Agony Column Home
Agony Column Review Archive

This Just In....News from The Agony Column

08-09-03: Neal Asher Hardcover, Robert Charles Wilson and Adam Johnson

Neal Asher Hardcover

Finally! Now all we need is the NightShade Books limited edition illustrated by JK Potter.

By the time I hit page 7 when reading this novel what -- 2 years ago? -- I knew that it deserved a hardcover edition. Tor has finally granted that wish, and even if you've got the UK paperback (which is worth having!), you'll want to spring for this nice hardcover. Moreover, we want Neal to be handed a ticiket to tour over here. So now's the time to support the writers you love. And as it happens, 'Gridlinked' is the perfecft book to re-read; thick and meaty enough to be surprising once again, fun enough to look forward to a second time round.


Robert Charles Wilson's Area 52

The return of the Bug-Eyed Monster to SF hardcovers!

Tor has taken quite a turn in the cover styling for Robert Charles Wilson's latest, 'Blind Lake', and I'm totally stoked. One might have thought the many mainstream reviews of 'The Chronoliths' might have inspired themj to something more subdued, but yippie-tie-one-on, you got yourself a BEM. And you get Space Opera, Wilson style; observers use a barely understood technology to study the lobster-like creatures of another planet. Isolated by high-security, narrative lines begin to emerge in the subjects of their study. Frankly it sounds quite a bit like a Philip K. Dick novel, 'The Unteleported Man'. In any event, one can hardly wait to tuck into the ever-satisfying writing of Robert Charles Wilson; aned it will make a great back-to-back with 'Gridlinked'.

Adam Johnson Warns Parasites Like Us

The first novel by short-story writer Adam Johnson.

Last year, Adam Johnson's short story collection 'Emporium' garnered the kind of notice that most writers dream about. His first novel is now out, and it sounds very appeakling to the clientele of this website. You've got check, your literary author published in Harper's and Esquire, check, and check your story line that involves the accidental exhumation of a 12,000 year-old plague that decimates North Amera check, and a sense of humor, check. Johnson is touring right now, soyou might want to drop in and hear what he has to say. This is a guy who writes short stories about teenage snipers hired by the police who have a hard time fitting in with the older guys they work with. Check.

08-08-03: John Connolly, David Corbett, David Schow, Greg Hurwitz & Chuck Palahniuk Keep You Guessing

New Mysteries and Horror by Top-Notch Authors

Yesterday found a batch of new mystery and horror novels on my doorstep. This is kind of discovery that makes reading so much fun and so worthwhile. And on to today's new news and authors....

John Connolly's 'Bad Men'

Islands are not getting a good rep this summer.

Here's the deal with the new John Connolly Novel; not a continuation of his series but something entirely new. This is from the Powerpoint presentation publicity materials. [Say that five times fast!]

"It is an island community off the coast of Maine that Marianne Elliot and her son have run to. Dutch Island is its official name, but the first settlers on the island called it Sanctuary - before they were slaughtered. Today, the history and heritage is carefully protected by a few of the old-timers living there.

However, police officer Joe Dupree is both guardian of the law and true keeper of the island's atrocious secrets - almost the genetic memory of the place and its people. It is a heavy, haunted burden to bear. Standing over 7' tall, Melancholy Joe Dupree is a repository of the island's memories, and it is he who first feels the uneasy stirring of its ghosts.

At first the stirring was barely noticeable, but then strange things started to happen &endash; lights were seen in the forest, paintings showed more than had been painted, grey figures appeared and huge chalk-coloured moths floated where death had visited &endash; communication systems went down, and there was also the boy from the sea…

Marianne's arrival had somehow awoken those long buried and as they gathered to protect the island from another horror, on the mainland the bad men were coming together to conclude their bloody search. Soon they would be crossing the narrow stretch of water but the ghosts and the elements would make it a rough crossing; it was doubtful that Dupree and his small force of law keepers would be able to maintain control."

Once again, Connolly confounds expectations by melding mystery with supernatural themes. Terry and I will be looking at this as soon as we can get it -- and we'll report our findings to you.

David Corbett

David Corbett relaxes with one of his many masks...

David Corbett's latest novel is a NoCal Noir.

Terry D'Auray just turned in an enthusiastic rave review of David Corbett's 'The Devil's Redhead'. He's on tour now to support his latest novel, 'Done for Dime'. Corbett brings some really impressive credentials to his mysteries. Once he realized that he wanted to be a writer, he took a job with a San Francisco PI firm. He stayed for 13 years, and worked on both the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal and the People's Temple trial. His latest is about a murder in a NoCal suburb slowly going to seed. He's currently touring in Northern California and the western US; here's his web page with the schedule. I plan to show up and ask him some questions about this background -- it sounds fascinating and should lend credence to his fiction. Look for reviews of this novel RSN. (Real Soon Now.)

David Schow's New Novel

The man who wrote the screenplay for 'The Crow' returns with a novel of surreal terror and psychological suspense.

David Schow is not only a man who should have his own comedy routine -- if you ever get to see him live, jump at the chance, he's hysterical -- he's also one of our most talented novelists. years ago, driving to Palm Springs, I was reading 'The Kill Riff' and my shouts or surprise and terror almost caused my wife to drive the car off the road. His latest looks to be his best yet. A recently widowed recluse find his world unwinding while his house is being invaded -- certainly by the living and possibly by the dead. "It's called shock-back. Not like in the movies." Random page readings -- a great indicator. You'll be hearing a lot more about Schow and this novel as time progresses.

Greg Hurwitz Non Santa Rampage

No men in red suits here.

When I first head the title of 'The Kill Clause' I was a bit afraid that it might be a Santa Claus serial killer novel. I was most fortunately proved wrong. It's a marshal on the wrong side of the law novel with plenty of juice to spare. His previous novels include 'Do No Harm' and 'The Tower'. He's touring now as well; here's a list of dates & times.

Palahniuk Diary Date Approaches

An Actual copy of 'Diary'.

As the release date for Chuck Palahniuk's 'Diary' approached anticipation grows. I was in the Capitola Book Cafe yesterday, asking about a book Jay Lake had recommended (yes, listen to what Jay, the editor of 'Polyphony' says!) and overheard the clerk answering the phone and telling some disappointed customer that 'Diary' had not yet been released. Here's the lovely frontispiece that tells a nice little story in pictures:

The frontispiece from Chuck Palahniuk's new novel.

So -- where do you get your inspiration?

08-05-03: Fortean Times Shames the SF Magazines, Locus on Shameless Space Opera, Trotter's Shameless Parody, Bored of the Rings in Hardcover

Trotter's Shameless Parody

"Yes, Adulthood Stinks but Consider the Alternative."

Apparently, Victor Gollancz have been making a tidy sum hawking these shameless Harry Potter parodies, presumably selling them to teenagers like mine who wouldn't be caught dead with a Harry Potter book in their hands, mainly because they're too busy playing ultra-violent video games. Or shameless adults like, who once penned a song with the lyrics "shameless/ignorance is bliss".

These books are tiny-sized but with generous fuddy-duddy size print inside. The author of this book, Michael Gerber, claims to have written for The New Yorker, Playboy, and The Wall Street Journal. of course, carrying this shameless biz to it logical illogical conclusion, it could be a bunch of bollocks, but I'll let the search-engine whiz-kids do the legwork there. Still, I've got to like a guy who says on the back flap that "This is his first book. And it shows." while claiming on the Also by Michael Gerber page facing the title page to have written "Are You There, God? It's Me Hitler". Well, it got a snort out of me; fortunately you couldn't hear it.

One might be surprised that such a title even got published, what with the Potter Contingent ready to sue old ladies and young girls for publishing FanFic. With speculative fiction's self-importance bloating at a rate approximately equal to the cost of keeping Halliburton Safe for Posterity, perhaps we need these pinpricks in our armor plated egos. I'm hoping to get a chance to talk to Mr. Gerber and get this all straightened out.


"Do you like what you doth see...? said the voluptuous elf-maiden as she provocatively..."

I believe that I've already related as to how I saw the original BOTR in that seedy liquor store where my young hormones were jump-started by Vampirella and Mickey Spillane book covers. Now we can all get them in hardcover, thanks to the hardworking folks at Victor Gollancz. With every goddamn person you know telling you how much they love the frigging Lord of the Rings movie adaptations -- and, yes you should, but do you have to talk about it so much, I mean Uncle already! -- these pill-sized books appear as if they might fit quite nicely the fattest mouths aiming to lecture you on something you read while the lecturer was moistening Pampers. Yes, I'm old and cranky. And no, I'm not yelling at you. Do you want me demonstrate yelling? I didn't think so.

Locus on Shameless Space Opera

Yes, even an interview with Alastair Reynolds.

Well, Locus finally got round to an article on Space opera, and it has some sterling authors giving their thoughts on this timeless sub-genre. Well, how can you go wrong with Alastair Reynolds and Charlie Stross interviewed in the same issue? And as usual, the huge passel of reviews by all sorts of people. Worth reading at your local seedy liquor store while stealing glances at the Mickey Spillane covers. (I subscribe, and have to buy my own Mickey Spillane books.)

Fortean Times Shames the SF Magazines

Who needs Analog when you've got FT?

With Death Rays, bad baboons (I've had a particular horror of baboons since seeing Sands of the Kalahari at an impressionable age) and Primordial slime, Fortean Times is more real than real, more fiction than fiction. William Gibson lauds it constantly in his blog, telling you where to get it in Vancouver. (I subscribe, and don't have to leave the house, except to get a burrito pastor at Tacos Moreno on Water Street.)