An Open Letter to Amy Farrah-Fowler, Ph. D.

Sunday, October 13th, 2013 | Posted by eeknight

Puzzled Indiana JonesDear Dr. Farrah-Fowler,

Regarding your erroneous conclusion that Indiana Jones played no role in the outcome of Raiders of the Lost Ark, I can only express disappointment that your usual disciplined reason failed you in this instance.

Let us explore your thesis and remove Indiana Jones entirely from the equation. The year is 1936 and the Nazis are exploring a sand-covered ruin of a largish ancient Egyptian city (Tannis, a major religious center, was comparable to Thebes) in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Without the headpiece to the staff of Ra, brute manpower would not have been equal to the task before them in the short time available to the Nazis. The only similar ancient city destroyed by catastrophe and quickly preserved in such a manner is that of Pompeii. As you are no doubt aware, Pompeii has been excavated and explored off and on since 1748, and intensively between 1924-1961, yet we still have not progressed much outside the main streets or into second floors and basements. The Nazis, in theory, would have until the outbreak of war in September 1939 at the very latest to carry out their dig, a span of 3 years. Unless you posit the British Army would have been willing to let a detachment of Afrika Korps poke around Egypt within spitting distance of the Nile in wartime. If you believe that, I have a piece of the True Cross made out of Georgia Sweetgum you may be interested in buying.

I think we can dispense with the idea that the Nazis would have found the Ark without the headpiece to the Staff of Ra.

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Apex Magazine #44

Saturday, January 5th, 2013 | Posted by Soyka

Apex Magazine 44-smallEugie Foster portrays a god of vengeance in “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread,” Lettie Prell writes about “The Performance Artist” and Tansy Rayner Roberts provides something of a romance in “The Patrician.”

Sarah Kuhn’s column explores the phenomenon of well-known genre figureheads making ill-conceived statements about women genre participants and fans, Maggie Slater interviews Eugie Foster, and editor Lynne M. Thomas’s regular “Blood on the Vellum” column rounds out the 44th edition of this e-magazine.

The issue is available for download from:

Buy issue 44 from Apex
Buy issue 44 from Amazon

The issue can also be read for free online at

Letters to Black Gate: Ed Carmien, Scott Taylor, Matthew David Surridge, and our Digital Future

Sunday, August 12th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

Ed Carmien's "Before the Wind," from Black Gate 10. Art by John Kauffman.

Ed Carmien's "Before the Wind," from Black Gate 10. Art by John Kaufmann.

John Burt writes:

I am really enjoying the back issues of Black Gate I purchased. The Morlock series is awesome! The next article for me is the Choose Your Own Adventure in issue 12.

Other writers I enjoyed: Ed Carmien’s “Before the Wind” (BG 10) blew my socks off, probably my favorite story so far. Martha Wells is always enjoyable, Mark Sumner’s “Leather Doll” was the best until “Before the Wind.” Todd McAulty is very good. Those are the ones that come to mind while writing this.

I am a rebel when reading these as well, I start at the beginning and read from end to end, skimming over the RPG stuff (I play boardgames mainly), Which leads me to a comment about an earlier article, when discussing the magazines of the 70s that are gone, the writer mentions that Rodger MacGowan disappeared from the scene, he did, sort of. He is the art director of GMT Games and has RBM Studios, which does art for games (mainly wargames) and publishes the house organ for GMT Games, C3i.

Thanks for the feedback, John. We have fiction in inventory from Martha Wells and Todd McAulty that I think you’ll enjoy, as well as more Morlock stories by James Enge. Stay tuned!

Simone Stubbs comments on our plans to switch to a digital format:

John, I am writing to say that I won’t read the new Digital Issue. I prefer a hard copy sent to my address. Yes, it is what the new generation wants to do, read by hand held devices. But, I am sixty nine years old and my husband and I just have one desktop computer and one Track Phone between us for communication. Whenever you publish hard cover please send it to my address.

Simone, I know what you mean — a lot of our readers are constantly asking for digital versions of the magazine, and I know we’ll have to make them happy to survive. But I still prefer a physical copy of the magazine myself. I’m 48, and my house is filled with old books and magazines. It would make me very sad to have to totally give up print.

It will be some time before we’re able to do another physical edition of the magazine, however. If you’re missing any of the print issues, I’d be happy to offer you print back issues while you wait.

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Letters to Black Gate: Poul Anderson, Digital Publishing, and The Dying Earth

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

Michael Fierce writes:

I just wanted to say that I really love Ryan Harvey’s article on Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword. I’ve read the revised version many times and have always wanted to read the original, and now, after reading his article, am even more enthused to do so. Really excellent breakdown and the format was very reader-friendly with some visually pleasing colors that really grabbed me.

I know many things about many great books but he definitely takes the cake on his knowledge on that one. I’m going to have to come to your site more if there’s quality writing at that level. Thanks again!

You’re welcome, Michael. And if you enjoyed Ryan’s post, you may enjoy Brian Murphy’s “In the grip of “The Northern Thing:” My Top 10 Northern Inspired Stories” (here), in which he examines Poul Anderson’s Hrolf Kraki’s Saga and The Broken Sword, Nancy Farmer’s The Sea of Trolls, and seven other neglected fantasy classics of the north.

I enjoy the Black Gate website. The posts are often interesting and cover such a broad range of ‘fantasy’ topics that there is something for every fan of the field.

I don’t recall seeing that you folks are open for submissions in the couple of years I’ve been an irregular reader (not that I read in an irregular fashion….). Has there been any thought to an online-only edition or two each year? I’m guessing you get a lot of publishable material that just doesn’t fit into the two print issues. And it would allow for additional as well as more timely reviews and whatnot.

Just curious. I know it would take a lot of work, but it wouldn’t have to have all the bells and whistles (i.e. tons of illustrations) that go in the print edition. My own online newsletters ( and Baker Street Essays) are simple affairs put together in MS Publisher and I write almost all the content. I would think Black Gate could produce a content-filled online edition that would get a lot of readers. Perhaps you could include blog posts from some of your staff. I recently found Howard Andrew Jones’ blog post about the definition of sword and sorcery. Interesting read!

I am in no way minimizing the work required. But I would think you wouldn’t have much problem getting contributions, at least.

Keep up the great work!

Bob Byrne

Bob, your note is rather prophetic. As we’ve announced in the Black Gate newsgroup and other places, we are launching a digital version of the magazine this year.

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The Enjoyment of Fantasy: Open Letters to Adam Gopnik, Mur Lafferty, and John C. Wright

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The New Yorker, December 5I’ve been a bit under the weather the past couple of weeks, which has been annoying for a number of reasons. For one thing, I was unable to get my thoughts in enough order to respond adequately to three pieces of writing I came across several days ago. Each piece on its own seemed to pose interesting questions, and collectively they raised what seemed to me to be related issues about how one reads, and why; and how and why one reads fantasy in particular.

Well, my head’s cleared a bit over the past little while, and, however delayed, I’ve been able to frame responses (however wordy and inadequate) to the articles I had in mind. I present them here as open letters to the writers of the various pieces: Adam Gopnik, Mur Lafferty, and John C. Wright.

I: To Adam Gopnik

Dear Mr. Gopnik,

I read your recent article in The New Yorker, “The Dragon’s Egg,” with some interest. I haven’t read Christopher Paolini’s work; my interest is less in Young-Adult literature than in fantasy fiction. From that perspective I found your piece intriguing for what was left unsaid, or what you chose not to investigate. Specifically, I thought there were two major lacunae in the thinking underlying your approach to fantasy.

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Letters to Black Gate: Submission Windows, Port Iris, and Canadian Fiction

Saturday, November 27th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

port-isisKerstan Szczepanski responds to our recent post on the latest issue of Port Iris magazine:

I don’t know much about Port Iris beyond what I’ve seen in issue #3. A little too alternative for my taste. Although Aidan Doyle’s Salary Ninja was pretty good (“When I was young, if a demon had a blue tooth, it meant something different.”); if that guy submits anything to you, read him right away. And the cover makes me think of Tex Avery, very cool.
I’ve been a long time subscriber to Black Gate since issue 3 or 4 or something, absolutely love the mag.

Richard Dillio asks:

I had never read your magazine until about a year ago. A friend from work brought in a copy and I burned through it in about two days (my job has a lot of down-time, heh). I am continually impressed by your organization — fantasy magazines seem to be dropping like flies lately, but you guys are hanging on. I’m glad there is a magazine out there still willing to print the sword-and-sorcery and adventure fantasy stories that are the real bedrock of the American fantasy tradition.
It seems like every time I check your guys’ webpage for when submissions are open, you aren’t accepting submissions. I realize the market is probably glutted with good adventure fantasy for you guys to choose from, but is there any reliable time when you guys are accepting submissions? Like, say, any specific time of year? If not, that’s cool too. Just curious.
Anyways, keep up the great work. I love the magazine!

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Letters to Black Gate: Vampire Earth, Pete Butler and Gary Gygax

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

tale-of-the-thunderbolt2Jesse Moya tells us how she discovered Black Gate:

I recently started The Vampire Earth books by E. E. Knight.  On the cover of Tale of the Thunderbolt (Book 3), there is a brief descriptive quote about Knight, and Black Gate is listed as the source.
So I thought I would check out what Black Gate was all about. Unlike my younger days, I no longer have as much time to read, so I thought if your site did reviews I might learn about authors/series that I might otherwise never discover.
Noticed you were a magazine so I decided to see what kind of stories you published. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten in the (bad) habit of sticking to the authors I know (on the basis that I don’t want to “waste my time”), so I’m trying to expand.
In the last couple of years, I’ve caught back up to current music thanks to my oldest girl and her iTunes downloads. Now I just need help getting to know who good new authors may be, and I hope your magazine helps me.

Thanks, Jesse. Glad to see such as healthy attitude towards trying new writers (and magazines). I wish we saw it more often.

And wow — that’s the first time we’ve ever won a customer from a cover blurb.

Hear that, Reviews Editor Bill Ward?  I want cover blurbs on every fantasy novel in North America. Get on it.

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Letters to Black Gate: iPads and Submission Windows

Sunday, July 4th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

cover_issue2Matthew Maestri writes:

I’m a new writer looking for open markets, especially in the fantasy/science fiction genre. I’m very impressed and intrigued by Black Gate, which I stumbled upon a couple months ago. I will be the first to admit that I tend to hover near the longer side of fiction, and it was very appealing to me that your magazine is one of the few remaining that actually prefers to publish longer stories. I have some brewing and I was just wondering when you might be accepting submissions again? Thanks for your time.

Glad to hear you’re interested in Black Gate, Matthew. Unfortunately, we’re still digging through the pile of submissions we received during the brief period we opened last year. 

We were deluged with submissions, far more than we expected, and just as we were making progress, I was waylaid by an 8-month project that demanded all my time (my company was bought by Microsoft).

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Letters to Black Gate

Sunday, June 13th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

btga41Kim Patrick Weiss, of Bavaria, Germany, writes:

I tend to browse the Black Gate website every day, to check the news and, of course, read the new chapter of “The Weird of Ironspell” every Wednesday. When I read your article about Before the Golden Age by Isaac Asimov, two things immediately caught my interest: “…civilizations in grains of sand…” and “…humans in rags taking on entrenched alien conquerors…” and I knew I had to look into getting this book.
      Well, a couple minutes after I finished reading the article, and with my imagination already running wild, I decided to pick up a used copy from Amazon. I was in luck, the 1974 hardcover version by Doubleday was available for only $20. The book arrived today and I already read “Submicroscopic” and “Awlo of Ulm”, the ones that seemed the most appealing, and I can’t say I regret buying the book right away instead of checking out that website you mentioned first. Your article opened my eyes to a wider variety of sci-fi stories and authors, and I just have to say thanks for that :)
       It’s also a very nice experience to find out about so many old classics that I never knew existed. Your magazine and website are a great source for new (well, new to me) books and authors and I’m sure there’s still a lot more to discover in the archives. So, thanks again for a great website and an awesome magazine, both of which I hope will stay around for a long, long time!

Glad you enjoyed it, Kim.  “Submicroscopic” and its sequel “Awlo of Ulm,” both by Capt. S. P. Meek, are in fact the stories I had in mind when I mentioned “civilizations in grains of sand.”  They first appeared in Amazing Stories in 1931, and they’re still great fun today.

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