The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in July

Sunday, August 27th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill


Conan, and his creator Robert E. Howard, are perpetually popular topics at Black Gate. Our top blog post last month was M. Harold Page’s “Why isn’t Conan a Mary Sue?” followed by James McGlothlin’s review of two Howard biographies. Freelancers looking for topic suggestions: you can’t go wrong with Robert E. Howard!

The third most popular article last month was our report on the best readings at the Wiscon science fiction convention in May, followed by Ryan Harvey’s review of the 1985 film The Return of Godzilla. Rounding out the Top Five was an update on the second issue of the excellent new magazine Occult Detective Quarterly.

Sixth was our look at the Bantam Spectra Omnibus editions of Robert Silverberg, followed by Derek Kunsken’s list of the best hard science fiction he’s read in the past decade, “Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology…” Coming in at #7 was Matt Drought’s breakdown of the differences between Microsoft’s Xbox One and the PS4 Pro, followed by an examination of one of Gardner Dozois’s best anthologies, Modern Classics of Fantasy. Closing out the Top Ten for the month was our survey of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in June

Sunday, July 16th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman 4 - Black Gate interview

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. Photo by Liz Duffy Adams

June was a big month for interviews at Black Gate. Our top articles were interviews, and our roving reporter Joe Bonadonna placed two in the Top Ten — a lengthy conversation with Author T.C. Rypel (the Gonji series) at #2, and a free-wheeling conversation with two editors of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Adrian Simmons and David Farney, at #8. And the #1 article for the month was Elizabeth Crowens’s enchanting conversation with the First Couple of Fantasy, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

Rounding out the Top Five for the month was our report on the ongoing back issue sale at Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog magazine (still one of the best bargains in the industry), a Vintage Treasures piece on the 80s fantasy paperbacks of E. Hoffmann Price, and Nick Ozment’s think-piece “When Fantasy and Theology Collide: Some Thoughts on Satan.”

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in May

Saturday, June 17th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill


Four Thousand Year Old Bread from Ancient Egypt

Sean McLachlan was the top draw at the Black Gate blog last month, with three posts in the Top Ten for May — including the #1 article, a mouth-watering report on 4,000 year-old bread found in a tomb in Ancient Egypt (with pics!) Sean’s adventure-filled report on braving scorpions and impassible tunnels at the Queens’ Pyramids at Giza came in at #7. While he was in Egypt, Sean also interviewed Egyptian Science Fiction writer Mohammad Rabie, and that rounded out the Top 10 for the month.

It’s tough to compete with 4,000 year-old bread, but a few brave souls made the effort. Andrew Zimmerman Jones came closest to glory, with an exclusive scoop on two new Starfinder Starships, which came in at #2 for the month. Next was our advice on creating an instant SF collection (with loot pics from the Windy City Pulp & Paper show), followed by our report on the release of the second issue of Skelos, and Mick Gall’s review of the album Hardwired… to Self Destruct, “Cthulhu in Metallica.”

Coming in at #6 for the month was the update on the Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Volume II Kickstarter, followed by Doug Ellis’s reminiscence on art and vintage paperback collecting, “Why You Should Go to Conventions.” Closing out the list was our May 21st report on the 2016 Nebula Award winners.

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The Top Black Gate Posts in April

Saturday, May 20th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Traveller Core Rulebook Mongoose-back-small Traveller Core Rulebook Mongoose-small

The most popular topic at Black Gate last month was the new edition of the classic SF role playing game Traveller from Mongoose Publishing. And the most popular blogger was our roving games reporter M Harold Page, who covered the new edition in two posts that both made the Top Ten. Well done, Mr. Page! (However, we need to talk about those expense reports from that Altairian space bar. What exactly is a “Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster?”)

Meanwhile, back here on Earth, Ryan Harvey had the overall most popular post in April, with exciting news on the upcoming Godzilla sequel. Hot on his heels was David B. Coe, with an article on setting and the craft of worldbuilding. Next up was Sean McLachlan, our man in Egypt, who donned a worn fedora and penetrated deep into the early tombs of ancient Egypt, sending back a trove of photographic evidence (and two mummified spiders, which thrilled Goth Chick to no end.) Rounding out the Top Five was Robert Zoltan’s far-ranging discussion with BG Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones, on the master of Sword & Sorcery himself, Robert E. Howard.

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Vintage Treasures: TSR’s Amazing Science Fiction Anthologies

Sunday, June 10th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

amazing-the-wonder-yearsD&D publisher TSR generally gets a bad rap for their brief venture into science fiction in the 1980s. Much of their D&D related fiction — especially the Weis and Hickman DragonLance novels, which launched their entire publishing line — is still remembered fondly today. But does anybody remember Martin Caidin’s Buck Rogers novel, or Martin H. Greenberg’s Starfall anthology?


Which is a shame. At one point — riding high on the success of the DragonLance books — TSR claimed it was the largest publisher of SF and fantasy titles in the nation, and it sure looked that way whenever I walked into a bookstore. There were literally racks of the stuff: DragonLance books, Forgotten Realms books, Dark Sun novels, Birthright novels, SpellJammer novels, Greyhawk books, Ravenloft novels, Planescape novels… and on and on and on.

If you were a serious genre reader in the late 80s, you gradually trained your eyes to ignore it all as you scanned the shelves for anything new and original.

What many of us never knew — because they were hidden alongside all their gaming fiction — was that TSR published dozens of new and original SF and fantasy novels, unconnected to any of their gaming fiction, including bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb’s famous science fiction pastiche Bimbos of the Death Sun (1987), Paul B. Thompson and Tonya C. Cook’s Red Sands (1988), Ardath Mayhar and Ron Fortier’s Monkey Station (1989), Robin Wayne Bailey’s Nightwatch (1990), and many others.

They also discovered several major authors, publishing Nancy Varian Berberick’s first novel The Jewels of Elvish (1989), Nick Pollotta’s first novel Illegal Aliens (written with Phil Foglio, 1989), and first novels from L. Dean James, Chrys Cymri, K.B. Bogen, and others.

But my favorite books published by TSR during this period weren’t novels at all. They were five anthologies collecting stories from the pulp days of Amazing Stories, edited by Martin H. Greenberg.
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Letters to Black Gate

Sunday, June 13th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

btga41Kim Patrick Weiss, of Bavaria, Germany, writes:

I tend to browse the Black Gate website every day, to check the news and, of course, read the new chapter of “The Weird of Ironspell” every Wednesday. When I read your article about Before the Golden Age by Isaac Asimov, two things immediately caught my interest: “…civilizations in grains of sand…” and “…humans in rags taking on entrenched alien conquerors…” and I knew I had to look into getting this book.
      Well, a couple minutes after I finished reading the article, and with my imagination already running wild, I decided to pick up a used copy from Amazon. I was in luck, the 1974 hardcover version by Doubleday was available for only $20. The book arrived today and I already read “Submicroscopic” and “Awlo of Ulm”, the ones that seemed the most appealing, and I can’t say I regret buying the book right away instead of checking out that website you mentioned first. Your article opened my eyes to a wider variety of sci-fi stories and authors, and I just have to say thanks for that :)
       It’s also a very nice experience to find out about so many old classics that I never knew existed. Your magazine and website are a great source for new (well, new to me) books and authors and I’m sure there’s still a lot more to discover in the archives. So, thanks again for a great website and an awesome magazine, both of which I hope will stay around for a long, long time!

Glad you enjoyed it, Kim.  “Submicroscopic” and its sequel “Awlo of Ulm,” both by Capt. S. P. Meek, are in fact the stories I had in mind when I mentioned “civilizations in grains of sand.”  They first appeared in Amazing Stories in 1931, and they’re still great fun today.

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Welcome to the Digital Age, Before the Golden Age

Monday, June 7th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

btga2One of my favorite books — among a host of many favorites, of course, many many favorites, collected over decades of careful reading in a wide variety of genres, it’s hard to choose, depends on the time of day, naturally, and what we’re talking about, whether you want to include non-fiction, and it’s difficult to judge pleasure reading against, you know, literature like The Sound and the Fury, which was great until the part where I quit reading and pretty much gave up. That Quentin character though, man, what a dick.  Anyway. Where was I.

Aww, screw it.  My favorite book of all time, bar none, is Isaac Asimov’s Before the Golden Age.

Why is it so great?  Dude, it’s totally undiluted science fiction awesomeness. Asimov collected the early pulp stories that first hooked him on science fiction, from magazines such as Amazing Stories, Astounding Stories of Super Science, and Science Wonder Stories, in a 900-page omnibus that captured the heart and soul of early American SF.

Published between 1931 and 1938 — the year that John W. Campbell took over Astounding and ushered in what’s now generally referred to as the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” — the stories in Before the Golden Age feature brain stealers from Mars, two-fisted scientists battling monster hoards, amateur time travel  (“Kiss 1935 good-bye!”), shrink rays, civilizations in grains of sand, humans in rags taking on entrenched alien conquerors, killer robots, giant brain monsters,  and much more.

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Black Gate 9 — Fall 2005

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | Posted by Web Master

  • 208 pages, $12.95
  • On Sale December 18, 2005
  • Edited by John O’Neill
  • Published by New Epoch Press
  • Cover Art by Dan Krall
  • Interior Art by Mark Evans, Matt Hughes, Chuck Lukacs, Bernie Mireault, and Denis Rodier

Buy this as a sample issue — only $12.95 postpaid!


“The Whited Child”
by Michael Canfield
Bad Pete spoke for the Mountains, and did their will. Until the wolves came….

“Payment Deferred”
by James Enge
Morlock the Maker returns to confront a crafter of golems… and a challenge he may not survive.

“The Thrall”
by Michael Shultz
In a world enslaved to the Thrall, a thrall-less girl might look like salvation… unless she happened to be your daughter.

“Seijin’s Enlightenment”
by William John Watkins
Seijin was a samurai of almost peerless skill and reputation. But his greatest test still awaited him.

by Adam J. Thaxton
All she wanted was a pet. That, and not to be devoured by an Avatar monster.

“The Hand That Binds”
by Michael Livingston
The creature came in the night and killed everything it found. What hope could this young warrior offer?

“It’s a Wonderful Con”
by Larry Tritten
Never trick an old trickster… no matter how soft his reputation might be.

“The Longday Hunt”
by Sean Oberle
Legend said she was a minor goddess — a petty, insane killer. But if she awoke, it would mean death on a scale Jace had never before seen.

“The Final Flight of Major Havoc”
by Carl Reed
Major Havoc was having a bad day — and the giant dog tracking him was the least of his worries.

“A Touch of Crystal”
by Martin Owton & Gaie Sebold
It was a thrill to finally meet real elves. Except for all the paperwork.

Fantasy Classic: “The Fifth-Dimension Catapult”
by Murray Leinster
Professor Dunham and his daughter were marooned in the Fifth Dimension… a bizarre landscape of unearthly flora and fauna — and the Ragged Men, whose cruelty knew no bounds. A classic from the great era of pulp fantasy!


“Retro-Hugos That Will Never Be”
by Rich Horton


Editorial: Life After 40 (Such As It Is)
by John O’Neill

From Our Readers

Back Issues
A List of rare (but miraculously still available) back issues of Black Gate.

Next Issue
What wonders await you in Issue #10? We give you the lowdown.


Book Reviews
Tumithak of the Corridors, by Charles R. Tanner
In Lands That Never Were: Tales of Swords and Sorcery, Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
Four and Twenty Blackbirds, by Cherie Priest
Dragon Rider, by Cornelia Funke
The Dark Hills Divide, Land of Elyon: Book 1, by Patrick Carman, narrated by Aasne Vigesaa (audiobook)
The Black Angel, by John Connolly
The Death Collectors, by John Kerley

by Jennifer Brozek, Thomas F. Cunningham, Lisa DuMond, Sue Granquist, Todd McAulty and Todd Ruthman


Fantasy Game Reviews
Northern Crown: New World Adventures, Atlas Games
Eberron: Explorer’s Handbook, Wizards of the Coast
His Last Command: A Gaunt’s Ghosts Novel, Dan Abnett, Black Library
The Secrets of Zir’an Core Gamebook, Paragon Games
Dungeons and Dragons: Frostburn, Wizards of the Coast
Dungeons and Dragons: Sandstorm, Wizards of the Coast

by Don Bassingthwaite and Todd McAulty


Knights of the Dinner Table: The Java Joint
by Jolly Blackburn, John O’Neill, and Steve Johansson

Black Gate 6 — Fall 2003

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | Posted by Web Master

  • 208 pages, $12.95
  • On Sale October 15, 2003
  • Edited by John O’Neill
  • Published by New Epoch Press
  • Cover Art by Todd Lockwood
  • Interior Art by Bernie Mireault, Chris Pepper, and Denis Rodier

Buy this issue — only $12.95 plus shipping & handling!


“Looking For Goats, Finding Monkeys”
by Iain Rowan
A tale of gold, ghosts and gullibility in Ancient China.

“The Flowers on the Harp”
by Anne Sheldon
In which King Herken receives far more than he bargained for in the gift of the slave girl Griah, last living child of the conquered Mage King.

“The Grand Tour”
by Kevin N. Haw
It is true what they say… you get what you pay for, especially on those cheap package tours.

“Miller’s Wife”
by Mark W. Tiedemann
Egan was on the run from personal demons… and ran into some of a very different sort.

“Rocks Under Water”
by Karen Jordan Allen
They lurk just under the surface, silent, invisible… and deadly.

by Rick Norwood
In a world where deadly portals to other worlds are easily made, Ian learns that fortune indeed favors the bold.

Fantasy Classic: “Tumithak in Shawm”
by Charles R. Tanner
In the sequel to “Tumithak of the Corridors,” Tumithak leads his brave band of followers to the surface… there to challenge the alien shelks for the first time in millennia. A classic from the early pulp era!


The Sword in the Mirror: A Century of Sword & Sorcery
by Howard Andrew Jones


Editorial: Secret Blindness
by John O’Neill

From Our Readers


The Comics Cauldron
by Claude Lalumière

Book Reviews
by Lisa DuMond, Don Bassingthwaite, Sue Granquist, and Howard Andrew Jones.


Fantasy Game Reviews
by Don Bassingthwaite, Jennifer Brozek, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Webb, and Michael Thibault


Knights of the Dinner Table: The Java Joint
by Jolly Blackburn, John O’Neill, and Steve Johansson

Black Gate 5 — Spring 2003

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | Posted by Web Master

  • 208 pages, $12.95
  • On Sale February 2003
  • Edited by John O’Neill
  • Published by New Epoch Press
  • Cover Art by Chris Pepper (Illustrating “Two-Skins” by Shawn L. Johnson)
  • Interior Art by Chris Pepper, Bernie Mireault, Denis Rodier, Greg Faillace, Chuck Lukacs, and Gregory Price

Buy this issue — only $12.95 plus shipping & handling!


“The Mourning Trees”
by Peadar O Guilin
The deadly mourning trees were a remnant of a sorcerous war, and now one clutched Moya’s only son.

“Stand at Llieva”
by Joseph A. McCullough V
In which Stevan the Targeter must defend his island stronghold against the mages of the Orient — or die.

“There’s a Hole in October”
by Todd McAulty
Pierre was just trying to do a little business across the border… until a snowy Ontario highway and group of very lost children forced a drastic change of plan.

“The Dead Man…”
by S. C. Smith
The Dead Man awoke on the shores of the Styx, only to find Hell ain’t what it used to be.

“Law and Justice”
by Michael H. Payne
Leopard must defend an innocent before the animal court, even as the deadly Blood Jaguar watches hungrily from the sidelines…

“La Desterrada”
by Jennifer Busick
It’s a dangerous thing, to be a Fire Magus at sea — and far more so when the ancient art is forbidden to your sex.

by Brian A. Hopkins
Joey is blind, cold, and lost in the the forest… until he hears the wolves of the sea.

“Barbarian Instinct”
by Don Bassingthwaite
The men chasing Cacia are brutal and relentless… but it was the deadly secret of the ruins that would ultimately decide her fate.

by Shawn L. Johnson
Ranu is a brave and very resourceful young man. But he’ll need to be more than that to survive the Emperor’s  gladiatorial games…

Fantasy Classic: “Tumithak of the Corridors”
by Charles R. Tanner
Untold ages ago man was driven underground by the invading Shelks, there to live like rats in the endless corridors… until the coming of Tumithak. A classic from the Golden Age of Fantasy!


by John O’Neill


The Comics Cauldron
by Claude Lalumière

Book Reviews
by Lisa DuMond, Jeffrey Ford, Victoria Strauss and Sue Granquist.


Fantasy Game Reviews
by Don Bassingthwaite, Jennifer Brozek, Howard Andrew Jones, and Michael Thibault


Knights of the Dinner Table: The Java Joint
by Jolly Blackburn, Steve Johansson, and John O’Neill

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