Announcing the 2018 Hugo Award Finalists

Saturday, March 31st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Featured_HugoAward Spiffy

Holy neutron stars, it’s the end of March, and you know what that means…. it’s time to announce the finalists for the 2018 Hugo Awards! Doubtless most of you paid close attention to Rich Horton’s suggestions for the best science fiction and fantasy of last year, did a lot of heavy reading over the last four weeks, and thoughtfully cast your nominating ballots. Or maybe not.

But either way, it’s time to see who all your fellow voters nominated. Ready? Here we go.

Best Novel

The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor)
New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

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Black Gate on the list for the 2018 REH Foundation Awards

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 | Posted by Bob Byrne

REHaward_ShanksIf you were to take a poll at Black Gate World Headquarters, asking for the staff’s favorite author, I’d put my money on Robert E. Howard coming in at the top spot. ‘Conan’ appeared in a Black Gate headline over a decade ago (thank you, Charles Rutledge!). Ryan Harvey, John Fultz, Bill Ward, William Patrick Maynard, Brian Murphy, Howard Andrew Jones, Barbra Barrett and more have written about Howard and his works under the Black Gate banner.

And the respect and love of Howard’s work has only increased over the past few years. All with the standard Black Gate quality. For the third year in a row, there is a solid Black Gate presence on the Robert E. Howard Foundation Preliminary Awards List. Our nominees for 2018:

The Cimmerian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay (Online)

(Essays must have made their first public published appearance in the previous calendar year and be substantive scholarly essays on the life and/or work of REH. Short blog posts, speeches, reviews, trip reports, and other minor works do not count.)

BOB BYRNE – “Robert E. Howard Wrote a Police Procedural? With Conan?? Crom!!!”

JAMES McGLOTHLIN – “A Tale of Two Robert E. Howard Biographies”

M. HAROLD PAGE – “Why Isn’t Conan a Mary Sue?”

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Modular: Pathfinder 2nd Edition Announced – Never Say Never

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Pathfinder_PlaytestrulebookYesterday, Paizo announced an upcoming playtest for a 2nd Edition of Pathfinder. Wow.

For years, Paizo officials have said that there would never be a second edition. I suspect that all evidence of those statements have been scoured from the Internet. A quick search didn’t find any. There might have been qualifiers along the way, such as ‘unless the demand is too great’ or some such. But I remember the message as ‘We won’t do a 2nd Edition.” With the inference, ‘Making you buy all of your stuff over again.’

I thought that they might be adhering to that pledge when they put out Starfinder, a science fiction RPG. That seemed like a smart approach if they couldn’t update the original Pathfinder.

But I believe that events conspired against them. The best thing that ever happened to Pathfinder was 4th Edition D&D (granted – it was the impetus for Pathfinder). The worst thing that ever happened to Pathfinder was 5th Edition D&D.

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Announcing the 2017 Nebula Award Nominations

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Spoonbenders Daryl Gregory-small Six-Wakes-Mur-Lafferty-smaller Annalee-Newitz-Autonomous-smaller

If you’ve been saving your reading muscles for major awards season, I have good news. SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, released its nominees for the 2017 Nebula Awards yesterday, and you’re into for some terrific reading. Time to book a reading vacation, and make all that hoarded eye lubricant and daily wrist exercises finally pay off. Here’s the complete list of nominees.

Novel

Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor)
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss (Saga)
Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory (Knopf)
The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
Jade City, by Fonda Lee (Orbit)
Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz (Tor)

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A Farewell to Roc Books

Friday, February 16th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

logo-pub-rocThe big 2017 Year in Review issue of Locus magazine arrived this week, and the second paragraph of the annual summary confirmed something that’s been whispered in fannish circles for a few months: that parent company Penguin Group has “quietly retired” the Roc Books imprint, folding it in with its existing Ace line. Only four books with the Roc logo were published last year, and none is on the schedule for this year. It’s the end of an era in many ways.

Roc Books was founded by John Silbersack in 1990. Over the last 27 years it has published hundreds of science fiction and fantasy titles by Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Peter S. Beagle, Arthur C. Clarke, Nancy A. Collins, Terry Pratchett, Andre Norton, and hundreds of others. It had a well-deserved reputation for taking chances on new authors, and many of those gambles pay off handsomely, like Jim Butcher, Anne Bishop, Carol Berg, Rob Thurman, and many more. Roc proved to be a warm home for many Black Gate authors, including E.E. Knight, Devon Monk, and others.

There were many reasons to be a Roc fan over the decades. For me, they were simple. The editorial team had a profound and enduring appreciation for adventure fantasy, especially during the lean years when the market turned towards YA dystopias, paranormal romance, and other trendy niches. They loved a great series, and gave many quality series the time they needed to truly find an audience. The whole line had a distinct look, so much so that for 27 years you could tell a Roc Book at a glance.

The editors, authors, artists and packagers at Roc Books gave us countless hours of reading pleasure over the past quarter century. Penguin has decided to quietly retire the imprint, but there’s no reason we have to let them go without a worthy send-off. If you’ve got a favorite Roc title or two, I invite you to help us say farewell by giving them a shout-out in the comments.


Incendiary Conspiracy Theory Suggests Possible Collusion Between She-Ra: Princess of Power and Hordak

Monday, February 12th, 2018 | Posted by Nick Ozment

she-ra-chicks-rule-small

The 1985 cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power was a spin-off of He Man and the Masters of the Universe aimed at young girls. It ran for 2 seasons, 93 episodes, and was canceled in 1986. Both series were produced by Filmation in conjunction with toymaker Mattel.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN OFFSCREEN CONVERSATION FROM A SECRET RECORDING OF SOME OF THE SUPPORTING CAST. 

This is a partial transcript of video obtained from the memory files of one of Hordak’s captured Hover Robot spies. It has never been declassified or released on Etheria or Eternia, and we are publishing the audio transcript here at Black Gate at great personal risk, like the brave souls in the movie The Post. You’re welcome, people of planet Earth!

FLUTTERINA: “Well, since we’re dishing gossip, lemme tell you guys — totally off the record — lemme tell you what bothers me about this whole She-Ra charade. I saw her lift a whole lake once.”

LOO-KEE: “Huh?”

FLUTTERINA: “A whole lake. With the bedrock beneath it — like a bowl, ‘cuz you can’t just lift a body of water — and toss it like a mile through the air. A lake. That puts her at what power level? Like a hundred He-Mans? So why doesn’t she just stamp out The Horde?”

KOWL: [flaps his ear-wings and hovers excitedly] “Yeah! Every time she ‘defeats’ Hordak, she just lets him slip away. Sometimes she sees him off with a shake of her finger and a ‘Don’t you ever get up to this sort of mischief again’!”

FLUTTERINA: “It is kind of demented, isn’t it? Like she just likes toying with him, dragging out a cruel game for her own perverse pleasure.”

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Goth Chick News: Oscars Smoscars – Pass Me a Stoker Any Day…

Thursday, January 25th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Stokers vs Oscars

Gather round friends – it’s once again time to don the footie pajamas, pour a steaming hot-toddy and hunker down until spring with the most awesome reading list of the year: namely the annual nominees for the coolest award ever.

The Bram Stoker Awards have been presented annually since 1987, and the winners are selected by ballot from the active members of the Horror Writers Association (HWA).

Several members of the HWA including Dean Koontz, were originally reluctant to endorse such writing awards, fearing it would incite competitiveness rather than friendly admiration. The HWA therefore went to great lengths to avoid mean-spirited competition by specifically seeking out new or overlooked writers and works, and officially issuing awards not based on “best of the year” criteria but for “superior achievement,” which allows for ties.

Which is lovely and all, but I believe I would not be above doing something mean-spirited if not downright evil to get my hands on the award itself, which is a haunted house whose front door opens to reveal the category and winner.

Take that, Oscar…

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Peter S. Beagle will be the Next SFWA Grand Master

Thursday, January 25th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

Peter S Beagle Grand Master-small

Is it OK to post now on the other significant SF news from Tuesday (happier news)? Because it does seem worthwhile to mention that Peter Beagle has been named the latest SFWA Grand Master.

I confess — somewhat bewilderedly — that I had not thought of him when I speculated on who the next GM might be. (I believe that’s because early in his career he was not a “core genre writer,” in that he didn’t publish in the magazines. (Yes, Fantasy & Science Fiction published “Come Lady Death,” but as a reprint.) That’s not a good reason, it’s just what I think must have made me forget him.) But on seeing the announcement, I thought, well, of course! Peter Beagle IS a Grand Master, and this is an award he eminently deserves.

I (with many other fans, to be sure) absolutely adore The Last Unicorn. And his other fiction is quite marvelous as well. I’ve used a few of his stories in my books.

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The 2018 Philip K. Dick Nominees

Monday, January 15th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Book of Etta-small After the Flare Deji Bryce Olukotun-small All Systems Red-small

The nominees for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award, given each year for distinguished science fiction originally published in paperback in the United States, have been announced. They are (links will take you to our previous coverage):

The Book of Etta by Meg Elison (47North)
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun (The Unnamed Press)
The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt (Angry Robot)
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Tor.com)

This is a terrific ballot, with something for every reader. Over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Joel Cunningham sums things up nicely.

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John DeNardo on the Definitive List of 2017’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Stone-Sky-N.K.-Jemisin-smaller The-House-of-Binding-Thorns-smaller A Conjuring of Light-small

As he does every year, John DeNardo breaks down the Best of the Year lists to find the most widely acclaimed science fiction, fantasy, and horror books of the last 12 months. Why does he do it?

I love looking at book-related “Best of the Year” lists because it’s fun to see what made the cut and how lists differ from one another. Even better: lists stoke my desire to read and point me towards books I may have otherwise skipped over. However, an abundance of “Best of” lists begs the question: which books truly deserve that label? Which books are the absolute best?

Intent to find some concrete answer to those admittedly subjective questions, I began an intense session of OCD-fueled list aggregation and spreadsheet manipulation to find which science fiction and fantasy books garnered the most mentions. The result is a very unscientific ­— but nonetheless worthwhile — “Best of the Best” list of the science fiction and fantasy books that debuted in 2017.

For those (like me) who want to read the books that everyone is talking about, and get a jump on the 2018 awards season, John’s meta-list is invaluable. Let’s see what’s on it.

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