Sunday, January 30, 2005

Wolfe & Comics

So I finished up The Knight, the first part of Gene Wolfe's latest masterpiece of a saga, The Wizard Knight, a couple of days ago and immediately dove headfirst into The Wizard. Combined they are really one single narrative novel The Wizard Knight, and not unlike the way The Lord of the Rings is actually one novel divided into three, by the publishers.

On to the book itself. One thing that always sets Wolfe's work apart is his amazing prose. I don't think I'm making any revelations, at least to those who have rad and enjoyed his work, that no other writers has such complete, artistic grasp of telling stories utilizing the first person narrative.

In another statement that won't reinvent the wheel, and it's an intentional move on the author's part, the work very much evokes the Great Fantasy Novel, The King of Elfland's Daughter. Wolfe's story takes the reader into a more fully developed Fairy/Fantasy land and the protagonist, Sir Able of the High Heart, is more developed as well.

Compared to Wolfe's other works, primarily the 12 "Sun" books, The Wizard Knight reads a bit more accessibly, but is equally as deep and engaging. This is an enchanting, beautiful novel. On the whole, a truly remarkable work of Fantastic Literature.

Decent batch of comics this week, too. The Flash was a solid issue profiling the rogue Heat Wave, Kurt Busiek is continuing his great interpretation of Howard's Conan, Mark Waid continues to shows readers why it will be a sad day when he leaves Fantastic Four. However, the strongest issue in the batch this week was without a doubt the conclusion of Morrison & Quietly's amazing, emotional WE3. Cybernetic dogs can move the emotions, and these two master storytellers proved it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Quills and links

From, yet another award show: The Quills. Actually the cynicism is undeserved. NBC and Reed Business (the people who publish Publisher's Weekly) are organizing this thing for October. Being the booky person I am, I'm mildly looking forward to this. It will be interesting to see how these book awards work out. There are 16 categories including Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, Book of the Year, Graphic Novel of the Year, Desgin, and Children’s Book of the Year. The rest of the nominees and information is available at I guess they are sort of like the Peoples’ Choice Awards for books.

War! The Republic is crumbling
under attacks by the ruthless
Sith Lord, Count Dooku.
There are heroes on both sides.
Evil is everywhere.
Go read the rest of the intro text from Revenge of the Sith at Star

Some may ask, will there be a video game based on the forthcoming Batman Begins? Of course. It is being made by EA Games, one of the best game companies out there (LOTR, Madden NFL, NHL 2005, MVP Baseball). Chances are I will eventually get it, but before that I need to get Prince of Persia 2 and MVP Baseball.

Overall I think its safe to say the trend of making video games based on movies is much better than making movies based on video games. Anybody remember Super Mario Brothers with Bob Hoskins, or Double Dragon with Scott Wolf (of Party of Five fame), or Mortal Kombat with Christopher Lambert [as an Asian!!!] or even the dreadful looking forthcoming game-to movies Bloodrayne and Alone in the Dark? Hell at one point The Rock was rumored to star in a movie based on Spy Hunter. Fucking Spy Hunter!1

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

LOTR: 3rd Age-Gaiman-Oscars

So I’ve become addicted to the PS2 game Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. A beautifully rendered turn based RPG that allows you to shadow the Fellowship for the course of the LOTR story fighting Wargs, Uruk-Hai in Rohan, and Goblins in Moria. Over the course of the game, you meet up with Gandalf, and at one point, he fights along side your party. With all the snowfall this past weekend, a good portion my hours inside the house (i.e. not digging out my car and Mrs. Blog o' Stuff's car) were spent playing the game. This isn’t a game you can sit down and play for just 15 minutes at a time (ala NHL 2005, not that that is a bad thing, mind you), when you play, you have to realize you are dedicating at the very least 45 minutes of your time, which eventually turns into hours at a time.

The game really is an immersive extension of the film and books, Ian McKellen narrates all 100+ cut-scenes from the movie, which help the story along. I only have a couple of minor complaints about the game – one you can’t save your progress at any time, you have to trudge along until you find a checkpoint. The other thing I find a little annoying is the Elven character, who has the powerful healing spells, can only utilize those spells in battle, she can’t cast the healing spells while you are just walking around looking for the next enemy or event, this way if/when you are caught by a group of enemies you don't have to waste a turn healing. However; every time you save the game at a checkpoint, or your character levels up, your Action points (these let you pull off more powerful melee attacks, like three slashes with your sword as opposed to just one) and Hit points are refilled. And then there is the Evil Mode, which allows you to play on the side of Sauron’s Dark Forces. I haven’t tried that part yet. Overall, for LOTR junkies like me and RPG fans anywhere, this really is an absolute must have.

Speaking of LOTR, here are some scenes that didn’t quite make it. There are a lot of images, so it may take some time to load.

Neil Gaiman’s adaptation of Beowulf, to be produced/directed by Robert Zemeckis is moving forward. Those are definitely two creative names I’d like to see on more film/TV projects. Also in Neil news, the Web site for his MirrorMask film has been revamped. In today’s post, Neil also has a really little nice commentary on the Henson company.

The Academy Awards Nominations have been released. Something very strange has happened, Jamie Foxx was nominated for both Best Supporting Actor for Collateral and Best Actor for Ray. I wonder if that has ever happened. I don’t know if it is because there is no Lord of the Rings film, but none of the nominated films or actors/actresses interests me. Eternal Sunshine stars Jim Carrey, whom I don’t really care for, so I didn’t see that one, and I don’ like DiCaprio either, so I likely will not sit through The Aviator. Sideways looks interesting only because of the all the recent buzz about it, especially because guy who played the doofus mechanic on Wings is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, though it does also star Paul Giamatti, the great actor who played Pig Vomit in Howard Stern's Private Parts.

Let me rephrase things, none of the live-action nominees really interests me. Shrek 2 and The Incredibles (surprise, surprise) join Shark Tale as the three films nominated for Best Animated Film. It’s a toss up for me between Shrek 2 and The Incredibles, but I think I’ll lean to The Incredibles, which is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

Big year for J.K. Rowling, the 6th Potter book comes out in July, the next Potter film hits theaters this fall/winter and she just gave birth, so congratulations to her.

That'll do for today.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Snow war

Just finished this last night and posted my review to SFFWorld today. This was a very imaginative novel and I am looking forward Ms. Swainston's next effort. For more of my thoughts click over to my review.

Local NY/NJ weathermen and weatherwomen are proclaiming the end of the world with the upcoming snowstorm. We are in January now and it has been under 20 degrees so snow is imminent. Whoopdee friggin do.

Picked up Wanted #6 the other day and I'd have to say, on the whole it was pretty entertaining, but not the "Watchmen for Villians" Millar claimed it was going to be.

Not much else going on right now.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Manga? Fantasty Baseball

As can be gleaned from reading my blog, I am a fan of storytelling in various formats and media – novels, comic books/graphic novels and film. One form I’ve had great intentions of trying out for some time is Manga. I’ve been a little resistant to trying it for a couple of reasons, one of which is they are mostly in black and white, but I’m getting over that, I think having recently picked up a couple of Marvel’s ESSENTIAL volumes of Spidey.

With this thought floating in the recesses of my geeky mind, I came across Tony Salvaggio’s MANGA ISLAND column on Comic Book Resources. Specifically, his early January article mentions BESERK published by Dark Horse, probably one of, if not the, first American comics publisher to import Manga to American comic shops and bookstores. This series looks to have a Conan-esque, Moorcock-esque Sword & Sorcery feel. Planetes looks interesting too, as does Ragnarok. So, my millions....and millions of readers, any Fantay or Science Fiction flavored Manga suggestions?

Ed Zwick is set to produce/direct a film adaptation of Guy Gavriel Kay’s Lions of Al-Rassan. I’ve read about half of GGK’s work and enjoyed most of it. I’ll probably get thrown in the barrel for this, but I really enjoyed Zwick’s Legends of the Fall starring Brad Pitt. It also starred Sir Anthony Hopkins. The film takes place in Montana and has a lot of mythic overtones to it, deals with World War I, and to a lesser degree, the mistreatment of Native American Indians. Overall this is a Very Good Epic story, from the sweeping landscapes of Montana, to the grittiness and horrors of War to the multigenerational story of the Ludlow family. All that said, I think Zwick has the film-making skills to translate Kay’s story from page to screen. Of course this was just announced, so it could be years (if ever), before the film sees the light of day.

I’ve got a tough decision to make in the next couple of weeks. Who on my Fantasy Baseball team from last year should I keep for this year’s team? This is the first time in the 7 or so years I’ve been in the league we decided to have keepers. We are trying it out with 3 total keepers, 2 from the first half of the draft and one from the last half.

In practice, this is pretty fair. However, I drew the #10 (out of 10) pick for last year’s draft so I didn’t get a shot at Pujols, A-Rod or a genuine top pick. I wound up picking Roy Halladay, which based on his previous two years stats. 2003 Cy Young winning season - 22-7, 204K, 3.24ERA, 1.07 WHIP; 2002 - 19-7, 168K, 2.93 ERA & 1.19 WHIP. Based on those numbers, I thought I was making a smart first pick. I figured I’d build a solid pitching staff with a Cy Young winner. But of course, that didn’t happen. His ERA was over four, his record was 8-8 and he was hurt for a good portion of the year, so he didn't rack up the innings or Strikeouts.

He was the 2nd Cy Young winner to give me the big Rajole, as I picked Barry Zito early the previous draft. Both pitchers fell flat on their face in their follow-up season. It doesn’t get much better – Brett Boone was my 2nd pick overall, who killed me early in the season. I can only keep one starting pitcher, so I’ll have to decide between Mark Mulder and Carlos (Cubs) Zambrano. Suffice it to say, I’ve got some tough fantasy baseball decisions to make down the road.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Freakin' Sweet!

Which Family Guy character are you?

New Family Guy episodes (finally) begin airing on May 1st, 2005. Freakin’ Sweet! This is easily one of my 2 or 3 favorite TV shows from the last 5 or so years.

DC Comics & collectibles for April are posted. Comic Book Resources has all the text and cover images on one page so you won’t need to click on every title to view..

The web site for The Fantastic Four movie is live, with trailers. I’m not expecting it to be in the same league as the Spider Man movies, but hoping it will be at least a head and hopefully shoulders above Daredevil.

George R. R. Martin still hasn’t finished A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in his astounding A Song of Ice and Fire saga.

The final issue of Mark Millar’s entertaining, if over-rated, Wanted will be in comic shops today. I don’t think this would be half as good without JG Jones great art. Also in the shops today is the first collection of last year’s best new series Ex Machina, for only $9.95. Even though I’ve got all the issues, I may still pick this one up.

God of War, a game coming out in March 2005 for PS2 looks incredible. In the game, your goal, basically, is to kill Ares, the Greek God of War. Along the way you fight Medusa, Cyclops and Hydra. Greek Mythology goodness!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Radio Rant

Since I’ve recently gone through 2 CD players in my car [the 10 disc changer died last year and the Discman died; both for no explainable reason], something I realized a few years ago really came to light – Radio in the NYC/NY area pretty much sucks donkey balls. I realize my favorite genre of music is not the most popular anymore (Metal & Hard Rock). However, living in the largest metropolitan area, one would think finding a form of music, that while not the MOST popular, still supports a very loyal and strong fanbase, wouldn’t be too difficult.

Listening to good and new metal/hard rock in NJ/NY area on the radio is more often than not, a challenge. The biggest rock station K-Rock plays Howard in the morning and follows him with what amounts to throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks. For the most part, their programming is a mix of stuff that was popular around 1994, the Beastie Boys, Staind, Cypress Hill and Eminem. It was getting to the point that 2-3 out of the 5 weekdays, they were playing the same exact song right after Howard went off the air. Some days it seems like they cycle the same bands through each hour, with different songs – at least once an hour they’d play Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, or the over-rated Red Hot Chili Peppers. The station promotes Metallica, but rarely plays any Metallica songs from before the Black Album, which is the album that started the band's downward trend.

89.5 WSOU, Seton Hall’s Pirate Radio was pretty good in the past, though in recent years (January 2002 to be specific), they haven’t been playing as much pure metal since and modified their format from Metal to “Ecclectic Rock,” “something that's a better fit for the Jesuit university's community image.” Bullshit, this station was THE place to hear good hard rock/metal for years and started the career of a handful of DJs. For the longest time this was the only place to hear Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Shadows Fall, Iced Earth, Dream Theater and similar bands. They now mostly play winy-sounding punkish crap which ALL sounds pretty much the same.

105.5 WDHA & 95.9 WRAT are probably on the whole, the most listenable stations around these parts. Sister stations, DHA is out of Morristown, NJ and the RAT is out of Belmar, NJ, but they format is pretty much the same. DHA plays a bit more of the classic rock and the RAT plays a bit more of the current hard rock. I guess my only real complaint about DHA, which I listen to at work since I work in Morristown, is they play TOO much classic stuff-as if they are required to meet a quota of playing the Pretenders, the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd at least once an hour. DHA seems to love Nickelback, too, but we all have our faults. DHA & the RAT always promote local shows and play the bands in the time surrounding their concert – they played a good amount of Godsmack when Godsmack was at Starland, they played Iron Maiden when Maiden was in NYC last year and in general, often have a good mix of stuff. DHA has good days where they play new Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Godsmack, Black Sabbath and too many crappy days of the Pretenders, the Allmans, Nickleback, Staind and Steve Miller. And for the request shows, can we please put a ban on songs by Steve Miller, Jet, The Who's “Who are You,” or any songs that also double as commercials and/or TV theme songs?

Without a doubt, though, the best source on the radio for GREAT Hard Rock and Metal is Eddie Trunk’s syndicated Friday Night Rocks, played on the local classic rock station Q104.3. Eddie always has great guests, like Dave Mustaine, Tony Iommi and Judas Priest. Eddie’s show right after Dimebag Darrell was shot was very classy as a lot of musicians called in to share their thoughts. His show almost always features new artists, up and coming artists and classic metal artists. He’s also syndicated on XM radio, and is often seen on VH1 Classics. I just wish he had a regular week-day show. Then again if he did, I may not be ranting about this subject right now.

Aside from Eddie Trunk the other place I’ve found and heard good music is Music Choice: Metal on digital cable. I heard Ra for the first time there and a good amount of Shadows Fall and Atreyu on their metal station too. If I’m on the computer or reading, I’ll often flip to that channel for background music.

Music isn’t the only thing on the radio, there’s a lot of talk. Sports Radio, thanks to 1050 WEPN is probably what I’ve been listening to the most in the car, that is for the 1/3 of my car ride the station actually comes in. They have a real shitty signal. For a radio station owned by one of the largest media conglomerates (ABC/ESPN/DISNEY) you’d think they would have a stronger signal for a sports radio station that’s trying to compete in the biggest radio market in the country, NYC, against, arguably the biggest sports radio station in the country, WFAN. I live in central Jersey and drive to and from Northern NJ everyday for work and the signal rarely comes in a listenable consistent way, and most often it is very shoddy and all static. As for the actual content, again when it is listenable, Mike and Mike in the morning have a good rapport and I really enjoy the Michael Kay show as well. I’m glad Kay is now on the drive home, I can’t stand Fatso and Mush-mouth (Mike and the Mad Dog), though I do like Sid Rosenberg from the Fan. Hell, about a year and half ago, I won a pass to sit in on Sid and Jody Mac’s daytime show in WFAN. I liked Sid back when he was a sports guy on WNEW, but since he’s on during the day and AM doesn’t come in my office at all, I don’t get to listen to him.

Which all brings me to WNEW, the onetime home of Opie and Anthony and Ron and Fez. O&A are now on XM, which I plan on getting when I get a new car. They always had me glued to the radio and are a big reason why I’m a huge fan of Godsmack and Disturbed, those two always talked up the band and played parts of their songs during the breaks. O&A were and probably still are everything Howard Stern wishes he could be, in terms of relevance and humor. I still like Howard, but O&A really took that type of talk/entertainment radio to the next level

Ron and Fez were just as good and had me laughing out loud, sometimes, more often than O&A. R&F did their comedy pyramid, listeners would call in, to try and play along with the comedy theme, it was like a huge circle of friends where everybody tried to ridicule each other. Ron and Fez were pulled from WNEW the day after the Superbowl in 2003, I remember specifically because Fez is a huge Tampa Bay fan and I really wanted to hear his reaction to Tampa Bay winning. I was even a Big ASS Cardholder, Fortunately for Washington D.C. listeners, they are on WJFK, and I don’t know that they’ll be back anywhere in NYC/NJ. WNEW is also where Eddie Trunk started Friday Night Rocks, and eventually he went on to do Saturday Night Rocks. Hell, the whole Station was like one big group friends you could sit back and drink a few beers with, as they appeared on each other's shows very often.

I suppose I've bitched and moaned enough today.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Pretty, ain't it? Hits the stands in May. Here is the reluanched web page of the author:

I’ve had this goddamned cold for almost two-and-a-half weeks, and to quote Indiana from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “I’ve got the sniffles!” Started taking some Cold-Eeze, which is helping, but not as much as I’d like.

I knew, as is almost always the case when I compile any kind of list, there would be something I was bound to forget. Two additional books I’m looking forward to this year by E.E. Knight are two more books in his Tales of the Vampire Earth: Tale of the Thunderbolt (03/05) and Valentine Rising (12/05). I mentioned Mr. Knight and how I enjoyed his work in a post back in December.

Things are always evolving over at SFFWorld, we are hosting official author forums for the following FSF writers:
Alison Croggon a well respected writer already published to a good deal of acclaim in the UK and Australia, she makes her US debut with Naming: The First Book of Pellinor in May
Gary Wassner, author of the GemQuest trilogy, out next month from Windstorm
Kevin Radthorne author of the Road to Kotaishi
Richard Tuttle
Samit Basu, a respected author published by Penguin India
R. Scott Bakker, author of The Darkness that Comes Before and The Warrior-Prophet
Steve Savile, runner-up for the British Fantasy Award and was included in the 2003 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future anthology

And oh yeah, how could I forget? We are also hosting the official forums of Matthew Stover, author of the novelization of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Matt, thanks to Gabe, has also begun blogging again, at what amounts to his official Web site: Matt is the author of, easily, two of my top 10, and maybe my top 5 favorite novels of all time: Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Muppet Terror

Current Terror Alert Level
Terror Alert Level
From Scott, because who really doesn't love Muppets?

Here's the list of books I hope to get/read from this year's releases. Hell, if I get to at least half of them, I'll be happy. I usually play catch-up and read stuff from previous years and manage not to get to all of the current year's releases

Justina Robson Natural History (01/05)

Matthew Stover's Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (04/05)
Karin Lowachee Cagebird (04/05)

John Marco Sword of Angels (05/05)
Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean Mirrormask (5/05)
Robert E. Howard Bran Mak Morn: The Last King [reprint] (05/05)

Michael Moorcock The White Wolf's Son (6/05)
Dan Simmons Olympos (06/05)
James Barclay The Cry of the Newborn(08/05)
Greg Keyes The Blood Knight (08/05)
Jacqueline Carey Godslayer (8/05)
Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass (08/05)
Christopher Paolini Eldest (08/05)
Gene Wolfe Starwater Strains (08/05)

Robin Hobb Shaman's Crossing (9/05)
Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys (09/05)
Philip Pullman The Scarecrow and his Servant (09/05)

R. Scott Bakker The Thousandfold Thought (10/05)

Karen Traviss The World Before (11/05)

Matthew Stover Caine Black Knife (hopefully late '05)
George R. R. Martin A Feast for Crows (??/??)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Books, comics, music, TV

New review posted at SFFWorld last night of Karin Lowachee’s Burndive. Very enjoyable and worthy successor to her first novel, Warchild. About 1/3 into the novel, it became ever more hard to put down – something I think every writer wants to achieve. I thought her debut novel, Warchild, was a bit more evenly paced, but Burndive really showcases her growing skills of characterization and overall writing ability.

Heading over to the comics shop for my bimonthly visit today and I’ll be picking up

Incredible Hulk #77 (the return of PAD!)
Flash #217
JLA #110
JSA #69

I may pick up Nightwing #101 and perhaps a trade. I need to catch up with Fables, but I’ve also been wanting to read BKV’s Runaways and there is a good deal of stuff by Morrison I need to read. Ahhh…the difficult choices of the comic book reader.

Speaking of which, I’m debating, as most comic readers do, cutting down my pull list, probably dropping Superman/Batman and Superman. S/B is ok, Carlos Pacheco is a wonderful artist, but the stories haven’t really moved in a positive or negative way, it is just sort of there. Superman is moving very slowly and though I’ve stuck it out this far with the Azzarello/Lee storyline, I’m just really not caring enough to see where it goes. For the most part, I’ll probably hold off my Superman fix (aside from JLA) until Morrison & Quietly’s All-Star Superman starts appearing on shelves. JSA is probably on the cut list to, even though I’ve got the majority (missing only 2 or 3 issues) of the current series. Geoff Johns is a capable writer, but again, I haven’t really cared too much about what is going on in the book in a few months/issues. I may also drop the Fantastic Four after Waid/Weiringo leave and JMS and McKone take over. I like McKone’s art, but I haven't been too overwhelmed with JMS’s Spidey and I’m getting a bit bored with the pacing of Supreme Power, also maybe on the chopping block. All told, I may be cutting roughly $10 from my floppy single issues, but funneling it back into Trades.

The Superman film is shaping almost as well as Batman Begins. Kate Bosworth is going to be Lois Lane, Kevin Spacey will be Lex Luthor (great choice there), James Marsden (who played Cyclops in X-Men) is set to join, as well. I’ve got a lot of faith in Bryan Signer, since I’ve been very happy with all the films I’ve seen by him, I hope he can continue with the quality on Superman Returns. Singer is a director who tends to work with the same actors on various films – he worked with Spacey on the great Usual Suspects, Ian McKellen on the X-Men films and Apt Pupil, Marsden on the X-Men films and rumors have the guy starring in Singer’s TV show, House, joining the cast as well. I think this is a good thing, James Cameron uses the same actors very frequently Bill Paxton (Aliens* and Titanic) and Michael Biehn (The Abyss, Aliens and Terminator 1 & 2) and Bruce Campbell has been in, I think, every Sam Raimi film.

* That's it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?

Found this cool link the other day The Invisible Library, which lists all the books that only exist in the pages of other books like the Travels of Jain Farstrider in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (yes I admit to reading most of the books), Machine’s Way from Stephen King’s The Dark Half, Lovecraft’s invented book The Necronomicon, and the various “unwritten books by great authors” in Cain and Abel’s library in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

Rick Klaw dedicated one of his Geeks with Books columns at SFSite to this phenomenon. Rick is the author of the book Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century published by Monkey Brain books

Speaking of the SFSite, go over there and vote for your favorite books of the year. Very similar criteria to what I do over at the SFFWorld forums (hell, I kind of borrowed some of that criteria from them).

I also added Rick Kleffel’s Agony Column ( over at the left. I constantly get there from other blogs and Rick always presents some interesting things there.

I’m listening to Velvet Revolver’s Contraband right now, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. I fell in love the song Fall to Pieces before it became overplayed. Sure the song may have a bit of a power-ballad feel to it, but after watching the video, I really got the feeling Scott Weiland poured his heart into the song and Slash sounds better than he did with G’N’R. Some of the songs sound like they could have been pulled right off of STP’s album Purple or Four, both albums I enjoyed very much. Overall, as I said, Contraband a pretty dam solid album. Back when I saw Disturbed at the Starland Ballroom over the summer, some of the bouncers said Velvet Revolver, who performed the night before, were absolutely amazing.

Watched the concluding part of the Battlestar Galactica mini on the SciFi channel last night, and I have to say, I enjoyed it. It is pretty intriguing and raises some interesting questions. Is it a perfect show? No. Is it watchable entertainment? Absolutely, so I’ll probably be watching it every Friday night, though it will never be able to replace FarScape.

Rambled a bit much today, huh?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Don't talk back to me!

At SFFWorld, we run a monthly book club discussion in our Science Fiction and Fantasy forums and once in a while the author of the book will drop by and join the discussion. This month, in our Fantasy Book Club, we are lucky enough to have Kirsten Bishop, author of The Etched City drop by.

Well, Randy Johnson is a Yankee and Carlos Beltran is a Met. Randy Johnson started of on an auspicious note by telling a CBS 2 cameraman to get out of his face, after repeatedly telling the cameraman he didn’t want his picture taken. On the one hand, Mr. Johnson, this is New York, get accustomed to it. On the other, the guy, regardless of how much he makes or how much he is in the public eye, has the complete right not to want his picture taken. I’m kind of leaning on the side of Randy Johnson on this one, though he could have handled it better.

Even as a Yankee fan, I'm glad to see Beltran on the other side of town. But did the Mets overpay for Beltran? Based on his numbers, probably. But for 7 years they will have one of the more exciting players in the league to watch, even if his numbers aren’t up to the level for which he just signed. Still, he is only 27 and a lot of players continue to improve into their 30’s so the Mets are getting Beltran in his prime years. They need players like him and Pedro for to put a marketable, watchable product on the field so they can get people to buy and watch their new network. This just reinforces, to me, that Baseball really is a Business.

I've got to wish my cousin's youth hockey team this coming week and weekend. They are playing in Canada for the International Silver Sticks Tournament. They won the Pennsylvania tournament late last year to qualify.

Very interesting article on Locus Online by Ursula K. Le Guin regarding SciFi Channel’s bastardization of her beloved Earthsea saga.

No more of Michael Moorcock’s Elric, according to The Alien Online.

Fantastic Metropolis was recently redesigned.

I added a handful of links on the left, some blogs, some writers, some zines and a bunch of publishers.

Monday, January 10, 2005

PKD & New Template

New template, what do my millions...and millions of readers think? Seriously, hearty congratulations to Karen Traviss, her debut novel, City of Pearl, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, given out to the best FSF US paperback original from the previous calendar year. The other novel on the list I read (and enjoyed) was Minister Faust's Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad. The list is rounded out as follows:

  • Air, Geoff Ryman
  • Apocalypse Array, Lyda Morehouse
  • Banner of Souls, Liz Williams
  • Life, Gwyneth Jones
  • Stable Strategies and Others, Eileen Gunn

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Y: Galveston

This will be an apoclyptically review-flavored blog post….

I finished Galveston by Sean Stewart last night, it was an incredible novel about many things, magic, humanity, maturity, power, borders, identity, responsibility, erosion, and slippage. This novel was also co-winner of the 2001 World Fantasy Award. with Tim Powers' Declare.

Some stream-of-consciousness thoughts…

Sean Stewart tells the story of the titular Texas island, Galvestonm and how major floods impacted by the island. A flood of water in 1900, this did happen, and a flood of Magic in 2004. This 2004 flood split the island into a “real” Galveston and a Mardi Gras Galveston, as the Magic Flood occurred during Mardi Gras of 2004. Technology has broken down in the “real” Galveston. The story takes place some two decades later as society has crawled from the disaster and has adjusted and continues to adjust to their new world. The world society is at a juncture of those who lived before the Flood, those young at the flood, and those who know only the After Flood world.

By placing the story in the not too distant future, Stewart gave me, as the reader, a greater sense of relevance, that something of this magnitude could be just around the corner. Our central characters are Joshua Cane, a young man of ill luck and Sloane Gardner, a young woman of ill chosen paths and magic. Joshua is a doctor in the besieged land and Sloan is a rich heiress to the ruling family of what is left of Galveston. Stewart does many clever things in this novel, there is almost a feel of the down trodden rescuing the princess, but not quite as Things Take a Turn for the Very Bad. If it didn’t we wouldn’t have a novel here would we?

I got a very apocalyptic vibe from this novel. Though Stewart doesn’t quite use the traditional war torn landscape of an after-war civilization, he does very effectively portray society struggling to adjust to cataclysmic circumstances. Those adjusting in the real Galveston struggle to hold back the magic and many fear the consequences. Those in the Mardi Gras world have fully embraced the magic, there are minotaurs and cat people and stilt-men walking around in a very commonplace manner.

Stewart set up a “holy trinity” as it were of power at the outset of the novel…the ruling god of Mardi Gras Galveston – the god Momus; the power of humanity in the real Galveston – Jane Gardner; and Odessa, the Recluse, who keeps watch over the border between the Mardi Gras and Real Galvestons. Sloane Gardner is related to all three – Momus is her stepfather, Jane her mom and Odessa, her aunt. Very much at the center of all things and people, Sloane’s character is well drawn.

In the character of Josh Cane, we see a character who longs for things not his own and he also longs for the past when he had a real home and a life prior to the Flood. Stewart did a great job of building up Josh as a sympathetic character.

My only real problem with the novel occurs towards the middle. Josh’s best friend, Ham, has pretty much stuck with Josh since he was a young boy and the two come across as good friends who compliment each other very well. However; in a bind, Ham kind of snaps on Josh and almost belittles Josh for a character flaw I didn’t detect earlier in the novel, at least. Because of this, Josh went through, what I saw, as an unnecessary guilt trip. This was the only aspect of the novel preventing me from giving this novel an A+. As it was, I’d give it an A-, Stewart’s otherwise mastery of prose, character and plot made for a novel worthy of the World Fantasy Award.

Keeping with the apocalyptic fiction theme, Brian K. Vaughan is increasingly becoming one of my favorite current writers. I’ve been sucked into his series, Ex Machina and I recently received the third volume of his astounding Vertigo series – Y: The Last Man. Thus far, Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand are the last surviving males on the planet. Something caused all males on the planet to disappear. Yorick is coveted and many people want to either kill him to make the world completely female or they want to keep him safe as a sperm bank.

In this volume, titled One Small Step, Yorick and his traveling crew (Ampersand, Government Agent 355 and Genetcist Dr. Mann) cross paths with a Russian soldier who has been dispatched to meet with a crew of Astronauts, two of whom are male. Could this be a sign of hope for the planet, two more males returning to Earth? Will they be susceptible to the plague? In a masterstroke Vaughan ends the story with more questions than answers. This volume also contains a two-parter about a traveling band of actresses who are going to put on a play titled, The Last Man. This little story is a great critique of art imitating life and could portend just how the series will end.

And end it will – Vaughan and artist Pia Gurerra have a tight storyline and this series is only going to run 60 issues. Overall the art is solid on this series and there is a wonderful sense of connectivity throughout. Great science fiction storytelling here folks, and each volume is only $12.95 – a great buy for such a compelling, well-told story. My measly little overview didn’t give this nearly enough justice so check out The Fourth Rail for reviews of each issue.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Narnia, Here I Come! R.I.P. Eisner

You're The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

by C.S. Lewis

You were just looking for some decent clothes when everything changed quite dramatically. For the better or for the worse, it is still hard to tell. Now it seems like winter will never end and you feel cursed. Soon there will be an epic struggle between two forces in your life and you are very concerned about a betrayal that could turn the balance. If this makes it sound like you're re-enacting Christian theological events, that may or may not be coincidence. When in doubt, put your trust in zoo animals.
Take the Book Quiz
at the
Blue Pyramid.

Via Gabe & Luke.

I definitely can think of worse books. I read this series for the first time a few years ago and really enjoyed them. The novelization of the above comes out this coming Christmas, and as it is a relatively short novel, I'll probably re-read it..

Though I haven’t read anything by the man, it is worth noting the passing of Will Eisner (NY TIMES, Newsarama). When a guy nearly every comic creator (Neil Gaiman, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Evanier, Frank Miller, just to name a few) points to as influential, and he was, it is hard to argue. Eisner was writing and drawing BEFORE Bob Kane and up until his death. Eisner created the term and form of the Graphic Novel. The guy has the most prestigous award in the Comic Book Industry named after him.

On the good side of things, the Batman news continues to be Very Good – The New York Times reports Frank Miller will be writing All-Star Batman (via Franklin's Findings). Newsarama also has a nice page dedicated to the annoucement, with a couple of pieces of artwork from Jim Lee, announced weeks ago to be the artist on this title. See my post from Mid-December about the goodies DC is releasing in anticpation of Batman Begins.

Dammit dammit dammit! I knew I neglected one book on My Favorite novels s of 2004 postThe Warrior-Prophet by R. Scott Bakker. Here's a blurb from my Official SFFWorld Review of the book:

The second novel in R. Scott Bakker’s The Prince of Nothing saga continues to push the envelope in terms of complexity and tension. The Holy War begun in The Darkness that Comes Before continues to sweep the world of Eärwa. The following of Anusûrimbor Kellhus, the titular Warrior Prophet, grows, just as the opposition to what he represents, grows in size. Kellhus is a conundrum, part Christ-figure, part Buddha-figure, some feel he is a harbinger of the impending doom set to sweep the world, others feel he is the savior who will prevent the destruction of the world.

Scott is a cool, super-smart guy and is probably mourning the loss of the NHL season like I am. I reviewed the Canadian edition of The Darkness that Comes Before, and when it was published in the US by Overlook Press, the following blurb from my Official SFFWorld review adorned the back cover:

"I jokingly hesitate to truly call this a work of fantasy considering how absolutely convincing this novel reads as a historical account... Bakker… clamps his hand over yours and simply does not let go… Amid the cluttered shelves of the Epic Fantasy genre, Bakker is a name that stands out amongst, not just the new writers in the crowd, but established and recognized names."

All self-promoting aside, this guy really knows how to write and create stories and worlds. While not a Tolkien imitator, Mr. Bakker has taken the spirit of storytelling and world-building Tolkien invested in LOTR and run with the ball.

Sometimes, the blog just writes itself.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

FSF Publishers

SciFi Wire starts of the year on a good foot with a great review of the seminal Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons masterpiece Watchmen. Most of the people who read my blog have read Watchmen, so this review will probably not be something new, but its good to see the Graphic Novel reviewed again in a prominent FSF Webzine.

Over the past few months and the coming months, US publisher BantamSpectra is doing some very cool things. They are publishing acclaimed novels previously unavailable to the larger US readership. Last summer, they released M. John Harrison’s Hard SF Space Opera Light, published in 2002 in the UK. This past November, they published The Etched City by K.J. Bishop, published in 2003 by Prime Books, a small press publisher. Early this year two novels previously only available overseas, Natural History by Justina Robson and Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood will be published and in April they are publishing the acclaimed collection, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff VanDerMeer and Mark Roberts. The Lambshead book features contributions by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, K.J. Bishop, Kage Baker, Michael Moorcock, and China Miéville.

What does all this mean? It seems as BantamSpectra has a good editor running the FSF line and is responding by producing a diverse group of books people want to see. They probably have one of the better web presences considering they actually update their site every month with a newsletter. Daw and Ace haven’t updated since May, Roc hasn’t updated since October....of2003! Tor, probably the largest publisher in the genre, updates their Web site about every 16 months. In this day and age (to be clichéd) it is pretty sad that these publishers don’t pay better attention to their Web presences and how effective a tool this could be for them. It’s not like the Internet is new.

This is not to say each of these big publishers aren't publishing a good to great diverse set of books, because they certainly are. Tor publishes Gene Wolfe, Walter Hunt, Jacqueline Carey, Juliet Marillier, and Steven Brust, just to name a few. Daw's got Tad Williams, John Marco, and CJ Cherryh. Ace has Charles Stross, Alastair Reynolds, Patricia McKillip, and Brian Jacques. Roc has E.E. Knight, Carol Berg, and Jim Burns' Harry Dresden series.

The only two other big name publihsers with as good a web presence as BantamSpectra is their sister imprint Del Rey and Eos books (an imprint of HarperCollins). These other two publishers update every month and have a similar level of Web presence.

I can't speak too well about the smaller presses, like Prime Books, Night Shade, and Golden Grypon, but what I've seen these publishers put out is pretty impressive. But that's a different topic.

I suppose that's enough soapboxing about the publishing industry for now.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Fantastic Christmas Gift

This volume collects the first year’s worth of Fantastic Four stories scripted by Mark Waid with the majority the pencils handled by Mr. Waid’s past Flash collaborator, Mike Wieringo. The FF haven’t always been my very favorite comic, but over the course of my comic collecting life, I read them for a good deal of time. Of course what Stan and Jack is breathtaking visual storytelling and the John Byrne stories are fun. FF was one of the few Marvel titles this DC-fanboy consistently picked up. As is the case with many comic readers, I would often take time off from collecting and reading, but the addiction would kick in and I would have to return.

I took a year or so off from buying and reading and got back in late last year and soon picked up FF (a couple of months after #500) and really enjoyed what Mark Waid was doing with the series and received the Volume 1 hardcover for Christmas. From the outset, it was clear that Mr. Waid had good plans for the Richards family and specific things he wanted the family to encounter. His use of Dr. Doom is probably the best since Stan and Jack, not to take anything away from John Byrne’s good stories. Overall, this collection is one of the best I’ve read from the House of Ideas and all the DVD-type extras are really worth the price ($29.99), shit, #500 is high enough in price right now and will probably only increase as the movie gets closer to release.

Some of the extras include Waid’s “mission statement” for the FF and sketches from Wieringo, as well. Again, Waid’s mission statement is a really good indication of just how well he “gets” the FF. In the first year, Waid hit a homerun with the Unthinkable storyline and it looks as if he is going to end his run on a solid note with the current Galactus storyline. Unfortunately, as great as the Galactus storyline is, it is still sad since it is the last FF story the great Waid/Wieringo team are creating, for the time being.

The term Definitive Run is thrown around alot in comic book circles and outside of the legendary 100 issue rune by Stan and Jack, you'll be hard pressed to find any FF-runs as great as the one kicked off in this hardcover.