Support the Hyperborea: Otherworldly Tales Kickstarter

Sunday, August 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

THE LOST TREASURE OF ATLANTIS-small THE SEA-WOLF'S DAUGHTER-small

It’s hard to believe that I reviewed Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea right here seven long years ago. Since then it’s produced a revised and updated Second Edition, and become one of the most beloved independent RPGs on the market. I’m not the only one to fall in love with the system; Gabe Dybing interviewed creator Jeffrey Talanian for us back in 2016, and here’s what Howard Andrew Jones said on his blog in 2017:

The new Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea is a thing of beauty, a work of art. I spent thirty minutes last night just flipping through and soaking up all the artwork. If it’s not THE go-to sword-and-sorcery rpg at this point, it’s tied for first place. It just oozes the right vibe.

Now Jeff’s gaming company North Wind Adventures has launched a brand new Kickstarter to fund two new adventures, The Lost Treasure of Atlantis and The Sea-Wolf’s Daughter. Here’s what Jeff tells us about them.

Dear fellow Black Gate enthusiasts and fans of Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and H.P. Lovecraft: Do you like swords-and-sorcery and weird-fantasy role-playing game adventures? Well, North Wind Adventures, makers of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, have two new adventure modules coming out soon! Find out all the details here.

The campaign has already more than doubled its goal of $9,000, with seven days to go. It’s not too late to get on board — pledge right here, and check out all the recent goodies from North Wind Adventures in my 2018 Gencon report.


Invincible Warriors and Goofball Sidekicks: Robots in American Popular Culture by Steve Carper

Saturday, August 10th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Robots in American Popular Culture-small Robots in American Popular Culture-back-small

Cover by Emsh

Steve Carper has been blogging about robots at Black Gate ever since his first post, The First Three Laws of Robotics, appeared back in November 2017. His delightful and entertaining articles have explored every facet of robots in America over the last century and a half. And now his first book on the subject, Robots in American Popular Culture, has been published by McFarland. Here’s what Steve tells us about it.

Robots in American Popular Culture is the first truly comprehensive prose history of the automaton, the mechanical man, the android, the robot, and all its variants. The index runs from “A. Lincoln, Simulacrum” to “Zutka” (stage act). Robots starts in the 19th century, long before Karel Capek used the old Czech word robota in his play, and the concept of the robot as a replacement for humans has been constantly present in the popular mind since. Both famous and long forgotten robots from comic books and strips, movies and television, stories and the stage, amateur and professional inventors, and science fiction of all flavors are part of this vast history.

Robots is available from my publisher and from Amazon. Because McFarland is an academic publisher, most bookstores will not have Robots on their shelves, but they can easily special order it for you.

But wait, there’s more. PBS publishes a companion book to their documentaries. I’ve created a companion website to my book. RobotsInAmericanPopularCulture.com has more than 350 images, movie and tv clips, music videos, and the ever-popular “other”, each keyed to the book’s page number so you can get a quick visualization and let you see what contemporaries saw. Not to mention over 50 additional articles on robots that grew out of the book…

Thanks to all who have long given me encouragement. I hope Robots will live up to and even surpass your expectations.

Robots in American Popular Culture is packed with vintage photos and Steve’s entertaining and superbly researched prose. It’s the best resource you’ll find on one of the most fascinating topics of our new century. Here’s the publisher’s description.

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Lost in the Halls at Gen Con 2019

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Gen Con 2019-small

I’m here on site at Gen Con for the first time in…. wow, I don’t even remember. Fifteen years, at least. Last time I visited Gen Con it was in Milwaukee, if that’s any clue. It now fills (and substantially overfills) the spacious halls of the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis, where tens of thousands of gamers meet friends, play games, try out new games, play the legendary NASCRAG tournament, and wander through the jaw-dropping Exhibit Hall.

I’m here for the first time in over a decade because I was invited to speak at the Writers Symposium, on topics like Submitting Short Fiction, What Happens to a Story After You Submit it, and Does Advertising Work? I’ve been very impressed at how well organized the Symposium is — it’s run like an excellent mini-convention just for writers, inside a much larger enterprise. And it’s attracted some top-notch speakers, including Howard Andrew Jones, Bradley P. Beaulieu — whose talk on Tension on Every Page was really terrific — the charming Anna Smith Spark, Black Gate blogger Clarence Young, writer and interviewer Seth Lindberg, Tor.com editor Diana Pho, and many, many others.

Of course, we’re here in the name of games, and games new and old were everywhere. The enormous Exhibit Hall (pictured above) was filled with hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of game companies showing off their wares. I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time in the Hall as I wanted — and you could spend weeks in there, believe me — but I did find countless treasures, many in the generously stocked Goodman Games booth at the far end. Over the next few weeks I’ll share the details here. But in the meantime, I have to run to my next panel, Reviews and Reviewers: How to Find Them, How to Keep Them. Wish me luck!


The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog on The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of July 2019

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Salvation Day Kali Wallace-small Gods of Jade and Shadow Silvia Moreno-Garcia-small The Hound of Justice Claire O’Dell-small

There’s a phenomenon in software development known as feature creep. As you design and build a new product, you can’t resist adding just one more cool feature… until pretty soon your shiny new product is 12 months late, due mostly to a laundry lists of new features that go way beyond the original spec.

Sometimes I think the same thing is happening to Jeff Somers’ monthly Best New Science Fiction and Fantasy list. His May list was packed 24 titles, more than I recall the lists having last year. And his July rundown contains a whopping 28 books.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s  fantastic list, with brand new novels by Bradley P. Beaulieu, Peter McLean, Chuck Wendig, Mercedes Lackey, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, Molly Gloss, Christopher Ruocchio, C.S.E. Cooney, Fonda Lee, Timothy Zahn, JY Yang, and many others. Jeff’s not padding the list — there really are that many books this month that deserve your attention. Here’s a look at some of my favorites.

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Sam Moskowitz’s Classics of Science Fiction

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sam Moskowitz History of Science Fiction-small

Sam Moskowitz was one of the great science fiction historians. A writer, editor, and collector extraordinaire, he was the chairman of the very first World Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939. He was one of the first nonfiction writers to take the new field of science fiction seriously, and produced a number of anthologies and histories considered early classics today.

They’re also hard to track down, dammit. Especially his history of Science Fiction fandom, The Immortal Storm, which was printed in miniscule numbers in its original hardcover edition, and which today sells for, like, a billion dollars. It was never reprinted in paperback, unless you want to count the 1974 paperback Hyperion edition, which I didn’t even know existed until yesterday. What the hell, man. I could have saved myself a lot of collecting heartache if I’d known about this thing 20 years ago.

I discovered the Hyperion edition while I was researching Moskowitz’s Modern Masterpieces of Science Fiction, a 1965 anthology containing stories which, let’s just say, are no longer modern. But it’s still an excellent survey of early 20th Century SF, perfectly suited for a Vintage Treasures post. At least it was, until I discovered at the last minute that it was one of no less than six Moskowitz volumes published by Hyperion in 1974. So I guess I’m writing about them instead.

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A Letter from the Mighty Skull

Monday, July 22nd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3-small Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3 contents-small

Cover by Sanjulian

There’s been lots of buzz about the Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter here in the Black Gate offices. The first two issues — packed with sword & sorcery stories by James Enge, John C. Hocking, Chris Willrich, Howard Andrew Jones, C.L. Werner, James Stoddard, and Violette Malan — were a huge hit both with our staff and our readers. The brand new campaign to fund the third and fourth issues of the magazine wraps up this week, and it’s already been a huge success, more than quadrupling the stated goal of $7,500. There’s still time to pledge (and get the next two issues at a great price in the process).

Rumors were going around the office that if, using the usual arcane methods, you posed a question to the mighty Magician’s Skull before the campaign ended on Thursday, he would deign to answer (or perhaps destroy you — the specifics were lacking). You don’t get an opportunity to consult an ancient and powerful demigod like the Skull often, so I decided to chance it. It took longer than I thought to find a one-eyed toad, tie a note around his neck, and lower him into that well at midnight, but it paid off. This morning a pair of vultures delivered a parchment smelling of sulphur to my back window. Here’s what was scribbled on it.

HEED ME, MORTAL DOGS!

Dare you ask why you should support my magazine? If you crave the finest of all fiction, which is sword-and-sorcery, then you should be well pleased by what I have wrought!

Last year I launched two glorious issues overflowing with thrilling adventures in time-lost lands. Now I have decreed that the magazine is to continue! My newest Kickstarter extends my vision for four more issues, and beyond! There was rejoicing in the streets at this announcement, and the Kickstarter funded upon its first day!

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John DeNardo’s Adventures in Short Fiction

Sunday, July 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dark Issue 49-small Lightspeed June 2019-small Wastelands The New Apocalypse John Joseph Adams-small

Last month I checked in with John DeNardo, the most well-informed man in science fiction, to get his take on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in June. I posted a brief summary on June 26, and John dropped by to leave the following in the Comments:

Oh, and speaking of short fiction, my article on cool, recent short fiction reads is now up, too.

Adventures in Short Fiction: Supernatural Detectives, Civil War Airships, Harvesting the Dead, and Reality Shows with Guns.

It’s tough to resist a resist an article with a title like that. (Go ahead and try.) When you’re too busy to keep up with the flood of new novels (and virtually all of us are, unless your name is John DeNardo), but you want keep tabs on what’s going on, short fiction will keep you up-to-date on who’s doing really innovate and exciting work.

Where can you find the best genre short fiction these days? John recommends several online publications, including Sean Wallace’s magazine of horror and dark fantasy, The Dark, John Joseph Adams’ SF and fantasy magazine Lightspeed, and Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, plus recent anthologies such as Ken Liu’s Broken Stars, Paula Guran’s Mythic Journeys: Retold Myths and Legends, and Wastelands: The New Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams. Here’s some excerpts from John’s comments.

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Carol Emshwiller wins the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award

Saturday, July 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Report to the Men's Club-small The Secret City Emshwiller-small The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller Volume 1-small

Author Carol Emshwiller, who died in February of this year at the age of 97, has won the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, which honors overlooked and neglected science fiction and fantasy writers who deserve to be discovered by modern readers.

I met Carol only a couple of times, always at the World Fantasy Convention. I’m pretty sure she was in her 90s both times we met. She was friendly, approachable, and absolutely charming. Many writers have a late flowering in their career; Carol, who was the wife of Ed Emshwiller, one of the most popular and prolific SF cover artists of the 50s and 60s, and who famously was the model for most of the beautiful women in his paintings, published her first stories in 1955, but wrote the majority of her substantial body of short fiction from 1985 – 2011, after she turned 60. She published the first of her four SF novels, Carmen Dog, in 1988, when she was 67.

It took far too long for Carol to be acknowledged as a serious writer, but it eventually happened. Her short story “Creature” won a Nebula Award in 2002; she won again for “I Live With You” in 2005. Her 2002 novel The Mount was nominated for a Nebula and won the Philip K. Dick Award. Her 1990 collection The Start of the End of It All won the World Fantasy Award, and she received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2005.

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New Treasures: The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Four, edited by Neil Clarke

Friday, July 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume Four-smallI always look forward to Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year, and Volume Four arrived right on time this week. This one is an important milestone in the series for two reasons.

First, it’s the first one to be available in hardcover. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. It’s a step up in prestige for the series, and it’s great to finally have these books available in a permanent edition. Second, this volume is dedicated to Gardner Dozois, who died last year, and in his thoughtful introduction Neil makes it clear that he will be carrying on Gardner’s tradition of a lengthy annual summation.

I opened this year’s review of short fiction with an important dedication. Few people can be said to have shaped modern science fiction to the degree that Gardner Dozois did over the course of his career. He will most notably be remembered for his time as editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Year’s Best Science Fiction series, but he was also a Nebula Award-winning author. Gardner also won the Hugo Award for Best Editor a record-setting fifteen times and edited dozens of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning stories. He was also a friend and colleague, working for me as reprint editor of Clarkesworld for the last five years.

On my shelves lies a complete run of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, all thirty-five volumes plus his three Best of the Best volumes, and dozens of other anthologies he edited. While volumes one through three of my series were technically competing with his, he never once made me feel like that was the case. One of the best and more beautiful things most of you don’t know about this field is how collegial it is. Even when the stories were no longer new to me, I always preordered his next volume, simply for his annual summation of the field. For many of us, it was an important history of the field, one that spanned over thirty years and was yet another important part of his legacy.

No one can fill his shoes, but in his honor, I’m going to merge some of the short-fiction-oriented features of Gardner’s introductions into my own. It’s my way of noting that aspect of his work. It’s of personal value to me, and a desire to see that particular torch carried forward.

Neil is as good as his word, and this volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year contains a lengthy look back at the year in short fiction, broken up into sections such as The Business Side of Things, Magazine Comings and Goings, The 2018 Scorecard — particularly appreciated by stats nerds like me! — The Most Interesting Development for Short Science Fiction, and In Memoriam. I miss Gardner’s idiosyncratic take on the field, of course, but I must say Neil acquits himself very well indeed. His new summation is informative, highly readable, and on-target. I think Gardner would have been proud.

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Support the Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter!

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3-small Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3 contents-small

Cover by Sanjulian

Great news, adventure fans! The magazine Tales from the Magician’s Skull — published by Goodman Games and edited by our very own Howard Andrew Jones — has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the 3rd and 4th issues. The first two were a huge hit with Black Gate readers, a great many of whom signed on to the first Kickstarter. The contributor list for issue #3 is packed with names very familiar to our readers, like James Enge, John C. Hocking, Violette Malan, Sarah Newton, and Joseph A. McCullough. The new campaign has already blown away expectations, but the creators are still trying to reach new readers. Here’s Howard:

The launch of the next issues of our fantasy magazine has gone great — our Kickstarter funded the first day! But SURELY there are more than 400 people who want to sign on for a bi-annual subscription to a magazine chock full of swashbuckling fantasy adventure tales! We bring high octane sword-and-sorcery!

Help me spread the word to find more readers, and direct them to the Kickstarter, where they can buy-in at reduced cost!

We’re the home of James Enge’s Morlock the Maker and the action packed tales of John C. Hocking! We print famed Warhammer fantasy authors William King, Nathan Long, and C.L. Werner! We feature the ongoing adventures of Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno! Not to mention tales from talents like Dave Gross, Chris Wilrich, James Stoddard, Setsu Uzume, and many more!

And did I mention the great artwork and old school pulp feel that permeates the entire magazine?

Swing by and take a look, and don’t miss the Kickstarter updates penned by the Skull himself!

Support the new campaign here, and help bring this exciting new project to life. If you won’t do it for me, do it for the Skull.

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