My friend Kelly Bancroft has a video essay up at Time.com today. “Susan and Me” is about my beloved Susan Boyle (who, in her last performance, was not as beguiling as her first) and Kelly’s connections to her as a singer from a post-industrial town where your talents may or may not go undiscovered. It’s awesome, and not just cause I love Kelly and Susan. Go watch it by clicking here.
Just a note to drop a link over to SF Signal’s Mind Meld, a feature in which various writers and editors and reviewers are asked to answer the same question. I was one of the participants this time, and the question asked us to talk about the last time an SF/Fantasy book surprised us.
Hello, fellow speculative fiction lovers. Here’s another recommendation for summer reading. Greg van Eekhout’s Norse Code. Now, I haven’t read this novel yet, but I have ordered it. It’s Greg van Eekhout’s first novel, and I’m really excited and totally waving it around on the blog based on my reading of his really awesome short stories that I have read, and loved, for the past few years now. Here’s the book description:
Is this Ragnarok, or just California?
The NorseCODE genome project was designed to identify descendants of Odin. What it found was Kathy Castillo, a murdered MBA student brought back from the dead to serve as a valkyrie in the Norse god’s army. Given a sword and a new name, Mist’s job is to recruit soldiers for the war between the gods at the end of the world—and to kill those who refuse to fight.
But as the twilight of the gods descends, Mist makes other plans.
Journeying across a chaotic American landscape already degenerating into violence and madness, Mist hopes to find her way to Helheim, the land of the dead, to rescue her murdered sister from death’s clutches. To do so, she’ll need the help of Hermod, a Norse god bumming around Los Angeles with troubles of his own. Together they find themselves drafted into a higher cause, trying to do what fate long ago deemed could not be done: save the world of man. For even if myths aren’t made to be broken, it can’t hurt to go down fighting…can it?
Sounds like Neil Gaiman territory to me, only using Norse mythology as its fantastical resource.
I’m no longer linking book recs to online sellers. You know where they are, just type the book titles into the search engines for your favorite site and hit the purchase button early and often.
Have any of you out there ever come across this site called Literature Map? It’s really interesting, to me at least. What you do is enter an author’s name, and the site provides you with a map of other authors who you may like based on your entry. The farther away from the central author’s name, the further distance in similarity. It seems like the map’s data is gathered from user input, connecting their likes and dislikes and compiling that data. Not sure how accurately the map can report, because of that, but a neat idea.
This random tidbit brought to you by Nothing To Do Lazy Sundays.
All of you Kelly Pavlik fans round Ytown should know that there’s a biography of him coming out this week, and he’ll be signing with the authors at the Boardman Barnes and Noble this Friday, May 15th, at 4 PM. The authors will be there from 2 PM on, talking and answering questions.
The very cool thing you can do when you’re there, though, is tell the cashier (when you’re checking out with your Pavlik biography and whatever else you’ve purchased) that you are shopping with First Book, Mahoning Valley. A portion of your purchases will be donated then to this group, which supplies low income children in our community with books. You can find out more at the First Book, Mahoning Valley blog by clicking here.
This post is a little late, as the book I’m about to recommend came out several weeks ago, but I only had a chance to read it just recently, now that I’m no longer running in twenty different directions. In any case, C.C. Finlay’s The Patriot Witch should go onto your summer reading list. It’s a fast, fun, historical fantasy set during the American Revolution, and two more volumes are coming out soon, for those readers who like their books to come as a series. I’m not normally a series fan, but this is one I’ll look forward to continuing on in for a while to come. The characters are well-drawn, the pacing tight, but the most interesting facet of it for me is the well-developed historical backdrop.
Take a walk over to one of your favorite online booksellers or to your favorite bookseller in town, and pick this up.
And if you’re not sold yet, take a look at a free PDF of the book by clicking here.
Last week I was suddenly being followed by a lot of people on my Twitter site than made any logical sense to me, until my friend Gwenda twittered/tweeted/whatever-ed me to ask if I knew I was one of Mashable.com’s 100+ Best Authors Twittering. Here’s a link to the article. The authors are broken up into they category of fiction they write. I’m in General Fiction, though most of my homeboys and girls are in the Scifi/Fantasy section.
And then today, also via Twitter, my friend Jem linked to a picture she took of Outlook Magazine (a Columbus, Ohio magazine) with a HUGE picture of me on a full page, blocked by a listing of what I think might be an article about the Thurber House literary picnics that occur over the summer months. I’ll be reading there this July 22nd, so if you are in or around Columbus then, come over and visit.
The funny thing about both of these items is that several months ago when I finally opened a Twitter account, it was with great reluctance, as I sometimes feel more sapped of energy by the variety of social networking devices that continue to crop up in internet-land every year. And I’ve certainly been twittering since opening the account, but hadn’t realized I was doing anything of particular interest (I find myself to be a pretty boring broken record sort of person, at least for the past year, grumble grumble, complain complain). It seems it’s always the things one doesn’t want to do that turn out to surprise you with how surprisingly fun and connecting they can be.
In fact, I’ve even added a Twitter box to the sidebar of this website.
I used to get annoyed by this sound by the end of summer, but right now I sort of miss it. Maybe because summer has begun.
Of course, here I have a virtual aviary surrounding me, which I would surely miss if I were on the other side of the world again for long. Such is the price for making homes for yourself in multiple places.
Congratulations, Maine, on being the next state to rise out of the mire of a twisted sensibility. Let’s hope more will follow soon. Until then, I leave you with this really awesome poem by Frank O’Hara:
So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut? as if we’d been pierced by a glance!
The song of an old cow is not more full of judgment
than the vapors which escape one’s soul when one is sick;
so I pull the shadows around me like a puff
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment
of a very long opera, and then we are off!
without reproach and without hope that our delicate feet
will touch the earth again, let alone “very soon.”
It is the law of my own voice I shall investigate.
I start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can
in the rain. It’s wonderful to admire oneself
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each
of the latrines. 14th Street is drunken and credulous,
53 rd tries to tremble but is too at rest. The good
love a park and the inept a railway station,
and there are the divine ones who drag themselves up
and down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air
crying to confuse the brave “It’s a summer day,
and I want to be wanted more than anything else in the world.”