July/August Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Now on Sale

Sunday, July 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July August 2019-small Black Gate 8-small

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (July/August 2019) and Black Gate 8 (Summer 2005). Covers by Mondolithic Studios

One of the great pleasures of publishing a print magazine like Black Gate — which we did for fifteen awesome issues, from 2000 until 2011 — is discovering new writers, like James Enge, Derek Kunsken, Sarah Avery, Todd McAulty, Harry Connolly, and many others. Of course, writers aren’t the only things you discover. We published a lot of artists in the early stages of their careers as well, folks like Charles Keegan, Jim Pavelec, Chuck Lukacs, Chris Pepper, and others.

In the years since we retired the print mag, it’s been marvelous to see those authors and artists go on to scale greater and greater heights. So I was delighted to open an email from publisher Gordon Van Gelder last month, with a sneak peek of the cover of the July/August cover of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (above left), and immediately recognize the brilliant work of Kenn Brown and Chris Wren, who together are Mondolithic Studios.

Kenn and Mondolithic did the cover for Black Gate 8 way back in the summer of 2005 (above right). It was one of the most creative and popular of our early covers, and I was thrilled to be able to feature it. The cover of July/August F&SF is ever more awesome, with its wonderfully retro-robots rampaging across a grisly post-apocalyptic cityscape. Fittingly, this is the “Robots Invade” issue, with Robot War tales by Alex Irvine and Cassandra Khaw, plus stories by Dominica Phetteplace, Molly Gloss, Albert E. Cowdrey, Eliza Rose, and many more.

Here’s the highlights of Kevin P Hallett’s review at Tangent Online.

Read More »


Support the Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter!

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3-small Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3 contents-small

Cover by Sanjulian

Great news, adventure fans! The magazine Tales from the Magician’s Skull — published by Goodman Games and edited by our very own Howard Andrew Jones — has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the 3rd and 4th issues. The first two were a huge hit with Black Gate readers, a great many of whom signed on to the first Kickstarter. The contributor list for issue #3 is packed with names very familiar to our readers, like James Enge, John C. Hocking, Violette Malan, Sarah Newton, and Joseph A. McCullough. The new campaign has already blown away expectations, but the creators are still trying to reach new readers. Here’s Howard:

The launch of the next issues of our fantasy magazine has gone great — our Kickstarter funded the first day! But SURELY there are more than 400 people who want to sign on for a bi-annual subscription to a magazine chock full of swashbuckling fantasy adventure tales! We bring high octane sword-and-sorcery!

Help me spread the word to find more readers, and direct them to the Kickstarter, where they can buy-in at reduced cost!

We’re the home of James Enge’s Morlock the Maker and the action packed tales of John C. Hocking! We print famed Warhammer fantasy authors William King, Nathan Long, and C.L. Werner! We feature the ongoing adventures of Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno! Not to mention tales from talents like Dave Gross, Chris Wilrich, James Stoddard, Setsu Uzume, and many more!

And did I mention the great artwork and old school pulp feel that permeates the entire magazine?

Swing by and take a look, and don’t miss the Kickstarter updates penned by the Skull himself!

Support the new campaign here, and help bring this exciting new project to life. If you won’t do it for me, do it for the Skull.

Read More »


Hither Came Conan: Patrice Louinet on “Queen of the Black Coast”

Monday, July 8th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_QueenWTCoverEDITEDRobert E. Howard wrote twenty-one tales of Conan, the mighty-thewed Cimmerian. And with today’s entry from Patrice Louinet, Hither Came Conan has looked at all of them: plus, we tossed in “Wolves Beyond the Border” as a bonus! We’ll wrap things up with a summary post. But read on as we close out our examination of the Conan Canon with  story that is generally considered to be in the top two or three – when it’s not ranked number one.

Robert E. Howard’s best Conan tale? Well, it’s a toss between “Beyond the Black River” and “Red Nails,” with a definite leaning for the latter. No way I can say otherwise: I have repeated this over and over, and it’s in print in many places.

And here I am today having to explain why “Queen of the Black Coast” is the best of the Conan tales. Had I been allotted “Vale of the Lost Women,” you would have known I was lying to you, but “Queen”? Luckily for me, “Queen of the Black Coast” is obviously one of the best Conan tales (general consensus), and it also happens to be one of my personal favorites. It contains some very memorable scenes – Conan and Bêlit’s discussion of the afterlife and the gods, most noteworthily – and it addresses in a powerful manner Howard’s theme of the cycle of civilizations:

Conan’s flight from the city to live a barbaric life of piracy only to sail right into the poisonous river that leads to the heart of darkness and the last degenerate survivor of a once-powerful civilization. Powerful stuff in a story that is replete with exquisite – if dark – imagery, and a tragic ending that no one can ever forget. So yes, easily one of the best Conan stories. But not “the best.”

I have been mulling this problem for a while now, and of course, I had the answer all along: “Queen of the Black Coast” is the best Conan tale to read if you have never read any before. In other words, it is the perfect story to discover the character, the Hyborian setting, and of course Howard’s talent.

One of the numerous problems that have plagued the perception of the Cimmerian by the general public is this idea that the tales represent as many steps in Conan’s so-called “biography,” though nothing in the series supports that notion. So, how do you understand a character and his motivations if you have no real biographical background? Well, think James Bond or Dirty Harry and read on.

Read More »


Alien Artifacts, Cosmic Mystery, and an Impossible Murder Weapon: July/August Print Magazines

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction July August 2019-small Analog Science Fiction and Fact July August 2019-small Alfred Hitchcock 's Mystery Magazine July August 2019-small

Nick Wolven and Leah Cypess both have stories in Asimov’s SF and Analog this month, which is quite an accomplishment. Chris Willrich, whom BG readers will remember from his story “The Lions of Karthagar” in Black Gate 15, has a short story in Asimov’s, with the intriguing title “Fragments from the Library of Cygnus X-1.”

Asimov’s also manages to cram two long novellas in the July/August double issue, by Suzanne Palmer and Tegan Moore, alongside fiction by Ian McHugh, Harry Turtledove, Dominica Phetteplace, Bruce Boston, and others. Analog has an even more impressive line up, with tales from Greg Egan, Paul Di Filippo, Catherine Wells, Joe M. McDermott, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Vester, Buzz Dixon, and others.

And although I don’t usually buy mystery magazines, I added Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to the pile at the checkout counter this month, mostly because of the cover. I’ll let you know what I think.

All three are published by Dell Magazines. As usual, all have detailed summaries at their respective websites. Here they are.

Read More »


Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1954: A Retro-Review

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Galaxy August 1954-small Galaxy August 1954-back-small

Cover by René Vidmer

The cover of the August, 1954 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction is “Hunting on Aldebaran IV” by René Vidmer. This was Vidmer’s only cover art for Galaxy. Although Vidmer had cover art on a few other magazines, the majority of his contributions were interior artwork. His art was published between 1953 and 1957 — a very brief career, which remains a mystery to me. I couldn’t find any personal information on him, unfortunately.

“Party of the Two Parts” by William Tenn — An intelligent villain from a distant planet steals a spaceship to evade capture. He lands on Earth, knowing he can’t be extradited by the Galactic Patrol unless he commits a crime against Earth. And when he does attempt a crime, it’s uncertain if it’s only a crime to his species or to humanity, leaving the Galactic Patrol in a conundrum.

Most of the characters within the story aren’t human, but they’re easy to relate to. I liked that Tenn provided part of the ending up front to set the story in place without giving away the entire plot.

Read More »


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Heavy Metal

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

January 1979 issue

January 1979 issue

May 1979 issue

May 1979 issue

July 1979 issue

July 1979 issue

In 1972, the British Fantasy Society began giving out the August Derleth Fantasy Awards for best novel as voted on by their members. In 1973, they began presenting additional British Fantasy Awards in 4 categories, including Best Comic. The first four years, that award was won by Roy Thomas and John Buscema for Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan. The award was only presented until 1980, but in 2010 a new Best Graphic Novel award was introduced. A re-alignment in 2012 means the awards are now selected by a jury rather than the full membership of the British Fantasy Society. In 1980, the awards were presented at Fantasycon VI in Birmingham.

Heavy Metal was founded in 1977 based on and licensing materials from the French magazine Métal Hurlant.  Early issues used translations of the French magazine’s stories, which helped keep the cost down and allowed the publisher, Leonard Mogel, to print the graphic stories on glossy pages, often with full color.  From 1977 through 1986, the magazine was published on a monthly schedule.

Read More »


Vintage Treasures: The Weird Tales Anthologies

Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Tales Peter Haining-small More Weird Tales Peter Haining-small

Weird Tales and More Weird Tales (Sphere, 1978). Covers by Les Edwards

Weird Tales is unquestionably the most storied and respected American fantasy magazine. It first appeared in March 1923, and published its last issue in Spring 2014 — a nearly 91-year run. That’s impressive by any standard.

Of course, Weird Tales isn’t measured purely by its longevity. The three greatest pulp fantasy writers — Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith — did their most important work in its pages, and it also published classic fiction by Edmond Hamilton, C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, Algernon Blackwood, E. Hoffmann Price, Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, Seabury Quinn, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Eric Frank Russell, Fredric Brown, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Theodore Sturgeon, and hundreds of others. It remains the most collectible and desirable fantasy pulp, and individual issues sell for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars.

There have been numerous anthologies and collections gathering much of the best work from Weird Tales over the years. Most were produced by Arkham House, the publishing house founded in 1939 by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei to preserve the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Arkham mined Weird Tales for decades, issuing many hardcover volumes, and in the process preserved the work of many fine writers. Many of their reprints are now highly collectible on their own, which doesn’t help those of us looking for an inexpensive introduction to the glories of Weird Tales.

Fortunately for folks like you and me, there are a number of affordable and highly readable books out there that can do the job. Here’s a dozen to get you started.

Read More »


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” by George R. R. Martin

Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Peter Caras

Cover by Peter Caras

The Hugo Award was first presented at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention (sometimes called Philcon II), held in Philadelphia from September 5-7, 1953. No short fiction awards were presented the first year. In 1955, the first award for Best Short Fiction, not yet known as a Hugo Award, was given to Eric Frank Russell’s “Allamagoosa.” The Short Story award has been presented annually since its introduction in 1955 with the exception of 1957. The Hugo Awards are nominated and voted on by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention. Martin won two Hugo Awards in 1980, for “The Way of Cross and Dragon” in the Short Story Category and “Sandkings” in the Novelette category. He had previously won a Hugo for his novella “A Song for Lya” in 1975 and would win a second novella award for “Blood of the Dragon” as well as a Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form Hugo for season 1 of Game of Thrones. The only fiction category in which he has not yet won a Hugo is the Best Novel category. In 1980, the Hugo Award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31.

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Short Story/Short Fiction Award was one of the inaugural awards, when it was won by Harlan Ellison for “The Region Between.” Ellison won the award 6 times in its first 9 years. In 1980, George R. R. Martin won the tenth annual award for “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” which appeared in Omni magazine. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

Read More »


Hither Came Conan: The Khoraja Saga

Monday, May 27th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_BlackColossusWTInterior1EDITEDDeuce Richardson will be looking into “Black Colossus” for Hither Came Conan. I wrote an essay last year for my friend James Schmidt’s Mighty Thor JR’s blog, looking at the expanded saga of the gem from that story. Surprisingly, it made the Preliminary List for the Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards! I’ve since read more Conan pastiches involving Khorajan affairs, and I expanded the original essay. So, here’s the updated version. My thanks to James for letting me appear over at his blog.

Robert E. Howard was a master worldbuilder, as Jeffery Shanks wrote about over at Black Gate for the Discovering Robert E. Howard series. The history of Hyboria is sprinkled throughout his Conan tales, creating a vast backdrop, in both time and place. Conan’s own Cimmeria, Set-worshipping Stygia, the jungles of the Picts, mighty Aquilonia, fallen Acheron: it’s really amazing the depth and breadth that Howard created in the short story format (there was one novel, Hour of the Dragon, which drew on existing short stories – an approach used by Raymond Chandler a few years later: he called it ‘repurposing.’)

Khoraja is a small nation southeast of Koth. It isn’t one of the great countries of Hyboria, but it sat front and center for “The Black Colossus.” “Colossus” was the fourth published story to feature the Cimmerian, and one of five to find its way to print in Weird Tales in 1933. Editor Farnsworth Wright had rejected two others (“The Frost Giant’s Daughter” and “The God in the Bowl“) that would have added to that total. But before Conan enters the story in Khoraja, we get a little history from Howard.

Shevatas the thief is exploring the ruins of Kutchemes, once a great city and part of Stygia when its borders extended far beyond their present state (‘present’ in the Conan stories, that is…). Prior to Shevatas actually doing anything, we get this from Howard:

Eastward, Shevatas knew, the desert shaded into steppes stretching to the Hyrkanian kingdom of Turan, rising in barbaric splendor on the shores of the great inland sea. A week’s ride northward the desert ran into a tangle of barren hills, beyond which lay the fertile uplands of Koth, the southernmost realm of the Hyborian races. Westward the desert merged into the meadowlands of Shem, which stretched away to the ocean.

Read More »


The Best of HFQ Volume III Now Funding on Kickstarter

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Kickstarter

Adrian Simmons, one of the editorial masterminds at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (HFQ) alerted me that they’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign for the third volume of The Best of HFQ. The first two books were very warmly received by Black Gate readers, and this one looks like it could be the best yet. Here’s Adrian with all the deets.

HFQ has been bringing great S&S and adventure fiction to the world for ten years, and we have distilled our best tales and poems from years 5-6 for our third Best-of anthology. In those two years we published work by Nebula winner P. Djéli Clark, brought the work of Cullen Groves to the world, and introduced Eric Atkisson’s Comanche adventurer Crazy Snake. As with Best-of #2, we have fired up a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs, and we’ve already hit 40% of our goal!

Need a reminder about the quality of our work from the time? Black Gate readers may remember the glowing reviews of Fletcher Vredenburgh for Issue #22 and Issue #23.

I almost never back Kickstarter campaigns, but I happily made an exception in this case. Read our thoughts on Volume I here, Volume II here, and support a worthy cause — and one of the best adventure fantasy magazines on the market in the process — right here.


  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2019 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.