Unbound Worlds on 7 Great Occult Detectives

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Greywaker Kat Richardson-small Ben Aaronovitch Midnight Riot-small Simon Green Something from the Nightside-small

Matt Staggs seems to be most productive blogger over at Unbound Worlds, the house blog of Penguin Random House. He’s certainly produced most of my favorite stuff over there recently, including 4 Epic Fantasy Novels Written Before The Lord of the Rings, Have a Look at D&D Creator Gary Gygax’s FBI File, and 3 Great Novels to Read After You’ve Seen Wonder Woman.

But the piece I find myself returning to multiple times in the past two weeks is his June 5th article “7 of Urban Fantasy’s Great Occult Detectives,” in which he showcases some of the recent heroes and heroines who’ve followed in the footsteps of famous ghost hunters like Carnacki The Ghost Finder, Jules de Grandin, Aylmer Vance, John Thunstone, Titus Crow, and many others. Staggs proves this proud sub-genre is far from dead, and his proof includes series from Jim Butcher, Daniel José Older, Seanan McGuire, Laurel K. Hamilton, and others. Here’s a few of my favorites from his list.

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The May Fantasy Magazine Rack

Monday, May 8th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex-Magazine-April-2017-rack Broadswords-and-Blasters-1-rack Grimdark Magazine April 2017-rack Skelos-2-rack
Adventure-House-Thrilling-Wonder-rack Lightspeed-April-2017-rack Sword & Sorcery Magazine April 2017 Uncanny-magazine-March-April-2017-rack

Anyone who says the online genre short fiction market isn’t thriving isn’t paying attention. We track 47 different fantasy magazines here at Black Gate, and one or two new ones pop up every quarter. This month the newcomer is Broadswords and Blasters, a modern pulp magazine edited by Matthew X. Gomez and Cameron Mount, with a issue that includes stories by BG alums Nick Ozment and Josh Reynolds. For pulp fans we have some special treats — including a look at the Adventure House Pulp Reprints (such as Thrilling Wonder and Startling Stories), and Rich Horton’s review of Jack Williamson’s The Reign of Wizardry, which first appeared in the March 1940 issue of Unknown.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our April Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

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January Short Story Roundup

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_13049562wfkY4OrWelcome to the first short story roundup of 2017. While I won’t neglect the past month’s heroic fantasy, there’s been an explosion of new magazines, and I think John O’Neill sent me copies of all of them. So, next to Swords and Sorcery Magazine (which I woefully neglected for the past two roundups), there is the cool, old-school-looking The Audient Void, and the magnificently-produced Occult Detective Quarterly.

Issue 60 of Swords and Sorcery Magazine marks the completion of five years of continuous existence for the ‘zine. Every month, for sixty months, editor Curtis Ellett has published two new works of heroic fantasy. To mark this milestone, he has gotten new banner art and included an extra-long bonus story.

Princess in a Bottle” by Christopher G. Hall is a familiar tale of talented, penniless adventurer hired for dangerous mission. There are some not-too surprising twists, and a ferocious beast described as “ghastly and uncouth,” which makes it sound like he chewed with his mouth open. I will remember it for the great name of its hero, Cat-eye Jack, if nothing else.

James Van Pelt’sThe Sword Imperial” is an ambitious work. Hndred, a young farmer, discovers a jeweled sword buried on his land. Inspired by his late father’s military days and fired by the stories of an army officer passing through town, he leaps when the chance arises to prove his bravery. Nested within Hndred’s own story are those of several other famous and infamous swords. I much prefer Van Pelt’s straightforward depiction of bravery instead of the “deconstruction” it’s subjected to so often today.

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Occult Detective Quarterly #1 Now Available

Saturday, February 4th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Occult Detective Quarterly 1-small Occult Detective Quarterly 1-contents-small

Back in October, shortly after the launch of the Occult Detective Quarterly Kickstarter, we welcomed co-editor John Linwood Grant to Black Gate to tell us a little about his exciting new project. Here’s what he said, in part.

I was always a Carnacki man, staunch and true. An Edwardian adventurer, willing to admit that I was afraid, but determined to stiffen that lip and see the game through. And as a follower of William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghostfinder, I quickly took to games like Call of Cthulhu when it first came out in the eighties. The dedicated investigator pitted against almost indescribable horrors had an obvious appeal. It turned out to be a shock, because unlike our usual, intriguing fantasy RPG campaigns, in CoC we died a lot. A real lot. We were, generally, doomed.

So when we decided that we would launch a new magazine, Occult Detective Quarterly, we knew what we wanted. Someone even suggested that Doomed Meddler Quarterly would be a good alternative name. We wanted tales of psychic detectives, amateur supernatural sleuths, embittered foes of the Dark, and people who ended up having to investigate malevolent forces against their wills. New Lovecraftian terror was welcome, as was old-fashioned pluck. Stories from Carnacki to Constantine, with terrified innocents thrown in along the way.

The first issue of the magazine is now available, and it’s exceeded my expectations in virtually every way. We are witnessing the birth of a major fantasy magazine.

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Ancient Murders and Eerie Late-Night Funerals: The House by the Churchyard by Sheridan Le Fanu

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The House by the Churchyard-small The House by the Churchyard-back-small

It’s been a while since I’ve carved money out of my monthly Amazon budget to order a few more splendidly creepy titles from Wordsworth Editions’ Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural line — or, as we like to call them, TOMAToS. I always have a few on my wishlist (they’re marvelously inexpensive), and in my last order I made room for Sheridan Le Fanu’s famous 1863 novel The House by the Churchyard.

The Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu was the author of Carmilla (1872), one of the earliest vampire novels, as well as the gothic classic Uncle Silas (1864), and the collection In a Glass Darkly (1872). He’s often called the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century, and M. R. James described him as “absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories.” The House by the Churchyard is considered one of his finest works, and indeed, one of the greatest gothic horror novels of the era.

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New Treasures: Warhammer: Lords of the Dead

Monday, March 14th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Warhammer Lords of the Dead-smallI really enjoy these Warhammer omnibus editions. They’re a tremendous bargain, for one thing. They typically contain 2-3 full length novels, plus the assorted short story or two. I’ve collected more than a few, and while I especially enjoy the science fiction offshoot, Warhammer 40K, the straight-up Warhammer volumes have proven to be a reliable source of modern sword & sorcery, most notably the tales of Gotrek & Felix, C. L. Werner’s Brunner the Bounty Hunter, and Kim Newman’s The Vampire Genevieve.

I’m extremely interested in the new omnibus Lords of the Dead, which includes the first two novels in the End Times series: Chris Wraigh’s The Fall of Altdorf, and The Return of Nagash, by Black Gate blogger Josh Reynolds, author of our popular series on The Nightmare Men. Here’s the description.

The fate of The Old World hangs in the balance. Heroes rise and fall as they battle the Ruinous Powers in a last desperate attempt to save the mortal realm. The Gods of Chaos only want total destruction and their victory seems inevitable……

The Return of Nagash

As the forces of Chaos threaten to drown the world in madness, Mannfred von Carstein and Arkhan the Black put aside their difference and plot to resurrect the one being with the power to stand against the servants of the Ruinous Powers and restore order to the world – the Great Necromancer himself. As they set about gathering artefacts to use in their dark ritual, armies converge on Sylvania, intent on stopping them. But Arkhan and Mannfred are determined to complete their task. No matter the cost, Nagash must rise again.

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SFWA Announces the 2016 Nebula Award Nominations

Saturday, February 20th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Fifth Season Jemisin-smallThe Nebula Award is one of the most prestigious awards our industry has to offer, and last year’s awards were a pretty big deal for me. I was asked to present the award for Best Novelette of the Year at the Nebula Awards weekend in downtown Chicago, an honor which I won’t soon forget.

The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) has announced the nominees for the 2016 Nebula Awards, and this year’s nominations are a pretty big deal for me as as well, but for different reasons. Several Black Gate bloggers and authors — including Amal El-Mohtar, Lawrence M. Schoen, and our website editor C.S.E. Cooney — have captured nominations, and that’s even more thrilling.

This year’s nominees are (links will take you to our previous coverage):


Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

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Celebrating the 220th Anniversary of the Wold Newton Event

Sunday, December 13th, 2015 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Tarzan_bigdshal_cvr_finalI have never disguised the fact that my fiction as well as much of my reading selections have been influenced by Wold Newton scholars. Whether one enjoys delving into the deeper world of holistic literary theories or not, there is so much information to be mined and speculation to consider that one could spend a lifetime devouring all of it. One of the foremost Wold Newton scholars active today, Win Scott Eckert today launches a new website on this, the 220th anniversary of the Wold Newton Event. woldnewtonfamily.com was created to provide “accurate and factual information on the canonical works by Philip José Farmer and on deuterocanonical works authorized by Mr. Farmer or his Literary Estate.” The following article defining what exactly is a Wold Newton tale was co-authored by Mr. Eckert with his fellow distinguished scholar and continuation author, Christopher Paul Carey. Thank you to John O’Neill for kindly allowing me to reprint their work here in commemoration of this important day for Wold Newtonians.

A Wold Newton tale must involve a character whom Philip José Farmer identified as a member of the Wold Newton Family, and/or it must add to our knowledge of the secret history that Farmer uncovered, which has come to be known as the “Wold Newton Universe.” It can also be a crossover story, but that is not required.

In recent years, generic crossover stories have come to be mistakenly referred to as “Wold Newton” tales. A mere crossover is not enough. With this in mind, a primer on Farmer’s discoveries regarding the Wold Newton Family is in order.

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Vintage Treasures: John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman

Friday, November 6th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

John the Balladeer-small John the Balladeer-back-small

Manly Wade Wellman, whom Karl Edward Wagner called “the dean of fantasy writers,” was one of the great 20th Century fantasists, particularly in the field of the “occult detective.” He created several memorable occult investigators, including Judge Pursuivant and John Thunstone. But his most enduring creation is surely Silver John, also known as John the Balladeer.

Silver John, a Korean War vet who becomes a wandering singer in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, appeared in around 20 stories published between 1951 and 1987, chiefly in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and later in anthologies like Shadows and Whispers. The stories were gathered in several volumes over the years, and these books are highly collectible today. In 1988 Baen Books released a complete collection of the Silver John stories in paperback, John the Balladeer, with a captivating painting by Steve Hickman.

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Future Treasures: Dark Detectives: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries, edited by Stephen Jones

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Dark Detectives-smallWe have a tradition here at Black Gate of respecting supernatural detectives.

Let’s face it, they don’t get much respect anywhere else. But who else is going to defend the Earth from the forces of darkness? Usually without a salary, decent pension, or bennies of any kind. We’re not sure why they do it, but we’re glad they do.

Later this month Titan Books will publish Stephen Jones’ anthology Dark Detectives: An Anthology of Supernatural Mysteries, which collects classic tales of occult detectives, including a John Thunstone tale by Manly Wade Wellman, a Titus Crow story by Brian Lumley, a Solar Pons novella by Basil Copper, and a Carnacki novelette by William Hope Hodgson — as well as brand new tales of intrepid investigators of the unknown by Kim Newman, Brian Mooney, Jay Russell, Peter and Tremayne.

Here’s the description.


In the battle between good and evil, the supernatural investigators form the first line of defense against the unexplainable. Here are eighteen pulse-pounding tales featuring uncanny sleuths battling against the weird, written by Clive Barker, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Basil Copper, Neil Gaiman, William Hope Hodgson, Brian Lumley, Brian Mooney, Kim Newman, Jay Russell, Peter Tremayne, and Manly Wade Wellman.

Featuring the entire ‘’Seven Stars” saga by Kim Newman, pitting the Diogenes Club against an occult object with the power to ultimately annihilate mankind!

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