The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Shovel’s Painful Predicament

Monday, July 20th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Shovel_Martin

Yeah, it’s Shovel. You were expecting Philip Marlowe?

I wanted to have a little bit of fun this week. You, enlightened reader, have heard about William Gillette’s curtain raiser play, The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes, because you wouldn’t dare miss a PLoSH post, right?

I am a serious fan of both Sherlock Holmes and the hard boiled genre of mystery fiction (which you also know because you’ve read the many columns I’ve written on both subjects…). Since Painful Predicament.. is a parody of Holmes, I decided to write a parody of a hard boiled private eye short, using Gillette’s mini-play as the model. So, I give you “Shovel’s Painful Predicament.”

I sat in my office, watching dust motes dance in the sunlight. The slats were pulled halfway, and they made a regular pattern on the floor. Unfortunately, this was the most action the office had seen in a week. Being a shamus in this town meant dry spells in jobs, not just the weather. The phone wasn’t ringing, but I wasn’t all that certain I’d paid the bill, either. I wouldn’t need an armored truck if I withdrew my bank account. Hell, I wouldn’t even need a wallet.

I heard tentative footsteps in the hallway. It sounded as if their maker was reading the doors, looking for the right one. They stopped in front of mine. I stayed behind my desk and waited. Someone pounded on the door and it rattled on its hinges. I grunted an “It’s open” in surprise. I hoped the hinges remembered how to work.

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Fiction: Shieldwall: Barbarians (Chapter 1)

Thursday, June 4th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Roman Cavalry Helmet

I originally wrote Shieldwall: Barbarians! for my son “Kurtzhau”. Why? Here he is at 10, utterly transfixed by the Sutton Hoo helmet.

I’ve been guest blogging over at Charles Stross‘s blog, a writer with so many rockets to his name  I joke about buying him a Tracy Island set. I did a three part piece In defence of Traditional (Eurocentric Quasi-Medieval) Fantasy which sparked some… lively discussion in the comments. I also talked about my writing process, and of course my YA Dark Age adventure,  Shieldwall: Barbarians! (UKAmazon-free Epub), which I originally wrote for my son. Frankly, I’m a bit brain dead, so you’ll pardon me if I hit you with the first chapter of my book…

Shieldwall: Barbarians!
by M Harold Page
Chapter 1

AD 451, south coast of Roman Britain

A spear whirred past the ear of Hengest, son of King Fredulf of the Jutes. It thwacked into the door of his father’s mead hall.

Warriors appeared out of the shadows and charged across the moonlit courtyard towards Hengest. They came on in silence except for the sound of laboured breathing and the clink of mail.

Hengest stepped behind one of the posts holding up the porch roof and yelled, “We’re under attack!”

More weapons sailed through the night air.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Testament of Tall Eagle-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from The Testament of Tall Eagle by John R. Fultz, the new fantasy novel from the author of the Books of the Shaper trilogy.

A second mountain sat atop the first. Yet the second mountain was made of glowing gold, beaded with shimmering crystals set in weird designs. The second mountain had been carved into slim, pointed spires like tremendous teepees of gold. Giant domes of sparkling stone gleamed brighter than Mother Moon at her fullest… All these things thrilled me and stole my heaving breath, but it was the eagles that filled my heart with joy.

Between the golden spires a flock of eagles soared. They skirted the surrounding peaks, and sometimes I heard their shrill songs tearing through the sky. Here are the Lords of All Eagles, I thought. The Eagle Spirit himself must live here. These are his people…

I had no idea how huge these eagles were until one of them descended. The light of the golden mountain made it a massive shadow winging toward me. It did not cry out, but I felt the great beating of its wings. They made a wind that nearly knocked me backwards, where I would have fallen to my death. But I knew no fear in the face of that great bird, for it served the Eagle Spirit, and had it not called me here?

John’s Books of the Shaper trilogy includes Seven Princes,Seven Kings, and Seven Sorcerers (Orbit Books). His short story collection, The Revelations of Zang, is a series of interrelated tales born in the pages of Weird Tales and Black Gate. His website is www.johnrfultz.com.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner,  Howard Andrew Jones, David Evan Harris, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

The Testament of Tall Eagle will be published by Ragnarok Publications on June 8, 2015. It is 400 pages and available in digital format for $4.99. Learn more at Ragnarok Publications.

Read the complete first chapter of The Testament of Tall Eagle here.


The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in October

Sunday, November 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Black Fire Concerto-smallMike Allen continues to dominate the top of our charts for a second month, with the exclusive excerpt from his first novel The Black Fire Concerto. Mike’s breakout collection Unseaming was released on October 1st from Antimatter Press. Check it out here.

Surging back into second place are Janet Morris and Chris Morris, with an excerpt from their heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band. They also claimed the #3 slot with “Seven Against Hell,” an exclusive sample from their new anthology, Poets in Hell.

Knocked out of the #2 slot was “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen by Mark Rigney, which settled at #4 this month. “The Keystone,” Part III of the series, also made the list. Check out Mark’s first novel, the popular Check-Out Time, released on October 7 from Samhain Publishing.

Rounding out the Top Five was Ryan Harvey’s sword & sorcery story “The Sorrowless Thief,” a tale of intrigue and dinosaur beasts, part of his popular science-fantasy set series on the continent of Ahn-Tarqa.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Joe Bonadonna, John C. Hocking, David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, Judith Berman, Michael Shea, C.S.E. Cooney, Aaron Bradford Starr, Jason E. Thummel, Steven H Silver, Martha Wells, Sean McLachlan, Harry Connolly, Howard Andrew Jones, and John R. Fultz.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in September

Sunday, October 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Black Fire Concerto-smallThe top fiction posts at Black Gate last month both come from writers who recently released popular new books.

Mike Allen returns to the top of our charts with the exclusive excerpt from his first novel, the dark fantasy The Black Fire Concerto. Not too surprising, given that Mike has received a lot of attention recently, chiefly as a result of his breakout collection, Unseaming, released on October 1st from Antimatter Press. Check it out here.

Knocked out of the top slot last month was “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen by Mark Rigney. “The Trade” and “The Keystone,” Parts I and III respectively, also made the list. Check out Mark’s first novel, the popular Check-Out Time, released on October 7 from Samhain Publishing.

The #3 and #4 fiction posts in September were from a couple who have become very acquainted with the top of our fiction charts: Janet Morris and Chris Morris. They claimed the #3 slot with an excerpt from their heroic fantasy novel, The Sacred Band, and #4 with “Seven Against Hell,” an exclusive sample from their new anthology, Poets in Hell.

Rounding out the Top Five was Joe Bonadonna’s exciting sword & sorcery tale featuring his popular hero Dorgo the Dowser, “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum.”

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in August

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Check Out Time Mark Rigney-smallMark Rigney is the King of All Media.

Well, all the media that count, anyway. Meaning mostly blog posts, novels, and online fiction.

The most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, by Mark Rigney (“The Keystone,” Part III in the series, clocked in at #12).

Could this have anything to do with the imminent arrival of Mark’s first novel Check-Out Time? Believe what you will, but I believe that in publishing there are no coincidences. (The same goes for crime in Gotham City, if you believe Batman.) Speaking of crime, you can make out like a bandit and score one of our two Check-Out Time giveaways — enter here.

The #2 fiction post in August was from fantasy’s power couple: an excerpt from heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. They also nabbed the #3 slot with “Seven Against Hell,” an exclusive sample from their new anthology Poets in Hell.

The Death of the Necromancer, the complete Nebula Award-nominated novel by Martha Wells presented exclusively here on Black Gate, came in fourth. Fifth was John C. Hocking’s exciting sword & sorcery tale “Vestments of Pestilence.”

Also making the list were exciting stories by E.E. Knight, Joe Bonadonna, Jason E. Thummel, Harry Connolly, Aaron Bradford Starr (twice!), Vaughn Heppner, Sean McLachlan, Dave Gross, Howard Andrew Jones, Ryan Harvey, John R. Fultz, Michael Shea, and David C. Smith.

If you haven’t sampled the free adventure fantasy stories offered through our Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in August.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in July

Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Poets in Hell-smallThe most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, an exclusive sample from their new anthology Poets in Hell.

Don’t step off the podium just yet, Janet and Chris. I’m happy to report that the #2 fiction post in July was also from fantasy’s power couple: an excerpt from heroic fantasy novel The Sacred Band by — who else? — Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Third was perennial favorite “The Find,” by Mark Rigney, Part II of The Tales of Gemen, which has been near the top of the charts every month since it was first published here nearly three years ago.

Michael Shea’s tale of Lovecraftian horror, “Tsathoggua,” which first appeared here last September, came in fourth.

Next was Aaron Bradford Starr’s epic novella “The Sealord’s Successor,” the third adventure fantasy featuring Gallery Hunters Gloren Avericci and Yr Neh, the most popular adventuring duo we’ve ever published.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Joe Bonadonna, Mike Allen, John C. Hocking, C.S.E. Cooney, Sean McLachlan, Peter Cakebread, Vaughn Heppner, Jason E. Thummel, Harry Connolly, Steven H Silver, E.E. Knight, Judith Berman, Martha Wells, David C. Smith, and Dave Gross.

If you haven’t sampled the free adventure fantasy stories offered through our Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in July.

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The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in June

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Oron David C Smith-smallThe most popular piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was David C. Smith’s “The Shadow of Dia-Sust,” the first new Oron story in 30 years, taken from his brand new short story collection The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories.

Second on the list was our excerpt from The Sacred Band, the new novel in the popular Sacred Band of Stepsons series by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Third was perennial favorite “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” by Joe Bonadonna, published here nearly three years ago in December 2011 — and in the Top 10 virtually every month since.

Next was Aaron Bradford Starr’s epic novella “The Sealord’s Successor,” the third adventure fantasy featuring Gallery Hunters Gloren Avericci and Yr Neh, the most popular adventuring duo we’ve ever published.

Rounding out the Top Five was ”The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, by Mark Rigney.

Also making the list were exciting stories by C.S.E. Cooney, E.E. Knight, Dave Gross, Michael Shea, John C. Hocking, Steven H Silver, John R. Fultz, Harry Connolly, Gregory Bierly, Jon Sprunk, David Evan Harris, Judith Berman, Peter Cakebread, and Ryan Harvey.

If you haven’t sampled the free adventure fantasy stories offered through our Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in June.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Poets in Hell-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers the complete short story “Seven Against Hell” by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, an exclusive sample from the new collection Poets in Hell.

In hell, souls sometimes roam diverse underworlds, straying from their native realms. The ancient Old Dead have many judges and gods of hell; the New Dead have few. In hell, if you die you are reborn on the Undertaker’s table, perhaps old or young, forgetful or deformed, to sin more and hunt the manifold hells for relief from damnation. Few find it. Among the teeming damned of hell are all who ever broke even one of the 613 Commandments, from every culture of humanity, whether they knew the rules or harbored faith or not. If you lived, you sinned, you died — and ended here, a soul in torment. Hell is never fair.

Diomedes and six of his fellow Argives come up from Erebos in Hades’, summoned to a meeting in dissolute New Hell City where the modern dead hold sway and a poetry festival is under way. This summons is from a friend of old, one he can’t refuse, who needs a favor. Even in perdition, a hero must answer a call to duty….

Janet Morris and Chris Morris have edited 17 volumes of the highly acclaimed Heroes in Hell anthology series. In his Black Gate review Joe Bonadonna said the latest volume, Poets in Hell, has “A little something for everyone: heroic fantasy and sword & sorcery, thrillers, horror, romance, touches of science fiction and steampunk – they’re all here.”

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by David C.  Smith, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner, Howard Andrew Jones, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

Poets in Hell was published by Perseid Press on June 11, 2014. It is 410 pages, priced at $19.99 in trade paperback and $6.66 (yes, $6.66) for the digital version. Learn more here.

Read the complete short story “Seven Against Hell” here.


The Top 20 Black Gate Fiction Posts in May

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Alchemist's Revenge-smallThe most-read piece of fiction on the Black Gate blog last month was our exclusive excerpt from The Alchemist’s Revenge by Peter Cakebread, the first novel from the co-author of the role playing games Airship Pirates and Clockwork & Chivalry. The first volume in the Companie of Reluctant Heroes takes place in a 17th century that didn’t quite happen, in a nation torn apart by civil war.

When an embittered mercenary agrees to escort a grieving widow to visit her husband’s grave, little does he realize the dangers they will face. This is the story of their struggle through a country divided. As they journey through tainted lands, ravaged by alchemical magic and giant clockwork war machines, they are reunited with old friends and stalked by sinister foes. The reluctant heroes band together in this tale of loss and despair, of redemption and friendship, and ultimately, of retribution and revenge!

“Stand at Dubun-Geb,” Ryan Harvey’s second tale of Ahn-Tarqa, returned to the setting of “The Sorrowless Thief,” for another heroic fantasy packed with adventure, swordplay, and weird magic. It took second place this month.

Steven H Silver’s tale of the strange astral adventures of Hoggar the Cremator, “The Cremator’s Tale,” continued its run at the top of the charts, taking third place.

Also making the list were exciting stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Michael Shea, David Evan Harris, Aaron Bradford Starr, Joe Bonadonna, John C. Hocking, E.E. Knight, David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, Jason E. Thummel, Jon Sprunk, John R. Fultz, Dave Gross, and Harry Connolly.

If you haven’t sampled the free adventure fantasy stories offered through our Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in May.

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