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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Read Black Gate in Italian!

Saturday, December 9th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Gate in Italian

Black Gate has partnered with Heroic Fantasy Italia (HFT) to translate and post some of our most popular articles in Italian. Here’s Editor Alessandro Iascy, from his original e-mail.

I’m Alessandro Iascy and I am the publisher and editor of the Heroic Fantasy Italia portal, heroicfantasyitalia.altervista.org. I’m contacting you because I always read Black Gate with great pleasure and I would like to start a sort of joint venture with you. Heroic Fantasy Italia is the most important heroic fantasy divulgation portal in Italy, and I would like to be authorized to translate and publish some of your articles on our pages… I am writing to you on my friend Mark Lawrence’s suggestion.

Although BG articles have frequently been reprinted (sometimes without our permission), this is the first time we’ve partnered to present some of our content in a foreign language. The first article to get the multi-lingual treatment was Steven Silver’s November 24th post “Elric and Me.”

Alessandro and his team did top-notch work reformatting and presenting Steven’s article; check it out here. Thanks to Alessandro, we look forward to offering more BG articles to our Italian readers.


Modular: The Capharnaum RPG: A Kickstarter Combining the Campbellian Hero Path, Arabian Nights Multiculturalism, and Compelling Worldbuilding

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 | Posted by Sarah Newton

Capharnaum RPG

Two years after running our very successful Kickstarter for the transhumanist SF RPG Mindjammer, Mindjammer Press is back with a new project — the English-language version of a fascinating French-language RPG “Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked.” As a soundbite it’s billed as “a fantastic Arabian Nights RPG of deserts, dragons, and crusaders” — but it’s so much more than that. I first came across Capharnaum and its gorgeous artwork in the Paris Games Fair in 2009, and even then I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been brought to the English-speaking gamer. Now, with Capharnaum‘s second edition, the case is even more compelling.

The brains behind Capharnaum — The Tales of the Dragon-Marked are two experienced French game designers, Raphaël Bardas and François Cedelle. They’re joined by a large and extremely active gaming community based in Montpellier, the ancient town on the Mediterranean coast, but active throughout France, bringing together enthusiasts of ancient world Mediterranean and Arabian Nights-style gaming. In the aftermath of 9/11, Raphaël and François wanted to create a setting which refracted the cultural conflicts of our time in a historical-fantasy context, but which equally provided a gameplay which transcended those conflicts and offered a route to coexistence and appreciation of our diversity.

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Ragnarok Publications Cancels Forthcoming Books

Friday, November 17th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Blackguards-small Jovienne-small With Sword and Pistol-small

John R. Fultz recently alerted us to some unfortunate news: Ragnarok Publications, the independent small press behind the acclaimed anthologies Blackguards and Kaiju Rising: Rise of Monsters, has officially canceled their slate of upcoming novels. This affects several books we were really looking forward to, including John’s upcoming Son of Tall Eagle, the sequel to The Testament of Tall Eagle. Here’s part of the announcement posted on the Ragnarok website yesterday:

It’s time for a hard decision.

In order for us to get our feet under us again, we have to reboot in a way. It’s extremely unfortunate and we wrestled with this decision, but for now, we’re closing down the majority of our novel contracts. We feel like the authors we work with are family and this is the last thing we wanted to do — hurt our family. We love and believe in all the novels we’ve published, but we simply cannot afford to keep them in print, nor can we afford to put out new novels at the level of quality that we are known for.

Here’s the complete text of the announcement from publisher Jeremy Mohler.

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Goth Chick News: King Kong Goes to Broadway

Thursday, November 16th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

King Kong Alive on Broadway

Hot on the heels of Universal putting an end to the whole concept of reinventing their classic movie monsters via a Dark Universe, one larger-than-life character seems to be enjoying a fairly successful renaissance.

Kong: Skull Island, which was released in March of this year, was considered a moderate box office success and generated enough revenue to keep plans on track for follow-on films. Universal also added a new attraction to the Orlando theme park in the form of Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which as of October when I visited, still required a fast-pass to avoid a nearly 2-hour wait. And it was awesome.

So far, so good.

But the most exciting news is coming out of the city which is most famously associated with the big guy himself, in the form of King Kong: Alive on Broadway.

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The 2017 World Fantasy Award Winners

Sunday, November 5th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sudden Appearance of Hope-smallI wish I could have attended the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio, Texas, this weekend. Many of my friends were there, as well as plenty of people I would have liked to meet. At the convention last year (in Columbus, Ohio), Black Gate won a World Fantasy Award, and there’s no way we could top that experience, but it would have been marvelous to be in the room as this year’s winners were announced.

The next best thing is to share the winners with you. If you’re looking for the best fantasy of 2016, this is as close to a definitive list as you’re likely to find.

The World Fantasy Awards winners are:

Best Novel

WINNER: The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North (Redhook; Orbit UK)
Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
Roadsouls, Betsy James (Aqueduct)
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff (Harper)

Best Long Fiction

WINNER: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
“Bloodybones”, Paul F. Olson (Whispered Echoes)
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

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A New Twilight Zone? Maybe — And I Have a Few Requests

Saturday, November 4th, 2017 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

Twilight-Zone-Rod-Serling

The current landscape of television, with numerous platforms, shows where all the episodes can be released at once to create what are essentially eleven-hour movies, and the full reimagining of what a “season” entails, has made the anthology show a viable format once again. Naturally, this means we’re due for a revival of the most famous anthology program in the medium’s history: The Twilight Zone. A.k.a. “One of the Best TV Shows Ever.”

As of this week, it indeed looks like we’re on the way to a TZ revival, based on this news from The Hollywood Reporter. And it’s not just from anyone pulled randomly out of the PGA and DGA listings. It’s from Jordan Peele, whose directorial debut this earlier year, the smash horror hit Get Out, is just covered with Serling-esque fingerprints.

This is still tentative, and The Hollywood Reporter mentions it’s unclear if this is a series order or only an announcement of development for CBS’s All Access service. Jordan Peele’s production company, Monkeypaw, is behind the new show, with Marco Ramirez (Sons of AnarchyDaredevil) assigned as head writer and showrunner. CBS so far hasn’t made an official comment on either Peele or Ramirez’s involvement, which tells me the deal is still in the process of getting hammered out. It could all evaporate, as a 2012 revival attempt with Bryan Singer did. But the timing on this — and the involvement of Jordan Peele — makes it sound like it may turn into reality. Or what passes for reality in a land of shadow and substance, things and ideas…

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The 2017 Hugo Award Winners

Sunday, August 13th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Obelisk Gate-medium Every-Heart-a-Doorway_Seanan-McGuire-small Words Are My Matter Writings About Life and Books Ursula K. Le Guin-small

The winners of the 2017 Hugo Awards were announced on Friday at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, Finland. I wish I had been there! But since I wasn’t, let’s just get this over with. Here’s the complete list of winners. Congratulations, all you cool people. In Helsinki, eating pickled herring. I don’t want to hear about it.

Best Novel

The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Best Novella

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)

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Burn the (Black) Witch

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 | Posted by Jackson Kuhl

The-Black-Witch-smallFinishing up your manuscript for a YA novel? Congratulations! You’re almost ready to become a bona fide published author. The final step: evading the pitchfork-wielding mob!

The Black Witch, a debut young-adult fantasy novel by Laurie Forest, was still seven weeks from its May 1 publication date, but positive buzz was already building, with early reviews calling it “an intoxicating tale of rebellion and star-crossed romance,” “a massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more,” and “an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”

The hype train was derailed in mid-March, however, by Shauna Sinyard, a bookstore employee and blogger who writes primarily about YA and had a different take: “The Black Witch is the most dangerous, offensive book I have ever read,” she wrote in a nearly 9,000-word review that blasted the novel as an end-to-end mess of unadulterated bigotry…

In a tweet that would be retweeted nearly 500 times, Sinyard asked people to spread the word about The Black Witch by sharing her review — a clarion call for YA Twitter, which regularly identifies and denounces books for being problematic (an all-purpose umbrella term for describing texts that engage improperly with race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other marginalizations)…

Based almost solely on Sinyard’s opinion, the novel became the object of sustained, aggressive opposition in the weeks leading up its release. Its publisher, Harlequin Teen, was bombarded with angry emails demanding they pull the book. The Black Witch’s Goodreads rating dropped to an abysmal 1.71 thanks to a mass coordinated campaign of one-star reviews, mostly from people who admitted to not having read it…

Positive buzz all but died off, as community members began confronting The Black Witch’s supporters, demanding to know why they insisted on reading a racist book. When Kirkus gave the novel a glowing starred review, dozens of commenters demanded a retraction…

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