This Just In...News
From The Agony Column
With Link please email the story! NPR First Book Report: Paolo Bacigalupi,
Michelle Nijhuis, Jeremy Lassen and 'Pump Six' ; Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Carol Emshwiller Interviewed at SF in SF
Echoes of Eco-Fiction
is slated to run my report on Paolo Bacigalupi and the
road to his First Book, 'Pump Six', on Weekend
Edition Sunday this Sunday, June 29. Bacigalupi's ecologically-themed
fiction is becoming more pertinent and prescient every day, though one
hopes that in reality we'll be able to steer clear of the some of his
projections based on the work of Nijhuis. Please
go to this website and use the Email this Story link. As ever, my
editor made great contributions to this piece. And it would not have been
possible without Bacigalupi, Nijhuis and Lassen, who made the book happen
and gave great interviews. The book is as ever, the bottom line. Buy it,
read and make sure nothing it describes comes to pass. One hopes that
like '1984', the future will regard this as a wonderful work of preventive
prognostication. Wait, we're sort of living in '1984', aren't we? Well,
'Pump Six' offers us another chance to change the present and thus the
future. It's not too late. I'd like to see the science fiction genre become
associated more with utopias than dystopias.
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Carol Emshwiller Interviewed at SF in SF : "That
stuff doesn't interest me"
Today's podcast is
the second from last Saturday's SF in SF
– a conversation with Carol Emshwiller, whose latest
novel is 'The Secret City' from Tachyon Publications. She's been writing
since 1955, and her latest story – which you'll hear podcast next
week – is simply astonishing. It's funny, pertinent, insightful
and inventive. But first a look into the talent that created 'The Mount'
and 'The Secret City'; just
follow this link to the MP3 of my conversation with Carol Emshwiller.
06-26-08: Ramsey Campbell Laughs with 'The Grin of the Dark' : Agony
Column Podcast News Report : Pat Murphy at SF in SF
evil face of Photoshopped stock images.
Immanent ... imminent
... both seem equally applicable to the dark forces that haunt just about
any Ramsey Campbell novel. Campbell has a way of peeling
back reality, peering into the black void behind and making the reader
stare helplessly as the gibbering things loom upward out of the darkest
parts of our own minds. True, he's something of an acquired taste, a unique
talent who writes in an inimitable style that no other writer could ever
hope to employ. His prose is peerless and he can write an utterly unsettling
sentence that seems to scrape and creep and crawl into your brain. His
characters spend most of their time doing prosaic chores that somehow
seem to be happening in swirling hell that only the reader can see. It's
life in those "naked lunch" moments that William Burroughs wrote
about, with the pettiness stripped away so the writhing chaos underneath
can rise and overwhelm you in a moment of Sartrean nausea.
'The Grin of the Dark' (Tom Doherty Associates / Tor Books ; July 8, 2008
; $25.95) first came out last year under the auspices of Peter Crowther's
iconic PS Publishing, but now it's available stateside in a more accessible
and affordable American edition – made more so, I suppose by the
totally Photoshop stock-image catalogue cover. What, how much could it
cost to have JK Potter do not just the cover, but a bevy of interior images
as well? Small press publisher Arkham House did this all the time and
made a few bucks (I hope!). Well, with Campbell, you can more than make
do with just the prose, especially when he breaks out of the third person,
as he does here, to tell the tale from the first person perspective of
Simon Lester, a film critic forced to work as a gas-station attendant
when his magazine tanks. (Trust me, there is more money in gas-station-attending
than in any sort of criticism.) Lester gets his chance for redemption
when he is offered money he can't refuse to write a book on silent film
stars, including the notorious comedian Tubby Thackery. Cue the grinning
clown faces as reality starts to crumble around the shattered remains
of his tiny mind.
Campbell's been down this road before with his wonderful novel 'Ancient
Images', but this time we're looking at videocassettes and the Internet
as we all realize that reality is instead catching up with Campbell. With
a first-person narrator, we can enjoy a wonderful perspective on the mind
of a man who is encountering something far more sinister than a dead girl
in a well. Remember, this is the Campbell who has done an entire collection
('Cold Print') of superb Lovecraftian stories. (Need I remind you that
Scream / Press did the JK Potter illo'd edition that is must-buy material.
Damn, I'm going to have to dig that up again!) Campbell loves to explore
that place where the mind breaks open only to allow something else to
come through. His stories are not tales of chases and captures, or big-screen
mayhem. He slices away the reading portion of your brain one word at a
time. It's like having your stomach slitted by a razor blade. There's
a grinning red smile in your midsection and you dont notice that
it's dripping till you feel the cold chill creep up your spine. Your mind's
been injured and your body will follow.
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Pat Murphy at SF in SF : "It really trains you to
see amazing things in the everyday world"
this is actual cover art!
SF in SF last Saturday
was another example of why you want to get yourself out on a Saturday
night and see writers reading, which, when I put it that way, sounds rather
odd. I suppose they'd not like to have us watch them writing! Unless theyre
sitting in the window of Change of Hobbit. The first recording from this
event is my interview with Pat Murphy, author of 'The
City, Not Long After'. Her new book is 'Wild Girls'; it's about two girls
who become friends writing together with the only SFnal content being
an SF-writing father – and that sounds just a treat enough. When
SF writers create SF writer characters, they can have a field day and
yet hit all the grace notes. As
you'll hear in this gracious MP3 interview, Murphy can clearly hit the
grace notes. Every time.
06-25-08: Alan Cheuse Looks 'To Catch the Lightning' ; Agony Column
Podcast News Report : Geekspeak Interview and SF Discussion with Kathleen
ARC of the new Alan Cheuse novel.
Four pages in to the
new Alan Cheuse novel and you'll know you're reading
a Great American Novel. The Real Deal, not some publisher's-hyped product
of the season. You know who Alan Cheuse is. If not, run a little search
on the NPR Website and listen to his work. But not too much; it might
distract you from reading. You'll hear him again, on the radio, while
you drive or clip the roses. But this book; 'To Catch the Lightning' (Sourcebooks
; October 21, 2008 ; $25.95) is where you should plan spending your lingering
fall afternoons, watching the leaves turn. You would be well advised to
think that nothing could compete with those leaves, the gentle breeze,
the infinite colors of the light and the landscape. And you'd be equally
well advised to understand that this book is the song that compares, that
soars. I can't say whether or not this is the book that Cheuse has been
waiting to write all his life, though the subject is clearly the object
of a writer's passion. I can only say that this book will sweep you away
as thoroughly as any you are likely to encounter on your journey from
this day to the next.
'To Catch the Lightning' begins as William Myers seeks a photographer
for himself and his wife-to-be and happens upon the office of EDWARD CURTIS
PHOTOGRAPHER. That session does not come off, but Myers, who notes that
the photographic portrait is, "one of the great inventions of the
new world," does mention to Curtis that he "prefers words."
And thus begins a single portrait of a remarkable man (and a nation) in
a series of very remarkable words, an astonishing novel with the kind
of breadth and scope that envelop readers in worlds not their own. Edward
Curtis is the man who single-handedly made it his goal to document every
Indian tribe of the West in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America. Alan
Cheuse makes it his goal to provide a portrait of Curtis, as well as those
he photographed. Pictures within pictures. within words, circles and parallels.
'To Catch the Lightning' is an ambitious novel, with deliberate echoes
of literary portraits that haunt us still. Cheuse has the literary music
and muscle to pull all this off with an historical novel that is as compelling
as the Curtis' portraits – some of which are to be included in the
finished version. This is a broad novel, with a huge scope that is simultaneously
an intimate portrait of a man driven by art to trek through the still-wild
parts of our country to create portraits of a way of life that was quickly
disappearing. This is a snapshot of another world that captures a man
who himself took snapshots of another world.
Cheuse is gorgeous prose writer, and it's going to be very difficult to
pick up this book without falling into his carefully woven world. But
there's not so much poetry as to get in the way of Curtis' complicated
story, and the high-profile company he kept. Cheuse knows when to sing
and he knows when to speak. He knows when to get close to his subject
and when the actions will speak louder than words. Great American Novel
is arguably the toughest genre for any writer to work in. It's not really
something you can do deliberately, other than by choosing an American
subject. Once you've done that, you just have to write and evaluate the
results after the fact – after the fiction is completed. It's not
even really something you can hope for as a writer. But when a novel is
within the boundaries, it's quite startlingly clear, and 'To Catch the
Lightning' manages to do just that, to capture, in words, the electricity
of great art while being itself great art.
Agony Colmn Podcast
News Report : Geekspeak Interview and SF Discussion with Kathleen Ann
Goonan : In All Times
Today's podcast is
a recording of my visit to Geekspeak
this Saturday morning, where I chatted with Sean Cleveland
and Lyle Troxell about science fiction books and we all
talked with Kathleen Ann Goonan about her novel, 'In
War Times'. I reviewed this book when it came out last year, and hoping
to interview the author, I prepped the book with a packet of sticky notes
while I was on the first ocean cruise I'd ever experienced. They came
in handy when I joined Sean and Lyle on Geekspeak; heres
a link to my MP3, the Geekspeak Website
(where you can get their MP3 of the same interview (redundant backup!).
Oh how I love redundant backup! You might well think it's serious overkill,
but I have a three-terabyte storage system with automatic redundant mirroring.
And I'll mention that my backup software, SuperDuper, was located at a
suggestion from Lyle Troxell. Is that redundant?
New book and author Kathleen Goonan.
06-24-08: Salman Rushdie Interview at Rio Theater, Part 2
Today's podcast completes
the interview I did with Salman Rushdie at the Rio
Theater in Santa Cruz, California, on June 17, 2008, sponsored by the
Capitola Book Café.
Hey, does that sound corporate enough to generate some income? Ah hell,
to quote Mr. 72 from Chuck Palahniuk's 'Snuff', "I dont
know." Fortunately for readers, at this point, that's not so much
of an issue. Please not that I should have video of both this gig and
the Palahniuk presentation for the podcast as soon as I can take a breath.
The second half of this interview covers (I believe) Rushdie's admitted
effort to rehabilitate Machiavelli, because as he put it, "Machiavelli
wasn't Machiavellian." I couldnt agree more. You'll also
hear his informative answers to some good questions form the audience,
or your questions if you were in that audience. Whatever the offering,
Rushdie had an enjoyable answer ready to serve. In case readers are
wondering what the default setting is for splitting an interview, my
inclination is to do so if the interview goes beyond an hour. If listeners
want the whole shebang uninterrupted, just email me to let me know.
While you ponder the power of your attention span, here's
a link to the MP3 of the second part of the Salman Rushdie interview.
06-23-08: Salman Rushdie Interview at Rio Theater, Part 1
Today's podcast is
the first of two parts of my live conversation with Salman Rushdie
at the Rio Theater on June 17, 2008. Presented by Capitola
Book Café, Salman Rushdie proved to be a rather different figure
than, I think, many expected. As he put it in another interview, "Who
expected you'd be funny?" But Rushdie was very funny, and his tales
of working in the advertising biz while he was writing his first novel
and working on his Booker-prize winning 'Midnight's Children' are both
amazing and hilarious. Well, amazing, in that Rushdie was the one who
came up the "Nice'n'easy" slogan for Clairol. Here's
a link to the first of two parts of my conversation with Salman Rushdie.
Take it nice – and easy.
Salman Rushdie via RH pub.