An Anthology to Help End Violence Against Women: Giving the Devil His Due edited by Rebecca Brewer

An Anthology to Help End Violence Against Women: Giving the Devil His Due edited by Rebecca Brewer

Giving the Devil His Due (Running Wild Press, September 2021). Cover uncredited

I’m getting word from a number of readers that a recent charity anthology, Giving the Devil His Due, is well worth a look. Published in September by The Pixel Project in partnership with Running Wild Press, it contains reprints and new fiction from Stephen Graham Jones, Kelley Armstrong, Nicholas Kaufmann, Nisi Shawl, Peter Tieryas, Dana Cameron, Jason Sanford, and many others. It was compiled by ex-Ace/Roc editor Rebecca Brewer; here’s the intriguing description.

Giving The Devil His Due is inspired by award-winning Horror author Stephen Graham Jones’s story “Hell On The Homefront Too” about a battered wife who finally gets rid of her abusive war-hero-turned-zombie husband. The theme of the anthology is the comeuppance of men who commit violence against women and girls. With a Twilight Zone vibe, this anthology evokes the spirit of Rod Serling to tell compelling stories that will help get the conversation about violence against women started amongst book lovers and fandoms worldwide while sending a clear message that misogyny, toxic masculinity, and violence against women is unacceptable.

Clarence Young was the first one to tip me off to the book, and it wasn’t long before I found Seven Jane’s enthusiastic review at Nerd Daily. Here’s a slice.

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What a Book This Is: Passchendaele: A New History by Nick Lloyd

What a Book This Is: Passchendaele: A New History by Nick Lloyd

Passchendaele: A New History (Penguin, 2017). Cover by Jeremy Sancha

What a book this is. An absolutely brilliant new assessment of one of the hardest and bloodiest battles ever fought. The engagement, technically Ypres III, popularly called Passchendaele, which was launched to capture the U-boat pens on the Belgian coast, and pitted the British Expeditionary Force (including divisions from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa) and parts of the French Army against the forces of the German Empire, lasted from June to November 1917, took place in a landscape from Hell, and claimed over half a million casualties. Nick Lloyd’s new book takes a number of different perspectives on the battle and tells many untold stories.

We get POVs from everywhere, including the High Command, the Royal Flying Corps, the politicians in London and of course, the mud-spattered Tommies in the teeth of the maelstrom. It’s a very accessible and informative read, painting vivid pictures of bitter hand-to-hand fighting for possession of railway heads, blockhouses, bunkers and trenches. It brings you closer than you could imagine to the terror of unrelenting shellfire, flame-throwers, poison gas and machine guns, but it isn’t all a story of doom.

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Vintage Treasures: Manifest Destiny by Barry B. Longyear

Vintage Treasures: Manifest Destiny by Barry B. Longyear

Manifest Destiny (Berkley Books, 1980). Cover by John Rush

I started buying science fiction magazines in 1977, after learning such things existed in the pages of paperback anthologies edited by my new favorite author, Isaac Asimov. I pedaled my bike off Rockcliffe air base in Ottawa in search of a corner store, and found one with a well stocked magazine rack. Hiding behind Better Homes and Gardens and the latest issue of Newsweek I found a row of compact marvels with colorful covers depicting spaceships and far planets. They included Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Amazing, and the second issue of Asimov’s very own magazine, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

I still recall that bike ride home, clutching Asimov’s and Analog in one hand, and staying up late to read them. It was a good time to discover SF magazines. A lot of new writers were exploding on the scene. One of the biggest was Barry B. Longyear, who published his first story in Asimov’s in 1978, and in 1980 became the first person to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in the same year.

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Weird Tales Deep Read: February 1936

Weird Tales Deep Read: February 1936

This installment of the Weird Tales Deep Read continues our examination of 1936 with the February issue, which would have ranked among the best ever if not for a terrible cover story that dragged the rating down to a still very respectable 2.1, making it the year’s second best issue. We see some very familiar authors, including C. L. Moore, Paul Ernst, Robert E. Howard (who managed to appear in ten of the eleven ‘36 issues, largely because of two serials), and H.P. Lovecraft (with a reprint).

The best of issue once again comes down to Howard and Moore, and Howard again gets the nod by a hair. Of the 11 stories eight (73%) are set in the United States, and one each (9%) on Mars and an unnamed Jovian moon, China and other Asian territories, and in a fictitious realm. Eight (73%) are set in contemporary times, two in the past (18%) and one (9%) in the future.

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Goth Chick News: Showtime’s New All-Girl Survival Drama Yellowjackets Promises to Be a Wild Ride

Goth Chick News: Showtime’s New All-Girl Survival Drama Yellowjackets Promises to Be a Wild Ride

Mike Bockoven’s book Fantasticland is one of my favorites. It takes the concept of Lord of the Flies and plops is right down in an imagined Disney World competitor theme park whose employees get cut off from civilization due to a hurricane. It explores what happens when once normal college-aged kids divide into Mad Max-esque factions to fight for survival. I’ve long thought that, in the right hands, this story would make for an incredible movie. But though an ambitious theater company in California took it on as a play earlier this year, there have been no murmurs about Fantasticland making it to the big screen.

However, it seems like Showtime is going to take up the concept with their new series Yellowjackets, and it looks like this could be the savage girl thriller we all need.

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Not Streaming: The Fall

Not Streaming: The Fall

The Fall
The Fall (2008)
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Shown: British Quad Poster

By chance, there is one actor who I’ll be returning to several times in the course of these articles.  Lee Pace appeared in a support role in Wonderfalls, which aired in 2004. He returned as the main character in Pushing Daisies from 2007 through 2009. And in between, he appeared in the movie The Fall, released in 2006.

The film is the story of Roy (Pace), a stuntman during the silent movie era.  A stunt gone wrong lands him in the hospital without the use of his legs and also results in the girl of his dreams leaving him for the film’s leading man.  While in the hospital, Roy makes the acquaintance of Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) an inquisitive young girl in the hospital with a broken arm. To pass the time, Roy begins telling Alexandria a complex story of a group of antiheroes fighting against the evil General Odious (Daniel Caltagirone). The story is depicted the way Alexandria imagines it, with the various characters bearing resemblance to the hospital staff and patients.

One of the features of Pushing Daisies was the over saturation and use of color throughout the series. The Fall also makes use of oversaturation to good effect as it helps divide the films reality from the fantasy sequences described by Pace and imagined by Alexandria. Roy’s story begins as an escapist fantasy to while away the time for himself and Alexandria, but it quickly becomes apparent that the tale is more than just a story and has dark ramifications, both within the story Roy is telling and for the life in the hospital that he and Alexandria are experiencing.

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New Treasures: Out of the Ruins, edited by Preston Grassmann

New Treasures: Out of the Ruins, edited by Preston Grassmann

Out of the Ruins (Titan Books, September 2021). Cover by Shutterstock

I’ve spent a lot of energy over the past few years decrying the death of paperback science fiction anthology. So when they do still occasionally appear, I’m inclined to celebrate them — especially when they’re as promising as Out of the Ruins, a collection of apocalyptic tales old and new from a stellar list of contributors: Samuel R. Delany, Ramsey Campbell, Lavie Tidhar, Emily St John Mandel, Carmen Maria Machado, Charlie Jane Anders, Nina Allan, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Paul Di Filippo, and many others.

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Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords: Seventies Hall of Shame

Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords: Seventies Hall of Shame

Swashbuckler (US, 1976)

Let’s face it, in the spate of historical swashbucklers that followed Richard Lester’s Musketeers films, not everything was a classic like Robin and Marian. There were a few toads in the flower garden, some rotten apples in the barrel, and it’s only fair to warn you about them. However, even a terrible misfire can have its amusing side, as you’ll see in the sterling examples gathered below, three attempts to capture the that old swordplay magic that go astray in entirely different ways.

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Fantasia 2021, Part LXXII: Final Thoughts

Fantasia 2021, Part LXXII: Final Thoughts

I saw more movies at Fantasia 2021 than at any previous iteration of the festival. By my count, I watched 96 short films from 25 countries and 69 features from 19 countries, with a total of 32 different countries represented in my viewing this year. The quality was there, too. I don’t have any metric to track these things, but it felt like both the number of exceptional films and the overall quality of the movies in 2021 was higher than in the past.

Before going on with a look back at this year’s Fantasia experience, I want to thank, as every year, Fantasia’s organisers and programmers and volunteers, and generally everyone involved with the festival. It is always in many ways the highlight of my year. I also want to thank John O’Neill for hosting these reviews here, and for keeping Black Gate up and running. And I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read and comment. Fatigue issues have tended to keep me from replying here as much as I’d like, but every comment is noted and valued.

The Fantasia experience this year was similar to last year’s; there was just more of it. There was a notable improvement in the way scheduled movies played — last year you had to start watching within five or ten minutes of the scheduled start time, while this year the films were available for a three-hour window beginning at a given time. That made things a lot easier, and the fact that almost all of them were also available for 24 hours two days after their first showing helped a lot as well.

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Discovering Robert E. Howard – The Series

Discovering Robert E. Howard – The Series

Back in 2015, because I didn’t know any better, I thought I could reach out to Robert E. Howard experts and fans from around the world, and convince them to contribute essays about Robert E Howard, for a Black Gate series. Yeah, I know: “Who are you, Byrne? Why do you think you can pull this off?” Because I don’t have the common sense that God gave a rock. Also – I can’t even sing as well as a rock (Bible reference there). So, without a clue (GREAT movie!), I reached out to a few folks, got pointed to a few more, and with the Black Gate name behind me, rounded up a VERY knowledgeable and talented group.

Howard was much more than just the creator of Conan (who I LOVE). He, of course, wrote many other characters, and for many other markets and genres. He lived an interesting life as well. And some generous folks contributed some tremendous essays!

It was a fantastic series, nominated for a Robert E. Howard Foundation award. The Howard community loved it, to no one’s surprise. The wide-ranging look at REH, covering his life and his works, was a superb addition to REH scholarship. It also planted the seeds for a follow-up series at Black Gate, Hither Came Conan, which was an even bigger hit! And you fans of either series, it will be a trilogy, as we’ll be emulating Hither Came Conan with another Howard character. But I’ve got another non-Howard series to put together first.

Here below is the entire series (which included a blog series being done separately by Howard Andrew Jones & Bill Ward). I intentionally minimized the Conan content, as the goal was to paint a broad REH picture. And we covered Conan in depth with Hither Came Conan. Click on a few links and explore the amazing world of Robert E. Howard. Some tremendous stuff, which Black Gate was proud to bring together.

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