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06-13-03: 'Ring' Sequels on the way from Vertical

Good News on a Bad Day

A guideline for the direction of the US economy.

I just finished 'Ring' -- and it was astonishingly good. So good that before I'd even finished it, I had contacted the publisher in New York,, and asked them about the sequels to the novel -- 'Spiral' and 'Loop'. Here's what they had to say:

"Thanks for your interest. We're currently in negotiations with Japanese publisher Kadokawa for the rights to Spiral and Loop, to which we already have options. The deal is nearly done. We'd like to bring out Spiral next year and Loop the year after that.

We've just begun having Rasen (Spiral) translated.

Sincerely yours,

Ioannis Mentzas"

Even if, like me -- or perhaps especially if, like me -- you've seen both versions of the movie and enjoyed them both, then you'll want to pick up this book and the others as well. Though he's called "the Japanese Stephen King", I'd suggest you think Stanislaw Lem in particular for his mystery novels like 'The Chain of Chance' and 'The Investigation'.

06-10-03: Reading Jack Womack, New Neal Stephenson, Which Great Old One are You?

Jack Womack on Jack Womack

Readers will have noticed that I've just started down the Jack Womack track. About time you say? Sure, well, I make no claim to have read all the authors I suspect I might like. I've been saving many for a rainy day. But when I start reading an author, I prefer to read the books in the order intended by the author. Now that's usually the chronological order that they come out in. That's why I really appreciated that columnist Terry D'Auray put together those charts for William Marshall and George Chesbro. However, chronological order of release isn't always the correct reading order. Jack Womack wrote me and gave me the correct reading order his novels. I'm thankful he did and I'm going to pass that on to my readers, some of whom, like me, might have been saving Womack for a rainy day. I don't even have to turn on NPR to know that here's that rainy day.

First....'Random Acts of Senseless Violence'

The first book to read in what is called the 'Ambient' series.


This guy looks pretty a followup to 'Random Acts of Senseless Violence', this makes sense.

Then, the series namesake and his first published novel (I believe)....

I'm also not getting the feeling of happiness from this cover illustration.

Then Terraplane...

...and I don't even want to think about what this might be.

Next up, 'Elvissey'....

Readers might have noted in other places that I'm a big fan of the 'pixillate it until it's art' school of illustration.

And finally, his latest, 'Going, Going, Gone'....

I came perilously close to reading this last year when it came out, and now I'm glad I can read it in the proper perspective.

I don't know about you, but I love discovering a series --even a loose series -- once it's well underway, and having a nice fat stock of novels to read through. Plus, a quick check via the Internet search engines reveals that I can stock up on the F/F first HC's without breaking the bank -- once I've replenished the bank of course.

Womack informed me that he's going to get back to the series as soon as he's done enjoying his wonderful family. I wish him the best -- and hope that by the time I've read through these, another novel is on the way.

The Cryptonomicon Reloaded

This IS your grandfather's conspiracy theory!

Thanks to the kind graces of Mr. Womack, I have for my readers the official publicity release for 'Quicksilver' and the rest of 'The Baroque Cycle'. Last week, Christopher Brookyre suggested that Stephenson is one of the great literary writers of our age, and I suspect that these will usher in the rest of the doddering literati to that opinion as well. The release strategy for these novels seems remarkably similar to the release strategy for the 'Matrix' movies. Feast your eyes and get ready for 944 pages of more fun...

"With THE BAROQUE CYCLE, his most ambitious project to date, Stephenson once again wields his pen with a ferocious intelligence and razor-sharp wit. Loosely connected to Cryptonomicon, his previous New York Times best-selling novel, this massive three-book work features the ancestors of the main characters in its three volumes: QUICKSILVER, September 23, 2003, THE CONFUSION April 4, 2004 and THE SYSTEM OF THE WORLD, October 4, 2004. Cryptonomicon, a powerfully imagined tale of family secrets, codes and conspiracies has sold more than 400,000 copies in hardcover around the world.     

QUICKSILVER Volume one of THE BAROQUE CYCLE (William Morrow/An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, September 2003; ISBN 0- 380-97742-7; $27.95, $39.95 CAN)spans the period 1647 to 1713. Civilization gives way to something that is neither astrology nor alchemy. Something new is bubbling up among those looking to describe Creation and understand the world, a new way of speaking and thinking. Through a masterfully described series of "marryings, couplings, dyings, religious conversions, wars, revolutions, miscarriages…decapitations" we perceive this is a period of momentous flux and change. Powerful forces are at work in the worlds of science, commerce and religion &endash; and we will meet those who change history utterly &endash; as well as those who are changed by it.

It is the year of Our Lord 1713; Enoch Root is wading through the endless tidal flats and cattail-filled marshes of Boston, in search of Daniel Waterhouse. It seems Dr. Waterhouse has not paid his dues to a new Society &endash; a Society of Philosophers, Natural Philosophers, grouped together in a new Clubb, "The Royal Society of London". … "It was a bad idea," says Enoch to land on Sir Isaac's Shit List." Amongst a group of Harvard men - "pompous sots and peering quick-faced men basting their sentences together with bad Latin" he learns that Dr Daniel Waterhouse has just endowed the "corner-log" of the brand new "Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technologickal Arts."

With that Stephenson is off and running &endash; an emerging Europe, the New America and an epic tale amongst 'possessed men' who know that "something was happening". Regulated by the tick tock of Huygen's pendulum-clock, time, now fixed and invariant, set into motion a Time of Natural Philosophy. The forefront of knowledge was being swept back at a pace so fast that "lads are torn in every direction at once, like a prisoner being quartered. Or eighthed, or sixteenthed. Should l study mathematics? Euclidean or Cartesian? Newtonian or Leibnizian calculus? Or should I go the empirical route? Will it be dissecting animals then, or classifying weeds, or making strange matters in crucibles? Rolling balls down inclined planes? Sporting with electricity and magnets?"  

It transpires that Enoch Root is under royal instruction to find Daniel Waterhouse. The prospective Queen of England &endash; Princess Caroline of Ansbach is seeking reconciliation between Isaac Newton and Wilhelm Gottfried Liebniz and Daniel must return to England to solve the schism that has developed in the calculus dispute between the British and the Continentals. 

It was after all, Enoch Root who unearthed the young Isaac Newton almost fifty years before &endash; and it was Enoch who uniquely understood the curves of the relationship between this gifted boy and his willing acolyte, Daniel Waterhouse. By shoving darning needles into his eyeball while studying at Cambridge, Newton continues the experiments and studies begun as a boy, and by inquiring into the very principal of things, teaches himself &endash;and his assistant Daniel, more about 'the human eye than anyone who had ever lived.' It is intoxicating for twenty-one year old Daniel &endash; his Puritanical past led him to study for the impending Apocalypse, now he's soaking up this newfound knowledge of the world as a "permanent ongoing epiphany, an endless immersion in lurid radiance, a drowning in light, a ringing of cosmic harmonies in the ears."  

"Might things actually be getting better, with the promise of continuing to do so?"   

The second book within QUICKSILVER &endash; King of the Vagabonds &endash; emerges from the Mud below London. It is 1665 and Jack Shaftoe, urchin mudlark hams it up with his brothers as the Condemned wait to die at Newgate prison. He goes on to make a living as a pretend Musketeer in France, in the gainful employ of the Elector Palatine and concerns himself with where the best looting could be found. As "English scum of the earth in good boots" he roams Continental Europe, chasing ostriches and rescuing slave-girls from a Turk's Harem near Vienna.  It is in Austria, that half-cocked Jack (to wit an unfortunate near miss with a cauterizing tong) first meets Eliza. Blue Eyes. 

She is a young woman whose ingenuity keeps her alive after being set adrift from the Turkish Harem in which she was imprisoned as a child. Her great beauty, bravery and intelligence will soon take her from wretched captivity all the way the inner sancta of the finest Houses of Europe and most of the Royal Courts. She's also very funny. Jack and Eliza traverse seventeenth century Europe, meeting en route Barbary pirates, bawdy courtiers and a loose collection of horse-thieves. 

Eliza's story develops in Book Three: Odalisque. She has met the comte d'Avaux then William of Orange and enters the court of Louis XIV &endash; and the sumptuous palace of Versailles. The story unfurls at a dizzying pace. 

Told on a panoramic scale and with a wildness rarely seen in fiction today, the vivid journeys of the characters intertwine against the backdrop of history. Samuel Pepys, the young Ben Franklin and Hooke collide at the intersection of history and technology: when markets became free, monarchy was overthrown and Western Civilization opened up to the thrill of the new.

It is with great pride that we present you with QUICKSILVER, Volume One of THE BAROQUE CYCLE. "

Which Great Old One Are You?

"I'm still waiting...."

In case you haven't taken enough of those stupid Internet tests yet, here's one that's at least relevant to readers of this site; the 'Which Great Old One Are You' test. Apply directly to wounded soul if you are in need of mild amusement. I take no responsibility for what happens to you when you take the test.