Saturday, February 23, 2008

Black Gate 02 - John O'Neill

Again, the second issue of Black Gate has a whole pile of stuff.

This includes perhaps the best magazine article I can remember seeing, where Rich Horton takes a look at interesting or important anthologies in the fantasy genre, and fantasy short fiction in general in a historical overview. This is peppered throughout with pictures of book covers, and magazines, and is overall really interesting, and I wish I had have seen this when it came out. Close to worth the price of the mag for that alone.

Lots on gaming, including a fairly extensive look at Orcs, particularly as player character, possibilities. Also, apparently there is a Gamma World setting White Wolf used to produce, speaking of blasts from the past.

In comics, the focus is on Alan Moore and ABC, which are highly recommended. Certainly have to agree with that. Top 10 is great, Tom Strong is a lot of fun, Promethea is good even if it descends into a certain level of esoteric tedium towards the end, etc. He talks about Miracleman, Superman, and other work done by Moore, too.

Also a lengthy interview with Gene Wolfe, and the same comic strips as the last issue return, and a length kid's book section.

Other reviews include the House on the Borderland, and a Jo Walton Arthurianesque book that I would like to get to sometime, and a George R. R. Martin fantasy novel in his fat fantasy series. 992 pages! (How you can convince me to read it, reviewer, is to put out a version half that size.) One that does sound more fun is John M. Ford's gangster elves, Chicago style. (You dirty pointy-eared rat?

The editorial again stresses adventure fantasy is what they are doing, of whatever kind. There is indeed a broad range, from second world to world war settings, hispanic gangster kids, vampires, Mayans and more. Even venturing into horror, too. Whether time-knitting grannies are adventure stories is maybe debatable, but there are no poor tales here, at least. All 3 or higher.

If the non-fiction content continues in this vein it will always be a significant rating advantage over most other competitors.

Looking at the fiction table of contents I didn't expect this issue to match up to the first in that department. One star-studded lineup, one not, so this issue is probably perhaps more of an indication of what is likely to be found per issue than the more stacked first production.

So, an average of 3.45 compare to 3.60 for the first is still rather good when putting together adventure fantasy stories. No complaints here if it stays around that level, approximately, as that would put it on par, for its type, with the major magazines as far as story scores go, in general.

A couple of them have been reprinted elsewhere it seems (Year's Best Fantasy 2, Infinity Plus) and on the reprint front, the classic O'Neill has chosen for this issue is Edmond Hamilton's 'The Monster-God of Malmurth'. Interestingly, Eric Flint also chose this for a more recent issue of Jim Baen's Universe. Again, the reprint story has 'ads' in the sense of pictures of other books by the author - did you know Hamilton had a vampire and horror stories collection, for instance? I didn't. So, very usefully done again.

The cover is even cool, and is a dragon for the second time in a row. Rather than a smug, perched lizard, this time we have a beast in full Flame-On mode. It isn't till you flip to the back that you realise the cover picture wraps around and the scaly one is flambeing a pirate ship.

With the extensive and broad non-fiction content (which is unmatched by any major magazine, barring perhaps Interzone) that puts this magazine into 4.5 score territory.

Black Gate 02 : The Whoremaster of Pald - Harry James Connolly
Black Gate 02 : Pity the Poor Dybbuk - Steve Carper
Black Gate 02 : What They Did to My Father - F. Brett Cox
Black Gate 02 : Stitchery - Devon Monk
Black Gate 02 : Heart of Jade - Amy Sterling Casil
Black Gate 02 : 'Goyles in the Hood - Leslie What
Black Gate 02 : Under the Bridge - Jeff Verona
Black Gate 02 : Straight to My Lover's Heart - Richard Bowes
Black Gate 02 : The Monster-God of Mamurth - Edmond Hamilton
Black Gate 02 : Bones of the Dead - Julia Blackshear Kosatka


Keeping the judge happy certainly helps when they conspire against your joint.

3.5 out of 5


Jewish demon quite outnumbered by Chinese demons, really.

3 out of 5


That arm is definitely rooted.

3 out of 5


Help me knit them back together, granny.

3 out of 5


Please take care of my deluded Mayan princess daughter, would you? This city is toast.

4 out of 5


Being a walking bloodsucker is much more fun than sitting around here forever.

3.5 out of 5


But Hispanic gangster teenagers do taste like bacon. Can't I have just this one?

3.5 out of 5


Time kid spotting.

3 out of 5


Hidden temple horror.

4 out of 5


Boredom and repetition is most definitely a curse, Commander.

4 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

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