Future Treasures: The Queen of Swords, Book 3 of the Golgotha Series, by R.S. Belcher

Friday, June 9th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Six-Gun-Tarot-smaller The Shotgun Arcana-small The Queen of Swords RS Belcher-small

R.S. Belcher’s last novel, The Brotherhood of the Wheel, was selected as one of the best horror novels of the year by the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. For his next novel, he returns to Golgotha, the Weird Western setting of The Six-Gun Tarot (which RT Book Reviews called “Fascinating… like a mashup of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Deadwood,”) and The Shotgun Arcana (“Golgotha is the wildest of the Wild West, attracting mystics, minor deities, alchemists, seers, and fanatics in a fantastical romp” — Publishers Weekly). It arrives in hardcover from Tor later this month.

1870. Maude Stapleton, late of Golgotha, Nevada, is a respectable widow raising a daughter on her own. Few know that Maude belongs to an ancient order of assassins, the Daughters of Lilith, and is as well the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Anne Bonney, the legendary female pirate.

Leaving Golgotha in search of her daughter Constance, who has been taken from her, Maude travels to Charleston, South Carolina, only to find herself caught in the middle of a secret war between the Daughters of Lilith and their ancestral enemies, the monstrous Sons of Typhon. To save Constance, whose prophetic gifts are sought by both cults, Maude must follow in the footsteps of Anne Bonney as she embarks on a perilous voyage that will ultimately lead her to a lost city of bones in the heart of Africa ― and the Father of All Monsters.

One of the most popular characters from The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana ventures beyond Golgotha on a boldly imaginative, globe-spanning adventure of her own.

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March Issue of The Dark Now on Sale

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dark March 2017-smallThere’s a delicious Weird Western cover on The Dark this month, and that’s enough reason to check it out in my book. (Click the image at right for a supersized version.)

The magazine became a monthly last year, and so far in 2017 it’s published original fiction by Sara Saab, Lisa L. Hannett, Emily B. Cataneo, and Suyi Davies Okungbowa, plus reprints from Ray Cluley, E. Catherine Tobler, Michael Wehunt, and Michael Harris Cohen. At $1.99 per issue, it remains one of the best bargains in the field.

The Dark is co-edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Sean Wallace, with assistance by Jack Fisher. It is published online and in digital formats, and includes two original stories and two reprints each issue. Here’s the Table of Contents for issue #22, cover-dated March 2017.

If We Survive the Night,” by Carlie St. George
Caro in Carno,” by Helen Marshall (from The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu, 2016)
The Thinker,” by George Salis
The Mysteries,” by Livia Llewellyn (from Nightmare Carnival, 2014)

You can read issues free online, or help support the magazine by buying the ebook editions, available for the Kindle and Nook in Mobi and ePub format. Issues are around 50 pages, and priced at $2.99 through Amazon, B&N.com, Apple, Kobo, and other fine outlets — or subscribe for just $1.99 per issue. If you enjoy the magazine you can contribute to their new Patreon account here. You can also support The Dark by buying their books, reviewing stories, or even just leaving comments.

Read the March issue here, and see their complete back issue catalog here. The March cover is by breakermaximus. We last covered The Dark with the December issue.

See our March Fantasy Magazine Rack here, and all of our recent Magazine coverage here.


New Treasures: Dr Potter’s Medicine Show by Eric Scott Fischl

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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The mass market original seems almost like a dying art form these days. But not for Angry Robot, for whom it’s their bread and butter. They find talented writers and package their works in attractive, sharply-designed, inexpensive paperbacks. I heartily approve.

Dr Potter’s Medicine Show, by Eric Scott Fischl, is the latest Angry Robot paperback to grab my attention. It’s an historical dark fantasy that John Shirley calls “A powerful alchemical elixir concocted of post Civil War historical fiction, dark fantasy, and Felliniesque flavoring.” On his website, Fischl recently announced that the next book in the series, The Trials of Solomon Parker, will be released in November 2017, also from Angry Robot.

Dr Potter’s Medicine Show was published by Angry Robot on February 2, 2017. It is 346 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Steven Meyer-Rassow. Read the first three chapters at the Angry Robot website.


New Treasures: Deadlands: Thunder Moon Rising by Jeffrey Mariotte

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

deadlands-thunder-moon-rising-smallAfter saying a few words about Laura Anne Gilman’s upcoming novel The Cold Eye — in which the devil runs a saloon on the American frontier, and sends a sixteen year old girl out to fight monsters for him — it got me hankering to seek out more weird westerns.

I didn’t have to look far. Tor Books and Pinnacle Entertainment (creator of the Deadlands RPG) have a promising weird western series on the go, set in the undead-haunted frontier of Deadlands. The latest installment, Thunder Moon Rising, was released in trade paperback in September. It was written by Jeffrey Mariotte, author of the horror novels River Runs Red and Cold Black Hearts.

Fear is abroad in the Deadlands as a string of brutal killings and cattle mutilations trouble a Western frontier town in the Arizona Territory, nestled in the forbidding shadow of the rugged Thunder Mountains. A mule train is massacred, homes and ranches are attacked, and men and women are stalked and butchered by bestial killers who seem to be neither human nor animal, meanwhile a ruthless land baron tries to buy up all the surrounding territory-and possibly bring about an apocalypse.

Once an officer in the Union Army, Tucker Bringloe is now a worthless drunk begging for free drinks at the corner saloon. When he’s roped into a posse searching for the nameless killers, Tuck must rediscover the man he once was if he’s to halt the bloodshed and stop occult forces from unleashing Hell on Earth… when the Thunder Moon rises.

We covered the previous volume in the series, Jonathan Maberry’s Ghostwalkers, last year.

Deadlands: Thunder Moon Rising was published by Tor Books on September 20, 2016. It is 397 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version.


Future Treasures: The Cold Eye, Book Two of The Devil’s West, by Laura Anne Gilman

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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I love weird westerns. But the sub-genre has fallen on hardsrcabble times recently, which means you have to be something of a risk-taker to write one. And to launch a series? You’d need to be a daredevil.

Laura Anne Gilman is a daredevil, and she proved it earlier this year with the first novel in her new weird western series, Silver on the Road. In his NPR review, Jason Sheehan said:

[Gilman has] chosen a fertile place to begin her new series (the broad plains, red rock and looming mountains of the American West), and amped up the oddity of it all by planting the Devil there as a card dealer, fancy-pants and owner of a saloon in a town called Flood.

And the Devil, he runs the Territory. Owns it in a way. Wards it against things meaner than he is, because Gilman’s Devil isn’t exactly the church-y version. He’s dapper in a fine suit and starched shirt. He’s power incarnate — a man (no horns, no forked tail, just a hint of brimstone now and then) who gets things done…

Lost in the middle of the story, you’ll feel somehow that you’ve always known the Devil wore a suit and ran a gambling house back in six-gun times, that he once sent a sixteen year old girl out into the world to fight monsters for him.

Silver on the Road became a Locus hardcover bestseller, and a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Pick for Fall 2015 in their SF, Fantasy, & Horror category. The second novel, The Cold Eye, arrives in hardcover next month from Saga Press. Here’s the description.

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Future Treasures: Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

nine-of-stars-laura-bickle-smallLaura Bickle is the author of the Dark Alchemy weird western series (Dark Alchemy, Mercury Retrograde), featuring geologist Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig, which have been described as “Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad.”

Nine of Stars is the newest Petra Dee novel, and also the first Wildlands novel, which the publisher describes as “an exciting new series that shows how weird and wonderful the West can truly be.” I don’t see a lot of contemporary Weird Westerns, so consider me intrigued.

Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors – especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill – a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.

It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all – before the trail turns deathly cold.

Nine of Stars will be published by Harper Voyager on December 27, 2016. It is 384 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $4.99 for the digital version.

See all of our recent coverage of Weird Westerns here.


Gunslingers, Shapeshifters, and Ancient Animal Gods: The Children of the Drought Trilogy by Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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The border town of Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day, but at sunset wake the gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight. Appaloosa Elim had to enter Sixes to find his so-called partner Sil Halfwick, who disappeared inside in the hope of making a name for himself among Sixes’ notorious black-market traders.

That was the premise of One Night in Sixes, the popular debut novel by Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson. A sequel arrived in 2015, and the concluding novel in the trilogy is now scheduled to arrive in paperback in late December. Here’s all the details; links will take you to our previous coverage.

One Night in Sixes (464 pages, $7.99/$6.99 digital, July 29, 2014) — excerpt
Medicine For the Dead (480 pages, $7.99/$3.99 digital, April 9, 2015) — prologue
Dreams of the Eaten (384 pages, $8.99/$6.99 digital, December 27, 2016)

All three were published by Solaris. The covers are by Tomasz Jedruszek.

See all of our recent coverage of series fantasy here.


The New Old West

Friday, March 25th, 2016 | Posted by Violette Malan

Silver on the Road-smallFor years fantasy writers, and to some extent SF writers, have been looking for new worlds to write about, and wondering what the next big thing is going to be. I don’t mean just “are werewolves the new vampires” or what we can do to make zombies more interesting. Those are, if I can put it this way, single-trope problems.

More complicated is the general feeling that we’ve pretty much exhausted Celtic mythology as the magical/supernatural basis for our stories, and the pseudo-middle-ages as the setting of choice. Not to say that many wonderful stories aren’t still being told using those tropes – and being welcomed enthusiastically by mainstream audiences (even my Spanish cousins are reading/watching Juego de Tronos) but it’s getting more and more difficult to come up with something that feels fresh and innovative.

Of course we’ve already seen successful forays into non-white, non-western mythologies and cultures, but those of us who are white, and western, tend to tread carefully when we borrow from other cultures. No one wants to be guilty of any kind of appropriation.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen successful use of areas of western culture that don’t involve cousins of the Green Man. Dave Duncan’s Alchemist series successfully mines the European Renaissance, for example, while the success of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, set in the Napoleonic era, just proves how hungry we are to see dragons in a new light. And let’s not forget the Victorian Steampunk phenomenon, which has fired the imaginations of Fantasy and SF writers alike.

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New Treasures: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Friday, February 12th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Revenge and the Wild-smallYou know what I haven’t featured in far too long? A promising weird western.

Let me make it up to you with the debut novel from Michelle Modesto, Revenge and the Wild, described as a “delightfully dark and fantastical Western.” You know you could use a quality weird western in your life.

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s just perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Seven years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes — and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold — which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

Revenge and the Wild was published by Balzer + Bray on February 2, 2016. It is 384 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital edition.


Future Treasures: Your Brother’s Blood by David Towsey

Saturday, November 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Your Brother's Blood-smallHere’s an imaginative debut novel set centuries in the future, that sounds more like a weird western than science fiction. And you know how we feel about weird westerns! I’ve already pre-ordered a copy.

An unnamed event has wiped out most of humanity, scattering its remnants across vast and now barren lands reminiscent of the 19th century western frontier of America. Small clusters of humans still cling to existence in a post-apocalyptic world that is increasingly overrun by those who have risen from the dead — or, as the living call them, the Walkin’.

Thomas, a thirty-two year old conscripted soldier, homeward bound to the small frontier town of Barkley after fighting in a devastating civil war, is filled with hope at the thought of being reunited with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Mary, both named after characters in the Good Book. As it turns out, he also happens to be among the Walkin’.

Devoid of a pulse or sense of pain, but with his memories and hopes intact, Thomas soon realizes that the living, who are increasingly drawn to the followers of the Good Book, are not kindly disposed to the likes of him. And when he learns what the good people of Barkley intend to do to him, and to his family, he realizes he may just have to kidnap his daughter to save her from a fate worse than becoming a member of the undead.

When the people of Barkley send out a posse in pursuit of father and daughter, the race for survival truly begins…

Your Brother’s Blood will be published by Jo Fletcher Books on December 1, 2015. It is 336 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover and $11.99 for the digital edition.


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