on Abandoned Earths and Inhospitable Planets

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Worlds Apart Joe Haldeman-small Venus of Dreams-small Vacuum Flowers UK-small The-Exile-Waiting-small
Worlds Apart Joe Haldeman-back-small Venus of Dreams-back-small Vacuum Flowers UK-back-small The-Exile-Waiting-back-small

Everyone knows that Top Ten lists are irresistable clickbait for bibliophiles. That’s why there are so damned many. Top Ten Science Fiction novels of the 80s. Top 50 Fantasy Novels of All Time. Top 100 Hobbits in Science Fiction, Yo. Don’t lie to me, you know you love ’em.

Anyway, over the last few years book sites have gotten a little more clever, spicing up run-of-the-mill Top Ten lists with more interesting themes. A couple of my recent favorites both appeared at James Davis Nicoll’s SF Stories Featuring Abandoned Earths, and Kelly Jensen’s Five Inhospitable Planets from Science Fiction. Both feature topics near-and-dear to my old school heart and, even better, they showcase classic books from Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda McIntyre, Poul Anderson, Michael Swanwick, Arthur C. Clarke, Joe Haldeman, Mel Odom, and Kim Stanley Robinson, and more, with nods to films like The Chronicles of Riddick and Interstellar.

Really, these things are just excuses to write about books we love, and what’s wrong with that? Nuthin’, that’s what’s wrong with that. This is what the internet is for, people.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Editor: Ben Bova

Sunday, April 21st, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Analog Science Fiction March 1972-small Analog Science Fiction June 1972-small Analog Science Fiction December 1972-small

The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Editor went to Ben Bova. This was the first year of the Best Editor Hugo. It has been awarded every year since then, though in 2007 it was split in two, with a Best Editor Award given for Short Form and Long Form editors. This last reflected the fact that the Best Editor was a de facto award for Best Editor Short Form all along. (While I completely agree that “Long Form” editors are tremendously important to the field, and deserve recognition, I still think that the Hugo voters – even people, like me, who are pretty well connected – are not really competent to evaluate Long Form editing.) The original impetus, I believe, for the Best Editor Award was as a replacement for the Best Professional Magazine award, and the idea was that the increased importance of original anthologies to the short fiction market meant that just awarding a “Best Prozine” award would miss some really important editors. In the event, however, the only two Best Editor awards not linked to magazines were Terry Carr in 1985 and 1987, and Judy-Lynn Del Rey in 1986 (award refused by her widower, Lester Del Rey.) Indeed, the only winner of the Best Professional Editor Short Form Hugo who is not primarily associated with a magazine has been Ellen Datlow (whose win in 2005 of the Best Professional Editor Award can be partly attributed to her role editing Sci Fiction, but whose later Hugos presumably result from her original anthologies and her editing of the Best Fantasy and Horror (now just Best Horror) collections).

Bova’s fellow nominees in 1973 were two additional magazine editors, Edward Ferman at F&SF and Ted White at Amazing/Fantastic. (Bova, of course, was the editor of Analog.) Terry Carr was nominated, presumably for the original anthology series Universe and for his Best Science Fiction of the Year series. And Donald Wollheim was nominated, probably for his role as chief acquiring editor at DAW, and for editing The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF. Conspicuous by his absence is Ejler Jakobsson, editor of Galaxy and If.

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Future Treasures: Decades: Marvel in the 70s – Legion of Monsters

Thursday, April 18th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Marvel Decades Legion of Monsters-smallIf there’s a company out there that knows how to use nostalgia to shake dollars out of me, it’s Marvel. I’ve already shelled out for their deluxe hardcover Omnibus volumes, the black & white Essentials line, and more recently I’ve spent a fortune on their Epic Collections, which assemble 18 issues apiece of early core titles like Thor, Spider-Man, Avengers and Fantastic Four. Recently they’ve launched a Decades series that looks at some of the more offbeat comics from Marvel’s long history and, heaven help me, I’m reaching for my wallet again. In this case it’s for a nearly forgotten team book from the 70s which has never let go of my imagination.

Celebrate 80 years of Marvel Comics, decade by decade — together with the groovy ghoulies of the Supernatural Seventies! It was an era of black-and-white magazines filled with macabre monsters, and unsettling new titles starring horror-themed “heroes”! Now, thrill to Marvel’s greatest horror icons: The melancholy muck-monster known as the Man-Thing — whosoever knows fear burns at his touch! Morbius, the Living Vampire! Jack Russell, cursed to be a Werewolf-by-Night! And the flame-skulled spirit of vengeance, the Ghost Rider! But what happens when they are forced together to become… the Legion of Monsters? Plus stories starring Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Manphibian, the vampire-hunter Blade… and never-before-reprinted tales of terror!


Previous titles in the Decades series include Marvel in the 60s – Spider-Man Meets the Marvel Universe, collecting 60s Spider-Man stories from Amazing, Avengers, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, and other places; Marvel in the 50s – Captain America Strikes! which gathers material from Young Men, Captain America (1954), Men’s Adventures, and other mags; Marvel in the 80s – Awesome Evolutions, which collects some of the bizarre makeovers of the 80s, including Spider-Man’s black costume, Storm’s mohawk, Thor’s battle armor and the Hulk’s return to gray.

Decades: Marvel in the 70s – Legion of Monsters will be published by Marvel on April 23, 2019. It is 248 pages, priced at $24.99 in print and $16.99 in digital formats.

Shipwrecks, Labyrinths, and Sentient Islands: The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy by Francis Stevens

Monday, April 15th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy-small The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy-back-small

The Bison Frontiers of Imagination line has reprinted dozens of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Clark Ashton Smith, Philip Wylie, E.E. “Doc” Smith, A. Merritt, Jack London, Ray Cummings, Hugo Gernsback, Robert Silverberg, and many others, in handsome and affordable trade paperback editions. We’ve reviewed several of them here at Black Gate including:

The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney, reviewed by Thomas Parker
Perfect Murders by Horace L. Gold, reviewed by Bill Ward

I’ve been accumulating them for over ten years, starting with the Clark Ashton Smith volumes Lost World and Out of Space and Time, which are among my favorite Smith reprints. But recently I’ve been a little more experimental with my Bison purchases, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. Last week I bought a copy of The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy by Francis Stevens, a pseudonym for Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883 – 1948), author of The Citadel of Fear and The Heads of Cerberus. Her work appeared in many horror anthologies I’ve enjoyed over the years, including Jonathan E. Lewis’s Strange Island Stories (2018), and Sam Moskowitz’s Horrors Unknown (1971) and Under the Moons of Mars (1970). Here’s a snippet from the back cover to demonstrate her range.

In a future where women rule the world, a sentient island becomes murderously jealous of a shipwrecked couple. Dire consequences await a human swept into the dark, magical world of elves. A deadly labyrinth coils around the dark heart of a picturesque landscape garden. Within an Egyptian sarcophagus lies the horrifying price of infidelity. Swirling unseen around us are loathsome creatures giving form to our basest desires and fears…

Sounds like just what I’m in the mood for. The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy was edited and introduced by Gary Hoppenstand, and published by Bison Books on October 1, 2004. It is 404 pages, priced at $21.95. There is no digital edition. The cover is by R.W. Boeche.

Total Pulp Victory: A Report from Windy City Pulp & Paper 2019

Sunday, April 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Windy CIty Pulp and Paper 2018 paperback treasures-small

A few of the $1 paperbacks I brought home from Windy City

I returned from the 2019 Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show a few hours ago, weary and happy. It was another fabulous convention, and once again it proved to be the undisputed best show in Chicagoland for those who love vintage books and magazines.

This was the 19th annual convention. It was founded in 2001 by Doug Ellis, and I’ve been attending ever since Howard Andrew Jones and John C. Hocking made the long trip to the 7th Windy City way back in 2007. This year I spent most of the show with friends, including BG bloggers Bob Byrne, Rich Horton, and Steven Silver, as well as local booksellers Arin Komins and Rich Warren, who had a booth and a few spare chairs and were kind enough to let us hang out. There was lots of great food and terrific conversation, and we toasted absent friends, including Howard Andrew Jones, Jason M. Waltz, Barbara Barrett, and especially bookseller and all-around great soul Dave Willoughby, who passed away last year. Dave personified the friendly and welcoming nature of Windy City better than anyone else, I think, and he was profoundly missed.

I made numerous great purchases at the show, including an assortment of Arkham House hardcovers from Doug, some marvelous books from the Glenn Lord estate (purchased from his widow, Lou Ann), a couple of recent Dark Adventure Radio Theater releases from Greg Ketter, a box of vintage SF digests in great condition — and some really wonderful treasures at the auction, including a copy ofthe 1990 Donald Grant illustrated edition of Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, several stacks of pulps, and an absolutely magnificent set 1927 Weird Tales, bound in two volumes.

But as usual, most of what I took home with me was paperbacks. Lots of paperbacks. I found a few that I was willing to pay a premium for, including some Clark Ashton Smith collections and horror anthologies, but the vast majority of them — well over 200 in total — were less than $1 each, including all those I spread out on my kitchen floor to photograph when I got home (see above).

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Tomorrow Isn’t Always Another Day: Remembering Howard Fast’s The Edge of Tomorrow

Sunday, April 14th, 2019 | Posted by Barbara Barrett

Howard Fast The Edge of Tomorrow-small Howard Fast The Edge of Tomorrow-back-small

The Edge of Tomorrow (Bantam, 1966) Cover artist uncredited

Books, like music, can evoke images of another time and place. When I picked up The Edge of Tomorrow recently, it triggered memories of Manhattan, Kansas, just before my husband left for Vietnam. It was mid-June 1966 when I drove from California to Fort Riley.

Manhattan was a whole new world. I remember heat and humidity so heavy it was like walking around on the bottom of a warm fish bowl. But there were awesome times too — a Harry Belafonte concert, thunder so loud I thought it would flatten me, and staring out a window all night during a tornado watch.

Yet, my most vivid memories are about food and friends. It was still early days for the anti-war protests and we were not aware of them. Uppermost in our minds was knowing our husbands or fathers or sons or brothers would be going to Vietnam. With so much uncertainty in our lives, we made the best of the moments we had and meals were about the only time life seemed normal.

The troops at Fort Riley trained twelve to fourteen hours a day. That left evenings and some weekends for relaxation. When Bob was home, his Army friends often stopped by for a beer and a chat. Many times, they stayed for a home-cooked dinner. During the five months in Kansas, I prepared a lot of food. Mostly from family recipes. So did other wives. We tasted dishes we had only heard about and exchanged recipes. One of my favorite memories centers around a feast those of us from California put together. We craved Mexican food but tortillas, pinto beans and hot sauce weren’t available in the local stores then. That problem was solved when we wrote and asked our families to send supplies. They were generous beyond belief. All our friends were invited. For a few hours, while we were eating tacos, enchiladas, refried beans, rice, burritos, guacamole and hot sauce, we were home.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer: Terry Carr

Saturday, April 13th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Fandom Harvest

Steven Silver has been doing a series covering the award winners from his age 12 year, and Steven has credited me for (indirectly) suggesting this, when I quoted Peter Graham’s statement “The Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, in the “comment section” to the entry on 1973 in Jo Walton’s wonderful book An Informal History of the Hugos. You see, I was 12 in 1972, so the awards for 1973 were the awards for my personal Golden Age. And Steven suggested that much as he is covering awards for 1980, I might cover awards for 1973 here in Black Gate.

The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer went to Terry Carr. Terry Carr (1937-1987) won four Hugos overall – in 1959 he won for Best Amateur Magazine for Fanac (along with his co-editor Ron Ellik), and in 1985 and 1987 he won for Best Professional Editor. (Alas, he died early in 1987, so did not get to receive that award. Famously, this was the second consecutive year that the award was given posthumously – though in 1986 Lester Del Rey bitterly refused the award to his wife Judy-Lynn. (There could be a third posthumous Best Editor award this year, as Gardner Dozois is one of the nominees for Best Editor, Short Form.) Like the great majority of Fan Writer winners, Terry Carr was also an accomplished professional writer, probably best known for his stories “Hop-Friend” and “The Dance of the Changer and the Three” and for his novel Cirque.

Carr wrote some fine fiction, as noted, and also spent some time as an agent, and he was a prolific and wonderful fan writer and fanzine editor. But his largest contribution to the field was as an editor. He worked at Ace through most of the 1960s. There he co-edited the World’s Best Science Fiction series with Donald A. Wollheim, and he spearheaded the classic first Ace Science Fiction Special series. After leaving Ace he became a freelance editor, most famous for his Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Ballantine/Del Rey, and for his Universe series of original anthologies. He also edited the third series of Ace Specials.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Jem, by Frederik Pohl

Friday, April 12th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Irving Freeman

Cover by Irving Freeman

The National Book Awards were established in 1936 by the American Booksellers Association. Although the Awards were not given out between 1942 and 1949 because of World War II and its aftermath, the awards were reestablished in 1950 and given out annually since then. Since 1950, only US authors are eligible for the award, which is designed to celebrate the best of American literature, expand its audience, and enhance the value of good writing in America. From 1980 through 1983, the American Book Awards were announced as a variation of the National Book Awards, run by the Academy of the American Book Awards.

While the National Book Awards were selected by a jury of writers, the TABA program relied on entry fees, committees, and voters made up of groups of publishers, booksellers, librarians, and authors and critics. The change was controversial and a group of authors including Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, and Susan Sontag, among others, called for a boycott of the award.

The American Book Award included genre categories, presenting awards for mysteries, science fiction, and westerns. Two awards were presented in the science fiction category, one for hardcover, one for paperback. The genre awards were abandoned after a single year. The only winner of the National Book Award for Hardcover Science Fiction was Frederik Pohl’s Jem. The Awards were presented in New York on May 1, 1980 at a ceremony hosted by William F. Buckley and John Chancellor. Isaac Asimov presented the science fiction awards.

I tend to find a lot of Pohl’s novels depressing, even while acknowledging he can write biting satire. His satire tends to be the darkest of humor, and Jem is certainly dark. It opens at a scientific conference held in Bulgaria in the near future, sometime after 2024. Earth has been divided into three massive alliances which are based on the products of the countries involved, The People countries that provide labor, the Oil countries that provide power, and the Food countries. Pohl introduces four individuals at the conference, Ana Dimitrova, a translator from the food bloc, her lover, Abdul Dulla, a scientist from the people countries, Danny Dalehouse, a scientist from the food countries, and Marge Menninger, a soldier from the food countries.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: George O. Smith

Monday, April 8th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

George O. Smith

George O. Smith

First Fandom was established in 1958 following a conversation among fans at Midwestcon who realized they had all been active in fandom for more than 20 years.  The original cut-off date for membership was that individuals had to be active in fandom prior to January 1, 1938, although that timeline has been loosened up and there are now multiple classes of membership.  The original chair of First Fandom, Robert A. Madle, is still alive.

The First Fandom Hall of Fame was established in 1963 to recognize contributions to science fiction as either a fan, author, artist, editor, or agent.  The first inductee was E.E. “Doc” Smith.  There was no inductee in 1965.  Up until 1984, only one person was inducted in a given year, the exception being in 1974 when both Sam Moskowitz and Forrest J Ackerman were inducted.  Following 1985, multiple annual inductees became the norm. Isaac Asimov became the first posthumous inductee in 2008, and now most year include a posthumous inductee.

In many years, the First Fandom Award has been presented at the beginning of the Hugo Award Ceremony.  In 1980, the award was presented at Noreascon Two in Boston, Massachusetts on August 31 by Lester del Rey. The award was accepted on George O. Smith’s behalf by Frederik Pohl.

Born on April 9, 1911 in Chicago, Illinois, George O. Smith is best known as the author of the Venus Equilateral series and his first published short story, “QRM—Interplanetary,” which appeared in the October 1942 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction kicked off that series. The stories revolve around a satellite which is meant to act as a relay station when the sun blocks radio waves as the planets move in their orbits.  Smith used the series to discuss various technical issues.

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The 19th Annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention

Sunday, April 7th, 2019 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Windy City Pulp and Paper 2019-small

The 19th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is now just over a month away! The convention will take place on April 12-14, 2019 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois. As usual, we will have auctions on both Friday (April 12) and Saturday (April 13) nights, and this year’s auctions promise to be our best ever.

The Friday night auction consists of 230 lots of material from the estate of famed collector Robert Weinberg, while the Saturday night auction begins with 100 lots from the estate of Glenn Lord, literary executor for the Robert E. Howard estate, followed by 56 lots from a few other consignors. And more lots will be added to the Saturday night auction at the convention, to include material consigned there by convention attendees.

Here are some of the highlights in this year’s auctions.

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