Nov 29, 2006

Pictures from an Expedition Reviews; Or, De Gustibus, etc. etc.

Forthwith I refute the common accusation that writers only trumpet their good reviews. From Publishers Weekly:

  • Irvine does a good job of describing intricate, odd settings, but he's less adept at actual storytelling, as shown in the 13 tales ranging from surrealist fantasy to hard SF that constitute his first collection. One of the best, "Gus Dreams of Biting the Mailman," is a charming riff on the old idea of characters aware they're in fiction, like a Philip K. Dick story but without the tension generated by Dick's paranoia. "The Golems of Detroit" has an intriguing alternate-historical setting, a mass-production factory for rabbinically magicked clay soldiers during WWII, but there's little plot or character development. Technical descriptions of mining diamonds on Neptune delay the action in "Shepherded by Galatea." "The Lorelei," on the other hand, offers memorable characters and evokes the kind of real emotion to be found in such Irvine novels as A Scattering of Jades and The Narrows.

As a quibble, I will point out that Pictures is not in fact my first collection. Unintended Consequences was, and PW should maybe have known that because, well, they reviewed it. (And liked it.) At least they spelled my name right this time.

On to happier sentiments from Library Journal:

  • From an eerie tale of a nursery rhyme gone disastrously wrong ("For Now It's Eight O'Clock") to the subtle menace of a communal delusion among space colonists ("Volunteers"), the 13 stories collected here exemplify Irvine's astonishing storytelling ingenuity. Unexpected turns of plot and mesmerizing character studies bring these genre-crossing stories to new heights of excellence. Fine work from the author of A Scattering of Jades and The Narrows, this volume belongs in most libraries.

So there you have it. You'll never know who's right unless you read the book.

'Reader, She Bit Him'

It's one of my favorite times of year! Yes, the Literary Review Bad Sex Award will be handed out tonight in London. Guardian article here; and excerpts of the finalists here.

Nov 28, 2006

To Batman Or Not to Batman

Well, of course you should Batman. R.J. Carter at The Trades gives you a couple of reasons why...

Comics International interview

It's not online, but if you get or have access to the UK magazine Comics International, issue 200 (Giant-Size Anniversary Issue!) contains an interview with yours truly about Son of Satan, complete with pictures of Daimon, ahem, interrogating the demon Dumah.

Nov 22, 2006

Son of Satan #2

...with this spiffy homage cover by Arthur Suydam, is out! Go get it!

Nov 20, 2006

Forbidden Planet

If you're a fan of this movie--and who isn't?--you might want to check out the new anthology Forbidden Planets, in which about a dozen writers (including me) offer wildly varying but universally interesting takes on the central ideas raised by the film. Or something like that.

I mentioned this before; the difference is that the book is actually out now. My contribution is called "This Thing of Darkness I Acknowledge Mine," which, yeah, is a line from The Tempest. There are times, and this is one of them, when you should go ahead and wear your influences on your sleeve.

Nov 13, 2006

Books for Busia

I've mentioned this before, but now there is new bloggy goodness associated with it. Go to Books for Busia, and see what good you could do with a couple of bucks or a box full of books you don't want anymore.

My favorite post-election cartoon

Nov 9, 2006

Leetle Update

I've added links to my short fiction that's available online. Look in the sidebar, below the book covers.

Nov 3, 2006

We Have to Invite Him, He's Family

The current SF Site offers an "article" by Algis Budrys that purports to be a history of L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest. I put the word article in quote marks because it carries with it some connotation of truth and objectivity, or at least rational judgment, and Budrys' piece demonstrates none of those qualities.

Only the last paragraph has anything to do with the Writers of the Future contest. The rest is what can only be characterized as a posthumous blowjob for Hubbard, who is in the first sentence compared with Melville, Twain, London, and Hemingway...all of whom are presumably spinning in their graves (except maybe Twain, who would appreciate the absurdity of this rhetorical gesture and the assumptions about human gullibility that provoked it).

Budrys goes on to paint a typically Sciento-hagiographic (which is to say fragmentary and larded with omissions and statements of questionable veracity) portrait of Hubbard's life. By the end of it, the reader who has succeeded in keeping his gorge down will be wondering by what cosmic injustice Hubbard was never awarded the Nobel Prizes for literature, peace, physics, and his legacy as "explorer and prospector, master mariner and daredevil pilot, philosopher and artist."

Why, oh why, does science fiction (by which, in this case, I mean a fairly well respected fan and review site like SF Site) continue to offer Scientology proselytizers a platform? All this does is give ammunition to the legions of snobs SF fans want to see lurking around every corner. If you want people to take you seriously, don't let yourself be used as a forum for crackpots.

Contests (free ones, anyway) which encourage young writers and give them a platform are terrific. So the Writers of the Future contest should be applauded on that basis; but the contest (as its website makes clear) is also a fig leaf for more Hubbard-worship. And Budrys' "article" doesn't even name any of the now-successful writers who gained entry to the field by means of the contest--which one presumes might have been a useful selling point were the "article" really about the contest. But it isn't. It's a Scientology recruiting pamphlet--nothing more, nothing less--and it doesn't belong on a website that takes itself seriously as an outlet for discussion, critique, and devotion to the literature of SF.