Torg Eternity: The Aysle Sourcebook Interview

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Torg EternityAbout a year ago I reviewed Torg Eternity, the reboot from Ulisses Spiele of the Torg tabletop role-playing game. I loved the original, one of the most wildly imaginative settings I’ve ever seen, and found the new version kept the best parts of the old Torg while making the mechanics smoother (I wrote up a session here). The game imagines our world attacked by other realities, each based on a different genre of fiction, which invade by making parts of our world operate according to their rules — increasing or decreasing the level of technology, adding magic or psionics or manifestations of the gods, and subtly encouraging people to behave in ways appropriate to their genre.

Now dinosaurs wander the jungles and mysterious ruins of the North American coasts. A cyberpunk theocracy’s taken over France. India faces colonial gothic horror. Splatterpunk technodemons in Russia have spawned a wasteland north of Moscow haunted by scavengers and monstrosity. East Asia sees zombies and bleeding-edge technology enveloped in espionage schemes. A maniacal pulp-era supervillain’s launched a New Nile Empire based in Egypt, opposed by masked Mystery Men. And in England and Scandinavia, wizards and elves and dragons are caught in a war between Light and Dark.

In the last year, two wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns have launched sourcebooks covering specific realms: first the lost-world realm of the Living Land, then the pulp reality of the Nile Empire. Now a third campaign has begun, for the sourcebook covering the fantasy realm of Aysle. I interviewed the Torg Eternity design team about the new book, how it approaches the fantasy genre, and what gamers can expect.

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Wordsmiths: Live Interview with Ada Palmer at ConFusion 2019!

Friday, June 28th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a live interview! Back in January, I had the pleasure of attending ConFusion, Michigan’s annual conference for authors and fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror. If you’ve never been, I highly suggest you check it out; it’s become one of my top two U.S. cons for writers (alongside Readercon) and is always a ton of fun.

Like in 2018, the con-com let me sit down for a live interview with one of their GoHs, in this case the talented and insightful Ada Palmer. If you’re unfamiliar with her, Palmer is the author of the Terra Ignota series, which started in 2016 with Too Like the Lightning and is planned to conclude with book four, Perhaps the Stars, in 2020. Lightning earned Palmer the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2017, and it was also nominated for the Hugo. It is an intricate, literary exploration of a future Earth shaped by the end of nation states and a set of Universal Laws.

I’ve gotten very lucky in who I’ve been able to interview lately, but talking with Palmer was fascinating. In 50 minutes we barely scratched the surface of what I wanted to discuss, and we easily could have continued for another couple of hours, mostly so I could keep learning. I hope you enjoy the interview below and encourage you to check out her work.

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Power Couples in the World of Speculative Fiction: Jim Freund and Barbara Krasnoff

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

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Crowens: You guys are native Brooklyners, right?

Both: No.

Barbara: I’m the native Brooklyner. He’s from Queens.

Jim: I’m from Jackson Heights. She is from Canarsie… originally. It’s like the line from Captain America: Civil War when he meets Spider-man. Captain America is fighting him at the airport and says, “You’ve got heart, kid. Where are you from?” and Spider-man says, “Queens.” Captain America looks at him and says in a confrontational tone, “Brooklyn.”

(Laughs): That’s great.

Jim: Best line in the movie.

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Disgust and Desire: An Interview with Anna Smith Spark

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 | Posted by SELindberg

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It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque/weird, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven my strange muses.  This interview series engages contemporary authors & artists on the theme of “Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction.”  Previously we cornered weird fantasy authors like John FultzJaneen WebbAliya WhiteleyRichard Lee ByersSebastian Jones, Charles Gramlich, and Darrell Schweitzer. This one features the “Queen of Grimdark,” Anna Smith Spark.

Anna Smith Spark is the author of the critically acclaimed Queen of Grimdark. The David Gemmell Awards shortlisted The Court of Broken Knives and The Tower of Living and Dying continued the Empires of Dust trilogy (Harper Voyager US/ Orbit US/Can). The finale, The House of Sacrifice, will be published August 2019. Anna lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a Ph.D. in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website greatworks.org. Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model. Anna’s favorite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at sff conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

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Wordsmiths: Interview with Award-Winning Author Rebecca Roanhorse

Friday, May 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

New-Suns-Original-Speculative-Fiction-by-People-of-Color-smallerBeing a reviewer and interviewer definitely has its perks some days, especially when I get the chance for a one-on-one chat with one of my new favorite fantasy authors. I’ve mentioned Rebecca Roanhorse quite a bit in my column here, which made it extra exciting to be able to chat with her about her previous work and what might be on the horizon. Hope you enjoy!

ME: I read your story “Harvest” in New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color and I loved the vague and unsettling nature of it, which is struck me differently than the other work of yours I’ve read. Can you tell me a little about where the idea for that came from, and how it developed?

REBECCA: Interestingly enough, I think “Harvest” has a lot in common with my other works. The style is more lyrical, but the themes it explores like identity and community are similar. Also similar is the exploration of what makes one a monster and what makes one human, and how sometimes the difference is a matter of perspective. I was also striving to capture a feeling in the story for the kind of love that leads to infatuation and self-destruction and whether that’s always a bad thing. And, of course, the ending of the story, much like “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience(TM)” should call into question the protagonist as reliable narrator and what is real and what is not. To me, at least, it’s very much a “Roanhorse” kind of story.

Everything that I’ve read of yours — this story, “Indian Experience(TM)”, Trail of Lightning — carries undertones about a variety of indigenous issues. Why discuss these topics through fantasy as opposed to contemporary literature?

I’m a nerd. I’ve always been a Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) reader and writer from my earliest memories of reading Susan Cooper and Lloyd Alexander as a kid and then Eddings and Jordan and Herbert as I got into high school, and as an adult Butler and Le Guin, among many, many others. I’ve always written SFF, too, from my very first stories in middle school. It’s what I love. What else would I write?

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Wordsmiths: An Interview with Diane Walton of On Spec Magazine

Friday, April 5th, 2019 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

downloadAs promised, readers, I’ve got a few more interviews coming down the pipe this year with writers and editors in the SFF community. Recently I had the opportunity to chat via email with Diane Walton, managing editor of On Spec Magazine, after meeting her in person at Can*Con. Had a blast digging into her past and the history of the magazine. Check it out below!


Brandon: This is going to sound like a slightly generic question to start, but it genuinely interests me. What first got you into science fiction and fantasy? Was there a particular work or author that hooked your interest, and when was that?

Diane: It sort of began in Grade 7. The kids in my class all seemed to be voracious readers — the girls had their Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and Dana Girls mysteries, while the boys had Hardy Boys and Tom Swift. At a certain point, we just naturally began to trade books, to get a fresh supply. So I kind of started reading SF with Tom Swift by default.

Interestingly enough, at that time, there was no stigma of the “these are ‘boy books’ and those are ‘girl books'” kind. We were equal opportunity readers.

The following year when I was 13, my family moved to a new community, the charming city of Belleville, ON.  My dad and I both took out library cards at the branch down the street from our house, and made a once a week jaunt to get the 8 books we were each allowed.

I can’t recall precisely when it happened, but one day I was bored with the “girl and her horse” stories, and so I curiously picked up a book with a rocket ship on the cover. The author was Andre Norton, and the book was called The Stars Are Ours!

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Behind the Wolf Queen: An Interview with Cerece Rennie Murphy

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

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I met author Cerece Rennie Murphy at an East Coast science fiction and fantasy convention called Boskone a few years ago. She was sitting at table, selling books, and shouted out to me as I passed that I looked beautiful.

Naturally, I paid attention.

As soon as I turned and looked at her, I realized she was beautiful too — beaming out with right good will, all bright colors and a megawatt smile. She was friendly, and extremely interesting, and right there on the spot, my husband and I bought her book, The Order of the Seers, which I promptly went home to read.

Since then, Cerece and I have become friends — on social media, yes, but in real life too — penpals when our schedules permit, pizza-buddies when she’s in town. I am so pleased and excited to bring all you Black Gate readers this interview.

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Concerned by Moral Imperatives: An Interview with D.G. Compton

Monday, March 11th, 2019 | Posted by Darrell Schweitzer

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D.G. Compton’s early Ace paperbacks. Covers by Leo and Diane Dillon.

David Guy Compton came to prominence in science fiction in 1968 with the publication of Synthajoy in the prestigious Ace Specials series edited by Terry Carr, although it was actually his second Ace book, preceded by The Silent Multitude (1966) This was quickly followed by The Quality of Mercy (1970), The Steel Crocodile (1970), Chronocules (1970), Farewell Earth’s Bliss (1971; published in England in 1966) The Missionaries (1972). DAW then brought out The Unsleeping Eye (1974), which was published in England as The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe and filmed as Death Watch. Windows (1979) and Ascendancies (1980) followed from Berkley, after which he tended to fade from the American publishing scene, although his work, notable for its unflinching intensity and mature treatments continues to command respect. His novels with the preoccupation with the impact of media on individual lives were in many ways well ahead of their time. The Unsleeping Eye, for instance, is about a report who has television cameras implanted in his eye, so that he can film the last days of a dying woman for a voyeuristic audience of what we would today call “reality TV” addicts.

This interview was recorded at the Nebula Awards weekend in New York, May 12, 2007, where Compton was present to receive SFWA’s Author Emeritus award. It originally appeared in The New York Review of Science Fiction, December 2007, and was reprinted in Speaking of the Fantastic III (2011).


You’ve mentioned that you have a new book coming out —

Oh, I did not say that. I have written a new book. Whether it is coming out or not is another matter. I already have a couple science fiction novels that haven’t been published over here anyway. And to make matters worse, this book isn’t even science fiction. So I have few hopes that it will actually be published. It was just something I had to do.

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Weird and Wonderful and Frightening: An Interview with Fantasy Renaissance Man Howard Andrew Jones

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Howard Andrew Jones is a true renaissance man of modern fantasy. He began writing short stories featuring his Arabian heroes Dabir & Asim for magazines and anthologies like Paradox, Sages & Swords, and Black Gate. He switched to novels with the widely acclaimed The Desert of Souls, one of the major works of fantasy of 2011. He followed that with a sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones (2011), and a 4-book sequence for Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows, Stalking the Beast, Beyond the Pool of Stars, and Through the Gate in the Sea.

In addition to writing, he’s also a gifted editor. He edited eight volumes of the collected tales of Harold Lamb for Bison Books, rescuing the early short fiction of one of the greatest adventure writers of the 20th Century from the moldering pages of pulp magazines. He was Managing Editor for the early e-zine Flashing Swords from 2004-2006, and in 2006 accepted the position of Managing Editor of Black Gate. He is the founding editor of Goodman Games’ new sword & sorcery magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull, which published two issues last year. And in late 2018 he became Executive Editor at Perilous Worlds, where he oversees the publication of new titles for some of most popular properties in fantasy, including John C. Hocking’s Conan and the Emerald Lotus and Conan and the Living Plague.

Though that keeps him plenty busy, he has not neglected his own writing. For the Killing of Kings, the first novel in a brand new series, The Ring-Sworn trilogy, arrives today from St. Martin’s Press. It’s the top pick of the month of March for Bookpage, and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, saying it “will have readers laughing, crying, and cheering.” Somehow Howard found time to sit down with us for a lengthy interview about his writing process, his influences (including Zelazny, Raymond Chandler, and Leigh Brackett), and the fast-changing trends he sees from his catbird seat in the industry. Enjoy.

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The Poison Apple: Mr. Sci-Fi: An Interview with Marc Zicree and the Future with Space Command

Monday, February 18th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

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Crowens: I wanted to interview someone whose focus was not only the entertainment industry but also science fiction. Previously, almost everyone I’ve interviewed has been involved in fantasy or horror. After following you on Facebook I really wanted to interview you. Right away, I’ve been able to pick up on your “contagious enthusiasm” and high energy.

Zicree: Glad I could do it.

What was your very first job in the entertainment industry, and how did you get your foot in the door?

I grew up reading in the genre watching the original versions of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I started going to science fiction conventions when I was a teenager growing up here in LA. My heroes were the writers. There was a lot of crossover from the stories I read and the writers from those three shows: Richard Mathieson, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison… they were all doing books and TV shows. When I was ten, I heard Ray Bradbury speak at a local library — a huge influence, and I became a big fan. When I was around fifteen or sixteen-years-old I started going to conventions and meeting them, and from there they became mentors.

There was also a radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles called Hour 25, and they interviewed all the great science fiction writers. Around 1973 when I was eighteen, I wrote a half hour radio play that was a satire of science fiction conventions, TV shows and movies called Lobotomy. So, I wrote, directed and acted in it with three of my friends and it aired on KPFK. On that same show, I heard Harlan Ellison talking about the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. When I was nineteen and an art student at UCLA, I attended Clarion that summer. It was at Michigan State University. The students included people like Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Crais, who became well-known science fiction and mystery novelists, respectively. Our teachers were Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delaney, Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight and Joe Haldeman – all very famous and accomplished science fiction writers. It was a great lineup.

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