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11-20-09: World Fantasy Convention Panel Podcast : Invention Versus Tradition

Panels at these conventions can really turn your head with regards to an author. You can really get a good idea of who you are dealing with and whether or not you’d like their fiction. So at the "Invention Versus Tradition" panel at the recent world Fantasy Convention, a couple of writers got themselves high on my radar.

Here's what the pamphlet (what a lovely word!) had to say about this panel:

"1:00 PM Gold Room Invention vs. Tradition

Readers like original stories that surprise them. Readers like comfortable formulas that fulfill their expectations. What are the ways authors and editors deal with these two competing impulses?

Delia Sherman (moderator), John Kessel, Richard Lupoff, Beth Meacham, Daniel Waters"

Now of course, Richard Lupoff and Beth Meacham were already high on my radar; I've spoken with Lupoff many times and every time come away a better person, and Beth Meacham is the famed editor over at Tor, and responsible of much of the great fiction over the last (more years than I know). But Delia Sherman I didn't know until I heard her on the panel, and was vastly impressed by her smart, trans-literary approach. Now she show's up editing 'Interfictions 2,' with Christopher Barzak, for the ultra-cool and hip Small Beer Press. Needless to say, it goes to the stop of my buy list. Daniel Waters, the author of 'Generation Dead' had never blipped into my attention, but now he and his (sound familiar?) YA-zombie novel are yet another notch in my reading stack. And finally, there's John Kessel, whose work I'm familiar with, but damn, what a guy on stage. He's unabashedly strange, and he maks it work and work and work. This panel will make you think about what you read shortly before you go our to buy more books for your stack. That's really what I'm here for and what this link to the MP3 audio file is here for as well.



11-19-09: Scott Browne Reads at SF in SF : "If you've never..."

I love Scott Browne's smart, witty work. He manages to be bother very funny and very dry. He doesn't tell jokes. He excavates them from the rotting earth and tosses the carcasses in front of the reader. Laugh at this. Soon enough, you'll be food for something.

There's a particular construction that Browne uses in his novel 'Breathers' that is really quite funny, and you'll get at least one fine example of it in this reading. It actually duplicates parts of what I podcast before, in our interview and in the NPR piece I did on zombies that featured Browne and his work. But I think one of Browne's talents is as a reader of his own work. He really hits his stride in this reading at SF in SF, and he selects a variety of material that will take listeners farther through the work. You can find out just how far in time for the holidays by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



11-18-09: "Noird" : A 2009 Report on Crime Fiction in Imaginary Cities

It's really too bad that Jeff VanderMeer's 'Finch' had not come out when I was putting this report together. It's such a perfect fit for the subject, and such a nice match for both China Miéville's 'The City & the City' and Jedediah Berry's 'The Manual of Detection.' All three are wonderful noir detective stories with settings in imaginary cities.

While "noird," as China Miéville calls it, may not be all that new — Fritz Leiber was writing stuff like this back in the day — the current set of writers working in this genre are really focusing on creating solid, imaginary cities that are analogues of twentieth century metropolises — and also, working them with very straightforward protagonists who might have wandered in out of a Raymond Chandler novel. I'm hoping to work on more pieces in this vein, so if readers have suggestions, they can email me. I've already got a couple of more in the hopper, but until then, here's a link to the MP3 audio file of my report on hardboiled deteective novels set in imaginary cities.



11-17-09: World Fantasy Convention Podcast : Poetry of the Fantastic
Rain Graves (moderator), Donald Sidney-Fryer, David Lunde, and Michael Allen Shea

Now here's what the flyer says: Imaginative poetry from antiquity through modern times. The participants will discuss some of the notable authors and works as well as reading short selections. Rain Graves (moderator), Donald Sidney-Fryer, David Lunde, and Michael Allen Shea

Here's what I say: FANTASTIC!!!!

This panel totally rocks!

I have to say that I'm really taken with these poets of the fantastic, every one of 'em. This panel was really wonderful; these writers are old-fashioned rebels, proud throwbacks and forward-looking fearless artists who know how to entertain the hell out of an audience.

Now, look, yes, I know — fantasy poetry, it's sort of redundant in a way. All poetry is by definition (pretty much) fantasy. But these writers harken back to and are intimately familiar with a group of past poets whose work is now considered by most modern "Mainstream" poetry quaint. It has rhyme and regular meters. It's the kind of poetry we grow up think of as "poetry" until we get hit in the face with the sort of poetry that can make your brain hurt. But no matter what your poetic, or fictional tastes, this reading and discussion featuring Rain Graves (moderator), Donald Sidney-Fryer David Lunde, Michael Allen ("The Autopsy"!!!) Shea, is nothing less than thrilling fun. You are in for a treat the likes of which you might never have thought you'd hear when you follow this link to the MP3 audio file. Do not miss this wonderful podcast poetry discussion!



11-16-09: A 2009 Interview With Kamala Harris : Smart on Crime

Kamala Harris was a woman in motion. First the interview was going to be in her office; then it was moved, and moved again. But when I found perfect street parking right in front of the building with 45 minutes still on the meter; I thought, it can't be too bad. And I was right. Kamala Harris has a great story, a great job, and she is navigating some seriously difficult political waters with a great deal of aplomb.

When I finally caught up with Harris, I was told I had exactly thirty minutes, and I kept my eye on the recording time — not just because I was at a one-hour meter. I knew pretty quickly that I could easily spend a couple of hours talking to Harris about the thoughts behind her book 'Smart on Crime,' which I think has lots of interesting perceptions of and prescriptions for fighting crime here in the US of A. But I didn't have time to do that, and I had to focus on what was at the core of the book, and keep my concerns to well, adversarial questions I had about what she'd written. She writes a bit about the Internet and frankly, she's a bit ambiguous, so I sought to clarify her ideas. She mentioned new laws, and I began to think she might be interested in the music and movies industries' concept of "three strikes;" that is, if the companies accuse you, just accuse of illegal sharing three times, you lose the Internet forever. It's an insane and unenforceable idea, but that's never stopped American industry in the past.

But Harris was not in the least bit interested in turning the DA's office into a means of collecting income for Music & Movies. Her worries about the Internet were concerned with those who defraud the elderly, not some three strikes inanity. Of course, I had another concern; the so-called "real" three-strikes law, which is its own form of inanity. I liked her current position the law, one she's able to enforce from her office as DA. She's got a great rap, a lot of innovative ideas focusing on prevention and rehabilitation and even cracking down on elementary school truancy. Here's a link to a conversation with a woman who's out to be a game changer — and has the ideas to back it up.



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Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 201: Erik Larson : Dead Wake

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01-23-15: Commentary : Jake Halpern Pushes 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld' : Non-Fiction 21st Century Noir

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