New Treasures: Souldrifter by Garrett Calcaterra

Monday, October 12th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Souldrifter-small2Garrett Calcaterra’s most recent posts for us were “Fantasy Clichés Done Right and “Can SF Save the World From Climate Change?” In addition to investigative reporting, he also dabbles in writing fantasy novels. Dreamwielder, the opening novel in his Dreamwielder Chronicles, is a terrific sword & sorcery adventure, and has been widely acclaimed. James P. Blaylock called it “fast-paced, colorful, and richly detailed… My kind of book,” and Tim Powers proclaimed it a “good solid fantasy adventure.” Souldrifter, the long-anticipated second volume in the series, finally went on sale last month.

In the shadow of Emperor Guderian’s fallen empire, young Queen Makarria finds her throne ― and her life ― in grave danger. The Old World Republic has come, demanding that Queen Makarria bring order to the struggling Five Kingdoms by forming a new empire, one she would rule as the Old World’s puppet. When Makarria refuses them, the Old World threatens war and unleashes a nefarious spy to sow discord in her court. Before she knows it, Makarria’s budding romance with Prince Caile has been exploited by the spy, and Makarria finds herself embroiled in a complex game of power and lies in which she can trust no one.

Betrayed and lost, Makarria is forced to shed all pride and discover the true nature of her power as a dreamwielder in order to recreate herself and face the sprawling threat that is the Old World Empire.

Souldrifter was published by Diversion Publishing on September 29, 2015. It is 298 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 for the digital edition. Try a sample chapter right here at Black Gate.

New Treasures: The Silent End by Samuel Sattin

Saturday, October 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

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Samuel Sattin’s first novel, League of Somebodies, was labeled “One of the most important novels of 2013” by Pop Matters. His second novel, The Silent End, has been called “a young adult novel that’s right over the plate for pop culture fans” by Bleeding Cool. It’s not hard to see why. This is the kind of book that immediately snares your attention. Here’s the first sentence of the book description:

In a mist-covered town in the Pacific Northwest, three teenagers find themselves pitted against an unearthly menace that dwells beneath the foundations of their high school…

So far the reviews have been terrific. Here’s Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver and Big Machine:

Imagine if Halloween had been written by The Kids in The Hall instead of John Carpenter and you start to understand the wild, mesmerizing mash up that is The Silent End. Monsters and monstrous fathers, missing mothers and young love — somehow all of this and much more fits wonderfully into this book. It manages to be scary and sweet and very, very fine. Sam Sattin is a talent and this novel is a joy.

The Silent End was published by Ragnarok Publications on August 9, 2015. It 506 pages, priced at $20.95 in hardcover and $4.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by M.S. Corley. Read the first chapter at Comic Vine.

New Treasures: Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars by Howard Andrew Jones

Friday, October 9th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Beyond the Pool of Stars-smallHere at the Chicago rooftop headquarters of Black Gate, one of the most anticipated books of the fall is Howard Andrew Jones’ third Pathfinder Tales novel, Beyond the Pool of Stars. It was finally released this week.

Beyond the Pool of Stars is a fantastical adventure of deep-water danger and unlikely alliances set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It follows Plague of Shadows and Stalking the Beast, but is a completely standalone adventure.

Mirian Raas comes from a long line of salvagers, adventurers who use magic to dive for sunken ships off the coast of tropical Sargava. When her father dies, Mirian has to take over his last job: a dangerous expedition into deep jungle pools, helping a tribe of lizardfolk reclaim the lost treasures of their people. Yet this isn’t any ordinary job, as the same colonial government that looks down on Mirian for her half-native heritage has an interest in the treasure, and the survival of the entire nation may depend on the outcome…

It also contains a free 12-page excerpt from Pathfinder Tales: Bloodhound by F. Wesley Schneider, on sale in December.

Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars was published by Tor Books on October 6, 2015. It is 347 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Tyler Jacobson (see the complete wraparound art here). Read more at Howard’s website.

Celebrating the Arrival of Matthew David Surridge’s Reading Strange Matters: Collected Reviews, Vol I

Thursday, October 8th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Reading Strange Matters-smallMatthew David Surridge became a blogger here in June 2010, after his acclaimed story “The Word of Azrael” appeared in Black Gate 14. His very first post was “The Art of Storytelling and The Temple of Elemental Evil,” a look at how unpredictable stories spontaneously arise out of D&D sessions, using his own experience with Gary Gygax’s classic adventure as an example.

Since then he’s published 259 articles with us, and become one of our most respected and cherished writers. He was nominated for a Hugo Award this year (and his post declining the nomination, “A Detailed Explanation,” became the most-read article in Black Gate‘s history.)

Matthew’s blog posts are very different from what we normally do here. We cover a lot of ground at the site — keeping you up-to-date on the newest fantasy releases, reminding you of overlooked vintage paperbacks, informing you when magazines go on sale, and the like. By their nature, most of those articles are short and to-the-point. In contrast, Matthew’s pieces dive deep into carefully-selected subjects, exploring some of the best (and most overlooked) novels and writers in the field, and engaging them with depth and passion.

“I think I do good work,” one of his fellow bloggers confided in me years ago, “but Matthew raises blogging to a fine art.”

So I was delighted to see the release this week of the first collection of Matthew’s Black Gate columns, Reading Strange Matters: Collected Reviews, Vol I, from Grace & Victory Publications. It collects 23 of his best book reviews, plus one brand new piece, on Nalo Hopkinson’s Skin Folk.

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Future Treasures: King of Shards by Matthew Kressel

Thursday, October 8th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

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Matthew Kressel has had an impressive career over the past decade. He started publishing fiction in his own magazine, Sybil’s Garage, and quickly branched out to Electric Velocipede, Interzone, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. He received his first Nebula Nomination for “The Sounds of Old Earth” in 2013, and his second for “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” earlier this year. He has also been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, for editing Sybil’s Garage.

King of Shards is his debut novel. It will be published by Arche Press, a quality small press who this year have also produced Marguerite Reed’s Archangel, and The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey. It is the first novel in The Worldmender Trilogy, and N.K. Jemisin called it “A surreal and exotic adventure in a unique mythological setting. Scary, exhilarating fun!” It follows Daniel Fisher, abducted on his wedding day by the demon king, Ashmedai, who been supplanted by the demon Mashit. Daniel and Ashmedai must work together to stop Mashit, before she destroys all of existence.

King of Shards will be published by Arche Press on October 13, 2015. It is 320 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback. The striking cover is by Leon Tukker (click the image above for a bigger version). Read more at Matthew’s website.

New Treasures: Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Last Song Before Night-smallIt’s always a delight to see a debut fantasy writer make a profound splash on the industry. Ilana C. Myer’s first fantasy novel, Last Song Before Night, hit shelves on September 29, and it’s already collected a hat-full of rave reviews. BG blogger Alex Bledsoe said:

I was totally drawn in to Last Song Before Night… the story is as grand as a Wagner opera.

David Mack said:

It’s one of the most impressive debut novels I’ve ever read; I am in awe.

And in a feature review, NPR said:

Myers’ depiction of Tamryllin and the land it inhabits is shadowy and lush, a tapestry of gossamer wonders as well as theocratic oppression and brutality. But the core of Last Song‘s strength is its characters. Bound by enmities, rivalries, lust, sacrifices, and ancient tragedies, the novel’s sizeable cast forms a dizzying chemistry… Last Song Before Night is about music, but it’s also a work of music itself: Lyrical, dynamic, and winningly melodic.

See our previous article about the book here.

Last Song Before Night was published by Tor Books on September 29, 2015. It is 416 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Stephan Martiniere. Read more at Myer’s website here.

Stephenie Meyer Pens Gender-Swapped Version of Twilight

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Life and Death Twilight Reimagined-smallThe Twilight Tenth Anniversary edition was released today, ten years after the original novel went on sale, and buyers were very surprised to find that copies came packaged with an entirely new novel by Stephenie Meyer: Life and Death, a gender-flipped version of Twilight. As reported by Entertainment Weekly:

In honor of the 10th anniversary of her best-selling vampire romance, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer has written a 442-page reimagining of the novel that made her a publishing sensation. This time around, she’s switched the genders of her protagonists. Yes, it’s true. In the new tale titled Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, Bella Swan is now a boy named Beau (short for Beaufort) and the brooding Edward Cullen is now Edythe…

Meyer explains in her foreword to the anniversary edition of the novel that she decided to go with the gender bending to underscore her position that Bella isn’t a “damsel in distress” as certain critics have charged. Rather, the author insists, the character is a “human in distress,” or as Meyer calls her, “a normal human being surrounded on all sides by people who are basically superheroes and supervillains.” Meyer also takes issue with the criticism that Bella was “too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing.” The author mentions, too, that Beau is “more OCD” than Bella was and that he’s “totally missing the chip Bella carries around on her shoulder all the time.”

Meyer says writing the piece was “fun, but also really fast and easy.” According to the foreword, the rewrite allowed her to correct some errors that always bothered her and to re-edit the piece for grammar and word choice issues. She also altered some elements of the mythology for consistency.

The Twilight Tenth Anniversary/Life and Death Dual Edition was published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 6, 2015. It is 752 pages, priced at $21.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.

Future Treasures: Gold Throne in Shadow by M.C. Planck

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Gold Throne in Shadow-smallIn her review of the first book in M.C. Planck’s new series, Sarah Avery said “Sword of the Bright Lady deals in surprising juxtapositions of familiar tropes… This is a fun book.” She also said it “ends just a breath beyond a cliff-hanger… I want to see Crazy Pater Christopher get even crazier. I want to gawk like a peasant at what he comes up with next.”

Now she’ll finally get the chance, as the second volume, Gold Throne in Shadow, will be released in trade paperback by Pry Books next week.

Christopher Sinclair was a mechanical engineer — until he stepped into a world where magic works and no one has heard of a pistol. Now he’s a priest of war, raised from the dead and promoted to take command of the army regiment he trained and equipped. Sent south to an allegedly easy posting, he finds himself in the way of several thousand rabid dog-men. Guns and fortifications turn back the horde, but Christopher’s troubles are only beginning.

Lalania is a bard with a connection to a mysterious group of scholars Christopher hopes can help him find his way back to his wife and home. But the journey to the scholars is long, and Lalania’s motivations are too murky for him to truly trust her.

Christopher has problems that connot be solved with mere firepower: a wicked assassin, hostile clergymen, dubious allies, and worst of all his own impolite tongue. But all of these pale to mere distractions once he discovers that the true enemy is hidden and is playing the kingdom like a puppet master’s stage. Lalania claims she can help — but will it be enough? And will it get him any closer to returning to our world?

Gold Throne in Shadow will be published by Pyr Books on October 13, 2015. It is 315 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Gene Mollica.

A Gentle Introduction to Unspeakable Horrors: A Picnic at the Mountains of Madness

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

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I love kids books. I have three children who were very used to being read to, and would spend long hours each week curled up in my lap — or on the corner of the couch, if my lap was otherwise occupied — listening to the works of Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Alan Snow, and William Joyce (and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, when I could sneak them in).

I enjoyed all kinds of kids books, but the ones I loved the most were those with a sly adult humor. Which is precisely why I so enjoyed A Picnic at the Mountains of Madness, by Neil Baker and Maya Sugihara, published last month by April Moon Books.

On the surface, this is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story. Harry and Kaylee receive a mysterious map in the mail from their “Uncle Howard,” showing some curious ruins at the south pole. Packing a lunch and some warm clothes, they dash into the garage and climb into the family biplane (passing the family submarine and family excavator on the way), and in moments they’re in the air, on their way to the very bottom of the world.

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New Treasures: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Monday, October 5th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

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Paul Tremblay is the author of No Sleep till Wonderland, The Little Sleep, and (with Stephen Graham Jones) Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. His latest, A Head Full of Ghosts, has perhaps the most intriguing premise for a horror novel I’ve read in years — and it’s getting some of the most breathless reviews of the year, as well. Is it worth the hype? Here’s the lowdown from Nathan Ballingrud:

I just finished Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. The hype is not hyperbole; this book is outstanding. Creepy, surprising, occasionally funny, always compassionate, and both a love song to horror fiction and an interrogation of its assumptions, this easily stands as one of the best horror novels I’ve read in years.

I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Here’s the description.

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