Black Gate 10 Reviewed

Some kind words about “A Book of Silences” from Sherwood Smith (sartorias) in her review of Black Gate 10 at Tangent Online.

Leaving Morlock and myself out of it, I thought it was a pretty strong issue also. Tangent‘s purview doesn’t include nonfiction features, but it’s worth noting: John O’Neill’s editorial was a serious look at the pulps, who tried to warn us about “the very real dangers of even short-range space exploration. Things like Venusian swamp worms, Martian plague, and the Red Death of Saturn.” News you can use, indeed. And this issue’s “Java Joint,” founded on a basic human truth that I utterly reject, was especially hilarious.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rich Horton’s article on magazines of the 1970s. I was stunned to discover that Leiber’s “Rime Isle” was serialized in Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy, a magazine whose existence I had completely forgotten; I thought, for some reason, the serial had run in Vertex. Nothing really hinges on this, but “Rime Isle,” although far from the best Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story, is important to me as one of the small handful of these tales I read on their original magazine appearance in the mid-late 1970s. My recollection seems to have mashed together several of these large-format short-lived prozines into one, sort of like Nomad and Tan Ru. I’m still sure that I read the serial, but not, obviously, in Vertex. It’s weird how memory can mutate first hand experience into something that never really happened. Anyway, nostalgia (and its disruptions) aside, this is an interesting survey of the genre market at a time of transition.

The reviews (of games and books) were also very beefy and satisfying.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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11 Responses to Black Gate 10 Reviewed

  1. al_zorra says:

    Hey, that’s good! Sherwood / Sartorias is an excellent critic.

    Love, C.

    • JE says:

      She does have a real talent for putting her finger on what’s right (or sometimes wrong) with a story. I suppose it comes from being such a good storyteller herself.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m halfway through the issue. It started out great, but I didn’t care for “The Naturalist: Going to Applewash” or “A Covenant in Mud.” Neither fit into my ideal of BG material. Actually, my disappointment started before that. I was enjoying the Dao Shi story–always a fun character–but the ending seemed lacking. I’m in the middle of Howard’s fantasy game reviews, and things are looking up again. Here’s hoping…

    Congrats on the review.

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      I sort of liked “The Naturalist”, especially the setting. Oh well. And “Covenant,” although it’s not the type of story I go out looking for, ended with a disturbing kind of thump. I know what you mean about the ending of “Welcome to the Underworld” but after a few moments I figured the story was an installment in a de facto serial about Dao Shi and suspended judgement.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thump, yes, but I didn’t think it had any effect on the story. S’okay, though. The two stories I read today picked up nicely, so it’s looking good for the home stretch (which will have to wait a week or two).

        –Jeff Stehman

    • Anonymous says:

      It definitely picked up after those two in the middle. All in all, a good issue. I’d say “Soldiers of a Dying God” and “A Book of Silences” were my first and second favorites, respectively. Then either “Awakening” or “Sight of Vengeance.” “Awakening had stretches of very good and stretches of boring. “Sight of Vengeance” is my first Dabir and Asim story, and I’d like to read more.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bugger. That was me.

        –Jeff Stehman

      • JE says:

        Glad you liked “Book”!

        I really enjoyed “Soldiers”, “Sight” and “Awakening” too, and I liked “Skyspider” as well, because it was so thoroughly bent. Those four were probably in the running for my favorite story of the issue.

        • Anonymous says:

          I really enjoyed “Skyspider,” but I thought it fizzled at the end. (I’ve been running into that problem a lot lately, so maybe it’s me.)

          –Jeff Stehman

          • Anonymous says:

            I liked Sky Spider, didn’t notice it fizzling, but I sure noticed Awakenings fizzling. Am I the only one who felt like it just kind of ended, and sort of unsatisfactorily after all that way cool stuff up front? It looks like a lot of people really dig it.

            Drake

            P.S. Morlock rocks

          • JE says:

            Re the end of “Awakenings”–

            I enjoyed it because, after all the walking dead/magic/zombie/horror stuff, we leave the heroine sitting in a warm well-lit kitchen, awash in the scent of roast turkey and eating buttered bread. It worked for me, although I’m having trouble putting the why into words. So I’ll steal them:

            Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
            And then to bed! And then to bed!

            P.S. Morlock rocks

            Thanks!

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