The Saint of Bright Doors (Tor.com, July 11, 2023)
Vajra Chandrasekera is a Sri Lankan author who has published over 40 stories in many of the top genre markets, including Nightmare Magazine, Clarkesworld, Analog, PodCastle, Fireside Quarterly, and many others. His debut novel arrives in two weeks from Tor.com.
The Saint of Bright Doors is the tale of Fetter, raised as a child soldier by his mother in her war against his father. He learns to walk among devils and anti-gods, loses his shadow, and finally escapes to the big city, where divine destinies are a dime a dozen and the inhabitants are caught up by the mystical locked doorways that have appeared throughout the city. Max Gladstone calls it “A breathtaking achievement,” and Sam J. Miller says it “keeps on dropping bombs and surprises and brilliance and heartbreak to the very end.”
“This anthology is the winning epitome of my career whether another reader sees it or not.” – Jason M Waltz
Jason M Waltz is well known amongst adventure fiction readers, especially the Swords & Sorcery crowd. With his Rogue Blades Entertainment and associated Foundation, he’s brought us the epic Return of the Sword(BG review) and then Rage of the Behemoth, and Demons. He’s edited/published a variety of other anthologies with themes of Weird Noir, Pirates, and Sword & Planet with Last Empire of Sol (BG review), and splendid nonfiction like Writing Fantasy Heroes (BG review) and recently Robert E. Howard Changed My Life (BG review). Jason M Waltz has contributed a number of Black Gate posts too (link). While I write this, Waltz just got a story published in Whetstone S&S Magazine #7 that caps the set with an emotive tale, both heroic and tragic.
Waltz is a wizard at crafting Introductions to anthologies (his and those published by others); they usually evoke a call to arms to be heroic. He consistently makes me feel like a hero just by reading the forewords.
Today he broadcasts exciting news. Prepare for another Sword and Sorcery extravaganza this fall called Neither Beg Nor Yield (NBNY)! Jason M Walts calls for our aid to make this a reality via a Kickstarter campaign scheduled to run August 22 through Sept 19th. Sixteen authors are already engaged, and their identities are being revealed as teasers via various venues.
This post reveals 2 more of the 16 Vanguard Authors!
The Icarus Hunt (Bantam Spectra, August 1999) and The Icarus Plot
(Baen Books paperback reprint, June 27, 2023). Covers by Paul Youll and Dave Seeley
Timothy Zahn is one of my favorite short story writers. I read his early fiction, like the Hugo Award-winning novella “Cascade Point,” in the early 80s in Analog magazine, and in gaming mags like Ares and Fantasy Gamer. In 1983 I thoroughly enjoyed his debut novel The Blackcollar, the runner up for the Locus Award for Best First novel. In the following years he produced some major work, including the bestselling Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire and its sequels, the Cobraseries, the Conquerors trilogy, and the popular Dragonback books.
In 1999 Zahn published The Icarus Hunt, the tale of a renegade space pilot named Jordan McKell, who ekes out a living at the edges of the iron-fisted regime of the Patthaaunutth, dabbling in interstellar smuggling for customers who represent the last vestiges of free trade in the galaxy. When McKell and his alien partner Ixil are hired to fly a strange ship named The Icarus and its special cargo to Earth, they soon find themselves caught up in events that could change the course of galactic history.
Cinema of Swords by Lawrence Ellsworth (Applause, June 15, 2023)
Next Thursday is a big day in the Black Gate offices, as the most anticipated book of the year finally arrives: the hardcover edition of Lawrence Ellsworth’s monumental Cinema of Swords.
What’s in this great beast of a book? Every one of Lawrence’s informative and entertaining Cinema of Swords columns from Black Gate — Over four hundred movies and television shows featuring swashbucklers: knights, pirates, samurai, Vikings, gladiators, outlaw heroes like Zorro and Robin Hood, and anyone else who lives by the blade and solves their problems with the point of a sword — pus full-color stills, poster reproductions, a handy index (both Title and Subject), and plenty of fascinating sidebar articles by Lawrence, covering topics like The First British Invasion (50s swashbuckling TV series from ITV) to Wholesome Buccaneers (family-friendly pirate ) and Mighty Maciste (the roving strongman of two dozen films of the 60s-era post-Hercules peplum craze).
The Stardust Thief and The Ashfire King by Chelsea Abdullah (Orbit,
May 17, 2022 and February 20, 2024). Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
Arabian fantasy with a true One Thousand and One Nights feel is rare these days, which is why we celebrate it when it comes along. And Chelsea Abdullah’s debut novel The Stardust Thief, opening volume in The Sandsea Trilogy, has indeed been celebrated, with a bevy of enthusiastic reviews.
The Stardust Thief is a rousing tale of adventure, featuring a young thief with a djinn bodyguard, midnight assassins, dangerous desert quests, ancient lamps, magical disguises, a cruel prince and his softhearted younger brother, the Forty Thieves, and much more. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a beautifully crafted adventure,” and the sequel, The Ashfire King, is already on the schedule for early next year. I bought copy of the first volume last weekend I’m looking forward to diving into it.
Riding the Nightmare (Valancourt Books, August 22, 2023). Cover by Vince Haig
Lisa Tuttle was born in USA, but relocated to the UK many years ago. She is a successful novelist, but especially a great short story writer, the author of numerous collections of dark fiction.
Her latest collection, forthcoming from the small but excellent imprint Valancourt Books, collects twelve previously published stories and is introduced by Neil Gaiman who, very aptly, emphasizes the Aickmanesque nature (meaning it somehow recalls the atmosphere of Robert Aickman)of some tales.
As a short fiction lover, a Lisa Tuttle fan, and a long time admirer of Aickman, my expectations for this book were high. And I was not disappointed.
Witch King by Martha Wells (Tor.com, May 30, 2023). Cover art by Cynthia Sheppard
Martha Wells was one of the most popular authors we published in Black Gate. Her terrific Ile-Rien tales (“Reflections,” Black Gate #10, “Holy Places,” BG #11, and “Houses of the Dead,” BG #12) were set in the same world as her nebula-nominated novel The Death of the Necromancer, and her popular Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy (The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods).
Of course, her career really took off with the appearance of Muderbot. The first two books in the series, All Systems Red and Artificial Condition, won back-to-back Hugo and Locus Awards; after that Martha graciously declined further nominations to give other nominees a chance. That didn’t stop the Hugo electorate from voting The Murderbot Diaries the 2021 Hugo Award for Best Series (the same year that Network Effect, the 5th volume, won the Hugo for Best Novel).
Martha’s upcoming Witch King, her first new fantasy novel in over a decade, arrives from Tor.com at the end of the month and, as you can imagine, it’s one of the most highly anticipated books of the year. Martha has promised us a guest post on the book in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
Rise of the Red Hand and Fall of the Iron Gods (Erewhon Books,
January 19, 2021, and April 30, 2024). Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio. Covers by Rashed AlAkroka
Liz Gorinsky is one of the most respected editors in science fiction and fantasy. In fact, when I finished my first novel The Robots of Gotham, Liz was the first person I brought it to (she didn’t buy it). Liz left Tor Books in 2018 to found an independent speculative fiction publishing company, Erewhon Books. Liz left Erewhon last year, but not before growing it into one of the most exciting new publishers of SF and fantasy.
One of their recent discoveries is Olivia Chadha, a Colorado author of literary novels (Balance of Fragile Things), comic books, and SF/Hopepunk. Her first SF novel was Rise of the Red Hand, the tale of a group of rebels in a climate ravaged future South Asia who discover an appalling government conspiracy, which Nerd Daily calls “a stunning read from beginning to end.” The sequel, Fall of the Iron Gods, is due next spring.
One Dark Window and Two Twisted Crows (Orbit Books,
September 27, 2022, and October 17, 2023). Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
I enjoy a good fairy tale. Also a well told-gothic romance. My true love, of course, is monster movies. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a novel that took a stab at mixing all three. At least, not until I read this tasty copy on the back of One Dark Window:
Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom she calls home — she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head…
When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure the kingdom of the dark magic infecting it. Except the highwayman just so happens to be the King’s own nephew, Captain of the Destriers… and guilty of high treason.
One Dark Window is the debut novel by California author Rachel Gillig, the opening book in a duology. Sequel Two Twisted Crowns arrives later this year.
What if you could see your nightmares manifest as they turned on you?
C. S. Friedman has published 14 novels, including the highly acclaimed Coldfire Trilogy and the groundbreaking science fiction novel This Alien Shore (New York Times Notable Book of the Year -1998). Her Nightborn: Coldfire Rising novel will be published this July, 2023 by DAW Books; this post reviews an advanced review copy (preorder from the publisher).
The stunning cover art by Jeszika Le Vye evokes and extends the signature covers of the Coldfire Trilogycrafted by Michael Whelan; the trilogy was released during 1991-1995 followed by a 2012 prequel novella, Dominion. Note that a revised version of Dominion, starring the Hunter himself, is in Nightborn.
And stay tuned — Black Gate has an interview in the works with C. S. Friedman (a perfect fit for our series on Beauty in Weird Fiction).