Future Treasures: All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

All the Fabulous Beasts-small All the Fabulous Beasts-back-small

Michael Kelly’s Undertow Publications has introduced me to some truly fabulous writers in the nine years it’s been around, including V. H. Leslie, Eric Schaller, Sunny Moraine, Conrad Williams, and others. Their upcoming volume All the Fabulous Beasts, arriving in trade paperback on May 1st, looks like a beautiful addition to their catalog. It’s the debut collection from Priya Sharma, gathering 16 tales of “love, rebirth, nature, and sexuality… A heady mix of myth and ontology, horror and the modern macabre.”

Priya Sharma is a UK writer and doctor. Her short story “Fabulous Beasts” won a British Fantasy Award, and she has appeared in Paula Guran’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year, Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Black Feathers, Nightmare Carnival, Interzone, Black Static, Tor.com, Nightmare magazine, and many other fine venues.

If you’re not already familiar with Undertow, All the Fabulous Beasts would make a great introduction. But if you can’t wait until May 1st, allow me to suggest eight earlier volumes from Undertow we’ve reviewed right here at Black Gate, including their flagship publications Shadows & Tall Trees (7 issues, and a finalist for the British Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, and Shirley Jackson Award), and the marvelous Year’s Best Weird Fiction (4 volumes).

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Future Treasures: Dragon Road, Book II of Drifting Lands by Joseph Brassey

Sunday, April 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Skyfarer Joseph Brassey-small Dragon Road Joseph Brassey-small

Last August John DeNardo tipped me off to an exciting new series from Joseph Brassey. Editor Michael R. Underwood had this to say about Skyfarer, the first volume of The Drifting Lands and the first book he’d acquired & edited for Angry Robot Books.

I am of course very biased, but this book is *amazingly* fun, and fans of Star Wars, Firefly, and Final Fantasy will be very likely to have a great time with the book. It’s got heroic sorcerers, badass evil knights, skyships, A+ sword fights (the author is a HEMA instructor), a family-of-choice airship crew, and all the fantasy adventure you could want in a compact package.

Right on schedule comes the second book in the series, Dragon Road, arriving in paperback on May 1st.

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Future Treasures: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Twelve, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Twelve-smallI recently discovered the Coode Street Podcast, hosted by editor Jonathan Strahan and Chicago Tribune critic Gary K. Wolfe, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. They discuss a wide variety of topics of interest to SF and fantasy readers every week — everything from the Hugo nominations, the best debuts of the year, art in science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin, conventions, upcoming releases, and so much more — and they’re both so articulate and knowledgeable, and so darn enthusiastic, that you can’t help coming away from each hour-long conversation with a lengthy list of brand new books you just have to check out.

I feel the same way about Jonathan Strahan’s annual Best Science Fiction of the Year. The latest volume makes it an even dozen, and each one has helped me discover a handful of delightful new authors. It’s a book I cherish every year, and this one — with stories by Samuel R. Delany, Yoon Ha Lee, Caroline M. Yoachim, Rich Larson, Indrapramit Das, Charlie Jane Anders, Linda Nagata, Theodora Goss, Greg Egan, Mary Robinette Kowal, Scott Lynch, Maureen McHugh, Alastair Reynolds, Karl Schroeder, Kai Ashante Wilson, and our very own C.S.E. Cooney — looks even more stellar than most.

It arrives in trade paperback from Solaris next week. Here’s the Table of Contents.

“The Mocking Tower,” Daniel Abraham (The Book of Swords)
“Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue,” Charlie Jane Anders (Boston Review)
“Probably Still the Chosen One,” Kelly Barnhill (Lightspeed)
“My English Name,” R. S. Benedict (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance,” Tobias Buckell (Cosmic Powers)
“Though She Be But Little,” C.S.E. Cooney (Uncanny)
“The Moon is Not a Battlefield,” Indrapramit Das (Infinity Wars)
“The Hermit of Houston,” Samuel R. Delany (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine,” Greg Egan (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
“Crispin’s Model,” Max Gladstone (Tor.com)
“Come See the Living Dryad,” Theodora Goss (Tor.com)

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Future Treasures: The Rig by Roger Levy

Sunday, April 8th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Rig Roger Levy-smallRoger Levy is a British science fiction writer; his previous novels include Reckless SleepDark Heavens, and the ambitious space opera Icarus.

His upcoming The Rig, his first novel in a decade, has a fascinating premise: a lottery called AfterLife promises to randomly place people in suspended animation deep in the seas of the planet Bleak at the moment of death. Organic chips planted into their brains at birth record everything, and their lives are played back for billions of subscribers — who vote on whether or not they deserve a second chance. Everyone can be a judge, and anyone can be judged… or resurrected. Who needs God when you have social media?

On a desert planet, two boys meet, sparking a friendship that will change human society forever.

On the windswept world of Bleak, a string of murders lead a writer to a story with unbelievable ramifications.

One man survives the vicious attacks, but is left with a morbid fascination with death; the perfect candidate for the perilous job of working on a rig.

Welcome to the System. Here the concept of a god has been abandoned, and a new faith pervades: AfterLife, a social media platform that allows subscribers a chance at resurrection, based on the votes of other users.

So many Lives, forever interlinked, and one structure at the center of it all: the rig.

Adam Roberts calls The Rig “a tour de force: a darkly brilliant epic of life, death and huge drilling platforms.”

The Rig will be published by Titan Books on May 8, 2018. It is 464 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $8.99 for the digital edition. The great cover was designed by Julia Lloyd.


Future Treasures: Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Last-Song-Before-Night-small Fire Dance Ilana C Myer-small

Ilana C. Myer’s debut fantasy novel Last Song Before Night made a pretty big impression; David Mack said “It’s one of the most impressive debut novels I’ve ever read; I am in awe,” and Jason Heller at NPR called it “A beautifully orchestrated fantasy debut… an intoxicating mix of the familiar and the fresh.” See our earlier coverage here and here.

Her follow-up is a standalone novel set in the same world as Last Song Before Night. It arrives in hardcover next month from Tor. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has a fine appreciation; here’s a snippet.

Nearly two years ago, Tor Books released Last Song Before Night, a lyrical epic fantasy set in a world where magic is created through the melding of music and poetry. A striking conceit to say the least, and Ilana C. Myer’s debut gave us much more than that: memorable characters, beautiful prose, and a complex plot, full of politics and history worthy of comparisons to Guy Gavriel Kay.

Myer returns to that world with Fire Dance, a standalone sequel inspired by Al Andalus and medieval Baghdad.

Get more complete details here.

Fire Dance will be published by Tor Books on April 10, 2018. It is 368 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. Get all the latest at Myer’s website.


Future Treasures: The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume Three edited by Neil Clarke

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best Science Fiction of the Year 3 Neil Clarke-smallNeil Clarke has only had produced two volumes of his Best Science Fiction of the Year, but it’s already become one of my favorite Year’s Best anthologies — and considering the competition (Dozois, Strahan, Horton, Guran, Kelly, Adams, and Afsharirad, among others), that’s really saying something.

For 2018, in addition to being one of the best, he’s also the first. His Year’s Best anthology will be the first to go on sale, in just two weeks. Here’s the description. (And yes, they’re talking about Rich Horton in that first line. Isn’t it obvious?)

To keep up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more ― a task accomplishable by only the most determined and voracious readers. For everyone else, Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a new yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy award–winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers.

The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor in chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year’s writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome “sensawunda” that the genre has to offer.

Neil’s volume includes stories by Alastair Reynolds, Nancy Kress, Sarah Pinsker, Linda Nagata, Greg Egan, Kelly Robson, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Yoon Ha Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Robert Reed, Rich Larson, Peter Watts, Suzanne Palmer, and many others.

Here’s the complete table of contents.

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Nazis and Superheroes Warring in the Shadows: An Interview with Kay Kenyon

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

At the Table of Wolves Kay Kenyon-small Serpent in the Heather-small

The Dark Talents novels by Kay Kenyon

I was lucky enough to hear Kay Kenyon read from her novel At the Table of Wolves in 2016, and I was immediately captivated. Her tale of a young English woman with superhuman abilities in the late 1930s who is drawn into the world of intelligence services warring in the shadows — and who stumbles on a chilling Nazi plan to invade England, utilizing their own superhuman agents — was one of my favorite novels last year. I jumped at the chance to interview Kay for Black Gate last week; the transcript of our conversation is below.

The next book in the series, Serpent in the Heather, arrives in hardcover on April 10th, and Saga Press is offering a Goodreads Giveaway which runs until March 27. Check it out here!

Kay, thanks so much for joining us! I first became acquainted with your work through your marvelous standalone SF novels from Bantam Spectra beginning in the late 90s, like The Seeds of Time, Rift, and Maximum Ice, which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. More recently you’ve embraced series fiction, starting with The Entire and The Rose from Pyr, and now the Dark Talents books from Saga. Why the switch?

Do you want the deep artistic reason or the crass marketing one? I mean, I’m tempted to go all artistic on you with the vision thing and growth as a writer, but I know you too well to lie that brazenly.

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Future Treasures: The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath

Monday, March 19th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sisters Mederos-smallPatrice Sarath’s story “A Prayer for Captain LaHire” appeared in Black Gate 4 and was reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy 3 (2003). She published the Gordath Wood trilogy (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl) between 2008 – 2012. Her latest is something brand new, the tale of a once-great family that has fallen on hard times, and the two sisters — one who becomes a masked bandit, and another with secret supernatural powers — who set out to reverse their family’s downfall. Publishers Weekly praised it saying,

The young women, newly returned from boarding school to a fantasy version of a preindustrial European port city, are determined to restore their family’s fortune and revenge themselves on the corrupt Merchant’s Guild, whose machinations lie behind House Mederos’s downfall. Yvienne, “the smartest girl in Port Saint Frey,” provokes through newspaper editorials, takes a governess job as an entrée into the houses of the powerful, and eventually discovers the excitement of committing armed robbery. Tesara, who conceals supernatural powers that she blames for the shipwreck that ruined her family, ingratiates herself with the upper classes at gambling tables… [The] heroines are entertaining company, and the dynamic between the two sisters — occasionally contentious, often secretive, always loving — is the most enjoyable part of this effervescent tale.

Here’s the official description.

Two sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure.

House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…

Together the sisters must trust each another to keep their secrets and save their family.

The Sisters Mederos will be published by Angry Robot on April 3, 2018. It is 368 pages, priced at $12.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Paul Young. Read an excerpt at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, and a brief discussion at Patrice’s website.


Future Treasures: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Thursday, March 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Dread Nation-smallJustina Ireland is author of the YA novels Promise of Shadows and Devil’s Pass. Her latest, Dread Nation, is an audacious fantasy set in a post-Reconstruction America battling a plague of zombies risen from Civil War battlefields, and it’s getting a heck of a lot of pre-release buzz for a zombie book. Booklist calls it “Brilliant and gut-wrenching,” and Publishers Weekly praised its “Abundant action, thoughtful worldbuilding, and a brave, smart, and skillfully drawn cast… [with] a nail-biting conclusion.”

Bustle has a great interview with Ireland in which she says, “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.” That led her to the intriguing idea of a school for black and Native girls who train to fight the swarms of undead. Dread Nation arrives in hardcover next month.

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities — and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Dread Nation will be published by Balzer + Bray on April 3, 2018. It is 464 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover was designed by David Curtis.


Future Treasures: The Long Sunset by Jack McDevitt

Sunday, March 11th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Long Sunset Jack McDevitt-smallI discovered Jack McDevitt with his second novel, a slender Ace paperback titled A Talent For War, back in 1989. Since then he’s produced over two dozen novels and collections, including Ancient Shores (1996), Infinity Beach (2000), and the Nebula Award-winning Seeker (2005).

But his most acclaimed series has been his Academy novels. Seven have appeared so far, including four Nebula nominees and three Campbell Award finalists. It began with The Engines of God (1994), which was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The eighth in the series, The Long Sunset, arrives in hardcover from Saga Press next month.

From Nebula Award winner Jack McDevitt comes the eighth installment in the popular The Academy series — Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins discovers an interstellar message from a highly advanced race that could be her last chance for a mission before the program is shut down for good.

Hutch has been the Academy’s best pilot for decades. She’s had numerous first contact encounters and even became a minor celebrity. But world politics have shifted from exploration to a growing fear that the program will run into an extraterrestrial race more advanced than humanity and war.

Despite taking part in the recent scientific breakthrough that rejuvenates the human body and expands one’s lifespan, Hutch finds herself as a famous interstellar pilot with little to do, until a message from an alien race arrives.

The message is a piece of music from an unexplored area. Despite the fact that this alien race could pose a great danger and that this message could have taken several thousand years to travel, the program prepares the last interstellar ship for the journey. As the paranoia grows, Hutch and her crew make an early escape — but what they find at the other end of the galaxy is completely unexpected.

Here’s the complete series in order.

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