Call for Backers! Artist Elizabeth Leggett Discusses Her Illustrations for DreamForge Magazine, and More!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 | Posted by Emily Mah

BethFP-PPD-16-2002In the second of two interviews supporting DreamForge’s Year Two Kickstarter Campaign I had the privilege of interviewing Hugo Award winning artist, Elizabeth Leggett, who has provided several illustrations for DreamForge.

She has also illustrated for magazines such as Lightspeedand art directed, Women Destroy Fantasy and Queers Destroy Science Fiction. But I’ll let Elizabeth and her gorgeous art speak for themselves.

Emily Mah: You’ve illustrated several stories for DreamForge, that I’m aware of. How many have you done for them and what were the stories?

Elizabeth Leggett: I have been profoundly lucky. DreamForge has found some of the most talented writers and they have let me play in their sandbox through illustration.  The first two pieces I did for them was for Lauren Teffeau’s short story, “Sing! And Remember.”  The first was the cover image and the second was a black and white design.

My next contract was for David Weber’s story, “A Certain Talent.”  This one is close to my heart because I was not only allowed to illustrate the main character, but also conceptualize Jim Moore (Jane Lindskold’s husband) as the power player!  Next, I needed to leave my comfort zone and illustrate Jennifer Donohue’s story, “The Fundamentals of Search and Rescue.”  Good heavens. wreckage sites are a challenge to draw!

My last illustration for last year was for John Jos Miller, “The Ghost of a Smile.”

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Call for Backers! DreamForge Magazine Publishes Standout Stories Like John Jos. Miller’s Ghost of a Smile

Sunday, February 16th, 2020 | Posted by Emily Mah

FP-PPD-16-2002

DreamForge started with a bang last year, publishing fifty short stories, twelve of which made Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List. Now they’re planning year two, and need your support on Kickstarter!

FB_IMG_1576012174342One of my favorite stories from last year was “Ghost of a Smile” by John Jos. Miller, with this gorgeous illustration by Elizabeth Leggett. John  was kind enough to answer a few questions. Those of you who are unfamiliar with John may, in fact, have read his books. He’s worked in genre fiction for decades, writing everything from media tie-in to Wild Cards, the shared world series edited by George RR Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. Read on to learn more about his work.

Emily Mah: You’ve been in the business a long time and written a lot of excellent books, from media tie-in to the Wild Cards shared universe. Can you give a rough overview of your work to date?

John Jos. Miller: Yeah, it’s been awhile. Somewhat longer than I’d like to admit, though I did get an early start. I don’t remember exactly when I started writing stories, but I was collecting my first rejection slips when I was about fourteen. I made my first sale to a pro publication when I was sixteen (anyone else remember Witchcraft and Sorcery, which started out as Coven-13?), but the magazine folded before it could print the story, or more importantly, pay me for it. That started an unfortunate trend that lasted for three or four other stories, but finally I sold to one that lasted long enough to both print the story and pay me (it was, in fact, the last story of the last issue of the original run of Fantastic Stories, so perhaps I deserve at least partial blame for killing that one). I had actually written and sold three novellas to Space & Time in the interim, but given the vicissitudes of small press publishing, those didn’t appear until after the story in Fantastic, and Space & Time was such a good ‘zine that even I couldn’t kill it – in fact, it’s still being published today.

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The 2019 Locus Recommended Reading List

Sunday, February 9th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Twisted Ones-small The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction-small The Best of Greg Egan-small Roy G. Krenkel Father of Heroic Fantasy - A Centennial Celebration-small

The annual Locus Recommended Reading List is probably your best one-stop reference for all that’s new and exciting in book releases. It’s compiled by the staff and editors of Locus magazine, plus the contributing columnists, outside reviewers, and “other professionals and critics of genre fiction and non-fiction” — folks like Jonathan Strahan, Liz Bourke, Carolyn Cushman, Paul Di Filippo, Paula Guran, Rich Horton, Russell Letson, Gary K. Wolfe, Mark R. Kelly, Cheryl Morgan, John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, John DeNardo, Charles Payseur, Sean Wallace, and many, many others.

The 2019 list appeared in the February issue of Locus magazine, on sale now, and was also published in its entirety last week at the Locus Online website.

Be prepared to take notes. The list includes several hundred titles in a dozen categories, including Science Fiction Novels, Fantasy Novels, Horror Novels, Young Adult Novels, Collections, Anthologies, Non Fiction, Illustrated and Art Books, Novellas, Short Fiction, and others.

I’m a Locus subscriber, and have been for nearly three decades. The magazine is a tremendous resource for anyone who’s serious about science fiction. Each issue is packed with in-depth reviews, interviews, news, photos, convention reports, entertaining features, and a lot more. Why not check it out? Digital subscriptions start at just $4.99 a month. Do yourself a favor and buy a sample issue here.


Amazing Stories, November 1979: A Retro-Review

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

11 79 Amazing Stories Covered

Cover by Elinor Mavor

Coming in after Asimov’s, Amazing Stories is a svelte 130 pages. One thing that really stood out to me in this issue was that almost everyone in it was a novice writer — many of the stories were first sales. It isn’t the ‘theme’ of the magazine, or of this issue or anything, but it is a thing I noticed. There is something refreshing about a quality amateur story, a certain unpolished plunging-ahead that can sweep the reader along.

That said, there are some of the stories that are, honestly, not that good. Others have said it better, but if you had picked up this issue back in the day (or pretty much any day), and thought to yourself “Hell, I could do this!”, you’d be right.

Here’s a look at the contents.

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Stories That Work: “The Backstitched Heart of Katharine Wright” by Alison Wilgus, and “For the Wicked, Only Weeds Will Grow” by G.V. Anderson

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 | Posted by James Van Pelt

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Interzone 279, January-February 2019; cover by Richard Wagner

When I was young, books addicted me. I read incessantly, imprudently, and in an unhealthy manner. My mother used to come into my room to check on me after bedtime by putting her hand on my reading light to see if it was warm (what she never knew was that I could read by my closet light that she didn’t check).

I finished novels in uninterrupted binges, starting one when I came home from school, and then reading until dawn. One year for Christmas, I asked for the Tom Corbett: Space Cadet books, which I had just discovered. Two weeks before the holiday, my parents left the house for an all-day outing. I hunted and hunted and hunted until I found the wrapped books, carefully unwrapped them, read them, and then rewrapped and returned them to the hiding place.

When I was in college, I found a dog-eared copy of The Fellowship of the Ring on a table in the student union. Four days of missed class later, I finished The Return of the King and then to my delight discovered that there was a prequel, The Hobbit, which is why I missed the fifth day too.

I was a sick puppy, drunk on story.

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Yes, Weird Tales is Back

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Tales 363-small

Cover by Abigail Larson

A few months ago I started to hear rumors that Weird Tales, the most storied and collectible American fantasy magazine of all time, had returned. Whispers, really. But I’d been hearing whispers for the last six years, ever since the last issue appeared from Nth Dimension Media, and especially since I published the article “Is Weird Tales Dead… Again?” in 2016. So I didn’t pay much attention.

But then I heard more reliable reports, and started to see listings online…. and then I ordered a copy, and right now I’m holding it in my hot little hands. And I can report that, in fact, Weird Tales is back.

It returns with a new publisher, Weird Tales Inc., but the same editor, Marvin Kaye, who took over the editorial reins from Ann VanderMeer in 2011, and managed only three issues in the last nine years. But the magazine looks terrific, with glossy paper and full color interiors, and an impressive Table of Contents, including stories by Victor LaValle, Jonathan Maberry, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and others. Not to mention an eye-catching cover by Abigail Larson, a tribute to perhaps the most iconic Weird Tales image of all time, the famous bat woman cover by Margaret Brundage.

Is Weird Tales back for good? Too early to tell — though to be fair Weird Tales has never exactly been a stable publication. (There’s a reason it’s called “The Magazine That Never Dies,” it keeps having to be resurrected.) There are the usual troubling signs already, including the fact that the website they proudly promote on the back page (weirdtales.com) is down already. But this looks like a quality package, and I’m hopeful. Let’s have a closer look at the contents.

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Stories That Work: “Selfless” by James Patrick Kelly, and “I Met a Traveler In an Antique Land” by Connie Willis

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 | Posted by James Van Pelt

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Covers by Eldar Zakirov and Donato Giancola

Do you remember a German pop band called Nena and their single big song, “99 Luftballons”? No? Well, they were a one-hit wonder. How amazing is it, to be a one-hit wonder? Think of all the bands, playing in garages, trying their hardest to line up gigs, who never make the charts, whose songs are never heard by anyone other than family and friends. What do you think the ratio of unheard bands to one-hit wonders is?

Hard to calculate, but I’ll bet it’s huge.

Consider all the factors that have to come together for a song to rise to the prominence of “99 Luftballons,” and then imagine how all the other bands vying for attention would give almost anything to have that single moment of success that Nena enjoyed.

Just one hit.

And then think of Linda Ronstadt or Bruce Springsteen and their numerous triumphs.

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The Best in Modern Sword & Sorcery: The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Volume 3

Sunday, January 12th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Volume 3-small The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Volume 3-back-small

Cover by Zoltan

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly has been published, like clockwork, every quarter since June 2009. And every eight issues, like clockwork, the editors of HFQ assemble a Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly volume, as a way to celebrate another milestone and promote their worthy magazine.

These books are top-notch examples of modern sword & sorcery (and I’m not just saying that because I was invited to write the introduction for Volume I.) In his review of Volume I, Fletcher Vredenburgh wrote:

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is… the most consistent forum for the best in contemporary swords & sorcery. Some may think I’m laying it on a little thick, but The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly: Volume 1, 2009-2011, a distillation of the mag’s first three years, should prove that I’m not.

Volume III has just arrived, with a dynamic cover by Zoltan and stories by Charles Gramlich, P. Djéli Clark, Adrian Simmons, David Farney, and many others — plus an introduction by Darrell Schweitzer, and original art for each story by Miguel Santos, Justin Pfiel, Garry McCluskey, Robert Zoltan, and others. It’s an all-around gorgeous package, and a fine reminder that Heroic Fantasy is still a vibrant genre in the 21st Century. Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Locus Award for Best Short Fiction: “Basilisk,” by Harlan Ellison

Saturday, January 11th, 2020 | Posted by Rich Horton

Deathbird Stories

Deathbird Stories (Dell, 1976). Cover by Diane Dillon and Leo Dillon

In this time period the Locus Award for fiction went to novels, novellas, and short fiction, presumably both novelettes and short stories. (I’m not sure where the exact boundary between short fiction and novella was set.) Perhaps appropriately, the winner of the 1973 award, Harlan Ellison’s “Basilisk” is perhaps 7,000 words long, quite close to the current border between “short story” and “novelette” for both the Nebula and Hugo awards.

Harlan Ellison, who died in 2018, aged 84, was one of the most famous SF writers of my lifetime, and one of the most controversial. He also was one of the most celebrated, having won an astonishing 18 Locus awards, and been named SFWA Grand Master, as well as winning 8 Hugos and 2 Nebulas, and too many other awards for me to count.

Speaking personally, Ellison was one of those writers who, for the most part, I could admire without quite loving. A few of his stories were special to me – “On the Downhill Side” and “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” occur off the top of my head – stories as different from each other as one might examine, but very effective. Much of the rest of his work struck me as impressive but overwrought, and often exchanging affect for effect, or choosing to impress instead of express. If you see what I mean. His technical skill, in the directions he chose, was astonishing, but the end results, at times, seemed a bit empty.

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The Place of Fantasy in Science Fiction: Dell Science Fiction Reviews

Friday, January 10th, 2020 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine January February 2020-small Analog Science Fiction and Fact January February 2020-small

My main apprehension in agreeing with John O’Neill to write regular reviews for Dell Magazines appears to have been realized. This bi-month, for stories published in these issues in particular, I don’t have much — if anything — to say. In regards to the overall discourse, however, I have a few thoughts, and those thoughts might drive this article out of the bounds of a “review” into that of an “essay.”

So here it is: a number of the stories put me in mind of the sometimes-adversarial relationship between the science fiction and fantasy genres.

This time around, my rumination on this topic might have begun with Norman Spinrad’s review of books for the final 2019 issue of Asimov’s. Spinrad has little sympathy for fantasy, particularly when it — in his view — masquerades itself as science fiction.

Therefore, when I read the first of a series of decade-specific reprints of “best” science fiction stories published in Analog, I was sensitive to a bit of dialectic about the science/fantasy disparity, one, admittedly, that is twenty years old now. Moreover, in this same issue of Analog, in the present, some mitigation is brought to this topic through Sarina Dorie’s satire “The Shocking Truth About the Scientific Method that Privatized Schools Don’t Want You to Know,” though it, too, has much to say about a post-Enlightenment ideology that appears to somehow have lost its ability to Reason.

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