This Just In...News
From The Agony Column
02-24-07: A Conqueror's Fantasy
Preview For Podcast of Monday February 26, 2007
Here's an MP3
preview of the Monday, February 27 podcast for The Agony Column. Enjoy!
02-23-07: Charlie Huston on the 'Already Dead'
"Blood Spattered Pulp Noir"
Beyond the press release,
yesterday's announcement of the film deal for
Charlie Huston's novel 'Already Dead' didn't tell
us a whole hell of a lot. Of course, we have in-depth no-spoiler
of both of the
novels in the Joe Pitt Casebooks series, 'Already
Dead' and 'No
as well as two reviews his first novel, 'Caught Stealing' (2004,
2007). Readers can also listen to a podcast
interview with Charlie Huston from last
his mouth to your shell-like.
to go to
and see what the author had to say about all the film deal foofaraw,
since we prefer to offer actual, author-oriented content as opposed
to regurgitations of Variety magazine and screen grabs from
the * database.
RK: How long has this deal been in the works?
CH: The contracts were actually signed some time back, but production companies
work on their own calendar and I don't know why they held back on the press
release. The real time eater was the negotiations themselves. To give you
some perspective, one of the principles had time to get married, buy a
new home, get pregnant, and have her baby in the time we were bringing
this together. No lie.
RK: What sort of input or control do you have over the movie script? It's
being written by Scott Rosenberg, I understand. Have you met with him?
CH: I have zero input. Which is as it should be. I wrote the book and sold
the rights, now I shut up. Scott is a very experienced hand and will do
a great job. I have met with him and he's a gent. He has some cool ideas
for turning the story into a movie, and I think they're spot on.
RK: What are your hopes for the movie?
CH: That it doesn't suck. Seriously, my first wish is that they can get
it made. The odds on that alone are the kind that would send professional
gamblers scrambling for the hills. Assuming they can bring it to screen,
I'd love for it to be a scary-ass piece of blood spattered pulp noir.
RK: Will the movie adaptation influence the forthcoming titles in the series?
RK: Do you think that a major motion picture studio will be willing put
the sort of language and violence you use on screen? Those are, after all,
one of the strengths of your work.
CH: Well, first, there's no saying who may or may not actually get behind
'Already Dead' should it become a movie. If it were a studio movie, one
would assume a reduction in vulgarity. On the other hand, I think it's
been well established in Hollywood that you can show no end of gore and
violence, as long as you don't show too much nudity and graphic sex. I'd
count on fewer fucks and a liberal amount of bloodshed.
02-22-07 : Giving Hal Duncan Some More 'Ink';
A Review of 'Catching the Big Fish' by David Lynch
Writing, Un-Writing and Rewiring
Put aside your pre-occupations, and prepare to focus your attention. Hal
Duncan's 'Ink' is here to articulate the ineffable, to build with words
worlds that cannot otherwise be imagined. It's not simply future
this or fantasy that. Duncan operates well beyond
the confines of genre fiction even as he skillfully deploys the tools
of genre fiction. So you will
find future this in 'Ink'. You will see fantasy that. But they're
just beads on a string, words in a sentence, even though each "word" itself
may consist of thousands of words. So yes, 'Ink' is a big book of
Big Thinks. Only in such a form can a writer provide the sort of
intense reading pleasures that one will find in 'Ink'.
the edges of the book are linear.
First and foremost, one must remember that 'Ink' is part two of a
novel that was published in two parts, 'The Book of All Hours'. There
a few smart and savvy readers out there who sat on 'Vellum' so that
they could enjoy a seamless reading experience. But 'The Book of
is the sort of novel that you can read multiple times, each time offering
a very different reading experience. The meandering point of this paragraph
is that one should not read even consider reading 'Ink' unless one
has read 'Vellum'. Duncan offers a "What Came Before" at
the start of this book, which runs some 30 pages. That's generous
as a writer and
probably smart when you've got a Part One as complex as 'Vellum', but
it most assuredly shall not replace 'Vellum'. So if you're buying
'Vellum' as well and read it first.
'Ink' completes the promise made in 'Vellum', and to a certain extent,
that's all you need to know. That pact with the reader was unique, and
what makes Duncan one of our most exciting authors. Duncan promised in
the first novel no less than to describe reality in a manner unconstrained
by previous literary conceits, and with 'Ink' unconstrained is clearly
the key to your enjoyment. One observation that many writers have made
of genre fiction is that all fiction is essentially a mystery, in at least
that readers must read to find out what happens. Or why. But if that's
true, and I think it's a good measure, then what Duncan has done with his
novel is to make structure a key element in the mystery. One moment, we
may be reading of 1939 Paris, and 'Ink' will seem to be a finely wrought
historical novel. Another moment, we're in the Havens of Hinter, surrounded
by nanotech that dissolves reality as effectively as any wizard's magic.
Or performing Euripides in a medieval castle, or in the hills of Ararat,
amidst the Yezidi. Beads on a string. The mystery we have the delight of
solving is to enter each world and then determine how they connect and
shape the Big Picture. Sort of like life, only in two big ol' books.
The remarkable feat that Duncan accomplishes is two-fold. He makes
each individual world real with prose appropriate to that world; sometime
and sometimes silky smooth. But more importantly, he makes the textual
leap from one world to the next seem natural. No, it's not easy. 'The
Book of All Hours' is a page-turner all right, but in order to truly
this book, you’re not simply going to immerse yourself. You have
to become an active participant, putting the book together in your
mind to build a glimpse of Duncan's three dimensional map of time where
could have been might divert and flow into what is at the whim of a
rent in reality created by runaway technology, or hidebound magic.
Duncan is as free with his literary techniques, his mash up of every
damn thing, as his characters in their nanotech-deconstructed future
you reading Thomas Pynchon's 'Against the Day'? Then you'd be well
advised to pick up 'Vellum' and 'Ink'. To my mind this is a heady literary
though readers who prefer a linear story told in a linear manner will
almost certainly find the novel difficult and convoluted. But if you're
for the sort of novel that you find yourself forced to think about
even when you’re not reading it, if you read in order to create
your world, then this, my friends is the sort of reading that will
reward you with
riches beyond avarice. Future this. Fantasy that.
Big Thoughts in a Small Book
David Lynch is
probably the appropriate companion for Hal Duncan I could possibly summon.
Lynch's dissolute view of reality is
not so dissimilar
from Hal Duncan's literary reality-hopping. Lynch's book, 'Catching
the Big Fish: Meditation Consciousness and Creativity', on the other hand
is the polar opposite, a series of short, pithy meditations on things
that interest Lynch, in particular, how Transcendental Meditation
helped him rope in the odd underpinnings of his deliberately obscure
art. Readers who want to hear the man speak directly on his art are
recommended to read 'Lynch on Lynch' (Faber & Faber ; 1997 ; $16),
edited by Chris Rodley. That's the book for serious film geeks. On the
Lynch's own book is filled with some intriguing thoughts about film,
about the director and his work and even about Denny's. You've
heard him talk about some of this in the interview I did; if you enjoyed that,
you'll like this book. Here's
the review of 'Catching the Big Fish: Meditation Consciousness and Creativity'
David Lynch. Please stand by while the reality around you melts at
no extra charge.
quicksilver on the cover.
02-21-07: John Scalzi Unlocks 'The Sagan Diary';
A Review of Charlie Huston's 'Caught Stealing'
What Girls Think
Do not ask questions to which you do not wish to hear the answers.
artist Bob Eggleton enters a new Golden Age.
But, having done so, here are the answers you'll get out of me.
John Scalzi strolled from Blog King into the publishing world with a little
novel titled 'Old
Man's War' that basically blew a lot of readers' minds,
with good reason. Remember that visceral jolt you felt when you first got
your hands on a good spaceship shoot-'em-up? Whether it was 'Red Planet'
by Robert Heinlein, 'Dune' by Frank Herbert, heck even Star Wars. You can
tell I'm serious, I dare mention it by name.
Well, that was the jolt that John Scalzi provided. He took the most
basic, appealing elements of science fiction, stripped 'em down, shined
executed them flawlessly, then put the pedal to the metal. But up until
now it was just he. He being, in this case, John
Perry. Move over John; John is being kind enough to offer us the perspective
on your tales from
a different vantage point, from a rather different set of eyes.
'The Sagan Diary' (Subterranean Press ; February 10, 2007 ; $20) is
a must-have book for just about any serious reader of science fiction
for any serious collector of science fiction. It's a gorgeous little
hardcover with a golden-age worthy cover by no less than Bob Eggleton,
interior B&W illustrations as well. The title should tell readers of
Scalzi's first two novels everything they want to know about this novella.
It recounts some of the action from those novels from the point of view
of Jane Sagan, who shall we say, isn’t always on the same page
Since Scalzi has started at the top, it's certain that this novella will
sell out and become a costly collector's item not too far down the line.
But forget all that. At a mere $20, for an illustrated hardcover novella
of 90 pages, it's a steal, a perfect rainy day reading experience. Scalzi
provides the sort of big-screen thrills on the printed that the big screen
just does not and to a certain extent, cannot offer. Closely observed,
gripping characters blow big shit up in space. 'The Sagan Diary' clues
you in on what girls think about this. Whatever your expectations are,
you might as well hook 'em up to the big shit being blown up in space.
I think that Terry
D'Auray's review of Charlie Huston's 'Caught Stealing' is one of the best reviews on this site. It was with some trepidation
that I even undertook to review the book myself, but I made a pledge
to myself a while back to review everything I read, period, if for no
other treason than to get practice writing reviews. But I have the perfect
excuse, I told myself earlier this morning. Terry did a perfect job.
I was caught saying lots of bad words.
Well, fuck that, as Hank Thompson might say. Perfect as the review
is, I did manage to recall that I had a rather different take on
of one Charlie Huston, having come to it via 'Already
Dead' and 'No
And given that, the review pretty much wrote itself. Now
for those who
are offended by what is euphemistically called "the eff word" (that
is, the word FUCK!), then perhaps you'll choose to sit this one out.
Have a glass of lemonade on the porch while I work out my own demons.
I'm trying to exercise (not exorcise, I like my demons and intend to
hang on to them so long as they aren't bored shitless by my reading
are the very beings that aid me in enjoying such droll material as
the work of Mr. Huston. See that baseball bat? I can laugh. You touch
sumbitch and well, the deal's off. I hope that you enjoy this review
of 'Caught Stealing'. It ain't perfect. But I do use the word fuck a lot,
and that makes it better, right?
02-20-07: Savor the Moments
A Review of 'Ysabel' by Guy Gavriel Kay
I wasn't very far
into my sticky note obsessive reading of Guy Gavriel Kay's latest novel
'Ysabel' when I began to think that I should
have some sort of personal best-seller should-be list for this
site. 'Ysabel ' is the sort of novel that you want to tell everyone
know about, to see reviewed in your local paper, to see your kid
from school as a reading assignment. Not because you think it needs
to be assigned, but because it's the kind of book that can create
love of reading. 'Ysabel' would be number one on my bestseller
list this week, and for many thereafter.
cover, nice design. Better to read than to look at, though!
The wide appeal of 'Ysabel' is more powerful because it is achieved by
virtue of the book being well-written, not because the book is written
to appeal to a big audience. 'Ysabel' is a novel of history so powerful
that the past pervades the present in a manner that one might be tempted
to call supernatural, were it not rendered with the sort of conviction
that forces one to set aside such considerations. And when events themselves
bring the characters to this point, the discussion is precisely what you
might expect from reasonable humans confronting unreasonable circumstances.
What the heck. Deal with it.
Suffice it to say that with two movies based on his work in the hopper,
and an incredibly enjoyable novel on the shelves, Kay is well past
the point of being a hot commodity. He's currently writing the screenplay
'The Last Light
of the Sun'. Here's
the review of 'Ysabel'. Find this novel
while you can. Buy a couple of copies, as one will most assuredly
be spending time away from you. And time, you will learn, is of the
the Dust Settles
A 2007 Interview with Ann Cummins by Kathryn Petruccelli
KUSP's Kathryn Petruccelli
had a chance to speak with the talented Ann Cummins last week about Cummins'
new and first novel, 'Yellowcake' ( Houghton Mifflin ; March 15, 2007 ;
$24). Cummins is the talented author of 'Red Ant House' a short story collection
from 2003 that earned lots of praise and was on many year's best lists.
'Yellowcake; is the story of two families, one Navajo, one Anglo, some
thirty years after they worked together in the uranium mines of the American
and literary fallout.
It's familiar territory for Cummins; her family moved from County
Galway, Ireland to Colorado, where they mined silver, coal and uranium.
When she was nine, her father moved the family again, to Shiprock,
New Mexico, in the northern part of a Navajo Reservation. Clearly,
see where this novel is coming from and it's very close to a home that
is intimately connected with The End Of The World As We Know It. Our
friend, the Nuclear Apocalypse hangs heavy over this book as does all
both literal and literary. You can download
the MP3 of the interview
and distribute it like yellow dust on the wind, or the
talk radio sound" that just can't be duplicated out side of a
moving automobile. Enjoy Kathryn's conversation with Cummins, while
you wait for
the end of the world.