The Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe: Expanding the Classic Canon into a New Era

Friday, July 19th, 2019 | Posted by christopher paul carey

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Today at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., announced a new series of authorized, canonical novels featuring the myriad characters and worlds from the works of Master of Adventure: the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe. The new series, which will debut in 2020, represents a number of publishing “firsts” that, as Director of Publishing at ERB, Inc., I am particularly excited to share with Black Gate readers.

The very first first, and the most important, actually begins with an achievement of Mr. Burroughs, who created the first expansive, fully cohesive literary universe. Of course, there were other authors who crossed over their own characters between their novels and series — Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard, for example — but no one before ERB had made such interconnections to the degree that he did. As early as the years of 1913 to 1916 — when writing novels such as The Mad King, The Eternal Lover, The Mucker, The Oakdale Affair, and, arguably, The Man-Eater, the latter featuring a brief cameo from a certain “Mrs. Clayton” at a Central African estate — Burroughs began weaving an intricate tapestry of internal references connecting seemingly disparate works. Soon thereafter came references to Barsoom and John Carter in the “alternate future” continuity of The Moon Maid (written in 1919).

Then, in 1928, while writing Tanar of Pellucidar, Burroughs introduced a character named Jason Gridley, who had invented a transmitter-receiver device that utilized the “Gridley Wave,” thus permitting communication between the Earth’s surface and the world of Pellucidar at its core. Gridley went on to appear or be mentioned in seven more novels, ultimately connecting four of Burroughs’ major series and placing them within the same continuity: the Pellucidar, Tarzan, Barsoom (Mars), and Amtor (Venus) series. These crossovers, combined with the earlier connections Burroughs had made between his novels, eventually created an interconnected universe that encompassed more than sixty books.

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Future Treasures: Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Cry Pilot-small“Joel Dane” is the pseudonym of an established author who’s produced over 20 novels and written for Netflix. With Cry Pilot he launches an intriguing new military SF trilogy about a recruit with a secret drawn into a desperate war against a mysterious enemy called lampreys. Publishers Weekly recently gave it a rave review:

Riveting action paired with a sharp psychoemotional landscape combine for the explosive launch of a futuristic trilogy… Centuries in the future, humans live in tiny corporate enclaves while the ruined Earth undergoes terra fixing, a process that sometimes creates biological horrors. Maseo Kaytu is a refugee with a secret, which makes it hard for him to enlist in the corporate military, but through a touch of chicanery and a stint as a cry pilot — human “keys” needed to engage highly technological, high-lethality vehicles known as CAVs — he earns his place in Group Aleph… Frequent adrenaline-rush action scenes make up most of the novel, interspersed with Kaytu’s internal narrative and experiences. This is an intriguing, thoughtful exploration of what a corporatized future might look like, liberally peppered with scenes of military life.

Cry Pilot arrives next month from Ace Books. Here’s the publisher’s description.

A devastated Earth. Rogue bio-weapons. And a recruit with secrets. In this explosive new military science fiction novel, a tight-knit infantry squad is thrown into battle against a mysterious enemy that appears without warning and strikes without mercy.

There’s only one way for a man with Maseo Kaytu’s secrets to join the military: by volunteering for a suicide mission as a ‘cry pilot’. He cheats the system to survive, but you can’t fake basic training. Assigned to a squad of misfits, Kaytu learns how to fight, how to obey, and how to trust. Yet the more he bonds with his fellow recruits, the more he risks exposure of his criminal past.

Keeping his secret is about to become the least of his problems. Kaytu discovers that his platoon is being deployed against a new kind of rogue bio-weapon. One that has torn apart every military force it’s ever faced…

Cry Pilot will be published by Ace Book on August 6, 2019. It is 392 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming fantasy and SF here.


Support the Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter!

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3-small Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3 contents-small

Cover by Sanjulian

Great news, adventure fans! The magazine Tales from the Magician’s Skull — published by Goodman Games and edited by our very own Howard Andrew Jones — has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the 3rd and 4th issues. The first two were a huge hit with Black Gate readers, a great many of whom signed on to the first Kickstarter. The contributor list for issue #3 is packed with names very familiar to our readers, like James Enge, John C. Hocking, Violette Malan, Sarah Newton, and Joseph A. McCullough. The new campaign has already blown away expectations, but the creators are still trying to reach new readers. Here’s Howard:

The launch of the next issues of our fantasy magazine has gone great — our Kickstarter funded the first day! But SURELY there are more than 400 people who want to sign on for a bi-annual subscription to a magazine chock full of swashbuckling fantasy adventure tales! We bring high octane sword-and-sorcery!

Help me spread the word to find more readers, and direct them to the Kickstarter, where they can buy-in at reduced cost!

We’re the home of James Enge’s Morlock the Maker and the action packed tales of John C. Hocking! We print famed Warhammer fantasy authors William King, Nathan Long, and C.L. Werner! We feature the ongoing adventures of Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno! Not to mention tales from talents like Dave Gross, Chris Wilrich, James Stoddard, Setsu Uzume, and many more!

And did I mention the great artwork and old school pulp feel that permeates the entire magazine?

Swing by and take a look, and don’t miss the Kickstarter updates penned by the Skull himself!

Support the new campaign here, and help bring this exciting new project to life. If you won’t do it for me, do it for the Skull.

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A Beautifully Written Kung-fu Godfather Story: Jade War by Fonda Lee

Sunday, July 7th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Jade City Fonda Lee-small Jade War Fonda Lee-small

Fonda Lee’s debut novel Jade City won the World Fantasy Award last year, beating out some very stiff competition, including John Crowley’s Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr and Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders. It earned plenty of praise in the usual quarters as well — it was Library Journal‘s Pick of the Month, for example, and they called it “a Godfather-inspired fantasy series that mixes bold martial-arts action and vivid worldbuilding… terrific.”

I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since Derek Kunsken reviewed Jade City for Black Gate, calling it “a heroically, beautifully written kung-fu Godfather story,” and it finally arrives in hardcover from Orbit in two weeks. In this volume, the second in a forecast trilogy, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich — or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival — and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of what’s now being called the Green Bone trilogy. It will be published by Orbit on July 23, 2019. It is 609 pages, priced at $26 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. Read the first four chapters of Jade City at the Orbit website.


Future Treasures: Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio

Monday, July 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Empire of Silence Ruocchio-small Howling Dark-small

I first noticed Christopher Ruocchio last year, when he showed up as co-editor of a couple of the better Baen anthologies, Star Destroyers (co edited with Tony Daniel) and Space Pioneers (with the man himself, the great Hank Davis). Neither of those books, excellent as they were, prepared me for his debut novel, Empire of Silence, the opening volume in the epic Sun Eater space opera, which Library Journal called a “wow book… stretched across a vast array of planets,” and which my buddy Eric Flint called “epic-scale space opera in the tradition of Iain M. Banks and Frank Herbert’s Dune.” I’ve been looking forward to the follow up volume impatiently, and was surprised and delighted to receive a review copy last week. It will be published in hardcover by DAW in two weeks. Here’s the publisher’s blurb.

Hadrian Marlowe is lost.

For half a century, he has searched the farther suns for the lost planet of Vorgossos, hoping to find a way to contact the elusive alien Cielcin. He has not succeeded, and for years has wandered among the barbarian Normans as captain of a band of mercenaries.

Determined to make peace and bring an end to nearly four hundred years of war, Hadrian must venture beyond the security of the Sollan Empire and among the Extrasolarians who dwell between the stars. There, he will face not only the aliens he has come to offer peace, but contend with creatures that once were human, with traitors in his midst, and with a meeting that will bring him face to face with no less than the oldest enemy of mankind.

If he succeeds, he will usher in a peace unlike any in recorded history. If he fails… the galaxy will burn.

Howling Dark will be published by DAW Books on July 16, 2019. It is 679 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $12.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Kieran Yanner. See all our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy and SF here.


Future Treasures: Priest of Lies, Book II of War for the Rose Throne by Peter McLean

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Priest of Bones-medium Priest of Lies-small

When you’ve been reading fantasy as long as I have, you get used to hyperbolic praise plastered all over book covers. But even so, you don’t see the kind widespread acclaim that was heaped on the opening novel in Peter McLean’s new fantasy series last year, Priest of Bones.

Booknest called it “Absolutely sensational… Low Fantasy at its finest, and I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the Fantasy Debut of the Year,” and Fantasy Book Review said, “I can safely say that this will be the book dark fantasy and grimdark fans will be raving about at the end of this year.” Even Booklist raved, proclaiming it “A pitch-perfect blend of fantasy and organized-crime sagas like Puzo’s The Godfather… Expect word of mouth support from fantasy fans to turn this one into a genre hit.” But I think my favorite came from Publisher’s Weekly, with their usual economy:

Tomas Piety [is] a nefarious crime lord turned priest. After being away at war for many years, Tomas comes back to find that Ellinburg is changed… With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas embroils himself in cutthroat politics and epic barroom brawls to win back the city that once was his… Anyone itching to read a high-stakes story should pick up this delightful combination of medieval fantasy and crime drama.

Read the complete PW review here.

The second book in the series, Priest of Lies, is one of the most anticipated books of the year. It arrives in trade paperback from Ace Books next week. Here’s the description.

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A Celebration of Classic British Horror: Gaslight, Ghosts & Ghouls by R. Chetwynd-Hayes, edited by Stephen Jones

Saturday, June 15th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Gaslight Ghosts & Ghouls-smallIn a May 30 Facebook post, Stephen Jones announced a major new career retrospective of British horror writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes, who died in 2001. Chetwynd-Hayes published early fiction in The Pan Book of Horror Stories in the sixties, and wrote the classic The Monster Club, the basis for the 1980 film starring Vincent Price and John Carradine.

Jones was Ron’s co-editor for two posthumous anthologies, Great Ghost Stories (2004) and Tales to Freeze the Blood: More Great Ghost Stories (2006). He also helped him compile several collections, and published Ron’s fiction in multiple anthologies. He’s the perfect man for the job of assembling a “Best of” survey of the five-decade career of one of the great names in 20th Century British horror. Here’s Stephen:

R. Chetwynd-Hayes… was one of the most important horror writers and editors working in Britain. Not only was he happy to write about such genre standards as ghosts, demons, ghouls, vampires and werewolves, but he also delighted in making up his own bizarre monster variations that managed to stretch the imaginations of both author and reader alike…

Ron published an impressive twenty-four collections of short fiction, twenty-four anthologies (including twelve volumes of the influential Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories series), thirteen novels and more than 220 short stories. His work was adapted for the movies, television, radio and comics, and reprinted in various languages around the world. One of his publishers described him as “Britain’s Prince of Chill”, and his volumes of ghost stories and humorous tales of terror once filled the shelves of nearly every public library in the UK…

With the centenary of his birth fast approaching this year, I decided that it was time to finally compile the “Best of” collection… as it was such a monumental occasion to be celebrated, we decided to go well beyond that — to create a volume that truly did justice to Ron’s work and his enduring legacy… Gaslight, Ghosts & Ghouls: A Centenary Celebration contains sixteen of Ron’s highly original tales of terror and the supernatural, which invariably combined horror and humour in equal measure, giving them a style that was uniquely the author’s own. These not only include a rare reprint of one of his novellas featuring “the world’s only practising psychic detective” Francis St. Clare and his vivacious assistant Frederica (“Fred”) Masters, but also two tales that have never been reprinted since their original publication, plus a vampire novella that is appearing in print for the very first time!

Gaslight, Ghosts & Ghouls: A Centenary Celebration also contains the longest interview with Ron ever published, conducted by Jo Fletcher and Jones, a detailed Bibliography, a full-color portfolio of covers by Les Edwards, rare photos, endpapers by John Bolton and Graham Humphreys, and a back cover painting by Walter Velez. It will be published by PS Publishing in three formats, including a jacketed hardcover, signed slipcase, and deluxe limited edition. The unsigned hardcover is offered at £25.00. It will premiere at FantasyCon in Glasgow, Scotland, October 18th–20th. The cover, “The Monsters Escape,” is by Les Edwards. Pre-order copies of the book here.


In 500 Words or Less: The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda

Friday, June 14th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

The Gossamer Mage-smallThe Gossamer Mage
By Julie E. Czerneda
DAW Books (416 pages, $27.00 hardcover/$12.99 eBook, August 6, 2019)

In the words of the great Mr. Spock, Julie Czerneda’s forthcoming novel The Gossamer Mage is fascinating.

To be fair, everything I’ve ever read from Julie is fascinating in some way. But Gossamer is a different brand of cool than either The Clan Chronicles or Web Shifters. Not only is it a jump from science fiction to fantasy, but it brings along the intricate detail and clever wordplay that you can find in any of Julie’s other works.

What mainly fascinated me here was the magic. I’m not the sort of reader or writer who needs a magic system to have strictly defined rules that can’t be broken and need to see explained in detail (although I enjoy that when it’s done well, like in The Dresden Files). What I definitely need, though, is magic that has consequences, so you don’t need to come up with complicated reasons to prevent mages from laying waste to every opponent. Julie’s presented a really cool brand of consequence: magic that siphons years off a mage’s life, aging them as they perform their works, in this case through ink and parchment.

She goes one better to make that aging somewhat up to the whim of the Deathless Goddess, to which (almost) every scribemaster gives their allegiance. And then on top of that, she’s layered a complex world built around the idea of mages who literally spend their life to achieve success. Scribemaster Saeleonarial, for example, worries that every new magical script will make him a decrepit old man, and looks down on young people who burn through that youth too quickly going after glory. There’s a vested interest in producing new mages through promoting powerful bloodlines, but the power to control that rests with the hold daughters, who represent the Deathless Goddess who allows magic to exist. And so on.

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Future Treasures: Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Empress of Forever-smallThe six novels in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence have earned him a reputation as a modern master of urban fantasy (not to mention a Hugo nomination.) His latest novel, Empress of Forever, is something very different. Delilah S. Dawson calls it “A classic space opera that impossibly becomes a thrilling dungeon crawl fantasy,” and if that’s not a perfect book blurb, I don’t know what is. In her feature review at The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog yesterday, Nicole Hill wrote:

The comparisons this novel has drawn to Guardians of the Galaxy are understandable and well-earned — you won’t soon read a book more overloaded with outlandishly imaginative and downright fun set-pieces, including a battle involving space vessels made of stained glass… It’s a chess game played out across the stars, with a fearsome matched set of queens and a collection of pawns who are unforgettable.

Empress of Forever arrives in trade paperback from Tor next week. Here’s the description.

From Hugo Award finalist Max Gladstone comes a smart, swashbuckling, wildly imaginative adventure; the saga of a rag-tag team of brilliant misfits, dangerous renegades, and enhanced outlaws in a war-torn future.

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she tries to outrun people who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who blesses or blasts entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is literally impossible to consider — until Vivian Liao arrives. Trapped between the Pride ― a ravening horde of sentient machines ― and a fanatical sect of warrior monks who call themselves the Mirrorfaith, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

Empress of Forever will be published by Tor Books on June 18, 2019. It is 480 pages, priced at $18.99 in paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Tommy Arnold. Read an excerpt at Tor.com.


Help Hank Davis fill a Space Pirate Anthology

Sunday, June 9th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Pirates-of-Zan-Ace-Double Leinster-smallIt always pays to check in early and often with Hank Davis, the mad genius editor at Baen Books behind The Baen Big Book of Monsters and The Best of Gordon R. Dickson, Volume 1. Here’s what he told me last month.

I was dorking around online, looking for stories and story ideas, and came across one of your Black Gate pages from way back in 2013, singing the praises of Leinster’s The Pirates of Ersatz/The Pirates of Zan, and bemoaning the dearth of space pirate novels. While I can’t do anything about the lack of space pirates in novel length, maybe the book will offset the lack.

Well, that certainly made me curious. When I asked him to elaborate, here’s what he said.

I’m going to be putting together an anthology of stories about space pirates, tentatively titled Cosmic Buccaneers, though that may change, and would appreciate suggestions from Black Gate readers of space pirate stories that have warmed the cockles of their heart. (Remind me to look up “cockle,” whatever that means.) Short stories preferred, though I could take a look at novelets — but probably can’t fit more than one or two in. And no novels, of course, even a great one like Murray Leinster’s great The Pirates of Ersatz/The Pirates of Zan.

And please no submissions of new stories. This is not a new story market and I’ll have to return any such submissions unread; sorry! And thanks for your help, and while the Internet Speculative Fiction Data Base is very helpful, please indicate where the story was pubbed or reprinted.

This is definitely good news for those of us who enjoy space pirate fiction (and really that’s everybody, right?).

He’s definitely come to the right place for ideas, anyway. If you’ve got a suggestion for a previously published space pirate story that belongs in the upcoming Cosmic Buccaneers, shout out in the comments and we’ll pass it along to Hank.

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