Goth Chick News: Three New Horror Stories to Chill Your October Nights

Thursday, October 18th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Dark Beneath the Ice-small The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein-small Dracul Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker-small

With our favorite month of the year nearly half over, and the last two weeks of “the season” in full swing, we here at Goth Chick News have been living on a diet of adult beverages, caffeine and Pez. From making the rounds to Chicagoland’s best haunted attractions, to hosting our biennial Halloween bash for 200 (this year’s theme was Freak Show), there has been very little time to sleep as we work to cram in every last drop of fun before November 1st.

So, normally I would bring you these three new releases one at a time. But as it’s 3 a.m. here in the Midwest and I’ve had quite a lot of espresso, you’re getting them all in one go.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé was released in August and is the Canadian author’s first book. Technically it is considered YA, but as I didn’t know that going in, I honestly wouldn’t have guessed. Though I wouldn’t exactly bill it the way the publisher did, as “Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity,” The Dark Beneath the Ice is a terrific, creepy story that poses many questions, one of which is: can an inner demon summon the supernatural?

Read More »


Birthday Reviews: Ted Chiang’s “The Evolution of Human Science”

Thursday, October 18th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Gregory Manchess

Cover by Gregory Manchess

Ted Chiang was born in October 1967.

Chiang has won the Hugo Award four times, for his novelettes “Hell Is the Absence of God” and “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” for his short story “Exhalation,” and for his novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects. Both of those novelettes also won the Nebula as did his novelette “Tower of Babylon” and his novella “Story of Your Life,” which was turned into the Hugo and Bradbury Award-winning film Arrival. “Exhalation” also won the British SF Association Award and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. “Story of Your Life” earned the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for “Seventy-Two Letters.” Chiang has won the Hayakawa Award for “Understand,” “Story of Your Life,” and “Seventy-Two Letters.” The Lifecycle of Software Objects won the Italia Award. “Hell Is the Absence of God won the Kurd Lasswitz Preis. Translations of his stories “Story of Your Life,” “Hell Is the Absence of God,” “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” and The Lifecycle of Software Objects won the Seiun Award. In 1992, Chiang won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

“Catching Crumbs from the Table” originally appeared in the June 1, 2000 issue of Nature. When Chiang included it in his 2002 collection Stories of Your Life and Others (later reprinted as Arrival), he changed the title to “The Evolution of Human Science.” The story was translated into French for the collection La Tour de Babylone and into German by Karin Will and Michael Plogmann for the collection Das wahre Wesen der Dinge. It was translated into German again in 2017 for inclusion in the March issue of Spektrum der Wissenschaft.

Chiang’s “The Evolution of Human Science” is an interesting short story which doesn’t have any characters. It is written as an editorial appearing in a future issue of Nature which notes that humans are no longer making any breakthroughs in scientific endeavors. Metahumans who have been genetically modified are the ones who are pushing the boundaries while humans can, at most, synthesize the metahumans’ achievements for a broader audience. The humans aren’t always good at that since many of the successes of the metahumans, while beneficial to the mere humans, can’t really be understood by the unenhanced mind.

Read More »


Birthday Reviews: Katherine Kurtz’s “Venture in Vain”

Thursday, October 18th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Venture in Vain

Venture in Vain

Katherine Kurtz was born on October 18, 1944.

Kurtz won the coveted Balrog Award for her novel Camber the Heretic in 1982. Volumes in her Deryni series have been nominated for the British Fantasy Award, the Gandalf Award, and the Mythopoeic Award. Kurtz was one of the Guests of Honor at the 1996 World Fantasy Convention held in Schaumburg, Illinois. She has collaborated with Deborah Turner Harris on the Adept and Templar Knights series, with Robert Reginald on Codex Derynianus, with Scott MacMillan on the Knights of the Blood series and some short fiction. She has edited or co-edited anthologies of short stories set in her Deryni and Templar Knights worlds.

“Venture in Vain” was published as a chapbook, issued to commemorate Kurtz’s 2001 visit to the John M. Pfau Library at California State University at San Bernardino. Only 300 copies were printed and the story has never been reprinted. Each copy was autographed.

The Deryni cycle is a historically based fantasy series modeled after the Welsh kingdom which focuses on dynastic conflict combined with the inclusion of the race of Deryni, who have magical and psychic abilities that cause them to be feared by the humans they live among. “Venture in Vain” is set thirty-one years prior to the events of Kurtz’s original trilogy, although she has also written several volumes and short stories that are set before the story. It focuses on a group of Mearan nobility, including two princesses, who are fleeing before a Gwynedd invasion. The story opens with a brief description of the dynastic intrigues which explain why the Mearans are fighting for the man they view as their rightful prince, Judhael III, and why Gwynedd King Donal Blaine Haldane views himself as the rightful ruler of Meara.

Kurtz’s attention to detail, the creation of a multifaceted society, and her characters are what bring the Deryni novels to life and give them the feel that Kurtz is reporting on actual historical events. Within the confines of “Venture in Vain,” Kurtz doesn’t have a lot of time to provide focus to each element of her stories, so the story works best for those with prior familiarity to the world of the Deryni. She is able to explain the dynastic situation, create characters, who while not fully fleshed out do show complexity. When the Deryni Morian ap Lewys catches the fugitives, he notes that none of them are villains and they are doing what they must because that is how their roles play out for them. While Kurtz doesn’t show the complex magic that plays a role in so many of the stories, she does demonstrate the subtlety of Deryni powers when Morian questions Sir Frances and Sir Robard.

Read More »


Pickpockets and Stendhal Syndrome: First Impressions of Florence

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

20181010_174923

The fortified palace of the Medici

I love being married to a scientist.

My wife was giving a seminar at Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory in Florence last week and instead of staying home and writing like I probably should have, I decided to tag along. It was my fourth time in Italy and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Four days in Florence didn’t change that.

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance is a visual overload of beauty, so much so that when I gave a talk yesterday on using setting in writing, I gave Florence as an example of a place that’s impossible to describe without having an intimate knowledge of it. The entire trip I suffered from Stendhal Syndrome, a condition named after the 19th century French author who fell into a swoon from all the beauty he was exposed to in Florence. It was impossible to take it all in.

Read More »


She-Ra is Now Even More She-Ra

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Posted by mariebilodeau

she-ra-poster

For the first time since 1985 (that’s 33 years, people), She-Ra: Princess of Power is getting a full cartoon reboot. Her twin brother and forefather, in a strange, slightly uncomfortable and incestuous link, has already received multiple reboots, some more popular than others (New Adventures, anyone?), but She-Ra hasn’t been seen since the 80s except in some toys and very dark DC storylines. Which mostly focused around her brother, of course.

This time, She-Ra is breaking free! And, from all accounts, she represents her She-Ra-ness more than ever before.

Read More »


Birthday Reviews: Bruce McAllister’s “World of the Wars”

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Carl Berkowitz

Cover by Carl Berkowitz

Bruce McAllister was born on October 17, 1946.

McAllister’s s novelette “Dream Baby” was nominated for the Nebula and Hugo Award in 1988. He was nominated for a second Hugo Award in 2007 for his short story “Kin.” His novelette “The Bleeding Child” (a.k.a. “The Crying Child” earned him a nomination for the Shirley Jackson Award in 2013. He edited the anthology There Won’t Be War with Harry Harrison. He has collaborated on fiction with Barry N. Malzberg, Andreas Neumann, Patrick Smith, and W.S. Adams.

“World of the Wars” was originally published in Mars, We Love You: Tales of Mars, Men, and Martians, edited by Jane Hipolito and Willis E. McNelly in 1971. The book has also been published as The Book of Mars. The only other time the story has been reprinted was in McAllister’s 2007 collection The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories.

Read More »


Stuffed Fables: If Toy Story Were a Role-Playing Board Game

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

StuffedFablesDemoYou are a stuffed animal, who has watched over and cared for your child for many years. Tonight is a big night, though, as the parents have bought your child a big girl bed. As the lights go out, your child goes to sleep for the first night without the protection of her crib. Little did you know that this was the night you were preparing for … when dark forces of nightmare would reach out for your child, trying to destroy the hope and joy that you cherish within her.

This is the premise of the board game Stuffed Fables, by Plaid Hat Games. Plaid Hat has created a number of exceptional games, including Summoner War and the zombie survival Dead of Winter franchise. Stuffed Fables is designed by Jerry Hawthorne, who is also responsible for Plaid Hat’s Mice and Mystics franchise games, including the spin-off battle game Tail Feathers. Each of the games is great to play and worth an in-depth review of its own, but for now, let’s get focus back on Stuffed Fables.

Read More »


A Treasure Trove of Classic British Horror: Darkness Mist & Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

basil-copper-darkness-mist-shadow-small

I first saw the three volumes of Darkness Mist & Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basic Copper at Greg Ketter’s booth at Windy City seven years ago. It was a gorgeous set of hardcovers, with magnificent wraparound Stephen Fabian artwork, and it drew my eye immediately.

It was prohibitively expensive, however — nearly $200 for the set, if I remember correctly. Two hundred bucks buys a lot of vintage paperbacks. I put them back on the shelf with a sigh, and headed for the back of the room, where the cheap paperbacks were piled high on countless tables.

Darkness Mist & Shadow was published by Drugstore Indian Press, a division of PS Publishing in the UK, which means it wasn’t widely distributed here in the US. I’ve always been curious about Basil Copper’s fiction… not curious enough to part with $200 on an impulse purchase, but still. Bob Byrne is a fan of his Solar Pons tales (also available from PS Publishing), and Bob has good taste, so that heightened my curiosity.

I’m not always in the mood for classic British horror, but when October rolls around, with its long evenings, hot chocolate, and a cat that insists on climbing into my lap at seven o’clock and staying there, immobile, until midnight, I’m much more receptive. The promise of a virtual library of short stories and novellas — painstakingly gathered from such hard-to-find sources as the Dark Terrors anthology series, the Pan Book of Horror Stories, New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, and long out-of-print Arkham House volumes — gets a lot more appealing. So when PS reissued the books in beautiful trade paperback editions, priced at just £9.99 each ($17 from most US sellers), it was simply too hard to resist. I paid $45 for the complete set, and I’m very happy I did.

Read More »


The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_164159RYRk8xECHaving set out to discuss The Claw of the Concilator (1981), the second entry in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, I’m completely unsure of what to write. Oh, I can tell you what happened, even how some things happened, but I’m not sure I can tell you why a lot of things happened. It’s probably due to a lack of context as two books remain in the series, but I’m not totally sure about that. Much of the story is conveyed via weird encounters, dreams, memories, fables, and even the text of a play. It’s challenging to piece the parts together to form a linear narrative, let alone anticipate the tale’s direction, which remains nearly as mysterious at the conclusion as at the start.

At the end of the previous book, The Shadow of the Torturer, Severian and his companions were caught in a violent outburst among the crowd of people at the great gate exiting the city Nessus. Severian is now accompanied by Jonas, a man with “a jointed contrivance of steel” for a right hand. The others he traveled with, Dr. Talos, Baldanders, Jolenta, and Dorcas, were lost to him in the chaos. While intent on reaching Thrax to take up his assignment as the town’s executioner, Severian and Jonas still hope to find the others. Severian makes his way serving as itinerant headsman and torturer in several towns along the road. It is in the mining town of Saltus (its mine is the buried ruins of an ancient city) that we find Severian and Jonas as Claw opens.

After he carries out a pair of executions, Severian is lured into danger by Agia. Previously she had colluded in setting him up to be killed and robbed, resulting in her own brother’s execution. She had also stolen the powerful artifact, the Claw of the Conciliator, and hidden it on Severian. Having discovered it, he has begun to realize it can emit a powerful light, heal wounds, and even raise the dead. With it, he is able to survive and overcome the trap set for him.

Unfortunately it can’t keep him from falling into the hands of the rebel leader, Vodalus. This encounter leads to Severian and Jonas signing on with the rebels and being sent to the House Absolute, the secret palace of the Autarch. There he must deliver a message to another agent of the uprising. They will also find their friends there who have been hired to put on a play. Along the way things get extra weird.

By book’s end, Severian has still not reached Thrax. He has, though, explored the House Absolute, one of the coolest works of fantastical architecture. It is covered with lawns and gardens to keep it from be spied from the sky. Miles and miles of tunnels lie below it, some, perhaps, even reaching all the way back to Nessus. Even more mysterious than the secret passages and rooms that seem de rigueur for any self-respecting palace, is the Second House. Instead of just adding more hidden chambers, the Autarch’s mysterious aide, Father Inrie, added an entire new house within the very structure of the House Absolute.

Read More »


Birthday Reviews: Lawrence Schimel’s “Taking Action”

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Barclay Shaw

Cover by Barclay Shaw

Lawrence Schimel was born on October 16, 1971.

Schimel won the Rhysling Award for Long Poem in 2002 for “How to Make a Human.” In 2007, he shared the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Other Work with Richard Labonte for their anthologies The Future Is Queer. Schimel has also been nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the Lambda Award. In addition to his collaboration with Labonte, he has edited multiple anthologies with Martin H. Greenberg and has collaborated on fiction with Mike Resnick, Billie Sue Mosiman, and Mark A. Garland. He has, on occasion, published using the pseudonym David Laurents.

Schimel published “Taking Action” in Mike Resnick’s anthology Alternate Warriors in 1993. The story has never been reprinted.

One of the issues with the anthology Alternate Warriors is that many of the individuals who became the focus of stories were known for their advocacy of non-violence. Someone who advocates peaceful means to achieve their goals must change so much to become a warrior that they are practically unrecognizable. Schimel manages to overcome that issue in “Taking Action” by offering a plausible reason for Martin Luther King, Jr. to use violence in his campaign for civil rights.

Read More »


« Later Entries   Earlier Entries »

This site © 2018 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.