Cirsova Announces Leigh Brackett’s The Illustrated Stark

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

Queen of the Martian Catacombs-small The Enchantress of Venus Leigh Brackett-small Black Amazon of Mars Leigh Brackett-small

You know what the world needs today? It needs more Leigh Brackett.

Brackett has had her 21st Century champions, including Eric Mona at Paizo Publishing, who reprinted five Brackett novels as part of his superb Planet Stories line, and Stephen Haffner of Haffner Press, who’s produced four gorgeous archival quality hardcovers collecting her short fiction. But it’s been over a decade since those books appeared, an eternity in publishing terms, and and virtually all of them are now out of print. So I was delighted to hear that Cirsova Publishing, the masterminds behind Cirsova magazine, are reprinting some of Brackett’s most famous work in new illustrated editions. Here’s an excerpt from the press release.

Cirsova Publishing has teamed up with StarTwo to create an all-new, fully illustrated 70th Anniversary Edition of Leigh Brackett’s original Eric John Stark Trilogy. Cirsova Publishing aims to bring the action, adventure and romance of Leigh Brackett to a new generation of readers.

First published in the Summer of 1949, Queen of the Martian Catacombs introduced the world to Eric John Stark, the black mercenary swordsman. Stark’s adventures continued on Venus in 1949’s The Enchantress of Venus, and the swordsman returned to the Red Planet in 1951’s Black Amazon of Mars. While Brackett would revisit the character in 1970s with the Skaith trilogy, the original novellas are significant as one of the last iconic Sword & Planet cycles of the pulp era.

The Cirsova covers are homages to the original Planet Stories pulp covers (see below), though I’m pleased to see that (like the Paizo editions before them), they correctly depict Eric John Stark as black skinned.

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A Pocketful of Lodestones, Book Two of The Time Traveler Professor by Elizabeth Crowens

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

Silent Meridian A Pocketful of Lodestones

Elizabeth Crowens began writing for us two years ago, and she quickly became one of the most popular writers in the Black Gate community. She’s interviewed a host of fascinating subjects — including Martin Page, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, Nancy Kilpatrick, Charlaine Harris, Gail Carriger, Jennifer Brozek, and many others — and collected her lengthy interviews in two highly readable volumes of The Poison Apple.

Many BG readers are unaware that Elizabeth is also a talented and successful fiction writer. Her first novel Silent Meridian, which James A. Moore (Seven Forges, Tides of War) called “fun, entertaining and delightfully different… a rollercoaster ride with a side of the sublime,” was published to wide acclaim in 2016. This summer A Pocketful of Lodestones, the second volume in The Time Traveler Professor, arrives from Atomic Alchemist Productions, and expectations are high among Crowens’ many fans.

The Time Traveler Professor is a game-changer of a series. Jonathan Maberry calls it “a delightful genre-twisting romp through time and possibilities,” and A Pocketful of Lodestones significantly ups the ante. This installment is fast-paced and exciting, and jumps into the action immediately. It introduces ghosts, a series of supernatural murders, and a strange and fascinating form of magic. Crowens expertly juggles a complex and engaging plot involving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the outbreak of World World I, an enigmatic time traveler, and the mysterious red book that tantalized readers in the first volume, The Thief of Tales.

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Future Treasures: Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell by Nathan Ballingrud

Saturday, March 30th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Wounds Six Stories from the Border of Hell-smallIn his enthusiastic review of Nathan Ballingrud’s first collection, James McGlothlin wrote:

Ballingrud’s fiction is an amalgamation of some of the best elements of current dark fiction. The stories of North American Lake Monsters are poetic and literary (think Kelly Link or Caitlin Kiernan), forbidding and nihilistic (think John Langan), very real and raw (think Nic Pizzolatto), while also scaring the bejesus out of you (think Laird Barron).

Ballingrud’s 2015 novella The Visible Filth was filmed as Wounds, directed by Babak Anvari and originally scheduled for release March 29; it does not currently have a release date. Next month Saga Press is releasing a brand new hardcover collection of Ballingrud’s horror stories, Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, which includes The Visible Filth, the acclaimed “Skullpocket” (which James called “an absolutely amazing story. It offers humor, sadness, and sheer creepiness throughout” in his review of Nightmare Carnival, 2014), a brand new novella, and three other stories. Here’s the description.

A gripping collection of six stories of terror — including the novella The Visible Filth, the basis for the upcoming major motion picture — by Shirley Jackson Award–winning author Nathan Ballingrud, hailed as a major new voice by Jeff VanderMeer, Paul Tremblay, and Carmen Maria Machado — “one of the most heavyweight horror authors out there” (The Verge).

In his first collection, North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud carved out a distinctly singular place in American fiction with his “piercing and merciless” (Toronto Globe and Mail) portrayals of the monsters that haunt our lives — both real and imagined: “What Nathan Ballingrud does in North American Lake Monsters is to reinvigorate the horror tradition” (Los Angeles Review of Books).

Now, in Wounds, Ballingrud follows up with an even more confounding, strange, and utterly entrancing collection of six stories, including one new novella. From the eerie dread descending upon a New Orleans dive bartender after a cell phone is left behind in a rollicking bar fight in The Visible Filth to the search for the map of hell in “The Butcher’s Table,” Ballingrud’s beautifully crafted stories are riveting in their quietly terrifying depictions of the murky line between the known and the unknown.

Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell will be released by Saga Press on April 9. It is 275 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover, $15.99 in trade paperback, and $7.99 in digital formats. See all our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.

Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense edited by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Ghost Stories Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense-smallI know it’s nowhere near Halloween — what Goth Chick joyously calls “The Season” — but that doesn’t mean I don’t delight in a brand new ghost story anthology.

Master anthologists Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger deliver a terrific new volume of neglected spooky tales from Pegasus Books: Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense. It arrives in a handsome hardcover edition next week. Here’s the description.

A masterful collection of ghost stories that have been overlooked by contemporary readers ― including tales by celebrated authors such as Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton ― presented with insightful annotations by acclaimed horror anthologists Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton.

The ghost story has long been a staple of world literature, but many of the genre’s greatest tales have been forgotten, overshadowed in many cases by their authors’ bestselling work in other genres. In this spine-tingling anthology, little known stories from literary titans like Charles Dickens and Edith Wharton are collected alongside overlooked works from masters of horror fiction like Edgar Allan Poe and M. R. James.

Acclaimed anthologists Leslie S. Klinger (The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes) and Lisa Morton (Ghosts: A Haunted History) set these stories in historical context and trace the literary significance of ghosts in fiction over almost two hundred years ― from a traditional English ballad first printed in 1724 through the Christmas-themed ghost stories of the Victorian era and up to the science fiction–tinged tales of the early twentieth century.

In bringing these masterful tales back from the dead, Ghost Stories will enlighten and frighten both longtime fans and new readers of the genre.

Including stories by: Ambrose Bierce, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Olivia Howard Dunbar, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, M. R. James, Arthur Machen, Georgia Wood Pangborn, Mrs. J. H. Riddell, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Walter Scott, Frank Stockton, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton.

Ghost Stories has an impressive list of contents. I tried to find a copy of the Table of Contents, but all I found was this weird Google widget that allows you to browse the first 40 pages of the book (including the TOC). Here it is.

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Future Treasures: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Last Hanna Jameson-small The Last Hanna Jameson-back-small

If you keep tabs on upcoming titles like I do, you get used to the relentless hype and the breathless blurbs. After a while it takes something really special to get your attention.

The blurbs for Hanna Jameson’s The Last, arriving in hardcover in two weeks, got my attention. Kirkus Reviews says it’s “”Reminiscent of The Shining… an eerie and unsettling tale,” and Luca Vesta (Dead Gone) says it’s “Nuclear apocalypse meets murder mystery… It’s Stephen King meets Agatha Christie. This is *the* book of 2019.” And Publishers Weekly calls it “An engrossing post-apocalyptic psychological thriller… equal parts drama and locked-room murder mystery.” Here’s the description.

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.

Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.

As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?

The Last will be published by Atria Books on April 9, 2019. It is 352 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover and $12.99 for digital editions.

The Fortress World and the Eye of Terror: Warhammer 40K: The Cadian Novels by Justin D. Hill

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Cadia Stands-small Cadian Honour-small

When I made the 90-minute commute to Glenview every morning (and the 90-minute drive home every evening), I got addicted to Warhammer 40K audio dramas. They made the long drive bearable. When I left that job four years ago I fell out of the habit, and haven’t kept up on the unfolding drama in my favorite dark space opera. I did hear rumors of a Thirteenth Black Crusade, the unexpected return of the loyal primarch Roboute Guilliman (in Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium series), and the catastrophic fall of the fortress world of Cadia, the last line of defense against the daemonic tide spilling out of the Eye of Terror. Man, you take your eye off the ball for a minute, and everything goes to hell.

Justin D. Hill’s new Cadia series seem like the perfect place to jump back into the saga. The first novel, Cadia Stands, was published in March 2018, and the sequel Cadian Honour is scheduled for September of this year (and is already available in digital format). Here’s the description for the first volume.

The brutal war for Cadia is decided, as Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed and the armies of the Imperium fight to halt the Thirteenth Black Crusade and prevent a calamity on a galactic scale.

Under almost constant besiegement by the daemonic hosts pouring from the Eye of Terror, Cadia stands as a bulwark against tyranny and death. Its fortresses and armies have held back the hordes of Chaos for centuries, but that grim defiance is about to reach its end. As Abaddon’s Thirteenth Black Crusade batters Cadia’s defences and the armies of the Imperium flock to reinforce this crucial world, a terrible ritual long in the making comes to fruition, and the delicate balance of this brutal war shifts… From the darkness, a hero rises to lead the beleaguered defenders, Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed, but even with the armoured might of the Astra Militarum and the strength of the Adeptus Astartes at his side, it may not be enough to avert disaster and prevent the fall of Cadia. While Creed lives, there is hope. While there is breath in the body of a single defender, Cadia Stands… but for how much longer?

And here’s the description for Cadian Honour.

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Future Treasures: Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Saturday, March 16th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Greystone Secrets The Strangers-smallMargaret Peterson Haddix is The New York Times bestselling author of a bunch of stuff, including The Shadow Children, Children of Exile, and The Missing series. Her latest is a middle-grade thriller that Booklist says “blends adventure and sf elements into an engrossing mystery… secret rooms, alternate realities, and a cliffhanger ending raise the stakes and delight fans new and old.” It arrives in hardcover on April 2.

What makes you you?

The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best — acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.

But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children reach the Greystone kids, and they’re shocked by the startling similarities between themselves and these complete strangers. The other kids share their same first and middle names. They’re the same ages. They even have identical birthdays. Who, exactly, are these strangers?

Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a sudden work trip and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.

Here’s the rundown from Publishers Weekly.

In Ohio, the Greystone kids — responsible Chess, math-savvy Emma, and excitable Finn — have established a pleasant life with their mother years after their father’s death. Until, that is, the day they find their mother weeping and wan over a news story about three kidnapped Arizona children… After their mom disappears on a “work trip” the very next day, the Greystones receive a cryptic farewell and a coded letter… A secret-stacked, thrilling series opener.

Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers will be published by Katherine Tegen Books on April 2, 2019. It is 416 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $10.99 in digital formats. It is illustrated by Anne Lambelet, whom I presume also did the terrific cover. Read the first eight chapters here.

See all our recent Future Treasures here.

Future Treasures: Warhammer Horror: The Wicked and the Damned by Josh Reynolds, David Annandale, and Phil Kelly

Monday, March 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Wicked and the Damned-smallFive years ago, when I was commuting to Glenview and in the car three hours a day, I got hooked on Warhammer 40K audio books. My favorites were the Horus Heresy volumes, especially Ben Counter’s epic tale of betrayal and revenge Galaxy in Flames, but I devoured them all.

I take the train these days, and don’t keep up on the unfolding drama in the dark days of the 40th Millennium the way I used to, but I still pay attention when I can. So I was very intrigued to hear about the launch of Warhammer Horror, a new line of books and audio plays (wait… like the current line isn’t dark enough??) It arrives next month with three launch titles, the short-story anthology Maledictions, an audio drama titled Perdition’s Flame, and a collaborative novel titled The Wicked and the Damned, from three stars of the Warhammer stable. That last one is the one that really interests me, and mostly because of this description:

A chilling mosaic novel by masters of their craft.

On a misty cemetery world, three strangers are drawn together through mysterious circumstances. Each of them has a tale to tell of a narrow escape from death. Amid the toll of funerary bells and the creep and click of mortuary-servitors, the truth is confessed. But whose story can be trusted? Whose recollection is warped, even unto themselves? For these are strange stories of the uncanny, the irrational and the spine-chillingly frightening, where horrors abound and the dark depths of the human psyche is unearthed.

“A chilling portmanteau. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. The perfect combination of horror and Warhammer 40,000.” – Paul Kane.

Josh Reynolds wrote the popular Nightmare Men series on occult detectives here at Black Gate, David Annandale is the author of the Yarrick series and a contributor to The Beast Arises, and Phil Kelly is the man behind War of Secrets and Crisis of Faith.

The Wicked and the Damned will be published by Warhammer Horror on April 2, 2019. It is 400 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback. No word on a digital version yet. See all our previous Warhammer coverage here.

New Treasures: The Wormwood Trilogy by Tade Thompson

Friday, March 8th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Rosewater Tade Thompson-small The Rosewater Insurrection Tade Thompson-small The Rosewater Redemption-small

Tade Thompson’s second novel Rosewater was one of the more intriguing books published last year. Here’s a snippet from Ross Johnson’s rave review at the B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy blog, which labeled it “a groundbreaking future noir.”

In the Nigeria of the mid-21st century, a makeshift town has sprung up around a mysterious dome that inexplicably appeared there some time in the recent past. Though the structure is alien in origin, its purpose is unclear—its influences can be malign, but also dramatically beneficial. Approximately once a year, people come from far and wide to take advantage of the healing powers released by the structure, but the effects aren’t entirely predictable, and sometimes leave pilgrims mangled and malformed — and those who die are left vulnerable to soulless reanimation. Still, HIV and cancer are completely curable in this altered world, and that alone makes the journey worth the risk.

This is all the backdrop for the story of Kaaro, a former thief and sometimes rogue government agent, first recruited for his unique sensitivity to the minds of others. For in the new world of the dome, a small portion of humans have developed empathic and telepathic powers, to greater and lesser degrees, and Kaaro is near the top of the scale. As a young man, he used his abilities to hunt down his neighbors’ valuables. As an adult, he’s tasked with interrogating subversives and potential public enemies, even as turbulent political waters leave those categories clouded.

Though generally mercenary in his considerations, Kaaro is ultimately pushed too far by his handlers in Section 45, threads of classic noir run thread through the story. A reluctant hero (when he’s being heroic at all), there’s a strong sense throughout that Kaaro’s sins and flaws might ultimately be his undoing…  It is, on one level, an engaging future noir about a flawed protagonist falling into the role of reluctant hero while coming to grips with an alien mystery, and that alone would make for a solid read. But Thompson’s ambitions are greater, and alongside the complex puzzles and multiple mysteries, he has a great deal to say about the ways in which individuals, whatever their nations of origin, respond to oppressive governments.

The second volume in what’s now being called The Wormwood Trilogy will be published next week in trade paperback from Orbit; and the final book arrives just six months later. Here’s the description for both.

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Future Treasures: The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Monday, March 4th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Light Brigade-smallKameron Hurley’s debut novel God’s War, which eventually became part of her Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy, was nominated for a Nebula Award; she won a Hugo in 2014 for Best Related Work. Her big space opera from last year, The Stars Are Legion, showed a very difference side to her, and was one of the most acclaimed books she’s ever published, with an Honorable Mention for the James Tiptree Award, a nomination for the Campbell Award, and a fifth-place finish for the Locus Award for Best SF Novel.

Her latest is something new again — a science fiction thriller about a futuristic war during which soldiers are broken down into light in order to get them to the front lines on Mars. It’s based on a short story with the same title originally published in John Joseph Adams’ Lightspeed Magazine (read it here); the novel version arrives in hardcover from Saga Press in two weeks.

They said the war would turn us into light. I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world.

The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back… different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief — no matter what actually happens during combat.

Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on.

Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero — or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference.

The Light Brigade will be published by Saga Press on March 19. It is 354 pages in hardcover, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $7.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Eve Ventrue.

See all our recent Future Treasures here.

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