Today is Jack Vance’s 104th Birthday

Friday, August 28th, 2020 | Posted by John-Henri Holmberg

Jack Vance-smallToday, just 104 years ago, Jack Vance was born in San Francisco. Or, actually, John Holbrook Vance. He grew up to live on a farm, suddenly become almost destitute and have to leave junior college, work in a cannery, as a bellhop and on a gold dredge. Later, at UC Berkeley, he studied mining engineering, physics, journalism and English, and wrote his first science fiction stories. Still later, he worked as an electrician in the naval yards at Pearl Harbor, but left a month before the Japanese attack. During the war he worked as a rigger and a merchant seaman, after faking his eyesight test. A jazz musician, a carpenter, a surveyor and a ceramicist he was a sailor throughout life, building his own boats and dreaming of vast oceans and rivers on distant planets.

He began publishing science fiction in 1945, had his breakthrough with The Dying Earth in 1950, became a staff writer for the Captain Video TV show in 1952, had further breakthroughs when his first crime novel under his own name, The Man in the Cage, had a 1961 Edgar Award for best first novel, and again when his novellas “The Dragon Masters” and “The Last Castle” won Hugos and Nebulas in 1963 and 1966. But his real and lasting breakthrough was as one of the finest, most bitingly satirical and ironic, most stylistically intransigent and most unforgettably original science fiction (and, by all means, also fantasy) authors of the 20th century.

In 1976 I and Per Insulander, who co-chaired that year’s Swedish national SF convention, invited Jack to be our guest of honor. He accepted, stayed for a week in Stockholm, and called us his friends; I think we were. A year later we sailed with him in San Francisco bay and stayed at his house in Oakland; for many years, I kept in touch with him and continued to publish him in Sweden. When Jack grew almost totally blind in the 1990s, he kept writing. If you haven’t already read his work, you must. It is sui generis; nobody else has written science fiction as Jack did, and you either love it or just can’t see what he was doing. Nobody else has written science fiction that to the same extent bares our souls, satirizes our most cherished idiocies, heckles the hypocrisies and nonsensicalities of our religions, social codes, moral codes and pointless squabbles. Read the five novels in his Demon Princes series; read his wonderful and absurd Tschai novels (published in the US as the Planet of Adventure books); read his subversive Lyonesse fantasy trilogy; read him. Thanks to his son, John Vance, all of Jack’s books are in print. I hope they remain so. Jack Vance was a writer for the ages, and of the enlightenment.

Jack died on May 26, 2013. I mourn him still, but more importantly I still read him. So should you.


Undertow Publications Announces Weird Horror Magazine

Friday, August 14th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Weird Horror issue 1, coming in October. Cover art by Sam Heimer

Undertow Publications is one of the finest small presses in operation today. We’ve covered several of their excellent recent releases, including Shadows & Tall Trees 8, the hardcover journal The Silent Garden, Simon Strantzas’ Nothing is Everything and All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma.

The mad genius behind Undertow is Canadian Michael Kelly, editor and publisher extraordinaire (and a mean writer in his own right). Last month Michael made this announcement on Facebook:

Friends, am very happy to announce the contributors to the inaugural issue of Weird Horror, coming this October.

David Bowman, Shikhar Dixit, Steve Duffy, Inna Effress, Tom Goldstein, Orrin Grey, John Langan, Suzan Palumbo, Ian Rogers, Naben Ruthnum, Lysette Stevenson, Simon Strantzas, Steve Toase.

We’re bringing you a 7″ x 10″ glossy pulp fiction magazine of fun and terror. Pricing and final specs coming soon.

Cover art by Sam Heimer.

This is fantastic news indeed. Michael has proved his editorial acumen time and again in the horror field — with Shadows and Tall Trees, five volumes of the highly acclaimed Year’s Best Weird Fiction anthology series, and anthologies like Apparitions (Undertow, 2009). Having Michael at the helm of a major new magazine of weird horror is tremendously promising.

The second issue of Weird Horror is promised for March 2021, and issue 3 in October 2021. Read all the details here.


Wendy N. Wagner will Assume Editorial Reins at Nightmare Magazine with Issue #100

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Nightmare Magazine 84 September 2019-small Nightmare Magazine 89 October 2019-small Nightmare Magazine 92 May 2020-small

Recent issues of Nightmare Magazine. Covers by Alexandra Petruk / Adobe Stock Images

Nightmare may well be the best magazine of horror and dark fantasy on the market. In the last twelve months, under the skilled editorial guidance of John Joseph Adams, it’s published original fiction by Simon Strantzas, Adam-Troy Castro, Brian Evenson, Rich Larson, Ray Nayler, Senaa Ahmad, and many others.

However, JJA is a busy guy. In addition to Nightmare he also edits the acclaimed Lightspeed magazine, a line of popular anthologies, including the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy and the upcoming Dystopia Triptych, and — let’s not forget — John Joseph Adams Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which published my novel The Robots of Gotham. I guess holding down three full time jobs starts to wear on a guy after a while, and on May 20 John announced that, effective with issue #100, Managing Editor Wendy N. Wagner would be taking over the reins at Nightmare.

Soon yours truly will be passing the editorial torch… although she will be newly minted in title, the editor has a name and face you already know: Our long-time managing/senior editor, Wendy N. Wagner. If you’re a diligent Nightmare reader, you’re already familiar with her editorial contributions: She was the guest editor for our Queers Destroy Horror! special issue back in 2015. But in truth if you’ve read any issue since 2014 you’ve seen Wendy’s input; she’s been my stalwart advisor and lieutenant for more than six years. I know that I’m leaving the magazine in the best possible hands…

Issue 100 will be my last issue as editor of Nightmare, but despair not, friends, for I honestly can’t think of a better person to take the reins . . . and I for one can’t wait to see where Wendy leads us next.

Wendy is a terrific choice, in my opinion. In addition to her editorial chops, she’s a fine author. We’ve covered two of her previous novels here, An Oath of Dogs (Angry Robot, 2017), and the Pathfinder Tales novel Starspawn (described as “Pathfinder Meets Lovecraft”). Garrett Calcaterra interviewed her for Black Gate back in 2013.

Read the full announcement here, and check out the latest issue of Nightmare, with fiction by Yohanca Delgado and Claire Wrenwood, Jarla Tangh, Adam-Troy Castro, and Steve Toase. You can purchase individual issues for $2.99 each, or subscribe for just $11.94 for six months here.


Goth Chick News: Stoker Winners Are Going to Need a Bigger Mantel…

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Coyote Rage-small The Bone Weaver's Orchard-small Oware Mosaic-small

Each year around this time I experience a fit of jealousy for those lucky few individuals who receive a Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Not only are there far fewer of them than Oscars or Emmys, but let’s be honest, they are far cooler to look at. Interestingly enough, you will never find one for sale or auction, as clearly horror writers at this level are never hard up enough for money to sell their trophies (believe me, I’ve looked). When you Google “replica Oscar statues for sale” you find nearly 2 million hits… but can you guess how many hits you get when you Google “replica Stoker awards for sale”?

Exactly zero.

That’s right – no cheesy dollar-store models of this little gem. No inflatable, larger-than-life Stokers, no Stoker costumes, no Stoker greeting cards. And why is that? Because it’s rare and amazing and too incredible for words, in spite of the fact I’d pay big bucks, even one made by those ceramic Christmas house people (if any of those are listening).

Nope. Only the best of the best, of the best, get to take home a Stoker. Back in January I gave you the list of lucky nominees. Little did I know we’d all end up with plenty of time to read each and every one. This week the HWA dashed the hopes of most writers on that list to arrive at 12 winners and the subsequent “finalist nominees” who do not get to go home with the coolest award ever created. In fact, this year they are at least spared the agony of having their pictures taken next to the winner, standing near to, but not being allowed to touch the coveted Stoker award.

Sigh.

So, without further pontificating, here are the talented winners, and the finalists…

Read More »


SFWA Announces the 2019 Nebula Award Nominations

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Ten Thousand Doors of January-small Gods of Jade and Shadow-small Gideon the Ninth-small

It’s nearly the end of February. And that means that the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) has finally put an end to all that suspense, and announced the nominees for the 2019 Nebula Awards, one of the most prestigious awards our industry has to offer.

This year’s nominees are:

Novel

Marque of Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor)
Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)

Read More »


The 2019 Locus Recommended Reading List

Sunday, February 9th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Twisted Ones-small The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction-small The Best of Greg Egan-small Roy G. Krenkel Father of Heroic Fantasy - A Centennial Celebration-small

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.


Goth Chick News: Grab a Pen, Here Comes Your 2020 Reading List

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Coyote Rage-small Inspection Josh Malerman-small The Worst is Yet to Come-small

If you live somewhere that, like Chicago, has been experiencing temperatures incompatible with human life recently, then thinking about a lounge chair, a book and an umbrella drink wearing anything less than a Tauntaun skin is pretty darn appealing. And with perfect timing, here comes the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot hot off the press from the The Horror Writers Association (HWA), providing a categorized list of reading material.

Now all you need is the lounge chair, an umbrella drink and a space heater.

Hazzah.

Named in honor of Dracula’s beloved Pappa, the Stokers are presented annually by the HWA for superior writing in eleven categories including traditional fiction of various lengths, poetry, screenplays and non-fiction. The HWA also presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to living individuals who have made a substantial and enduring contribution to the genre. Previous winners include Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Joyce Carol Oates, and Neil Gaiman.

Read More »


Analog Announces 90th Anniversary Reprint Series

Friday, October 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November-December 2019, and an excerpt from Trevor Quachri’s editorial

Gabe Dybing, who clearly gets his issues of Analog faster than I do, tipped me off that editor Trevor Quachri has something very interesting planned for the magazine’s upcoming 90th Anniversary year (90! Holy cats). Gabe sent me the above pic of Trevor’s editorial in the November-December issue, on sale this week. For those of you who don’t like to squint, here’s the relevant text.

As many of you may know, 2020 is going to be Astounding/Analog’s 90th anniversary year, and the January/February issue is the 90th anniversary of our very first issue. Something we’ll be doing that requires a little explanation is a series of limited retrospectives over the year: each issue we’re running a reprint from one of our past decades, with an introduction (in the editorial/guest-editorial space) talking about it either as a historical artifact, an overlooked gem, or just a personal favorite — a story that an editor or knowledagable (sic) author found interesting for whatever reason but didn’t have an appropriate venue in which to chat about it.

The goal is to cover the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, the thinking being that most of the material from the ’30s isn’t really reflective of the magazine’s later identity, and anything from 2000 on is too recent. We’re going to try to keep it to one story per decade, though the nature of the project (tracking down the rights to older material particularly) means that’s not entirely set in stone. Some of those decades had a lot of good stories! But we have to save some ideas for the centennial, after all.

This is great news for classic SF fans, and I look forward to seeing what Trevor chooses (and I hope some bright-eyed new readers will discover a few giants of the genre as a result).

But since I’m old, I also have to grouse a little… Trevor can’t find one pulp story from the 1930s worth a look?? In the 1930s, John W. Campbell and Astounding published stellar fiction by the best pulp writers of the era — including “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr, “Helen O’Loy” by Lester del Rey, “Black Destroyer” by A. E. van Vogt, “Life-Line” by Robert A. Heinlein, “Ether Breather” by Theodore Sturgeon, and many, many more. Maybe Trevor is just looking for suggestions. Shout yours out in the Comments.


Carol Emshwiller wins the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award

Saturday, July 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Report to the Men's Club-small The Secret City Emshwiller-small The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller Volume 1-small

Author Carol Emshwiller, who died in February of this year at the age of 97, has won the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, which honors overlooked and neglected science fiction and fantasy writers who deserve to be discovered by modern readers.

I met Carol only a couple of times, always at the World Fantasy Convention. I’m pretty sure she was in her 90s both times we met. She was friendly, approachable, and absolutely charming. Many writers have a late flowering in their career; Carol, who was the wife of Ed Emshwiller, one of the most popular and prolific SF cover artists of the 50s and 60s, and who famously was the model for most of the beautiful women in his paintings, published her first stories in 1955, but wrote the majority of her substantial body of short fiction from 1985 – 2011, after she turned 60. She published the first of her four SF novels, Carmen Dog, in 1988, when she was 67.

It took far too long for Carol to be acknowledged as a serious writer, but it eventually happened. Her short story “Creature” won a Nebula Award in 2002; she won again for “I Live With You” in 2005. Her 2002 novel The Mount was nominated for a Nebula and won the Philip K. Dick Award. Her 1990 collection The Start of the End of It All won the World Fantasy Award, and she received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2005.

Read More »


The Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe: Expanding the Classic Canon into a New Era

Friday, July 19th, 2019 | Posted by christopher paul carey

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Today at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., announced a new series of authorized, canonical novels featuring the myriad characters and worlds from the works of Master of Adventure: the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe. The new series, which will debut in 2020, represents a number of publishing “firsts” that, as Director of Publishing at ERB, Inc., I am particularly excited to share with Black Gate readers.

The very first first, and the most important, actually begins with an achievement of Mr. Burroughs, who created the first expansive, fully cohesive literary universe. Of course, there were other authors who crossed over their own characters between their novels and series — Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard, for example — but no one before ERB had made such interconnections to the degree that he did. As early as the years of 1913 to 1916 — when writing novels such as The Mad King, The Eternal Lover, The Mucker, The Oakdale Affair, and, arguably, The Man-Eater, the latter featuring a brief cameo from a certain “Mrs. Clayton” at a Central African estate — Burroughs began weaving an intricate tapestry of internal references connecting seemingly disparate works. Soon thereafter came references to Barsoom and John Carter in the “alternate future” continuity of The Moon Maid (written in 1919).

Then, in 1928, while writing Tanar of Pellucidar, Burroughs introduced a character named Jason Gridley, who had invented a transmitter-receiver device that utilized the “Gridley Wave,” thus permitting communication between the Earth’s surface and the world of Pellucidar at its core. Gridley went on to appear or be mentioned in seven more novels, ultimately connecting four of Burroughs’ major series and placing them within the same continuity: the Pellucidar, Tarzan, Barsoom (Mars), and Amtor (Venus) series. These crossovers, combined with the earlier connections Burroughs had made between his novels, eventually created an interconnected universe that encompassed more than sixty books.

Read More »


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