NK Jemisin Profiled at The Guardian

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

NK JemisinNK Jemisin is one of the finest new writers to arrive on the fantasy scene in the last decade. Her new novel The Fifth Season will be published by Orbit next month, and yesterday the UK newspaper The Guardian posted an intriguing profile and interview with the author, in which she addresses, among other things, the ongoing Sad Puppy debate.

Jemisin is on the phone from her not-very-epic day job as a university administrator in New York. When she gets off the phone, she says, she’s going to bike to a coffee shop to write her thousand words for the day, a pace that allows her to finish about a novel a year…

“As a black woman,” Jemisin tells me, “I have no particular interest in maintaining the status quo. Why would I? The status quo is harmful, the status quo is significantly racist and sexist and a whole bunch of other things that I think need to change. With epic fantasy there is a tendency for it to be quintessentially conservative, in that its job is to restore what is perceived to be out of whack…”

Earlier this year, a number of writers and sci-fi industry insiders began to organise and protest against the fact that nominees for the Hugo awards have become substantially less white and less male… Jemisin is obviously no fan of the Puppies, but she sees a positive side effect from their crusade. “What I find heartening,” she said, “is the sheer amount of laughter the Puppies are engendering as they demand that what they call ‘affirmative action’ works no longer be considered, but really at the same time, they’re putting only their own friends on the ballot. So they’re actually asking for their form of affirmative action to replace what they think of as affirmative action. And everyone is realising it. People are looking at these authors [like Vox Day and Puppies leader Brad Torgerson], who they once took seriously, and now just pointing and laughing.”

Read the complete article here.

Enter the Grimdark Magazine Battle-off Competition

Monday, July 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Grimdark Magazine Battle-off Competition

Grimdark Magazine is getting some great notices among fans of heroic fantasy — including from our own Fletcher Vredenburgh, who said in his review of the first three issues, “From a swords & sorcery perspective, the biggest — and potentially most interesting — new publication out there is Grimdark Magazine.” Grimdark editor-in-chief Adrian Collins contacted us this morning to let us know of a new contest sponsored by the magazine, open to heroic fantasy writers of all kinds. Here’s the deets:

We’re running a competition over at Grimdark Magazine that may interest some of Black Gate‘s followers — both readers and writers. It’s a battle-off, where self and small published authors enter a 1K word excerpt featuring a battle scene, the readers then vote on a top 7 and a panel of judges then decide on the top 3 to win awards.

It will run for a couple of months between mid August and the end of October… There are some pretty awesome prizes up for grabs, including a Kindle HD, signed hardcovers, plenty of paperbacks and ebooks, editing services and cover art services.

This is one of the most unusual writing contests I’ve heard of, and I highly approve. So sharpen your pens, all you aspiring adventure fantasy writers. This is your chance to show that you have the chops to deserve wider attention — and maybe win something that could help your new novel really stand out. Get the complete details here.

Chuck Wendig Writes an Open Letter: “Dear Guy Who is Mad Because I Wrote a Gay Character in a Book”

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Blackbirds Chuck Wendig-smallChuck Wendig, author of Star Wars: Aftermath, Blackbirds, and The Blue Blazes, has written an open letter to a fan who complained because one of his characters was gay:

Earlier today I got a bit of hate mail — though I guess hate mail is strong, as the writer of said email was not like, threatening to murder me with a brick or anything — from what appears to be a male, adult reader of my young adult series. In particular, he read the third book in the series, which came out last week: The Harvest.

I won’t reprint the email here, but he said, and I quote, “I didn’t like that you had a main gay character reviling [sic] in a homosexual sexual relationship.” (Reveling, I guess he means?) He feels I “corrupted” the book with the presence of “gay male relationships.” He then added that he feels I was jumping on some kind of “bandwagon,” which I assume (he did not clarify) means that I was doing this to fill some kind of diversity bingo card. Finally, he concluded that it “didn’t matter” or “effect [sic] the story” that the character was gay so why include it at all?

Here is my response that I won’t actually bother sending to him, but maybe he’ll read it here.

Read Chuck’s complete response here.

Kelly Swails reviewed Blackbirds for us (“Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds is Punch-You-in-the-Face Good“), and James McGlothlin looked at The Blues Blazes (“Goblins, Demons, Zombies and Fights Aplenty: A Review of The Blue Blazes.”)

Nominees for the 2015 British Fantasy Awards Announced

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Relic Guild Edward Cox-smallThe nominees for the 20015 British Fantasy Awards have been announced by the British Fantasy Society.

The British Fantasy Awards have been given out every year since 1972, when Michael Moorcock received the first award for his novel The Knight of Swords. Back then it was called the August Derleth Fantasy Award, and was only given to novels. As the BFS grew, the awards began to widen their scope, adding categories for Best Short Story, Small Press, Art, Comics, Film, and more. In 2012, the best novel category was divided into best horror novel (the August Derleth Award) and best fantasy novel (the Robert Holdstock Award).

The complete list follows. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Best Fantasy Novel – The Robert Holdstock Award

Breed, KT Davies (Fox Spirit Books)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher Books)
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books)
A Man Lies Dreaming, Lavie Tidhar (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Moon King, Neil Williamson (NewCon Press)
The Relic Guild, Edward Cox (Gollancz)

Read More »

Baen Announces the 2015 Fantasy Adventure Award Nominees

Sunday, July 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Baen_logoThe nominees for the second annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, to be awarded “to the best piece of original short fiction that captures the spirit and tradition” of the great adventure fantasy writers, have been announced. The 2015 Finalists are:

“Saurs,” Craig DeLancey
“Unfound,” Rhiannon Held
“Shell Game,” Joseph L. Kellogg
“Victor the Sword,” Robin Lupton
“Trappists,” Katherine Monasterio
“Burning Savannah,” Alexander Monteagudo
“Kiss from a Queen,” Jeff Provine
“An Old Dragon’s Treasure,” Robert Russell
“The Triton’s Son,” Keith Taylor
“Adroit,” Dave Williams

The grand prize winner wil see their story published on the Baen website, and will receive an engraved award and an assortment of Baen titles. The winner will be officially announced at the Writer’s Symposium at Gen Con, July 30 – August 2, 2015. The winner will be selected by the Baen editorial staff and Larry Correia.

The 2014 Grand Prize winner was “The Golden Knight“ by K. D. Julicher. For more details on the award, see the Baen Books website.

The July Fantasy Magazine Rack

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex Magazine Issue 74-rack Asimov's Science Fiction August 2015-rack At-the-End-of-Babel-Michael-Livingston-rack Beneath-Ceaseles-Skies-176-rack
Fantasy-and-Science-Fiction-July-August-2015-rack Uncanny-Magazine-Issue-5-rack Grimdark Magazine 4-rack Faerie Magazine 31-rack

There’s a few new faces in the July magazine rack, including Faerie Magazine, a quarterly print magazine “that celebrates everything magical and extraordinary.” Since they don’t have regular issues, we also haven’t done justice to Tor.com, one of the best online magazines in the industry, but this month we highlighted Black Gate author Michael Livingston’s story “At the End of Babel,” which appeared there on July 1.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our late-June Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

As we’ve mentioned before, all of these magazines are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. Many are marginal operations for whom a handful of subscriptions may mean the difference between life and death. Why not check one or two out, and try a sample issue? There are magazines here for every budget, from completely free to $7.50/issue. If you find something intriguing, I hope you’ll consider taking a chance on a subscription. I think you’ll find it’s money very well spent.

Read More »

The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in June

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Irene Gallo

Irene Gallo

Everyone loves an underdog, and last month the underdog was definitely Irene Gallo, the Creative Director of Tor Books and Associate Publisher of Tor.com.

Ms. Gallo had a rough month in June, as she endured a series of scathing attacks from Sad Puppies, writers, and others who took offense to a personal comment she made to a friend on her Facebook page. The industry rallied strongly to her defense, however, and the two articles we wrote covering the affair, “Internet Explodes Around Irene Gallo” and “Support For Irene Gallo Continues to Grow” were by far the most-read posts at the BG blog in June. Based on the high volume of e-mail we received, BG readers largely sympathized with Ms. Gallo.

It seems that those of you who weren’t caught up with the latest controversies were busy writing. Our third most popular article last month was M Harold Page’s “Some Writing Advice That’s Mostly Useless (And Why).” His first article in the series, “Help! I Want to Write a Novel But Don’t Have Any Ideas!!!” was also in the Top 10.

Fourth on the list was Emily Mah’s interview and Kickstarter announcement, “Call for Backers! Tales of the Lost Citadel Campaign on Kickstarter, in Conjunction with a Video Interview with C.A. Suleiman, in the DARK!” Rounding out the Top Five was the most recent installment in our series of omnibus collections of interest to fantasy fans, “The Omnibus Volumes of Steven Brust: The Adventures of Vlad Taltos.”

Also in the Top Ten was our report on the Best New Fantasy Releases in June, the first “Dear Prudentia” advice column by Marie Bilodeau, and two reviews by Fletcher Vredenburgh: Death Angel’s Shadow by Karl Edward Wagner, and Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters edited by Janet Morris.

The complete list of Top Articles for June follows. Below that, I’ve also broken out the most popular blog categories for the month.

Read More »

Is Berkeley Breathed Returning to Bloom County?

Monday, July 13th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Berkeley Breathed draws Bloom CountyBerkeley Breathed, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip Bloom County, posted the enigmatic image at left on his Facebook page, showing him working on a new Bloom County strip, with the caption, “A return after 25 years. Feels like going home.”

Bloom County, one of the finest comic strips of the 20th Century, ran from December 8, 1980 to August 6, 1989. It featured a great deal of political satire and commentary on pop culture, and introduced the characters Bill the Cat, 10-year-old newspaper reporter Milo Bloom, the completely moral-free attorney Steve Dallas, and Opus the Penguin. Breathed ended the strip in 1989 to focus on a Sunday-only comic, Outland, and later a number of best-selling children’s books, including A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story (1991), The Last Basselope (1992), Goodnight Opus (1993), and Mars Needs Moms! (2007), adapted into the Disney flop of the same name produced by Robert Zemeckis in 2011.

Breathed has not elaborated the exact meaning of his comment, but it seems pretty clear he’s returning to Bloom County in some fashion (and within hours of his post, speculation had already begun to spread that that’s exactly what he’s doing, in places like the A.V. Club and Comic Book Resources.)

However, there are some clues in the comments. Donald Trump, who was frequently the butt of Breathed’s jokes, and who played a role in the demise of the original strip (the final storyline featuring Trump buying out the strip and firing all the characters, forcing them to find jobs in other comic strips), is now running for President. Asked directly in the comments if Trump’s campaign had any influence on his decision to return, Breathed replied “This creator can’t precisely deny that the chap you mention had nothing do with it.” Stay tuned for additional details.

Tom Piccirilli, May 27, 1965 – July 11, 2015

Saturday, July 11th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Tom Piccirilli-smallFour-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author Tom Piccirilli died today.

The first Piccirilli novel I read was A Choir of Ill Children, which I brought with me on an anniversary getaway to downtown Chicago with my wife a decade ago. We saw a lot of live theatre and shows that weekend, but none was as memorable as that slim novel. That one book made me a fan, and Tom Piccirilli became one of my favorite modern horror writers.

His other novels included A Lower Deep (2001), The Night Class (2001), November Mourns (2005), Headstone City (2006), and The Midnight Road (2007). He also authored eight short story collections, including The Hanging Man (1996), Deep into the Darkness Peering (1999), and This Cape Is Red Because I’ve Been Bleeding (2002).

Piccirilli was also an accomplished editor. He edited the Stoker Award-winning poetry anthology The Devil’s Wine (2004), as well as Four Dark Nights (2002) (with Christopher Golden, Douglas Clegg, Bentley Little), and Midnight Premiere (2007). He was a finalist for the Edgar Award for best paperback original mystery with The Cold Spot (2008), and World Fantasy Award finalist for his collection Deep into that Darkness Peering (2000). He was also nominated for the Macavity Award and Le Grand Prix de L’imagination.

Piccirilli was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012, and suffered a stroke in 2014. His wife, writer Michelle Scalise, posted this brief message to his Facebook account today: “Tom died today. He was the love of my life, an amazing writer and the best person I have ever known.” He was fifty years old.

Get Your Own Star Trek Communicator — At Last

Friday, July 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Get your own Star Trek Communicator-smallEver since Leonard Nimoy was spotted using the Motorola StarTac phone in 2000, I’ve dreamed about getting a cell phone shaped like a Star Trek communicator.

Now Engadget reports that the long, long (long) wait may finally be over, as The Wand Company has procured a license to make and sell a Bluetooth accessory shaped just like a communicator.

In January of 2016, you’ll finally be able to buy an official, screen-accurate, Bluetooth-enabled Star Trek Original Series Communicator.

Technically, the replica prop is just a simple Bluetooth handset with pretty basic functionality: it takes calls and plays music. That’s about it. It’s pretty snazzy looking though — the Communicator is a die-cast metal, aluminum and ABS replica modeled after a 3D scan of the original “Alpha Hero” prop, made and manufactured by The Wand Company. Its magnetic charging connector turns the unit into a pretty nice display piece, too. It’s pricey, though: the Communicator will cost $150 when it starts shipping in January — the same price as the replica phaser (and TV remote control!) the manufacturer made last year.

Read the complete article here.

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