When We Catch It, Let’s Chase It Again: An Interview with Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Author Jim Breyfogle

Saturday, March 28th, 2020 | Posted by P. Alexander

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Cover Art by Anton Oxenuk

Cirsova Publishing has been putting out its flagship magazine focusing on action, adventure, and romance in science fiction and fantasy since 2016. Last year Cirsova began branching out, with the two-author anthology, Duel Visions by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen, their fully illustrated 70th Anniversary Edition of Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark Planet Stories [which we covered at Black Gate last year], and the 35th Anniversary Edition of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.

Cirsova’s newest upcoming release is an anthology of Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose & Meerkat adventures, lavishly illustrated by up-and-coming artist DarkFilly. Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 1: Pursuit Without Asking collects all of the stories published in the pages of Cirsova Magazine through 2019.

Mangos is a bit of a bravo, ready to knock a few heads for some coin. Kat is a mysterious wanderer with more than her share of street-smarts and a head for ancient history. Together, the Mongoose and the Meerkat are a pair of rogues looking to keep their bellies and wine skins filled. Fitting in a comfy mid-point somewhere between Slayers and Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser, this duo is sure to appeal to fans of classic Sword & Sorcery.

We had a chance to talk with Mongoose & Meerkat author Jim Breyfogle about this thrilling new project.

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Reading in Transit

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Locus March 2020

I’m currently in Washington Dulles airport, waiting for my connecting flight back to Chicago. I flew to Tampa on Friday to help my parents, who snowbird in Florida every winter, to pack up and return to Canada a month early. They weren’t happy about it, but given the rate COVID-19 is upending things around the globe, they didn’t have much choice.

Mission Accomplished. But because of flight cancellations, I’m stuck in Dulles with an 11-hour layover before I can get home. Thank God for Locus magazine, which I grabbed on my way out the door on Friday. As usual, the March 2020 issue is packed with reviews, columns, photos and articles of keen interest to science fiction and fantasy readers. There’s even an excerpt from Kit Rocha’s upcoming Tor novel Deal With the Devil. But the feature that I found most fascinating was the interview with Nina Allen, author of The Rift and The Dollmaker. She talks about Doctor Who, Vladimir Nabokov, and Graham Joyce, and delivers perhaps the most on-point description of writing a novel I’ve ever read:

That’s what writing should entail — the fear and the terror and the joy of knowing that this problem is solvable, and there is only one person who can solve it, and it’s me…. I am in competition primarily with myself, because other writers’ talent should be nothing but a joy. When I see writers doing well and being better than me, that’s a joy and a goad and a challenge — not in any way negative. It’s wonderful. Nothing pleases me more than seeing people write brilliantly.

The March 2020 issue of Locus is still available at finer bookstores, and on the Locus website. Individual copies are $8.99. If you haven’t tried the magazine yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Check it out.


Stories That Work: “The Valley of the Speaking Flames” by B. Pladek, and “Where a Good Town May Take Us” by Andi C. Buchanan, in Abyss & Apex

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 | Posted by James Van Pelt

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Eccentric stories stick with me better than classifiable ones. Robert Heinlein’s great time travel piece, “All You Zombies,” for example, was eccentric within the category of time travel stories, so much so that it felt like an outlier. It didn’t fit. Even now, where time travel as a premise is way more prevalent, “All You Zombies” startles.

I like teaching that story to high schoolers. It’s a great in-class science fiction IQ piece. I have them read it silently. The kids who can do the sideways thinking that the best science fiction asks of us all gasp at the same place in the story (really! They react physically). They want to turn around in their seats to talk to a neighbor. “Do you get it?” they ask. “What a mind trip!”

Here’s a one-question quiz to test whether a first time reader of “All You Zombies” understood the story: What do the bartender, the unwed mother, the city slicker and Jane have in common?

The eccentric stuff is better. Harlan Ellison’s “Croatoan,” Connie Willis’s Lincoln’s Dreams, Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag,” Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and just about anything by Howard Waldrop are hard to lump in with their peers.

So, when I want a straight dose of the eccentric, the memorable, I often turn to a small-press magazine, the Hugo finalist Abyss & Apex, edited by Wendy S. Delmater.

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Best of the Small Magazines: The Digest Enthusiast #11, Pulp Modern: Tech Noir, and Weird Fiction Review #9

Saturday, February 29th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Digest Enthusiast 11-small Pulp Modern Tech Noir-small Weird Fiction Review 9a

Covers by Rick McCollum, Ran Scott, and Colin Nitta

One of the great pleasures of the science fiction and fantasy genre is the fine selection of small magazines, covering a wide range of specialty interests. It’s only the sheer size of SFF fandom that allows these magazines to exist, and for like-minded communities to form around them. Here’s a few of my recent favorites.

The Digest Enthusiast was founded by Arkay Olgar in 2014, and has been published every six months by Larque Press since. It’s now edited by Richard Krauss, who does a fine job, and in fact issues have been getting bigger and more ambitious every year. Book Eleven, cover dated January 2020, is a whopping 159 pages in full color, and they look gorgeous.

The Digest Enthusiast is dedicated to the world of 20th Century digest magazines, and this issue includes a lengthy feature on Astounding by Ward Smith, Black Gate blogger Steve Carper looks at the time when the cover to Journey to Murder was accidentally overprinted on Terror by Twilight in 1945, and Richard Krauss pens a 32-page retropsective and checklist of one of the best known pulps editors in the 1930s and 1940s, a man who edited more than 70 publications and bought two millions words a month, in “Leo Margulies: Giant of the Digests.” The issue also contains interviews with writer and artist Janice Law, writer Paul D. Marks, and Manhunt editor Jeff Vorzimmer, plus fiction by Joe Wehrle, Vince Nowell, Sr., and John Kuharik.

The Digest Enthusiast interiors, rich with high-detail scans of magazine covers on nearly every page, greatly benefit from the full-color treatment. Here’s a few samples.

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Write Your Legislators: Dell Science Fiction Reviews

Friday, February 28th, 2020 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

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Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead!

My copies of Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog Science Fact & Science Fiction arrived in the mail on the same day. Consequently, I wondered what to read first. I perceived that Black Gate’s very own Derek Kunsken had something in Asimov’s, but he also did in Analog. In Analog, his contribution was much longer, a serial, the beginning of a novel.

For whatever reason, or none, I began with Asimov’s. I noticed that the topic of the guest editorial serendipitously is what I myself wrote about last review: the sometimes tense relationship between science fiction and fantasy (though David D. Levine’s “Thoughts on a Definition of Science Fiction” deemphasizes this tension while addressing it, briefly, at the very end of the article). It’s well worth reading. In short, Levine arrestingly says that (to compress the entire discussion) “Technology [science fiction] depends on what you have; magic [fantasy] depends on who you are.” I’ve never before encountered the differences between the two genres explained in quite this way.

I’d say that there were two standout stories in this Asimov’s. Since I’m still fairly new to reviewing these, I should remind readers that my callouts are contingent on my idiosyncratic interests and sensibilities. If I were to characterize what science fiction stories most often excite me, I’d settle on those that (in addition to all of the qualities that make for all good writing, fictional or otherwise) contain philosophical or metaphysical concepts that startle my presumptions.

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Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Good News in Three Acts

Friday, February 21st, 2020 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

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Act I — A Year In Review

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly punches well above its weight in the Tangent Online 2019 Recommended Reading List with SEVEN stories. Don’t want to search through their list? I got ya!

Then, Stars” by Michael Meyerhofer (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #41, 8/19)
Echo of the Siren” by Richard Zwicker (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #42, 11/19)
A Stone’s Throw” by Howard Andrew Jones, (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
Trail of Ashes” by Caleb Williams (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
The Song of Black Mountain” by Darrell Schweitzer (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
Demons from the Deep” by Adrian Cole (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
The Gatekeeper” by Marlane Quade Cook (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #39, 2/19)

Now, some of you with good memories may be saying to yourself “Well sure, Simmons, #40 was the special 10-year anniversary issue. You brought in big guns and it is no surprise that the likes of Howard Andrew Jones, or Darrell Schweitzer, or Adrian Cole should end up on the recommended list.” First off, you’re welcome. Secondly, hats off to Caleb Williams who not only stood in that august company, but stood out!

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Stories That Work: “Log Entry” by Kevin J. Anderson, and “Sweetly the Dragon Dreams” by David Farland

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 | Posted by James Van Pelt

The War of the Worlds 1953 poster-small When Worlds Collide poster-small This Island Earth poster-small

Space-based science fiction drew me into reading hard when I started. The fact that my dad was an aeronautical engineer who worked at Martin Marietta, designing the first rockets in America’s space program, probably helped. Copies of Sky and Telescope were scattered about the house, and Dad’s amateur astronomy often became a part of dinner conversation. He ground his own mirror for a reflecting telescope he built and mounted in the backyard, and several times he invited my class at the elementary school over for hot chocolate and star gazing.

Tom Corbett, Robert Heinlein’s Space Cadet, and E.E. Doc Smith’s Skylark of Space started my fascination with space travel. When I was young I thought “space fiction” and “science fiction” were interchangeable terms. Hooray for Buck Rogers and Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide, and, especially, This Island Earth.

However, science fiction contains way more than space-based stories even as it continues to tell them in film in Star Wars, The Expanse, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and others.

Still, what is a reader to do when looking for short, space-based science fiction? Analog almost always features a space story or two, as do the other major magazines. But what if you want to mainline the stuff? What if you just want to strap into a ship and blast to the stars?

What if you want to feed your inner twelve-year-old space jockey?

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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

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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

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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.


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