Dear Puppies: Your Taste Sucks

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Hugo Award Black GateThe winners of the 2015 Hugo Awards were announced Saturday evening at Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington. As we’ve discussed here several times, the Hugo ballot was largely hijacked by the Rabid Puppies slate (and to a much lesser extent, by the Sad Puppies slate), which dictated roughly 70% of the final ballot.

The results are now in, and they mark a stinging repudiation of both the Rabid Puppies and Sad Puppies. Not a single Puppy-nominated work of fiction or non-fiction won, and the majority of Puppy-nominated works placed below “No Award.” In both of the short fiction categories in which the Puppies locked out all other nominees, the Hugo went to “No Award.” The complete list of winners follows.

Best NovelThe Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books)
Best Novella - No Award
Best Novelette – “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed, April 2014)
Best Short Story – No Award
Best Related Work – No Award
Best Graphic StoryMs. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal (Marvel Comics)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)Guardians of the Galaxy
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”

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538 Blog Reports Crowdfunding Is Driving A $196 Million Board Game Renaissance

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Exploding Kittens-smallNate Silver’s popular 538 blog, known mostly for astute political analysis, often takes a hard look at other industries, and yesterday Oliver Roeder examined the recent explosive growth in crowdfunding for board games. His examples include Conan (which we covered here,) Reaper Miniatures, Dwarven Forge, and the break-out hit Exploding Kittens, which exceeded its campaign goal in eight minutes and set a record for most backers in Kickstarter history, raising $8,782,571 from 219,382 backers.

Luke Crane is Kickstarter’s in-house board game expert and resident dungeon master. He sees Kickstarter as the latest in a series of board and card gaming milestones. Dungeons & Dragons, first published in 1974, crystallized role-play gaming. Magic: The Gathering, which debuted in 1993 and became a smash hit, spawned countless expansions and still boasts a competitive professional circuit. The Settlers of Catan, and its first English-language edition in 1996, gave many their first taste of German board gaming kultur. That game has sold over 15 million copies.

And then, in mid-2009, Kickstarter launched.

Since that debut, pledges to board and card game projects on the site have totaled $196 million, according to the company. Ninety-three percent of that money went to successful projects — those that reached their fundraising goal. For comparison, pledges to video game projects, including hardware and mobile games, have totaled $179 million. Of that, 85 percent went to ultimately successful projects. On Kickstarter, analog is beating digital.

Read the complete article here.


New Statesmen on the “Shockingly Offensive” 100 Best Fantasy and SF Novels

Saturday, August 15th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

A Spell for Chameleon-smallLiz Lutgendorff at New Statesmen read all 100 books on NPR’s list of the best science fiction and fantasy novels — a list that includes virtually every major title the genre has yet produced. And her response mirrors a complaint I hear over and over from young fantasy readers, and especially women — the classics of our genre have very little to offer readers seeking interesting and strong women characters.

There were also books that were outright misogynistic, like a A Spell for Chameleon where characters openly talk about not trusting women… The main plot of A Spell for Chameleon is that the main character, stupidly named Bink, has no magical talent…. Along the way, he meets Chameleon, who has the unenviable magic of being smart but ugly in one phase of the moon and beautiful but stupid in another. This inevitably leads to Bink liking her… Apparently for Bink, having someone compliant was more valuable than intelligence or independence, making Bink an utter creep…

Frankly, from my vantage in 2015, it was just plain weird to read books where there were hardly any women, no people of colour, no LGBT people. It seemed wholly unbelievable. I know what you could say: it’s science fiction and fantasy, believability isn’t one of the main criteria for such books. But it is relatively absurd that in the future people could discover faster-than-light travel, build massive empires and create artificial intelligences but somehow not crack gender equality or the space-faring glass ceiling.

The consequence of the lack of women and the obvious sexism is that the books became very much like one another. My book reviews contained more profanity and I became a much more harsh critic of the genres I most enjoyed reading. They were all the same story of white guys, going on an adventure.

I’m sure Ms. Lutgendorff’s comments will be hotly debated, but I think it’s foolish to ignore her gut reaction. Like it or not, the classics of an older generation are giving way to new novels, as they should. That’s what happens in a living genre. Read the complete article here.


Flavorwire on the 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of 2015 (So Far)

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Whispering Storm-smallWe’re barely halfway through the year, but I suppose that’s far enough to start arguing over Ten Best lists. Yesterday Jonathon Sturgeon at Flavorwire kicked it off with a list of The 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of 2015 So Far, a list that includes Michael Moorcock, Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ian Tregillis, and Nicole Kornher-Stace. Here’s Jonathon on Michael Moorcock’s latest, The Whispering Swarm:

Moorcock is among the most influential of all genre writers, and he returns here with his first novel in nine years — and readers will be happy to learn that it launches a trilogy. Even though much of this first installment is given over to scene setting — it takes place in a hidden London enclave where historical figures mix with literary creations — it’s still a pleasure to read. Also, it may well inaugurate the autofictional fantasy subgenre.

He also has high praise for new writer Nicole Kornher-Stace, who thrilled me with a reading from Archivist Wasp at the World Fantasy Convention:

More than a little drunk on Greek mythology, Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp tells the story of an “archivist” and ghost-hunter who learns to communicate with the specter of a supersoldier and (in the process) unlearns what she knows about her own horrorscape of a world. Smart, risk-taking, and weird as hell.

See the complete list here.


Announcing the 2015 Gemmell Award Winners

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Words-Of-Radiance-smallThe winners of the 2015 Gemmell Awards have been announced by the David Gemmell Legend Award administrators (the DGLA). May we have the envelope please!

The DGLA gives out three awards each year: the David Gemmell Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Morningstar Award for Best Debut Novel, and the Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art.

The winners are:

Legend Award (Best Novel)

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Morningstar Award (Best Debut Novel)

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Stavely (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)

Ravenheart Award (Best Cover Art)

Sam Green for the UK cover of Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

The David Gemmell Legend Award is a fan-voted award administered by the DGLA. The Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel was first granted in 2009, and has now been awarded seven times.

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Future Treasures: The Story of Kullervo by J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, August 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Story of Kullervo-smallJ. R. R. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973, but nonetheless he’s been tirelessly producing fantasy novels (and bestsellers) for the past forty years — including The Silmarillion (1977), Unfinished Tales (1980), the 12-volume History of Middle-earth (1983–1996), Mr. Bliss (1982), The Children of Húrin (2007), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009), and Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary (May 2014). A partial draft of Language and Human Nature, which Tolkien began co-writing with C.S. Lewis but never completed, was discovered at the Bodleian Library in 2009, and doubtless we’ll see that for sale at some point.

Seriously, the man’s library must have been crammed floor to ceiling with unpublished manuscripts when he passed away. I could never dream of equaling that level of productivity over 40 years, and I’m not dead.

The latest newly-discovered Tolkien manuscript to go on sale is the short novel The Story of Kullervo, to be published in digital format in the US by HarperCollins on August 27. It is the tale of an orphan boy with supernatural powers, raised by the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father. Kullervo is clearly the ancestor of Túrin Turambar, hero of The Silmarillion, but this version a more standalone tale. The manuscript was unpublished for many years, but previously appeared in 2010 in Tolkien Studies: Volume 7.

The world first publication of a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the powerful story of a doomed young man who is sold into slavery and who swears revenge on the magician who killed his father.

Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo,’ as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.

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The New Dungeons & Dragons Movie Will Be Set in The Forgotten Realms

Thursday, August 6th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Drizzt Do’Urden-smallWe’re learning more about the new Dungeons & Dragons movie announced by Warner Bros. this week.

The first D&D movie, produced by New Line Cinema in 2000, was an epic failure (and its sequel was even worse), but this film will be produced by the studio behind The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter franchises, which has been on the hunt for a premium fantasy property for some time. An ongoing lawsuit over ownership of the D&D film rights prevented the project from going ahead, but Variety reports that dispute has finally been resolved.

A movie based on the widely popular game Dungeons & Dragons is in the works at Warner Bros., the studio announced Monday, 10 months after a trial over who owned the rights to the fantasy game ended.

After months of negotiation, Warner Bros., Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures and Sweetpea Entertainment said they had come to an undisclosed arrangement, ending the 2-year-old lawsuit, and are moving forward with the feature film franchise. David Leslie Johnson (The Conjuring 2) has already written the screenplay set in the D&D fantasy world of [The] Forgotten Realms. Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis, Sweetpea Entertainment’s Courtney Solomon and Allan Zeman, and Roy Lee (The Lego Movie) are producing the high-priority project.

“This is far and away the most well-known brand in fantasy, which is the genre that drives the most passionate film followings,” said Greg Silverman, Warner Bros. president of creative development and worldwide production. “D&D has endless creative possibilities, giving our filmmakers immense opportunities to delight and thrill both fans and moviegoers new to the property…”

The Forgotten Realms, created by Ed Greenwood in 1987, is home to the drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, the mighty wizard Elminster, and countless other famous D&D characters. It has been featured in over 200 novels and countless adventure modules and supplements.

Read the complete article at Variety.


Sarah Avery Wins the 2015 Mythopoeic Award for Tales from Rugosa Coven

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

tales-from-rugosa-coven-Avery-smallBlack Gate blogger Sarah Avery has been awarded the 2015 Mythopoeic Award for her novel Tales from Rugosa Coven, published in 2013 by Dark Quest. (As she put in in her e-mail to us, “Don’t look now, but there’s a very small lion in my suitcase.”)

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, series, or collection for adults published during the previous year that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings,” the Oxford literary discussion group that included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. The winners were announced at Mythcon 46, held July 31 – August 3, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The complete list of winners follows.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

  • Sarah Avery, Tales from Rugosa Coven (Dark Quest)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

  • Natalie Lloyd, A Snicker of Magic (Scholastic)

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Sasquan Announces Record Voting for the 2015 Hugo Awards

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

SasquanSasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, announced this morning that voting for the 2015 Hugo Awards has reached record levels.

Sasquan is pleased to announce that it received a record­breaking 5,950 valid ballots for the 2015 Hugo Awards. 5,914 voters used the online voting system and 36 submitted paper ballots. The 5,950 total surpasses the vote total record for previous years (3,587 ballots, set by Loncon in 2014) by more than 65%.

More than 57% of the convention members eligible to vote cast ballots this year, making this the highest level of participation in Hugo Awards voting in the past decade.

Sasquan will announce the Hugo Awards winners Saturday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m. at a ceremony hosted by authors Tananarive Due and David Gerrold.

For those unable to attend the ceremonies, Sasquan will also live stream the Awards ceremony here. There will also be a text stream available on the Hugo Awards webpage.

Voting for the Hugos is now closed. Sasquan will release final vote counts at the conclusion of the Aug. 22 ceremony.

Black Gate declined our first Hugo nomination this year, on account of the bloc voting from the Rabid Puppy campaign. My comments on this year’s Hugo ballot are here.


Chuck Wendig Writes an Open Letter: “Dear Guy Who is Mad Because I Wrote a Gay Character in a Book”

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Blackbirds Chuck Wendig-smallChuck Wendig, author of Star Wars: Aftermath, Blackbirds, and The Blue Blazes, has written an open letter to a fan who complained because one of his characters was gay:

Earlier today I got a bit of hate mail — though I guess hate mail is strong, as the writer of said email was not like, threatening to murder me with a brick or anything — from what appears to be a male, adult reader of my young adult series. In particular, he read the third book in the series, which came out last week: The Harvest.

I won’t reprint the email here, but he said, and I quote, “I didn’t like that you had a main gay character reviling [sic] in a homosexual sexual relationship.” (Reveling, I guess he means?) He feels I “corrupted” the book with the presence of “gay male relationships.” He then added that he feels I was jumping on some kind of “bandwagon,” which I assume (he did not clarify) means that I was doing this to fill some kind of diversity bingo card. Finally, he concluded that it “didn’t matter” or “effect [sic] the story” that the character was gay so why include it at all?

Here is my response that I won’t actually bother sending to him, but maybe he’ll read it here.

Read Chuck’s complete response here.

Kelly Swails reviewed Blackbirds for us (“Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds is Punch-You-in-the-Face Good“), and James McGlothlin looked at The Blues Blazes (“Goblins, Demons, Zombies and Fights Aplenty: A Review of The Blue Blazes.”)


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