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01-24-03: Legends Storyteller Magazine

The Power of the Press for those Who Own them

Legends Bookstore puts out a decent little magazine if you buy books from them.

Over the years none have been able to challenge the might of Mark Zeising's catalogue. It's a bimonthly pleasure for those who buy books, and even if you don't buy a lot of Mark's selection (you should he's got a great eclectic mix), I know more than a few folks who buy to make sure they get his catalogue. Legends Bookstore is a bit on the pricey side for my current revenue stream, but I surely intend to send them enough to ensure I get future mailings like this. There's an interview with Andrew Vachss inside, along with a few others, and lots of mysteries. Now, if I bought mystery like I buy speculative fiction, this catalogue would mean serious trouble. As is, they have some items that are definitely worth looking at, and interviews. Wow, the power of the press for those who can afford to own one.

01-23-03: Cryptozoological Fiction and Project Orion Come to Life

Project Orion Comes to Life

Beautiful new artist rendering of the Nuclear Pulse Technology Powered spaceship.

This kind of gear doesn't come cheap.

We should be happier than we might actually feel. Last year, George Dyson wrote a wonderful non-fiction book about 'Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship'. Now comes the announcement that the US is set to rekindle those nuclear fires under the spaceships. Here's a link to the BBC article on the announcement. Is this an object lesson on the old Twilight Zone warning of 'Be careful what you wish for'?


Loren Coleman Suggests You Read Cryptozoological Fiction

If this isn't the perfect story for boys, then you need to find some new boys.

This novel about the Ogopogo Lake monster is filled with accurate depict ions of outside science at work.

D. L. Tanner's novel about ancient magic fits a bit more comfortably into the horror fiction shelves.

One of the reasons to join *'s fortean list is the presence of writers such as Loren Coleman, whose 'Tom Slick and the Hunt for the Yeti' was recently re-released as a trade paperback. Recently, he suggested these three titles as being written by "entertaining,cryptozoologically-aware writers. Their books are well-worth adding to your active reading shelf." Of course, you might want to queue them up after Coleman's non-fiction; Tom Slick's story seems more mind-boggling than many a monster movie.

Here's an interesting conundrum for the adventurous reader: How do you find books about monsters that aren't simply rip'em up gorefests? Now, I suspect that none of these is, as Joe R. Lansdale puts it, "a book of big thinks." But here's an excellent realm for science fiction to enter that it has not even really considered, since the science itself seems like science fiction to so many people. Yet, if you read Coleman's works about the search for cryptids -- which are simply creatures that we didn't know existed before their discovery -- you realize that there is a lot of science out there to work with. Every day a new insect is discovered, and not just in the food at *.

01-22-03: Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist, Diana Wynn Jones Postcard Advert

Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist

The UK version of Brin's nominated novel has a different title and cover than the US version.

The US version of this novel has a cover more in keeping with the non-threatening feel of US books. Don't want to scare the customers away!

The Arthur C. Clarke "shortlist" was announced yesterday. I tend to have more in common with this list than the Hugo list, but it looks as if they're merging a bit. Brin, Moon and Robinson all seem more 'American' choices. Here's the list:

Kiln People by David Brin

Light by M. John Harrison

The Scar by China Miéville

Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

The Separation by Christopher Priest

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

I've only read two of these and purchased a third. I quite enjoyed 'Light' and 'The Scar'. I haven't made it 'The Separation', but I anticipate enjoying it. I find the minor difference between the title of the American version and the UK version of 'Kil'n People' interesting. One wonders what other changes ensued....

Here's a novel that everybody pretty much likes.

Here's a novel that everybody pretty much wants to like, but not everybody can make the leap.

I don't know doodly-oodly about this novel. It came out just a little bit over a month ago.

John Clute gave this novel a generally positive review.

One can certainly conclude that the judges aren't ignoring alternate history as a subgenre. The inclusion of the Priest title is a good sign of how the UK judges lean towards the literary. If indeed, you think this is a good thing. Horror readers should definitely check out this title and his excellent 'The Prestige'.

And no, I won't opine as to who should have been on the list.

Diana Wynn Jones Postcard Advert

J. K. Potter has finally permeated all layers of our society. I hope he's getting royalties.


Send me your book postcard and maybe I'll post it as well!


Among the many joys of being a book reviewer is the thrill of getting postcard adverts for books. Now, I've never read Diana Wynne Jones, though some of my friends who read a lot of fantasy certainly have. I suspect that she's the type of author I might be inclined to make fun of without ever having read her work. I hope she forgives me.

This postcard advert though, looks pretty nice, except the smear turns the question into the "Who can stop the false Merlin of Blech?" Blah, I suppose. But the Potter-esque imagery and the back cover summary are pretty intriguing. In some alternate universe, I can probably hardly wait to get my hands on this book. In this universe, I don't suppose they'll be sending me a copy.

In the final analysis, these postcards make dandy bookmarks, and as advertising, that makes it pretty effective, since this title will be in my face for the duration of reading the totally kick-ass new novel by Neal Asher.

01-21-03: Journalist arrested for interview with a vampire, Agony Column Hardcopy & CD Now Available

Journalist arrested for interview with a vampire

James Astill in Nairobi

Tuesday January 21, 2003

The Guardian,3604,878924,00.html

Police in Malawi arrested a radio journalist yesterday for broadcasting an interview with a man who claimed to have been attacked by a vampire. Southern Malawi has been rife with rumours of blood-sucking vampires, fuelled by the popular belief that the government is colluding with vampires to collect blood for international aid agencies.

A judge later dismissed charges against Maganizo Mazeze of broadcasting false information likely to cause public alarm, after an interview on a local radio station with a tea-planter from the southern province of Thyolo. "I am not bitter with anyone," Mr Mazeze said after his court appearance. "In fact, my sojourn in jail has reinforced my resolve to unearth issues authorities would otherwise prefer buried."

The police said there was no evidence to support the interviewee's claims. A man was recently stoned to death by villagers in Thyolo after being suspected of working with vampires.

[Keep an eye on the Guardian for more on this -- there have been a lot of reports of vampires skulking about in Malawi. This is one of the reasons to join the Fortean List.]

Agony Column Hardcopy & CD Now Available

For those who desire such a thing, I'll be happy to provide hard copy printouts of The Agony Column, at any resolution you desire. Yes, I have one of those damnable HP printers just like the rest of this gray earth. Last time I bought paper and cartridges, I could have bought a new printer for less. So I can print out your Agony Columns in text format, or in text with color images on plain paper, or in text with color images on heavy magazine stock. There will be a nominal cost, that of the paper plus the postage. The cost will vary depending on the column you choose to print. On heavy magazine stock, some of these bad boys will set you back about a quarter per page, and probably a bit more on postage.

I'll also sell you Interview CD's. You can order up to two interviews per CD, and for that the flat rate is $4.00 per CD, which includes the cost of postage.

If you have somehow come upon this offer as the result of a printout from someone else's computer and are now stationed in a MilStar satellite in geosynchronous orbit over the Middle East, and you need to send me postage to receive this fabulous offer, the address is:

Rick Kleffel / 511 Townsend Drive / Aptos, California, USA / 95003

This is not a for-profit enterprise, but rather something to help those who cannot get soft copies of the site. It also helps to qualify me for various awards. If you have any comments, questions or complaints, just email me, or send me a letter. There may be more news later today, once the mail arrives. I hope...

01-20-03: Ramsey Campbell Interview Online, Scott Nicholson's Haunted Computer

Ramsey Campbell Interview Online

Ramsey Campbell unleashes his inner child in an interview conducted during the enjoyable Spookycon. This image is one of several that are included with the latest PS Publishing release by Campbell, 'Ramsey Campbell, Probably'.

I've just posted the Ramsey Campbell interview. I had a blast editing this and listening again. You can download the RealAudio files; when I get a broadcast date, I'll let you know. The interview went so well -- Ramsey is fascinating and funny -- that I extended the usual half-hour segment to one hour. In Part 1, Ramsey talks about his early career, publishing with Arkham House at 16. In Part 2, he talks about his later, humorous and psychological novels. And, of course, much more.

Scott Nicholson's Haunted Computer

Scott Nicholson's first novel.

Scott Nicholson's short story collection.

Author Scott Nicholson wrote me to tell me that his novel 'The Red Church' might appeal to me, based on a column I wrote about Southern Gothic fiction. He wrote:

"It's marketed as horror but I feel more akin to the trashy Southern Gothic of Erskine Caldwell and Carson McCullers. In fact, I've begun to describe my work as "Appalachian Gothic". "

I'll let readers know the results when I read the book. His name was already familiar to me, since I'd seen a good review of his work on HorrorWorld. Nicholson also has his own website, the wonderfully named Scott's newest work is 'Thanks You for the Flowers', a collection of short stories.