Saturday, September 29, 2007


Please remember my friend David LoPiccolo in your thoughts and prayers. I haven't known David all that long, but we've gotten to be friends these last few weeks, mostly through working with the youth at church. David is 28 and has a very rare medical condition - his body produces extra blood vessels which causes several problems for him. A couple of weeks ago he told me that his heart "thinks" it has to pump blood to all these new blood vessels, so it pumps very fast, about seven times faster than a normal person's heart.

That creates serious problems if he gets a cut and starts bleeding.

David lives in Maryland but has been in New York (where he's from) for the last few days for a medical visit. Yesterday David began losing a lot of blood due to an aneurism in his neck. He's been rushed to the hospital and is in surgery right now.

Please remember David and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dylan, etc.

Cindy and I are counting down the hours until tonight's Bob Dylan concert at the Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, MD. It'll be my sixth time to see Bob live, Cindy's first.

And as all Dylan fans know, the highly unorthodox/experimental Dylan biopic I'm Not There will be released on November 21. The film recently shared the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival with Abdellatif Kechiche's La Graine et le Mulet. Cate Blanchett also won a Best Actress award for her portrayal of Dylan. Yes, Cate Blanchett. Check out this clip.


If for some insane reason you haven't bought the new anthology Best American Fantasy (Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, eds.), do it now, if only to read Chris Adrian's superb story "A Better Angel," one of the most powerful stories I've read this year. (But don't stop there.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Learning and Ignorance

I started Samuel R. Delany's About Writing yesterday and haven't been able to put it down. From the preface, Delany states, "...let me say, this is a book for serious creative writers."

You can say that again. There's no fluff here. Delany is serious about writing and he expects the same from you. Reading the book is the closest thing to Clarion that I've experienced, presenting several valuable lessons, some of them hard ones.

From the Introduction:

"To learn anything worth knowing requires that you learn as well how pathetic you were when you were ignorant of it. The knowledge of what you have lost irrevocably because you were in ignorance of it is the knowledge of the worth of what you have learned. A reason knowledge/learning in general is so unpopular with so many people is because very early we all learn there is a phenomenologically unpleasant side to it: to learn anything entails the fact that there is no way to escape learning that you were formerly ignorant, to learn that you were a fool, that you have already lost irretrievable opportunities, that you have made wrong choices, that you were silly and limited. These lessons are not pleasant."

As some of my Southern friends would say, "You ain't never lied."

Yet along with that unpleasant realization comes the new knowledge that you've taken at least one step (even if it's a baby step) forward along the road to becoming a better writer. For me, that overrides any unpleasantness that might momentarily slap me in the face.

Much more about this book later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Did Anyone See This Coming?

Well here's something you don't see (or rather, hear) everyday. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss? Are you kidding me?

I actually heard some of their forthcoming album Raising Sand (release date October 23, 2007) on XM a few minutes ago. From the little I heard, Alison mainly sang harmony and played fiddle in a few mellow, zoned-out, slightly etherial tunes. Worth a listen.

What's next? Jimmy Page and Gretchen Wilson?

Aegypt - John Crowley

Before Aegypt, the only contact I'd had with John Crowley's work consisted of a few short stories, expertly crafted gems I've thoroughly enjoyed. His short fiction is excellent, but if Aegypt is any indication of his other novels, Crowley is a writer whose ideas are simply gigantic.

Aegypt (which is actually a four-book series, the first of which has been renamed The Solitudes) is a big novel, not so much in pages, but in ideas and implications. I'll try to explain, but the largeness of the work truly overwhelms me.

Traveling to an interview for a college teaching position, history professor Pierce Moffett gets sidetracked among the Faraway Hills of New York, stumbling across Brent Spofford, a former student he hasn't seen in years. While staying with Spofford, Moffett abandons the possibility of the teaching position in order to write a work of historical fiction, a work that weaves the lives of 16th-Century philosopher/poet Giordano Bruno, Renaissance mathematician John Dee and spirit medium Edward Kelley.

Shift to another major character, Rosie Rasmussen. Rosie and her young daughter have left Rosie's husband for greener pastures – literally: Faraway Hills. Rosie, who already knows Spofford, discovers that she's had an estate placed in her care, the estate of another Faraway Hills resident, Fellowes Kraft, whose final unfinished novel features both Bruno and Dee.

Now things get a bit challenging.

From his reading of Kraft, Pierce begins to suspect that the known history of the world is just one history of the world. Apparently all of our intellectual, cultural, scientific, philosophical and religious ideas come not from Egypt, but Aegypt, a sort of alternate world (or country). Crowley places stories inside stories inside stories, sometimes with little or no warning. You could be reading about Pierce Moffett's thoughts on the origins of gypsies, when suddenly you're in the middle of a scene involving the apprenticeship of William Shakespeare. Such scenes weave in and out of history and time, past and present, real and imaginary, often at a dizzying pace.

This is complex, sometimes confusing, but always beautiful writing. I was amazed at how Crowley handles all these different stories and centuries with such an elegant, graceful hand. I don't even pretend to understand it all (The book certainly demands another read, at least for me), and sometimes I stopped to take a few deep breaths, trying to wrap my head around parts of the novel as they developed.

But what an amazing trip. Crowley doesn't just explore ideas, he runs rampant in and out of them, showing us things, ideas, concepts we didn't know existed. Not everything is clear, but Crowley has three other books in the series for us.

One thing that is clear is the necessity of reading those remaining three books. After finishing The Solitudes, readers are faced with the inescapable fact that, as big as the novel is, there's something even bigger awaiting. And that's pretty scary. But something to look forward to.

The Solitudes will be re-released in trade paperback from Overlook on October 2, 2007. The remaining novels in the Aegypt sequence will be released as follows:

Love and Sleep - December 18, 2007

Daemonomania - TBA

Endless Things (published in hardcover from Small Beer Press in May 2007) - TBA

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oprah Should Have Picked Octavia

A couple of weeks ago I finished Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower (1993) and instantly wished this had been the Oprah's Book Club pick over Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006). Here are a few reasons why:

Both novels are dystopias of sorts, depicting the horrors of post-apocalyptic America in McCarthy's case, rampant lawlessness in California in Butler's. Both novels are bleak, powerful, and well-written. But Parable of the Sower resonated with me much more than did The Road.

Part of this could be the style of writing employed by the writers. McCarthy's sometimes poetic, sometimes sparse, "muscular" prose is about as far away as you can get from Butler's – a very descriptive, richly detailed first-person narrative (the young protagonist Lauren Olimina's journal entries) that flows without distraction. McCarthy's word choices and savage poetic style screamed out to me, "This is a fantasy." (Ironically, The Road feels more like a parable than Parable of the Sower.) With Butler, I almost believed I was reading actual events.

It makes little difference to me, but you could legitimately call both novels science fiction. In McCarthy's case, the sf element has happened before the story ever starts. You could say the same about Butler's novel, but Lauren's hyperempathy (the ability to feel the pain and sensations of other people) runs throughout the novel from start to finish. The sustained sf element might not have been such a hit with the Oprah crowd, but it's not so In-Your-Face that anyone's going to be offended.

Maybe what bothered me was plot (or lack of it). Butler sees a world spinning out of control. McCarthy's world is already there; there's not much further down things can go, not much guesswork. Butler's Lauren realizes that the only way to survive the darkness of the human soul is to embrace change. Change becomes the basis of her new religion, Earthseed, with its mantra "God is change," a worldview that could have significant consequences for every character in the book. The father and son in The Road are simply trying to survive on their own. Of course Butler's novel with its many characters provides much more opportunity for drama, horror, conflict, decisions and consequences. You're not really sure what's going to happen, who's going to live, who's going to die. Not so many choices with McCarthy.

Maybe I just liked Parable of the Sower better. It's a great story but it's also something larger. I learned and reflected more on what it means to be human and inhuman after reading Butler's novel than McCarthy's. But to his credit, McCarthy's novel seems to show more tenderness (maybe too much at times) between its two main characters than does Butler's. Perhaps that's why Oprah picked The Road. But I wish she'd read Parable of the Sower first.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Look at the Time...

I can't believe we're already this far into September. Baseball is beginning it's wind-down, we're in Week Three of the NFL, and the weather is perfect. Lots of stuff going on this morning, but I hope to report on some books today or tomorrow, namely John Crowley's Aegypt, Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower and the YA novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Like You Need Any Help...

I was looking up some titles this morning in my What Fantastic Fiction Do I Read Next? (2nd edition, 1999) and finally had to stop myself, remembering that the last time I opened the book, nearly three hours vanished, never to return.

This mammoth reference work is highly addictive, very well done, but also very dated. This edition came out in 1999 and covers works published from 1989 to 1998. The bulk of the book (which is considerable, weighing in at nearly 9 pounds) consists of an alphabetical listing of authors and their works published during that 10-year period. Entries include title, publisher, date, story type, major characters, time period(s), locale(s), book summary, and "Other books you might like," which may list as few as one (Brian Stableford's The Werewolves of London is matched with Daniel Easterman's Name of the Beast.) or as many as ten (Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower). The 1989-1998 timeline does include reprints of older works and the "Other books you might like" often reaches far into the past.

Okay, okay, I know you'd like to actually see an entry, wouldn't you? You people...



(New York: Candlewick, 1997)

Story type: Horror (Vampire Story; Young Adult)

Major Characters(s): Chris, Teenager, Vampire; Chet, Supernatural Being; Tch'muchgar, Vampire

Locale(s): New England (alternate)

Summary: In an alternate world populated with creatures of the supernatural, Chris struggles with the growing pains that come with acceptance of his maturing vampire identity. For his first adult responsibility, Chet, a member of the Forces of Light, asks him to interfere with a ceremony that will help release a vampire lord from captivity in another world. A young adult novel.

Other books you might like:
Richie Tankersley Cusick, Vampire, 1991
Joseph Locke, Vampire Heart, 1994
Christopher Pike, The Last Vampire, 1994
L.J. Smith, Secret Vampire, 1996
L.J. Smith, Dark Reunion, 1992, Vampire Diaries, volume 4
S.P. Somtow, The Vampire's Beautiful Daughter, 1997


The book also includes a Series Index, Time Period Index, Geographic Index, Story Type get the picture. Hey, the thing's 1954 pages...

Let's hope a new edition comes out in 2009. The second edition was quite steep when it came out ($165.00), but I bought my copy in early 2005 for $14.98, definitely worth the price.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Assorted Stuff

The only bad thing about reading the work of really good writers - like Laird Barron and John Crowley - is that it unflinchingly shows you what your writing is really like. But I guess in the long run that's a good thing. My writing lately has been slower, but more focused, and stronger. I can actually look at what I've written and say, "Hey, I don't think I could've written that a few weeks ago." I'll take that any day.


I'll also take how the Dallas Cowboys are doing. I have a long and intense love/hate relationship with the team, going all the way back to watching the 1975 season with my good friend Mark Henderson. Yeah, they've still got T.O. (at least he's doing something so far this year) and Jerry Jones, but they're 2-0 and both Philadelphia and the New York Gnats (mispelling intended) are 0-2.


My mom's celebrating her 78th birthday today, so Cindy and I are going to take her out today, have some cake and hang out. Look for some book talk tomorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dark Harvest - Norman Partridge

A Midwestern town. You know its name. You were born there.

Partridge opens Dark Harvest with these words, addressing readers as if we've actually lived through this night of horror.

Maybe we have.

In this unnamed town, all teenage boys are kept locked up in their homes without food for five days, preparing for The Run, an annual ritual in which one lucky teen will destroy the October Boy, an undead being released every Halloween. The boy who succeeds not only brings blessings and prosperity to the land and community, but also gains wealth for his family and a ticket to live beyond the confines of the town for himself.

Pete McCormick is more than ready to win the prize. He's haunted by a drunken father, a sadistic cop who's got it in for him, and a life that's going nowhere. But he's just one of many.

Dark Harvest is, quite simply, a home run, maybe even a grand slam. I read Partridge's short novel (169 pages) in a day, which hardly ever happens. It's a fast, breathtaking read told in multiple POVs, but it's certainly not a mindless action/horror novel (although there's plenty of action and horror). Partridge puts his finger on the way our society's psyche works (and not just in small towns), the way communities control how we think and live, and how difficult it is to break cycles. As one character learns, the past can't be changed, but it can be repeated.

Maybe Partridge is right, maybe I was born there. I remember my own hometown (pop. 5,000), how I always wondered why so few people left it, or when they did, usually stayed in-state in a town that wasn't much different than the one they left. Partridge knows those horrors are real, self-perpetuating, and seemingly inescapable. That's the essense of true horror and Partridge has captured it expertly.

It's no surprise that Dark Harvest has been named one of the "Best Books of the Year" by Publisher's Weekly and is nominated for the World Fantasy Award. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Laird Barron's The Imago Sequence

Although it's not Barron's first published story, "Old Virginia" opens The Imago Sequence, giving readers a taste for the gruesome, disturbing tales of the supernatural that follow. Roger Garland is an aging CIA agent assigned the security detail of Operation TALLHAT, an experimental study involving a strange woman who may or may not be a clairvoyant. Garland is surrounded with reminders of past failures and signs that a changing of the guard is taking place, not only in his own life, but on a much larger scale.

Of course there's much more to the story than that. Like all Barron protagonists, Garland is a flawed man with a troubled past. There are forces in the universe (even in the same tent with him) that are so far beyond his comprehension that the revelation hits him (and the reader) like a world of tidal waves.

"Old Virginia" is probably the most straight-forward of Barron's tales. If it grabs you, the other eight stories in this collection will grab you, shake you, and rattle your insides against what you just thought was the protection of your woefully insufficient skeletal structure.

But the second story "Shiva, Open Your Eye" plants the seed that there's a larger, overarching connection to these stories. Many are set in and around Olympia, Washington and involve a cosmic entity of ravenous evil often referred to as Belphegor. But to think that Barron simply places a variety of characters in similar and recurring situations would be a mistake. Each story has a different flavor, whether we're dealing with a security consultant in Hong Kong, a gunfighter in the Old West, bounty hunters, or a hired muscleman searching for a trio of sinister photographs. Barron repeats himself only in the quality of his work.

Barron has been compared to Lovecraft, but since my contact with Lovecraft is (thus far, anyway) very limited, I can't really concur. But if Lovecraft's fiction is that of inescapable nightmares, intense psychological torment, bottomless dread and just plain fear, Barron can definitely hold his own.

These are incredibly rich, powerful stories told by a writer that loves language and detail. But be warned: While you're reveling in the masterful use of language and imagery, don't be surprised if you feel the walls (and what might be inside them) closing in on you. The Imago Sequence gets my highest possible recommendation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Flying High or Grounded?

So after nearly 20 years, Led Zeppelin is going to reunite for one concert only? What's that, you say? This could lead to an actual Led Zep tour? Would I pay $200 to see them? $500? $1,000?

Ah, that would be a no.



The last time I remember seeing Zep together was for an awards show (I can't remember which one - maybe it was a Live Aid concert.) back in the mid-1980's. It was as true a reunion as you could get, minus, of course, John Bonham. (Bonham's son Jason - quite a good drummer himself - filled in then and would for this upcoming concert.) But Bonham wasn't the problem. Page was terrible. Horrid. "Heartbreaker" was just that.

Some things have a shelf life. Some things should be left alone.

There's a reason we still remember the greatness of the Beatles. A good portion of those memories could have been wiped out or significantly damaged by a Beatles "reunion," even before Lennon was killed. I'm glad it never happened. (The release of "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," thanks to Jeff Lynne's awful production, was bad enough.)

Plus Robert Plant, while he's done some nice work (especially lately), doesn't have the same voice he once had. (Hey, who does?) John Paul Jones (the most underrated member of the band) has largely distanced himself from anything having to do with Zep, so I'm very surprised at his acceptance.

I'm a huge Zeppelin fan, but I hate to see this happen. I'll always regret not sneaking out of the house and driving down to New Orleans to see them in 1977. (I was in the ninth grade - the perfect time to pull such a stunt.) The world is filled with "I almost saw Zeppelin stories," but I'll stick to mine rather than see this new incarnation. It just can't be a good thing. I know the concert is part of a memorial to honor Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, but in this case, let Zep's legacy honor him. I don't think I could stand any more heartbreak.

Next time: Thoughts on Laird Barron's The Imago Sequence and Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Collections and "Is It the Technology or Is It Me?"

Gary A. Braunbeck's collection Graveyard People: The Collected Cedar Hill Stories, Volume 1 arrived yesterday, so I'm hoping I'll be able to start it sometime today after I finish Laird Barron's The Imago Sequence, which I plan to blog about soon.


I don't know if it's me, the books, or the technology, but I've started reading two books on my Palm and finished neither.

I don't think it's the books. I started Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and James Patrick Kelly's Burn. Both of these guys are fine writers and I've greatly enjoyed their short work in the past. I don't think it's the fault of the novels (or novella in Kelly's case), I think it's a case of me vs. the screen. The reading area is just too small.

I've tried to tell myself that what I'm looking at is pretty much the same size a newspaper type, but my subconscious isn't buying it. I got about a fourth of the way through both works, so we're talking at least a few hundred screens' worth of text, which probably should be enough to adjust to. Somehow I didn't.

Maybe I should try a few short stories before I tackle another novel. Or maybe I should just do what I used to do: carry at least one book around all the time.

Friday, September 07, 2007

On the Horizon

I'm almost finished listening to The Sun Also Rises, which I'm enjoying quite a bit. The next audiobook I plan to tackle should be quite an experience. I found a brand new release at the library a couple of days ago, John Crowley's Aegpyt (read by Crowley). I guess it's a good thing I found it on audio. Just try getting your hands on a print copy for under $25.

The 2007 audiobook release coincides with the fourth and final book in Crowley's Aegypt series, Endless Things, published by Small Beer Press. The Solitudes (the original first installment of Aegypt) will be re-released next month.

I usually don't like to know too much about a book before I start it, but in this case a little knowledge might help. In fact, Aegypt might be a book better experienced by reading than by listening. Anyone who has read Aegypt and is willing to comment (without spoilers) on it, please feel free.


Heading out of town this afternoon for a few days. Have a great reading/writing weekend, folks.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

National Book Festival

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never been to the National Book Festival, especially since it's right in my back yard...well, close enough, anyway. But this year I think I'll give it a shot. I'm running in a 5K earlier that morning, but I should be back home (and showered) in time for the festival's good stuff.

The good stuff being - at least for me - the opportunity to meet one of my favorite writers, M.T. Anderson. Other attending YA authors I've read are Holly Black and Gail Carson Levine.

Odd that the NBF lists Fiction and Fantasy as a category, implying that SF is a part of the literary crowd. I suppose that's a good thing, but what does that say for Fantasy? Mysteries & Thrillers are a separate category, so I wonder about SF & F? Maybe they couldn't get enough of those folks together. After all, Terry Pratchett and Harry Turtledove (and sometimes Joyce Carol Oates) are the only real SF/F/H writers in the Fiction and Fantasy category.

The other categories look great too, but I guess it's bad when you recognize more authors from the Home and Family category than the Poetry category. (I own Nancy Pearl's Book Lust. Are you surprised?)


On a sad note, opera great Luciano Pavarotti died Thursday of pancreatic cancer. He was 71. I am currently blaring "Nessun Dorma" (from Turandot) from my office in his honor.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wrap Your Brain Around This

This looks interesting. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf, released yesterday. How do our minds learn to read? Is reading a relatively new (a few thousand years old) skill? Cognitive neuroscientist Wolf thinks so.

From the book description:

The act of reading is a miracle. Every new reader's brain possesses the extraordinary capacity to rearrange itself beyond its original abilities in order to understand written symbols. But how does the brain learn to read? As world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist and scholar of reading Maryanne Wolf explains in this impassioned book, we taught our brain to read only a few thousand years ago, and in the process changed the intellectual evolution of our species.

Wolf tells us that the brain that examined tiny clay tablets in the cuneiform script of the Sumerians is configured differently from the brain that reads alphabets or of one literate in today's technology.

There are critical implications to such an evolving brain. Just as writing reduced the need for memory, the proliferation of information and the particular requirements of digital culture may short-circuit some of written language's unique contributions—with potentially profound consequences for our future.

It would appear from the description that we have adapted our original wiring to learn how to make sense of written symbols, that reading was something of an evolutionary process. If so, what happens to that wiring when someone has dyslexia? And is our reading limited by our brain's ability (or lack thereof) to adapt written symbols into understanding? (Man, does this mean I'll never be able to understand Faulkner?)

I'm also very interested in what Wolf has to say about how technology has influenced in the short term (and will influence in the long term) our ability to read. This looks like a must-read. (If my cognitive abilities will permit it, that is.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Novel and Weird Goings-On at the Chinese Restaurant

It took awhile, but I finally figured out (or maybe Fred did) how to connect a couple of major plot elements of my YA novel, which is currently undergoing it's third (and hopefully final) draft. The connection was there all along, I just didn't see it until I had Cindy read through the manuscript. It's a great feeling when one of the lights comes on and stays on, sort of like you're trying to replace the light fixtures in a big warehouse. I think I've got the entrance pretty well illuminated. We'll see how the rest goes.


Cindy and I went to one of our favorite Chinese restaurants last night because....well, just because.

We always take a booth, since it allows me to stretch out after I've gorged myself on hunan fried rice. I noticed a family of three take a table near our booth. Cindy and I were eating and talking, not paying much attention to them, although I noticed that the husband and wife were probably mid-40's, their daughter maybe 15 or 16 wearing black-rimmed glasses, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt that stopped just above her navel.

They studied their menus for several minutes in silence while the guy running the place was busy getting take-out orders ready. Most people there get take-out, so there's never many people dining in, thus not much chatter. It was easy to hear the mother when she started speaking.

I noticed she had a small bandage on her forehead and wondered if she was okay. Her words sounded a bit muffled and slurred. I listened a little more closely and realized she wasn't speaking English.

Nothing uncommon about that, especially here in the Washington D.C. area. You hear all kinds of languages in all kinds of places. But I couldn't identify this one, mostly because of her slurred speech. Maybe she was on medication.

Her husband was a tall, thin man who looked like he might possibly be Slavic. It was a long time before either he or the daughter spoke, content to let the woman ramble in starts and stops. After a few minutes he spoke to the daughter, whispered actually. I could see his lips move and hear little wisps of language, but couldn't dig any deeper.

Again, none of this was in any way out of the ordinary, but then the daughter leans forward to her parents and starts talking about one of her friends. In perfect English. No noticable accent.

The parents listen, the mother nods and lets loose a string of whatever language she's speaking. Definitely not English. The daughter continues talking about some disgusting boy at school. Mom in non-English. Daughter in English. Back and forth.

The waitress brings their plates and the girl sends hers back, pointing to a dirty spot on the plate. She goes back to her story. The mother goes back to her language. The father says a word or two every few minutes, never loud enough for me to discern his language.

"Maybe the parents are tying to learn English," Cindy said in the car. "The daughter probably knows both languages."

Maybe. Maybe not. Sounds like there's a story there. (Feel free to steal it if you like. I've got too many going right now.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Books on the Way and An Early Christmas List

These titles are on the way to me as I write:

Dark Harvest - Norman Partridge

Best American Fantasy - Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer, eds.

Reassuring Tales - T.E.D. Klein

And here are a few early ideas for Christmas presents (and beyond, since some titles won't appear until well into 2008):

Pump Six and Other Stories - Paolo Bacigalupi
February 2008

The Shadow Year - Jeffrey Ford
March 1, 2008

20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill
October 1, 2007

Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories - Nancy Kress
(Not yet on the Golden Gryphon site)
May 2008

Red Spikes - Margo Lanagan
October 9, 2007

Moon Flights (collection) - Elizabeth Moon
September 1, 2007

The Man on the Ceiling - Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem
March 4, 2008

The New Weird - Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer, eds.
February 1, 2008

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves - M.T. Anderson
October 2007
(This is the date given in the latest issue of Locus, but this may be an error, since there's currently no information on this title from either Amazon or the publisher Candlewick Press.)

Chronicles of the Black Company - Glen Cook
November 13, 2007

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
November 2007
Locus lists this as a hardcover reprint from Tor. If they keep the same cover as the trade paperback, sign me up. If it's the movie tie-in cover, forget it.

Dagger Key and Other Stories - Lucius Shepard
PS Publishing has Mid 2007, which has technically already passed

And if you've made it this far, you should be rewarded with a little treat: Today only, buy two in-stock books from Subterranean Press and get them for 50% off. (Exceptions noted.) Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

August Books Read

Okay, so I only read eight books in August, but I can recommend them all. Here we go....


A Good and Happy Child (2007) - Justin Evans

Recommended by my good friend Kelly, A Good and Happy Child marks the debut of Justin Evans, who has succeeded in producing a disturbing tale of a young child haunted by a demon. Equal parts horror and psychological drama, A Good and Happy Child is an outstanding first novel from a writer to keep a close eye on.

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) - Ray Bradbury

Okay, I admit it: Before last month, I'd never read Fahrenheit 451. This book hasn't lost any of its power in 50+ years. The issues of censorship and government control are still significant, but besides that, it's just a great story.

Three Days to Never (2006) - Tim Powers

Powers really knows how to take you on a wild ride. Who else could combine Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Southern California, time travel, astral projection, Ouija boards, pyrokinesis, poltergeists, high-speed chases and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and have it all make sense?

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm (YA 1994) - Nancy Farmer

It's the year 2194 in Zimbabwe. A military ruler's three children have escaped their home's robot servants to explore the world that their father has sought to protect them from. When the children's mother discovers them missing, she hires The Ear, the Eye and The Arm detective agency to find them.

It sounds like a lot of fun, which it is, but Farmer's interested in far more than telling a fast-paced tale of kids on an adventure. Farmer explores the richness of the African culture while not shying away from the gritty and unsavory truths of the darker side of human nature.

Don't Waste Your Life (NF 2003) - John Piper

A blunt title, to be sure, but an excellent (and convicting) read. How do you waste your life? Caring only for yourself and not seeking to take care of others around you whenever the opportunity arises. The Christian church as a whole often does a lousy job of helping others and Piper doesn't hesitate to come down hard. The book is much more than a call to missions. It's a call to use the gifts God has given you for something more than possessions and a comfortable life. I know I was convicted by this one.

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (NF 2006) - Lawrence Wright

The best book I read this month. Wright's very readable work explains the origins of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, and the events leading to 9/11. This is an excellent place to start for anyone wanting to understand the terrorist mind.

The Truth Is Out There: Christian Faith and the Classics of TV Science Fiction (NF 2006) - Thomas Bertonneau and Kim Paffenroth

I've talked about this one before, so I won't elaborate here. The book was far more scholarly than I expected, but it was nice to see the topic treated in such a serious manner. The authors make a good case for the inclusion of Christian elements in these shows, whether the producers at the time were conscious of it or not. I just wish they'd write a book focusing on more current shows (Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Heroes, etc.).

The Privilege of the Sword (2006) - Ellen Kushner

A home run. Kushner manages to shed light on sexism and gender roles, societal structures and taboos, politics and more while delivering a dazzling adventure full of swordplay. The detail, characterizations and seemingly effortless writing style make this one just about perfect.

That's it for August! Go read something!