The Late June Fantasy Magazine Rack

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Albedo One 45-rack Apex Magazine Issue 73-rack Asimovs-Science-Fiction-July-2015-rack Black Static 46-rack
Lightspeed-61-rack Fantasy Scroll Magazine 7 June 2015-rack Nightmare Magazine June 2015-rack Swords and Sorcery Magazine June 2015-rack

The big news this week is that we’ve started coverage of Ireland’s long-running magazine of the Fantastic, Albedo One, with issue #45, and the huge (432 pages!) Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue of Lightspeed — which is also available in a special trade paperback edition.

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

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The Bard’s Tale IV Kickstarter Fully Funded After 12 Days

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Bards Tale IV

The Bard’s Tale was one of the first computer role playing games I ever played. It was developed in 1985 by Interplay, and published by Electronic Arts. I was in grad school at the time, and I’d play on the computers in the lab. Wandering around the 30×30 map of the ancient town of Skara Brae at night, getting killed by monsters, over and over (and over…) again. Good times, good times.

The Bard’s Tale sold, like, a billion copies, and became one of the big RPG franchises of the 80s (alongside Wizardry, Ultima, and SPI’s Gold Box games). There were two sequels and a construction set, before Interplay split off from Electronic Arts and began developing Dragon Wars (which was called Bard’s Tale IV until a month before its release in 1990). The Bard’s Tale franchise became dormant then, until Interplay founder Brian Fargo revived it for the first release from InXile Entertainment, The Bard’s Tale, in 2004. That game was a light-hearted console-style action game (with some absolutely killer tavern tunes).

Fast forward to 2015, where InXile Entertainment is now a triple-A studio with one of the finest RPGs in recent memory under its belt, Wasteland 2, and a reputation for record-breaking Kickstarter successes (Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera.) On June 2 Brian Fargo and team launched a new Kickstarter campaign, to fund a sequel to the original Bard’s Tale trilogy. The Bard’s Tale IV promises to be a modern single-player, party-based dungeon-crawler, an experience rich in exploration and combat, and “dungeons filled with challenging puzzles and devious riddles.” InXile set a goal of $1.25 million, and crossed that threshold in just 12 days. With 22 days to go, the campaign has over 28,600 backers, and plenty of exciting stretch goals, like free copies of the original games, a code wheel, and more. Check out the Kickstarter page here.


The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in May

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Marshall Versus the Assassins-smallM. Harold Page had a good month in May, with two of the Top Three articles. His detailed breakdown on choreographing dramatic combat, and mastering the conflicting demands of narrative and blow-by-blow description, “How To Write a Good Fight Scene,” was our #1 article. And just to show how easy it is, he also nabbed the #3 slot, with a look at the similarities between Edmond Hamilton’s pulp classic Return to the Stars and Ridley’s Scott SF masterpiece, in “Blade Runner: Edmond Hamilton’s Tears in the Rain?”

Bob Byrne prevented Martin from stealing all the glory by taking the #2 slot, with “The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Adventures With Jeremy Brett,” just one of two Jeremy Brett article to make this list last month. I guess good things come in pairs.

Thomas Parker claimed fifth place with his look at Alice Sheldon and James Tiptree Jr, “The Woman Who Was a Man Who Was a Woman.” And Mark Rigney took #7 with a piece on adventures in role playing, “Long Arc or Short Arc?” (Mark’s complete epic adventure The Temple Of the Sea Gods also made the Top 50 list.)

Rich Horton was next, with “A Modest Proposal to Improve the Hugos,” a follow-up to his detailed article on the Rabid Puppy/Sad Puppy debacle, “The 2015 Hugo Nominations,” one of our most widely-read articles last month.

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July 2015 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimovs-Science-Fiction-July-2015-smallBlack Gate blogger Derek Künsken has a big novella in Asimov’s Science Fiction this month, and it’s already getting great reviews. Clancy Weeks at Tangent Online had this to say about it:

I love a good mystery, and “Pollen From a Future Harvest” by Derek Künsken is indeed a good mystery. Some of that mystery is in parsing the twists and turns related to time travel, along with the prose itself, but it is rewarding nonetheless. Major Okonkwo, of the Sixth Expeditionary Force of the Sub-Saharan Union, is a military auditor — a bookkeeper — and she has been given the open-ended task of auditing the entire base. There are layers, sub-plots, and twists here, but the main issue is dealing with a possible “grandfather paradox” associated with time travel… Something has happened up the line, and Okonkwo needs to find out why, and if it is related to the recent death (some would say murder) of her senior husband. There is an amazing amount of backstory we learn along the way, and rich, multi-layered world-building… a very good and entertaining read.

Derek made the cover this month, for the second time (the first was for his novelette “Schools of Clay” in the February 2014 issue.) I had the chance to meet Derek for the first time at the Nebula Awards weekend here in Chicago from June 4-June 7, where we talked space opera, writing, and conventions. He’s a remarkably astute observer of the field, and has a very keen eye on short fiction markets. He also brought me up-to-date on the state of fandom in my home town of Ottawa, which I greatly appreciated. His detailed summary of the Nebula weekend is here.

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The mid-June Fantasy Magazine Rack

Monday, June 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath-Ceaseles-Skies-174-rack Beneath-Ceaseles-Skies-175-rack Clarkesworld-105-rack Fantasy-and-Science-Fiction-May-June-2015-rack
Swords-and-Sorcery-Magazine-May-2015-rack Tin-House-Magazine-64-rack Shimmer-25-May-2015-rack Interzone-258-rack

The big news this week is that Clarkesworld has started considering novelettes. They’ve also raised their rates to 10¢/word for the first 5,000 words, and 8¢ for each word over 5,000. For the pulp fans in our audience, Matthew Wuertz had a look at the September 1939 issue of John W. Campbell’s famous fantasy magazine Unknown, and Rich Horton posted a Retro Review of the July 1957 issue of Venture, with stories by James E. Gunn, Theodore R. Cogswell, H. Beam Piper, C. M. Kornbluth, Lester Del Rey, and Tom Godwin.

In his May Short Story Roundup, Fletcher Vredenburgh reviews the latest issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine #40 and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #24, calling the latter “maybe their best yet,” with equal praise for Cullen Groves’ “The Madness of the Mansa,” Dennis Mombauer’s ”Melting Gold and Ashes,” and “The Reeds of Torin’s Fields by Andrea G. Stewart.

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

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Ancient Explorers Unveils the True Horror of the Rat King

Sunday, June 14th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Rat King-smallThe Ancient Explorers Facebook group has explored some fascinating topics recently, including an ancient Chinese cure for obesity, the mysterious Nazca lines of Peru, and the enigmatic Voynich manuscript. But they’ve never posted anything quite like the true story of the Rat King, a near legendary medieval monster.

Several museums around the world contain bizarre once-living artifacts of a pseudo-legendary beast from the Middle Ages called a “rat king.” A rat king is formed when several rats have their tails fused together, whether by knotting or being somehow glued together. The result is a small horde of rats all facing outward from the central knot, presumably forced to act as one composite beast. The more fanciful accounts hold that one leader rat is suspended in the middle and acts as the “head” who directs the rest — a nightmarish notion, especially considering the fears of plague that rats conjure up.

The largest of these disturbing artifacts contains 32 of the little horrors and resides at the Mauritianum Museum in Altenburg, Germany. Some existing rat kings are mummified, while others are preserved in jars. Rat kings have been found in Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Indonesia. In every case except Indonesia, the rats were black: Rattus rattus L. In the case of Indonesia, they were small field rats: R. argentiventer.

As recently as 2005, a farmer named Rein Koiv found a rat king consisting of 16 individuals (nine of which were already dead) underneath the floorboards of his farm in Estonia, their tails glued together by frozen sand.

Read the complete story here.


Erik Chevalier Reaches Settlement With FTC For Kickstarter Failure

Thursday, June 11th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Doom That Came to Atlantic City logoTwo years ago we reported on the spectacular failure of one of the biggest Kickstarter success stories of 2012.

Reports are coming in that Erik Chevalier, the man behind one of the most high-profile Kickstarter game successes of 2012, The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, has admitted that he will never produce the game… Over the past 13 months, Chevalier has been releasing increasingly bleak progress reports, culminating in this post Tuesday…

The Washington Post is reporting today that Chevalier has agreed to a settlement order with the FTC that includes a $111,793.71 judgment against him — although it’s unlikely he’ll ever be able to pay it.

In its first ever enforcement action against a crowdfunded project, the Federal Trade Commission went after a board game project gone wrong… Few, if any, supporters of the project ever received refunds, the FTC alleged in a complaint against Chevalier disclosed Thursday that accuses him of deceiving backers of the project. And instead of spending most of the funds raised through Kickstarter on making the game, he spent it on himself, the agency claimed. “In reality, Defendant never hired artists for the board game and instead used the consumers’ funds for miscellaneous personal equipment, rent for a personal residence, and licenses for a separate project,” the complaint said.

Chevalier has agreed to a settlement order with agency. Under the agreement, he’s prohibited from making misrepresentations about crowdfunding campaigns and failing to honor refund policies in the future. The order also contains a $111,793.71 judgment against Chevaliar, but it is suspended because of his inability to pay. “The full amount will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition,” an FTC press release said.

Read the complete article here.


Support For Irene Gallo Continues to Grow

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Tor Books logoSupport for Irene Gallo, the embattled Creative Director of Tor Books, has grown with astonishing speed over the last 24 hours. Writers, editors, bloggers, and fans are speaking out in numbers across the genre.

In her Daily Dot article “Why sci-fi authors are angry with Tor Books,” Gavia Baker-Whitelaw writes:

In the world of sci-fi/fantasy publishing, all anyone can talk about today is this Tor.com blog post from Tor Books founder Tom Doherty….

After Doherty denounced Gallo’s comment, many sci-fi fans and authors began accusing him of hypocrisy. If Gallo’s post was deemed objectionable enough to warrant a public disavowal, what about the controversial opinions published by other Tor authors and employees?

While Gallo’s opinions were offensive to some Sad Puppies supporters, it’s unclear why the single-paragraph Facebook comment resulted in such a public response almost a month after it was posted. Other Tor-affiliated writers have posted similar things on social media over the past few months, but none of the comments were addressed on the front page of Tor.com.

In an article titled “Tor’s Dumb Letter,” Harry Connolly highlights the differences in the way Irene Gallo and Tor contracts manager Sean Fodera were treated for embarrassing the company.

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Internet Explodes Around Irene Gallo

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Irene Gallo Tor Creative Director-smallIf you’ve been following science fiction publishing for the past 48 hours, you may have found yourself asking, “Who the heck is Irene Gallo?”

The talented Ms Gallo is the Creative Director of Tor Books, and the associate publisher of the marvelous Tor.com, where she’s done some exemplary work. On May 11, in response to a question on her personal Facebook page, she wrote a quick and rather clueless assessment of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies movement:

There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.

Virtually no one took notice of Irene’s comments until Vox Day tweeted a screenshot on June 6th, and Larry Correia took note of it on Facebook, saying:

Irene Gallo is the Creative Director at Tor… I think we should share the love. Everybody deserves to see this wisdom in action.

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Presenting the 2015 Nebula Awards

Sunday, June 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

  Presenting the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novelette

Presenting the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novelette

I don’t mean that title metaphorically. Like, “Here are the 2015 Nebula winners, so awesome!” I mean it literally. As in, presenting a Nebula Award on stage, in front of God and everybody, while wearing a suit and desperately hoping I pronounced all the names correctly. How’s that for awesome?

The 2015 Nebulas were presented by the Science Fiction Writers of America at the 50th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend on Saturday, June 4th, at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago. The event was attended by the brightest and most dazzling talents in the industry (plus, I was there too). I was invited to present the Nebula for Best Novelette, which was a fabulous honor that made me all giddy. If at any point on Saturday I shook your hand and tried to give you a Nebula Award, I hope you can understand — when I’m nervous, rehearsing make me feel better.

Please forgive me. Unless your name is Alaya Dawn Johnson, in which case, congratulations again on winning, and I’m very sorry I added three extra vowels to your first name. Ha ha ha, Alaya. It looked so damn easy on paper.

Anyways, the Nebulas. Super-big deal. The biggest names in the industry, gathered together to celebrate the very best writing of the year. And also to see and be seen, to socialize, discuss the big issues of the day, renew friendships, make new friends, gossip, catch up on all the news. Plus, to give out some Nebula Awards.

Derek Kunsken posted a fine summary of the weekend earlier today. After working with him for so many years, I was delighted to finally meet Derek for the first time, and he turned out to be just as articulate and entertaining in person. He wasn’t the only Black Gate writer to attend — I also caught up with Steven Silver, Jeremiah Tolbert, Tina Jens, and Beth Dawkins.

The highlight, of course, was the awards ceremony. And without any further ado, here’s a complete rundown on the winners.

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