pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (read or die)
Ana, a self-described "twentysomething bookworm," over at things mean a lot, posted today in The Sunday Salon - Book Buying, about a new book out by Peter S. Beagle: We Never Talk About My Brother, by Tachyon Publications. If you've ever read anything by Beagle, you know this is a book you have to read. If you've never read anything by Beagle, you must take my word for it that this is a book you have to read (along with everything else of his you can get your hands on), because Beagle is wonderful.

Ana, who receives a newsletter from Beagle, reports that only 5,500 copies of this book were printed and that Conlan Press (which my limited researches indicate is a press specifically to promote Beagle's work) is trying to sell out the entire run by March 31, 2009, in the hopes of convincing Tachyon to issue a second printing. Like many authors, Beagle is having financial difficulties. In this instance, his financial difficulties are related to disputes over compensation for the many screenplays he has written. You can read more about this on the Conlan Press website.

Oh, and if you enjoyed the movie, The Last Unicorn, I hope you know that it was based on Beagle's book of the same name and the book is better! (Even though it is an excellent adaptation.) The movie version I just linked to is a new DVD release. If you buy from this link at Conlan Press, Beagle is supposed to receive more than 50% of the purchase price; buy it elsewhere and Beagle gets nothing from the sale.

One more thing I should mention--if you purchase from Conlan Press, you can, for an additional fee, request that your purchase be signed or personalized by Beagle, which would make a wonderful gift for some special someone. Even if that special someone is you. ;)

So do Peter and yourself a favor, and add one more book to your reading list, and one old favorite movie, remastered, to your viewing list. You won't be sorry.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading)
Award-winning author Eugie Foster ([livejournal.com profile] eugie) is hosting a book launch party in her journal for her short story collection, Returning My Sister's Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, published by Norilana Books. For more information about the author and the book, see the Norilana press release issued by [livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks.

I love the title of this book and the cover is absolutely gorgeous. She's another author whose work I know only by reputation, but whose book absolutely must go on my to-read list. As an added bonus, Ms. Foster is offering anyone who purchases the book this month a limited edition of the Returning My Sister's Face audio MP3 CD, which has audio versions of five of the stories, including one previously unreleased.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading fairy)
Sean Williams ([livejournal.com profile] ladnews) announced today that his book, The Crooked Letter, the first in his Books of the Cataclysm series, has been released as a free PDF.

If you're unfamiliar with his work, this is a great chance to find out if you want to spring for the whole series.

Publishers Weekly, btw, has one of the oddest reviews I've ever seen. It starts with high praise, "expertly twists the familiar into the grotesque in this deeply spooky story", but later states about a protagonist: "it's never clear why Hadrian doesn't simply kill himself." Uhm, just a guess, but maybe because he wants to live, as well as to solve the central problem in the story? *shakes head at the vagaries of reviewers*

The other reviews listed are fabulous. I'm looking forward to the story, if not to reading it on my computer.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Palimpsest)
How could I resist an opportunity to help an author get the word out about her newest book, while at the same time putting myself in line to possibly win a copy of said book and all sorts of really cool, wonderful goodies inspired by the book? Including chocolate. And jewelry. Did I mention chocolate?

So, with no further ado, I introduce you to Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente ([livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna).

I also recommend that you check out her post announcing the book, the contest, and the many tie-in products, several of which are the work of folk who are also part of the LiveJournal community.

How did I discover this book? Well, via [livejournal.com profile] faerie_writer most recently. (But also many others, some from outside of LJ. Hrmm. I suppose all these mentions mean I have competition for the prize. *glares*) I also followed a link to [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's evocative trailer, possibly from a link on one of the many blogs about writing and books that distract me from getting work done keep me apprised of the industry.

Catherine's book The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden has been on my Goodreads to-read list for several months, since shortly after I read one of her short stories, and all of her books get great reviews, so I'm sure this new one will be wonderful. Valente was recently interviewed by Green Man Review about The Orphans Tale and I love the way she describes her choice to use the structure of The Arabian Nights for her tale as a means of telling the story of a young girl. I've moved this to the top of my to-read list and reserved it from our local library. I'd do the same with Palimpsest, but since I'm out of work, I'm not buying new books and I don't know whether or when they'll get it in. I've learned to my chagrin that I can't borrow new books using the Interlibrary Loan System, only books that are at least a year old, so I've really got my fingers crossed that I'll win a copy.

I've missed telling you all sorts of exciting news, so please, whatever else you do, go check out her announcement post and the companion music by [livejournal.com profile] s00j.

ETA: Here, let Catherynne Valente, in this post on John Scalzi's blog, tell you about Palimpsest.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (pooka at the door)
The Nightwish music video, "The Islander" is an interesting juxtaposition of Steampunk and dark medieval fantasy elements with a Scandinavian feel. (Since Nightwish was formed in Finland, that last makes sense.) I loved the flying boats with gears instead of sails.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in space)
Following the urban fantasy panel, I attended a reading by Emma Bull [livejournal.com profile] coffeeem. She read us a portion of an episode from Shadow Unit and spoke to us afterward about how Shadow Unit came to be.

More )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (evolution)
My reading this afternoon has been an article in this month's issue of The Internet Review of Science Fiction, SF and Fantasy: Siamese Twins or a Marriage of Convenience?.

More about market trends )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (read or die)
Earthquake Weather (Tor Fantasy) Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first section of Earthquake Weather felt somewhat disorienting and fractured, which may have been a purposeful reflection of Janis/Cody/et al Plumtree's multiple personalities. As Plumtree and her new-met friend Cochran meet up with several companions (all familiar from the first two books of the Fault Lines series), the book begins to gain cohesion. In part, this is because the enlarged cast has a single primary goal which provides a focus to both the novel and the characters, even as each of the characters has his or her own personal goals and motivations. Amazingly, Power's manages to bring the multiple threads of plot and character development to a satisfactory conclusion.


View all my reviews.

By the way, although the final two books of Tim Powers' Fault Lines series have been combined in an omnibus edition that includes Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather, the series starts with Last Call.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Vorkosigan dessert)
Mmmm. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, I just read the GoH speech Lois McMaster Bujold gave for this year's WorldCon.

More under the cut. )

Bemused

Aug. 8th, 2008 01:34 am
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (lady of shalot)
While searching for definitions of the term "Urban Fantasy" I came across The Christian Guide to Fantasy. The definitions are . . . slightly skewed, in my opinion.

For example:

Urban Fantasy - A subgenre of Fantasy; the action takes place in this world at this time, with no change in Earth's history, but rather in its dynamics (i.e., physics: usually magic is possible). Another area most often under the influence of secular paganism. [Emphasis mine]


In addition to the statement I highlighted, what bothers me about this "definition" is that it is so vague, it doesn't actually define.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (world travel)
Attending the Conflux 5 minicon was almost like being in Australia. I got to meet, virtually, many authors, members of the con committee, and other guests. The blurb for each session mentioned that they were "hosting guests from four continents," so as you can imagine, it was quite an international event.

The convention format, aside from being an online forum, was as a series of "Meet the Author/Editor/Expert" sessions, with each of twenty-four guests (if I counted correctly) available in individual hour-long blocks of time. This format meant that the whole thing was driven by questions from the peanut gallery, so nutty people like myself were quick to take advantage of the chance to ask plenty of questions.

I loved the intimate feeling of the con--I didn't get to meet any of the participants directly of course, but I didn't have to worry about whether I could hear, or missing something if I had to sneak out for a few minutes. I'd love to see more online minicons like this one. Although the Internet, email, and social networking/blogging sites such as LiveJournal offer us far more opportunity to be in contact with each other, I found this a wonderful opportunity to learn about a group of people interested in and creating speculative fiction that I would never otherwise have gotten to know. I've got a long list of authors whose works I now want to read (far more than my budget can handle, at the moment, alas), and a sense of friendship (or at least acquaintanceship) with people in a distant part of the world. Australia is one of those dream vacation destinations for us Americans, so now I feel I have even more reason to visit one day, and I hope that when I do I will feel less a tourist, and more a visitor.

The minicon forum is still up, as is the forum from last year, so even if you missed the sessions, you can still head over and check it out. I really enjoyed "meeting" everyone there and hope that more people from around the world will participate in the next minicon. Oh, and don't forget to visit the Speakeasy, where much fun, food, and virtual-alcoholic frolicking was had by all.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (moon gazing)
I stayed up all night to attend the Conflux 5 Virtual Mini-Con, which is operating on Canberra time, if I've got that correct.

I enjoyed myself immensely and found this a very interesting experience. I loved the format, which allowed those of us attending to post questions for the various guests, and I loved the wide variety of the guests, which included Australian authors, UK authors, a "webgoddess," a bookstore owner and grant writer, and the inimitable Ellen Datlow.

There is a second day (or night, depending upon your time zone). The 12pm Sunday session (date and time based on the minicon's local time) correspond to 7pm Saturday here in Tucson, AZ.

I highly recommend taking in at least a few sessions, if you possibly can.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (moon and stars)
I'm gacking the following link, as I found the article very interesting: An Article About Terry Pratchett. Plus, I want to see the movie mentioned within the article.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Default)
Before I begin this post, I feel it's important to acknowledge that I am not an expert on the Great American Novel and would be hard-pressed to define the concept, aside from a general impression that such an novel must address multiple aspects of what it is to be American, as well as being a book of extremely high caliber.

Last November, at TusCon, the local science fiction convention, one of the topics discussed on a panel was whether a fantasy novel could ever be a Great American Novel. (Note that this may not have been the official panel topic. Also, it's possible that the discussion also included science fiction as a category unable to be included under the GAN heading, but I don't remember whether this was so.) During the course of the discussion, one of the panelists very insistently made the claim that it was not possible for a fantasy (or science fiction?) novel to be a Great American Novel. Now, categorical statements of this nature tend to irk me, so this claim, which I believe to be not just fallacious, but silly, has been niggling at me ever since.

Plus, as I was listening to the discussion, Will Shetterly's novel, Dogland, came to mind. Now, I didn't speak up and propose that this novel might be a Great American Novel, even though I believe it to be an excellent American novel. And I was tactless enough to mention this to Will and his wife, Emma Bull (another fine novelist). So that is something else that has niggled at me. Why didn't I mention the book during the discussion?

Ultimately, I think I realized that as much as I love the novel, with its wonderful quirky setting in a roadside attraction in Florida, it has elements that aren't sufficiently mainstream-American enough for me to classify it as a Great American Novel. And, yes, those elements are very much tied up in the fantastic elements of the story. Yet, I don't think it is their fantastic nature that prevents the story from GANness, but the fact that these elements are based on a mythos that is not tied sufficiently closely to the American psyche as I feel they should be in order to accept the GAN classification.

Even so, I really wish I'd mentioned the novel during the panel, not so much as an example of a Great American novel, but as an example of just how close at least one fantasy novel has come to being a Great American novel. This novel hit just the right notes time and time again. Dogland, the attraction, is so quintessentially American that just about anyone who has ever taken a road trip in America will respond to it. (I have to admit that the time and place were particularly poignant for me, because of the many road trips my family took to Florida, starting just a few years after 1959, the year the novel is set.) Luke Nix's wild stories reminded me very much of my own father, who loved to tell tall tales to his children and still brags about having fooled us into believing he had fought in the French and Indian War. Grandma Bette's adamant rejection of any claims that the family is not of pure European extraction has been played out in many American families and the conflict around the hiring of Ethorne Hawkins, a black man, in the rural South is another classic American theme. This book is complex and goes far beyond its genre classification. Which is brings me back to my original pet peeve.

Why is it that people treat genre classification as if it defines all aspects of the novels so branded? For that's all it really is, a marketing tool, a label, created by publishers and book sellers to help sell books. How sad that genre has also become an albatross around the neck of many truly fine writers whose works are dismissed as somehow inferior on the basis of how they're sold in a book store or shelved in a library. Genre is subject, but not substance, the cover, but not the book itself. And it is the book—the story and how its told, the evocation of mood, ambiance, and spirit, the ability to inspire thought and dreams—that is truly of the greatest importance when we are attempting to evaluate the quality of a novel.

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