Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Here are some things I came across while reading my favorite blogs; enjoy!

From Speculative Horizons there comes a sneak peek and blurb of Alan Campbell's new book SEA OF GHOSTS, the first book in his The Gravediggers Chronicles.  Having really enjoyed Campbell's Deepgate Codex, I'm very excited about this new book!

On Mark Charan Newton's blog, ther's an excellent post about blogging and "genre diversity" that as a new blogger I found very insightful and will be trying to emulate as I grow...thanks, Mark!

On Pyr-o-mania, Lou Anders reveals FOUR steampunk titles coming out this season; a veritable treasure trove of steampunk goodness that sent me, a new lover of the genre, totally over the moon!  I now am planning a Steampunk Month on my blog for October/November just to bring these titles to the top of my To Be Read pile!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Robot Army Is Coming!

Angry Robot is FINALLY launching its line in the US and Canada next month in September and if you've been counting the days as I have, it's been a long wait!

The first titles to be released will be: SLIGHTS by Kaaron Warren, KELL'S LEGEND by Andy Remic, MOXYLAND by Lauren Beukes and SIXTY-ONE NAILS by Mike Shevdon.  Amazing reviews for all these books (indeed, for the whole imprint) have been all over the 'net for quite some time now,so if you're a fan of great speculative fiction, Angry Robot has it all!  Start checking into yout local bookstores now and visit the Angry Robot website here.

Prepare to meet your Robot Overlords!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Cover Art: Tented edited by Jerry L Wheeler (Lethe Press)

Here is new cover art for TENTED, the new circus themed erotic anthology coming from Lethe Press and I.  LOVE.  IT!  The theme itself is unique and I can't wait to see how the various authors took that theme and ran with it.  The ringmaster on the cover reminds me of the EmCee from CABARET; I'm sure these tales are delicious!

Lethe Press

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: A Demon Inside by Rick R Reed (MLR Press)

It's no secret that I admire author Rick R Reed.  I've been a fan of his work for over a decade now and his writing, like the man himself, keeps getting better.

A DEMON INSIDE continues Rick's foray into combining horror/thriller with m/m romance and it does it well.  Rick slowly but surely builds the suspence while also creating a budding romance that causes great internal conflict for the protagonist.

We meet Hunter Beaumont just before the death of his grandmother.  She has been the loving, protective center of his young life and her passing sets him adrift in a world he's ill equiped to deal with.  Since the age of 5 when his parents were brutally killed, he'd lived with his grandmother and to protect her grandson from such a terrible world, she had seen to it that he'd led a very sheltered life.  He'd never went to a public school nor had any friends; she was all he had.  With her dying breath she makes Hunter promise to destroy Beaumont House, a place Hunter has never heard of.

The mystery is solved when Hunter learns of the old, decrepit house his family hadn't visited in generations.  To try to make some sense of his life and to get away from the city where he is feeling increasingly alone, Hunter finally moves up to Wisconsin to Beaumont House and comes to realize just why his grandmother wanted him to destroy it.

In THE BLUE MOON CAFE, Rick ratcheted up the tension by giving the reader glimpses into the killer's mind and it really drove the action.  Here, the build up is slower and he uses Hunter's self imposed exile to great effect; all the incidents that start to occur in the house we only get to see  from Hunter's perspective. Hunter distrusts everyone so much and keeps himself so isolated that soon he's unable to tell reality from nightmare-and so are we.  Has someone been in his house?  Is his neighbor, also living alone in this remote area, watching him from afar?  Or can Beaumont House really be haunted?

Rick makes Hunter's descent into hysteria gripping and very chilling; there are passages here that literally made me stop to catch my breath.  He keeps us guessing until the end about whether or not everything is in Hunter's mind and when the climax comes, it is both terrifying and explosive. 

Rick R Reed is on a roll, turning out some excellent work lately and A DEMON INSIDE is the latest triumph by a prolific writer and a worthy addition to the haunted house canon of horror as well.

A DEMON INSIDE is available now from Amazon here or as an eBook from MLR Press

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Wilde Stories 2010 edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

I love anthologies!

I've loved reading them for as long as I can remember.  They're almost always a quick, enjoyable read and I often find an author I've never heard of, whose writing so impressed me that I immediately set out to read their other work.  Even better, if I'm lucky enough to come across a themed anthology, I'm able to lose myself in the different variations that the writers come up with, which when read together, make for a many faceted, beautiful picture.

WILDE STORIES is just such an anthology.  The "theme" here is stories featuring gay protagonists and Steve Berman has done an admirable job of collecting the best in gay specualtive fiction from the last year, "..tales of men haunted sometimes by ghosts and sometimes by handsome wolves on two legs-by outsider artists or strange neighbors."  This third edition of WILDE STORIES has several excellent stories that most readers may not have ever found if it wasn't for Mr. Berman gathering them here in one volume.  Here are my best of the best:

Laird Barron's "Strappado" opens the collection, a chilling piece about a pair of lovers and their participation in a deadly "guerilla" art exhibit.  Ben Francisco gives us the magic realism of "Tio Gilberto And The Twenty Seven Ghosts", one of my favorites in this volume.  It's the story of a young gay man who goes to live with his uncle who himself is haunted by ghosts of his past; simply beautiful!  Another favorite of mine is "Ne Que V'on Desir" by Tanith Lee (writing as Judas Garbah), a sensual wolf tale that takes place on a train in the winter..."Some Of Them Fell" by Joel Lane is a coming of age story about a pair of young boys and what happens to them in the woods and their reunion years later.  Jameson Currier's "Death In Amsterdam" is a thriller/horror story that does a great job of ratcheting up the suspence as it builds to its climax and is an excellent story but seems to me more mainstream than speculative.  And bringing the collection to a dramatic close is "The Far Shore" by Elizabeth Hand.   As always, Hand takes myth and fairy tale and twists them into something new, here a story of a man who becomes part of a fairy tale himself...

WILDE STORIES 2010 is a pleasure to read and I definitely recommend it to any reader, be they gay or straight, who is looking for good, memorable speculative fiction and would enjoy walking down the paths these amazing writers will lead them.

You can get your copy of WILDE STORIES  2010 here http://www.lethepressbooks.com/

Steve Berman, editor

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brit Mandelo Interviews Lethe Press Editor Steve Berman (via Tor.com)

As part of her series of posts "Queering SFF..." over at Tor.com, Brit Mandelo was able to sit down with Steve Berman, writer,editor and publisher of LGBT imprint Lethe Press.  I absolutely enjoyed the interview and am sharing it with you here:

"...One of the things this series of posts has dealt with in the past is how hard it can be sometimes to find queer speculative fiction, especially when the big presses seem to actively avoid “outing” their books in flap copy. The endless search doesn’t have to be the default for readers seeking queer SFF, though, because there are other offerings. Several small presses are doing great work with queer SFF—and they aren’t interested in hiding it. For a reader who’s used to the difficult hunt for books they want, it’s a breath of fresh air to discover a press that will provide you with your LGBTQ spec-fic happily, openly, and with passion.

Steve Berman, who wears the hats of “writer,” “editor” and “publisher,” is here to talk about one of the best of these: Lethe Press. While Lethe Press doesn’t publish solely speculative fiction, it is a focus of the press, and they’ve published authors such as Melissa Scott and Tanith Lee. They also regularly have books nominated for the Lambda Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Brit Mandelo: Hi, and thanks for letting me ask you questions today. For starters: what’s the “mission statement” or guiding vision of Lethe Press, for the readers who are new to you?

Steve Berman: No, I should be thanking you for being a passionate promoter of queer spec fic. Lethe Press’s aim is to ensure that the voices of queer authors are not forgotten. We rescue many books from obscurity as well as help ensure that writers have a home for new work that larger presses might not release because the content is too queer-focused. In the last decade several gay presses have folded and Lethe has expanded its line to meet the needs of the marketplace.

BM: Speaking of expanding your line, Lethe will be ten years old next year—did you anticipate when you started the press that it would not only live this long, but grow as much as it has?

SB: Does anyone anticipate what their life will be a decade later? No, I had no clue what Lethe might become. For the first couple of years, Lethe was more of a hobby than serious publishing pursuit. Now, more gay authors know of me as a publisher than as a colleague.

BM: Is that ever weird, being both a writer and a publisher? Or has running Lethe given you more insight into your own writing?

SB: Oh, it’s makes everything more complicated. I don’t have as much spare time to devote to writing, which is a real drawback. But without the press would I have been able to release two short story collections of my own? Probably not. And books like Sea, Swallow Me or Diana Comet and Other Improbable Tales would never have happened. So, Lethe is definitely a good thing for the field.

BM: I absolutely agree. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed from Lethe are the Wilde Stories collections —where did the idea to collect the “best gay speculative fiction” each year come from? How difficult is it to narrow down your choices and select the best stories?

SB: I conceived of Wilde Stories after a conversation with a friend asking for short fiction recommendations. Many readers aren’t aware just how many good quality gay spec fic stories release in a year. Those who are more invested in the traditional fantasy and sci-fi venues, such as Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction might be aware of a new Rick Bowes tale but might miss a piece by Tom Cardamone in small gay press anthology. And the reverse is true: patrons of a gay bookstore might never think that a horror anthology might feature an amazing gay-themed story by Laird Barron. Wilde Stories aims to bridge the schism and provide readers with the best tales published the prior year from a variety of print and online publications.

Choosing stories can be difficult. I’ve noticed a trend with the small gay presses to label fiction as spec fic when really only the “trappings” are—so we have a traditional romance aboard a starship or an erotic encounter with a vampire. I suppose this is gay paranormal romance. What I’m seeking for Wilde Stories, though, are stories that either refresh old themes, such as coming out or homophobia, or tales that are only incidentally gay. By the latter, I mean the character’s sexual identity is incidental to the plotline, but, because the protagonist is homosexual, gay readers are much more engaged with his story than if he happened to be hetero.

BM: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in running Lethe? And on the flip side of that—what are some of the best, most exciting moments you’ve had with the press?

SB: Cash flow problems are the detriment of all small presses. Nothing is more frustrating than emptying your coffers because a book is a success... and knowing it may be three to five months before you see any money from the increased sales. One that I did not anticipate: dealing with the demands of awards; sending out gratis books to jury members, who may number in the teens, can be very expensive. But you don’t want to ignore requests to submit for awards, because that is how authors and titles earn acclaim.

That said, when a Lethe title does reach the short-list of an award, I’m thrilled. For the last two years, we had three books among the Lambda Literary finalists, including Best Fantasy/Horror/Science Fiction. I have accepted the Gaylactic Spectrum Award on behalf of Joshua Lewis for his very first published short story, which was in a Lethe anthology.

Then there’s the pleasure in working with authors to nurture an idea. Peter Dube and I share a fondness for the surrealists; when I challenged him to write a spec fic story featuring Rene Crevel, a year later he turned in Subtle Bodies. When Jerry Wheeler told me he wanted to edit a book of strange circus-themed gay erotica, I encouraged him. Tented releases in September and it’s a wild ride to read.

BM: What new books do you have in the works at Lethe? Give us some “coming soon” highlights.

SB: Well, before I mention forthcoming titles, I want to say that recent release Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald has been one of our bestselling titles this year; the fact that it received a starred review in Booklist helped, of course. If you like quirky fiction with a queer bent, I think you’ll adore McDonald’s stories. We also released a new collection of Tanith Lee tales, Discouraged by Her Song, which is very queer. Next month, Peter Dube’s novella, Subtle Bodies, a historical fantastique of Rene Crevel, the French surrealist poet, releases.

In 2011, we will be publishing a gay spec fic short story collection by Alex Jeffers. Stoker and Lambda Literary Award winner Lee Thomas has a new thriller in March, The German. A Study in Lavender is an anthology of queered Holmesian tales edited by Joseph DeMarco. And, of course, the next edition of Wilde Stories.

BM: “Queered Holmesian tales” is a phrase that makes me nearly giggle with joy, just so you know. (I believe I just revealed which side of the fandom I stand on. Ahem.)

How about you, on the writing side of your career? Any new stories coming soon?

SB: Yes, we’re trying to ascertain the rights issues with the Holmes canon; the book may have to be a UK & Canadian release only. Apparently many Holmes buffs are decidedly homophobic.

As for my own writing: this past spring, The Beastly Bride, edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, appeared and featured my lesbian retelling of the Swan Lake storyline; I have bit of humorous flash fiction in the autumn release, Blood Sacraments, edited by Todd Gregory, entitled “Five Gay Vampire Shows That Were Never Greenlit”; and next year’s YA vampire anthology Teeth, also edited by Ellen and Terri, features a gay story, “All Smiles.” That’s on the horizon. I’m currently finishing up a short story about a sister and her brother, who becomes afflicted with applianthropy—he becomes a were-oven. And then there’s the novel, a Victorian-era fey story. And a couple of short story collections, one illustrated and aimed at the YA market, the other involving lost gay cinematic characters like the poor pilot who shot down King Kong.

BM: Something from the panel you were moderating at Readercon comes back to me—you, and all of the panelists, seemed to agree that the field of queer spec-fic is expanding and becoming more mainstream, not less. Has the shift been recent, or have you noticed it for some time now?

SB: Well, queer rights are certainly becoming more widespread. And exposure to LGBTI and Q characters are more prevalent in mass media. Mainstream publishers can release books like Spaceman Blues or Boy Meets Boy. But these are still rare releases; like other minorities, we’re often relegated to secondary or tertiary roles in books. Supposedly, 10% of the populace is queer... then shouldn’t 1 out of 10 books be the same?

I know, there are a plethora of variables, but the dearth of good queer spec fic is troubling. Are there fewer queer readers (and writers) in the genre because they cannot identify with most protagonists? Or will this goad people? I write queer spec fic to tell the kind of story I have had trouble all my life finding in bookstores.

BM: How about we end with some sort of fun question? Like name 3 queer authors you’d want to have with while stranded on a deserted island.

SB: Can they be pulled from the time stream? If so, then Oscar Wilde, because without electricity I will need someone witty to survive the ennui. Tristram Burden (who wrote My Hero: A Wild Boy’s Tale) because he’s an amazing imagination and he’s so pretty (hey, a fellow can dream, right?). And Perrin 5, a cyborg from the 22nd century and slam lesbian poet because she’ll be the bold one that eventually figures out how to get us rescued. Plus, she’s WiFi-enabled and can turn palm fronds into ersatz coffee.

BM: Fine choices. Thanks again for doing this interview, it’s been fun!

SB: I loved it!"

Again, great interview Brit and Steve!