Future Treasures: Nebula Awards Showcase 2019 edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Friday, September 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover art by Tiffany Dae

The Nebula Awards Showcase is one of the most prestigious and honored anthologies in Science Fiction. It has appeared every year since 1966, and been published by Pyr since 2012. Pyr’s once considerable output has slowed in the last year, and I was very pleased to see the 2019 Showcase volume picked up by one of the best of the new small press publishers, Parvus Press. It’s a significant coup for them, and I hope it’s a sign of even greater things to come.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s introduction is one of the most powerful non-fiction pieces I’ve read in a Nebula anthology in a long time, both a celebration of the increasing diversity in our field, and a bald statement about why it’s so vitally important.

When I first harnessed the courage to start sending my stories out in 2006, it truly was a frightening prospect. I had never seen a Latina writer in any of the fantasy and science fiction magazines I read, nor at a bookstore… The science fiction and fantasy section was virtually devoid of people like me…

It’s easy to declare that diversity is a done deal, or even worse, that diversity is a trend, a fad, which has run its course. It is easy to churn lists that purport to contain the 10 Best Science Fiction Novels of all time and find out that the only woman who made the list was Mary Shelley. Or to find threads with people saying that women can’t write Lovecraftian fiction because women are able to give birth and therefore cannot understand cosmic horror (I am not making this comment up)…

What is hard is to build a better, more inclusive publishing community. It’s hard to read widely, to read beyond the things that you are used to, to organize events which feature a broad variety of guests, to write lists which go beyond the usual suspects. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible… We call speculative fiction the literature of the imagination, so why not imagine a future in which a young writer can find plenty of authors to emulate? A future in which that author is not silent and scared and feeling like she has no stories to tell, as I was 13 years ago when I began my writing journey.

This year’s volume contains some magnificent material, including “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience(TM)” by Rebecca Roanhorse, “A Human Stain” by Kelly Robson, and the complete text of Martha Wells’ Hugo and Nebula Award winning novella, All Systems Red, the first Murderbot tale. Here’s the complete tale of contents.

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Future Treasures: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019, edited by Carmen Maria Machado and John Joseph Adams

Saturday, September 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover by Galen Dara

For the fifth volume of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, series editor John Joseph Adams asked Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) to narrow down 80 contenders from the US and Canada into 20 finalists, 10 fantasy and 10 science fiction. In her introduction, Machado says that to make her selection she ignored the distinction between “literary” and “genre” fiction, instead asking if the stories were a pleasure to read.

Does she succeed? Booklist thinks so (“Among the many and varied pleasures of the collection are stories that share Machado’s love of formal experimentation…this brilliant and beautiful collection is a must-read.”) And Publishers Weekly says,

Standouts include Annalee Newitz’s “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis,” in which a drone befriends both humans and crows to combat inner-city epidemics; LaShawn M. Wanak’s “Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good,” an alternate history piece in which singers are pressed into service against deadly spores; Sarah Gailey’s “STET,” which explores grief through the form of a scientific paper; Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “Skinned,” a provocative piece about the role of women in a patriarchal African society; Sofia Samatar’s “Hard Mary,” in which Amish-like girls adopt a broken android; and P. Djèlí Clark’s introspective history piece, “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington.” Despite the “American” label, there’s a decidedly global, multicultural feel to these pieces, which exemplify diversity and representation… In exploring the potential of the genre and challenging expectations, this anthology isn’t for everyone, but it’s a masterful showcase of what’s possible.

Here’s the complete table of contents. 80% of the fiction in this volume was selected from online sources (and none at all from the regular print magazines), so I’ve included links to the online stories so you can see how well the editors succeeded for yourself.

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Future Treasures: The Warrior Moon by K Arsenault Rivera

Saturday, September 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Tigers-Daughter-small The-Phoenix-Empress-small The Warrior Moon-small

Cover art by Jamie Jones

I’ve gotten in the comfortable habit of not starting trilogies until all three books are published. It’s served me well (very well) over the years. But what happens when the third book in a series appears and you’re not sure it’s a trilogy? What if you waited all this time and and there’s still a damn cliffhanger??

I guess a life of literary ambition is never truly free of risk. The third novel in K Arsenault Rivera’s maybe-trilogy Ascendant series arrives in bookstores September 24 and, hidden on the author page of the copy the publisher sent me is a novel called Sixteen Swords (listed as “forthcoming.”) But I’ve waited impatiently to start this series ever since Liz Bourke gave a rave review to the first two novels at Tor.com.

The Tiger’s Daughter recounted the adventures of their youth from Shefali’s perspective, including Shefali’s infection the blackblood plague — the first person ever to be infected and survive, albeit changed — culminating in their marriage and Shefali’s exile by Shizuka’s uncle, the emperor. Shefali may only return to the lands ruled by the empire once she has completed an impossible quest: acquire and bring back a phoenix feather.

The Phoenix Empress is essentially two stories at once. It is the story of Shefali and Shizuka, rediscovering each other after eight years apart, facing the deep problems of their potential destinies—and it’s the story that Shizuka tells to Shefali to explain how she’s changed. Why Shizuka drinks so much and wakes nightly from nightmares, and why she has no tears to cry…

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Zombies Need Anthologies! PLUS Short Fiction Crafting

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

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Howard: Today I’m turning over my Black Gate megaphone to Joshua Palmetier, gifted writer, mathematician, and the mind behind Zombies Need Brains’ line of anthologies. Joshua publishes a lot of Black Gate writers, so we naturally have fingers crossed his upcoming Kickstarter will fund and hope that you’ll check out. Regardless, though, this article has some great insight on writing good short fiction and getting out of the slush pile. Take it away Joshua!

Zombies Need Brains’ latest Kickstarter is nearing its end (ONLY HOURS LEFT!) and, with the possibility of an open call for submissions if we fund, I thought that I’d spend some time talking about how you can better your chances of getting from the ZNB slush pile into one of our anthologies. The competition is pretty steep and only getting worse with each Kickstarter. (Last year, Portals had 550 submissions alone and we ended up taking seven; we had a lot of anchor authors for that one, though.) I’ve talked before about how to brainstorm your way to an idea that isn’t standard, but also isn’t so far out there it’s off theme. So let’s suppose you already have an idea of what you want to write. A core concept.

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Future Treasures: Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Chilling Effect-smallI’m still on a space opera kick. I know, I know, this has lasted for months now, and I should have moved on. But there’s just so many to choose from. It’s even spinning off sub-sub-genres, like Firefly-inspired space adventures (Aurora Rising, Starflight, and Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers Trilogy), gothic space opera (Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir), and now offbeat satires like Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes.

Chilling Effect is Valdes’ first novel, but it’s getting lots of great press. Kirkus Reviews says “Valdes is a debut author, but this zany, rollicking adventure doesn’t show it. Jam-packed with weird aliens, mysterious artifacts, and lovable characters, there isn’t a single dull page… A tremendous good time and an impressive debut.” I’m in the mood for something a little less serious, and this looks like it will fit the bill.

A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure.

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Chilling Effect will be published by Harper Voyager on September 17, 2019. It is 448 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. See all our recent coverage of the best upcoming science fiction and fantasy here.


Future Treasures: Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy, compiled by Desirina Boskovich

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover by Paul Lehr

Science fiction is filled with tales of secret books, lost tomes, cryptic manuscripts… often literally. The history of our field is littered with tales of lost, overlooked, and incomplete works, many of which have achieved mythic stature, such as C. S. Lewis’ time travel novel, Harlan Ellison’s Last Dangerous Visions, Philip K. Dick’s massive metaphysical diary, and many others.

Author Desirina Boskovich (Never Now Always) has compiled a collection of essays on some of the most famous lost and neglected books in our field, packaged under a gorgeous Paul Lehr cover (see the original here). It includes contributions from Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Nisi Shawl, Molly Tanzer, Charlie Jane Anders, Lev Grossman, Jeff VanderMeer, and many others. It arrives in hardcover next month. Here’s the description.

Science fiction and fantasy reign over popular culture now. Lost Transmissions is a rich trove of forgotten and unknown, imagined-but-never-finished, and under-appreciated-but-influential works from those imaginative genres, as well as little-known information about well-known properties. Divided into sections on Film & TV, Literature, Art, Music, Fashion, Architecture, and Pop Culture, the book examines Jules Verne’s lost novel; AfroFuturism and Space Disco; E.T.’s scary beginnings; William Gibson’s never-filmed Aliens sequel; Weezer’s never-made space opera; and the 8,000-page metaphysical diary of Philip K. Dick. Featuring more than 150 photos, this insightful volume will become the bible of science fiction and fantasy’s most interesting and least-known chapters.

Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy will be published by Abrams Image on September 10, 2019. It is 288 pages, priced at $29.99 in hardcover and digital formats. The cover is by Paul Lehr.


The Hanged Man, Book II of The Tarot Sequence by K.D. Edwards, Delayed to December

Thursday, August 8th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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During its heyday a decade ago Pyr Books was one of the most exciting and innovative publishers in the business. Founding editor Lou Anders left in 2014 to pursue his own writing career, and last year the entire imprint was sold lock, stock, and barrel to Start Publishing. Since then the mighty Pyr has slowed — the website hasn’t been updated in over a year (it still lists “Forthcoming Books” that were released last July, for example), and it’s a lot harder to get news on upcoming books.

Harder, but not impossible. Pyr maintains a lively Facebook presence where it talks about recent releases, like The Fall by Tracy Townsend, Three Laws Lethal by David Walton, and M.C Planck’s Black Harvest, as well as exciting upcoming titles like Nebula Awards Showcase 2019, coming in October. But I was disappointed to see one of the more intriguing books of the fall, K.D. Edwards The Hanged Man, second in The Tarot Sequence, pushed back three months to a December 17 release. K.D. Edwards shared the details on his Twitter feed on Monday:

Pyr made the right choice. We’re just wrapping up the proof edits now, and delaying the book 3 months means I’ll be able to work on advance promotion. We’ll be able to get eARCs in the hands of reviewers. Maybe get some more cool author blurbs. The only thing I can promise is this: I am insanely proud of the final product. I’m 50 pages away from signing off on the final formatted manuscript, and I actually ENJOYED rereading it this weekend. That has never happened to me before… And even better? I’m writing TAROT III as we speak. I don’t expect an 18-month lag-time, next time.

It’s disappointing, but I’m glad to hear there’s a third book in the pipeline, so there’s that. Keep up to date on all the details at Edwards’ Twitter feed.


Future Treasures: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Sunday, August 4th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Gideon the Ninth-smallI love a good gothic space opera. And Tamsyn Muir’s debut, coming next month from Tor.com, sounds like excellent gothic space opera. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly summarizes it as “Queer necromancers vie for power, solve ancient puzzles, and cross rapiers while exploring haunted deep-space ruins in this madcap science fantasy romp that manages to be both riotously funny and heartbreaking,” and Kameron Hurley describes it as “a pulpy science-fantasy romp that will delight and horrify you.” (And Charles Stross sums it up as “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space! Decadent nobles vie to serve the deathless emperor! Skeletons!”) It’s hard to make sense of it all, but I’m definitely getting a picture of something I’d enjoy. Gideon the Ninth arrives in hardcover next month. Here’s the description.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Gideon the Ninth will be published by Tor.com on September 10, 2019. It is 448 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Tommy Arnold. Read the first eight chapters at Tor.com.


Cover Reveal: The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, edited by Leslie S. Klinger

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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H.P. Lovecraft

One of the most exciting books to cross my desk this summer was an advance proof of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham. It’s the follow-up to Leslie S. Klinger’s monumental 928-page The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, published by Liveright in 2014, which Harlan Ellison called “an Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature.” Beyond Arkham is an absolutely gorgeous book, packed with 22 more Lovecraft stories, including several of his most famous, and 200 vintage photographs and illustrations. Liveright gave us an exclusive sneak peek of the final cover, and it’s truly a work of art. We want to share it with you below. But first, here’s the description.

No lover of gothic literature will want to be without this literary keepsake, the final volume of Leslie Klinger’s tour-de-force chronicle of Lovecraft’s canon.

In 2014, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft was published to widespread acclaim― vaunted as a “treasure trove” (Joyce Carol Oates) for Lovecraft aficionados and general readers, alike. Hailed by Harlan Ellison as an “Olympian landmark of modern gothic literature,” the volume included twenty-two of Lovecraft’s original stories. Now, in this final volume, best- selling author Leslie S. Klinger reanimates twenty-five additional stories, the balance of Lovecraft’s significant fiction, including “Rats in the Wall,” a post– World War I story about the terrors of the past, and the newly contextualized “The Horror at Red Hook,” which recently has been adapted by best- selling novelist Victor LaValle. In following Lovecraft’s own literary trajectory, readers can witness his evolution from Rhode Island critic to prescient literary genius whose titanic influence would only be appreciated decades after his death. Including hundreds of eye- opening annotations and dozens of rare images, Beyond Arkham finally provides the complete picture of Lovecraft’s unparalleled achievements in fiction.

Ready? Feast your eyes on the beautiful cover for The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft: Beyond Arkham, arriving from Liveright on September 24.

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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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