Welcome to Year 40, Day 1

So, it's Sunday afternoon of my thirty-ninth birthday! I did all my celebrating last night, and a great time was had by all. Now it's just an afternoon of watching movies and resting up before I jump into the final year of my thirties. I have many possible plans for this year, and I've spent the last week or so wildly swinging back and forth between my options. I think I should probably just settle on one, maybe two of them and throw all my energy in that direction. It's just a matter of deciding which ones to concentrate on. A large part of that decision is outside my hands, and depends on the decisions of other folks who I don't control or even influence. So there is some degree of wait and see, which always drives me a little nuts. But hey, there have been developments that I don't need to be so vague about. In great and exciting news, a small press publisher has picked up my Cthulhu novel and is going to put out a fancy, limited edition hardback later this year, which is amazing and awesome. More details later, but it means I've stopped selling the self published version, so now those are collectors items too! In that vein, I'm going to spend the next week or so finishing up a Lovecraftian short story for the second Black Wings anthology. I'm really in love with my idea for the story, but it has taken a little more finessing and revising to get it to all come together the right way. After that, it's all about getting The Berlin Project figured out and finished. I'm still uncertain what form that's going to take, but it'll be different, that's for sure. And then... I'm not sure what happens then. I have no idea. Well, I've got tons of ideas, it's just picking one that's so problematic.

2011 Brings Me to Mythoscon Right Now

Time for my traditional airport blogging at the beginning of a trip! And I'm using that tipped squarespace app once again to do it. I really hope the make an Android version soonest,

I'm headed to Phoenix for Mythoscon, a gathering of HP Lovecraft fans, writers, and scholars. I had a great time at the Lovecraft film festival back in 2009,but I think the fact this is a full on convention will make it even more fun. Also the fact that I'm on a panel makes it extra awesome. I'm also giving a reading tomorrow night, which I'm kinda nervous about, mostly because I haven't picked what I'm going to read yet. That's first on the agenda after I post this.

The new year finds me scattered all over the place, focus wise. I'm finishing up a Lovecraft related short story, working on the Berlin novel, getting to do a lot more game and book blogging, and trying to learn how to make my own android apps. Plus sciflies, and looking, maybe, for teaching gigs. I should probably just pick five and do those, but then there's the new novel idea...

So I'll be at Mythoscon this evening. If you're there, find me and say hi!


Squarespace IPad App Blogging

Hey look, an iPad app for squarespace. Will this mean I start blogging more? Could be! Here's a pic from my London trip:


Review of What Technology Wants and Intro to The Mongoliad

Popmatters time again, Tuesday this week.

First we've got my review of Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants, which I think is very interesting, if also very imperfect. Check out the review here:

An then there's this weeks Re: Print column, which is about the exciting new serial novel by Neal Stephenson et al., The Mongoliad:

I'm all recovered from Thanksgiving and related festivities and am back at work doing, you know, writing and stuff. More to come this week!


My Review of Giftopia and My Re:Print Column

It's double the Popmatters goodness this Monday, with two items up. Actually three, now that I think about it.

First there's my review of Matt Taibi's new book, Griftopia. It's my first book review for the site, but there are many more coming.

Then there's this week's column at Re:Print, where I discuss my poor impulse control when it comes to buying books from authors on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

And of course it's Monday, so that means a new episode of the Moving Pixels Podcast, which I think was the first one we recorded after I got back from Europe. Or maybe the second. It's about RPG elements that find there way into other game genres.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Dullness

OK, that title is egregious. It's a fine little movie, the new Harry Potter flick, but it is quite dull in parts.

Here's a rare case where I wish they'd deviated a lot more from the book. The final Harry Potter text was, for me, one of the weaker entries in the field. In the end, it satisfied, but great huge chunks of the middle were tiresome tales of Harry, Hermione, and Ron bemoaning their fates while in a magi tent in the woods. They were aimless, which I get was important to the plot, but the chapters felts endless and aimless too, which is no fun.

In the movie, the scenes where they're camping are at least awesome to behold, and the vistas look magical and stunning and real (because they mostly are). But it just drags and drags, as did the book. My audience was just as restless as I was, and the ending doesn't breathe enough life back into the thing to make it exhilirating. I left a little relieved it was over rather than jazzed to see the finale next year.

Oh, and teleportation ruins everything. Bamfing in and out of trouble to various, seemingly random (but it turns out not random) locations is disorienting and kinda cheap. Especially at the end when the house-elf-ex-machina teleportation stuff kicks in. Ugh. Just no momentum at all here.

My rant is now complete.


My Thoughts on James Frey's Full Fathom Five BS

This week over at Re: Print I take a look at this nasty new piece of work from James Frey:

"If you know who James Frey is, you probably have an opinion about him. Most famous for being raised up to best-selling heights before then being cast down into disrepute, Frey is the author of the fictional “memoir” A Million Little Pieces. He’s since apologized for lying and then apologized for apologizing, maintaining that the line between “truth” and “fiction” is ever fungible and other self-aggrandizing justifications in the name of art. Opinions will vary about Frey, depending on your perspective and priorities, but one thing is certain: despite the biggest public shaming in recent literary history, James Frey has not quietly shuffled off-stage, never to be heard from again. He’s still around, and he’s still playing fast and loose with both the truth and people’s dreams."

Click on over to Re: Print to read the rest!


I Got Me A Kinnect

This week over at Moving Pixels, I discuss my feelings about my new Kinnect:

"I bought a Kinect on release day. It’s what I do. Unlike when I bought a Wii on release day at the very same Best Buy several years ago or an iPad on release day several months ago, this time there was no line or waiting list. About a half dozen of us gathered around the doorway five minutes before ten o’clock and then strolled on up to the display and had our pick of the pile. I bought the Kinect sensor of course, along with the nifty thingamjig that lets you attach it to the top of your TV. I picked up Dance Central and Kinect Sports along with Kinect Adventures (which comes with the sensor). I’ve now been living with it for a week."

Read the rest over at Popmatters.


Traveling Makes Books Better

While I was in Berlin, I started listening to the audio versions of Neal Stephenson's great Baroque Cycle. Set in the latter decades of the 17th Century, these books encompass the major historical and scientific figures of the age, from Newton and Leibniz to Louis XIV and William of Orange. I read them in paper form when they came out, but I'm loving them again on audio.

Much of the action takes place in London, and having now spent a couple weeks tromping around the city, I think it makes all the difference in how much I appreciate the books. Having physically walked the length and breadth of the city center several times, I have a sense memory for place and distance and geography that adds a whole dimension to the story for me. Stephenson certainly seems to have done his research (something I never doubted of course) and so it all works for me. I can imagine it would feel very different if he was playing very fast and loose with the facts. For instance, the movie Run Lola, Run jumps all over Berlin in the course of it's heroine's racing about and is thus kind of disorienting if you know the places Lola's running past.

I just got to a part in the books where Daniel Waterhouse enters the Tower of London via the river through the Traitor's Gate. I've been there. I've got a picture of it right here:

OK, it's not quite as intimidating in daylight with all the tourists hanging about, but still, it made that scene pop and resonate in my imagination in wonderful ways. It's part of why I love setting my own books in as many real places as possible - I'm almost addicted to that blurring of the lines between story and memory.


Re:Print Column - Why I'm Barnes and Noble's Nightmare

So I've added another weekly duty to my schedule, writing on Mondays for the Re: Print blog over at Pop Matters.

Here's this week's installment:

My local Barnes & Noble is full of warm memories for me. I remember when it was built. For a while in the ‘90s, I worked there part time. I’ve gone on dates there, signed my own books there, and whiled away many aimless hours there. It’s part of my routine, a thing to do when I need something to do. I’m probably in there once a week, certainly anytime I go by the adjacent Best Buy to pick up a new video game (which is also about once a week). But I honestly don’t quite remember the last time I bought something besides coffee there. Certainly it’s been months. I’ve become a loyal browser, but a bad customer.

I’ve owned and used an e-reader since the original Sony Reader back in 2006. At that point the selection was small and the hardware mediocre. Then I switched to Kindle when the second version came out, by which time selection had improved a great deal and the hardware was getting nice. Now I’m reading 90% of my books on my Ipad, mostly through Amazon’s Kindle app. Those books I’m reading synch up with my Android phone, so I’m never without the titles I’m currently engrossed in (usually two or three at a time). At this point, I don’t buy paper books if I can help it. The lone exception are art and photography books, but those make up a tiny fraction of my buying habits.

To read the rest, go to Re: Print!