The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Locus Award for Best Fan Artist: William Rotsler

Sunday, August 4th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

William Rotsler Locus 5-small

The Locus Awards have been presented since 1971. In that first year, there was an award for Best Fan Artist, and another for Best Fan Cartoonist. William Rotsler won the latter, and that was the only year of that award. The Best Fan Artist award continued through 1975 (since then there has only been a Locus Award for Best Artist.) Alicia Austin won the first Best Fan Artist Locus Award, and William Rotsler won in 1972 and 1973. Tim Kirk won the final two Locus Awards for Best Fan Artist.

William Rotsler was born in 1926 and died in 1997. He began doing illustrations for fan magazines by the mid ‘40s, and indeed he won a Retro Hugo in 1996 for Best Fan Artist for that work from 50 years before. (As with many Retro Hugos, I suspect he won that award more for his later notoriety than for any knowledge voters in 1996 had of that earlier work.) Rotsler was a highly regarded fan artist by the late 1960s at least, when he began consistently appearing on Hugo ballots. He won the Hugo for Best Fan Artist in 1975, 1979, 1996, and 1997.

Like many fans who first made their mark in fanzines, Rotsler later became a well-regarded professional. What’s interesting about Rotsler is that in fandom he was best known as an artist – but he made his mark as a professional as a writer. His best known work is probably Patron of the Arts, which was a Nebula, Hugo, and Locus nominee in its first appearance as a novelette in 1972. He expanded it to a novel in 1974. He also collaborated with Gregory Benford on the novel Shiva Descending (1980). His other fiction is less well remembered – much of it was work for hire, in such universes as Star Trek, Marvel, Planet of the Apes, and Tom Swift.

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A Taste of Uncanny

Monday, July 29th, 2019 | Posted by Caroline M. Yoachim

Uncanny Year 6

We here at Uncanny Magazine are in the middle of the Uncanny Magazine Year Six: Raise the Roof, Raise the Rates! Kickstarter, and what better time to have a snack break and take a look at the roles food plays in fiction?

Fictional food is powerful. It evokes senses beyond sight, resonates with our personal and cultural experiences, and can be comforting… or viscerally off-putting. I have drooled over the lemon cakes from Game of Thrones, and — like so many people — been deeply disappointed by the reality of Turkish Delight.

And now without further ado, here is a tasting menu of the ways Uncanny stories have made use of food!

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Ditmar Award for Best Fanzine: SF Commentary

Sunday, July 28th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

SF Commentary 26-small SF Commentary 31-small

The Ditmar Awards, for achievement in Australian Science Fiction (including Fandom), have been presented annually since 1969. In most years some variety of a Best Fanzine Award has been given.

SF Commentary, edited by Bruce Gillespie, won the 1973 Ditmar Award for Best Australian Fanzine. Overall, Gillespie has won 16 Ditmars, for Best Australian Fanzine, Best Fanzine Editor, and Best Fan Writer. He has also won 3 Atheling Award for Best Criticism. (The Atheling Awards are part of the Ditmars, I believe, so in reality Gillespie has won 19 Ditmars.) SF Commentary first won the Ditmar Award in 1972, and most recently just last year, in 2018.

SF Commentary began publication in 1969. 99 issues have appeared to date, with the latest having just been posted at It appeared very regularly through 1981, was revived from 1989 through 1993, again between 2000 and 2004, and one or two issues per year have appeared since 2011, these latest primarily in electronic form. In the early years John Foyster and Barry Gillam occasionally shared editorial duties with Gillespie, but since 1975 Bruce has been sole proprietor.

I have been reading issues of SF Commentary in this latest (post 2011) series regularly, and I have corresponded regularly with Bruce Gillespie in various fora since for the past 15 years. Bruce is intensely interested in SF and in its literary ambitions, and his magazine has long reflected that. SF Commentary issues are huge, and stuffed with long critical articles and reviews.

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A Letter from the Mighty Skull

Monday, July 22nd, 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

There’s been lots of buzz about the Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter here in the Black Gate offices. The first two issues — packed with sword & sorcery stories by James Enge, John C. Hocking, Chris Willrich, Howard Andrew Jones, C.L. Werner, James Stoddard, and Violette Malan — were a huge hit both with our staff and our readers. The brand new campaign to fund the third and fourth issues of the magazine wraps up this week, and it’s already been a huge success, more than quadrupling the stated goal of $7,500. There’s still time to pledge (and get the next two issues at a great price in the process).

Rumors were going around the office that if, using the usual arcane methods, you posed a question to the mighty Magician’s Skull before the campaign ended on Thursday, he would deign to answer (or perhaps destroy you — the specifics were lacking). You don’t get an opportunity to consult an ancient and powerful demigod like the Skull often, so I decided to chance it. It took longer than I thought to find a one-eyed toad, tie a note around his neck, and lower him into that well at midnight, but it paid off. This morning a pair of vultures delivered a parchment smelling of sulphur to my back window. Here’s what was scribbled on it.


Dare you ask why you should support my magazine? If you crave the finest of all fiction, which is sword-and-sorcery, then you should be well pleased by what I have wrought!

Last year I launched two glorious issues overflowing with thrilling adventures in time-lost lands. Now I have decreed that the magazine is to continue! My newest Kickstarter extends my vision for four more issues, and beyond! There was rejoicing in the streets at this announcement, and the Kickstarter funded upon its first day!

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Hither Came Conan: Gabe Dybing on “The People of the Black Circle”

Monday, July 22nd, 2019 | Posted by Gabe Dybing


Fellow Black Gater Gabe Dybing loaded his entry directly into the website and it fell off my radar. My fault. HERE is the final entry in our Hither Came Conan series, as he tackles “The People of the Black Circle,” which I’ve always felt, story-wise, was one of REH’s more unique Conan tales. Read on! 

Robert E. Howard’s novella “The People of the Black Circle,” first published in the September, October and November 1934 issues of Weird Tales, contains all of the elements that, in retrospect, entail an ultimate Conan tale. As an exemplar of what was to become known as the Sword & Sorcery subgenre of fantasy literature, “Black Circle” exhibits Conan as a swordsmen at the height of his career in brigandry: the tale commences with Conan negotiating for the release of seven of his hillmen chieftains who are being held by the Devi of Vendhya for ransom or execution.

But Conan has not lost any of his more youthful thiefly abilities; his introduction in this story has him climbing through a window after sneaking over a barbican and single-handedly dispatching of the guards there. The “sorcery” portion of the Sword & Sorcery subgenre is supplied here by not just one but by an entire Circle of magic-users. Most notable of these are Khemsa (who even is a perspective character!) and the Master of Yimsha, who ultimately is the chief adversary of the novella. To further exemplify the Sword & Sorcery genre, the narrative contains ample doses of the weird—monstrous antagonists, an adventure locale worthy of a Dungeons & Dragons module, and even one secret passage! But that’s not all!

Other Conan stories contain these things, too, but this story is the very best Conan story because it has what no other does — the Devi of Vendhya. “Black Circle” exhibits all the things that we love about Conan, but, unlike any other, it also details the making of a lover and a heroine to complement Conan in every way.

What? Isn’t that heroine supposed to be Red Sonja (to confuse the Conan “canon”) or one of Conan’s two great “loves” (Belit or Zenobia)? Perhaps, perhaps not. Conan had many women throughout his varied careers, and if he never came to actually “love” Yasmina, the Devi of Vendhya, then he at least recognized in her, at the end of this tale, all of the qualities that he most valued in a woman. A major aspect of “Black Circle” is just who Conan is at this time of his life and what characteristics could counterbalance this hero as a satisfying lover, if not a full mate. Through her experiences in this tale, Yasmina transforms — at least in Conan’s eyes — from an artificial and unattainable Devi into a true “elemental” woman of passion and desire.

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John DeNardo’s Adventures in Short Fiction

Sunday, July 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dark Issue 49-small Lightspeed June 2019-small Wastelands The New Apocalypse John Joseph Adams-small

Last month I checked in with John DeNardo, the most well-informed man in science fiction, to get his take on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in June. I posted a brief summary on June 26, and John dropped by to leave the following in the Comments:

Oh, and speaking of short fiction, my article on cool, recent short fiction reads is now up, too.

Adventures in Short Fiction: Supernatural Detectives, Civil War Airships, Harvesting the Dead, and Reality Shows with Guns.

It’s tough to resist a resist an article with a title like that. (Go ahead and try.) When you’re too busy to keep up with the flood of new novels (and virtually all of us are, unless your name is John DeNardo), but you want keep tabs on what’s going on, short fiction will keep you up-to-date on who’s doing really innovate and exciting work.

Where can you find the best genre short fiction these days? John recommends several online publications, including Sean Wallace’s magazine of horror and dark fantasy, The Dark, John Joseph Adams’ SF and fantasy magazine Lightspeed, and Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, plus recent anthologies such as Ken Liu’s Broken Stars, Paula Guran’s Mythic Journeys: Retold Myths and Legends, and Wastelands: The New Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams. Here’s some excerpts from John’s comments.

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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.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Saturday, July 13th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Brian Boyle

Cover by Brian Boyle

Cover by Bruce Pennington

Cover by Bruce Pennington

Cover by Hal Siegel

Cover by Hal Siegel

The Seiun Awards are often described as the “Japanese Hugo Awards” since they are voted on by the membership of annual Japanese Science Fiction Convention. This description almost invariably is followed up by pointing out that Seiun is Japanese for Nebula. A Seiun Award for Best Foreign Novel and Best Foreign Short Fiction has been presented since 1970, although in 1980, the year being explored in this series, no Short Fiction Seiun was awarded. The first Seiun Award for Best Novel was presented to J.G. Ballard’s The Crystal World (originally published in 1966) and the first award for Short Fiction was presented to Thomas M. Disch for “The Squirrel Cage,” published in the same year. Because the awards are presented for works in translation, there is generally a lag of a few years from first publication. For many years, the Seiun Award foreign categories were presented at Worldcon as part of the Hugo Award ceremony.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama was first published in 1973 and by the time it was translated into Japanese, it had won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the BSFA Award. In a Locus Poll in 1975, it was ranked the 20th best novel in science fiction history.

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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.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “The Last Defender of Camelot,” by Roger Zelazny

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Paul Alexander

Cover by Paul Alexander

Cover by Alicia Austin

Cover by Alicia Austin

Cover by Lela Dowling

Cover by Lela Dowling

The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. Presented variously for “Short Fiction” and “Short Story,” this award was given out each year the Balrogs were presented.

Roger Zelazny’s “The Last Defender of Camelot” places an eternal Sir Lancelot in the modern era, dealing with such enemies as street muggers. Unsure of why he has a long life, he wanders the globe aimlessly, adapting to the new world while remembering the glory that was Camelot and searching for the Holy Grail. A (possibly) chance meeting with a fortune teller who turns out to be an equally long-lived Morgana LeFay informs him that he will never succeed in finding the Holy Grail, but instead the reason for his long life is that Merlin is about to awaken from his millennia long sleep and will need Lancelot to provide him with a guide to this future world.

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