Monday, March 15, 2010
On the Road

Dear Pat,

I won't be able to make any of your readings over the next two weeks, but I was wondering. How do you get ready for something like that? I've done a little public speaking in the past, and it terrifies me. I can't help but think that it must be a million times worse if you're reading your own stuff to a huge roomful of people.

So that's my question. What does an author do to get ready for a public reading?

Best of luck on your trip.

Dan

The truth is Dan, I've wondered the same thing myself.

I mean, I know how *I* get ready for a reading. But I wonder what other authors go through when they're getting ready.

A lot of authors I've talked to admit to having public speaking jitters. Some of them downright hate it. But that's not a problem for me. Public speaking is old hat. I've done commencement addresses, sermons, lectures, and more panels than you can shake a stick at.

Plus I used to do improv comedy. And let me tell you, after you've done improv comedy, no other type of public speaking will ever scare you. It's like a trial by fire.

In general, I imagine other authors think about regular things before a signing tour. They worry about who's going to show up, or what they're going to read. Maybe they dither over what sort of shirt they're going to wear.

Me, I worry about my hair.

At least that's what I've been doing for the last several days. I'm about to leave on a little signing tour, 8 readings in 9 days. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm looking forward to seeing who shows up.

The problem is, I haven't had a haircut in about 8 months. It's something that never occurs to me until I have to make a public appearance. Normally every 3-4 months I'm forced to brush up against the edges of civilization. I go to a convention, or a wedding, or something, and so I get a haircut to clean myself up for that.

But lately I've been so busy with revisions and the new baby that I haven't done any of those things. And that means almost a whole year without a haircut. That means that I look like a cross between a hobo, John the Baptist come out of the desert, and a particularly shaggy Muppet. I look, in fact, like one of those green men statues. Except not green.

Normally I'm fine with this. But when I make public appearances I feel bad showing up looking all wodwo. I feel like if people show up to see me, I should try to groom myself down to the point where I won't frighten small children.

But here's the problem. This week when I tried to make an appointment for a haircut with the only person I trust to cut my hair and beard... but she couldn't fit me in to her schedule. And I can't trust some random barber. Last time I did that the fucker sheared me like a fucking sheep.

So now, the day before I drive off to do my signings, I'm faced with an awful choice. Show up looking like the crazy guy at the bus station, or risk a haircut that would make a prison barber wince. I still haven't decided...

The other thing that I think about before I go on a trip like this is what I'm going to listen to in the car. I've become a sucker for audiobooks lately, and this trip is going to put me behind the wheel for almost 40 hours.

So I've got a return question for some of you out there. Do you have any good audiobooks to recommend? I've already listened to everything by David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, and Garrison Keillor.

Here. I'll start things out with a recommendation or two of my own.


The BBC dramatization of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.




These BBC audio productions of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are really great. What's even better is that they contain different materials than the original books. That means even if you know your the source material inside and out, you can still be pleasantly surprised.

The later ones weren't done my Adams himself. But I have to say (and this is something that you will probably never *ever* hear me say again) I liked the ending of the final audiobook better than I like the ending of Adam's original novel.

I know. Blasphemy.

Anyway. Trust me. These are brilliant. Share and enjoy.


Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.



I listened to this just recently, and I was absolutely blown away by it.

That said, I don't know how I'd describe the entirety of it to someone.

It's funny without being goofy. It's clever without being pretentious. It's original without being desperate. And it has an element of what I consider the divine ridiculousness: a delightful, subtle, strangeness that is funny while still touching on some underlying truth.

I feel like I should say more about it, but I can't think of what else to say. Except, perhaps, that it's probably the best book I've read in a year or so. And Sarah really liked it too, if that sways you at all...

So what about you guys? Do y'all have any good audiobooks that you can recommend? I'm going to need a few more before I'm done with this trip....

P.S. I'm asking for audiobooks, mind you. Don't recommend a book that you liked and you're thinking *would* make a good audiobook. The narrator makes a huge difference in these things, so don't tell me it's good if you haven't listened to it yourself.

pat

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010
A Veritable Cornucopia of Signed Books





This is a Worldbuilders blog.




Here's some more books, folks. And as you can see, we've been saving some of the best for last.

Also, in the interest of complete honesty, I'm over-tired and over-caffeinated right now. This makes me punchy, which means I probably shouldn't be doing anything delicate like writing book descriptions.

Still, the fundraiser ends on January 15th, which means I really need to get these posted sooner rather than later. So I'm going to apologize in advance for anything bizarre or inappropriate I might say below.

Sorry.

  • An Advance Reading Copy of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Signed by the author.

A great book, and I'm not just saying that because a chunk of it is set in Wisconsin. I'm saying that because I'm a complete geek for Neil Gaiman *and* a big chunk of it is set in Wisconsin.

"Original, engrossing, and endlessly inventive; a picaresque journey across America where the travelers are even stranger than the roadside attractions." - George R. R. Martin

  • A hardcover copy of Small Favor - a Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Signed by the author.

Jim Butcher is another one of my favorite authors. In fact, he was one of the first authors I wrote about on the blog a long while back. I continue to love him despite the fact that writes two extremely well-crafted novels every year, thereby making me look like a chump.

From Publishers Weekly, "Butcher smoothly manages a sizable cast of allies and adversaries, doles out needed backstory with crisp efficiency and sustains just the right balance of hair's-breadth tension and comic relief."


"Crystal Rain is refreshing and imaginative, an exotic stew of cultures, myths, and technology." --Kevin J. Anderson


Anyone who's read the acknowledgments in NOTW knows I owe Kevin Anderson a great debt of thanks, as he helped get me started in the publishing world. On top of that, I now owe him even *more* thanks for donating this lovely ARC...

Publisher's Weekly says, "Anderson's sizzling sci-fi thriller resurrects the technology of miniaturization introduced in the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage. [...] Casual sci-fi fans as well as newcomers to the genre will enjoy this well-paced, energetic narrative."

  • A set of Jonathan Green's Pax Britannia: Unnatural History, Leviathan Rising and Human Nature. Unnatural History and Leviathan Rising are signed by the author.

From the back of the book: In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria's glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion. It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic Overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo!

  • A copy of Just Desserts by Simon Haynes. Signed by the author.

Signed by the author, the merest touch of this book will cure scrofula. At least that's what the promotional blurb says.

The Specusphere urges readers to "enjoy another fast and furious ride with the zap-happy, zany rapscallions."

  • A copy of Space Magic, stories by David D. Levine. This special signed hardcover edition is limited to 100 numbered copies; this book is copy number AC-6.

Like Nnedi, David Levine is one of the folks I met when we got published in Writers of the Future Volume 18 together. David writes short stories like I'll never be able to, and over the years his advice about how the publishing world works has been invaluable to me.

Space Magic is his first short story collection. His "Tk'Tk'Tk" won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and "The Tail of the Golden Eagle" was a previous Hugo nominee; it also appeared on the Nebula preliminary ballot and was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and Locus Award.

It's also important to note that this limited edition harcover of the book is numbered AC-6. Which means that it's harder to hit than AC-10.

  • A copy of Saundra Mitchell's debut novel, Shadowed Summer. Signed by the author.

Booklist says that Shadowed Summer is, "Highly atmospheric, with pulse-pounding suspense and an elegiac ending."

You hear that? Elegiac. How come nobody calls my book elegiac? I'm all kinds of elegiac.

  • A copy of The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly. Signed by the author.

"The wildly imaginative Reilly has taken inspiration from comics, video games, thrillers and Code-style puzzle novels to create this rocket-fueled sequel to his 7 Deadly Wonders [...] A tongue-in-cheek quality will help readers find this outlandish adventure thrilling." -- Publishers Weekly


"Wilson's fantasy debut recalls the complexity of classic epic fantasy in the tradition of Robert Jordan. Combining adventure with mystery and memorable characters, this is a good choice for committed fantasy fans." —Jackie Cassada, Library Journal

  • Two hardcover copies of To Ride Hell's Chasm by Janny Wurts. Signed by the author.

"Janny Wurts writes with astonishing energy... it outght to be illegal for one person to have so much talent." - Stephen R. Donaldson

  • One set of Webmage, Cybermancy, CodeSpell and MythOS by Kelly McCullough. All signed by the author.

"The most enjoyable science fantasy book I've read in the last four years." - Christopher Stasheff

  • A set of Naked and Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays by David Sedaris. Both signed by the author.

David Sedaris is a brilliant author I only discovered a couple years ago when someone advised me to listen to his short piece "6-8 Black Men" on Youtube.

After less than a minute, Sedaris had a fan for life.

I've been meaning to post a blog recommending Sedaris' books for almost a year. But something always seems to get in the way. For example, the last time I sat down to write a post about it, I got hung up about whether or not I wanted to use the word "boner" in the blog. Then I started to write a blog about how avoiding the use of the word "boner" revealed a lot about my revision process. Then I stopped writing that blog and did something else. True story.

Anyway, a couple months ago, I found out that David Sedaris was on tour here in the US. What's more, I found out that he was making at stop Stevens Point. I still can't imagine why he was here in Podunk, WI. His tour schedule was literally something like this: San Diego > San Francisco > Los Angeles > Salt Lake City > Stevens Point > New York. My suspicion is that he lost a bet with God.

Sedaris gave a great performance and was incredibly gracious in person, though I'm pretty sure I made a bit of an ass of myself when I got to the front of the signing line. I bought a couple of his books and rather than have him sign them to me, I had him just sign his name so I could use them for this fundraiser. Also a true story.

Washington Post Book World describes Sedaris as "Shrewd, wickedly funny [...] one of America's most prickly, and most delicious, young comic talents."


There we go. Now I can go to sleep. Hopefully I didn't say anything too awful.... If I did, enjoy it while it lasts, because I'll probably just delete it when I wake up later today...

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

And don't forget, I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders, you can click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Books, and an Interview with Nnedi Okorafor




This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Nnedi Okorafor was one of the very first writers I met when I was starting my publishing career. We both won places in Volume 18 of Writers of the Future back in 2002, and we met out at the workshop in LA.

I think I even have a picture of us back then at the award Ceremony. Let me see if I can find it....

(Awww.... Look at us. We're cute as fluffy puppies...)

Nnedi's a dynamo, and way tougher than I am. After I got my master's degree, I left academia behind me, shaking the dust from my feet. But Nnedi got her PhD.

In fact, she got her PHD, had a baby, and launched her writing career pretty much all at the same time. Like I said: Dynamo.

But in addition to that, she's a lot of fun. So when I started thinking of doing interviews for Worldbuilders, I thought of Nnedi....

Heya Nnedi. Let's say you're at a party and you meet someone you wanted to impress. What sort of things about your writing career would you casually drop into the conversation to prove that you're awesome?

I'd mention that I won some awards and stuff and that I like to write about a Nigeria enslaved by juju-powered computers.

Which awards have you won? Anything super-cool?

My novel, Zahrah the Windseeker, won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. That was cool because not only did I win $20,000 but I was flown to Nigerian for a ceremony where I got to meet one of my greatest idols, Sub-Saharan Africa's first Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. Coolest day ever.

My children's book, Long Juju Man, won the Macmillan Writer's Prize for Africa. Last month, the University of Illinois gave me a Special Recognition Award. I've also been a finalist for the Tiptree Award, Golden Duck Award, Andre Norton Award, WSFA Small Press Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, Essence Magazine Literary Award, an NAACP Image Award, blah blah.

Wow. That's a lot of mojo. Back in the sixth grade I won an award for doing the best lip sync in my com class, but you've totally got that beat.

Uh, dude, you also won the freakin' Quill Award and were a NYT bestseller. Can't forget those, man. ;-)

They just gave me the Quill because I'm pretty. What are you reading right now?

Otherland by Tad Williams. I read the series back when it first came out. My disgust with District 9 made me want to reread it; to wash away the grime. It's working. Next up, King's Under the Dome.

If you had to pick your favorite book of all time, what would it be?

The Talisman by Stephan King and Peter Straub. I first read it when I was twelve. That book unlocked a door in me that will never close. I still return to it every so often, despite the character of Speedy Parker being a "Magical Negro", heh.

That's a term I first heard of because of you, but not a lot of people know about it. Care to explain?

There are five points I came up with to spot a Magical Negro. Speedy Parker hits them all (well, number 3 is a little shaky until Black House). Here they are:

1. He or she is a person of color, typically black, often Native American, in a story about predominantly white characters.

2. He or she seems to have nothing better to do than help the white protagonist, who is often a stranger to the Magical Negro at first.

3. He or she disappears, dies, or sacrifices something of great value after or while helping the white protagonist.

4. He or she is uneducated, mentally handicapped, at a low position in life, or all of the above.

5. He or she is wise, patient, and spiritually in touch. Closer to the earth, one might say. He or she often literally has magical powers.

Check out my essay, "Stephen King's Super-Duper Magical Negroes", on the Strange Horizons website here.

If you lost a bet and had to stand under Neil Gaiman's window at midnight and serenade him. What song would you pick?

Lady Ga Ga's "Poker Face", the acoustic version.

Which would you rather do: cut out 20% of your current book, or insert a wacky talking animal sidekick (a la Disney movie) into half the chapters because the marketing people think it would make the book sell better.

Hey, I write for Disney (The Shadow Speaker is published by Disney and I'm writing a Disney Fairy chapter book titled Iridessa and the Fire-Bellied Dragon Frog). :-P. Plus I love wacky talking sidekick animals! I've got one in The Shadow Speaker. Well, Onion (Ejii's camel) speaks in monotone and with very very few words but yeah. :-D.

Heh. I've read Shadow Speaker, but I never thought of the Ejii's camel in the same vein as the classic Disney animal sidekick.

True. Onion's nothing like Abu in Aladdin or Mu-Shu the Dragon in Mulan. But I think the wacky Disney side-kick can be an asset when done with some finesse.

I like the idea of a sh*t-talking parrot or miniature hedgehog who makes no sense whenever she speaks. Or how about a jive-talking black monkey whose catchphrase is "AW DAAAYAUM"?

What's the best compliment you've ever received?

At a book signing, a grown man once told me that my YA novel Zahrah the Windseeker made him see spiders and insects everywhere he went for days. Ha ha, he looked relatively sane, but I guess you never know.

What's the most hurtful thing someone has ever said in a review of your book?

This white guy (won't mention names), once wrote that he wouldn't read my novels because it's full of black people and had no white characters to "balance it out". Nice.

If you could punch one literary figure, who would it be?

HA HA HA HA! OMG, dare I answer this…nah. My response would be absolutely SCANDALOUS.

Aww… Come on. You tell me yours and I'll tell you mine…

Believe me, you wouldn't believe who it is. It would be very very bad press for me to speak the name. It's utter blasphemy. But it makes me giggle that this name was the first thing to instantly pop into my head when I considered your question.

Okay. I don't want to get you in trouble...

The poet Edith Sitwell used to lie in an open coffin each day before she started writing. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?

I have a lot of rituals. An interesting one is that I must turn on my space heater and set it right beside me. Even during most of the summer days. I need to be hot when I write. Ok, that sounds kind of suggestive. Heh, you know what I mean.

Through an effort of pure will, I'll resist the urge to make the obvious joke....

I recently made a joke about "transition putty" on my blog. That being, of course, the what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions.


If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level. What would it be?

Natural-Looking Filler for those tough glaring gaps between the exciting parts of the story where crazy sh*t happens.

You can just say shit if you want. We're all friends here. Nobody's going to judge you.

Yeah, I figured it was ok with you. It's just that I judge myself. I was raised to never use profanity, so it's still odd for me. Ironically, I'm a big fan of cursing; it's one of the reasons I enjoy hip-hop so much. I do most of my cursing in my fiction. Like in my short story, "On the Road" in the Eclipse 3 Anthology.

Hmmm… Now that you mention it. I cuss a lot in real life, but not very much in my books. I wonder if there's a connection.

There is!

Maybe I need to save some of my cussing, so I can put it into a book later. I didn't know it was a finite resource.... Anyway, that's all I've got. Thanks so much for the interview, and thanks for donating some books to the cause.

:-). And thank you for putting it all together. I'm happy to be a part of it.



"Okorafor-Mbachu's imagination is stunning." - the New York Times


Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win hundreds of books like these: some signed, some limited edition, some out of print. Plus there's the whole helping make the world a better place thing. That's nice too.

And don't forget, I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders, you can click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


(I keep trying to write a limerick, but nothing rhymes with Subterranean.)

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Thursday, December 3, 2009
A Plenitude of Signed Books

Here's the first batch of books donated by my brethren and sistren fantasy authors. Lovely books donated by lovely people.

If you don't know about the Worldbuilders fundraiser yet and want to know how you can win these delicious prizes, you can head over here for the details.



I've talked about Lev's lovely book before on the blog. So rather than repeat myself, I think I'll just put up a link to that blog if you're curious about what I had to say.

But really, do you need to listen to me when George RR Martin is slinging around praise like this? "The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish Whiskey is to a glass of weak tea."



Katharine Kerr donated some lovely things to the fundraiser this year. You'll be seeing one of her manuscripts in the first round of auctions this weekend.

Kirkus Reviews says, "In this hefty tome, Kerr turns from Celtic-tinged fantasy to sweepingly far-future adventure on an alien world. The plot is built around Jezro Khan, the exiled brother of the corrupt ruler of Kazrajistan, an Islamic society... "



Booklist says that Snares is, "..set on the borderline between sf and fantasy. It deals with Maggie Cory and the ups and downs of her and her descendants through five generations in an alternative San Francisco in which the 1960s were the prelude to a revolution... The novel has more northern California literary flavor than Kerr's previous work, but it also features most of her superior skills at characterization, world building, and graceful language."



From Booklist, "Kerr has written it up to her usual standard, which is among the highest for Celtic-derived fantasy sagas currently in progress. Faithful fans will be gratified, and any newcomers intrigued by this tale can retreat to its predecessors without fear of being disappointed."

  • A hardcover set of The Iron Dragon Series: The Golden Cord and The Dragon Hunters by Paul Genesse. Signed by the author.


New York Times Bestseller Michael Stackpole says, "Taut suspense and fantastic imagery make The Dragon Hunters a tale no fantasy fan will want to miss."



Here we have a bit of a treat. Not only is this a signed ARC of a book (Advanced Reading Copy.) But this book isn't even out on the shelves yet. That's right, you can use it to taunt your friends and make your enemies jealous. You can read it before it even hits the shelves, and with a blurb like the one below, you know you want to....

"SILVER is a wild combination of Indiana Jones, The Da Vinci Code, and The Omen. Read this book...before the world ends." -- Kevin J Anderson

  • A hardcover set of The Crossroads Trilogy: Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, and Traitors' Gate by Kate Elliott. Signed by the author.


One of my fellow DAW authors, Kate has donated a full hardcover set of her Crossroads trilogy. Fantasy Book Critic calls it "...Elliott’s best work and is highly recommended to both fans of the author and any readers who appreciate fantasy in the vein of Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, and J.V. Jones..."



Publisher's Weekly gave this one a starred review, saying, "Editor Scalzi and four well-known writers thoughtfully postulate the evolution of cities, transcending post-apocalyptic cliches to envision genuinely new communities and relationships. [...] Each story shines on its own; as a group they reinforce one another, building a multifaceted view of a realistic and hopeful urban future."



Romantic times says How Not to Make a Wish is, "Fresh and often hysterically funny, this story also has a solid emotional core. Heroine Kira's first-person perspective keeps it all real for the reader."

  • A copy of the uncorrected proof for Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Signed by the author.


Another one of those sexy ARC's. I've heard good things about this one, and it's in my own personal to-read pile. I've heard it referred to as fairy tale noir. I wish I could come up with a sexy description like that for my book.

Publisher's weekly says, "Singer-songwriter McGuire adeptly infuses her debut with hardboiled sensibilities and a wide array of mythological influences, set against a moody San Francisco backdrop. October Toby Daye is half-human, half-faerie, a changeling PI with a foot in both worlds."



Romantic Times says nightlife is: "Tightly plotted and fast-paced, this book is full of twists and turns that take the reader for one heck of a ride."




I've heard this book described as, "A comedy of errors with mistaken identities ambiguous sexuality, skate god stage geeks, ... and true love." What more really needs to be said?

Well, maybe this blurb from Publisher's weekly: "Evocative of Boy Meets Boy and Dramarama, this makes for fun, thought-provoking reading."



"Displaying an enviable gift for pacing and action, Battles's debut novel is a page-turner that may remind some readers of the cult TV spy series Alias... Admirers of quality espionage fiction can look forward to a new series worth following." - Publishers Weekly

  • A hardcover copy of The Deceived by Brett Battles. Signed by the author.


BookList says, this is is a "tightly written page-turner, filled with tradecraft and offering as much action as a James Bond film... a wild ride."



  • Three ARCs of the The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas. US release date: February 2010.


Stephen Deas is a hell of a nice guy. We had dinner when I was in London a while back, and the fact that I haven't gotten around to reading his book fills me with constant shame.

Stephen also send along some of the new ARC's for the US version of the book, as it's not out here in the states yet. He's also sent along a couple copies of the UK version. For people who like their color spelled colour.

  • One trade and one hardcover of The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas. Signed by the author.


Wait, what? He's got a Joe Abercrombie blurb on his book? Man.... I don't have an Abercrombie quote. Now I only feel half as guilty...

If an Abercrombie quote isn't enough for you, Brent Weeks says it's, "A stirring debut. Stephen Deas's dragons are inscrutable, beautiful, magical, unstoppable... and really, really pissed off."


Remember, every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International gives you a chance to win these books and hundreds of others, so head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in.

Or, if you want to go back to main page for the Worldbuilders fundraiser, you can click HERE.


With special thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.



(Woo!)

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Subterranean Press Prizes

This blog lists generous donations made to the Worldbuilders fundraiser by:




If you want details about the fundraiser itself, you should read the blog HERE.



I've known the folks at Subterranean Press for a long while.
Bill Schafer contacted me barely two weeks after The Name of the Wind hit the shelves and asked if I'd like to contribute a story to an anthology. It was one of the first clues I had that I might have done something right with my first book.

Subterranean Press publishes gorgeous books. Beautiful paper. Beautiful bindings. Stuff by great authors. Stuff that's out of print. Stuff by Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury....

The last time I bought stuff off their website, I looked at my shopping cart and found myself thinking, "Next time I sell them a story, I should just negotiate my contract in store credit and save them the trouble of sending me a check."

Last year Bill stunned me with his generosity, donating over $8,000 in books to the fundraiser. This year, he stunned me again, donating almost three times as many books. Beautiful hardcovers. Many of them limited editions. Many of them signed.

What's more, he's helping Worldbuilders match donations this year. That's right, Subterranean Press will be providing funds to match 50% of the first 10,000 dollars donated this year.

This has earned him an eternal place in my heart, because it makes it much less likely that I'll have to sell my house to match the donations this year.

Alright. Enough ebullience. Let's look at some books.










(Are these cool covers or what?)


I'm a huge Tim Powers fan. Last Call was the book that really convinced me how brilliant he was, and the sequels are just as good.

I have it on good authority that owning these books will give you the strength of ten men, cure any illness afflicting you, and grant you eternal youth.


If you don't believe me, then how about trusting the Los Angeles Daily News when they say Last Call is "Riveting...lyrical and brutal...a thrilling tale of gambling, fate and fantastic adventure."




Subterranean Press describes The Terror as "a rigorously researched historical novel and a compelling homage to one of the seminal SF/Horror films of the 1950s. It is popular fiction of the highest order, the kind of intense, wholly absorbing epic only Dan Simmons could have written."


Joe Hill's a new writer who already has more than a few accolades to his name, including beating me out for Best Debut Novel in the Locus Awards last year.

I really enjoyed his book Heart Shaped Box, and while I haven't read Locke and Key, Publisher's Weekly says that it "...delivers on all counts, boasting a solid story bolstered by exceptional work from Chilean artist Rodriguez."




Library Journal says the Onion Girl is "set in a modern world that borders on a dimension of myth and legend, de Lint highlights the life of one of his most popular characters. A master storyteller, he blends Celtic, Native American, and other cultures into a seamless mythology that resonates with magic and truth."
This is a collection of five stories written by King and adapted to film: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (film version: The Shawshank Redemption), 1408, Children of the Corn, The Mangler and Low Men in Yellow Coats (film version: Hearts in Atlantis). Each story includes an introduction and commentary by King himself.


I'm sure many of you already know about John Scalzi through his blog Whatever. If not, I'd suggest you read this book to get to know him, but you might not have enough light to make out the text where you live, under what is undoubtedly a heavy, heavy rock.

Publisher's Weekly says: "If J. G. Ballard and H. P. Lovecraft had ever collaborated on a space opera, the results might have been like this: ferociously inventive, painfully vivid, dispassionately bleak and dreadfully memorable."


Bookslist reports that, "Dahlquist’s sequel to The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (2007) is dark indeed... fans of Tobsha Learner’s Soul (2008) and Jonathan Barnes' Somnambulist (2008) will enjoy this surreal Victorian journey into the nightmarish possibilities of mind swapping"


Where Everything Ends
is a collection of three of Ray Bradbury's classical detective stories: Death is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics, and Let's All Kill Constance.

On a personal note, I have to tell you that
when I read Death is a Lonely Business ten years ago, it rocked my world. I grew up reading Bradbury, and I expect a lot from his work. Even so, it still knocked me over.

I didn't even know about the third book in this series right now. Is it legal for me to donate money to my own fundraiser with the hopes that I'll win something? Probably not. I'm kinda dodgy, and I'd probably rig things so I'd win.

Anyway, you don't have to take my word that this is an awesome book. Green Man Review says that it's "a trio of fine detective novels (together with the short story that provided the starting point) from Bradbury in his inimitable style. He plays with the conventions, but since he so obviously loves the genre, this is easily forgiven — embraced, even — because the end results are, simply put, fine additions to the canon."


Remember, every 10 dollars you donate gives you a chance to win these and hundreds of other cool prizes, so head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in.

Want more details about how it all works? Check out the Worldbuilder's blog HERE.

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Monday, August 31, 2009
Things I like: The Magicians and Faeries of Dreamdark.

It's been a long time since I've recommended any books on the blog. For that I apologise.

The problem isn't that I haven't been reading. I always read. You know how sharks have to keep swimming or they die? I'm like that. If I stop reading, I die.

The problem is this, when I read a book and I like it, I think, "I should mention this on the blog." Then I wonder what exactly I can say about the book that will be not only enthusiastic, witty, and persuasive, but also informative and true.

It's the last two that are tricky, you see. Truth is a troublesome motherfucker unless it's handled properly.

The other problem is the difference between what I say and what people are inclined to hear. If I say "I like this book" people are inclined to believe that what I mean is "You will like this book." Which isn't necessarily the case.

So I feel obliged to explain *why* I liked it. That way people can make inteligent choices about whether or not they'd like to buy it. Because that is how we all remain independant, rational human beings as opposed to mindless, soulless, consumerist cogs, right?

Right?

However, writing this sort of blog is, to say it simply, a pain in the ass. Consequently I put off mentioning books on the blog, sometimes for embarrassingly long periods of time.

Like this one:




I've been meaning to mention this book for over six months. I'm filled with shame...

The more observant of you might actually recognize the book from a previous appearance on the blog. That's because the author, Laini Taylor, was nice enough to donate a signed copy to the Heifer Fundraiser we did last year.

When she sent it in, I was curious about the book. Because... well... the truth is I have a bit of a thing for faeries.

I know this might come as something of a shock to some of you. You think that, manly as I am, I could never be into stories about little wingy people flitting about. At the very least, you probably think that if I *did* like such things, I'd have the decency to stay quiet about it, lest people start thinking that I was sissy.

But that's not actually how it works, you see. Only guys insecure about their manliness worry about looking sissy. They're afraid that if someone looks too closely people will realize that their machismo is just a thin tissue of lies.

Truth is, you see a guy reading a faerie book in the coffee shop, you know that he has nothing to hide. Dude is confident in his manness. He knows exactly who he is.

Me, I'm so manly that I can read this book in a bus station while wearing a dress and singing "Faith" by George Michael.

I'm not saying I did, mind you. I'm saying I could.

Anyway, about the book. I really enjoyed it. Good characters. Good use of language. Refreshingly new take on Faerie society. Cool world. Cool magic. Good, quick storytelling. Technically it's a Young Adult book, but if that's the case then color me young adult, because I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Huh. And I just checked on Amazon. The sequel is coming out in just two weeks. Bonus. That way you don't even have to wait for your next hit. Unlike some other tardy, lame-ass authors....

*Ahem.*

Secondly, we have something of an entirely different flavor:




I mentioned Lev Grossman a couple weeks back because we were on a panel at ComicCon together. But the truth is, I read his book when I was traveling in Europe earlier this year.

Here's where things get tricky. You see, I honestly don't know what I can say about this book.

I really enjoyed this book. But I can't for the life of me tell you why.

Ordinarily when I like a book, I know why. I can point to things. Language. Character. Pacing. Worldbuilding. When I don't like it, I can do the same. It's easy for me. All I do is think about stories.

But I can't point to any specific reason why I like The Magicians it except that it was clever, and it wasn't like any sort of book I've ever read before.

See the problem with the Truth? As recommendations go, that's pretty weak tea.

Hopping over to Amazon, I see that reactions to the book have been mixed. And I can't say as I'm terribly surprised. As I said, this book was different. A lot of people don't like different. What's more, it was clever. And a lot of people aren't terribly smart.

Okay, Okay. That's not really fair. I take that back. Kinda.

My real guess is that most people will like this book. But there's a certain type of reader who will enjoy it down to the bottoms of their feet.

That reader will:

1. Be well-read in terms of classic fantasy. They'll have read Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, and at least five or six dozen other fantasy novels.

2. Be aware of the standard fantasy cliches, and a little tired of them.

3. Be eager to read something different. Not just in terms of world, but in terms of character, pacing, and the fundamental structure of the story as well.

4. Appreciate cleverness.

Now that sums me up pretty well. And I enjoyed the book on a way that I can't put into words. Which is why I suck at giving blurbs for books....

But then again, Lev doesn't need me for that. He's got George Martin on his cover:

“These days any novel about young sorcerers at wizard school inevitably invites comparison to Harry Potter. Lev Grossman meets the challenge head on ... and very successfully. The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.”

See? That's how the pros throw down. Why can't I do that?

That's all for now, more news soon about the name lottery. Stay tuned.

pat

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posted by Pat at 96 Comments



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