The Return of The Thing: Frozen Hell by John W. Campbell

Saturday, November 9th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Frozen Hell John W Campbell-back-small Frozen Hell John W Campbell-small

Cover by Bob Eggleton

Several years ago, while researching his groundbreaking book Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (which Thomas Parker reviewed for us here), Alec Nevala-Lee found a yellowing letter from John W. Campbell that mentioned he’d donated his papers to Harvard Library. Alec tracked them down, and inside a carton in an offsite storage facility he made a major discovery: the original uncut version of “Who Goes There?”, which Alec calls “The greatest science fiction horror story of all time.” Last year John Gregory Betancourt of Wildside Press launched a hugely successful Kickstarter to publish it (raising $155,366 on a $1,000 goal), and the book appeared last month. Here’s John’s Kickstarter description.

In 1938, acclaimed science fiction author John W. Campbell published the novella “Who Goes There?,” about a team of scientists in Antarctica who discover and are terrorized by a monstrous, shape-shifting alien entity. The story would later be adapted into John Carpenter’s iconic movie The Thing (following an earlier film adaptation in 1951). The published novella was actually an abridged version of Campbell’s original story, called “Frozen Hell,” which had to be shortened for publication. The “Frozen Hell” manuscript remained unknown and unpublished for decades, and it was only recently rediscovered. “Frozen Hell” expands the Thing story dramatically, giving vital backstory and context to an already incredible tale. We are pleased and honored to offer Frozen Hell to you now, as Campbell intended it.

Frozen Hell will include a preface written by Alec Nevala-Lee, who rediscovered the “Frozen Hell” manuscript while doing research for his upcoming book Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (Dey Street Books).

This is a highly anticipated book, and for good reason. I don’t know if the post-Worldcon negative publicity around John W. Campbell will impact sales at all, but I’m certainly still interested, and I know I’m not the only one. Frozen Hell was published by Wildside Press on October 8, 2019. It is 158 pages, priced at $15 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Bob Eggleton.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.


Vintage Treasures: City of Pearl by Karen Traviss

Friday, November 8th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

City of Pearl-small City of Pearl-back-small

Cover by Greg Bridges

Karen Traviss’s debut novel City of Pearl was a big hit here in the Black Gate offices, and it was passed around repeatedly and excitedly. We were far from the only ones who liked it — it was shortlisted for both the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and the Philip K. Dick Award, and came in third in the 2005 Locus poll for Best First Novel. It launched her career quite effectively, and it eventually became the opening novel in the 6-volume Wess’har Wars series.

City of Pearl tells the ambitious tale of the clash of several distinct alien civilizations near Cavanagh’s Star in the year 2299. In his review of the novel and its sequel Crossing the Line at SF Site, Stuart Carter wrote:

This isn’t hard SF by any means. Although the laws of physics are largely obeyed they’re not particularly important to the story; there’s no arousing military- or techno-porn, and precious little ‘common-sense’ machismo or gung-ho soldiering. It’s worth mentioning that there are philosophical similarities with The Dispossessed, but these books are, in my opinion, even deeper and more complex than Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic, and they’re still far from over.

Another glorious aspect of these two books is that they’re almost the antithesis of everything Trek: humans haring round the universe imposing their morality and point-of-view upon anyone who can listen, and always, eventually, turning out to be right, or at least admirable. And if we’re not even admirable then at least we have bigger guns than everyone else to console ourselves with. In Karen Traviss’s universe we’re seen as being far from admirable and even further from right, and it looks like being a very hard, possibly even fatal, lesson for us to learn… If you want to read something that will leave you thinking, perhaps if you’re a fan of Ursula K. Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson or, more generally, of intricately gloomy English science fiction, then this series is one you want to read — I promise.

City of Pearl didn’t just hit with the critics. It is still in print, 15 years long after it was originally published; an extraordinary feat by any measure. Here’s the complete list of all six novels in the series.

Read More »


Ralph Arnote: In the Middle of Interesting Stories

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Pierce Watters

Fallen Idol Ralph Arnote-small False Promises Ralph Arnote-small Evil's Fancy Ralph Arnote-small

Paperback editions of Ralph’s Willy Hanson novels: Fallen Idols (Tor, 1992), False Promises (Forge, 1995), and Evil’s Fancy (Forge, 1996)

Note: Most of this comes straight out of my wee tiny brain. So, dates may be off, but I’m telling these stories as best as my memory allows. I also have a few people from the industry vetting some of my stories.

Ralph Arnote was in the middle of many interesting book and magazine stories. Ralph was manager of sales for Ace (where I worked for him), for Ballantine, and Beagle Books, and, he finished his sales career heading up sales for Tom Doherty and Tor Books.

After retiring, Ralph wrote several novels for Tor. We lost Ralph in 1998 after a heart attack. Harry Hills called and let me know Ralph had passed.

During a brilliant career, Ralph was known and welcome everywhere. He always wanted to build a ship, sail to Singapore, and drink a Singapore Sling at Raffles. I’m certain Ralph had his share of Singapore Slings, but he never got around to building that boat.

One of my favorite stories, Ralph was working for Capital Distribution. Capital was a small magazine and book distributor. Ralph had just lost his book line, so he had a sales force but nothing to sell.

That year, the ABA (American Booksellers Association) met in Washington DC. One afternoon, Ralph was dining al fresco, when an older gentleman asked to share Ralph’s table. This man was Ian Ballantine, founder of many successful publishing companies, one of the people, if not “the” person who brought paperback books into their greatest glory (Several Ian Ballantine stories will appear here at a later date.).

Read More »


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Ronald Keller

Cover by Ronald Keller

Cover by James Marsh

Cover by James Marsh

Cover by Carl Lundgren

Cover by Carl Lundgren

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 Paperback Science Fiction was Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s The Book of the Dun Cow, which had originally been published in hardcover in 1978 and reprinted in paperback in 1979. 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.

Read More »


Vintage Treasures: Cats Have No Lord and The Tangled Lands by Will Shetterly

Thursday, October 31st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Cats Have No Lord-small The Tangled Lands-small

Covers by Janny Wurts and E. T. Steadman

Will Shetterly has a fine back-catalog of fantasy novels, most from the 80s and 90s. They include Witch Blood (1986), Elsewhere (1991), and his most famous book, Dogland (1997). With his wife Emma Bull he created and edited the popular Liavek shared universe anthologies.

He began his career as a novelist with the wonderfully-titled Cats Have No Lord, released back in April 1985. It came in sixth in the annual Locus Poll for Best First Novel (losing out to Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Michael Swanwick, and Carl Sagan, but ahead of Geoff Ryman, Judith Tarr, Sheila Finch, and Dan Simmons — no shame placing 6th in a year like that!) Four years later he published a prequel, The Tangled Lands. In a 2012 post on his blog, Shetterly looked back fondly at Cats Have No Lord, while openly acknowledging its flaws.

Cats Have No Lord is my first novel. I had tried to write several more ambitious — meaning, more pretentious — books and gave up on them because they were awful, so I finally decided to learn how to write by writing something with everything I’d loved as a kid. If I missed any fantasy cliches of the ’70s, I don’t know what they were: this book has a spunky female thief, a mysterious swordsman, a magician, and a big barbarian. Oh, and a talking horse.

It sounds awful, but my love must’ve shown through, or maybe readers were more desperate or more kind in those days. Booklist said, “The first-rate world building, the unique cast of characters, and the author’s clever whimsey make it absorbing reading. Recommended.”

“Unique” must mean they thought I did good things with the characters, but every single one began with a trip through Central Casting to see who was available. Literally.

Read More »


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Unlimited Dream Company, by J.G. Ballard

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Bill Botten

Cover by Bill Botten

Cover by Carlos Ochiagavia

Cover by Carlos Ochiagavia

Cover by Peter Goodfellow

Cover by Peter Goodfellow

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards have been presented by the British Science Fiction Association since 1970 and were originally nominated for and voted on by the members of the Association. The Best Novel Award was one of the original awards and the first two were won by John Brunner for his novels Stand on Zanzibar and The Jagged Orbit. J.G. Ballard would be nominated for the Best Novel award three times, only winning on his first nomination in 1980.

Ballard’s novel The Unlimited Dream Company is told by Blake, an antihero and narrator so unreliable it is difficult for the reader to determine if anything he says in the course of the novel is real or merely the result of Blake’s own warped perception. The novel opens with Blake relating how as a young man he moved in with a woman, wound up killing her, and stealing an airplane before crashing it into the Thames. His first victim is never mentioned again and throughout the novel it isn’t clear if Blake died in the crash, if everything he relates in the book is the subject of visions brought about by his drowning and asphyxia, or if any of it actually happened to him and the community of Shepperton, where all the action takes place.

Read More »


Vintage Treasures: Matter’s End by Gregory Benford

Saturday, October 26th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Matter's End-small Matter's End-back-small

Matter’s End (Bantam Spectra, 1995). Cover by Pamela Lee

Gregory Benford began his writing career with the story “Stand-In” in the June 1965 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He was nominated for a Nebula Award for his first novel In the Ocean of Night (1976), and won it in 1980 for Timescape. Since then he’s focused chiefly on novels, most famously the six-volume Galactic Center Saga.

But he first built his reputation on short fiction, and he’s returned to it again and again over the course of a 50-year career. His short fiction has been nominated for four Hugo Awards (for two short stories and two novellas), and many Nebula Awards. He’s produced more than half a dozen collections, including In Alien Flesh (1986), Worlds Vast and Various (2000), Immersion and Other Short Novels (2002), and The Best of Gregory Benford (2015).

His second collection was Matter’s End, published by Bantam Spectra in 1995. It contains 21 stories, including “Stand-In,” the Nebula-nominated title story, an original novelette, “Sleepstory,” and one original short story, “Side Effect.” It came in third for the Locus Award for Best Collection in 1995, and was quickly reprinted in hardcover (by The Easton Press in 1995, and by Gollancz in 1996), and in paperback in the UK by Vista in 1997.

To be truthful, I haven’t followed Benford’s novel career much. But his short fiction is a different story. I found a copy of Matter’s End in a collection I purchased recently, and I’ve very curious about it. Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

Read More »


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Friday, October 25th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Ian Wright

Cover by Ian Wright

Cover by Peter Cross

Cover by Peter Cross

The "42 Puzzle" cover

The “42 Puzzle” cover

The Ditmar Awards are named for Australian fan Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Founded in 1969 as an award to be given by the Australian National Convention, during a discussion about the name for the award, Jenssen offered to pay for the award if it were named the Ditmar. His name was accepted and he wound up paying for the award for more years than he had planned. Ditmar would eventually win the Ditmar Award for best fan artist twice, once in 2002 and again in 2010. Primarily an Australian Award, for most years from 1969 to 1989, an award was presented for International Fiction. The International Fiction Award was one of the Ditmar’s original awards and the first one was won by Thomas M. Disch for Camp Concentration. In 1980, the Ditmar Award for International Fiction was presented to Douglas Adams for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at Swancon 5, held in Perth. The last time the award was presented was in 1989 to Orson Scott Card for the novel Seventh Son. On two occasions, in 1971 and 1984, no award was presented.

I bought my first copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at a small independent bookstore that, amazingly enough, still exists forty years later. When I bought the book, I had already heard the radio series and knew what to expect. Of course, the novel and the radio series are in no way the same thing.  Adams was able to flesh things out a little more in the book and could add descriptive passages that weren’t possible in the radio show. In addition, jokes that had been in the radio series were dropped if Adams felt they didn’t quite work.

Read More »


The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Persistence of Vision, by John Varley

Monday, October 21st, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Jim Burns

Cover by Jim Burns

Cover by Selinas Blanch

Cover by Selinas Blanch

Cover by Stéphane Dumont

Cover by Stéphane Dumont

The Prix Apollo was founded in 1972 and presented in France for the best book published in French during the preceding year. The first winner was Roger Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead. The award was suspended following the presentation of the 1991 award. Only five times in the awards nineteen year history did it go to works originally published in French, including 1988, when it was presented to an entire series of 36 books written by Georges-Jean Arnaud. Although technically an award for a novel, in 1980, the award was given to John Varley’s collection The Persistence of Vision.

It isn’t entirely clear what the Prix Apollo was presented for. Varley’s debut collection, The Persistence of Vision was published by The Dial Press/James Wade in 1978 and contained nine short stories, published between 1975 and 1978. The collection wasn’t translated into French until 1979, which is why it was eligible for the Prix Apollo in 1980. However, the nine stories were published in two separate volumes in French. One volume, Dans le palais des rois martiens, contained five stories, including French translations of “The Phantom of Kansas,” “Air Raid,” “Retrograde Summer,” “The Black Hole Passes,” and the titular story, “In the Hall of the Martian Kings.” The second volume, Persistance de la vision, contained the remaining four stories, translations of “In the Bowl,” “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance,” “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank,” and “the titular story, “The Persistence of Vision.” It is possible that the Prix Apollo was given for the complete text of the original anthology, but also conceivable that it was only given to the volume which bears the name in French.

Read More »


The Boxed Set of the Year: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s edited by Gary K. Wolfe

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

American Science Fiction Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s-small

Cover by Paul Lehr

Gary K. Wolfe is one of my favorite Locus columnists. He also reviews science fiction for the Chicago Tribune and, with Jonathan Strahan, co-hosts the excellent Coode Street Podcast. But more and more these days I think of him as an editor. He edited the Philip Jose Farmer retrospective collection Up the Bright River (2011) and, even more significantly, American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s: A Library of America Boxed Set (2012), a massive 1,700-page, 2-volume omnibus collection of classic novels by Pohl & Kornbluth, Sturgeon, Brackett, Matheson, Heinlein, Bester, Blish, Budrys, and Leiber, all in gorgeous hardcover with acid-free paper, sewn binding, and full cloth covers.

So I was thrilled to hear that, seven long years later, Wolfe has fulfilled that promise of that first beautiful boxed set with a sequel: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s. Like the first, it will be sold as two separate hardcovers, and also available in a handsome boxed set edition. It contains eight of the finest SF novels of the 60s:

The High Crusade, Poul Anderson (1960)
Way Station, Clifford D. Simak (1963)
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1966)
…And Call Me Conrad (This Immortal), Roger Zelazny (1966)
Past Master, R. A. Lafferty (1968)
Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)
Nova, Samuel R. Delany (1968)
Emphyrio, Jack Vance (1969)

The whole package comes wrapped up in a boxed set featuring artwork from the brilliant Paul Lehr. It will be in bookstores on November 5th — and is available now at $15 below retail if you order direct from Library of America.

Read More »


  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2019 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.