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02-13-03: Eric Larson's The Devil in the White City, Sharon Shinn's Angelica, Eric Schlosser's REEFER MADNESS: The Rise of the American Underground

Eric Larson's The Devil in the White City

The Publicity flyer for 'The Devil in the White City'.


An architect and a serial killer actually haunted the 1893 World's Fair.

Erik Larson's 'The Devil in the White City' caught my eye a week or so ago; it was either advertised or reviewed in the Chron. I was prepared to buy it, but it showed up at the radio station. Lucky me! It looks really interesting; the true intertwined stories of a brilliant architect and a serial killer who both "participated" in the 1893 World's Fair. I need a second me to read all this great stuff coming in. Any volunteers?

Sharon Shinn's Angelica

Sharon Shinn graduates to hardcovers.

One of the pleasures of being a reader is seeing writer's who start out in paperback format graduate to hardcovers with time, fans and skill. That's the fate of Sharon Shinn, that author of seven paperback originals before this, her first hardcover publication. I hope to get it sent to Serena so she can eim her eagle eye at this work and give us her thoughts. It's another novel set on Samaraia, the setting of the Archangel trilogy.

Eric Schlosser's REEFER MADNESS: The Rise of the American Underground

From the publicity blurb for intriguing new book by Eric Schlosser. I'm hoping to talk to him when he comes into town....more as events develop.

ERIC SCHLOSSER, author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, the phenomenal muckraking bestseller about the excesses of the fast food industry, will discuss his new book, REEFER MADNESS: The Rise of the American Underground, which investigates America's black market and its far-reaching influence on our society through three of its mainstays -- pot, porn, and illegal immigrants. He offers an unprecedented view of the nexus of ingenuity, greed, high-mindedness, and hypocrisy that is American culture. He reveals the vast and fascinating workings of the shadow economy by focusing on marijuana, one of the nation's largest cash crops: pornography, whose greatest beneficiaries include Fortune 100 companies: and illegal migrant workers, whose lot resembles that of medieval serfs. All three industries show how the black market has burgeoned over the past quarter century, as America's reckless faith in the free market has combined with an irrational Puritanism to create situations both preposterous and tragic. With intrepid reportage, rich history, and incisive argument, Schlosser illuminates the shadow economy and the culture that cast that shadow.


02-13-03:Custer V Cheyenne Round 3, Horrible Beginnings, Mass Market Vampire Poetry

Custer V Cheyenne Round 3, Horrible Beginnings, Mass Market Vampire Poetry

The third novel in Kurt Giambastiani's intriguing alternate history series.

A few new titles from Penguin Putnam arrived yesterday. The first to catch my eye was the third novel in Kurt Giambastiani's alternate history series about Custer and the Cheyenne nation. The schtick here is that the dinosaur weren't killed off, and that the Indians domesticated them enough to turn the tid against the armed invaders from Europe. It wasn't a pont and shoot slaughter, but an even fight. After my Evelyn Wood Speed Reading class, I plan on devouring these books in a weekend.


First stories by first rank authors. One is rather surprised that authors, who often have some disdain for their early work, let this happen.

The attraction of 'Horrible Beginnings', edited byStephen Silver and the venerable Martin H. Greenberg is not just that you get the first stories by a number of top name authors. You also get newly-written introductions by the authors about the stories. This is your chance to catch up on what some of the top writers in the field have to say about their early work. That makes this buyable from the get-go.


You MUST BUY a mass market paperback that fetaures vampire-oriented poetry.

Here's another must-buy mass market paperback -- 'The Best of Dreams of Decadence', edited by Angela Kessler. Readers will know that I've studiously avoided all things vampiric, simply because by doing so I prevent myself from being innundated with only vampire literature. So I've never heard of this magazine, but the story is fascinating. From a photocopied pamphlet to a magazine distributed in shopping mall chain store 'Hot Topic', this is bootstrap publishing at its best. Plus, you have a mass market paperback that features poetry. When was the last time that happened? Thus, you must buy this book to support weird fiction poetry. 'The Ancient Track' Night Shade's collection of all H. P. Lovecraft's poetry has sold out.

02-11-03: Where Your Flying Car Is #234, More VanderMeer

Where Your Flying Car Is #234

It's the Moller Flying car -- it uses regular gasoline and gets 28 MPG. Only a million bucks.

Paul S. Moller is the latest gentleman to claim to have invented a working VTOL "Skycar" -- straight out of 'Blade Runner'. You can reserve yours through his website. I've been looking at flying car designs since I was ten years old, when I used to browse my Dad's copies of 'Popular Science'.

More VanderMeer

Album Zutique promises more mind bending weirdness than the daily news.

And finally, there's 'Album Zutique' edited by Jeff VanderMeer, to be published by Night Shade Books. Here's a link to the web page with all the details. It's really reasonably priced, and has some stellar contributors. You could easily just order all your reading from Night Shade.

02-10-03: Locus Picks a Fight, Lem Picks a Fight, Vandermeer WFC Flyers, Paul McAuley's science fiction becomes yesterday's news.

Vandermeer WFC Flyers & The Exchange

The WFC Flyer for the new Vandermeer "Anthology" includes entries by Neil Gaiman and Stepan Chapman.

Jeff Vandermeer was kind enough to send me this sampler from the WFC for his new Night Shade anthology. He informs me that you can probably score one of these by going to the Night Shade Books website and asking them very nicely; they'll want a bit of money in return, I suspect. But to my mind it's well worth the money and time. The design on this book promises to be suitably elegant, and the entries as shown are really weird.

Back from a vacation in Ambergris, Vandermeer issues his trip report, so to speak in 'The Exchange'.

Also available from Vandermeer directly at his website is 'The Exchange'. At $6.99, postpaid, this is one of the best investments you can make. It's very short and very strange, which is all for the best. Readers like myself who enjoy sumptuously produced books will love the printing quality here, with beautiful inserts and heavy-duty black-on-brown printing that goes for the (Edward) Gorey and gets there in style. To my mind this might make a very nice Valentines Day present to the one you love. As long as they're really, really strange or really, really understanding. But aren't they always?

Paul McAuley's science fiction becomes yesterday's news.

Paul McAuley's gripping little mystery just gets more and more prescient as time advances.

"One of the biggest urban surveillance systems in the world goes live in central London this month, prompted not by fears of terrorism but traffic that averages less than 10 miles an hour.

The London program involves 800 cameras at 400 points in and around an eight-square-mile chunk of the city center which will relay images of vehicles and their number plates to a control center. "

The above is not a quote from Paul McAuley's 'Whole Wide World', but yesterday's Reuters headline. Whatever the claim about the intended use for all those cameras is, the effect is the same -- Big Brother is Watching You. McAuley's novel was released shortly before 9/11, and pretty much escaped notice in the US despite its timely story. UK readers, however, who now find themselves living in McAuley's novel, may want to up it on their list of things to read.

And take it off the fiction shelf.

Locus Picks a Fight

Never the shrinking violet, Locus, those big bad bullies, have picked another fight in easily-riled world of speculative fiction. Last year, they published an incendiary column by Paula Guran about the upcoming death of the horror genre. Last week, in response to the Columbia Disaster, they launched a goat-getting essay by Gary Westphal. Like Guran's screed, it speaks strongly and wrongly, trying to place the blame for the shuttle disaster on the "cozy dramas of science fiction's space adventures". Still, you've got to love Locus for putting their own feet so decisively into the fire. It may not be the smartest thing in the world to do, but dad blame it, it's entertaining as all get-out. When America's Sorriest Corporate Home Pages becomes a web-hit -- and you saw the name first here -- be sure that these articles will be in the Golden Oldies show. Never did the words "Read 'em and weep" seem so appropriate.

Lem Picks a Fight

Nobody can say that Stanislaw Lem doesn't have any friends.

Stanislaw Lem is no shrinking violet either. One has only to read Microworlds to realize that he has strong opinions. And, if you read Solaris and saw the recent "remake", you might guess that The Author Would Have Something To Say About It. On his website, you can find a link to an article about his reactions to the remake. Predictably, he's not all that thrilled, and who can blame him? He's very funny in his take on the movie....

"Had Solaris dealt with love of a man for a woman - no matter whether on Earth on in Space - it would not have been entitled Solaris!...Summing up, as Solaris' author I shall allow myself to repeat that I only wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that certainly exists, in a mighty manner perhaps, but cannot be reduced to human concepts, ideas or images. This is why the book was entitled Solaris and not Love in Outer Space."

Got that? Good. First, hie thee hence to his website and read the rest. Next, find some old Lem to read, and hope that his last two books, which are out in Poland, are translated posthaste by his lagging American Publisher, which won't even pony up the money for the wonderful Michael Kandel to do a proper direct-to-English translation of Solaris. Are these people crazy? They had a perfect chance to publish something what would have sold like gangbusters. Well, eventually one can hope, a writing and directing team will come up with a motion picture that matches Lem's vision. The Pirx the Pilot stories would be perfect, and there's still time for His Master's Voice or The Chain of Chance. But don't hold your breath.