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09-25-03: Chip Kidd Cover for Yamada's Strangers, Finding Robert Silverberg

Chip Kidd Cover for Vertical-Inc

The entire cover of Taichi Yamada's 'Strangers' stitched together at great trouble. When you see this book, you're well advised to buy it.

The final copy of Taichi Yamada's 'Strangers' just arrived, and it is as you might expect quite handsome. I don't know where Kidd pulls this stuff from. That silhouette walking man is the perfect kind of creepy for this novel. You'd be well advised to buy the novel now and read it before the inevitable US remake of the Japanese horror movie made from the novel. Trust me, this is going to happen.


Finding Robert Silverberg

A tight, clean first edition of Robert Silverberg's classic -- for ten measly dollars!

Yesterday I was gadding about downtown Santa Cruz, and as usual stopped in at Logos Books to see what they had. I'd heard this novel mentioned in about ten different seminars during Worldcon. It's the downbeat story of a telepath living a relatively normal life who is slowly losing his god-like powers. Science fiction literary horror at its finest. This is why we don't want a landscape dotted solely with *.* bookstores. Plod down to your local used bookateria and see what they have. If you don't want it, send me email -- maybe I do!

09-24-03: Stewart O'Nan travels 'The Night Country', Stephenson's 'Quicksilver' Delivered

Stewart O'Nan travels 'The Night Country'

'The Night Country' promo card.

I've been hearing about Stewart O'Nan for years, since his novel 'A Prayer for the Dying' was touted to me as one of the best horror novels money could buy. Somehow, I've managed to miss his work, until now, and I wish I hadn't. His latest is titled 'The Night Country', and it concerns the fallout from a typical teenage tragedy car crash.

O'Nan's a smart, literary guy, who has intuited his way into one of the most universal small-time tragedies that dot America. We had a car crash much like the one he describes in this novel in our county about three or four years ago. I have teenagers; two boys. Automobile accidents have always held a special horror for me. In the times I've attended traffic school to make amends for my own sins of the road, I've often passed out when being told of the various place they can dig babies out of cars after accidents, or during the showing of such delightful film titles as 'Red Asphalt'.

O'Nan's slim new novel of supernatural terror.

What's interesting about Stewart O'Nan is that he's a writer who is perfectly willing to use the tools of genre fiction to write any story he so desires, and his ability to use them well. As unique writers on the edge of the world of genre fiction come to the fore, I find myself buying more and more backlists. I suspect that O'Nan's backlist will enter my buying sights. You can meet O'Nan on his tour; he's swinging through the eastern states in October; his tour dates are on the FSG website.

'Quicksilver' Delivered

These silver sort of covers just don't scan well. But they look very nice in person.

Neal Stephenson's latest novel 'Quicksilver' is now in bookstores; it arrived yesterday. (Tuesday is the day for new books.) It's labeled as 'Volume One of the Baroque Cycle' and the covers for the other two novels, 'The Confusion' and 'The System of the World' are included on the back DJ flap. Since all of this is something of a prequel to 'Cryptonomicon', it seems that we're in for a long ride. 'Quicksilver' tops out at 927 pages. Jack Womack tells me that Neal has finished the second and is at work on the third, though he's touring at the moment. You can find his tour dates and locations via the Harper Collins web pages. This is fantastic news; a nice long series without the long wait. What more could we ask for?


Neal Stephenson is looking serious and more than a little scary on the back cover of 'Quicksilver'.

Frankly, this is the kind of book that readers such as myself live for. It's very long, very dense and populated with facts and characters that can take over your life. Ideally, were one to read this novel, one would take nice long vacation. Books themselves are a sort of vacation. At this length, they're a European vacation. Let's all take a month off and read Neal Stephenson.


09-23-03: Win & Meredith Blevins Break the Tor Genre Barrier

Breaking the Genre Barrier

An entertaining novel of historical fiction, filled with real explorers from the 1820's -- from Tor?

I suspect that more than a few readers will associate Tor with Science Fiction, fantasy and a spot of horror. I know that's what I thought, until they sent the Blevins my way.

Win and Meredith Blevins are a husband and wife who are both writing for Forge Books, a subsidiary of Tor. Win's fourth novel is just out -- 'So Wild a Dream', the first in his 'Rendezvous Series'. Win evokes the adventure and spirits of the 1820's so well, I really lost myself in this novel; but a full review is forthcoming, possibly later today. Suffice it to say that one does not necessarily associate Tor/Forge with historical fiction, but given the sheer joy of reading this novel, perhaps in the future one should.


An ethnic mystery about gypsies set in San Francisco, with bits of magic realism and a sense of humor.

Win's wife, Meredith, has just released her first Forge novel, 'The Hummingbird Wizard'. I'm really enjoying this as well. This is one of the reasons that the radio station work is so appealing. I find myself reading books way, way outside my normal range and usually enjoying them. 'The Hummingbird Wizard' is about a woman whose late husband was part of a gypsy clan. When her best friend and one-time brother-in-law is found dead, she suspects a man known only as the Hummingbird Wizard. There are lots of bits of practical magic, hexes and spells interleaved with the mystery story. For all the range it covers, it's very cohesive and has a very wide potential appeal.

Clearly what we're seeing here is tough times forcing publishers to widen their scope, though Tor has been doing mysteries and thrillers for a while. At least with these two novels, it turns out to be a very good thing, and in general it might if it brings new choices to readers, well, that's a good thing as well.

Win and Meredith Blevins are currently touring on the West Coast of the US. Not only do they both write, but they both perform music, pulled, if I am not mistaken, from the actual music that runs in the background of Win's novel 'So Wild A Dream'. If you get a chance to see them, take the time to do so. You'll get a lot more than you might usually get from an author signing and get yourself exposed to something beyond the pale-faced pasty flesh space and vampire opera crowd. It's never a bad idea to trap yourself into doing something sort of against your normal inclinations. As a matter of fact, Terry D'Auray tells me that she's just ordered a Wild West mystery from M for Mystery, so we'll eventually see a review of that and see whether this "getting outside yourself" experiment works as well for her as it has for me. And, as it happens, M for Mystery is hosting a signing for Win & Meredith Blevins this Sunday, September 28, 2003, at 1 PM.

I'll have to ring up Terry and see if in fact the book she has bought is one of those by the Blevins. More fun -- and serendipity -- every day. This just in -- no it's not the same book, Terry has found something different. Can't say I'm surprised.

Judith Tarr's Historical Fantasy

Historical fantasy from Roc.

Apparently Tor and the Blevins are not the only ones thinking about extending the boundaries of genre fiction. Judith Tarr's latest, 'House of War', returns to the 13th century, Richard the Lionhearted, adds a bit of sorcerous magic and stirs lightly. I think it's time to get one Serena or Katie on the job. They're currently hoping to get some heavy-duty literary reading, and this might be an appropriate antidote.