Month: April 2008

Something New is Coming

As many of you are aware, is alive, well, and on the verge of launching into something great. Oh sure, my fine, upstanding publisher has a formal cataloging site over here — and it’s full of many grand things. But the three-letter alternate URL upon which they’ve been sitting for ages will soon blossom into …

“A science fiction and fantasy site not quite like any you’ve seen before, mixing news, commentary, original stories and art, your own comments and conversations, and more. A place on the net you may find yourself wanting to visit—and participate in—every day.”

Sounds good, right? Here’s something better: if you sign up for the mailing list, they’ll send you free digital books. And even better still? This coming Friday, if you answer the call*, you’ll receive a digital copy of Four and Twenty Blackbirds, totally free.

Free free free.
Not a penny, not a dime.
Just thirty seconds of your time.

And the site doesn’t do anything horrible with your email address — I can vouch for that. I signed up weeks ago, myself, and I’ve received nothing more heinous than really groovy wallpapers and free books written by other people. So. If you’ve ever wanted to read one of my books without going all the way and dropping coin for it, this is your chance.

Go here. Enter email address. Sit back and wait for free book.

* You must sign up before tomorrow afternoon in order to be on the list to receive my book. If you join too late, you’ll have to content yourself with the future offerings from other folks.

On the Nightstand as of Late

As a disclaimer, I did not review any of the following titles for Publishers Weekly. These are the things I’ve grabbed in my spare time, what laughably little of it there is.

The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson. Written by the same gentleman who brought us Everything Bad is Good for You (which is also a good read), Ghost Map is a grisly story told with an odd sort of panache. Not for the faint of stomach, this is the tale of an 1854 cholera outbreak in London — and a couple of guys whose excruciatingly logical methodology gave the world a new way of looking at contagious diseases. Interesting and smoothly shared.

Fangland, John Marks. One of the finer updates of Dracula that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Fangland deconstructs and reassembles the myth of the Count, shuffling the archetypes and playing tricks with the old tropes. Occasionally a smidge postmodern and hip, Fangland starts out slow … but so did Stoker, so I was prepared to hang on for the ride — and I’m very glad I did.

The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker. I’m a big fan of Pinker in general; his Language Instinct was my first foray into pop linguistics, and it remains a personal favorite. But unlike The Blank Slate or How the Mind Works, Stuff turns into something of a slog — and I say that as a someone with a deep-seated love for this sort of theory. It begins intriguingly enough, but bogs down midway — becoming masturbatory geek cud that’s too tough for me to comfortably chew.

Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert. As mentioned above, pop theory charms me — and Gilbert has a charming style that’s easy to read. But Stumbling is Exhibit A for how the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” By the middle of the book I had become intensely ornery about his formula of, “In the event of X, most people do Y” … because about half the time, I would’ve behaved quite differently in his hypothetical scenarios. Lots of cheerful speculation, not a lot of science.

The Dead Beat, Marilyn Johnson. Visit the world of obituary writers and aficionados with this strangely chipper read that’s downright adorable more often than not. I like Johnson’s fondness for synchronicity and her tender treatment of sensitive subjects; but the most interesting bits are the obituaries themselves, which condense into a paragraph the lives of fascinating, beloved, reviled, and dearly missed personalities.

Tales Behind the Tombstones, Chris Enss. Across the American West, strange tombstones with remarkable stories abound. Here’s a collection of them, as well as the available background information of the personalities interred beneath them. Not altogether different from The Dead Beat, but with older subject matter and a gritty sensibility that’s only occasionally chipper. Fascinating, nonetheless.

The Somnabulist, Jonathan Barnes. The speculative fiction community has embraced this quasi-steampunk pseudo-mystery like a long-lost child, so my hopes were high. And I confess, the first 100 pages are downright sublime. However, after those first hundred pages the tone, quality, and caliber of the story take a nosedive off a cliff. It’s as if someone exquisitely talented wrote the first three chapters and then died … leaving a lesser cousin to finish the manuscript. The most interesting questions are never answered; and the concluding absurdities stack up so high that the story makes a jailbreak over genre walls, landing on the other side in an embarrassing tangle of nonsense.

Next in the Queue:

Night Life, by Caitlin Kittredge
The Alchemy of Stone, by Ekaterina Sedia
The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives, by James P. Blaylock

April 29, 2008

BOOYAH. Behold, I give you … Spain the Cat approving of an ARC. But it’s not just any ARC — oh no. This is the much-anticipated ARC of my upcoming Subterranean Press project, Those Who Went Remain There Still.

twwrts 001

I’m so excited! These floppy advanced copies look so good — I can’t wait to see the real thing! But alas, I will not get a peek at the real thing until the middle of this coming winter.

Le sigh.

But anyway, here’s today’s progress on the west coast steampunk Victoriana book with zombies, air ships, toxic gas clouds, mad scientists, dead folk heroes, secret criminal societies, and Bonus! extended deleted scenes from the Civil War:

Project: The Boneshaker
New Words: 3734 (pretty good)
Present Total Word Count: 107,954 words
Goal: 130,000 words by July 1st.

Things Accomplished in Fiction: I’m afraid that, no matter how surreal I get about it, this section has become too revealing. Therefore, I must henceforth discontinue it.

Observations: My Lode Bearing Boss isn’t getting enough face time. That’s going to get fixed in Zeke’s next section or two, but I’m not quite there yet. Hmm. There’s SO MUCH to wrap up in this story — I feel like it’s overflowing at the seams. I guess the only thing to do is start drawing up plans for a sequel.

Things Accomplished in Real Life: Completed Draft Zero of one freelance assignment and instigated research for a second assignment; corrected an invoice I botched; cleaned house in the wake of Aric‘s new computer desk and its dust-bunny-stirring assembly; did dishes; changed litterbox.

Reason for Stopping: The ARCs arrived, and I was too giddy to continue. Anyway, it’s time for me to work in some reading time — so that I can begin on freelance assignment #3. Yes, these things do sort of stack up while you’re not looking.

Total Fiction Words Composed in 2008: 176,529