Goth Chick News: Finishing Out “The Season” at the Holiday Horror Con

Thursday, December 5th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Holiday Horror Con 2019-small

Last week I told you about how BG reader R.K. Robinson gave me a bit of grief for writing about Halloween in March. The fact this column is entitled Goth Chick News aside, I couldn’t help but drag him into the coverage of what is normally the last show of “the season.” Days of the Dead used to be where our road-tripping to various horror-related events ended for the year, and we settled into a long winter of Netflicking and reading before picking it all up again at the Halloween Attractions Association show in March; which is where RK came in.

However, this year BG photog Chris Z and I got an offer we could not refuse; not the least of which because it provided a perfect opportunity to offer RK a further extension of the Halloween season. That and because covering a show of this type the weekend after Thanksgiving when the Christmas décor is dripping from everywhere was just too appealing.

Enter the Holiday Horror Con.

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Jim Baen, Warren C. Norwood, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Pierce Watters

Pierce Watters, Anne McCaffrey, Warren Norwood, and Linda Sanders 1978-small

Pierce Watters, Anne McCaffrey, Warren Norwood, and Linda Sanders (1978)

I got an Advance Review Copy of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at Worldcon ’81 (in Denver).

Jim Baen was handing them out at the Simon & Schuster suite. I was working for Ace, sharing my room with Warren C. Norwood, budding author, and one hell of a good friend. A great drinking buddy, too. The night before, Warren and I spent too much time in the SFWA suite and its free beer.

We saw William F. Wu and James Patrick Kelly. Kelly, Wu, and I, all three of us 1974 Clarion East graduates, were there.

I don’t quite remember how we acquired the copies of the book, but I remember Baen’s grinning face in there somewhere.

I like to call that the night Warren and Pierce almost fell out of a hotel window. Don’t try this if your hotel is higher than the first story. If the curtains in your room somehow come loose and now reside on the hotel room floor, leave them there.

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The Chinese WorldCon Bid for 2023 and the Chengdu Conference of 2019

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

The 5th International SF Conference in Chengdu 2019-small

I’ve blogged about some of my authorly visits to China, like my first trip to the 4th International SF Conference in Chengdu in 2017, a trip to study a high-tech company for a commissioned story, and the 2nd Asia-Pacific SF Conference in Beijing in 2019. Both government and private sector are investing in the creative side of the scifi industry, especially writers and editors, in a strategic way to develop the kind of home-grown creative talent that will feed China’s growing movie, TV and game industries. One of the ways they’re doing this is to send their own people to WorldCons, and another is to bring foreign writers and editors to China. A third is that Chengdu, a major SF city, is bidding for the 2023 WorldCon.

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Goth Chick News: It’s Not Over Yet! Days of the Dead Lurches into Chicago

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Days of the Dead 2019

I will start this week’s article with a shout out to Black Gate reader R.K. Robinson who posted “It’s only March!” on my coverage of the Haunted Association and Attractions show. Apparently, he is genuinely unaware that “the season” begins with the HAA which often happens in February (it was late this year) and generally goes all the way into November, ending with Days of the Dead. However, in honor of R.K., Black Gate photog Chris Z and I have accepted an invitation to cover the Holiday Horror Con taking place this weekend outside of Chicago, officially extending “the season” into December.

Next week our Holiday Horror Con coverage will be dedicated to R.K.

But this week we’re talking Days of the Dead (or DotD for you cool kids) and the fabulous event that it was last weekend.

DotD is a horror and pop culture convention with annual stops in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Charlotte, wrapping up its tour in Chicago. Due to its increasing popularity, the 2019 event here was moved to a bigger hotel venue then in the past, and from the looks of it, probably needs to upsize again next year. As always, DotD attracted an impressive list of celebrity guests including Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws), Steve Guttenberg (Cocoon, Police Academy) and Michael Biehn (Aliens, Terminator) among many others. Additionally, there were over 100, horror-themed vendors selling everything from jewelry to movie memorabilia. What is especially wonderful about DotD in Chicago is the amount of material we always get from meeting indie filmmakers, new artists and aspiring writers.

That, and the opportunity to do a bit of holiday shopping…

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Gaming at the End Times: Degenesis

Saturday, November 9th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Degenesis English in the Blood Cloister-small

Sample page from Degenesis: In the Blood adventure book

Gen Con 2019 was a journey of discovery for me. Well, more like a long painful marathon where discovery whacked me in the head with a club every few feet.

Over the course of three days I walked the floor of the massive Exhibit Hall, taking a picture with my iPhone every time I came across a booth I found interesting. I took hundreds of photos every one of those three days, and I doubt I could write up every one the interesting games I came across if I devoted the rest of my life to it. But I can talk about the highlights. So yeah. Let’s do that.

Gen Con this year seemed to be all about the board games. Titles like Raccoon Tycoon from Forbidden Games, mechanical monster game The Boldest from Stronghold Games, and the forest warfare simulator Root by Leder Games all captured my attention, but after trudging past five hundred new board games, I got kind of numb to them. New role playing releases were thinner on the ground, but the ones I did come across were very high quality, and perhaps none more so than Degenesis from Berlin development shop Six More Vodka.

Degenesis is set in a devastated Europe and North Africa, 500 years after a major asteroid impact completely reset human civilization. An alien something buried in the asteroid has begun to infect terrestrial flora and fauna, giving rise to horrific mutations. New cultures have emerged and given birth to 13 powerful cults that partner, war, and trade with each other. So far half a dozen core books and sourcebooks have been released, and they are gorgeously illustrated and beautiful in design and production.

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Writing is an Evolutionary Act

Sunday, October 27th, 2019 | Posted by James Van Pelt

Clarkesworld 157 October 2019-small Asimov's Science Fiction July 1986 Analog-science-fiction-and-fact-december-2016-small

Covers by Beeple, Gary Freeman and Vincent Di Fate

I had an interesting conversation with a newish writer at MileHiCon last weekend. She said that she’d been submitting to small markets until she was “good enough for the biggies.” She meant Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s, and a couple of others. She said, “I figure you only have two or three chances with those editors before they start tossing your manuscript back because they recognize your name.”

I told her about a panel I attended at WorldCon a while ago where Gardner Dozois and Stanley Schmidt were discussing the same issue. Stanley said he’d been receiving manuscripts from the same author for years without buying one. “But he improved steadily. His last ones were close, and then he quit sending me stuff. I was looking forward to buying one of his pieces.”

Gardner perked up and said, “That sounds familiar. Was it…” and he whispered a name in Stan’s ear. Stan nodded.

“His last story barely missed with me!”

Both editors looked a little sad. “I wonder what happened to him?” Gardner added.

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Goth Chick News: Beating You to Halloween… Literally

Thursday, October 24th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist



Every year around the time of my favorite holiday season, reports make the news about “extreme” haunted attractions. This sort of thing is so far beyond your local Jaycee’s haunted house that putting them in the same category is just this side of dangerous.

Why, you ask?

Because around 10 years ago, someone decided jump scares and fake blood was no longer doing the trick when it came to getting one’s heart and adrenaline racing. Actually, the original someone’s were the proprietors of Blackout who launched their sadomasochistic experience in 2009 immediately attracting a very enthusiastic fanbase. For $50 and your signature on a waiver, you embarked on an hour-long odyssey which required a “safe word” in case you had enough of being screamed at, choked, blasted with a fire hose, and having all five of your rational senses otherwise assaulted.

I remain conflicted about what to think of this whole thing, mainly because getting scared — whether at the movies or attending an October event — is generally a safe version of escapism. I mean, the chance of zombies actually chasing you is relatively low in real life.


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How I Survive Conventions

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019 | Posted by S.M. Carrière


Conventions are portals into the wonderful. Like portals, though, they can be a little scary to step into. Image by alan9187 from Pixabay

Good evening, Readers!

As of the writing of this, I am coming off of a wonderful three day speculative fiction convention in Ottawa. I’m of course, talking about Can*Con. I’ve mentioned it before. It was a hectic, people-ly, wonderful weekend. As wonderful as it all was, conventions, even 2019 Aurora Award winning ones (I had to brag. I had to), can be tricky for me to navigate. I am an extreme introvert – hardly a unicorn in the spec fic crowd, I know. While I love to be around my friends, or even friendly people, it can quickly become exhausting and even terrifying. Here’s how I survive a three day stint of extreme peopleing.

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Create Your Character Backstory with Style: Call to Adventure from Brotherwise

Saturday, October 12th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Call to Adventure-small

I attended Gen Con for the first time in roughly fifteen years this year, and let me tell you, it was an experience. Wandering the massive Exhibit Hall — which quite literally took me three full days  — drove home for the first time just how truly enormous the modern board game market is. 50,000 excited attendees packed the halls and pathways connecting over a thousand vendor booths, displaying thousands of new releases and tens of thousands of games. It was so packed it was sometimes impossible to move.

For a gamer whose very first gaming convention (CanGames in Ottawa in the late 70s) had maybe 250 attendees, it was a revelation. Fantasy gaming — like comics, role playing, and fantasy films — has gone mainstream in a big way. The tiny hobby I was once a part of is now a multibillion dollar business. Fantasy and Science Fiction were the dominant genres, but there were plenty of family games, wargames, and strange unclassifiable titles.

But it’s still about the games. I realized early that it would be impossible to take in every new title of interest, so instead I started at one end of the Exhibit Hall, taking pictures with my iPhone. I  made my way methodically up and down each aisle until I arrived, three days and many hundreds of photos later, at the far end, with a record of every new game of interest. I can’t cover them all of course, but I can discuss a few here on the blog. And I’ll start with one of the first games I ordered as soon as I returned from Indianapolis: Call to Adventure from Brotherwise Games.

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Goth Chick News: “Fright Fest?” I’ll Be the Judge of That…

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick 2019 Six Flag Fright Fest

Every September for the last 20+ years, “The Season” has begun the same way – with a special sneak preview event at our local Chicagoland Six Flags amusement park called Fright Fest. Saying I look forward to this is a significant understatement. Like the whole kid calendar revolving around Christmas in A Christmas Story, the whole Goth Chick year revolves around Halloween, and Fright Fest has historically been the high-water mark that kicks off the festivities.

Though every year has not necessarily been created equal,  one can usually expect copious decorations, a large number of staff in very high quality costumes (the Edward Scissorhands of one past year is still one of the best I’ve seen), and multiple themed “zones” throughout the park such as an alien zone, a zombie zone, etc, where everything is kicked up a notch. Some years back, Six Flags made the patron-sensitive decision to split the park in half for the protection of younger visitors. Enter the gate and go right, the experience is of more the pumpkin and skeleton varieties; go left, and a very high-quality wolfman could chase you half a city block. In other words, the experience was definitely “adult.” In addition, there were 5 to 6 “haunted houses” each year, again, ranging in intensity. However, the “headliner” houses, of which there were usually two, were high-quality experiences with good special effects, great décor and plenty of actors delivering the scares.

Alas, that was previous years.

Though Fright Fest 2018 had shown a marked decline, I didn’t want to call it a trend after one season. However, this year clinched it and I could not be sadder.

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