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Category: Editor’s Blog

The blog posts of Black Gate Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones and Editor John O’Neill

From the Library of Terry Carr: Here’s Your Chance to Own a Piece of Science Fiction History

From the Library of Terry Carr: Here’s Your Chance to Own a Piece of Science Fiction History


A few of the (mostly new) Terry Carr anthologies I bought on eBay for $3 each

Terry Carr is widely respected today, nearly four decades after his death, for his legendary work as a science fiction editor. He assembled some 70 anthologies in a career spanning over twenty years, including the highly respected Universe series (17 volumes), Fantasy Annual (five volumes), and the career-defining Best Science Fiction of the Year (16 volumes), which may well be the finest Year’s Best anthology series ever printed.

But he also edited an impressive number of standalone anthologies, both original and reprint, most of which are long out of print and long-forgotten. I’ve gradually taken an interest in them, starting with Creatures From Beyond, which I read in junior high, and I recently started collecting them more seriously

Last month I stumbled on a bookseller offering a fabulous collection — and I do mean fabulous — at ridiculously low prices on eBay. After I purchased a few dozen, we struck up a conversation. Just where on Earth, I humbled asked, did he find such a vast collection of virtually brand new 50-year-old anthologies by Carr, Robert Silverberg, Damon Knight, Michael Bishop, Groff Conklin, and others? Simple enough, he said. They had all originally belonged to Terry Carr.

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Skybound Moves Forward With Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber

Skybound Moves Forward With Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber


The Great Book of Amber, containing Roger Zelazny’s 10-volume
Amber Chronicles (Avon EOS, December 1999). Cover by Tim White

Molly Templeton at Tor.com is reporting that Stephen Colbert has joined forces with Skybound Entertainment to develop an adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, bringing much-needed hope that the long delayed-series will finally be brought to the screen.

In 2016, Skybound Entertainment announced that the series was in the works, with The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman also on board. Though it’s been nearly seven years, this team is still in place, alongside Vincent Newman Entertainment and now Colbert’s production company, Spartina. Variety reports that Colbert said, “I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”

Roger Zelazny was one of the greatest fantasy and science fiction writers of the 20th Century, and The Chronicles of Amber was his magnum opus. If you want to dip your toe into the original novels, Rajan Khanna has a splendid book-by-book reread at Tor.com.

The Fantastic Realms of Luis Royo

The Fantastic Realms of Luis Royo

Realms of Fantasy covers by Luis Royo. Row 1: October 1997, April 1998, October 1998.
Row 2: December 1999, October 2001, December 2002. Row 3: October 2004, August 2005, June 2006

Three days ago I wrote a quick piece about a pair of late 90s Ace paperbacks by Cary Osborne, Deathweave and Darkloom. The thing that first attracted my interest — as it often is — was the great covers for both books, in this case the work of the talented Spanish artist Luis Royo. Royo got his start in Heavy Metal in the early 80s, and by the mid-90s was a fixture on SF and fantasy book covers in the UK and US. IMDB credits him with well over 300 covers, for every major book publisher, including Bantam, Tor, DAW, Roc, Ace, Questar, Avon Eos, Pocket Books, HarperPrism, the Science Fiction Book Club, and many, many others.

Royo has a distinctive style, one well suited to selling adventure fantasy, and he helped launch the career of several major genre writers of the era, including Julie E. Czerneda (with her Trade Pact novels), Walter Jon Williams (Hardwired), David Gemmell (Druss the Legend), Elizabeth Haydon (The Rhapsody Trilogy) Sara Douglass (The Wayfarer Redemption), and many others.

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Merry Christmas from Black Gate

Merry Christmas from Black Gate

Things have finally calmed down in the O’Neill household. Presents have been opened, snacks are munched, and hordes of Chaos Space Marines have been defeated in a family game of Dawn of War (I would have been exterminated if Tim and Drew hadn’t rushed to my base to assist. But we delivered the Emperor’s justice in the end.)

It’s been a trying year. We experienced intermittent site outages as we continued to adjust to our new service provider. At the day job, I had to fire a hard-working employee, and five months later was fired myself. I started two new writing projects, and accepted a full-time writing gig for the first time in my career. My wife retired. My kids started new jobs. And I read a lot of great fiction — but not nearly as much as I’d hoped to.

Black Gate, for me, continues to be a place where I share my love of fantastical literature and, through the depthless generosity of the loyal community it has attracted, I constantly discover new books, films, and writers. Far more than that, I find my own love of the genre deepened and expanded, as I learn to appreciate writers — many of whom I’ve been reading for decades — in brand new ways. That’s all down to you, our loyal readers, and the joy, enthusiasm, and amazing insights you bring.

So once again, as we close out another year, I’d like to thank all the BG readers who drop in with a book suggestion, a thoughtful comment, an encouraging word. It means a lot. You make the effort we put in every day worthwhile. On behalf of the vast and unruly collective that is Black Gate, I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Continue being excellent — it’s what you’re good at.

Give Yourself Some Weird Horror for Christmas

Give Yourself Some Weird Horror for Christmas


Weird Horror 
issues 4 and 5 (Undertow Publications, Spring & Fall 2022). Covers by Drazen Kozjan and Barandash Karandashich.

I love watching a new fantasy magazine get its sea legs. It’s been a real treat to see this decade’s crop of best new mags — including Tales from the Magician’s Skull (edited by Howard Andrew Jones), Startling Stories (helmsman Douglas Draa), New Edge Sword and Sorcery (edited by Oliver Brackenbury), and Wyldblood (Mark Bilsborough) — carve out unique identities, and grow better and better with each issue.

One of the best of the new lot — and there are times when I think it is the best — is Weird Horror, published by Michael Kelly’s Undertow Publications. Michael has been editing horror and dark fantasy for over a decade, and he’s one of the most gifted and respected editors in the industry. The roster at Weird Horror reflects that; in the last two years they’ve published new fiction from the best new horror writers in the biz, including John Langan, Steve Rasnic Tem, Brian Evenson, Josh Rountree, Stephen Volk, Steve Duffy, and Richard Strachan.

But the very best mags don’t rely on fiction alone. And what really makes we look forward to each new issue of Weird Horror are the lively columns by an enviable stable of authors, including Simon Strantzas On Horror, Orrin Grey Grotesqueries, Lysette Stevenson’s The Macabre Reader review column, and Tom Goldstein’s Aberrant Visions.

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Mike Ashley’s British Library Science Fiction Classics, Volumes 1-3: Moonrise, Lost Mars, and Menace of the Machine

Mike Ashley’s British Library Science Fiction Classics, Volumes 1-3: Moonrise, Lost Mars, and Menace of the Machine


The first three anthologies in the British Library Science Fiction Classics: Moonrise,
Lost Mars, and Menace of the Machine. Covers by Chesley Bonestell and David A. Hardy

Two weeks ago I gazed in wonder at Mike Ashley’s 10-volume anthology series of science fiction from the pre-spaceflight era, the British Library Science Fiction Classics.

The first three in the series — Moonrise: The Golden Age of Lunar Adventures, Lost Mars: The Golden Age of the Red Planet, and Menace of the Machine: The Rise of AI in Classic Science Fiction — make an impressive set, containing nearly three dozen stories originally published between 1887 – 1965 by H.G. Wells, Gordon R. Dickson, John Wyndham, Edmond Hamilton, Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Ray Bradbury, E. C. Tubb, Walter M. Miller, Jr., J. G. Ballard, Ambrose Bierce, Isaac Asimov, Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore, Brian W Aldiss, Murray Leinster, and many others. Each volume also includes a fascinating and impeccably researched introduction by Ashley that’s sure to whet your appetite.

Let’s take a closer look. (Warning: entirely superfluous pulp magazine covers ahead).

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James Nicoll on Five Classic SFF Collections Too Good to Be Forgotten

James Nicoll on Five Classic SFF Collections Too Good to Be Forgotten


A Pride of Monsters
(Collier Books, 1973), Eyes of Amber (Signet, 1983) and Neutron Star
(Ballantine, 1976). Covers by Richard Jones, Tom Kidd, and Rick Sternbach

Over at Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll looks at a fine set of vintage SF collections, including Eyes of Amber and Other Stories by Joan D. Vinge.

Vinge began her publishing career with memorable novellas and novelettes. It’s therefore quite frustrating that, to my knowledge, there are only three collections of her work, all out of print. Of the three, Eyes of Amber and Other Stories is by far the best. In addition to the title story, a tale of aristocratic ambition and rock & roll set on Titan, the collection provides tales that range from straight-up adventure to puzzle stories, from classic hard SF to a deep space murder thriller, all skillfully written.

In addition to Vinge, James looks back at some very fine books by Tanith Lee, Katherine MacLean, Larry Niven, and James H. Schmitz.

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Tales of Adventure and Exploration from the Pre-Spaceflight Era: Mike Ashley’s British Library Science Fiction Classics

Tales of Adventure and Exploration from the Pre-Spaceflight Era: Mike Ashley’s British Library Science Fiction Classics


All ten anthologies in the British Library Science Fiction Classics edited by Mike Ashley,
plus his non-fiction survey Yesterday’s Tomorrows, and interior art from Moonrise (bottom right).
Covers by Chesley Bonestell, David A. Hardy, Warwick Goble, Frederick Siebel, et al

Mike Ashley is a fascinating guy. He interviewed me years ago about founding the SF Site (sfsite.com), one of the first science fiction websites, back in 1995, for his book The Rise of the Cyberzines, the fifth volume of his monumental History of Science Fiction Magazines. He’s edited dozens of SF anthologies over the years, including 19 volumes in The Mammoth Book series (The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy, The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures, etc.)

But I’m currently obsessed with his latest project, a sequence of terrific anthologies published under the banner of the British Library Science Fiction Classics. There are nineteen volumes in the British Library Science Fiction Classics so far, including long-forgotten novels by William F. Temple, Charles Eric Maine, and Muriel Jaeger, and even a new collection of previously-abridged novellas from John Brunner, The Society of Time, which looks pretty darn swell.

But the bulk of the series — eleven books — consists of ten anthologies and a non-fiction title from Mike Ashley. And what books they are! They gather early fiction across a wide range of themes, heavily focused on pulp-era and early 20th Century SF and fantasy. Mining classic tropes like the Moon and Mars, sinister machines, creeping monsters, and looming apocalypses, Ashley has produced a veritable library of foundational SF and fantasy. Reasonably priced in handsome trade paperback and affordable digital editions, these volumes are an essential addition to any modern SF collection. And they are positively packed with fun reading.

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Tales From the Magician’s Skull #8 Now Available

Tales From the Magician’s Skull #8 Now Available

Tales From the Magician’s Skull #8. Cover by Ken Kelly

What have Howard Andrew Jones and his cabal of mad writers and artists been toiling to create, deep in the abandoned publishing mines below Evanston, Illinois?

Many bothans died to bring us early word, and now at last we can share it with you: it’s issue #8 of the world’s greatest Sword & Sorcery magazine, Tales From the Magician’s Skull!

According to hand-written notes scrawled by dying bothans, the long-awaited new issue is packed with fiction of keen interest to Black Gate readers, including a new Morlock tale by James Enge, a new Tale of Gaunt and Bone by Chris Wilrich, and fiction by C. L. Werner, Robert Rhodes, Jeremy Pak Nelson, and many others — all packaged under a cover by legendary artist Ken Kelly. The issue is available to buy today; check out all the details below.

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Vintage Treasures: The New Hugo Winners edited by Isaac Asimov

Vintage Treasures: The New Hugo Winners edited by Isaac Asimov


The New Hugo Winners, Volume I & II and The Super Hugos
(Baen, 1991, 1992, and 1992). Covers by Vincent Di Fate, Bob Eggleton, and Frank Kelly Freas

Last month, as part of my master plan to examine every interesting science fiction paperback ever printed, I surveyed five of the finest SF anthologies of all time: the first Hugo Winners volumes, all edited by Isaac Asimov and published by Doubleday between 1962 and 1986.

Although the first two volumes, collected in one big omnibus by the Science Fiction Book Club in 1972, were on the bookshelf of every serious SF fan in the 70 and 80s (and much of the 90s), by the time Volume IV and V were released in the mid-80s, sales had fallen off so significantly that neither one was reprinted in paperback. Asimov, who frequently noted that “the fine folks at Doubleday have never said no to me” — even indulging him with a massive 1,005-page, highly uncommercial vanity project in 1974, Before the Golden Age, a bunch of pulp stories threaded together with Asimov’s reminiscences of growing up in Brooklyn — found Doubleday saying ‘No” to further Hugo volumes.

It was Martin H. Greenberg, Asimov’s frequent collaborator, who talked him into doing additional installments. Together they produced three more: The New Hugo Winners, Volume 1 (1989) & Volume II (1992) and The Super Hugos, released after Asimov’s death in April 1992.

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