This Just In...News
From The Agony Column
11-07-08: Agony Column Website Re-Launch : Trashotron.com, Bookotron.com
A Break in the
On January 1, 2002,
I launched this website; On December 1, 2003, I began writing news five
days a week; On August 20, 2007, I began podcasting five days a week.
It's been a long run here at trashotron.com. So now it's time for a change,
and yes, the timing is completely coincidental.
Next week, we'll be taking a break from the daily podcasts and updates.
We're re-launching the site on November 17. If you have questions, comments
or suggestions, please email me.
11-06-08: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer Pilot 'Fast Ships, Black Sails'; Agony
Column Podcast News Report : Barry N. Malzberg Interviewed at SF in
Masters of Their
Jeff and Ann
VanderMeer recount a conversation they had with Elizabeth Selinger,
author of 'The Idiot's Guide to Pirates', wherein she suggested that a
pirate would, "...have to have a deep need to be the master of their
Fast reading as well, and rather dark.
That says it all for me, and I suspect that's the core of the appeal that
has made pirates such a huge cultural phenomenon. Frankly, though not
much of that matters to me, unless it results in such yet another VanderMer
anthology, in this case 'Fast Ships, Black Sails' (Night Shade Books ;
October, 2008 ; $14.95). Jeff and Ann VanderMeer are rapidly becoming
our premiere anthologists because they have the perfect combination of
talents required to put out consistently excellent collections; a fantastic
artistic eye, the respect of great writers and the boundless amount of
energy required to request, edit, select, collate and sequence a bunch
of great writing. Moreover, they're known for casting a wide net. That's
important, because theyre able to put out themed collections that
still offer a huge amount of variety.
But then, given the caliber of writers they can attract, it's no wonder
they have the variety. There are so many writers in this collection who
name alone would warrant an auto-buy that it's almost silly. But I'm going
to run a few past you, just for grins; Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
(we'll be hearing from Elizabeth Bear in an upcoming podcast), Naomi Novik,
Kage Baker, Rhys Hughs (!), Conrad Williams, Steve Ayelett (Not a Lint
story), Michael Moorcock, Howard Waldrop, Garth Nix ... But these are
just the marquee names so to speak. What matters is that the stories by
those names you (or at least I) dont recognize right off the bat
– Justin Howe, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Kelly Barnhill, Carrie Vaughn,
Katherine Sparrow, Paul Batteiger, Rachel Swirsky – are all excellent
entries. What we've learned is that the VanderMeer's know how to pick
The genres are as varied as the authors; you've got horror, science fiction,
slipstream, fantasy, mystery, and yes – Pirate stories. All with
one core appeal, one commonality, that all humans share – we want
to be masters of own fate, literary and otherwise.
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Barry N. Malzberg Interviewed at SF in SF : Weddings and
Oh the times you wish
you had your tapeless tape running! I was mostly just listening, to be
honest, to Terry Bisson chat with Barry N. Malzberg in
the bar before the SF in SF event and
let me tell you, that man is outrageous! And he is an absolute scream,
(as you could tell by his story) so I was quite pleased that he was willing
to sit down and speak with me between sets at SF in SF. Here's
the link so that you can share this tales of joy and less than joy amidst
the squabbling science fiction writers of the Golden Age. Ah, to be
11-05-08: Charles de Lint Unravels 'The Mystery of Grace' ; Agony Column
Podcast News Report : Kim Stanley Robinson Interviewed at SF in SF
Hot Rod Dreams
Smart writers know
they sometimes need to give potential (and often compulsive) new readers
a break. Let me be a case in point.
When it comes to series fiction or even non-series fiction set in the
same milieu, I am a stickler for chronology. Here's the scenario. I've
heard about Alfred E. Newman, and he's got this great series set in the
"SharpTeeth Universe" where vampires have long been the majority
and kept humans as cattle, until one Spartacus starts talking rebellion.
But I dont hear about this series until book five, "Pagans
for Breakfast, Christians for Dinner" comes out. Now that's a real
catchy title (I think) and look at the previous four; "SharpTeeth
Servings", "Snacking on Blood", "A Loaf of Bread,
A Jug of Blood and Thy Neck" and "The Hemophile's Dilemma".
Damn, I'm thinking this has gots to be the bee's knees of vampire fiction.
But then I start doing page counts; the first book is a nice 327 pages,
the second tops off at 372, the third one weighs in at 496, the fourth
at 572 and book five, which caught my interest, needs to purchase an adjacent
seat when it flies with a heft 763-page count. All told ... 2,530 page,
a good 2.78 on the HamilMartin Scale.
That's a lot of books to be reading just to get to the point where I might
hope to see some Pagan snackin'. So, I say, what the hell and pick up
'Bonk', the latest non-fiction work from Mary Roach, which I know will
have no ties to her previous work and will NOT be thick enough to choke
Or, 'The Mystery of
Grace' (Tor / Tom Doherty Books ; March 2009 ; $24.95) by Charles
DeLint. Now, he has a passel of books set in Newford that seem
mighty appealing. And, yes, I admit grudgingly, I could read them out
of order. I have in fact, but leave that aside for a moment. The compulsion
is there, deep, dark and unstoppable and as implacable as the page count
therein. Therefore, 'The Mystery of Grace', wherein DeLint starts anew
with a book set in the Southwest, is like brand new door with a 278-page
Welcome mat. This is a perfect entrée into DeLint's world and lovely
writing that is utterly background free. Cool. No Servings, so Snacking,
no Loaves, Jugs, Necks or Dilemma to ponder. Just a straight shot of Hot
Rods and the subtly supernatural.
No pagans for you my skeletal friend!
Hot rods? That's a very DeLintean touch. He's the kind of writer who really
knows how to ground things so that the slide into the surreal is easier
to experience. When a turbaned gypsy in a novel tells you she's haunted,
you might have a jaundiced reaction. When tattooed mechanic (even if she's
a presumably hot she) tells you she's haunted, well, you might be inclined
to listen because at least you can be pretty sure youre not getting
re-heated Rice. Instead, DeLint illuminates the interior lives of folks
who generally make about the same amount of money as their readers and
don't seem to have graduated from Fashion Model Academy. He writes with
grit, emotion and a leavening sense of humor. And he does so for a mere
269 pages. No requirement to tell you kid "See ya in 12 years when
yez graduate from High School." This time around, he's sporting cover
blurbs from Alice Hoffman, which seems like a better fit than the more
fantasy-like fantasy authors; though the ARC makes it clear that this
is shoehorned into the fantasy genre.
In short, here's an ideal, baggage-free entrée into the wonderful
world of Charles DeLint. 'The Mystery of Grace' is to DeLint's work what
marijuana is purported to be to Heroin. If only all gateway drugs were
so easy to score!
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Kim Stanley Robinson Interviewed at SF in SF : Comedy
It was really a treat
to see Kim Stanley Robinson at SF in SF a couple of weeks
ago. We caught up a bit and then I turned on the mic and we chatted about
his interest in domestic comedy and ecological collapse. Now yes, we know
that politics doesn't make strange bedfellows; marriage does. But so do
writers like Robinson, who are apt to marry apocalypse and parenting tips,
or say, Galileo and time travel. To
travel in time to those moments when I spoke with Robinson, follow this
link. Just avoid shooting your grandfather, or going after Hitler.
They've both been done and it's getting tiresome. Or
at least if you're going to time travel, check out the FAQ.
11-04-08: For Simon R. Green, It's 'Just Another Judgement Day' ; Agony
Column Podcast News Report : Cecilia Holland Interviewed at SF in SF
John Taylor Rides
I hope I don't have
to introduce anyone to either Simon R. Green or John
Taylor. The latter is a detective who works out of the NightSide, that
part of London where you can find the gods, demons, aliens, and every
critter or creation that ever did a stint in a work of genre fiction.
The former is his creator, and author of the Novels of the NightSide.
I've been digging Green's NightSide novels since the very first iteration,
from the NightSide'. They're fast, funny, very imaginative and, I've
long thought, too good for mass-market paperback only release. Well, it
took Ace eight books to get around to it, but finally we can get our first
hardcover novel of the NightSide, 'Just Another Judgement Day' (Ave /Penguin
Putnam ; January 6, 2009 ; $24.95) and not a moment too soon. It's kind
of funny, really, to see this long-held wish come to fruition, since really
Green and Taylor were there for me at the beginning my work in this arena.
It's great to see a fine talent like Green get the acknowledgement he
Step aside, pardner.
This time around, Taylor's facing a familiar dilemma. Things start to
settle down in the NightSide, which means a measly murder rate and lots
of blood-spattered sidewalks. Monsters and mobsters mixing it up, but
nothing too tragic. Well, until God decides to send in The Walking Man.
He's just another god-blessed (apparently!) legend that a) can't be killed,
b) pretty much spells the end of everything if he isnt killed,
or at least the end of the NightSide. Taylor, the man who finds things,
may himself find that his talent is best dialed back a notch or two.
But then, dear readers, I must address the spelling variant. I dont
know about you, but my Word Proce$$or doesn't just flag $cientology and
Micro$oft; it also flags "judgement" with an "e" crammed
in there. Now I had to look it up and I did look it up, and yes,
the variant is accepted, and so far as I can tell it does show up in the
BBC website. Still, to have an American hardcover with that odd spelling,
well, one can only say that it's a judgment call. And clearly
not one Micro$oft would approve of.
So far as the novel is concerned you know what to expec; a couple of nicely-twined
twisty plots, well-described set-pieces wherein mayhem is executed with
vigor if not finesse and a number of shady characters who prove to be
rather different than one might expect. If your expectations of plot are
nicely derailed, rest assured that Green is not using his hardcover to
bloat out the usual snappy-tale, well-told. It may be 'Just Another Judgement
Day', but that does not mean it's got to go on forever. Just long enough
to get in, maim, entertain and then get out while the getting is good.
I got me a line of Simon R. Green NightSide novels on shelf just waiting
for the first hardcover. Hard times be damned, this is going to be fun.
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Cecilia Holland Interviewed at SF in SF : Fantasy &
It was pretty wild
at SF in SF; Kim Stanley Robinson pretty much started
out telling us that he started reading science fiction because of co-guest
The upshot was that I got to talk to not, one, not two but three (Including
Barry N. Malzberg, yet to be podcast) legends of the
speculative fiction business in a single evening.
the link to my interview with Cecilia Holland, who will tell you as
much you need to know about history, fantasy and writing – or at
least as much as yon interviewer had time to coax out of her between the
reading and the panel.
11-03-08: A 2008 Interview with Danny Goldberg
Bumping Into Geniuses
You really can't just
write it all off to luck. Danny Goldberg is the sort
of man who simply has a talent for finding talent, an ability to sense
history before it happens and make sure he's there when it does happen.
How else does a green reporter from Billboard happen to get sent to cover
a little festival out in the boonies called Woodstock? How does a guy
end up making sure Led Zeppelin is being treated right at a time when
the rock and roll press wants nothing to do with them? The names go on
and on; Bonnie Raitt, Nirvana, Courtney Love; Goldberg has been the president
of Atlantic Records, Warner Brothers Records and Mercury Records.
Oops! Excuse me, sorry!
But what really shines in 'Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the rock
and Roll Buisness' (Gotham Books / Penguin ; September 18, 2008 ; $26)
is his love for the art form and – this is important for the readers
– his sense of humor. Goldberg truly loves the environment he's
immersed himself in since he was a teenager looking to work for a magazine.
He understands the business and the art, and has a knack for mixing the
two that results in music that's popular, powerful and acclaimed.
But forget all the great people he's worked with and forget all the names
you want to hear about. This book is one of the funniest books you'll
read in a long time, full of great anecdotes about working in the world
where prickly artists clash with hardscrabble businessman. It's the story
of a whole corporate empire and business model coalescing about talent
that refuses to be easily defined. And
Goldberg's story, here in this link to an MP3 audio interview is a total
hoot that you'll hear, believe and then want to experience on the printed
I have to confess I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book.
I thought, well, "Cool celebrities," and yes, there are cool
celebrities, but what makes this a wonderful book is great writing. Listen
up and see if you dont head down to the bookstore, though you may
end up at the CD emporium first.