Vintage Treasures: Science Fiction of the 30’s edited by Damon Knight

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Science Fiction of the 30s-smallWindy City Pulp and Paper is a fabulous convention and, as its name implies, it’s focused mostly on vintage magazines and paperbacks. Wandering the vast Dealer’s Room is like stepping into a Cave of Wonders for fans of pulp science fiction and fantasy.

But it’s also a den of surprises and a pleasant one awaited me while browsing a table piled high with pulps and digest magazines. A hand-written sign proclaimed all items were “3 For $10,” so I decided to spend a few minutes exploring the heaped stacks. Buried under a loose pile of Science Fiction Quarterly magazines and Amazing Stories, I found a lone hardcover volume: Damon Knight’s pulp anthology Science Fiction of the 30’s, in much better shape than my tattered copy.

Well, that was certainly worth $3.33. It didn’t take much effort to find two other worthy treasures (a July 1948 Fantastic Novels pulp with a classic Lawrence cover and the January 1956 issue of The Original Science Fiction Stories with a James Blish cover story, which looked like it had just come off the magazine rack.) I plunked down my ten bucks and fled before the vendor changed his mind.

Science Fiction of the 30’s was one of two great pulp anthologies I read over thirty years ago — the other being of course Isaac Asimov’s marvelous Before the Golden Age. Those books, together with Jacques Sadoul’s art book 2000 A.D. Illustrations From the Golden Age of Science Fiction Pulps, ignited a love of pulp fiction in me as a young teen that never died.

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I’ll Look Down and Whisper “No”: “Before Watchmen”

Monday, February 6th, 2012 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Watchmen 1Last Wednesday, DC Comics announced a new publishing venture: “Before Watchmen,” a set of related miniseries that would act as a prologue to the best-selling and critically acclaimed Watchmen graphic novel. The news was met with a considerably mixed reaction. Alan Moore, writer and primary creator of Watchmen, has spoken out against the project. Personally, I’m not going to buy any of DC’s new series, and I want to explain why.

First, some more details. From The Beat website, a list of titles and creators:

Rorschach (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
Minutemen (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Comedian (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
Nite Owl (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
Ozymandias (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
Silk Spectre (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

“Before Watchmen” starts sometime this summer, with one comic to be released per week. Each book will have a two-page back-up feature, “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair,” written by Wein, who edited the original Watchmen, with art by John Higgins, who coloured the series. An epilogue featuring a number of writers and artists will wrap up the event.

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Review: Kobo eReader Touch

Sunday, September 25th, 2011 | Posted by Theo

koboThis may be going a bit far afield, but since most Black Gate readers are, well, readers, I suspect it will be of interest to many here.

While I am a big advocate of eReaders and digital books, I have avoided eReading devices in the past because they haven’t offered any significant upgrade over reading on my smartphone, at least not without imposing significant costs.

I started with reading .pdb books on various Palm Treos, then enjoyed a significant graphical upgrade to reading .epub books on an Android phone. This works quite well and I still do the vast majority of my reading that way since whether I am out and about or at home, my phone is always handy.

And, since it emits light, it permits reading in the dark, which is an advantage for anyone who customarily goes to sleep later than the bed’s other occupant.

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Hi-Tech Lo-Tech: Alphasmart NEO

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

My MVP Award for Writing in 2008 goes to a miniature machine that has made this year one of the most productive of my life:

The Alphasmart NEO

Behold a piece of technology that uses all the miniaturization and power-saving abilities available today to make what is essentially the typewriter of the new era. The Alphasmart NEO writes. And that’s about it. It weighs as much as a 8” x 10” spiral notebook. It runs for seven hundred hours in three AA batteries. It’s a work of genius—I feel like an old west gunslinger when armed with the NEO. Anyplace I go, I can quick-draw and write. Have NEO—Will Travel reads my card. I am absolutely in love with it.

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The Poison Apple: A Cosplayer’s Best Friend, Interview with Photographer Bruce Heinsius

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

Josephine Chang as Silk

Josephine Chang as Silk

I wanted to preface that when I first met Bruce, we were both working as Still Photographers in Hollywood, and he was on Power Rangers, which has made a comeback with a new feature film after twenty-five years or so.

BH: I worked on the television show the first season shooting everything from action on the set to special shoots for calendars, trading cards, video box covers and magazines.

You and I have been out of touch for a while, but we reconnected on Facebook, because you took photos of someone else I was already friends with, and that’s when I noticed you started taking photos of cosplayers at conventions. Why don’t you share with the readers how you got involved with that?

Back in 2006, I was supposed to be doing a movie shoot. When I showed up, the person who hired me apologized and said he forgot to tell me it was cancelled because everyone was going to a cosplay event instead. So, I tagged along and was surprised how many comic book and animé characters were there. I wasn’t really doing action photos on that first event, but I still tried to create good portraiture while photographing people in costume.

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Cthulhu in Metallica

Monday, May 1st, 2017 | Posted by Mick Gall

Hardwired to Self Destruct-small

That Cthulhu is a cultural force is a truth self evident to the readers of this blog, as evidenced by his numerous movies, RPGs and plush dolls. But his ubiquitousness can still surprise when he appears in unexpected media. The most recent creative force to sing (literally) Cthulhu’s praises: Metallica.

Metallica’s recent album Hardwired… to Self Destruct dropped November 18, and I was surprised to find one of their songs directly singing about great Cthulhu, and what exactly his rising means for humanity. The song “Dream No More” opens with singer James Hetfield declaring “He sleeps under black seas waiting / Lies dreaming in death”, followed by the litany of horrors that follows as “He wakes as the world dies screaming / all horrors arrive.”

That a metal band would sing about the end of humanity at the hands of an alien entity is not surprising; the genre has a long history of dabbling in the imagery of the occult, pseudo-satanic and even Lovecraftian. That Metallica would do it, however, is unusual. The band’s songs have catalog struggles and personal pains, exploring human themes like contemplating suicide (“Fade to Black” from 1984’s Ride the Lightning), drug abuse (“Master of Puppets,” 1986’s Master of Puppets), the horrors of war (“One” from 1988’s …And Justice for All) and the fear engendered by nightmares (“Enter Sandman” from 1991’s Metallica).

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You Live in Pellucidar: The Weird Inner World of Cyrus Teed and the Koreshan Unity

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

model-of-cellular-cosmogonyWhen Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote At the Earth’s Core (1914) and Pellucidar (1915), he brought to a summit the previous century’s passion to explore the fantastic possibilities of what lies below the crust of the Earth. Numerous Victorian scientific romances arose from these theories about the interior of the planet. It’s only natural that once you state, “The world is round,” you follow up with, “Yeah, but what’s inside it?”

A man named Cyrus R. Teed provided perhaps the strangest answer of all: “You.”

Cyrus Teed, his theory of Cellular Cosmogony, and the utopian religious commune movement that arose from it are among the most beguiling offshoots of hollow earth theories. They’re also a peculiar parallel with Burroughs’s fantastic adventure tales. Cyrus Teed believed in a concave inner world with the sun at its center, similar to the popular theory of John Cleves Symmes. But for Teed there was no reason to search for an entrance to the Earth’s interior, because the human race was already living in it. In other words, Pellucidar is real, and it’s your home.

The tale of Cyrus Teed and the Koreshan Unity is a curious historical footnote. But it has intriguing things to say to readers of fantasy and science fiction, as well as to historians interested in the utopian communes that ballooned and popped across the U.S. in the nineteenth century. Edgar Rice Burroughs certainly knew about it, since after writing At the Earth’s Core he kept notes on different hollow earth theories. (The fictional ERB even mentions this in Tanar of Pellucidar.) His curiosity is easy to understand, especially when it leads to discovering something like this…

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The Poison Apple: An Interview with T.J. Glenn

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens


TJ doubling The Toxic Avenger (photo by Robert Griffith)

The Poison Apple is a new semi-regular Black Gate column. Interviewer Elizabeth Crowens will be talking with atypical authors with unusual backgrounds or passions in the speculative fiction arena, and sharing their stories here.

The first “victim” to take a bite out of the Poison Apple is Teel James Glenn, known to most as T.J. Glenn, winner of the 2012 Pulp Ark Best Author of the Year, Epic eBook award finalist, P&E winner, Best Thriller Novel, Best Steampunk Short, multiple finalist for Best Fantasy short stories, author of the bestselling Exceptionals series, the Maxi/Moxie series, the Dr. Shadows series, the Renfairies series, stunt double and fight choreographer, and more.

Crowens: T.J., you seem to be living the dream of what Oscar Wilde would call art imitating life, being pretty much an action fantasy character day in and day out — a cross between Errol Flynn and Qui-Gon Jinn with a touch of James Bond villain thrown in. What attracted you to this world?

T.J.: When I was a kid I wanted to write comic books, draw them and then play the character. Here I am fifty years later, and I’ve sort of done it. I’ve never been able to completely separate them. Sometimes I do full renderings of the rooms my characters live in. I always do physical portraits of them. Often I conceive a character visually and work backwards from there. I’m a better writer because I’m a fight choreographer; I’m a better fight choreographer because I’m an actor; I’m a better actor, because I’m a writer. It all morphs together for me.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in May

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Hugo Award-smallBlack Gate had 1.16 million page views in May, slightly more than our monthly average last year. We’ve gotten used to significant traffic increases year after year, so it’s actually something of a relief to have traffic stabilize for a bit. Nonetheless, we’re grateful to you, our readers, for all the time you spend with us each month, and we hope we keep things interesting for you.

How did we keep things interesting last month? Our top story for May was Black Gate‘s second Hugo nomination… which we declined (again). The brief statement announcing our decision was read 8,200 times, making it our number one post for the month. It was followed by an article questioning whether Weird Tales had quietly folded, and Rich Horton’s analysis of the 2016 Hugo situation.

Rounding out the Top Five for May were Martin Page, with his thoughtful piece on the 80’s moral panic surrounding Dungeons & Dragons, and Bill Maynard’s examination of the Abuses of Public Domain Fiction.

Coming in at number 6 for the month was our report on the launch of one of the most exciting magazines of the past decade, Skelos, followed by our photo-essay on the 2016 Nebula Awards weekend. Peadar Ó Guilín clocked in at #8 with his detailed review of Michael Swanwick’s modern classic The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, followed by our announcement that SF Signal was shutting down.

Closing out the Top Ten for last month was Thomas Parker’s thoughtful and frequently hilarious review of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake, titled Shut Up, You Freak!

The complete list of Top Articles for May follows. Below that, I’ve also broken out the most popular overall articles, online fiction, and blog categories for the month.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in April

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Star Trek 4 exact change

Good to see Star Trek is still enormously popular with our readers. The most widely read post at Black Gate last month was William I. Lengeman III’s review of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the latest installment in his ongoing Star Trek Re-Watch (his review of ST III was #2 last month).

Or maybe we’re just old. The most popular category last month was Vintage Treasures (that’s my favorite too!) When I get old enough, my eyesight will fade enough that I can’t read books, and then what will it be? Maybe Old Time Radio? That’ll be fun.

Number 2 on the list was our announcement on Black Gate‘s Hugo nomination, followed by M Harold Page’s article on Worldbuilding in the Warhammer 40K Universe, and Sean McLachlan on Vintage Trash: Reel Wild Cinema (Vintage again! We are old). Rounding out the Top Five last month was M Harold Page’s review of All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World.

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