Future Treasures: 95 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books to Read in 2018

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Myke Cole THE ARMORED SAINT-small The Robots of Gotham-small Outpost W. Michael Gear-small

Hand in hand with the new year comes brand new schedules from the major genre publishers like Tor, DAW, Ace, Angry Robot, Solaris, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and many others. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog has compiled a magnificent list of 95 Books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editors Can’t Wait for You to Read in 2018, and I was surprised and delighted to see Black Gate authors well represented, including Myke Coke, Todd McAulty, and Patrice Sarath.

There’s also plenty of other enticing titles, including books by W. Michael Gear, Tim Powers, Yoon Ha Lee, Seanan McGuire, Jim Butcher, S.K.Dunstall, Peter McLean, David Weber, Kristen Britain, Sylvain Neuvel, Carrie Vaughn, Dale Bailey, Molly Tanzer, Rich Larson, Kameron Hurley, Nancy Springer, Peter Watts, Ian McDonald, Dan Abnett, and many others. Here’s a few of the hightlights.

The Armored Saint, by Myke Cole (Tor.com, 208 pages, $17.99 in hardcover, February 20)

This is a fabulous tale of bravery versus doubt, of magic versus religion and of humanity versus its demons (both real and metaphorical). A truly action-packed fantasy, with a heroine you can’t help but adore, and Myke Cole’s long-overdue foray into hardcover fiction. Book one in a series of three, and one not to be missed! — Lee Harris

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Check out the Table of Contents for The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume Four, edited by Helen Marshall and Michael Kelly

Sunday, October 15th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume 4-small The Year's Best Weird Fiction Volume 4-back-small

It’s always a delight when The Year’s Best Weird Fiction arrives, as I consistently find it one of the most eclectic and eye-opening of the Year’s Best volumes. All of them introduce me to new writers and fiction venues, but I don’t think any do it with the same regularity as Year’s Best Weird Fiction.

The series is edited by a different guest editor every year; Canadian author Helen Marshall is at the reins for 2017. The series editor is Undertow’s distinguished publisher, Michael Kelly. This year’s volume includes stories from Jeffrey Ford, Dale Bailey, Usman T. Malik, Sam J. Miller, Sarah Tolmie, Indrapramit Das, and many others. It arrived in trade paperback from Undertow Publications earlier this month.

And while we’re talking about the book, I have to say a few words about Alex Andreev’s fantastically creepy cover, which may be my favorite cover art of 2017. I’ve seen it multiple times, but didn’t notice anything particularly unsettling about it until I tracked down a high-res version for this article. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Click the image above left to view a high-resolution version, and see what I mean. Warning: not for the squeamish. (Which in this case definitely includes me. Brrrr.)

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Check out the Table of Contents for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017, edited by Charles Yu and John Joseph Adams

Sunday, October 1st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017-small The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017-back-small

Charles Yu, the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine, also knows his way around a short story, with two collections to his credit, Third Class Superhero (2006) and Sorry Please Thank You (2012). He’s a fine choice to edit this year’s edition of Mariner Books’ The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, which was edited by Joe Hill in 2015, and Karen Joy Fowler in 2016. The Series Editor is John Joseph Adams, editor of Lightspeed, Nightmare, and about a zillion SF and fantasy anthologies.

This year’s volume officially goes on sale on Tuesday, but I saw a copy on the shelf yesterday at Barnes & Noble, so it’s out in the wild. It’s the last of the Year’s Best volumes we track here at Black Gate, but it’s also one of the most interesting. It contains fiction by Leigh Bardugo, E. Lily Yu,y Nisi Shawl, Jeremiah Tolbert, Peter S. Beagle, N.K. Jemisin, Genevieve Valentine, Catherynne M. Valente, Greg van Eekhout, Caroline M. Yoachim, and many others — including two stories by Dale Bailey. Here’s the complete TOC.

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Try the Science Fiction Value Packs from Asimov’s and Analog for Just $6.95

Sunday, June 18th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov Science Fiction and Analog double sized issues-small

Get a dozen double issues of Asimov’s and Analog — a $96 value — for just $15.95!

I was checking the subscription rates for Analog Science Fiction last week, as I was prepping an article on the May/June issue, when I stumbled on two curious new entries on the subscription page:

Science Fiction Value Pack-8 — $6.95
Science Fiction Double Issue Value Pack-12 — $15.95

For a limited time Dell Magazines, publishers of Asimov’s and Analog (as well as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine) is selling packs of back issues at steep discounts. You can get an 8 pack (total value nearly $40) for just $6.95 — less than a dollar an issue! — or an even dozen double issues (value $96) for just $15.95. All the stock is brand new.

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May/June 2017 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction May June 2017-smallAsimov’s Science Fiction is celebrating its 40th Anniversary Year in 2017, and in her editorial this issue Sheila Williams reflects on the many milestones and anniversaries she’s had during her 35 years with the magazine.

Alas, the magazines’ fifteenth anniversary was not a happy occasion. Isaac died on April 6, 1992, leaving all of us heartbroken. He’d told me several times before he died that one major reason he’d founded the magazine was to give new writers a welcoming place to break into science fiction. He also expressed his deeply held wish that the magazine continue long after his death. While the following year wasn’t a special anniversary year, it was a happier one. In March 1993, Rick Wilber and I announced the creation of what would become known as the Dell Magazine Award. This award, which goes to the best SF or fantasy story by a full-time college student, seeks to further Isaac’s legacy of supporting emerging authors. Later that year, I hit another important milestone — the birth of my first daughter, Irene.

I don’t remember if we held a twentieth anniversary celebration for the magazine in 1997, but I do remember that the magazine hit a grand slam at the Hugos. Asimov’s stories picked up the award in all three short fiction categories, and Gardner Dozois won one of his many Hugos for best editor. The twenty-fifth anniversary is another blur, partly because my second daughter, Juliet, was born in early July….

2017 is shaping up as a very good year, as well. As I write this, we are formulating plans for a fortieth anniversary celebration on April 13. It will be held in New York City at the Housing Works Bookstore Café on 126 Crosby Street. Although this issue doesn’t go on sale until April 25, I hope that many of you will have heard the word via social media and will have commemorated the occasion with us. Later in the year, Prime Books will be publishing Asimov’s Science Fiction: A Decade of Hugo & Nebula Award Winning Stories, 2005 to 2015 in conjunction with our anniversary year. In addition to many of the authors who appeared in our Thirtieth Anniversary Anthology, this book contains stories by Sarah Pinsker, David Levine, Karen Joy Fowler, Elizabeth Bear, Vylar Kaftan, Will McIntosh, and others. We hope to have a book signing in place in NYC to celebrate the launch of the book. Please keep up with us on social media to learn more about our plans.

Indeed, Derek Kunsken wrote about his adventurous trip to New York for Asimov’s fortieth anniversary celebration here.

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Asimov’s Science Fiction, Vol. 41, Nos. 3 & 4 (March/April 2017)

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Asimovs 2017 3-4Asimov’s continues its 40th anniversary celebration with its March/April issue. Thirteen stories, half a dozen poems, and plenty of little asides about what the magazine means to the various contributors.

It begins with “Soulmates.com” by Will McIntosh, a story about love in the digital age which reads like it was meant to be charming, but came off rather creepy. Both characters behave like vengeful stalkers at different points in the story and it all got tied up far too neatly, with the one of the characters essentially “hacking” all of the problems away.

Next up is “Number Thirty-Nine Skink” by Suzanne Palmer. The story concerns a robot designed to colonize an alien world by producing perfect duplicates of various Earth lifeforms and dispersing them across the planet’s surface. The robot continues with this project, despite most of the colonization crew leaving and the only human who stayed behind dying. On top of the robot coping with the concept of loneliness, there are also some native lifeforms that object to a robot that mass-produces invasive species. This one’s a bit tricky to follow at first as the reader figures out what’s going on. The cover art by Tomislav Tikulin depicts a scene from this story.

Next up is “Three Can Keep a Secret …” by Bill John and Gregory Frost. Strip out the mimic suits and space travel and what you’ve got is a basic caper story in which a professional assassin is hired by two separate clients to kill one another. Like the best capers, the solution is right there in plain sight, but not obvious until the story’s end.

“The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going” by Sarah Pinsker is less of a science fiction piece and more of a thought experiment on the virtues of sacrifice.

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Nightmare, Issue 51 (December 2016)

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

nightmare-magazine-51-smallOne of the biggest advantages that digital magazines have over print magazines is that it’s very easy to keep digital editions available indefinitely. So if you discover a magazine starting with, say, issue 52, it’s easy to go back and purchase every back issue at “cover price.” Which is why, during my month-long wait between new issues of Nightmare, I can wile away the hours by reading from their extensive backlist.

My favorite story of the issue just happens to be the first, “I was a Teenage Werewolf” by Dale Bailey. This is part of a series of stories Bailey has written that take the titles of cheesy 1950s sci-fi/horror movies and uses them as springboards for brand new pieces (check out “Invasion of the Saucer Men,” “I Married a Monster from Outer Space,” and “Teenagers from Outer Space“). It’s bit of slow going at first, but we eventually get something that’s not only a story about a werewolf, but about how adults will use any excuse to restrict the freedoms of the young “for their own good,” all while doing almost nothing to actually protect them. If nothing else, read it for a prom scene that beats the prom in Carrie, hands-down.

Next up is “Blood Drip” by Brian Evenson (originally published in Granta), a story that plays nicely with the unreliable narrator trope. Coupled with a vague setting, the story feels timeless in both its themes and its surreal imagery.

“The Dark Edge of Life” by Livia Llewellyn, on the other hand, goes out of its way to define time and place as a “found document” style of story. We know that something terrible has happened and the story fills in enough blanks to scare, but not so much to bore us with detail. The added effect of presenting the story in fragments (suggesting that pieces of an original manuscript were either consumed in a disaster or purposefully destroyed) adds to the mystery.

Finally, “The Opera Singer” by Priya Sridhar (originally published in She Walks in Shadows) is a compelling take on the “deal with the devil” and possession tropes, told from the point of view of an aging woman asserting her will against … well, it’s not exactly a demon.

As always, you can go to www.nightmare-magazine.com and read all of these stories (as well as accompanying author spotlights) for free. But Nightmare is only able to continue showcasing this work with financial support, so why not drop $2.99 and buy an issue? If you like it, they’ll have plenty more back issues to sell you.

Michael Penkas has been writing horror, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy stories for years. His first mystery novel, Mistress Bunny and the Cancelled Client, is available in print and electronic editions. Learn more about his work at http://www.michaelpenkas.com/.

March/April 2017 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction March April 2017-smallThe March/April 2017 Asimov’s Science Fiction is the magazine’s 40th Anniversary issue. I can still remember buying the second issue off the racks in Ottawa back in 1977. I vividly remember Isaac’s editorial, which cheerfully encouraged young readers to write science fiction, and how much it inspired me to try my hand at it myself.

I borrowed my parent’s typewriter, banged out a story, and mailed it in a few weeks later, dreams of being an SF writer in my head. I’m sure Asimov’s then editor, George Scithers, was cursing Asimov as he worked through the crush of submissions. I still have his personal rejection letter, which gently critiqued my plot, characters, and spelling. When I met George at the 2002 World Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis, I was finally able to thank him for his kindness to me a quarter-century earlier.

The double-sized March/April issue of Asimov’s is packed with intriguing stuff, including brand new fiction by Damien Broderick, Will McIntosh, Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost, Ian R. MacLeod, Suzanne Palmer, Sarah Pinsker, Dale Bailey, Rich Larson, Terry Bisson, and others. Here’s Sheila’s full description from the website:

March/April 2017 is our official fortieth anniversary! The exciting cover story is by Asimov’s Readers’ Award-winner Suzanne Palmer. In her tense new tale, a human-created artificial intelligence — left grieving and lonely on a distant planet — may annihilate an alien lifeform over a terrible misunderstanding. Don’t miss “Number Thirty-Nine Skink”!

Alan Smale flies us to another universe for an alternate view of “Kitty Hawk”; Ian MacLeod reveals the brutal “Wisdom of the Group”; We’ve come to expect that Damien Broderick will play with a myriad of motifs in his tales and certainly delivers in “Tao Zero”; Terry Bisson offers a wry explanation for why “We Regret the Error”; We find some twisted love in Rich Larson’s “Cupido”; while Will McIntosh provides us with another story of love gone wrong in “Soulmates.com”; “A Singular Event in the Fourth Dimension” is a charming Asimov’s debut for new writer Andrea M. Pawley; Sarah Pinsker will break your heart with “The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going”; Ian Creasey lets us know that it will only get worse “After the Atrocity”; with “The Invasion of the Saucer-Men” Dale Bailey treats us to another of his works inspired by fifties SF movie titles; Gregory Norman Bossert lets us know who’s a “Goner”; and we’ll learn why “Three Can Keep a Secret” from a mysterious con artist in Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost’s new novelette.

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December 2016 Nightmare Magazine Now on Sale

Saturday, December 24th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

nightmare-magazine-51-smallThe last 2016 issue of Nightmare is now available. And it looks like a good one, with original fiction from Dale Bailey and Livia Llewellyn, and reprints by Brian Evenson and Priya Sridhar. Here’s Charles Payseur’s assessment at Quick Sip Reviews:

The two stories in the December Nightmare magazine certainly show what makes speculative horror so captivating — revealing the uncomfortable truths and darkness that exists all around us, giving it physical form, and then making us face it. These are both stories that lean more fantasy than science fiction, pulling on some older traditions, of werewolves and Lovecraftian horror. While both are in some ways monster stories, though, they are also both stories that deal with youth, that feature main characters on the verge of adulthood, and reveal how quickly roles can be reversed when adults try to control the next generation. These are viscerally dark and violent stories but also deep insights into people and fears.

Read his complete review here. The complete contests of the issue are listed below.

Original Stories

I Was a Teenage Werewolf” by Dale Bailey
Before Miss Ferguson found Maude Lewis’ body in the school gym, none of us believed in the teenage werewolf. There had been rumors, of course. There always are. But many of us viewed Miss Ferguson’s discovery as confirmation of our worst fears. Not everyone shared our certainty. There had been only a fingernail paring of moon that late February night, and a small but vocal minority of us argued that this precluded the possibility that Maude’s killer had been a lycanthrope.

The Low, Dark Edge of Life” by Livia Llewellyn
Translator’s note: these are the only extant, unburned, and legible (for the most part) pages retrieved from what was apparently the diary of one Lilianett van Hamal, an American girl who apparently lodged at the Grand Béguinage shortly before the Great Summoning of 1878 that left much of the city of Leuven in ruins. No other items from before that event have been recovered from what is now the Leuven Exclusion Zone, which as of this date remains permanently off-limits to the outside world.

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New Treasures: The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and John Joseph Adams

Thursday, November 17th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

the-best-american-science-fiction-and-fantasy-2016-smaller the-best-american-science-fiction-and-fantasy-2016-small

Last year Mariner Books added an inaugural SF and fantasy volume, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, to their highly regarded annual anthology series, which includes Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Science and Nature Writing, and others. John Joseph Adams is the series editor; the 2015 edition was edited by Joe Hill and was one of the stronger Best of the Year anthologies from last year. (Check out the compete TOC for that first volume here.)

This year’s volume is edited by Karen Joy Fowler. It includes fantasy tales by Sofia Samatar, Rachel Swirsky, Salman Rushdie, Maria Dahvana Headley, Sam J. Miller, and others, and science fiction by Kelly Link, Catherynne M. Valente, Dale Bailey, Charlie Jane Anders, Ted Chiang, and many others.

It was published in trade paperback in October, and includes a foreword by John Joseph Adams, and an introduction by Karen Joy Fowler. It’s the eleventh and last of the major Best of the Year anthologies to appear this year, and it brings to a close the publishing season that began with Nebula Awards Showcase 2016 back in May.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016.

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