. Carrière

Diverse Rome

Yes, there were black people in Europe, dating as far back as the Bronze Age. Kindly get over it.

Good morning, Readers!

It’s pride month, so I’m going to talk about representation.

As much as speculative fiction can be an escape from the world, it is also a reflection of the world in which we live. It reflects to us our failings, fears and hopes in fantastical settings. Often times, these are set in worlds which are supposed to closely reflect our own world, or its history. But there’s a problem.

They don’t. Not really. Or rather, not often.

In fact, so pervasive is this psuedo-representation that now there is outrage when something closer to reality is portrayed in speculative fiction, be it book or film.

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Derek and his Niece Binge Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Saturday, June 15th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken


My son and I are travelling with my brother and his family. I have taken the opportunity to read with my 8-year old niece, who has virtually no experience with super heroics, although a few years ago, I did read several trades of Tiny Titans to her.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand Returns!

Monday, June 10th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Gat_HardboiledPronziniEDITEDWith only three stories remaining, Hither Came Conan is taking a Monday off. We began trodding jeweled thrones beneath our feet back on January 7th. The series started the week after A (Black) Gat in the Hand, a hardboiled/pulp column, wrapped up its 34-week run on December 3st, 2018.

Well, after we talk about our last Conan story next month, A (Black) Gat in the Hand is making another summer appearance! With an attempt to cover a broader pulp range this time around, I’ve lined up another excellent bunch of guest posters. Of course, we’ll still be talking hardboiled, but there was a lot of good reading in other genres back in the pulp heyday.

“Sure, Bob. Who are these ‘guest posters’ you allegedly have lined up?” I’m glad you asked. Actually, I’m not, but I’ll answer anyways.

William Patrick Murray is going to tell us about my favorite pulp hero, Doc Savage. James Reasoner, who has forgotten more western pulp stuff than I’ve ever learned about, has a couple of contributions. Author Duane Spurlock will also be talking about westerns. It was a more popular genre than even hardboiled, you know!

Steve Scott, who knows more about John D. MacDonald than I do (and I can hold my own regarding John MacD!) has an essay on one of JDM’s few attempts at a series character, pre-Travis McGee.

I’ve long soaked up pulp knowledge from the writings of Evan Lewis and Stephen Mertz. Evan is going to be a guest poster, and Stephen agreed to let me use his excellent essay on the hardboiled pioneer, Carroll John Daly. And I got permission to reprint an essay from one of my favorite people, the late Bill Crider!!!

Paul Bishop, my go-to guy for Robert E. Howard boxing info, will be writing about a cool South African post-pulp series. And my new Windy City Pulp And Paper buddy, Joshua Dinges, will be writing on a very unique pulp topic.

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Man of Steel vs. Man of Metal

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

World’s Finest Comics #6, Summer 1942, p11 Metalo

Back in 1870, the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser newspaper bannered on its front page the arrival in New York of a troupe of French champion strongmen, including Monsieur D’Atelie: the “Man of Steel.” The article described him as:

33 years of age, and rather slightly built. He has a prepossessing, benevolant expression of countenance. His specialty is lifting objects with his teeth, including a live horse by means of a band round its body. D’Atalie weighs 150 pounds.

D’Atalie is the first person I’ve found to bear the sobriquet “man of steel,” although its metaphorical uses go much farther back. He certainly wouldn’t be the last. A certain Russian communist adopted the name Stalin in 1912, which can be translated as “man of steel,” and who was fairly well known by the 1930s.

Another “man of steel” made his first appearance in 1938, on the cover of Action Comics #1. Assiduous readers of Action Comics #6, later in 1938, could have caught a newspaper headline from the Daily Star (the Daily Planet wouldn’t get mentioned until 1940) describing this mystery figure as a “man of steel”. Superman and “Man of Steel” have been inextricably interlinked for 81 years.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” by George R. R. Martin

Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Peter Caras

Cover by Peter Caras

The Hugo Award was first presented at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention (sometimes called Philcon II), held in Philadelphia from September 5-7, 1953. No short fiction awards were presented the first year. In 1955, the first award for Best Short Fiction, not yet known as a Hugo Award, was given to Eric Frank Russell’s “Allamagoosa.” The Short Story award has been presented annually since its introduction in 1955 with the exception of 1957. The Hugo Awards are nominated and voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. Martin won two Hugo Awards in 1980, for “The Way of Cross and Dragon” in the Short Story Category and “Sandkings” in the Novelette category. He had previously won a Hugo for his novella “A Song for Lya” in 1975 and would win a second novella award for “Blood of the Dragon” as well as a Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form Hugo for season 1 of Game of Thrones. The only fiction category in which he has not yet won a Hugo is the Best Novel category. In 1980, the Hugo Award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31.

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Short Story/Short Fiction Award was one of the inaugural awards, when it was won by Harlan Ellison for “The Region Between.” Ellison won the award 6 times in its first 9 years. In 1980, George R. R. Martin won the tenth annual award for “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” which appeared in Omni magazine. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

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And the Bright Star Falls Behind: On Gene Wolfe

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney


Gene Wolfe at Top Shelf Books in Palatine, IL

When John asked me to write an article for Black Gate about Gene Wolfe, I agreed immediately. I had written a blog about his passing, and a poem, and then a remembrance for the latest issue of Locus — the print magazine, not the online zine, although they have a wonderful remembrance of him here.

I wanted to keep writing about him, as if writing were an act of resurrection. I wanted to write everything.

But instead of getting easier, it’s been getting harder. I’ve been wracking my brains about this blog. So many amazing articles have been coming out about Gene, beautiful interviews and retrospectives. What more can I say? My memory is panicky, faulty. I don’t know what to add.

I’m not an expert on Gene’s work. I’ve read a good deal of it, but not everything. I knew him more as a mentor and a person than as a writer. I was looking forward to having my whole life to read his work.

But I’ve gathered up here, for you, some of my favorite articles about Gene by people who are much more critically familiar with his writing than I am.

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Power Couples in the World of Speculative Fiction: Jim Freund and Barbara Krasnoff

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens


Crowens: You guys are native Brooklyners, right?

Both: No.

Barbara: I’m the native Brooklyner. He’s from Queens.

Jim: I’m from Jackson Heights. She is from Canarsie… originally. It’s like the line from Captain America: Civil War when he meets Spider-man. Captain America is fighting him at the airport and says, “You’ve got heart, kid. Where are you from?” and Spider-man says, “Queens.” Captain America looks at him and says in a confrontational tone, “Brooklyn.”

(Laughs): That’s great.

Jim: Best line in the movie.

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Back Deck Pulp Returns!

Saturday, May 25th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Deck_SetupEDITEDGood reader, we are, of course, friends. But some of you are closer friends than others. By that, I mean that in our social media-addicted culture, I am referring to Facebook, naturally. I was slow to join FB, and it can often be bad. Or, often for me, something to simply ignore. But as a writer (lower case ‘w’) and Reader (upper case ‘R’), I do discuss topics of interest with a wide range of knowledgeable folks. And naturally, I promote Black Gate and my blogging here. So, it has its uses.

Last year, from May 14th to December 31st, I wrote a hardboiled/pulp column, with a little help from some friends. It was called A (Black)  Gat in the Hand (if you don’t know the reference, go read some Raymond Chandler). And over on Facebook, I made a bunch of related posts under the moniker, Back Deck Pulp. I sat on my nice back deck and read pulp. Then I posted snippets of interesting (to me) info on said story, author, whatever.

I shared some neat info on pulp and hardboiled stuff worth reading. And I included a picture of the subject. There was so much great art with that old pulp stuff. I posted a LOT of Back Deck Pulp (which people did seem to like…). So much, that I collected the entries and came up with six whole A (Black) Gat in the Hand posts!

Well, A (Black) Gat in the Hand is making a return appearance this summer, while I continue to work on my next Robert E. Howard/Conan series. And once again, I’ve got some seriously talented guest posters lined up, so at least a few essays will be good. So, naturally, Back Deck Pulp is back in business! I’ve got the patio furniture out and I’ve started doing my research.

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Telelux and Rastus: Westinghouse’s Forgotten Robots

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Rastus promo photo 1

In the 1920s, the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company became the world’s leading builder of robots, purely by accident. Nobody at Westinghouse ever intended to build a robot, nobody thought that doing so would be anything other than a waste of their time. Then one of their employees, Roy Wensley, came up with a nifty gadget. He figured out that by sending sound tones down a telephone wire, they could activate machinery at the other end, having it either turn on or off or send back another set of tones conveying information about the system.

The control equipment fit into two boxes, one smaller than the other. Stacked, they looked a bit like a human head and torso. Prodded by the public relations staff, Wensley dressed the box front with a cardboard figurine, including a cartoon face, and movable arms and legs. Presto! Televox the Westinghouse Robot splashed all over the media in 1927, the first robot to become a household name since Percy, star of the comic strip of the same name, rocketed to fame in 1911.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Manly Wade Wellman

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Lee Brown Coye

Cover by Lee Brown Coye

Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman

Cover by Michael Flanagan

Cover by Michael Flanagan

The World Fantasy Awards are presented during the World Fantasy Convention and are selected by a mix of nominations from members of the convention and a panel of judges. The awards were established in 1975 and presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Traditionally, the awards took the form of a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson, however in recent years the trophy became controversial in light of Lovecraft’s more problematic beliefs and has been replaced with a trophy of a tree with a full moon. The Lifetime Achievement Award has been part of the award since its founding, with the first one being presented to Robert Bloch. In 1980, the year Wellman was recognized, the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. Judges were Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Belknap Long, andrew j. offutt, Ted White, and Susan Wood.

Manly Wade Wellman was born in Kamundongo in Portuguese West Africa (now part of Angola) on May 21, 1903, where his father was serving as a medical officer. When he was six years old, his family moved back to the United States and Wellman attended school in Washington, DC and prep school in Salt Lake City before going to Wichita Municipal University to earn a BA in English.

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