Feb 24, 2009

Booklist on Buyout

From the upcoming issue of March 15--read the last line first. (That's what I hear you're supposed to do...)

Irvine, Alexander C.
Mar 2009. 336 p. Del Rey, paperback, $14.00. (9780345494337).

Painfully honest and not necessarily apt to think things through, Martin Kindred is the only man in his family who isn’t a cop. He has a lot to prove, he thinks, and being hired to be the front man for life-term buyouts seems like the perfect opportunity. “Life-term buyouts?” With ever-rising prison populations, the only solution seems to be privatization. The question then becomes how to make a profit or at least keep enough liquidity. The answer is simple: offer those serving life without parole early buyouts; that is, give the prisoner millions for any specified beneficiary in exchange for accepting lethal injection. Martin is buyout’s public face, who reaps the benefits of attendant popularity but takes the fall when things go wrong. Of course, buyouts are controversial from the very beginning, and things go bad. The political underpinnings of the buyout system start to come clear when Martin lets it get personal. Irvine expertly manages an atmosphere of pressure and political machination to complement the development of a discomfiting imagined future.

Feb 23, 2009

Video: SF/Fantasy Writers Roundtable at NYCC '09

Suvudu's Shawn Speakman had the unenviable task of herding 10 (!) writers through a panel at NYCC '09, called "Author Round Table: Sci-fi/Supernatural/Fantasy Authors Gather To Talk Influences." They were: John Birmingham, Peter V. Brett, S.C. Butler, Kim Harrison, Jackie Kessler, Vicki Pettersson, Tamora Pierce, Jeff Somers, Carrie Vaughn, and me. We talked about literary influence some, but also about the influences (both welcome and otherwise) of everyday circumstances on a writer's work. Some funny conversations ensued. I didn't mean to swear.

The first part:

For the next six, check out Suvudu's entry on the panel.

"Starcraft Is a Reflection of Life"

Of course you knew that. But if you ever wanted to get the game theory (and all kinds of other theories about human conduct) behind this intuitively obvious idea, this video of a lecture given by Alan Feng at Berkeley is everything you could have ever hoped for.

(from Academic Earth...but I saw it somewhere else first, can't remember where)

'Under the Literary Influence'

Funny piece by Brian McDonald in the NYT's Proof blog about being addicted to writers who drink.

Feb 20, 2009

Reading by Gaslight

I don't know why I never ran across this site before, but it's a treasure trove. A huge number of pre-1919 (Old Weird?) e-texts, fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on the unusual and fantastic. I just spent an hour getting reacquainted with Lafcadio Hearn.

Maine Comics Arts Festival

Go here or here for information about this brand-new creator-driven one-day (and multiply hyphenated) comics get-together, which takes place on May 17. The picture you see is of Portland's new Ocean Gateway ferry terminal; since the ferries aren't using it yet, Rick Lowell of Casablanca Comics decided to put the space to good use. Latest news on special guests is that Becky Cloonan and Kean Soo will be there. I know I'm not going to miss it.

Feb 19, 2009

Your Latest Footballing Prodigy...

...seen in this video, is six-year-old Madin Mohammed, courtesy of Fandome (via Deadspin):

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

Want More Trains...

Once I rode Amtrak from Denver to Seattle and did nothing but play poker for Skittles the whole time, for what I assumed were imaginary denominations (purple ones were worth a buck). I won like crazy, and would you believe it? At the end of the trip, the other three players paid up. I sure was glad I hadn't lost, because I wouldn't have been able to make good.

Why am I thinking about this? Because of the surprising amount of mass-transit and high-speed rail funding in the stimulus. From the Federal Railroad Administration, via Matthew Yglesias and the Huffington Post, this map of high-speed rail corriors:

It's not perfect (Houston-Dallas? LA-Vegas? Other commenters have pointed out these and other no-brainers), but man is it better than what we've got now. This is one part of the stimulus I'm really rooting for in the execution phase. I wanna ride more trains.

Feb 18, 2009

Morgan on Tolkien

Richard K. Morgan, thinking of these matters perhaps because of his new fantasy The Steel Remains, recently wrote a short essay for Suvudu called "The Real Fantastic Stuff." I believe my favorite paragraph is the first. If you find it interesting, the rest will be well worth your while.

I’m not much of a Tolkien fan - not since I was about twelve or fourteen anyway (which, it strikes me, is about the right age to read and enjoy his stuff). But it would be a foolish writer in the fantasy field who failed to acknowledge the man’s overwhelming significance in the canon. And it would be a poor and superficial reader of Tolkien who failed to acknowledge that in amongst all the overwrought prose, the nauseous paeans to class-bound rural England, and the endless bloody elven singing that infests The Lord of the Rings, you can sometimes discern the traces of a bleak underlying human landscape which is completely at odds with the epic fantasy narrative for which the book is better known.

One is tempted to read this as a gentler version of the polemic directed against Tolkien in recent years by writers such as China Mieville. Me, I see and acknowledge all of the flaws people note in Tolkien; but I also think the books are big enough and complicated enough (reading them after grad school is a very different experience if you've had coursework in medieval lit) that they're impossible to boil down into a polemical talking point.

Feb 17, 2009


Tessa Dick has written a version of The Owl in Daylight? Words fail.

Publishers Weekly Review of Buyout

Alexander C. Irvine
Del Rey, $14 paper (336p)
ISBN 978-0-345-49433-7

In this neat, high-concept thriller, Irvine (The Narrows) introduces us to L.A. in the year 2040, where global warming and high-tech identity theft are daily facts of life. Martin Kindred, a mid-level insurance executive, works for a company pioneering a radical new prison cost-cutting program. Convicts serving life without parole are offered millions of dollars in exchange for immediately “taking the needle,” and Martin is tasked with vetting the prisoners for execution and presenting the awards to their beneficiaries. The controversial program immediately revitalizes the pro-life movement and puts increased strains on Martin’s already fragile marriage. Then Martin’s brother, a cop, is murdered and both the program and his life begin to unravel. This well-written, suspenseful and just slightly absurdist novel will appeal strongly to fans of classic dystopian science fiction with a smooth modern twist. (Apr.)

Feb 16, 2009

Interview at Horrornews.net

There's no direct link,* but if you go to the main site and then click on the Interviews tab, you'll find it. A wide-ranging chat, focused on Supernatural but incorporating various other projects as well. Plus it includes a swell photo of me wearing five different colors of nail polish.

*Edit: Here's the direct link.

DD Noir #2 Solicit

Pencils & Cover by TOM COKER
Variant Cover by DENNIS CALERO


The latest addition to Marvel’s red-hot Noir line offers a unique spin on the Man Without Fear! Prohibition-era Hell's Kitchen is no place to be a blind man, but it's tailor-made for a vigilante. On one side, you've got the Kingpin; on the other, Orville Halloran, fresh out of Sing Sing and ready for war. Daredevil has tangled with both of them before, and as temperatures rise in the Kitchen, a third player comes to the table: the Bull's-Eye Killer. Who does he work for -- Fisk or Halloran? Murdock needs to find out, and fast, for the sake of the mysterious Eliza. But there's more to her than meets the eye...

Feb 13, 2009

Mediabistro Interview at NYCC

Here's 87 seconds of me talking about writing as part of a longer conversation with Galleycat's excellent Jason Boog. Pardon how goofy I look.

"Lifestyles of the 21st Century Writer": that would be a good title for a reality show.

Criminal Justice and the Markets

One of the big ideas (perhaps Big Ideas) behind my next novel, Buyout, is what happens when the criminal justice and prison systems get entangled with market imperatives. Private prisons, responding to the stimuli that all private enterprise responds to, put new and difficult pressures on police and courtrooms because when you're a private prison company and you need to grow to keep your shareholders happy, that means you need more prisoners. And who is going to provide those prisoners? You need cops to arrest them, judges to sentence them, and legislatures to keep passing tough-on-crime legislation that will put more people in jail.

Where market pressures rise in the absence of adequate regulations, corruption is soon to follow. That's one thing Buyout is about, and so it was with interest that I read this NYT article today, in which we learn of a kickback scheme between two juvenile court judges and the private detention facilities who used them. Scary.

Not quite as scary as the situation in Buyout, but hey, we've still got thirty years or so to match the book's (near)future history.

Foxes on a Trampoline


Also hilarious is the original poster's outrage that people would dare reproduce and embed a video that she put up on YouTube. Read the comments below the video, and also the ones at BoingBoing (where I first saw this). I mean, seriously. Putting a copyright notice on a backyard YouTube video?

Feb 11, 2009

Time for the Bi-Annual 2-0?

US-Mexico World Cup qualifier tonight in Columbus, Ohio. Even if you don't like soccer (which if you don't, what is wrong with you?), you'll like this game. 7pm, ESPN2. Don't miss it, or you won't find out whether or not the voodoo dolls worked. Now all I have to do is convince my friend with cable that he'd rather watch this game than a meaningless UConn-Syracuse blowout...you listening, Mr. P?

Feb 10, 2009

Feb 9, 2009

Barrelhouse 7--with My Ninjas!

Barrelhouse 7, the most recent iteration of the excellent mag, has at last arrived. Among your other pleasures will be my story "The Truth About Ninjas." Here's the whole lineup:

The Truth about Ninjas, by Alex Irvine
Doodle Face, Rachel B. Glaser
Bandit, by Ben Stein
The Athiest Reconsiders, by Michael Czyzniejewski
BeautyForever, by Matt Bell
Yellow Pink Slips, by Mark Wisniewski
Hansel and Gretel in Tokyo, by Elissa Matsueda

Just Like You, by Greg Hlavaty
Advertising Terror: The Mortal Danger of Doing the Right Thing, by Ken Hines

Poem Addressing Conspiracy Theorists, by Peter Davis
Three Poems, Alan Michael Parker
From “Stove Seasoning,” by Caroline Knox
Alternative History Club, by Mark McKee
Equiumlibri, by Wade Fletcher
Hollywood, by Farid Matuk

Sacrament, Matt WilliamsoN
The Ruined Child, by Blake Butler
Antiquity, by Sandra Beasley
Wish Tank, by Laura Ellen Scott
My Gun is Smart, by Flavian Mark Lupinetti
Cities of the Future, Kaethe Schwehn
Someday Soon, We Are Taking Over, by Kate Angus

Bigfoot’s Widow, written by Joni Tevis, adapted and illustrated by Kristen Leonard

An Aptly Named Video

From E. E. Knight's blog:

Feb 8, 2009


What a weekend. To recap: After getting in Friday afternoon and seeing what was where, we hit the DC Comics party--why was the music so loud?--before heading off to Molly's for an evening of sketching on napkins. Saturday I:

signed a bunch of Vertigo Encyclopedias and a bunch of copies of John Winchester's Journal
did interviews with mediabistro (thanks, Jason!) and Fictional Frontiers (thanks, Sohaib!)
gave a panel for maybe 300 people on the topic of influence along with John Birmingham, Pete Brett, Kim Harrison, Vicki Pettersen, Tamora Pierce, Jeff Somers--ably moderated by Shawn Speakman
did an interview with Comixology (thanks, Peter!)
headed off to the Random House party, where the liquor flowed and the pool balls fell (except when they didn't)

Today I did interviews with BookSwim (thanks, Eric and Chip...or should I say Chip and Eric?), Maxim.com (thanks, Gerry!), and suvudu (thanks, Camille!). Then I cruised the floor a little and headed out with a bag full of goodies.

That's it in a nutshell. There's some buzz building around Buyout. Everybody I talked to was into the concept, which isn't usually my strength. And the interviews ranged over topics from the history of comics to philosophies of justice to the teaching of graphic novels to...you get what I mean. I'll post specific links as they all start to appear in the coming weeks. Good conversations all!

Think I'm going to read a book now.

Feb 7, 2009


I didn't get out onto the floor until almost 4:30, but managed to catch up with people at the DC, Marvel, Del Rey, DK, and Harper booths. Tragic failure of the day: not getting one of the cool blinky Wonder Woman tiaras for L. Today brings fresh resolve.

Note to Supernatural fans: There are now signed copies of the monster book and John's journal at the Harper booth.

Today I am:

Giving 3 or 4 interviews
Signing the Vertigo Encyclopedia -- at noon, DK Booth, 1802!
On the SF/Fantasy Writers Roundtable -- at 1:30, in some damn room or other.

Feb 4, 2009

Don DeLillo Is At His Best When Writing About Sports

If his novel End Zone does not convince you of this, maybe this piece from Sports Illustrated will.

Celebrity Tantrums Old and New

In honor of Christian Bale's now-immortal on-set freakout, I would like to direct your attention to a previous an also glorious meltdown: Yngwie Malmsteen gets nuclear on a plane.

Say it with me: "Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen!"

(thanks to oddvanish for both links)

Feb 3, 2009

Your Mouth to God's Ear, Verducci

The Tigers are poised to make all of us forget 2008, according to SI's Tom Verducci. Here's hoping. The way the Pistons are flaming out, and after the debacle that was and has been the Lions...

At least the Wings might be waking up.


John Winchester's Journal is out, I sent off the sig pages for the novella edition of Mystery Hill, and the Red Wings snapped a five-game losing skid last night. Things are happening.

Less than ten days to pitchers and catchers!