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Future Treasures: Collecting Myself: The Uncollected Stories of Barry N. Malzberg, edited by Robert Friedman and Gregory Shepard

Future Treasures: Collecting Myself: The Uncollected Stories of Barry N. Malzberg, edited by Robert Friedman and Gregory Shepard


Collecting Myself: The Uncollected Stories of Barry N. Malzberg
(Stark House, March 8, 2024). Cover by Jeff Jordan

Barry N. Malzberg has had an enormously prolific career. He published his first science fiction story the August 1967 issue of Galaxy magazine, and over the next six decades has produced an astounding 500+ short stories, dozens of novels, eleven anthologies, and nearly two dozen collections. These days he’s well known as a genre historian and critic. That’s him on the back cover above, looking suitably curmudgeonly.

He’s currently enjoying something of a career renaissance, courtesy of editor Robert Friedman and publisher Gregory Shepard at Stark House Press, who together have returned some thirty-five Malzberg books to print. To mark that accomplishment, their latest Malzberg volume is something special. Not a reprint at all, but a brand new volume gathering thirty-five uncollected short stories. Collecting Myself: The Uncollected Stories of Barry N. Malzberg will be available on March 8.

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Great Books Make You Cry

Great Books Make You Cry


John Crowley’s Flint and Mirror (Tor, April 2022), Engine Summer (Bantam, December 1983), and The
Translator (William Morrow/HarperCollins, April 2002). Covers: unknown, Yvonne Gilbert, Chin-Yee Lai

Recently I mentioned that passages in John Crowley’s Flint and Mirror made me cry… and it was (nicely) hinted that maybe it’s odd for men to cry while reading.

The thing is, I cry often while reading. Sometimes for sad events, sometimes for joy, sometimes for anger, sometimes for wonder, sometimes for sheer beauty.

I mean, Crowley does it to me all the time. The conclusion of Engine Summer makes me tear up just thinking about it. (“Ever after. I promise. Now close your eyes.”) And the same for a few passages in The Translator. I was tearing up just trying to talk about “Great Work of Time” at a panel at Boskone a few years ago.

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Make Room For Harry Harrison: Anthony Aycock on a Forgotten SF Master

Make Room For Harry Harrison: Anthony Aycock on a Forgotten SF Master


Make Room! Make Room! (Berkley Medallion, July 1967). Cover by Richard Powers

Harry Harrison was a true believer. Like Isaac Asimov, Terry Carr, Donald Wollheim, Gardner Dozois, Lin Carter, Damon Knight and a handful of others, he dedicated his life to science fiction, and in a multitude of roles, as writer, editor, critic, and scholar.

His fiction, however, has been largely — and unjustly — forgotten, and in the dozen years since his death in August 2012, all his books have gradually gone out of print, including once-popular novels like Make Room! Make Room! (filmed as Soylent Green in 1973) and The Stainless Steel Rat, one of the top-selling SF novels of the 60s, which spawned a hugely popular series that ran for twelve volumes.

So I was delighted to see Reactor (still known by fans under its secret identity, Tor.com) shine a long-overdue spotlight on our boy Harrison late last year. In “Make Room! Make Room! For Harry Harrison!” Anthony Aycock provides a brief overview of Harrison’s career, and introduces modern readers to his best work.

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Vintage Treasures: The Night Watch by Sean Stewart

Vintage Treasures: The Night Watch by Sean Stewart


The Night Watch (Ace, September 1998). Cover by Tara McGovern-Benson

Sean Stewart has had a fascinating career. He was Creative Director at Microsoft’s Xbox Studios until the studio closed in 2014, then spent five years at Magic Leap. Today he’s a Managing Partner at Cathy’s Book, LLC, publisher of his alternative reality game/novel series Cathy’s Book, and since 2020 he’s been working at a Generative AI stealth start-up as an Interactive Storyteller.

But he began his career the old fashioned way — writing fantasy novels. His debut book Passion Play (1992) won the Prix Aurora Award for Best Canadian Science Fiction novel, and his follow-up Nobody’s Son won the Aurora Award in 1994. His real success came in in 1995 with the appearance of the magic realist fantasy Resurrection Man, The New York Times Best Science Fiction Book of the Year, and the two books set in the same world, The Night Watch (1997) and Galveston (2000), winner of the World Fantasy Award.

The Night Watch is the one I want to talk about today.

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Maybe We Should Give Up on GoodReads

Maybe We Should Give Up on GoodReads

Hello, Readers!

As I blaze through my reading goal for this year (two books ahead, baby!), I’ve been thinking about the app/site I now use in order to keep track of my reading, and the functionality of how I’m able to interact with other readers. You see, though I still have an account, and I check in very occasionally, I all but abandoned GoodReads shortly after it was purchased by Amazon.

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Holmes on the Range: A Chronology

Holmes on the Range: A Chronology

There are a lot of ways to go about writing a Sherlock Holmes story. Some folks attempt to very carefully emulate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s own style, and to turn out a tale that feels as if it might have been penned (or typed these days) by the creator of the great detective himself. No surprise that results vary. GREATLY. Hugh Ashton and Denis O. Smith are the best I’ve found in this regard. Last week, I took a deep dive into Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series. You might want to click over and read that. Below, I present a complete chronology of the series (along with a list in publication order, following). Each entry comes with a non-spoiler summary – the kind of thing you’d find on a dust jacket or on a back cover. I think this is a useful reference to a terrific series. Steve himself reviewed and assisted, so it’s accurate. Come back next week for a Q&A with Steve, to wrap up our series.

A HOLMES ON THE RANGE CHRONOLOGY

ss – short story; nvlla – novella; nov – novel

 (ss) Dear Mr. Holmes (July 1892)

So begins the Holmes on the Range saga. Gustav (Old Red) and Otto (Big Red) Amlingmeyer travel to Brownsville, TX, to sign on for a cattle drive. They’re gonna help move three thousand Mexican longhorns all the way up to Billings, Montana. En route one night, there’s a stampede. As they get the herd back in place, two of the cowboys are found, stomachs slashed, eyes cut out, and scalped. Clearly, Indians had raided the drive and killed the men. Except, Gustav’s not quite so sure. For the first time, he gets to try out the Holmes methods he’d heard sitting around the campfire and listening to Otto read “The Red-Headed League.” A stranger shortly joins the group, a lawman shows up, fireworks ensue, and Big Red gets the detection’ bug.

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Vintage Treasures: The Last Man on Earth edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh

Vintage Treasures: The Last Man on Earth edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh


The Last Man on Earth (Fawcett Crest / Ballantine, August 1982). Cover by Wayne Barlowe

I continue to dip into the (seemingly endless) supply of anthologies from the three amigos of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh. I’m not sure how many they actually produced together, but I’ve managed to track down around 80. They began collaborating in the 80s, and averaged over half a dozen books a year, until Asimov’s death in 1992.

This time I’ve set aside their popular series in favor of a fine standalone book: The Last Man on Earth, a collection of post-apocalyptic tales that present a wide range of imaginative scenarios built around a popular SF trope. They include William F. Nolan’s “The Underdweller,” the tale of a man living in the sewers of San Francisco, trying desperately to salvage mankind’s most important texts while avoiding the new rulers of the city; Gordon Eklund’s “Continuous Performance,” which sees a man struggling to survive by putting on magic shows for androids; Roger Zelazny’s “Lucifer,” the haunting story of the world’s last man and his visit to the mysterious ruins of a long-dead city, and many others.

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Neither Beg Nor Yield, edited by Jason M. Waltz

Neither Beg Nor Yield, edited by Jason M. Waltz

Sword & Sorcery is a clenched fist thrust into the sky, a raised middle finger in the face of the Unknown, an epithet spat into the dirt through a rictus of bared teeth. S&S demands an attitude of not merely surviving but of dominating living, all else—everything else—be damned. The heroes of S&S continue living deeply until there are no more breaths to take. The only -ism S&S promotes is LIVE!-ism. Absolutely a rebellion against meaninglessness, it also fully embraces an I-don’t-give-a-damn-if-it-is-all-meaningless creed. “I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.” Robert E. Howard, through Conan, again saying it best in “Queen of the Black Coast.”

Jason M. Waltz from “It’s Not Gentle,” the foreword to Neither Beg Nor Yield

I reviewed Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure over at Stuff I Like: A Blog (called Swords & Sorcery: A Blog back then) twelve years ago. I had discovered the book by way of a mention here at Black Gate, which I had discovered while on the hunt for contemporary sword & sorcery. This book, more than anything else, convinced me there was a wealth of new and, more importantly, good S&S writing being done.

I had created my site to focus on ensuring the classics of S&S weren’t forgotten in the face of the seemingly irresistible tide of grimdark fiction that was new back then. Waltz’s book forced me to direct an increasing portion of my efforts toward the new stories. Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge, and John Fultz were all authors I first encountered in that period. There are also dozens of writers I found reviewing hundreds of new stories right here on the pages of Black Gate.

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There are Dragons in my Romance Novel! The rise of Romantasy

There are Dragons in my Romance Novel! The rise of Romantasy

A female figure in ornate filigreed jewelry is framed by a large C. A serpent coils around her, passing through holes on either side of her face.
The House of Flame and Shadow, released on Jan. 30, occasioned the kind of frenzy we saw in the days of the Harry Potter series.

If you’ve been to Barnes and Noble lately, or on any major social media platform, there’s a word you’ve probably seen: Romantasy. It’s the marketing buzzword of 2024, and it refers to books that are the Reese’s cup of two very popular genres: Romance and Fantasy.

Did we need this portmanteau? Is it just marketing? Or is Romantasy a meaningful label?

First, some history. Because it’s me, and I can’t do a post without digging into a couple of millennia of history.

The first prose fiction we have are romances. The earliest novel we have in European literature is Callirhoe, written by Chariton of Aphrodisias somewhere between the first century BCE and the second century CE. The plot puts the modern soap opera to shame: our heroine, Callirhoe, is the most beautiful woman alive. Literally: she is Syracuse’s version of Helen of Troy. Did I mention this was set in Syracuse and that she’s the daughter of a famous hero of the Peloponnesian Wars? That’s right: our oldest known novel is a Mary Sue Historical Fiction.

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A Sure Guide in a Troubled Time: Criswell Predicts

A Sure Guide in a Troubled Time: Criswell Predicts

You don’t need me to tell you that we live in uncertain, unsettled times. (Obviously, that’s not going to stop me from telling you anyway.) Misinformation, disinformation, fake news, biased spins, conspiracy theories, baseless rumors, incendiary knee-jerk tweets disseminated, re-tweeted to further inflame millions, and then deleted in the space of a couple of hours… none of these seem to be affected by labor shortages or supply-chain problems, more’s the pity. The shelves are always fully stocked with this kind of crap.

Thus, the key question of our era seems to be, where can wisdom be found? Is there, anywhere, an infallible guide to light our way through the daily round of bafflement and perplexity that is apparently our permanent lot? Who, in God’s eternal name, who can I trust?! Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you the good news — there is someone you can trust. And who might that be, you ask?

Criswell, that’s who.

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