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10-18-03: Gregory Maguire Poisons Snow White

Gregory Maguire Poisons Snow White

Those guys look awfully short.

Gregory Maguire has been re-writing the classic fairy tales for a while now. He's gained enough of a following to have a Broadway musical made from his first recent novel, 'Wicked'. His latest novel is the story of Snow White set in 16th century Borgia Italy. That habit of poisoning people proves to be a problem for Bianca de Nevada, who is put in the not so tender care of Lucrezia.

She needs her own personal tasting mouse like our President!

These books show more than alittle care to the illustrative side of fairy tales. The hole in DJ gimmick reveals a bit of the front cover. It's all a very beautiful package, which makes one a bit suspicious of what comes inside. I'll be reading precisely what comes inside shortly after reading Colson Whitehead's 'The Intuitionist', which I started only a few moments ago.

10-17-03: New Work From Simon R. Green, Jack McDevitt, Katherine Kurtz, Sarah Hoyt, Brenchley Series Finale, Arthur Conan Doyle, BBC Interviews Offer SF Writers

Simon R. Green Back on the Beat

My wish was already answered.

Back in June I was singing the praises of Simon R. Green's totally enjoyable little novel 'Something from the Nightside', and hoping it would spawn a series. Well, given that the sequel is out, it must have been at least a two book deal with both books turned in at once. So, John Taylor's back on the beat, this time looking for the Unholy Grail. Presumably he'll find it, but not before meeting a few witty monsters, demons and angels. These books make me rather giddy with delight. It's just about a one-day read, sitting on the back porch. Count me in, I'm ready to go, and I'm hoping that there are still more in Green's back pocket.

Jack McDevitt Ends the World Again

Surf's up!

Jack McDevitt is ending this darn world again! Somebody tell him that isn't nice! Well, our world gets a 900 year reprieve from these dastardly Omega Wave thingies, but intrepid scientists discover that the Omega wave headed our way has changed course and is aimed at a pre-technological civilization. So it's humanity to the rescue -- a rescue that must be achieved without notifying those being rescued. Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to what fills the science fiction shelves.

Sartah Hoyt and the Bard

Is she looking for the one honest man? She ain't gonna find him here!

Sarah Hoyt's New Adventures of Shakespeare seem to be coming to a close in the third novel, 'Any Man So Daring'. I'm getting this one to Serena, who read 'Ill Met by Moonlight' and found it wanting, perhaps, but certainly of some merit. The themes in this novel seem to tie in nicely with a column we're hoping to have RSN. In the interim, you'll have to make do with another of my explorations into the Bush of Books, currently being written when I'm not furiously cramming for one interview or another.

Katherine Kurtz in the Service of Deryni

No ride through in Kurtz's world, apparently.

Here's a brand new novel by an author with legions of fans, lots of books, a beloved series -- and me, I've never read a one. Part of the deliberately out of the loop thing. So here we have it, Kurtz goes back in time to mine the fertile fields of prequel. I have to admit that I've never even determined with any certainty if these books are fantasy or science fiction. But that's where they'll get shelved.

Arthur Conan Doyle Papers

£200,000 gets you the latest manuscripts from Arthur Conan Doyle.

As I read about the discovery of new Arthur Conan Doyle manuscripts and the sales of some recently discovered papers, I realized that Doyle, one of the first authors I rabidly collected in paperback, really does map out the perfect nexus of all my later reading; he's written, science fiction, horror, and mystery and work that combines aspects of each. I have a clear memory of a trip I took one day with a friend into downtown Los Angeles, to a huge bookstore, where I carefully went through and bought all the Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger books I could find.

The books were published before, but were certainly not familiar to me; an autobiographical novel, 'The Duet' and 'The Maracot Deep', which is said to anticipate work by Huxley and Orwell. This is the day that you, Dedicated Reader, find yourself reading Yorkshire Today. Relish the joy!


BBC Interviews with SF Writers

Mariella Frostrup interviews authors for the BBC.

You can always count on the BBC to provide quality news, and I've unearthed a link to their author interview programme OpenBook. That's a link to an interview with J. G. Ballard; I've also spotted Terry Pratchett and a few others of interest. I wish the authors well. I might find myself without words when faced with that smirk.

The End of Brenchley's Series

Maybe Ace could have found a weaker color to frame the illustration for this novel.

And yes, gasp, Ace has released the final volume in their six-book series derived from Chaz Brenchley's trilogy. Now it's safe for you US readers to start. The books are pretty short, so why they decided to split them up like that is beyond me. But this isn't new. Peter F. Hamilton's massive volumes were split when they came out in the US as paperback originals. You know, it just struck me that there was no reason to assume that they've even simply split each volume of the trilogy in half. They could have taken the whole lump and re-divvied it into six. I hope that they're not that evil, however. The question is: does the highest muckey-muck have a single, giant glowing eye?

10-15-03: David Czuchlewski Unveils the 'Empire of Light', offers pure Spec-Tech

David Czuchlewski Unveils the 'Empire of Light'

Asylum & Empire from David Czuchlewski.

Last year, one of my more entertaining readers and correspondents suggested I hie me hence to yon bookstore and seek out a novel by David Czuchlewski titled 'The Muse Asylum'. I did, but haven't yet managed to get it into my overcrowded queue. But now, with the release of 'Empire of Light', I intend to get right to this fascinating author. This novel tells of a young man who hopes to rescue his beloved from a cult by entering the cult. Perhaps not the wisest move. At 226 pages it's even readable. Look for this to pop up in Reviews New This Week, hopefully by next week. Offers Pure Spec-Tech

Science meets fiction in a lot of places, usually in the newspaper.

Readers who look to science fiction for its predictive value may frustrate the writers, but it's too common to be ignored. offers up a book-by-book analysis of creations from fiction that have since come to life. It's nicely designed and easy to navigate. For those who like the ideas of science fiction but not the messy plots and characters, here's a way to pure, distilled science. It's also an excellent way to waste an hour or two at work. Coming soon, my site, which will feature sponsored links to work-time wasting sites. I'm an instant millionaire! You can make money on the web.

10-13-03: Everyone's a Winner in the Lambshead Proof Giveaway Contest, Colson Whitehead on The Colossus of New York, Pete Dexter takes the Train

Everyone's a Winner in the Lambshead Proof Giveaway Contest
With no further ado -- here are the winners in the Lambshead Giveaway; both people who entered won. I wish I'd gotten more efforts. These were quite entertaining and should pave the way for enjoying this wonderful anthology. Our first place winner is Ron Clinton, with artwork by Ross Palmer Beacher. I think this is rather fantastic -- thanks guys, the books are in the mail, one for each of you (to the same address, pokey book rate).

The Headless Horseman is the result of an overly enthusiastic application of a cure for migraines.

In an enlightened, modern age where any evil is attempted by some to be dismissed and explained away in the guise of cultural influences or faulty, hereditary genetics, the hypothesis that the famed Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow was once a chronic victim of migraines has been put forth. While this theory has been ridiculed in some learned circles, it would nevertheless explain his obvious lack of head and general surly, psychotic demeanor, a personality fault that certainly could only have been more exaggerated when his head was attached and pain synapses fused. While his advocates admire his resolve and imagination, others question his extreme choice of solution, claiming -- if true -- the cure was clearly worse than the disease.

Even more recently, these aforementioned advocates claim to have linked the seasonal family tradition of baking pumpkin seeds to the Headless Horseman, attempting further to soften their honored legend's image. They purport that the Horseman, ultimately saddened by his murderous exploits, grew despondent and suicidal and raised a pistol to his rainsoaked pumpkin head one dark night and pulled the trigger. Villagers, alerted by the shot of the gun, ran to the scene and in delight at seeing the monster dead at his own hand, scooped up his seedy brains and took them home to bake and eat in vengeful delight.

When relating this later portion of the Headless Horseman's tale, the legend's advocates suddenly take their detractors' view: in this instance, the cure was indeed worse than the disease, as the poor Horseman was very clearly a simple, misunderstood soul whose only real crime was being born as a victim of migraines and did not deserve to die at his own hand.

Colson Whitehead on The Colossus of New York

A jazzy evocation of New York City in prose by the author of 'The Intuitionist'.

Colson Whitehead will be heading out in a national publicity tour for his new collection of non-fiction articles which describes 'The Colossus of New York'. I bought Whitehead's first novel, 'The Intuitionist' when it came out, and it's been sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. It's in the damn queue now.


Dueling elevator inspectors try to outwit one another in 'The Intuitionist'.

This is the kind of novel that screams Rick Kleffel will like it. Set in a nameless city, Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department. The Intuitionists are those inspectors who merely enter an elevator cab, meditate and intuit any defects. Opposing them are the Empiricists, who measure cable stress and winch wear. Lila Mae is an intuitionist caught at the center of a controversy after an accident.


John Henry lives again in Colson Whitehead's second novel.

'John Henry Days' was Whitehead's second novel, and it won awards like there was no tomorrow; LA Times, Washington Post, SF Chronicle, and Salon to name a few. One worries about books with so many awards, but Whitehead's averts that worry by being praised for being funny. We'll see if he is. I plan to read a couple of Whitehead books before he shows up in town. Tour stops and dates (10/22-11/08) can be found via the publisher's website here.

Pete Dexter takes the 'Train'

Los Angeles 1953 is the setting for Pete Dexter's Train.

Pete Dexter is known as a "writer's writer", again, something of a warning sign in my tiny brain. But Terry insists that he's worth reading, so we'll both be looking at his first novel in 8 years, 'Train'. 50 years ago in LA, the survivor of a yacht hijacking, a police sergeant and a young black caddy are drawn over the edge. It sounds promising and looks economical. We shall see -- and hear Pete Dexter as well, on one of the dates in his tour, listed here. Well, fall is the big literary season, and we've already experienced a reverse invasion; that is the literary genre being invaded by the science fiction genre, in the person of Jonathan Lethem. 'The Fortress of Solitude' is a wonderfully huge and compulsively readable Great American Novel. I'm waiting for John Irving's science fiction novel.