It’s early evening in the O’Neill household, and the frenzy of Christmas Day is starting to die down. The presents have been opened, Alice’s Christmas quiche has been eaten, the Zoom calls are over, and the family movie is done (this year we all watched Stephen Chow’s brilliantly funny Kung Fu Hustle for the first time, and unanimously agreed it was a wonderful Christmas film).
In the two decades I’ve been running Black Gate, my priorities have changed quite a bit. As I mentioned last year, it’s not about the awards and accolades any more. These days the things I look forward to and cherish the most are the comments from our regulars.
In the early days I was very focused on reaching as many fans as possible, with as much content as we could manage. Helping readers around the world discover neglected science fiction and fantasy old and new and, when we could, rescuing writers of the past Century from undeserved obscurity. In short, it was all about us and our mission.
These days I’m not so focused on us. Nowadays I’m far more interested in hearing from the countless regular readers who, for reasons of their own, have joined us on our journey. I used to look forward to telling everyone (at great length) how much I love Clifford D. Simak’s old paperbacks. But today I find I’d much rather hear about one of Thomas Parker’s all time favorite gosh-wow space operas, and Joe H’s Top Five Harryhausen films, and what book gave Smitty nightmares when he was 12 — and all the other fascinating tidbits this friendly and knowledgeable community chooses to share with us every day. I’ve discovered that the real joy to be found at Black Gate comes from listening, not teaching. And that’s true because of all of you.
So thank you once again, regulars and newcomers, from the bottom of our hearts. On behalf of the vast and unruly collective that is Black Gate, I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Continue being excellent — it’s what you’re good at.