Lionsgate Wins Bidding War for Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle

Thursday, October 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Patrick Rothfuss-smallAs we reported in July, several major Hollywood studios — including Warner Bros., MGM and Lionsgate — were in a pitched bidding war for the rights to Patrick Rothfuss’ bestselling fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicle. Now The Hollywood Reporter, and Rothufuss’ blog, are ‎reporting that Lionsgate‬ has won the rights to develop the series for film, TV, and video game platforms.

Lionsgate has closed a complex multi-platform rights deal picking up The Kingkiller Chronicle, the best-selling fantasy book series by Patrick Rothfuss. The deal sets up the simultaneous development of movies, television series and video games with the goal to adapt the many stories across the mediums at the same time.

It also caps off interest and dealmaking that has gone on since mid-July, when Rothfuss met with studios such as Warner Bros., MGM and Lionsgate, among others, at Comic-Con.

Robert Lawrence, whose credits include 1990s classic Clueless as well as the Mark Wahlberg vehicle Rock Star and the drama The Last Castle, will produce. Lawrence was an early chaser of the Kingkiller series and stayed on the series even when it was temporarily set up at Fox Television.

Terms were not disclosed. Read the report at The Hollywood Reporter here, and at Rothfuss’ blog here.

Theresa DeLucci on Six-Guns and Strange Shooters: A Weird West Primer

Sunday, September 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Six-Gun Snow White-smallYou know how we feel about the Weird Western here at Black Gate. It’s a neglected sub-genre with some terrific work that deserves a lot more attention.

Over at, Theresa DeLucci clearly feels the same way. She’s done a marvelous survey of some recent additions to the field in books, games, film, and music — including R.S. Belcher’s The Shotgun Arcana, Jonathan Maberry’s Deadlands: Ghostwalker, and John Joseph Adams’s great anthology Dead Man’s Hand. Here she is on Cat Valente’s short novel Six-Gun Snow White:

Similar to [Emma] Bull’s Territory, this fairytale of the half-Navajo daughter of industrialist George Hearst is more of an alternate history than a Weird piece… until the origin of the Evil Queen’s magic mirror is revealed. While Valente’s West is a land of Native American magic, coyote spirits, and the mystery of wide open spaces, the East hold forests choked with ancient dark magic that reaches up from the earth in twisting black tentacles. Tentacles are never attached to anything wholesome in fiction.

Read Theresa’s complete article at here.

And in honor of all this recent Weird Western coverage, I’ve created a new — and long-overdue — category at Black Gate. Check out all our Weird Western coverage here.

Future Treasures: Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti

Friday, September 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe-smallBack in 1990 I bought a remaindered copy of Songs of a Dead Dreamer at a Waldenbooks in Champaign, IL. I’d never heard of the author, Thomas Ligotti, but the book sounded kind of interesting. I added it to my to-be-read pile, where it was quickly buried, and years went by before I really thought of it again.

In those intervening years, I learned the name Thomas Ligotti. So did anyone who read Weird Tales, Grue, or other horror magazines in the late 80s and early 90s. He was a singularly unique talent, and his fame quietly grew during those decades. In fact, when I launched the first issue of Black Gate in the year 2000, I had more-or-less decided not to put the names of authors on the cover, to keep the artwork clean and give the magazine a unique look, but I talked to a few other editors to get their opinion first. One of them was Darrell Schweitzer, co-editor of Weird Tales.

“We never noticed a bit of difference in sales when we put authors names on the cover,” he confided. “Unless the name was Thomas Ligotti.”

Ligotti’s first two collections were Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1985) and Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (1991), both of which appeared first in small print-run hardcovers. Those editions — including the one I bought at Waldenbooks for three bucks — became highly prized collectors items. Both appeared in paperback, in June 1991 and October 1994, respectively. Those editions shortly went out of print, and also became became highly sought-after. In 2010 and 2011, after both volumes had been out of print for nearly two decades, Subterranean Press re-issued them with matching dust jackets. Those editions quickly sold out, and routinely command prices of $200-400 in the collectors market.

In short, if you wanted a print copy of Songs of a Dead Dreamer or Grimscribe any time in the last 20 years, you pretty much needed to be very wealthy, very lucky, or both. So you can understand why the impending release of Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, an omnibus 464-page collection of both volumes in a handsome and affordable trade paperback from Penguin Classics, has generated excited buzz in horror circles.

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The Mid-September Fantasy Magazine Rack

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath-Ceaseless-Skies-181-rack Clarkesworld-108-rack Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Q25-rack The-Magazine-of-Fantasy-and-Science-Fiction-September-October-2015-rack
Lackingtons-issue-7-rack Lightspeed-September-2015-rack Swords-and-Sorcery-Magazine-August-2015-rack Uncanny-Magazine-Issue-Six-rack

Plenty of great new magazines to read in September, to help close out summer with a bang. This month we start coverage of Ranylt Richildis’ splendid Lackington’s magazine, with the Summer issue (above), and in his August Short Story Roundup, Fletcher Vredenburgh looks at the latest issues of Swords and Sorcery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our early September 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 $12.95/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.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in August

Saturday, September 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

2011 Hugo Award-smallIf there was a predominate topic last month at Black Gate, it was unquestionably the Hugo Awards.

Black Gate was nominated for a Hugo Award for the first time this year — an honor we declined on April 19. The Awards were presented at the World Science Fiction Convention on August 22, and our coverage of the awards and its immediate aftermath, written by me and Jay Maynard, produced the top three BG articles in August. In fact, those three posts were read more than the next 30 articles on the list combined.

The most popular non-Hugo article this month was Elizabeth Cady’s look at Aristophanes’ The Birds, “Ancient Worlds: The First Fantasy World.” Next was our report on a controversial analysis of NPR’s Top 100 Books list, “New Statesmen on the “Shockingly Offensive” 100 Best Fantasy and SF Novels.”

Sixth was David B. Coe’s second essay on the 2015 Hugo Kerfuffle, “Enough, Part II,” followed by the 8th entry in our very popular Discovering Robert E. Howard series, “Jeffrey Shanks on The Worldbuilding of REH.” Coming in at number 8, and sticking with the Robert E. Howard theme, was Bob Byrne’s “The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Ramblings on REH.”

Number 9 last month was M. Harold Page on “Chivalry: Not Really About Opening Doors (and Still Quite a Useful Coping Strategy).” And rounding out the Top 10 was another in our Discovering Robert E. Howard series, Don Herron’s “Pigeons From Hell From Lovecraft.”

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

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Foz Meadows Signs Two-Book Deal with Angry Robot

Sunday, September 13th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Foz MeadowsBlack Gate blogger Foz Meadows has just signed a two-book deal with UK publisher Angry Robot, one of the most exciting and innovative genre publishers out there. Both books will be part of the same fantasy series. Here’s the release from Angry Robot:

An Accident of Stars, the first in the series, which is described by Foz as ‘a portal fantasy with the safeties off’, will be published in summer 2016, with a second novel to follow. You might know of Australian born, Aberdeen-based Foz through her Hugo-nominated blog, Shattersnipe, or from her many articles on The Huffington Post, Strange Horizons, or the sadly now closed A Dribble of Ink. Foz has also written two previous books, Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt.

Foz Meadows: “After years of quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) obsessing over magic portals, feminism and adventuring ladies, I’m delighted to announce that Angry Robot has decided to enable me in these endeavours. An Accident of Stars is the book I desperately wanted to read, but couldn’t possibly have written, at sixteen – and, as you may have guessed, it features (among a great many other things) magic portals, feminism and adventuring ladies. I’m immensely excited to share it with you, and I look forward to collaborating in its production with our glorious Robot Overlords, who only asked in exchange a very small blood sacrifice and part ownership of my soul.”

Congratulations Foz!

You can read the complete release at the Angry Robot website, or check out Foz’s most recent blog post at Black Gate, “The Fascination of Dragons.”

The September Fantasy Magazine Rack

Saturday, September 5th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex-Magazine-Issue-75-rack Asimovs-Science-Fiction-September-2015-rack Beneath-Ceaseless-Skies-180-rack Clarkesworld-107-rack
Fantasy-Scroll-Magazine-Issue-8-rack Lightspeed-August-2015-rack Mythic-Delirium-2.1-rack Nightmare-Magazine-August-2015-rack

Lots of great new magazines to read in September — and plenty of news to share. This month we start coverage of Mike Allen’s fine Mythic Delirium magazine, with the July-September issue (above), and Lynne and Michael Thomas take us behind the scenes to learn how the Uncanny Magazine podcast gets made. Clarkesworld mastermind Neil Clarke tell us the Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews, and Fantasy Scroll Magazine announced a massive collection of all 51 stories from their first year, Dragons, Droids and Doom, edited by Iulian Ionescu and Frederick. See our recommendations on the finest stories from last month here.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our mid-August 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 $12.95/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.

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Cixin Liu the Superstar: How Taking a Risk on a Chinese Author Paid Off Big For Tor

Friday, September 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Three-Body Problem-smallOne of the great things about science fiction conventions is getting to rub shoulders with your heroes.

Some years ago I received an advance proof of an upcoming fantasy from Bantam Spectra, just before heading to Archon in St. Louis. I threw it in my luggage, and brought it to the author’s reading. There were only seven people in the audience, so afterwards I got to have a nice chat with the author, and he graciously signed my book for me. The writer was George R.R. Martin, and the book was A Game of Thrones.

In fact, writers who will draw huge crowds in public can often be vastly more approachable at small conventions. Perhaps this is because seeing Neil Gaiman at your local library is a big deal, but hanging out with him at the bar at World Fantasy is just a lot more casual.

Of course, there are rare exceptions. There are a few writers treated like superstars, even among fellow professionals. I saw it happen when Stephen King came to my home town of Ottawa for the World Fantasy Convention in 1984, and autograph lines spontaneously formed whenever he sat down. I got in line an hour early just so I could be in the front row during his reading from The Talisman (and ended up giving up my seat anyway, just so Tabitha King wouldn’t have to stand in the back.)

And I saw it happen again in June of this year, when the hottest new writer in science fiction, Cixin Liu, author of the Three-Body trilogy (The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End), arrived in Chicago for the Nebula Awards weekend.

Mr. Liu was in making his first trip to the United States as a published author to be on hand for the presentation of the awards. His first novel in English, The Three-Body Problem, published by Tor in November of last year, was up for Best Novel.

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Neil Clarke on The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld 108-smallNeil Clarke, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the award winning Clarkesworld magazine, has some pretty harsh words on the utility of short fiction reviews in our industry.

The sad truth about short fiction reviews is that the overwhelming majority of them have little-to-no impact on readership. After monitoring the incoming traffic for the online version of this magazine for nine years, I can say that the typical review has a statistically insignificant impact on the readership of a story or issue. The only notable exception to this has been reviews on high traffic sites, like io9 or, that focus specifically on a single story. As the number of stories in a review increases, there’s a dramatic drop-off in story readership.

“Oh, but that’s not the purpose of a review.” Yes, reviews have many purposes and sometimes their impact on readership can be secondary. For example, a good review in Locus may indicate good chances at being on their recommended reading list. That might have an influence on other award nominations as well. If a story happens to make one of those ballots, it definitely has an impact, but that’s a very small percentage of the stories reviewed in a year.

Shouldn’t reviews of good stories have the effect of encouraging people to read the story?

With all due respect, I think Neil is missing the essential point of short fiction reviews. I bought and published short fiction for over a decade, and one thing I learned was, with a handful of exceptions, nobody writes short fiction for the money. They write to reach an audience, and because they have something to say. Short story writers, in a very real sense, are paid with the acclaim they receive.

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How G.O.G. Rescued the Classic Forgotten Realms Computer Games

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Pool of Radiance SSI Gold Box-smallLast year I signed up at, the digital video game distribution platform, because they had great deals on classic RPGs. I’m not kidding — this site requires some serious self control. I got Starflight & Starflight 2 for just $2.99, Planescape: Torment for $3.99, Wizardry 6 & 7 for $2.99, and Baldur’s Gate for $3.99. Best of all, they did all the hard work of converting the games to run on modern versions of Windows, so I could stop fussing around with DOSBox and my Amiga emulator. GOG is owned by CD Projekt, a Polish company that also owns CD Projekt RED, the developer behind the popular Witcher games.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to discover they were now offering a package deal on my all-time favorite computer role playing games — SSI’s Pool of Radiance and its various sequels, the so-called Gold Box games. I bought a package of eight games for $9.99 (and I swear I’m going to play them soon. All of ’em!) But I hadn’t realized the amazing story behind GOG’s new offering — that in order to secure these classic games, the company had to navigate a legal ownership maze to obtain the rights, before they could begin the hard work of converting them for modern platforms. Dan Griliopoulos at PC Gamer posted an excellent article yesterday exploring just what was involved:

With the trail running cold, GOG tracked down SSI’s original President and founder, Joel Billings. “As a huge fan of D&D he was willing to help walk us through a detailed history behind SSI mergers and narrow the search down to two potential candidates: Mattel, or Gores Technology Group (who had acquired The Learning Company). The latter was a hit. We had found the actual rights owners to the Forgotten Realms games, and after several more months of negotiations, they agreed to sell them to us outright.”

GOG managed to recover thirteen games this way. They are: the party-based RPG Pool of Radiance; its sequels Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades and Pools of Darkness; C&C creators Westwood’s minigame RPG Hillsfar; the RPG construction kit Unlimited Adventures; Westwood’s first-person Eye of the Beholder Trilogy; the roguelike FPS Dungeon Hack; the two Savage Frontier games; and the Ultima Underworld-like Underdark exploration game Menzoberranzan.

Then they had the not-so-small matter of getting all thirteen running and bug-free for modern systems including Windows 10. Considering these were huge games — and not bug free in their release versions — that’s a massive task that the GOG team has been working on since April.

Read the complete article at PC Gamer — and check out the amazing and fast-growing library of old games at

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