Anders Monsen

Lost worlds and ports of call

Month: March 2006

Wrapping up Prometheus

I can’t call running around with a three-year old resting, but after last week, that’s what today came down to. I spent the evening trying to wrap up the Spring edition of the print newsletter, Prometheus. I am one review away from completing the issue, which I expect to have done by tomorrow night. I’m quite happy with this issue, as I only have two reviews under my byline, and the rest of the issue consists of original essays and reviews. Here a glance at the contents:
Prometheus Award Finalists
Interview with David R. Friedman
Thomas M. Sipos on post-9/11 movies
Richard Mgrdechian on intellectual isolation
Reviews of fiction by David D. Friedman (Harald), Terry Goodkind (Chainfire), Ken MacLeod (Learning the World), Walter Mosley (47), Justina Robson (Silver Screen) , Mike Resnick (Starship: Mutiny), L. Neil Smith (Tom Paine Maru), Charles Stross (The Hidden Family), Michael Z. Williamson (The Weapon), F. Paul Wilson (Harbingers)
News item on Brad Linaweaver’s Mondo Cult

As always, if you’re interested in subscribing, or joining LFS, send me an email and I’ll mail you a sample issue of Prometheus, free of charge.

B for Betrayal

Forecast: Light and intermittent blogging. No time this week even to read the handful of web pages I visit daily, but this post caught my eye.

William Alan Ritch lashes out at the Wachowskis’ verion of V for Vendetta in a commentary he titles, B for Betrayal. Ritch, former editor of Prometheus, argues the Wachowskis “changed [Alan Moore’s] point. Its philosophy.” I’ll break down this commentary more when I actually see the movie, but from my re-reading of the book, Ritch appears 99% spot on in his comparrison of the book and movie.

Robin Guthrie sounds

What can I say, except this is one of quick, personal, not related to the general theme of this blog type of entries. I don’t know how long they will be there, but one of my favorite musicians, Robin Guthrie, has put a couple of his tunes on myspace.com. I’ve never gone to myspace until now, but found the link on Guthrie’s blog. Monument, the first tune, is from his forthcoming album, Continental. Lush, wonderful sounds, in the ambient, alternative format. Makes me wish there was an easy, neat way to buy directly from the artist in digital format, rather than wait for the CD or iTunes.

V for Vendetta

If you’ve seen the movie and want to write a 1000 word review for the Prometheus, let’s talk. I think it will be a while before I make it to the movies to see this one, unless I catch a midnight showing some Friday or Saturday a few weeks after the buzz has died down and the place isn’t too packed. In the meantime, I’ve caught a couple of 1/2 hour TV shows about the movie, and looks like Alan Moore is correct about it no longer being his story.

Can’t say he’s the only writer abused by Hollywood this way. A recent essay by Christopher Buckley in Time magazine’s latest edition underscores the hassles of making movies, especially for writers whose works are adapted, or even just optioned. After you’ve read this, check out www.repairmanjack.com for F. Paul Wilson’s ongoing sagas about getting a Repairman Jack movie made, and The Touch as a TV show. Not very encouraging.

Prometheus Award finalists

I don’t know if there’s an embargo on the news, but this is the first posting I’ve seen out there of the 2006 finalists for the LFS sponsored Prometheus Award, over at Sunni Maravillosa’s blog. Scroll down past the yummy mouth-watering images of chocolate to see the list. Here I am, editor of the LFS newsletter, scooped just days after I received the list for the Prometheus Award newsletter… I plan on posting it here over the weekend, but it’s been a momentous week in my life, and I’m just too worn out at the moment. Today was my last day at Apple Computer, after 11 years working with the coolest hardware and software on the planet. Okay, so I’m a little biased. I’d keep working there if I could, but small problem: Apple’s Texas office is in Austin. I live 90 miles away. The commute for me the last four years has meant two days a week in Austin, three days in my home office, in splendid isolation. On a good day I’m only in the car three hours. It wears on me. I should have changed this scenario a long time ago. The final impetus was the impending arrival of child #2, due any day now. I start work for a local company next week, probably on the not-so-delightful Win XP platform. I have not used Windows since before Win 95. Tough thing for a Gates-hater to have to face.

Regarding the Prometheus Award finalists, I am not on the judges committe. I have not read a single word of the six finalists (and only own one of them, the Ken MacLeod novel). I’m surprised two books I nominated and really liked did not make the cut. Richard Mgrdechian’s 3000 Years and Michael L. Wentz’ Resurrection of Liberty were books I expected to see as finalists. But, as mentioned, I have not read any of the other works. Walter Mosley is far from being a libertarian, so it will be interesting to read his novel. The Charles Stross novel poses an ethical dilemma for me, as when I read the first book in the series, and realized the publisher took one book, chopped it in half and sold them as two novels, I swore to not give Tor a penny for that second book, despite being captivated by the story. I own of of Stross’ other works, and think he’s a brilliant writer, but that act by Tor’s editors was just immoral, in my eyes. Others may disagree. In January I read not a single work on fiction, but since then I’ve finished three novels, all of varying quality. My stack of unread books rises like the tower of Babylon.

I’m in the middle of wrapping up the Spring issue of Prometheus, which should be at the printer in less than a week. Twenty pages of reviews and essays. I think it’s a great issue, a superb issue.

I just received in the mail a copy of Pyr Books’ edtion of Ian McDonald’s massive River of Gods. Damn, I need more time in the day. I have five other books that I need to read, and a few reviews to write. And Vernor Vinge’s new novel is just around the corner.

David Friedman’s Harald

Today I received a review copy by well-known writer of law and economics books, David Friedman. Haraldis Friedman’s first novel, published by BAEN Books. Set in an imaginary land, the novel is more historical than fantasy, a sort of imagined medieval geography with kings, emperors, and Norse-sounding names. Poul Anderson comes to mind as an inspiration. Friedman’s literary style is sparse, at times quite elliptical. I’m only 20 pages into the book, and hope to feature a review (by myself or someone else) in Prometheus, as well a brief interview with Friedman that I received talking about this book. The Spring issue of Prometheus takes shape, and could go 20-24 pages instead of the usual 16. 

Books received

Below are some review copies that I’ve received for Prometheus. I’m finally getting around to listing them…

Justina Robson’s Silver Screenis a reprint of a novel published in the UK in 1999. Deals with AI rights, weird geniuses, and multi-national intrigue. Review due in the Spring issue of Prometheus.

Mike Resnick’s Starship: Mutinya military sf novel, and the first Resnick book I’ve ever read, a surprising confession as I own several of his books but never opened one before now. This book is sparse and purely action driven, with very little character development. The title foretells the climax of the novel, and it’s the first in a five book series. Review due in the Spring issue of Prometheus.

A reprint of a classic sf novel, George Zebrowski’s Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia arrived from Pyr books last week. It’s been added to the growing stack for the Summer issue.

Keith Brook’s novel, Genetopia, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly:

British author Brooke’s engrossing far-future parable intertwines old, old human questions: Who am I? Where am I? Where am I going? Must I go? After centuries of biotechnology gone berserk, “True” humans inhabit a land of mortal fears where a chance microbe or the changing vats of their enemies can dehumanize them forever. “Mutts,” grotesque “Lost” subhumans, outwardly devote themselves to their True masters, though like pre–Civil War slaves, the mutts secretly talk of finding “Harmony,” freedom from their inborn servitude.

Currently on top of the pile for the Summer issue.

John David’s Passion for Dead Leaves. I read the predecessor in this series. Have not yet opened this book. Review due in the Summerissue of Prometheus.

Steven Burgauer’s The Last American, another book I won’t be able to review until the Summer issue. Have not yet started this one. Been a while since I read one of Burgauer’s books.

James P. Hogan’s Catastrophes, Chaos & ConvolutionsOkay, I bought this one myself, but I list it here as the review probably won’t appear until the Summer issue of Prometheus.

Walter Mosley, Prometheus Award nominee

I found out this weekend that Walter Mosley’s novel, 47, is a Prometheus Award nominee. I believe the final cut of five books is just around the corner, but this is the first time I’ve heard about the novel. A brief description from Amazon.com (School Library Journal review) goes like this:

The intense, personal slave narrative of 14-year-old Forty-seven becomes allegorical when a mysterious runaway slave shows up at the Corinthian Plantation. Tall John, who believes there are no masters and no slaves, and who carries a yellow carpet bag of magical healing potions and futuristic devices, is both an inspiration and an enigma. He claims he has crossed galaxies and centuries and arrived by Sun Ship on Earth in 1832 to find the one chosen to continue the fight against the evil Calash. The brutal white overseer and the cruel slave owner are disguised Calash who must be defeated. Tall John inserts himself into Forty-seven’s daily life and gradually cedes to him immortality and the power, confidence, and courage to confront the Calash to break the chains of slavery. With confidence, determination, and craft, Tall John becomes Forty-seven’s alter ego, challenging him and inspiring him to see beyond slavery and fight for freedom.

I’m hoping to run a review of the novel in the Summer issue of Prometheus, as the Spring issue pretty much is set at the moment, even with an increase in page count to 20.

Musically geeked out

I just installed SQLTunes on my Mac, which creates a MySQL table from exported tracks from iTunes, and allows me to run reports or even create web pages with interactive options via PHP, should I so choose. I set it up on my local host (if I had access to a remote MySQL db, I’m sure transferring the data would be an easy task), and it felt a lot easier than when I installed SimpleMachines Forum or Moveable Type to see how they worked. Both those apps took a couple of hours of Unix related experimentation on the Mac, but SQLTunes only ran me 15-30 minutes. My first report showed 5715 tracks from 588 artists, although iTunes often incorrectly interprets tracks on classical music CDs – probably more related to the database that iTunes checks, than iTunes itself. For example, there is no artist called “Act I Connais-tu le pays…” but that’s how the db assigned a track when ripping the CD. I haven’t ripped all my CDs, but this is a great tool for all sorts of reports (count number of songs with same title, for one), and a different perspective on my music library. No idea if the same thing exists in the Windows/Linux world. One strange quirk is that the track_id field, which stamps all the records with a unique ID, started at 39, not one. Another is that the import from the XML file sorted in no logical fashion, except for maybe the “persistent_id” field, which I don’t know how populates.

Via sf writer Charles Stross’ LiveJournal, a list of Tor’s new ebooks that will available starting this month. Includes new titles as well as previously paper-published books.

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