Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Black Gate – Winter 2010 (Issue 14) – Part 3
After looking at the first two parts of the latest issue of Black Gate, it is time to read the final third! The novellas really took the cake for the middle section, and had me really excited about the last part of this juggernaut of a magazine. This time around, we have six short stories, two poems, the book review section, and the Knights of the Dinner Table strip.
“The Lady’s Apprentice” by Jan Stirling: This story of a once powerful lady who is now old and poor was slow paced, with a conclusion that seemed like it could have been a little more developed, but it was well-written, which helped make it more readable.
“The Wine-Dark Sea” by Isabel Pelech: An assassin hidden behind a full body mask sets out to return a woman’s son to her. Not a bad tale, it had some intriguing images, but seemed to miss a bit of the zest of “Adventures in Fantasy Literature” that I was looking for in a magazine with that line on its cover.
“On a Pale Horse” by Sylvia Volk: This story of a girl who seeks to tame a unicorn is one that just didn’t grab me, and I ended up not finishing it. I suppose horse stories aren’t quite my thing, and this one just didn’t pull off the rest of the aspects to make me keep reading.
“La Señora de Oro” by R.L. Roth: This epistolary tale of a man out seeking gold to buy his farm from the bank is very engaging, playing with some nice horror themes, and really drawing out the protagonists character. The story races to a conclusion that was plenty rewarding. A nice piece after a couple of disappointments.
“Building Character” by Tom Sneem: An entertaining tale of a character being run through a novice writer’s series of stories, this one manages to be both engaging and funny. A nice piece to build towards the end.
“Broadcaster” by Arthur Porges: This poem builds a neat image, and flows quite nicely.
“Folie and Null” by Douglas Empringham: Another tale that just seemed to flop for me. In this case, a man on the run finds a hideout that is more than it seems, but the story didn’t do much for me at all.
“Spanish Dance” by Arthur Porges: Another nice piece by Porges. He certainly captures images nicely, and is a good fit for this magazine.
The book review section is hefty, which is a nice treat. Black Gate always has a wide variety of reviews, and this issue is no disappointment, giving reviews of a large number of books from all over the genre. The reviews are well-written, and certainly are nice to get a grasp on before setting out to buy new books, as well as introducing some volumes from smaller publishers that the average reader may not have heard about.
The volume wraps up, as usual, with a Knights of the Dinner Table: The Java Joint comic strip, in which one of the characters plans on confronting Neil Gaiman for stealing his ideas. The extra-long strip was a fun way to close such a large issue, and manages to be plenty funny.
All-in-all, the tail end of this issue was a bit of a disappointment, not giving me as many winners as I had hoped after reading the first two-thirds. However, the overall issue (please see reviews of Part 1 and Part 2 also) is a winner, giving you a lot of content, most quite good, for a decent price. Fans of fantasy are highly encouraged to grab a copy, or get a subscription, and support a magazine that is putting out some solid stories.