Browsed by
Category: Books

Introduction to DAW Books’ The Year’s Best Horror Stories (1972–1994), edited by Richard Davis, Gerald W. Page, and Karl Edward Wagner

Introduction to DAW Books’ The Year’s Best Horror Stories (1972–1994), edited by Richard Davis, Gerald W. Page, and Karl Edward Wagner

20 of the 22 volumes of The Year’s Best Horror Stories (DAW Books)

Today I’m beginning a new series of posts investigating DAW Books’ Year’s Best Horror Stories series, which ran from 1971 to 1994. As a fan of literary horror, I’m excited to sequentially read through these volumes and share my thoughts with you. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to discover some great stories and authors, perhaps some we’ve never read before, and I’m also hoping that we will be able to see how trends in horror have changed over the years. Each post will investigate one volume at a time.

Except this first one, in which I want to explore the impetus and beginnings of the series as a whole.

Read More Read More

When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When 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

 

And with When the Goddess Wakes, Howard Andrew Jones’s Ring-Sworn Trilogy comes to a rousing conclusion. Perhaps the series’ greatest asset is its completion. In one two-and-a-half-year span — complete with a plague — all three books have appeared and that’s it, there ain’t no more. I waited six years between installments of Glen Cook’s Black Company, and millions of people have been waiting ten years for the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire (good luck with that). Jones got in and got out, producing three tightly-plotted and -paced novels. For that alone, as a reader I say, “Thank you!” But there’s more to it than that.

The first book, For the Killing of Kings (2019) introduces the Altenerai, a corps of superior warriors complete with magical talents. They are dedicated to protecting the five realms of the Dendressi from forces magical and mundane. Just as it is discovered that a kingdom-destabilizing conspiracy leads right to the Queen, the five realms are invaded by the Naor, a brutal barbarian horde. Less than a decade earlier the Naor were almost victorious. This time around, most of the greatest Altenerai are missing or dead, and it seems as though only a pair of young Altenerai and a few veterans are ready to stand against the Dendressi’s enemies. That book ends grimly, with death and destruction and what seems certain victory of both the Naor and the Queen.

Upon the Flight of the Queen (2019) {That’s two books in one year, folks! It can be done.} begins right where the previous book left off, with death and destruction continuing apace. The Naor march on the capital, Darassus, and the Queen’s plot to resurrect a long lost goddess in order to create a utopia is revealed. Each promises destruction for the Dendressi. Both are thwarted, but the Queen escapes with every intention of carrying out her plan.

Read More Read More

New Treasures: The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis

New Treasures: The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis

The Lights of Prague (Titan, May 2021). Cover design by Julia Lloyd

I found Nicole Jarvis’s The Lights of Prague while wandering through Barnes & Noble this summer. It’s a debut in every sense of the word — Jarvis hasn’t published any previous short fiction, and I can’t even find a web page for her. But the book sounds extremely relevant to my interests. Have a look at this snippet from Mya Alexice’s BookPage review.

Nicole Jarvis’ debut fantasy, The Lights of Prague, welcomes readers into an arresting and vivid historical fantasy world… In her version of the culturally rich European city, creatures from Czech folklore haunt its streets and endanger its citizens. Pijavice — vampiric monsters consumed by bloodlust — are particularly terrifying to those who walk alone at night. The Lights of Prague follows Domek Myska, an earnest member of the lamplighters, who in this world are also a monster-hunting secret society that keeps these creatures at bay, and Lady Ora Fischerová, a charming widow with her own ties to Prague’s supernatural underground…

The Lights of Prague is an impressive and mature feat from a debut novelist.

The Lights of Prague was published by Titan Books on May 25, 2021. It is 413 pages, priced at $15.95 in paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover was deigned by Julia Lloyd. See all our recent New Treasures here.

Future Treasures: The Actual Star by Monica Byrne

Future Treasures: The Actual Star by Monica Byrne

The Actual Star (Harper Voyager, September 14, 2021)

Tomorrow I’m playing hooky from work and spending the day at the Windy City Pulp and Paper show in Lombard, Illinois. It’s my favorite annual convention, and the first I’ve attended in the pandemic era. It will be great to meet up with Black Gate contributors Rich Horton, Doug Ellis, William Patrick Maynard — and Greg Mele, whom I’ve never met in person before.

Even though I’m going to be spending the three days immersed in the great SF and fantasy of the past, I’m still here for you when it comes to SF and fantasy of the future. So before I jump in my trusty pulpmobile and head out for the weekend, I want to take a minute to tell you about Monica Byrne’s second novel, The Actual Star, arriving in hardcover next week. Her first novel The Girl in the Road (2014) was nominated for the Locus award and won the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. And this one has garnered a lot of advance praise — Booklist calls it “Complex and captivating,” and Tor.com says it’s “Reminiscent of Octavia E. Butler… Byrne creates cultures and characters that embody depth, sensitivity, and a riveting story line.” Here’s a snippet from the feature review by Michael Marshall at New Scientist, who labels it “a stone-cold masterpiece.”

Read More Read More

Goth Chick News Reviews: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Goth Chick News Reviews: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart is a Chainsaw (Saga Press, August 2021)

Over the Labor Day weekend, I got to do something I have literally not been able to do for close to four years. And before you ask, it had nothing to do with goat leggings or full moons.

Having been trapped in academic hell since January 2018 when I made the questionable decision to pursue a doctorate degree, I have had zero time to enjoy simple pleasures. Like sleeping, or having a weekend off. However, the thing I missed most was devoting an entire day (or two) to devouring a good book. To me, there is nothing quite as awesome as parking myself with some snacks and a cold drink, then tucking in to a novel from cover to cover. Due to a series of fortunate events, that is precisely what I was able to do this last Sunday and Monday.

Knowing I would have this extremely rare extravagance, I did another thing I haven’t done in ages:  spend a few hours at my local Barnes and Nobel choosing the perfect title. In the “new releases” section I found My Heart is a Chainsaw by prolific horror writer Stephen Graham Jones, which had just hit shelves on August 31st.

Read More Read More

The Dark and Puzzling Present: The Medusa Deep, Book 2 of The Midnight Games by David Neil Lee

The Dark and Puzzling Present: The Medusa Deep, Book 2 of The Midnight Games by David Neil Lee

The Midnight Games (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016) and its sequel
The Medusa Deep (Poplar Press, 2021). Covers by Rachel Rosen, unknown

In his first guest post for Black Gate way back in 2016, The Midnight Games and Why I Wrote Them, David Neil Lee talked about his debut novel and the sequel he hoped to write some day.

For the past twelve years my family and I have lived a couple of blocks from Ivor Wynne, the local football stadium, and we hear all the noise from the Tiger Cats games. So I began a novel in which my protagonist hears a racket from the stadium at night, which he thinks of as “midnight games.” However, they are not games at all, but the cruel ceremonies of a local cult which is trying to summon to earth the Great Old Ones of the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos; trying with what turns out to be a fair degree of success….

What sort of monsters does the cult summon? — well how about those hideous prickly house centipedes that I scoop out of the bathtub of our old house from spring till fall every year. I don’t kill them, I put them in a jar and throw them in a garden — what if they were some sort of hmm, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, summoned here by the games? What about if one of them thrived in our garden, and grew and grew and grew?

I know what you’re thinking. “Dammit that sounds like fun. Why don’t I do that?” Well, if you’re a Black Gate reader, chances are that you do do that…

Read More Read More

Exciting Storytelling from one of the Best Writers of Heroic Fantasy: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

Exciting Storytelling from one of the Best Writers of Heroic Fantasy: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When the Goddess Wakes (St. Martin’s Press, August 2021). Cover by Lauren Saint-Onge

Whenever a trilogy wraps up, we bake a cake in the Black Gate offices. When that trilogy belongs to our own Howard Andrew Jones, our first Managing Editor, we bake a cake in the shape of the world of Amber. (No, we don’t know how it turned out. The damn cake keeps vanishing.)

When the Goddess Wakes, the final novel in Howard’s Ring-Sworn Trilogy, follows For the Killing of Kings (2018) and Upon the Flight of the Queen (2019). In his review of the first volume here at Black Gate, Fletcher Vredenburgh said “It moves at an astounding pace… This is exciting storytelling from one of the best and most knowledgeable writers of heroic fantasy.” Seth Lindberg proclaimed the second volume is “reminiscent of Zelazny… I was completely floored.” And in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the final volume an “emotional roller coaster.”

When the Goddess Wakes was published on August 24th by St. Martin’s Press, and it brings to a close one of the most original and exciting fantasy series of the 21st Century. You owe it to yourself to check it out. And when you do, visit us again to share your thoughts. Pick up a copy today.

The Adventures of Dramatic Podcast Production in a Pandemic: An Interview with J. Barton Mitchell on Fathom, the Prequel to Derelict

The Adventures of Dramatic Podcast Production in a Pandemic: An Interview with J. Barton Mitchell on Fathom, the Prequel to Derelict

J. Barton Mitchell is the author of the YA novels The Conquered Earth Trilogy, and the prison planet novel, The Razor. Pre-pandemic, he was also in the process of producing his dramatic science fiction podcast, DerelictFor that project he hired professional actors, flying them out to Santa Fe, where he lives, and having them perform together, playing off one another in his recording studio.

Then the pandemic hit, and that shut down production of the podcast, but not Mitchell’s drive to create more adventures in that world (which is set in the same universe as The Razor). So he got to work on a prequel series, FathomWhile Derelict took place on a derelict spaceship, Fathom takes place deep under the sea. I interviewed my friend about this latest project (Episode 4 of which goes live today). We discuss how he changed his production process to be able to continue recording and producing through the pandemic.

You can support this podcast series through its Patreon page.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy 10: Ghosts edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh

Vintage Treasures: Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy 10: Ghosts edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh

Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy 10: Ghosts (Signet/New American Library, 1988). Cover by J. K. Potter

Isaac Asimov had a lot of gifts. He was a world famous polymath, a marvelous science explainer and popularizer, and a pretty darned skilled writer of science fiction. But he doesn’t get a lot of credit for one of his greatest talents, a skill in short supply even today: The man knew how to sell anthologies.

After some of his early SF anthologies became enduring top-sellers, often remaining in print for decades (including The Hugo Winners, Volume I and II, Before the Golden Age, and Where Do We Go From Here), publishers discovered that the name Isaac Asimov on the cover of an anthology almost guaranteed it would sell.

Asimov exploited this heavily for the remainder of his career, lending his fame to many important anthology series, often co-created with frequent collaborators Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. These include The Great Science Fiction Stories (25 volumes in 23 years), Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction (10 volumes in 8 years), and Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Fantasy (12 volumes in 9 years). It’s that last one we’re going to look at today, with one of the final volumes: Ghosts, published by Signet in 1988.

Read More Read More

The Nexus of Horror: An Interview With Paula Guran

The Nexus of Horror: An Interview With Paula Guran

Paula Guran is one of the most accomplished editors in the business. She began with Dark Echo, one of the first email newsletters, which she created in 1994; her 49th anthology, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume Two, will be published by Pyr Books on October 19th.

I sat down with Paula this morning to talk about her new book, and discovered she had a lot to say — lively anecdotes from a two-decade career, what it is about horror that keeps her coming back, how the pandemic has affected modern horror, the best new novels of the past few years, and the amazing writers we should all be paying more attention to.

It was a lively and enormously entertaining discussion with one of the most wildly read and keen-eyed observers of the industry, a woman who’s demonstrated an uncanny talent for spotting and showcasing some of the most talented new writers working today. Check out the entire 35-minute interview here.