New Treasures: Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

Thursday, July 12th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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Ruthanna Emrys’ tales of The Innsmouth Legacy began with “The Litany of Earth,” a novelette originally published at in May 2014, which picks up the threads of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” Aphra Marsh, who with the other residents of Innsmouth was forced into internment camps, discovers humans trying to replicate her people’s secret rituals, with sinister consequences. If it weren’t for the noxious Hugo-grab by the Rabid Puppies, it would almost certainly have ended up on the 2015 Hugo Award Ballot.

The story eventually grew into Winter Tide, one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017, which Liz Bourke called “an exceptionally accomplished debut.” Like a Great Old One emerging out of the Pacific, the tale has continued to grow and spread. The sequel Deep Roots, the second volume in what’s now a planned trilogy, arrived in hardcover from Publications this week. Here’s the description.

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Take a Monstrous Tour of Europe in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club by Theodora Goss

Sunday, July 8th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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When Theodora Goss released The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter last June, Black Gate reviewer Zeta Moore raved, calling it “A Novel You’ve Been Waiting For Your Whole Life.” Here’s a clip from her review.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter [is] a 400-page extravaganza featuring… the daughters of legendary characters from classic fantasy and science fiction… When Mary Jekyll’s mother dies, the young inheritor of her meager estate discovers her father — Henry Jekyll himself — associated with a troubling league of gentlemen endowed with brilliant scientific ambition. With the help of Diana Hyde, a feral and headstrong spitfire (and daughter of Mr. Hyde), and a miraculous and unwilling scientific marvel named Beatrice, whom her revered father has tainted with poison from noxious plants, Mary embarks on a quest to discover just what her father’s band of brothers sought to accomplish.

Along the way, they enlist the help of an exemplary detective named Sherlock Holmes, his cherished assistant, Watson, and Catherine Moreau, daughter of the most barbaric and daring scientist of them all. Unless you factor Doctor Victor Frankenstein into the equation…

The anxiously-waited sequel, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, arrives in hardcover from Saga Press on Tuesday. It’s a massive volume, 720 pages, and the second chapter in what’s now being called The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club.

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New Treasures: The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

Saturday, July 7th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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I was out to dinner with the delightful Patty Templeton last week — continuing a tour of the best ramen restaurants in Chicago — and when I got in her car I almost sat on a copy of a curious little book titled The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror. While Patty fearlessly navigated Chicago traffic to get me to the train station, I spent a few minutes figuring out what the heck it was. And what it was was a collection of contemporary horror stories with a whole lot of accolades on the back (and plenty more online, like BuzzFeed‘s “The 33 Most Exciting New Books Of 2018” and Publishers Weekly‘s “Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018”). I don’t know why I didn’t know about it already, but this is why it pays to have cool friends. And here I am, telling you about it. Because I’m your cool friend.

From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from the beloved Children’s Stories Made Horrific series, The Merry Spinster takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and the best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature has become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in this collection’s unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bed time will never be the same.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror was published by Holt Paperbacks on March 13, 2018. It is 208 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version. See all our recent New Treasures here.

Experience an Alternate History Space Program with Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut Series

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky

Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2014 (after some shenanigans that caused it to be weirdly disqualified in 2013). All that — not to mention her other accolades, including multiple Nebula nominations for her popular Glamourist Histories fantasy series — helped make it one of the most talked-about SF stories of the last decade. Read the complete text at

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” is the tale of Elma York, who led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars, and the impossible decision she faces when she’s given the opportunity to return to space years later. Mary returns to the world of “Lady Astronaut” with her debut science fiction novel The Calculating Stars, available tomorrow from Tor Books. Fast on its heels is the sequel The Fated Sky, shipping in August. offered us the following teaser back in September.

The novels will be prequels, greatly expanding upon the world that was first revealed in “Lady Astronaut.” The first novel, The Calculating Stars will present one perspective of the prequel story, followed closely by the second novel The Fated Sky, which will present an opposite perspective — one tightly woven into the first novel. Kowal elaborates: “The first novel begins on March 3, 1952 about five minutes before a meteorite slams into the Chesapeake Bay and wipes out D.C. I’ve been doing historical fantasy and I keep saying that this is historical science fiction, even though I know full well that ‘alternate history’ is already a genre. It’s so much fun to play in.”

Omnivoracious selected The Calculating Stars as one of 15 Highly Anticipated SFF Reads for Summer 2018, and just today the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog picked it as one of the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of July

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Rebecca Roanhorse Celebrates the Launch of Trail of Lightning with a Reading and Q&A

Sunday, July 1st, 2018 | Posted by Emily Mah

Rebecca Roanhorse-smallTrail of Lightning-smallNebula Award winning author Rebecca Roanhorse released her first novel this week.

Trail of Lightning takes place on the Navajo reservation, where Roanhorse lived with her extended family (she, herself, is Ohkay Owingeh and African American). Environmental apocalypse has drowned most of the rest of the world, but the Navajo reservation — now called Dinétah — survived with some supernatural help. The Sixth World has dawned, bringing back the gods and monsters of old.

Main character, Maggie Hoskie, isn’t sure whether or not she’s a monster herself, but she excels at hunting them. When a new kind of horror starts abducting and killing innocent people, only Maggie, with the help of an unconventional (and rather attractive) medicine man named Kai, can hope to stop it; but can she defeat this great evil before it destroys what’s left of the world or will her own demons consume her first?

I had the privilege of facilitating a Q&A session with Roanhorse at the Jean-Cocteau Cinema on the day of her book launch. During the hour-long session, she read excerpts from her book and took audience questions about her work and process.

The video below is a record of that evening — unedited for the most part. The only parts it lacks are the signing session and the amazing cake that Roanhorse brought to celebrate.

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Shadows, Robots, and Warrior Monks: Amazon Selects the Five Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of June

Saturday, June 30th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Amazon Top Five SF & Fantasy in June

Amazon closes out a month of great books with their 5 Top Picks for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of June. The list includes some pretty familiar titles, including Peng Shepherd’s The Book of M, Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun, Stephanie Garber’s Legendary, and the debut novel by Black Gate‘s own Todd McAulty. Here’s their take.

The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty

Robots have taken over most of the world, but not quite in the way you’d expect. Some have fought their way to dominion. Others have been voted into power by human citizens who think AIs will make better decisions. Readers who enjoyed the complex robot-human relationships within Robopocalypse and the investigations in World War Z about how institutions function (or don’t) in the face of species-changing event will happily sink their teeth into The Robots of Gotham.

See the complete list here.

For Those Who Conjure: Anna Tambour’s The Road to Neozon from Obsidian Sky

Friday, June 29th, 2018 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

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The Road to Neozon is the latest collection of short stories by author Anna Tambour (Smoke, Paper, Mirrors; Crandolin; Spotted Lily; Monterra’s Deliciosa and Other Tales), and the latest publication of Obsidian Sky books.

Author Paul Di Filipo once wrote that Tambour will “register Richter-powerful on the delighted synapses of all patrons of weird, funny fabulism.” Her new book, Road to Neozon, invites “those who lack caution” to “proceed,” and offers its pages “to those who conjure. To those who wander. To those with a hopeful eye for things unseen.”

Neozon showcases eleven “distinctly Tambourian (7 special to this collection), typically slippery tales to celebrate life’s wondrous unease, and its unerring ability to attract the attention of forces that grin at the notion of human control.”

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In 500 Words or Less: Kate Heartfield’s Debut Novel Armed in Her Fashion

Friday, June 29th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Armed in Her Fashion-smallArmed in Her Fashion
By Kate Heartfield
ChiZine Publications (350 pages, $17.99 paperback, $10.99 eBook, April 2018)

Fantasy is a tough industry. You can a) stick to tried-and-true tropes and structures and hope to stand out in subtler ways or b) come up with something truly outside-the-box and hope that it still appeals to the traditional fantasy audience. Neither of these options is a sure thing (is anything?). But it seems like every month, reviewers point out authors who are doing one or the other and doing it well.

That’s basically what I’m doing here. Not simply because I’ve been a fan of Kate Heartfield’s short fiction since well before I got to know her here in Ottawa (she’s awesome, by the way). It’s because her first novel, Armed in Her Fashion, is basically Option B on some performance-enhancing drug.

We’ve all seen the basic quest narrative, right? Protagonist and company need to travel somewhere and do a thing, they go through a bunch of challenges en route, and the path to their goal isn’t at all what they expect when they set out from home. Fashion is essentially a Campbellian hero’s journey, but it’s also way more. It’s set in 14th century Flanders, for one thing. It’s also alternate history, taking place at the outset of the Hundred Years War, but with a Hellmouth and revenants in play. And the cast is mostly women, centered on widow Margriet de Vos and her daughter Beatrix, looking to reclaim the latter’s inheritance from Margriet’s sorta-dead husband. The concept of women’s rights and authority is a huge piece of this story, but in a medieval context, and with an additional angle in the form of Claude, a transgender man-at-arms. Claude is a particularly compelling character, allowing Heartfield to explore a topic I’ve never seen in fantasy before: how a transgendered individual would be treated by a medieval, patriarchal society. As well, the disconnect between how Claude views himself and how even Fashion’s other protagonists view him as “that woman who dresses like a man” isn’t all that alien when compared to contemporary society.

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Can a Trilogy Have Six Books? The Legends of the First Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

Thursday, June 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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Every time an author wraps up a trilogy, we bake a cake at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters.

Of course, this sometimes leads to anxiety. Is the series really wrapped up? Are there going to be more books? It’s not like the publisher slaps a sticker on the book saying Finito!, exactly. What if we bake a cake, and it turns out there’s four more books? Won’t we look stupid.

Ah, the hell with it. It’s cake! We’ll be forgiven. Probably. In that spirit, we were all dressed up to celebrate the arrival of Age of War, the third and (final? maybe?) book in Michael J. Sullivan’s The Legends of the First Empire series, when one of Goth Chick’s interns did some actual research (i.e. spent five minutes on Sullivan’s website). Turns out there’s a whopping six books planned for the series. Who knew?

Fortunately for those of us on staff who love cake (meaning, like, everybody), the first three books in the series will be the only ones published by Del Rey, so Age of War is an ending, of sorts. Good enough for us. Cake for everyone!

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The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of June 2018

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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June has been a fantastic month for new books. My TBR (to-be-read) pile is reaching structurally unsound heights already, and Jeff Somers at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog isn’t helping matters any by showcasing nearly two dozen of the best new releases. Here’s a few of his more interesting selections.

Brief Cases, by Jim Butcher (Ace Books, 448 pages, $28 hardcover/$14.99 digital, June 5, 2018)

Butcher offers up 12 stories set in the world of Harry Dresden, wizard and private investigator working an alternate, magic-filled Chicago. Several stories follow Harry’s adventures with River Shoulders, a smart sasquatch with a half-human son. Others involve Harry’s apprentice Molly Carpenter, crime boss John Marcone, and even Wyatt Earp. The novella “Zoo Day” follows Harry as he takes his young daughter Maggie to the zoo — and since this is Harry Dresden, you know there’s more in store than daddy/daughter bonding. Dresden fans may have encountered some of these stories before, but rereading them in this collection, alongside one all-new tale, should help ease the pain for waiting for Harry’s next novel-length adventure.

Our previous coverage of Harry Dresden includes Barbara Barrett 2014 article “A Wizard is a Wizard is a Wizard — Except When He’s Harry Dresden.”

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