Browsed by
Category: Editor’s Blog

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

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.

Read More Read More

An Exemplary New Voice in Horror: The Word Horde John Langan

An Exemplary New Voice in Horror: The Word Horde John Langan


Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters and Corpsemouth and
Other Autobiographies
(Word Horde, July 5, 2022). Covers by Matthew Jaffe

John Langan is one of the fast-rising stars of modern horror. His first collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in 2008; more nominations followed for collections Sefira and Other Betrayals (2019) and Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies (2020). His second novel The Fisherman won a Stoker in 2016.

Ross E. Lockhart’s Word Horde press, which has been publishing Langan since 2016, just released his fourth collection and simultaneously reprinted his first. Here’s what Ross tells me about them:

John Langan’s first collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (2008), marked him as an exemplary new voice in horror, and an author to watch. I’m pleased to publish a new edition of this classic collection (now with an additional story), alongside John’s latest collection, Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies. Between these two books, a reader can chart the course of John’s evolution as a writer, as well as explore the themes and threads binding his work together. Most of all, one can see that John Langan remains an author worth exploring.

This sounds like an entirely excellent way to spend the next few evenings. Here’s a closer look at both volumes.

Read More Read More

Alan Brown on Cordwainer Smith’s Classic Norstrilia

Alan Brown on Cordwainer Smith’s Classic Norstrilia


First paperback release of Norstrilia (Ballantine, 1975), with the infamous “dog-derived undergirls”
back cover text (they “smelled of romance all the time.”) Cover by Gray Morrow

For the past six years Alan Brown has had an entertaining biweekly series at Tor.com on our favorite topic — vintage SF & fantasy. He’s covered Keith Laumer’s Bolo, Poul Anderson’s Flandry of Terra, Andre Norton’s The Beast Master, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, David Brin’s Startide Rising, and about a jillion others.

Last week he took a look at Cordwainer Smith’s classic 1975 novel Norstrilia, originally published as two shorter works, The Planet Buyer (1964) and The Underpeople (1968). According to fannish legend, Smith’s publishers at Pyramid Books in the 60s felt it was too long, so he obliged them by breaking it up into two smaller novels. It was eventually published in the original format, under the title Norstrilia, by Lester del Rey at Ballantine Books in 1975.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: The Hugo Winners, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, edited by Isaac Asimov

Vintage Treasures: The Hugo Winners, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, edited by Isaac Asimov


The Hugo Winners, Volumes I & II and The Hugo Winners, Volume 3 (Doubleday, 1972 and 1977).
Cover designs by F. & J. Silversmiths, Inc, and Robert Jay Silverman

I’ve written 1,973 Vintage Treasures articles for Black Gate. (That seems like a lot. Is it a lot? If it were, the paperbacks waiting to be written up wouldn’t be threatening to topple over in a spine-crushing avalanche, right? Still seems like a lot, somehow.) My Vintage Treasures pieces aren’t reviews, sometimes because it’s been so long since I’ve read the book in question that I don’t trust myself to do it justice — and sometimes because I haven’t read it at all.

But mostly because I know from experience it takes me forever to assemble a decently thoughtful piece on a book I really enjoyed (or really didn’t enjoy — that takes even longer). In the time it takes me to produce a review I’m happy with, I can write four or five chatty Vintage Treasures, and that seems like a fair trade.

I’m going to break with that tradition here to offer up at least a partial review of The Hugo Winners, the groundbreaking 1962 anthology edited by Isaac Asimov, and its two follow-up volumes, The Hugo Winners, Volume II (1971) and Volume III (1977), all published in hardcover by Doubleday. They are perhaps the most important SF anthologies ever published, and I’ve read them so many times I’m pretty sure I can talk about them entirely from memory.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: Zelde M’Tana by F.M. Busby

Vintage Treasures: Zelde M’Tana by F.M. Busby


Zelde M’Tana (Dell, May 1980). Cover uncredited

F.M. Busby was a prolific SF writer in the 70s and 80s, with a number of popular series, including the Demu Trilogy and the Slow Freight trilogy. But his most ambitious sequence was Rissa Kerguelen, the tale of a young woman who leads a rebellion against a tyrannical Earth, which ran to eight volumes. It’s been out of print since the 80s. The book I want to talk about today is the final one in the sequence, a prequel of sorts, which focused on the origin of one of its most popular characters, Zelde M’Tana.

Zelde M’Tana is memorable for a lot of reasons. But the most obvious is that it featured a Black heroine on the cover, extremely unusual for a mass market paperback in 1980 (and, frankly, for the next 30 years). It’s one of the first times I can recall seeing a Black protagonist on a cover, and it certainty stuck out. I can’t recall exactly what I thought, but I’m reasonably sure that I took it as a marketing statement, a signal that the book was targeted for a Black audience, and I let it sit on the shelf while my eye wandered towards more comfortably familiar covers with white protagonists.

There’s a word in the English language for people like me, White folks who avoided books with Black people on the covers for reasons of simple unfamiliarity. That word is racist.

Read More Read More

A Mecca for Book Hunters: The Chicago Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention, 2022

A Mecca for Book Hunters: The Chicago Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention, 2022

A few $1 magazines in near-mint condition I purchased today at Windy City Pulp & Paper

I just returned from Doug Ellis’s Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention, exhausted but happy.

I’ve been attending Windy City here in Chicago for nearly 20 years. It’s the premier show in the country for pulp and paperback collectors, and the main Exhibit Hall is an inexhaustible Cave of Wonders for anyone who loves vintage books, comics, artwork, pulps, science fiction and fantasy, new pulp, old DVDs, collectibles of all kinds — or just hanging out and talking with like-minded collectors and enthusiasts.

Over the years Windy City has become my favorite local convention. It’s a wonderful place to connect with friends and fellow Black Gate contributors, folks like Rich Horton, Howard Andrew Jones, Steven H. Silver, Bob Byrne, Doug Ellis. E.E. Knight, John C. Hocking, Barbara Barrett, and many others. But the main draw is that marvelous Exhibit Hall, where you can find almost anything you want, no matter how rare or unusual. And if what you love is book bargains (or to, say, literally carpet your entire kitchen floor with dollar books), then you are definitely in luck.

Read More Read More

Solo Adventures on Grim Worlds: Modiphius’ Five Parsecs from Home and Five Leagues From the Borderlands

Solo Adventures on Grim Worlds: Modiphius’ Five Parsecs from Home and Five Leagues From the Borderlands


Five Parsecs from Home and Five Leagues From the Borderlands (Modiphius, 2021 and 2022). Covers by Christian Quinot

Modiphius Entertainment was launched in 2012 by husband and wife gamers Rita and Chris Birch to publish Achtung! Cthulhu, a game that remains near and dear to my heart (you know anything featuring Nazi supervillains, Cthulhu, and roleplaying is going to get some love in these quarters). But in the decade since they founded their unassuming little gaming company it’s captured the attention of the entire industry with a litany of innovative and exciting titles, including Coriolis: The Third Horizon, Alien RPG, Forbidden Lands, Star Trek Adventures, Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of, and much, much more.

Their newest releases, Five Parsecs from Home and Five Leagues From the Borderlands, may be their best yet — at least for product-staved solitaire gamers like me. These are finely crafted solo adventures games with rich narrative campaigns that allow you to explore exotic locales, earn experience and level up your team, find exotic gear, trade, and even upgrade your starship or hideout. They’re the most exciting solitaire gaming releases of the last few years, and that’s saying something.

Read More Read More

Join Martha Wells, James Enge, Howard Andrew Jones, Zig Zag Claybourne, and Sarah Avery to Celebrate C.S.E. Cooney’s Saint Death’s Daughter

Join Martha Wells, James Enge, Howard Andrew Jones, Zig Zag Claybourne, and Sarah Avery to Celebrate C.S.E. Cooney’s Saint Death’s Daughter

C.S.E. Cooney reads from her debut novel Saint Death’s Daughter, out this week from Solaris Books

It’s a week of celebration here at Black Gate! Tomorrow sees the long-awaited publication of SAINT DEATH’S DAUGHTER, the debut novel by the uber-talented C.S.E. Cooney, our first website editor. How exciting is this book? Amal El-Mohtar said, “I have never read anything so utterly alive,” Publishers Weekly proclaimed it “remarkable and… worth savoring,” and Locus called it a work of “Twisted genius!” It’s about time the world caught on to the extraordinary — and extraordinarily twisted — genius of Claire Cooney.

An all-star cast of Black Gate writers and bloggers gathered together to celebrate this past weekend, and we managed to record it all — including one of the most entertaining reading sessions we’ve seen in many years. Martha Wells read an excerpt from her multi-award winning Murderbot series, James Enge shared a Morlock story, Howard Andrew Jones delighted us with a tale of Hanuvar, Sarah Avery read a creepy fae story, and Zig Zag Claybourne shared an exciting fragment from his new novel.

To kick it all off, C.S.E. Cooney read from her new novel, the tale of a young necromancer with an allergy to violence who must navigate sinister intrigues to avenge the murder of her parents. Watch it all right here. Enjoy – -and be sure to check out Saint Death’s Daughter, on sale tomorrow at better bookstores everywhere!

A Master With a Keen Eye: Robert Silverberg’s Original Anthologies of the 1970s

A Master With a Keen Eye: Robert Silverberg’s Original Anthologies of the 1970s

Paperback editions of Silverberg 70s original anthologies. Published by (left to right, from top left):
Dell, Manor Books, Dell, Manor Books, Dell, Dell, Fontana, Warner Books, Pinnacle

In 1966 Robert Silverberg published his first anthology, an unassuming volume titled Earthmen and Strangers from staid New York press Duell, Sloan and Pearce, known mostly for the infamous U.S. Camera 1941 annual that was banned in Boston for daring to include nudes. Earthmen and Strangers was hugely successful, remaining in print for an astonishing two decades, with paperback reprints from Dell, Manor Books, and Bart Books, and Silverberg was off to the races as an editor. Over the next five decades he published dozens of science fiction anthologies, including a handful of bestsellers like the seminal Legends (1998) and its science-fictional sequel Far Horizons (1999).

Beginning in the late 60s and all through the 70s Silverberg produced a steady stream of original anthologies, most of which had a signature format: each contained three novellas from the biggest names in the industry, including major award nominees by James Blish, Gordon R. Dickson, Jack Vance, Clifford D. Simak, Norman Spinrad, Gene Wolfe, Ursula K. Le Guin, and James Tiptree, Jr. — plus novellas by Roger Zelazny, R. A. Lafferty, Harry Harrison, Alexei Panshin, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, John Brunner, George Alec Effinger, Gardner Dozois, Gregory Benford, Joan D. Vinge, Vonda N. McIntyre, Keith Roberts, James Gunn, Phyllis Gotlieb, and many others.

Like Terry Carr’s Universe, Damon Knight’s Orbit, and Silverberg’s own New Dimensions, these anthologies were prestige fiction markets, appearing in hardcover and distributed to libraries, and getting a lot of attention when awards season rolled around. As a result they attracted a lot of talent. Silverberg was a master with a keen eye for emerging talent, and an uncanny ability to coax top-notch work of out his contributors. The books still make entertaining reading today.

Read More Read More

One From the Bucket List: The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories: Second Annual Collection edited by Allan Kaster

One From the Bucket List: The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories: Second Annual Collection edited by Allan Kaster


The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories: Second Annual Collection (Infinivox, November 21, 2021). Cover by Maurizio Manzieri

I’ve been reading and writing about Year’s Best volumes for decades, and I’ve covered a lot of them, including anthologies by Terry Carr, Don Wollheim, Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Rich Horton, Neil Clarke, and many others.

So I hope you can appreciate what a pleasure it was to receive a copy of Allan Kaster’s The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories: Second Annual Collection in the mail in December, a book that fulfilled a long-held dream. It’s the first Year’s Best to include a story of mine: “The Ambient Intelligence,” originally published in the October 2020 issue of John Joseph Adams’ Lightspeed magazine.

Read More Read More