Egyptian Dystopian Fiction: The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

the_queue_basma_abdel_aziz-smallSince the Arab Spring, there has been an upsurge in dystopian fiction coming out of the Middle East. The dashed hopes of that widespread popular uprising have found their expression in pessimistic novels such as Otared, (reviewed in an earlier post) and several other notable works of fiction.

One of the most lauded in the West is The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, an Egyptian writer and social activist.

In The Queue, we are transported to a strange near future where the civilian government has been taken over by a faceless entity called the Gate. The Gate issues a series of edicts that become ever more baffling and hard to obey. Companies are forced to changed what they produce, individuals need to get signed forms for even the most mundane matters, and little by little the Gate forces its way into every aspect of the city’s life.

The people rebel, in what the Gate refers to as the Disgraceful Events, which are suppressed with predictable police brutality. One of the casualties is a young man named Yehya, who is shot by a police officer. Yehya needs a form signed in order to have the bullet removed, but the Gate closes right after the Disgraceful Events.

As Yehya languishes, the Gate issues a continuous torrent of edicts, prompting more and more citizens to line up in front of the Gate hoping to get their forms filled out. The line soon stretches for miles, developing its own economy and culture. Street preachers rail against the citizens for their lack of faith in the Gate, shopkeepers try to make a living selling tea and snacks to the other people in line, and salesmen give away free mobile phones that are bugged.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

Monday, December 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

A-Gathering-of-Ravens-mediumBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden.

In his review, Fletcher Vredenburgh wrote:

Oden’s novel knocked the heck out of any prejudices I had. New or old, this book kicks ass, and is one of the best swords & sorcery novels I’ve read in a while.

Grimnir, the last of his race, lives on the Danish island of Sjaelland, dreaming of revenge against Bjarki Half-Dane, the man who killed his brother, Hrungnir. His desire to cleave his enemy with his trusty seax (a old Germanic sword), leads him from Denmark to England, and finally to the field of Clontarf, in Ireland…

From the first appearance of Grimnir to the final showdown at Clontarf, the pace never lets up. With an intimate and detailed knowledge of the history and legends of Northern Europe, he has told a tale that lives and breathes “that Northern Thing.” You can smell the surf, the heath, and sense the sidhe lurking just beyond your field of vision. Oden writes in clean, clear prose, never letting his characters get crushed under the weight of bad archaisms or ruined by inappropriate modern speech. A Gathering of Ravens belongs on the same shelf as the best modern swords & sorcery novels, and on the shelf of any serious swords & sorcery reader.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, 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.

A Gathering of Ravens was published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press on June 20, 2017. It is 336 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by James Iacobelli.

Read an exclusive excerpt from A Gathering of Ravens here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: Tempus Unbound, edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Monday, October 30th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Tempus Unbound-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Tempus Unbound, the newest Sacred Band novel from Janet & Chris Morris. In this excerpt, Tempus is seeking his sister, Cime, and his quest leads him to the future, where he finds allies — volunteers to fight sorcery from different epochs as the storm god allows. Tempus has already recruited Mano, an ally from the 22nd century, and he and Mano find a most unlikely new adherent when the god deposits them in yet another time and place…

Here’s the description.

Is this the Lemuria of antiquity, or of times to come? Once you’ve ridden the storm clouds of heaven from the edge of time, anything is possible.

Demonic hordes threaten to destroy the very fabric of time itself.

The fate of all humanity rests on the shoulders of Tempus the Black, Favorite of the Storm God. But even this hero of legend will encounter a challenge he has never faced before… present-day New York City.

Joe Bonadonna reviewed the book for Black Gate earlier this month, calling it “Epic in scope and concept… This is a fun novel to read, a great story that departs from the Sacred Band tales… It’s one of my favorites.”

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, 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.

Tempus Unbound was published by Perseid Press on June 11, 2017. It is 346 pages, priced at $26 in trade paperback and $8.99 for the digital edition.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Tempus Unbound here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: In Creepy Hollow, It’s Halloween All Year Long! An Excerpt from The Power of the Sapphire Wand by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna

Thursday, October 26th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Power of the Sapphire Wand-small The Power of the Sapphire Wand-back-small

Black Gate is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from The Power of the Sapphire Wand (Creepy Hollow Adventures #2), the sequel to Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin, by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, 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 Power of the Sapphire Wand (Creepy Hollow Adventures #2) is a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 6 to 14. It is written by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Published by Golden Box Books Publishing, New York on October 1, 2017. Available in paperback ($11.95), and Kindle and Nook editions ($2.99).

Read the complete excerpt here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: In Creepy Hollow, It’s Halloween All Year Long! An Excerpt from Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin-small Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin-back-small

Without Erika M Szabo, this short little novel would have remained no more than the seed of an idea I had about ten years ago. Together, we wrote a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children.

The story begins when Nikki Sweet and her cousin, Jack Brady, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest one Halloween morning, near their Grandmother’s house. A wise talking, silver wind chime in the shape of a skeleton named Wishbone Jones tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers, the Guardians of the realm of Celestria in Creepy Hollow, are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their magic Wands. The children offer their help, so Wishbone takes them through an Ectomagic Gate to the world of Creepy Hollow, where they set out to retrieve the three wands he disguised by magic and hid in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. The witch Ghoulina, a beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil named Ebenezer Rex, can get their hands on them.

In this excerpt from the novel, Nikki, Jack and their three companions have reached the destination of their third and final quest. The Wand they are looking for was transformed by Wishbone into a Halloween mask, in order to keep it safe. As they enter the Cave of Spooks to retrieve the mask, they are unaware that Hobgoblin and Ebenezer Rex, who murdered the three Wishmothers, are close on their heels…

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (Creepy Hollow Adventures #1) is a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 6 to 14. It is written by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Published by Golden Box Books Publishing, New York on April 6, 2017. Available in paperback ($8.95), and Kindle and Nook editions ($2.99). It is the Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Judges’ Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy.

Read the complete excerpt here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: The First Chapter of The Wreck of the Marissa

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 | Posted by M Harold Page

Trust me, I’m a doctor. Some people need killing.

OK, yeah, Doctor of Archaeology but that gives me the long view. (Professor James Brandistock Ph.D. at your service, by the way, but you can call me “Jim”.)

Where was I?

Some people need killing.

It’s true! History turns out better when certain individuals are removed from it.

Case in point? His Royal Highness Prince George, galactic playboy and hereditary ruler of the Planetary Principality of Badland. Now he was a man who’d make your trigger finger tense even if you’d never fired a blaster.

I can tell you this because I was groundside during the ’34 Badland Revolution, avoiding looters and opportunists as I negotiated the streets of Fortunata — that’s the planetary capital.

The smug little f–ker popped up on every TV screen in every bar and cafe, and — I assume — every home. He called for calm, promised to see justice done and grievances met.

And he didn’t bother to keep the smirk off of his jowly face.

Prince George didn’t need to. His bullshit was just box-ticking in case the Empire was paying attention: “I reached out to them, Your Excellency, truly I did. Mass murder was a last resort. I wept when I gave the order…”

See, the real message — the reason for Prince George’s smirk — was the Devastator. They’d set up the TV camera so you had a good view of it through the Prince’s study window. The alien super weapon has its own pinnacle above the Citadel Rock — imagine a clenched fist making a thumbs up — so I guess the study was built with that view in mind. They’d also taped the speech at the right time of day so that harsh white sunlight flashed off the thing’s weird tubes and dishes as the gun crew swept it left and right, showing off its field of fire.

Look, Prince George was saying, I have a literal gun to the city’s head.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: Pirates in Hell, edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Pirates in Hell-small Pirates in Hell-back-small

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Pirates in Hell, the newest anthology from Janet & Chris Morris. “Goat-Beard the Pirate, Part 2: Evil Angel” is a 4,000-word free-standing excerpt from a 3-part tale. It is written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Rearing high above the combers, it towered, a tidal beast that arched itself, then plunged upon the Argo, swallowing ship and sailors whole. One baleful orb of blackest ice blinked like an eye. Rising anew, its mouth dripped chunks of seafarers and splinters of the Argo’s hull.

The leviathan swept its head from side to side, as if browsing. Its maw gaped wide. Its neck arced down, obscuring the entire ridge with inky shadow. A thundery roar like the sea enraged came from that throat and stunned those yet standing. All tried to flee, the four strangers and Medea in the lead. Some screamed. Some dropped their puny weapons to the ground and crawled the turf.

But the leviathan gaped once more, as if it would eat the ridge entire and all upon it. That maw from the Deep quested, then snapped shut, swallowing Jason and his crew with weapons bristling, the fire-pit, the Colchian standard, and nearly the sorceress as well.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, 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.

Pirates in Hell in the 20th volume of the Heroes in Hell series. It was published by Perseid Press on April 12, 2017.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Pirates in Hell here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak

Friday, March 10th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Black City Demon-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak, published by Pyr Books in trade paperback on March 14. Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times bestselling author of some three dozen novels, including The Sin War trilogy for Diablo and the Legend of Huma for Dragonlance.

A chill wind rose up. I tightened the collar of my overcoat and looked around. Diocles’s presence had left me with no more desire to be here. Besides, I had an appointment farther on the North Side — a young couple called the Nilssons who continually heard footsteps on the upper floor of the old house they rented. They thought it was the ghost of the first owner, who’d hung herself after her husband perished in the Great Fire.

I knew better. It wasn’t a ghost. If they’d seen my ad, seen the offerings of Nick Medea, investigator and debunker of the supernatural, then they had a far worse problem than ghosts. They had one of the Wyld lurking around their home.

There was plenty of time to reach my clients, since the appointment was set — for more than theatrical reasons — at midnight. It wasn’t hard to convince anyone who needed my services that I needed to come at the witching hour. They’d be desperate for any help at this point, no doubt having exhausted the usual charlatans.

“There was a visitor to Saint Michael’s this evening,” Diocles muttered.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, 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.

We covered the first volume in the series, Black City Saint, here, and Richard’s newest Pathfinder Tales novel, Reaper’s Eye, here. Richard’s last article for Black Gate was “Tommy Guns, Prohibition, and…. Magic?

Black City Demon will published March 14, 2017 by Pyr Books. It is 363 pages, priced at $17.50 in trade paperback and $2.99 for the digital edition.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Black City Demon here.


Black Gate Online Fiction: Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder by Roy A. Mauritsen

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Shards of the Glass Slipper Queen Cinder-small Shards of the Glass Slipper Queen Cinder-back-small

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder by Roy A. Mauritsen, published by Padwolf Publishing and now available in a brand new audibook narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris!

The new audiobook is available at Amazon, iTunes and Audible.com. Over 15 hours long and richly enhanced with music and sound, it’s a whole new way to experience Shards Of The Glass Slipper — the fairy tale fantasy epic that Patrick Thomas (The Murphy’s Lore series) calls “The Brothers Grimm meets Lord of the Rings.”

Here’s the audiobook trailer.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: Mouth of the Dragon by Tom Barczak

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Mouth of the Dragon wrap-small

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Mouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the Evarun by Thomas Barczak, published in deluxe trade paperback and digital formats this month by Perseid Press. Thomas Barczak’s short fiction has appeared in the award-winning Heroes in Hell anthologies edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris; his previous novels include the epic fantasy novel Veil of the Dragon, and the Kindle serial Awakening Evarun.

Chaelus watched them fall, one by one, like cordwood; five Servian knights brought down to the bristling snow.

Crimson feathers stuck out against the pallor. Even from a half a league away he could see them, like the blood they let. The red fletching of the Khaalish. But Chaelus didn’t need the whisper of the Giver to drift through him to know it was a ruse. It wasn’t the Khaalish. It was something far worse.

It was the Hunters.

Idyliss bowed her head without his command and flew across the snow-covered plain.

They were still too far away for him to save them.

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