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09-18-03: Walker & Wooden

Walker & Wooden

This beautiful little book is available for a mere $10.

Some time ago, Fortean list member, author and publisher extraordinaire Jay Lake mentioned the little book you see illustrated above. I was intrigued enough to go out and found I had to special order it from Bookshop Santa Cruz, as they'd sold out of it. It was well worth the wait and the tiny expense. This is an almost indescribable book that's gorgeously printed and designed. If you're looking for to-die-for design and keen intellect, this might be the best choice for you.

These fine illustrations and the simple but well-written text will inspire you.

'A Little Book of Coincidence' is about the geometry of the solar system. It's filled with beautiful illustrations and is just the thing to provide inspiration for science fiction writers or poets or anyone who wants to think about the solar system. Martineau publishes them himself in the UK under the moniker Wooden Books, and they are published in the US by Walker Books.

Walker itself offers an intriguing range of titles; their fiction writers include acclaimed mystery author James Sallis. I haven't had time to look over their site in detail, but it's clearly well worth the time; I already have 'Blue Bottle Fly' by Sallis sitting on my shelves courtesy of Mark V. Zeising.

The US editions of the Wooden books issued by Walker seem to look a bit nicer than the UK editions; even on the Wooden Books web page it suggest that readers can buy the "Beautiful US editions" from *.*. This is wildly implausible to me, but staring at the evidence of my own eyes, I cannot deny it. Just glancing at the pictures has my science fiction reader self glowing with imagination and joy.


I *must*have that title about Stonehenge. And coming soon from Wooden is a title about Glastonbury; they've already got one about Avebury,

But it's not just astronomy covered by this range of books. You've got books on sacred sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury. Each book is 64 page, hardcover and lushly illustrated. They have a book titled 'Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music', another book that seems like an ideal source of inspiration. In these "interesting times" we need all the inspiration we can get.

John Martineau displays his wares.

Wooden Books and Martineau hail from Wales. Of course. This seems like the kind of labor of love that should be more common in the publishing world, a very odd niche that somebody had to fill, and Martineau has done so admirably. I can't wait to get more of these books; as I do I'll report on their content and let you know if the words live up to the design and intentions.



09-16-03: MacAdam/Cage Catalogue, Prepping for Ilium, The Machine Crusade

MacAdam/Cage Catalogue

A very classy catalogue design implies some very classy fiction.

I just got the MacAdam/Cage catalogue. This small publisher based in San Francisco and Denver has a pretty impressive collection of writers I've never heard of. Publisher David Poindexter aims high; "Which of these books will be mandatory reading in high school thirty years from now; which one will hit the bestseller list; which one will win the national Book Award; and which represents the start of a career that will rival Faulkner?"

Strong words to be sure. Apparently, their title 'The Time Traveler's Wife' was one of the hits of Book Expo America (BEA) this year. Author Audrey Niffeneggar garnered their biggest advance, and it's getting their biggest promotional effort. The author is touring extensively, so you might want to get a preview of this novel by sitting in when she's in town. Serena Trowbridge has turned in her review, and I'm looking forward to see what Katie Dean has to say as well. I suspect that this could be a big seller.

I've got to admit that I like a publisher who is willing buy and promote the heck out of a novel that involves a literary setting for science fictional elements.


One of MacAdam/Cage's authors with a few titles to his credit from the publisher is Frank Turner Hollon, whose latest novel is a comedy titled 'Life is a Strange Place'. You want a brave publisher? Try this on for size; it's a tough sell. Hollon's novel is about Barry Munday, a 33-year old man who lives to bed women. When a particularly tasty tryst with a teenager in a matinee goes bad, he's attacked by an angry father with a trumpet. He wakes up and discovers that his gonads have been surgically removed. What follows is described as a comedy; while we all love to laugh, there are some things that are harder to laugh at than others. If I manage to clone myself or find the book slot in my head into which I can just jam all the upcoming titles I'd like to read, I'd definitely give this one a try. Interestingly enough the novel that proves that MacAdam/Cage has as Alex from A Clockwork Orange says, yarbles, is about a man who loses his. Funny how these things work out.

Prepping for Ilium

Dan Simmons convinced me that this was the translation to read as prep for his novel 'Ilium'.

Like many readers, I can say I have just about this much: familiarity with The Iliad of Homer. In college, I read The Odyssey, complemented by David Bedford's soundtrack, which featured a young guitarist named Andy Summers who would eventually join a band known as 'The Police'. However, looking at the effort that Simmons put into his novel, I thought it might be time to give old Homer another go, and I went directly to the Lattimore translation that Simmons says started his journey and informed the novel, among many others. Now look, it's clearly not necessary to read The Iliad before reading 'Ilium', but it makes for a nice reading experiment and a good excuse to goose your way through a classic. Also, in 24 "books" it makes a nice month of supplemental reading, and forms the basis of a second experiment; reading two books at once. While I know that most people do this all the time, I never do so; but here it seems appropriate. Expect the usual review and report at the end of this odd journey.

The Machine Crusade

These damn foil covers are harder than hell to scan.

For those in the SF genre who can get over themselves, the first novel in the second set of prequels to Dune, 'The Butlerian Jihad' was a pretty damn good time. I have to admit that as I type it out, the very concept sounds dreadful, but Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson really pulled it off with a very retro take on SF tropes that was clean and refreshingly clear. The sequel is now out and in my second round of Space Opera reading, I'm looking forward to this.