Check Out the Hyperborea Adventure Kickstarter

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Hyperborea Adventure Three-Pack Kickstarter-small

A little over two years ago, I reviewed Jeffrey Talanian’s delightfully inventive RPG Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, a massive boxed set created in homage to the original boxed edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Time has not diminished my admiration; it remains one of my favorite games released in the last ten years. In fact, my only criticism — as I mentioned in my review — was the small number of supporting products.

That’s why I was so pleased to see a new Kickstarter, for the Hyperborea Adventure Three-Pack, a campaign created to fund the publication of a trio of deluxe adventures for the game: Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes by Jeff Talanian, Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess, by Joseph D. Salvador, and Beneath the Comet, by Ben Ball. These sword-and-sorcery adventure modules will each flesh out a different chuck of Hyperborean geography, and each is suitable for use with other games, such as Labyrinth Lord, Castles and Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, and of course, the game start started it all, D&D.

The campaign has a goal of $14,000 and, after less than 48 hours, has already raised over $12,000. Stretch goals include inside cover maps, additional art, and bookmarks, and I think the odds are good that more will be added. Check out all the details here.

Black Gate 4 is Sold Out

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Gate Magazine 4-smallBlack Gate 4, originally published in Summer 2002, is now sold out.

BG 4 featured the start of a major fantasy series from Hugo Award-winning author Bill Johnson, a new novelette from David B. Coe, and fiction from Cory Doctorow, Tina Jens, Mark McLaughlin, Patrice Sarath, Keith Allen Daniels, and many others. The terrific cover art was by Charles Keegan. Here’s the issue summary:

A Chicago pub where the ghosts of Blues legends gather to swap tales and jam one final time… a post-apocalyptic cityscape where automated bombers still cruise overhead and the last rock band hears the sound of extinction… a wild west where a trio of demons test the wits of a lone bounty hunter… and the dungeons of Chateau Machecoul, where an aging knight comes face-to-face with a horror unlike anything he’s ever known.

Since the end of the print version of Black Gate, we’ve been selling the last of our back issues at ridiculously low prices. BG 14 and 15 were cover priced at $15.95 and $18.85 each, but now you can get any two two issues for just $15 — plus $5 for each additional issue after that. That includes our rare first issue. Get our first three issues for just $20!

Stock is running very low on most of our early issues, however, and we sold our last copy of BG 4 today. Back issues of Black Gate contain original short stories and novellas from Michael Moorcock, Charles de Lint, James Enge, Cory Doctorow, Devon Monk, Harry Connolly, Martha Wells, Howard Andrew Jones, Myke Cole, and many others.

Get all the details on our back issue sale here.

The mid-May Fantasy Magazine Rack

Friday, May 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex-Magazine-71-April-2015-300 Asimovs-Science-Fiction-June-2015-300 Clarkesworld-104-300 The-Dark-Issue-8-300
Beneath-Ceaseless-Skies-172-300 Heroic-Fantasy-Quarterly-24-300 Innsmouth-Magazine-15-300 Knights-of-the-Dinner-Table-219-300

The mid-May April magazine rack is crowded with a mix of print (Asimov’s, Knights of the Dinner Table) and online (The Dark, Clarkesworld, BCS, and HFQ) magazines. This month we say goodbye to Innmouth Magazine, which published its last issue last summer. Click on any of the images above to see our detailed report on each issue.

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.

Our late April Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

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Enjoy the New Supergirl Trailer

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The new Supergirl trailer has just been released, and it’s already drawing some pretty harsh criticism. Meredith Woerner at io9 called it “depressingly paint-by-numbers,” and compared it (rather unfavorably) to the Saturday Night Live parody skit featuring Black Widow.

But I watched it this morning, and frankly loved it. It looks like the kind of show that I could watch with my fifteen year-old daughter (who digs Arrow and Buffy in a major way), and we could both enjoy. The show is already getting some defenders — author Chuck Wendig posted “Hey, I Liked That Supergirl Trailer” this morning, saying:

Listen, I like dark stuff. I write dark stuff. But sometimes, I just want fun… I loved Guardians of the Galaxy because it was weird, wonky shenanigans from start to finish. Supergirl looks like its bringing its own kind of goofy glee to the mix…

Did you see the photo above? She’s smiling! What mad hell is this?!

Watch the complete six-and-a-half-minute trailer above. Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, Mehcad Brooks as Jimmy Olsen, and Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. It debuts on CBS in November 2015.

The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in April

Friday, May 8th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Hugo Award Black GateLooking over our traffic stats for last month, I want to give a shout-out to M Harold Page, who managed to heroically crack the Top 10 without once mentioning the Hugo Awards or Rabid Puppies. Well done, Mr. Page!

He was the only one to accomplish that extraordinary feat, however. Every other article in the Top 10 for April (and more than a few in the Top 25) directly addressed the ongoing Hugo Awards controversy, which began on April 4th when Worldcon announced the nominees for the 2015 Hugo Awards — a group which usually represents the finest science fiction and fantasy of the year, but this year was largely dictated by a single individual, Vox Day (Theo Beale), and his Rabid Puppy supporters, who crammed the slate with 11 nominees from Theo’s tiny publishing house, Castalia House, and nominated Vox Day personally for two Hugo Awards.

Not coincidentally, Black Gate received the first Hugo nomination in our history, and one of our bloggers, Matthew David Surridge, was nominated for Best Fan Writer, both as a direct result of being included on the Rabid Puppy slate. We declined those nominations, for reasons that I think should be fairly obvious.

The most popular article on the BG blog last month — indeed, one of the most popular posts in our history — was Matthew’s “A Detailed Explanation,” in which he analyzed the extraordinary events around this year’s Hugo nominations, and enumerated the reasons why he declined science fiction’s highest honor. It the few weeks since it has been posted, it has been read over 50,000 times.

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2015 Locus Award Finalists Announced

Monday, May 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Mirror Empire-smallThe Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the nominations for the 2015 Locus Awards.

The winners are selected by the readers of Locus magazine. The awards began in 1971, originally as a way to highlight quality work in advance of the Hugo Awards. The winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, on June 26-28, 2015. In addition to creators, the Locus Foundation also honors winning publishers with certificates, which I think is kind of neat.

The finalists are:


The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway)
The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman (Viking)
The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot US)

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Spot the Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoiler on the Cover of the 1967 Paperback The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker-small The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker-back-small

I took my kids to see Avengers: Battle of Ultron on Friday, and we heartily enjoyed it. It’s a remarkable funny and ridiculously fast-paced two hours and 20 minutes of superpowered mayhem, and it’s obvious that writer/director Joss Whedon and his cohorts have a genuine love for the source material, as it’s packed with asides and sly references for those who remember the Marvel comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Yesterday I was doing what I do every Saturday — sorting piles of old paperbacks — when I stumbled on the 1967 Bantam paperback The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker by Otto Binder. It came from a collection of 52 vintage paperbacks I bought on eBay for fifteen bucks last year (which also included The Unknown, Nine Horrors and a Dream by Joseph Payne Brennan, and Robert Bloch’s Nightmares.) Earth-Wrecker is one of only two Bantam Marvel tie-ins I’m aware of; the other is Captain America: The Great Gold Steal, by Ted White (1968).

The fascinating thing about The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker, though, is that, despite being released nearly 50 years ago, it has a mild spoiler for the Avengers: Age of Ultron right on the cover. If you want to avoid spoilers, just scroll on to the next article. Otherwise, read on.

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Watch Stan Lee Give Tips on How to Give a Great Cameo Performance, in the Stan Lee Cameo School

Friday, May 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

I was watching movies on YouTube last night when an Audi ad popped up featuring Stan Lee. [I'd like to take a minute to point out that sentence would have been completely nonsensical 15 years ago. Ah, what a world we live in.]

It turned it to be well worth watching. Directed by Kevin Smith, “The Stan Lee Cameo School” is a hilarious two-minute short featuring featuring Lou Ferrigno, Tara Reid, Michael Rooker, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. I won’t ruin any more for you — check it out.

Audi has a long tradition of appealing to science fiction fans — check out their Star Trek ads. (And Volkswagen reunited William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy for an ad late last year.) All this talk of Audis does make me miss mine, however… tragically, it was destroyed in a head-on collision in 2011.

The Late April Fantasy Magazine Rack

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 171-rack Cemetery Dance 72-rack Clarkesworld 103-rack Fantasy Scroll Magazine 6.jpg-rack
Sword & Sorcery Magazine 39 Grimdark Magazine 3-rack Lightspeed Magazine April 2015-rack Nightmare Magazine April 2015-rack

The late April magazine rack is crowded with online and print magazines of all kinds, from horror (Cemetery Dance, Nightmare) to adventure fantasy (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Sword & Sorcery) to science fiction & fantasy (Lightspeed, Clarkesworld) and more. This month we welcome promising newcomer Grimdark Magazine, already on its third issue. Click on any of the images above to see our detailed report on each issue.

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.

Our early April Fantasy Magazine Rack, covering 20 magazines, is here.

Read More »

The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Icewind Dale-smallIan Williams at Paste Magazine has posted a fond retrospective of the great years of D&D videogaming, correctly noting the current trend towards retro-dungeon crawls among independent developers.

Everyone’s going old school in their computer roleplaying games these days. Recent games like Grimrock 2, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity: Original Sin, and the steady stream of roguelikes hark back to the golden era of the form, when kobolds were kobolds and the gold coins flowed freely. The biggest, best chunk of those old games came, of course, from the Dungeons & Dragons bloodline.

His list includes most of the great D&D games of my youth, including (of course) Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and the brilliant Pool of Radiance. I was especially pleased to see one of my favorites, Icewind Dale, rank so highly on his list.

Icewind Dale doesn’t have the literary aspirations of its predecessors in the Black Isle catalog. It wants to let you fight waves of monsters and crack open the best parts of the old AD&D 2nd Edition system… Icewind Dale is best viewed as a system first, narrative second, type of game. You make a party from scratch, something you weren’t strictly allowed to do in Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment. And they knew you were going to min-max it. There were no complicated voiceover interactions with your party members, no main character with an intense personal story. Just the cold winds of the North, a simple storyline, and the chance to play murderhobo with the greatest RPG engine the D&D games put out.

See news on the new Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale here, and enjoy Ian’s complete article here.

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