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.

Lionsgate Wins Bidding War for Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle

Thursday, October 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Patrick Rothfuss-smallAs we reported in July, several major Hollywood studios — including Warner Bros., MGM and Lionsgate — were in a pitched bidding war for the rights to Patrick Rothfuss’ bestselling fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicle. Now The Hollywood Reporter, and Rothufuss’ blog, are ‎reporting that Lionsgate‬ has won the rights to develop the series for film, TV, and video game platforms.

Lionsgate has closed a complex multi-platform rights deal picking up The Kingkiller Chronicle, the best-selling fantasy book series by Patrick Rothfuss. The deal sets up the simultaneous development of movies, television series and video games with the goal to adapt the many stories across the mediums at the same time.

It also caps off interest and dealmaking that has gone on since mid-July, when Rothfuss met with studios such as Warner Bros., MGM and Lionsgate, among others, at Comic-Con.

Robert Lawrence, whose credits include 1990s classic Clueless as well as the Mark Wahlberg vehicle Rock Star and the drama The Last Castle, will produce. Lawrence was an early chaser of the Kingkiller series and stayed on the series even when it was temporarily set up at Fox Television.

Terms were not disclosed. Read the report at The Hollywood Reporter here, and at Rothfuss’ blog here.

Weirdbook 31 Now on Sale

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Weirdbook 31-smallI am delighted to announce that Weirdbook 31, the latest issue of one of the greatest sword & sorcery and weird fantasy magazines in history, is now on sale.

New editor Doug Draa, the former online editor for Weird Tales, has done an tremendous job resurrecting Paul Ganley’s classic weird fantasy magazine, and dressing it up for the 21st Century. Weirdbook produced thirty annual issues between 1968 and 1997, publishing fiction by Stephen King, Joseph Payne Brennan, H. Warner Munn, Robert E. Howard, Tim Powers, Darrell Schweitzer, Delia Sherman, and countless others. The magazine was also renowned for its gorgeous interior artwork by Gene Day, Allen Koszowski, Stephen E. Fabian, and many others.

This is the first issue since 1997; its new publisher is Wildside Press, publisher of Adventure Tales, Wildside Pulp Classics, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. The cover is by Dusan Kostic, and the back cover is a piece by the great Stephen E. Fabian, who did most of the covers for the original run.

The magazine is a large digest format on book paper, in the same format at Adventure Tales and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. It’s available directly from Wildside, from online distributors, and through

The new issue includes brand new fiction and poetry from John R. Fultz, Adrian Cole, Paul Dale Anderson, Darrell Schweitzer, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Wade German, and many others. Here’s the complete table of contents.

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When Big Game Hunting was Glamorous: The Man-Eaters of Tsavo

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

1592281877The recent scandal over the killing of Cecil the Lion has once again brought big game hunting into the spotlight, with various websites outing rich hunters who go to Africa to blow away lions, giraffes, and other animals.

Here in Spain, we had an even bigger scandal back in 2012 when, at the height of this country’s financial crisis, King Juan Carlos went to Botswana and killed an elephant. He later apologized but this, plus rumors of extramarital affairs and numerous incidents of being apparently drunk in public, forced him to abdicate two years later.

There was a time when scandals like this would have never happened, when kings and commoners could empty their guns into beautiful animals free from the fear of criticism. Many wrote memoirs of going on safari, creating a genre that has all but died out today.

One of the classics of the genre is The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, by Lt. Col. J.H. Patterson and originally published in 1907. Patterson worked as the chief engineer building the Mombasa to Uganda railway in 1898. Managing a huge crew of Africans, Pathans, and Sikhs in adverse conditions to build a railroad through poorly mapped territory would have been hard enough, but soon lions started coming into the workmen’s camp at night and carrying off his workers.

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Foz Meadows Signs Two-Book Deal with Angry Robot

Sunday, September 13th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Foz MeadowsBlack Gate blogger Foz Meadows has just signed a two-book deal with UK publisher Angry Robot, one of the most exciting and innovative genre publishers out there. Both books will be part of the same fantasy series. Here’s the release from Angry Robot:

An Accident of Stars, the first in the series, which is described by Foz as ‘a portal fantasy with the safeties off’, will be published in summer 2016, with a second novel to follow. You might know of Australian born, Aberdeen-based Foz through her Hugo-nominated blog, Shattersnipe, or from her many articles on The Huffington Post, Strange Horizons, or the sadly now closed A Dribble of Ink. Foz has also written two previous books, Solace and Grief and The Key to Starveldt.

Foz Meadows: “After years of quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) obsessing over magic portals, feminism and adventuring ladies, I’m delighted to announce that Angry Robot has decided to enable me in these endeavours. An Accident of Stars is the book I desperately wanted to read, but couldn’t possibly have written, at sixteen – and, as you may have guessed, it features (among a great many other things) magic portals, feminism and adventuring ladies. I’m immensely excited to share it with you, and I look forward to collaborating in its production with our glorious Robot Overlords, who only asked in exchange a very small blood sacrifice and part ownership of my soul.”

Congratulations Foz!

You can read the complete release at the Angry Robot website, or check out Foz’s most recent blog post at Black Gate, “The Fascination of Dragons.”

Ken Burnside Tells the Hugo Story from the Inside

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by Jay Maynard

The Hot Equations by Ken Burnside-smallKen Burnside is a game designer and publisher, best known for Attack Vector: Tactical and Squadron Strike! He contributed an article to Vox Day’s anthology Riding the Red Horse, titled “The Hot Equations,” laying out in understandable terms what the laws of thermodynamics mean in terms of SF in general and space combat in particular. He was nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work, and… well…

He describes the experience in his own words:

I signed up for the Sad Puppy list because I was told it was about getting representation for conservative and libertarian leaning storytellers in the Hugo nomination process. The request came in when a book I was published in was in its initial 90-day release window, and it counted as promoting the title. More exposure means more sales, and I was (and always am) looking for new readers…

Throughout this, the things that made me a Puppy in the first place was buried in a malodorous pile of feces. They were buried by partisans on both sides, not just the Anti-Puppies. In Kary English’s blog, I paraphrased Anita Sarkeesian: “In the game of Hugo Awards, the Puppy nominees aren’t the opposition. They’re the ball…”

Eventually, tired of being browbeaten and told what an awful human being I was, I just retreated to “Read the works. Vote your conscience. In that order.”

Combined with shunning, my “OK, this is going to be a disaster…” sense was past tingling, into throbbing and really should just be called mordant curiosity. Only after I was seen talking to Tananarive Due did anyone outside the small representation of “Puppies” at the convention consent to talk to me, mostly in the shadows of the reception, where nobody else could see.

It’s a very good description of what it was like to be associated with the Puppies, and in particular how he was treated by anti-Puppy folks at Worldcon. Read the whole thing over at the Mad Genius Club blog.

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.

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