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Category: Series Fantasy

Killer Dolls and Murderous Dimensions: DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories I (1972), edited by Richard Davis

Killer Dolls and Murderous Dimensions: DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories I (1972), edited by Richard Davis

The Year’s Best Horror Stories (DAW, 1972). Cover by Karel Thole

The first Year’s Best Horror Stories, DAW No. 13, published in 1972, was edited by British author and editor Richard Davis, who would go on to produce many more horror and sci-fi anthologies throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He also edited the next two Year’s Best Horror Stories for DAW, but he primarily published through British outlets.

The Year’s Best Horror Stories, No. 1, was first published by Sphere in the UK in May 1971, and reprinted by DAW in the US fourteen months later, dropping the No. 1 from the title in the process. The cover of the DAW edition was by Dutch painter Karel Thole (1914–2000), a regular on sci-fi covers during the time. I think the cover is more psychedelic than horrific. In 1975 DAW reprinted the book with a new cover by Hans Arnold, one much more fitting to the horror genre.

This first volume has a strong lineup, and I can see why Donald A. Wollheim sought to get Davis’ Sphere release as the debut for his new Year’s Best Horror Stories series. It was also, somewhat surprisingly for the time, quite diverse.

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Hard SF and Cosmic Lovecraftian Horror: The Fallen, Book 2 of The Outside by Ada Hoffman

Hard SF and Cosmic Lovecraftian Horror: The Fallen, Book 2 of The Outside by Ada Hoffman

The Outside and The Fallen (Angry Robot, June 2019 and July 2021). Covers by Lee Gibbons.

Ada Hoffman’s The Outside (Angry Robot) hit the sweet of my favorite genres. The B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog called it “starkly original, and tinged with hints of horror fantasy – truly operatic stuff,” and Kate Sherrod at The Skiffy and Fanty podcast labeled it

A boffo combination of hard science fiction, cosmic Lovecraftian horror, both cyber-and-god-punk, some ridiculously charismatic aliens, and a fascinating female protagonist somewhere on the autism spectrum… Ada Hoffmann’s The Outside feels like it was made to order for us.

OK, maybe my favorite genres are a little eclectic, but you gotta admit that sounds good. And you can understand my immediate interest in the sequel, The Fallen, which arrived this summer. Here’s all the details.

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Introduction to DAW Books’ The Year’s Best Horror Stories (1972–1994), edited by Richard Davis, Gerald W. Page, and Karl Edward Wagner

Introduction to DAW Books’ The Year’s Best Horror Stories (1972–1994), edited by Richard Davis, Gerald W. Page, and Karl Edward Wagner

20 of the 22 volumes of The Year’s Best Horror Stories (DAW Books)

Today I’m beginning a new series of posts investigating DAW Books’ Year’s Best Horror Stories series, which ran from 1971 to 1994. As a fan of literary horror, I’m excited to sequentially read through these volumes and share my thoughts with you. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to discover some great stories and authors, perhaps some we’ve never read before, and I’m also hoping that we will be able to see how trends in horror have changed over the years. Each post will investigate one volume at a time.

Except this first one, in which I want to explore the impetus and beginnings of the series as a whole.

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The Dark and Puzzling Present: The Medusa Deep, Book 2 of The Midnight Games by David Neil Lee

The Dark and Puzzling Present: The Medusa Deep, Book 2 of The Midnight Games by David Neil Lee

The Midnight Games (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016) and its sequel
The Medusa Deep (Poplar Press, 2021). Covers by Rachel Rosen, unknown

In his first guest post for Black Gate way back in 2016, The Midnight Games and Why I Wrote Them, David Neil Lee talked about his debut novel and the sequel he hoped to write some day.

For the past twelve years my family and I have lived a couple of blocks from Ivor Wynne, the local football stadium, and we hear all the noise from the Tiger Cats games. So I began a novel in which my protagonist hears a racket from the stadium at night, which he thinks of as “midnight games.” However, they are not games at all, but the cruel ceremonies of a local cult which is trying to summon to earth the Great Old Ones of the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos; trying with what turns out to be a fair degree of success….

What sort of monsters does the cult summon? — well how about those hideous prickly house centipedes that I scoop out of the bathtub of our old house from spring till fall every year. I don’t kill them, I put them in a jar and throw them in a garden — what if they were some sort of hmm, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, summoned here by the games? What about if one of them thrived in our garden, and grew and grew and grew?

I know what you’re thinking. “Dammit that sounds like fun. Why don’t I do that?” Well, if you’re a Black Gate reader, chances are that you do do that…

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Exciting Storytelling from one of the Best Writers of Heroic Fantasy: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

Exciting Storytelling from one of the Best Writers of Heroic Fantasy: When the Goddess Wakes by Howard Andrew Jones

When the Goddess Wakes (St. Martin’s Press, August 2021). Cover by Lauren Saint-Onge

Whenever a trilogy wraps up, we bake a cake in the Black Gate offices. When that trilogy belongs to our own Howard Andrew Jones, our first Managing Editor, we bake a cake in the shape of the world of Amber. (No, we don’t know how it turned out. The damn cake keeps vanishing.)

When the Goddess Wakes, the final novel in Howard’s Ring-Sworn Trilogy, follows For the Killing of Kings (2018) and Upon the Flight of the Queen (2019). In his review of the first volume here at Black Gate, Fletcher Vredenburgh said “It moves at an astounding pace… This is exciting storytelling from one of the best and most knowledgeable writers of heroic fantasy.” Seth Lindberg proclaimed the second volume is “reminiscent of Zelazny… I was completely floored.” And in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called the final volume an “emotional roller coaster.”

When the Goddess Wakes was published on August 24th by St. Martin’s Press, and it brings to a close one of the most original and exciting fantasy series of the 21st Century. You owe it to yourself to check it out. And when you do, visit us again to share your thoughts. Pick up a copy today.

Win the Complete Ring-Sworn Trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones!

Win the Complete Ring-Sworn Trilogy by Howard Andrew Jones!

The third and final book in Howard Andrew Jones’ epic Ring-Sworn fantasy trilogy, When the Goddess Wakes, drops a week from today. And not only is the Kindle version of the first book on sale for $2.99 all through August, but St. Martin’s Press is also giving away a complete set of the trilogy to three lucky winners.

How do you enter? Just hand over your deets at the St. Martin’s website here, and then wait in breathless anticipation for good news.

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The Robot Apocalypse Novels of C. Robert Cargill

The Robot Apocalypse Novels of C. Robert Cargill

Sea of Rust (Harper Voyager, 2017) and Day Zero (Harper Voyager, 2021). Covers by Dominic Harman

When I described Robert Cargill’s third novel Sea of Rust four years ago, I called it “a robot western set in a post-apocalyptic landscape in which humans have been wiped out in a machine uprising.” Do I know how to get to the heart of a book, or what.

Now it has a sequel! Well, sorta-kinda. Day Zero is set in the same world, with different characters, and is more of a prequel, opening on the day that machines rebel and exterminate mankind. The narrator is Pounce, a nannybot for eight-year-old human Ezra, a tiger-shaped robot who has to make a fateful choice when machines breach the house and threaten the boy he’s meant to protect. What he chooses to do that day kicks off an adventure that takes him across a newly-blasted apocalyptic landscape. Here’s the book description.

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Vintage Treasures: The Pangaea Series by Lisa Mason

Vintage Treasures: The Pangaea Series by Lisa Mason

The Pangaea volumes: Imperium Without End and Imperium Afire
(Bantam Spectra, 1999 and 2000). Covers by Sanjulian

Lisa Mason began her career in the late 80s; her first novel was the cyberpunk Arachne (1990), set in an earthquake-devastated San Francisco. Her most popular title, Summer of Love (1994), about a time traveler from 2467 who visits the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco, was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award and spawned one sequel, The Golden Nineties (1995).

We’re concerned today with perhaps her most ambitious series, the two-volume Pangaea cycle set on a distant world (which — spoiler — turns out to be an alternate history version of San Francisco) where people live and work in a rigid society strictly segregated by genetic purity. Here’s John Clute’s summary from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

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IMHO: A SECOND LOOK — The Silistra Quartet by Janet E. Morris

IMHO: A SECOND LOOK — The Silistra Quartet by Janet E. Morris


Cover art by Roy Mauritsen

Janet Morris is a prolific author and has published a library’s worth of fantastic novels, enough to keep a reader busy for years. She has written everything from science fiction and heroic fantasy, to historical fiction and modern-day thrillers, many of them in collaboration with her husband, Chris Morris. Among her many novels are Outpassage, The 40-Minute War, The Kerrion Empire Saga, The Beyond Sanctuary Trilogy, and The Sacred Band. In addition, Janet and Chris were among the original writers who contributed to Thieves’ World, the shared-world fantasy series first published by Baen Books in 1979. In 1986, the duo created, Heroes in Hell ™, their shared-universe series of anthologies and novels; they also edited and contributed stories to this Saga of the Damned. That series was first published by Baen Books, and ran from 1986 to 1989. In 2011, Perseid Press “resurrected” the series, and it has been going strong ever since. But I digress.

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Vision Terrania: Perry Rhodan NEO, Volume One by Frank Borsch & Christian Montillon

Vision Terrania: Perry Rhodan NEO, Volume One by Frank Borsch & Christian Montillon

Perry Rhodan NEO (J-Novel Club)

As you might deduce from the title, Perry Rhodan NEO is a newer rebooted take on the original Perry Rhodan series. It’s not so new in its homeland of Germany, where this version has been running since 2011 — although printed in its native language, of course. Having this particular series available digitally in English however, is definitely a brand-new development.

Despite its status as the world’s longest-running serialized science fiction story, it’s relatively unknown to most members of the English-speaking public. That’s not what drew my own interest though, as I first discovered Perry Rhodan back in its original English-language version decades ago, when it was published in paperback by Ace Books (when I was still in grade six?!). So, one might say that it had a fairly formative effect on my interest in the whole genre, or that it held some reasonably large amount of interest for me, at least…!

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