Category Archives: recommendations

A little family update

My thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes and good thoughts my way on Friday. It was a stressful day. We had to take little Oot in for surgery.

I don’t care to talk about the details, but it wasn’t anything life-threatening. It was just one of those things that we needed to do if we were going to be responsible parents.

Still, it involved putting my baby under heavy anesthesia and having someone cut him. It’s really hard to express how unacceptable I found this. You know how sometimes you can shrug something off and be cool about it? Yeah. I was the other thing. Whatever the farthest edge of the spectrum is from cool, that’s where I was, emotionally.

I tell you. I never knew what it was like to be afraid until I was a parent.

Anyway, rest assured that he’s happy and healthy. He’s taking it easy, reading books and playing with duplo.

When I asked him how he felt today, he said, “Iyhava owie belly.”

“You have an owie on your belly?” I asked.

“Owie *inna* belly,” he corrected me. He does this with only a little reproach in his voice, as if he knows that I can’t help being stupid.

This is something that’s been happening a lot over the last couple weeks. He’s been shocking me with how fine-tuned his conversation is becoming.

For example, on Friday when we were in the hospital, after he’d come out from under his anesthetic I asked him if he wanted some juice.

“Okay,” he said blearily.

I know how thirsty you can be when you come out of surgery, so I hurried to his bag and rummaged around quickly. I couldn’t lay hands on a juicebox, but I found his sippy cup full of water and flipped up the top so the straw came out.

I handed it to him, and he took hold of it kinda unsteadily. Then he got the straw into his mouth. Suck. Suck.

He swallowed and looked up at me. “Dat’s wadder inair,” he said.

At first I thought he was just making an observation. He’s a good talker these days, but still, a lot of our conversation is limited to making observations about the world, or asking and answering simple questions.

Then I realized that wasn’t what he was saying at all. I played it through my head again and caught the emphasis. “That’s wadder inair!” His tone was thick with disappointment. “Wannet JUICE,” he said, sounding hurt and more than a little betrayed.

And you know what? That’s fair. I’d promised juice and delivered water. That’s a shitty thing to do to a guy who’s just been through surgery. I hurried to get a juice box and appologized.

Still, I’m kinda stunned that he’s already at the level where he can communicate reproach. If he’s doing this at 21 months, I can’t even imagine where he’ll be in another year.

That’s all for now folks. Keep a close eye on the blog for the next couple days. I’m going to be posting up a bunch of things before I leave for ComicCon.

pat

Also posted in day in the life, Oot | By Pat61 Responses

Vision and Revision: Geek Redux.

So yesterday I read Just a Geek.

I found the book strangely moving, so when I finished writing it, I hopped online to write a review on Goodreads. When I enjoy a book, I like to spread the word about it.

I started to write the review, but it kept getting longer and longer. So I figured I should probably write it as a blog, instead.

So I wrote a blog, and it went terribly, terribly wrong. It was a complete trainwreck.

I considered not posting it. But when you spend two hours writing something at four in the morning, it’s hard to just erase it. So I shrugged and posted it up, figuring that while the blog itself was an embarrassing mess, the underlying theme was pretty clear: I liked the book.

But today I woke up and thought that I’d go onto Goodreads and actually write the review I meant to do last night. More to prove to myself that I could than for any other reason.

This time it came out fine. Easy as anything.

As a writer, this is extremely interesting to me. It’s important. If one day I try to write something and it sucks, then the next day I try to write and it works, something big is happening. There’s a secret here, something that’s close to the heart of my magic.

It took me a while to figure it out, but here’s what I think happened:

Generally speaking, I don’t worry too much about ripping off other authors’ styles when I write. It’s a common fear of newer writers, and I spent a couple years anxious about it, just like everyone else.

But eventually I got over that particular fear for the simple reason that I never found any real evidence that it was happening. At least no more than is strictly necessary and/or polite.

There was one exception to this. Back in 1997 I read every Sherlock Homes story Doyle ever wrote in about five days.

On the sixth day, I wrote a chapter in my book. And what do you know? Kvothe turned into Sherlock Holmes. He was deducing shit all over the place. Bast fell into an odd Watson role, too.

It took me years to get all the Holmes out of that chapter. Many revisions.

The point is, I’d soaked up so much Holmes in those five days, that I couldn’t properly assimilate it. So when I tried to write, it spilled into my book.

After a couple of days my brain managed to digest all the Holmes and get itself back into its baseline state. But I’d learned my limit. A thousand pages of compelling, distinctive prose in a week’s time is bound to influence my writing for a day or two.

(This is part of the reason I haven’t tackled Martin’s series yet.)

I suspect the same thing happened to me after reading about 150 pages of Wheaton’s strangely compelling anecdotal bloginess. I doubt very much it would have thrown a monkey wrench into my novel writing. But it sure as hell confused my blogging. What I wrote yesterday was probably some bastard hybridization of my style and his.

Why do I mention this? Partly because it’s interesting to me, and writing about things helps organize and clarify things in my own head. But I also mention it because I know a lot of you are writers, or are at least curious about the writing process.

Anyway, here’s the better write-up of Wheaton’s book.

*     *    *

I’ve always known Wil Wheaton as one of the greater internet Powers.

That’s how I think of people like Wheaton, Doctorow, Scalzi, and Jerry over at Penny Arcade. They are people who occupy the internet community on an almost deific level. They’re actively engaged in discussions about things like creative commons, and web freedom, and other bigthink information-age issues. When they speak on a subject, the air shakes, people tweet and link and perform other media-appropriate types of adulation.

These people are their own Metatrons. They’re like the totem spirits of the internet.

That said, I don’t tend to read their blogs with any sort of regularity. I poke around Jerry’s blog every week or so. I read Scalzi a couple times a month, or if someone sends me a link. Same with Gaiman. It’s odd. I find their blogs interesting and well-written, but I’m just not drawn to follow them in my regular compulsive way.

That means that when I picked up Wheaton’s book, I wasn’t wearing fan-colored glasses.

Don’t get me wrong, I know who he is. I liked Wheaton in Stand By Me and Next Generation. I loved to hate him in The Guild. I even wrote an epic poem about him, once upon a time. A poem I dream of reading in public one day, as he, Scalzi, and Felica Day perform an elaborate dumbshow, acting it out while dressed in period costume appropriate for a 9th century mead-hall.

During this reading, I would like to be wearing a fur cloak of some sort. And perhaps a crown. In this little mental fantasy, I look rather like a cross between Brian Blessed and an angry bear. I also imagine myself as being profoundly drunk on mead.

My point is, when I started reading Just a Geek, I didn’t know what to expect.

Quite to my amazement, I was sucked into the story. It’s autobiographical, and covers a time in Wheaton’s life when he was going through a bit of a rough patch, trying to come to grips with his life, his acting career, his fluctuating celebrity, and his feelings about Star Trek.

Simply said, I enjoyed this book to a startling degree.

It was funny, touching, snarky, and remarkably sweet. I didn’t start the book as a Wheaton fan, but now that I’ve finished it, it’s safe to say I’ve swung over to that side of the fence.

In my opinion, you really don’t need to be a fan of Star Trek to enjoy it. (Though it probably wouldn’t hurt.)

But this isn’t a book about a guy that used to be on Star Trek. It’s not a book about being a celebrity. Or being an actor.

Ultimately, it’s a book about a guy dealing with being human. That makes it interesting to everyone.

It’s worth your time. Check it out.

*     *     *

There. That’s a good write-up.That’s what I meant to do the first time around.

Goes to show that if you write something that’s a shitty mess, it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes all it takes to fix it is a night’s sleep and a willingness to get back on the horse that threw you the first time around.

Later space cowboys,

pat

Also posted in musings, Revision, the craft of writing, Wil Wheaton | By Pat68 Responses

Just a Geek

I’ve owned this book for a long while, but it was just two days ago that I finally picked it up and started reading it. You know how it is. Life gets in the way, the book gets buried, you wonder where it is, you get distracted by whatever. Candy. Sex. Aperture science.

I finished reading it less than five minutes ago, and even though it’s 4:30 AM, I came upstairs, woke up the computer, and now I sit here, trying to figure out what I can say about it.

But I don’t know what to say. I’m flummoxed. I’m positively wallowing in flum over here.

I suppose I should mention that I don’t read Wheaton’s blog. I’ve wandered by there now and again, following links friends have sent me. But I’ve never made a habit of it.

Don’t read too much into that. It’s not like I avoid his blog. It’s just that I don’t read blogs. Not at all, really. Not even engaging blogs written by clever people I’m interested in, like Gaiman, Scalzi, or Wheaton.

I know that might sound odd to people. As I’ve been writing this blog for… good lord… over four years now. But the truth is, I don’t think of this as a blog. I think of it as a continuation of the humor column I wrote for almost ten years back in college. I make jokes, talk about my life, and occasionally give some bad advice.

But I don’t think of this as a blog.

For me, it’s a relief valve. This is where I give vent to the parts of my personality that don’t have any place in the novels I’m working on.

This is the place where I can snark and bitch if I want. I can talk politics or get sappy about my baby. I can say “Monkeyfucker” and get it out of my system. Which is a good thing, because that would be really hard to work into book three.

What was my point here?

Oh, right. My point is that I’m not a Wheaton fanboy. I picked up the book because I was curious, then never got around to it because I wasn’t curious enough.

That said, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a bit of a Star Trek geek. I used to watch it in high school. I watched it with my mom who was a Star Trek geek since before I was born.

God. I haven’t though of that in years. I remember watching that first episode of The Next Generation with her. During the first commercial, we agreed that the new version of the ship looked all wrong. It offended our sensibilities.

But we grew to love the show. We watched it as a family. It was an event.

Later on I watched it with one of my best friends in high school, Steve. He was a true geek for the show, and it was one of the things that gave us some common ground.

Eventually I left for college and watched it with my new friends. It let me know I’d found the right sort of people to hang out with.

Much later, after the show was long over, I bought a bunch of collector’s edition VHS tapes at a garage sale. They became part of my nightly pre-writing ritual. I would eat dinner and watch an episode of Next Generation while drinking an insanely strong cup of coffee. Then I would go work on what I called, “The Book.”

It was 1999, and I was still writing the first draft of what would eventually become The Kingkiller Chronicle.

It’s strange to think of how big a part of my life Star Trek used to be. I bet I haven’t watched any in ten years.

So. In summary. I read this book as a Trek geek, but not as a Wheaton fanboy. I’ve known *of* him for some time now. Hell, I’d even written a story with him *in* it. But I really didn’t know much about him. I knew he was a powerful part of the geek culture, but he was one of the cool, famous, Hollywood geeks, and I was just a writer geek. Our paths have never crossed.

Okay. Enough context. On to the book.

Simply said, I found it absolutely fascinating. I wasn’t a Wheaton Fanboy before I read it, but now I kinda am…. Now I can understand why folks like him so much.

The writing is perfectly, painfully candid. It’s like a little backstage pass into Wheaton’s life back when things weren’t going so well for him. Back when he was dealing with some hard stuff in his life.

The story really got its hooks into me. It made me anxious. Gave me troubling dreams. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.

There are a lot of things I liked about the book, but I’m still having a hard time putting my finger on the crux of it. I can’t say what it was that made me come up to my computer tonight instead of sleeping. I can’t say what made me write a 1000 word blog tonight, rather than the gushy little goodreads review I’d been planning on.

I liked the fact that I got a behind-the-scenes peek at Star Trek and some of the actors that I grew up watching. That was cool.

I liked that Wheaton talked about what it’s like being an actor. I found that really interesting too.

He’s funny, and articulate, and self-deprecating, and honest….

But I still can’t point to what it is that really grabbed me by the nuts, here.

I really don’t know. Still flummoxed.

It could be I liked it because, ultimately, it was a story about stories. I have a weakness for those.

Part of me wishes I’d read this book back in 2008. Back when I’d missed my first deadline and was feeling like absolute shit. Back when I was sure I was ruining my entire career by delaying book 2. Back when I was still trying to get a grip on some of this celebrity stuff while at the same time being wretchedly messed up about my mom being gone. I think this book would have helped me sort though my shit a little more quickly.

Gech. I’m making a rambly mess of this. It seems like the more I like a book, the more trouble I have explaining why.

Okay. I’ll take one more run at this. I’m going to keep it simple this time:

It was a good book. You should give it a try. Unless you really don’t want to. Then you should do something else.

Merciful Buddha. That’s just awful.

Let that be a lesson to any of you that come looking for blurbs. Don’t. I suck at this.

pat

Also posted in blogging, mom, my dumbness, the art of blurbing, Wil Wheaton | By Pat38 Responses

Fanmail FAQ: Looking for Good Books….

So in the last week I’ve had three e-mails along these lines:

Pat,

School is over for the semester, and I have a long, glorious summer stretching out in front of me. What’s more, I’ve got a summer job that involves very little actual work. (I’m a late-night gas station attendant.)

This leaves me all the time I could possibly want for reading.

Here’s my problem. I’m having trouble finding good stuff to read. Any advice for me? What’s your summer reading list?

Love your stuff,

Ben

I get a fair number of these sorts of letters. And generally speaking, they’re pretty easy to answer, as I can just point people at all the blogs I’ve written over the last four years where I recommend books.

Barring that, I point people at my Goodreads profile. Where I sometimes list the books I’m reading, and occasionally post up a review if I really feel strongly about a book.

In addition to letters like the one above, I’ve also had many, many people forward me the link to the current Poll NPR is holding, asking people to nominate books for their upcoming top 100 SF and Fantasy novels of all time.

For those of you too lazy to click a link, the gist is this: On NPR’s page, they’re asking people to post a comment listing their top five favorite SF/F novels or series.

I have opinions on this matter. So, of course, I posted my vote. It was pretty easy, because I’ve been obsessed with the Dresden Files lately. That’s one. Then there’s The Last Unicorn and Something Wicked This Way Comes – Three. Then Stranger in a Strange Land. Four.

I was going to vote for Lord of the Rings, too. But then I erased it and voted for my own series instead. I’m not entirely proud of that, but I’m not going to lie about it either. I figure Tolkien has enough votes. Besides, I happen to like my books a hell of a lot.

Only after I voted did I start to look at other people’s comments, and the titles of some of the books they mentioned hit me like bombs. Dune. Of course. I should have listed Dune. Discworld. Of course I should have listed Pratchett. Amber. Of course.

Luckily I’d already voted, so I couldn’t spend any time agonizing over which ones should really fit into my top five.

Then, later that same day, I got this letter:

Pat,

I’ve only recently started reading Fantasy and Sci-Fi about a year ago. You were one of my first. ;)

I know you’ve read it your whole life. I need to play some serious catch-up. If you were going to list the most important books you’ve ever read. Like a bibliography of the best, most influential fantasy books you ever came in contact with, what would be on that list?

Specifically, I’d like to become well-read in fantasy and science fiction. But it seems like half of what I pick up is… don’t be offended. But it’s kinda shit. I know that one man’s trash it another man’s treasure. But I’ll trust a list of books from you more than some generic list I found online. I’ve enjoyed most all the books you’ve recommended so far….

Thanks so much,

Pennie

“What the hell?” I thought. Never let it be said that I ignored a serendipitous confluence of events. Or that I missed a chance to answer several e-mails in a single blog….

So I did some research. By which I mean I went downstairs and looked at my shelves:

For some perspective. Here’s one part of one wall of the downstairs library. Note that this does not give any impression of books on the other walls. Or on the upstairs shelves. Or in boxes in the hallway. Or the boxes in the basement. Or over at the office. Or in storage in the office. Or on my shelves in my childhood bedroom in Madison. Or in the boxes in my childhood bedroom in Madison.

I kinda have a lot of books.

It is my dream to someday have all my books in one place, all on shelves, all organized in a system that pleases me.

It is a beautiful dream.

Anyway, here’s my list of SF and Fantasy recommendations. If you read nothing but these books, I think you could consider yourself to be reasonably well-read and somewhat well-rounded in the genre.

The rules I set for myself:

1. Only stuff I’ve actually read.

2. No more than 40 items, or I’d be doing this forever.

3. No more than one book or series per author.

So here we go:

  1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  2. The Last Unicorn By Peter S. Beagle
  3. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  4. Stranger In a Strange Land Robert Heinlein
  5. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  7. Dragonriders Of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
  8. Dune by Frank Herbert
  9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  10. The Discworld books by Terry Pratchett
  11. The Chronicles of Amber–Roger Zelazny
  12. Brave New World–Aldous Huxley
  13. Wizard of Earthsea By Le Guin
  14. Sandman  – Neil Gaiman
  15. The Fisher King Trilogy by Tim Powers
  16. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams
  17. The Riddlemaster of Hed series by Patricia McKillip
  18. Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P Lovecraft
  19. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  20. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  21. 1984 – by George Orwell
  22. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson
  23. Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare
  24. The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, by Barry Hughart
  25. The Princess Bride – William Goldman
  26. The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
  27. Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
  28. The Odyssey by Homer
  29. The Last Herald-Mage trilogy – Mercedes Lackey
  30. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  31. River World Series – Phillip Jose Farmer
  32. One Thousand and One Nights
  33. Riftwar Saga by Feist
  34. The Dark Tower series – Stephen King
  35. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams
  36. Belgariad series by David Eddings
  37. Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson
  38. Michael Ende – The Neverending Story
  39. The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  40. The Shannara Trilogy – Terry Brooks

Now before everyone starts to squawk that I left out their favorite babies, keep in mind that I’m throwing this list together on the fly. So I’ve doubtless forgotten a few I would otherwise have included.

But yeah. It was really hard to even keep it to 40. Here’s the ones I had to cull from the above list. Consider them the runners-up.

  1. The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb
  2. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
  3. Only Forward by Michael Marshal Smith
  4. A Canticle for Leibowitz- Walter M Miller
  5. Pretty much Anything by Christopher Moore
  6. Time Enough for Love – Robert Heinlein
  7. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
  8. His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
  9. Black Company Series – Glen Cook
  10. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
  11. Lud in Mist – Hope Mirrlees
  12. The Red Magician – Lisa Goldstein
  13. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
  14. A Wrinke In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  15. Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury
  16. Declare- Tim Powers
  17. Legend- David Gemmel
  18. Icewind Dale Trilogy – R.A. Salvatore
  19. Harry Potter by Rowling (Mostly the first four)
  20. Beowulf

Gech. I have to stop. I’m done. Seriously done.

What’s that you say? Your absolutely favoritest of favorites still isn’t on the list?

Well… suck it. It’s my list, not yours.

No. Wait. What I mean to say is that I picked these books for the list because they:

  1. Influenced me because I loved them so very much.
  2. Influenced the genre because of when/where/how they were written.
  3. Influenced the SF/F readership because so many people have read them.

Every book on this list has done two of these three things. Many have done all three.

While I was doing my brief spatter of research and trolling through the comments on the NPR poll, I kept spotting books and thinking, “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to read that….”

So, lastly, to partially answer Ben’s question about my summer reading list. Here are the books that would probably be fighting for positions on the above lists if I’d read them. They’re books I’m meaning to read, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  1. The Doomsday Book – Connie Willis
  2. Fafhrd & Gray Mouser books – Fritz Leiber
  3. Watership Down – Richard Adams
  4. The Gormenghast series – Mervyn Peake
  5. Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  6. The Glass Book of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
  7. A Song of Ice and Fire – Martin (Yeah Yeah. I know. I’ve been busy…)
  8. The Forever War – by Joe Haldeman
  9. House of Leaves – Mark Z Danielewski
  10. The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  11. Nova – Samuel R. Delaney
  12. Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany
  13. The Uplift Trilogy – David Brin (I’ve only read one so far…)
  14. The Hollows series – Kim Harrison
  15. The Fionavar Tapestry – Guy Gavriel Kay
  16. The Vorkosigan Saga – Lois McMaster Bujold
  17. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  18. Conan stories – Robert E. Howard
  19. Little, Big – John Crowley
  20. Lensman Series – E.E. “Doc” Smith
  21. Malazan Books of the Fallen – Steven Erikson
  22. Wheel of Time – Jordan and Sanderson (I’ve only read the first two)
  23. Tripod Trilogy – Samuel Youd
  24. Flatland – Edwin A. Abbott
  25. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Okay. I’m done. Not only should you have plenty to read now, but those of you who were suffering from a paralyzing lack of numbered lists should be satisfied as well.

Share and enjoy….

pat

Also posted in Fanmail Q + A, FAQ | By Pat394 Responses

The Arrival

It’s been a while since I recommended a book here on the blog.

So here we go.

Simply said: I don’t think it would be possible for me to like this book any more than I do.

I read it last night, and today I ordered five more copies just to give away as gifts.

It’s entirely pictures. No text at all. It is lovely and strange and stirring and sweet. I cried a bit.

That’s all there is to say, really. If you’re looking for something a little different to read, you should check this out. It’s beautiful.

pat

Posted in recommendations | By Pat27 Responses

Wise Man’s Fear: The Tour

Okay folks. The dates for my upcoming tour are finally set.

Here they are in chronological order.

Week One: The West Coast

SEATTLE, WA
March 1 at 7 PM
University Bookstore
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA

PORTLAND, OR
March 2 at 7 PM
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR

SAN FRANCISCO, CA
March 3 at 7 PM
SF in SF Reading Series
The Variety Theater
582 Market St.
San Francisco, CA

LOS ANGELES, CA
March 4 at 7 PM
Barnes & Noble
7881 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA

SAN DIEGO, CA
March 5 at 2 PM
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA

HOUSTON, TX
March 6 at 2 PM
Murder by the Book
2342 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX

Week Two: Middle America


MADISON, WI
March 8 at 7 PM
Barnes & Noble
7433 Mineral Point Rd.
Madison, WI

CHICAGO, IL
March 9 at 7 PM
Borders Books & Music
1500 16th St.
Oak Brook, IL

DAYTON, OH
March 10 at 7 PM
Books & Company
4453 Walnut St.
The Greene, Dayton, OH

LEXINGTON, KY
March 11 at 7 PM
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
161 Lexington Green Circle
Lexington, KY

SAINT LOUIS, MO
March 12 at 7 PM
Left Banks Books
399 n. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO

Week Three: The East Coast

WASHINGTON, DC AREA
March 14 at 12 PM
What If Reading Series
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC AREA
March 14 at 7:30 PM
Borders Books & Music
5871 Crossroads Center Way
Bailey’s Crossroads, VA

NEW YORK, NY
March 15 at 7 PM
Barnes & Noble
267 7th Ave.
Park Slope
Brooklyn, NY

BOSTON, MA
March 16 at 6 PM
Northeastern University Bookstore
Snell Library
360 Huntington Ave.
4 Ell Hall, Boston, MA

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

A few notes closing:

  • These dates are solid, and won’t be changing unless something strange and/or catastrophic happens. If that happens, I’ll mention it on the blog and update the tour schedule.
  • Did you see the first event in week three? Yeah. That’s right. I’m doing a reading at the Library of Congress. How cool is that?
  • Yes. I am doing fifteen signings in sixteen days. I expect somewhere around Lexington I’m going to have a manic episode, so those guys at Joseph-Beth are in for one one hell of a show.
  • I am considering buying a tuxedo. Or rather, I’m considering buying a new tuxedo especially for one of these events. I like wearing a tux.
  • I will be doing most of these events solo. But at some of them I might have Sarah and Oot with me. If this is the case, I will display Oot to you, and you will be required to gaze adoringly at his cuteness.

(Saying “awww” will also be encouraged.)

  • I’ve done the math, and with 15 signings, it’s a statistical near-certainty that at some point in the tour I will sing.
  • I’ll be posting up information about how you can get a signed copy of The Wise Man’s Fear even if you can’t make one of these events. Expect that blog on Friday.

In other news, for all you Girl Genius fans out there, Phil and Kaja’s new book just came out recently. It’s a novel set in the Girl Genius world.

I have to admit that I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited to. I ordered my copy just 5 minutes ago because it’s Kaja’s birthday today….

Lastly but not leastly, could we avoid having a bunch of comments on the blog where people say, “Wah Wah! Why don’t you ever come to Hobgen?” (Or whatever town you live in…)

I know that those comments come from a place of love. Or at least from a place of vaguely love-scented narcissism. But honestly, they’re a little disheartening to read every time I post up an event.

Keep in mind that I’ll be traveling 3 solid weeks in March just to meet fans, hang out, and sign books. Unless my mutant power manifests in February and I’m suddenly able to bi-locate or teleport, it is physically impossible for me to do more events.

Rest assured that once my mutant powers develop, I will make every effort to come to Wagon Mound, New Mexico. Until then, you’ll have to drive a bit to see me, or wait until I come to a convention in your area. And yes, when choosing which conventions and signings I attend, I make a point of trying to pick ones in parts of the country (and world) that I haven’t visited yet.

More soon. I’m back in the groove now, so expect a new blog on Friday.

Later space cowboys,

pat

Also posted in appearances, Oot, Sarah | By Pat214 Responses

Graphic Novels: Batman and Robin, Gaiman and Girl Genius.

This is a Worldbuilders blog.

It’s only been a couple days, and the auction for Gaiman’s signed, numbered ARC of Stardust is already at $1000 bucks. This makes me happy for Worldbuilders and Heifer international. But at the same time I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from frustrated fans as they see the book pulled farther and farther from their desperately grasping fingertips.

So today I’m putting something from my personal collection into the general prize pool for the lottery. It isn’t quite as cool as the rare ARC, but it does have certain glow of awesome to it.

Best of all, you don’t have to bid against collectors for this book. Everyone who donates on our Team Heifer page has a chance at winning it.

When I first read Stardust, I read it as a novel. It wasn’t until a year later that I learned the story was originally published as a graphic novel of sorts. I say “of sorts” because it’s not a comic so much as it’s an novel with gorgeous illustrations by Charles Vess.

For example:

This is a beautiful hardcover, signed by Gaiman himself. And while it might not be all rare and numbered and such, I’m going to include something else to bring the coolness up a little closer to the ARC.

Since Stardust is a story about a star that fell from the sky, I thought I’d include a piece of honest-to-goodness star-iron with this book.

You see, before I was a book geek, I was a rock geek. By which I mean I used to collect rocks.

While I’ve let most of that particular madness go, I do still collect meteorites. This is a piece from my personal collection. It’s a cut, etched section of the Gibbeon meteorite. One of the rarer types of meteorites, it’s composed almost entirely of nickel and iron.

This picture shows one of the cooler things about the Gibeon irons. There’s a pattern embedded in the iron that looks like frost. Except frost shows up when water freezes, and these marks show up when iron and nickel slowly cool over millions of years.

It’s called a Widmanstätten pattern. And it forms because the different alloys of nickel and iron cool at slightly different rates while the molten iron is in space. The effect can’t be duplicated on earth, so it only shows up in iron-nickel meteorites.

Each different meteorite fall has a different mix of iron and nickel, so they each have a slightly different pattern. In my opinion, the Gibeon’s is one of the coolest looking.

Okay, enough rock-geekery. Let’s get back to the book-geekery.

*     *     *

This year, when I announced I was starting up Worldbuilders, several bookstores offered to donate to the fundraiser. Haven Comics contacted me and asked if I’d like to include some graphic novels in the mix this year.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I would.”

“Do you have any suggestions?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I do.”

  • A copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Because of a few comments I’ve made in the past some people think I don’t like Batman. But this simply isn’t true.

The Dark Knight Returns is the very first comic I read as an adult, and it sold me on graphic novels as a legitimate medium for storytelling. Before that I was kinda stupid because I thought comics were only for kids. Grown ups read novels, right?

Wrong. This story absolutely knocked me over and I recommend it to anyone, whether or not they enjoy superhero comics or whether or not they give a damn about Batman. It’s just a brilliant story.

One of the main problems with trying to get into comics these days is that so many comics are superhero comics.

Now that by itself isn’t bad. The problem is all those superheros have 40 or 50 years of backstory. That means picking a comic off the rack and trying to read it can be unpleasantly similar to starting Wheel of Time with book #9.

None of the comics we’re putting up on the blog today have that problem. You can pick them up, start reading, and understand the story even if you’ve never read a comic before in your whole life…

Simply said, Fables is one of the best mainstream comics being written today.

The main characters aren’t superheroes. They’re figures from folklore. You have Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Baba Yaga, and the Big Bad Wolf. The basic premise is that these characters have been forced from their native lands and are taking refuge in our mundane world.

Bill Willingham just does a marvelous job of bringing these characters together into huge overarching story that comes to beautiful fruition over about 10 issues.

Another brilliant Batman story arc that I’m rather fond of. It maintains one artist and one author through the entire arc which I always tend to prefer, as I believe it helps a story maintain its consistent feel.

“Jeph Loeb has crafted a story that is unique to the characters. It’s a complex murder mystery, but its also a Batman story… Buoyed by a film noir-ish plot that features a Gothic twist on the gangster/murder mystery plot, terrific character-based subplots, and beautiful, cinematic art, [The Long Halloween is] an addition to your collection that you won’t regret.” – Yannick Belzil of The 11th Hour

Many of you might remember the Sin City movie that came out a while ago. It was a fairly good flick, but as is usually the case, the original book was better.

Normally I don’t notice the art of a graphic novel very much. I just don’t have much of an eye for the graphic. I’m in it for the words and the story. But even I have to acknowledge that Miller’s art style in Sin City is striking and unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. The story itself is dark and gritty. And it has one of my all-time favorite characters in it: Marv. Marv is lovable and dark and vicious in way I know I can never hope to pull off in my own writing.

We’re all heartbroken over Firefly going away. But Joss Whedon has managed to continue the story in a few graphic novels.

So if you’re like me, still weeping bitter tears about the cancellation of Firefly. You can read Those Left Behind and spend a little more time with the crew of Serenity. It’s not season two. But it’s good.

Zombies movies have been fashionable for good long while now.

The problem is, a zombie movie almost has to be an action flick. You only have an hour and a half to tell the story in a movie, and so the story ends up being plot-driven. How do we get out of the city? What caused this? How do we survive?

What’s cool about The Walking Dead is that it’s a longer story arc. That means you get to see the long-term psychological story of a society that has fallen apart because of a zombie apocalypse.

This story doesn’t focus on the characters running around saying, “oh my god! Why is this happening? How do we survive until the government saves us?”  Instead you see them surviving for years after the apocalypse, dealing the a broken society and their incredible emotional baggage. It’s a brilliant concept for a comic, wonderfully well-executed.

*     *     *

Once I started entering the comics that Haven sent in, I started thinking about some other comics that I wanted to mention to people. So here are a few of my personal favorites I’m kicking in to this year’s lottery.

Warren Ellis is one of my favorite comic authors. He’s written so many books I adore, but I think I like Transmetropolitan the best.

How can I describe this book…?

Okay. Imagine if Henry Rollins and John Stewart had a baby. Then that baby grew up and had a baby with Hunter S. Thomson. Then that baby grew up and had Tourettes. Transmetropolitan would be that kid’s favorite book.

Right, I’ll admit that’s a terrible analogy. But it kind of gets the point across, this book is insane and hugely fucking smart. I love its dystopian future and over-arching storyline.

And I totally want a pair of glasses like Spider Jerusalem.

Mike Carey is another favorite comic author of mine. He has a particular gift for bringing together unique and obscure mythologies in his stories.

Crossing Midnight is a particular favorite of mine because it brings subtle elements of eastern culture and folklore into the story. No no. Not ninja and samurai. There’s more to Japan than Ninja and samurai. I’m talking about cool folklore. Things you probably never heard of before…

  • A copy of Scud the Disposable Assassin by Rob Schrab.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this book for more than a year. It deserves an entire blog all to itself, full of gushy enthusiasm and lavish praise. I’ll try to give it the credit it deserves in just a couple paragraphs.

Those of you who were reading comics back around the early 90’s might remember Scud. It was absolutely different from any other comic out there. Frantic. Light-hearted. Irreverent. Sweet. Bizarre. Dark. Sarcastic. Touching.

Unfortunately in 1998 the comic published a cliffhanger and just… stopped. Really stopped. For years. For a decade.

Then, in 2008, the artist and writer, Rob Schrab came back to finish the story. Despite the fact that he’s all Hollywood famous now, he came back and finished the series. What’s more, he put such a lovely ending on it that I actually cried.

This is a gorgeous collection, and it includes the entire story arc. As it says in the title: Beginning, Middle, and End.

This is Joss Whedon. What else do I need to say? This comic actually made me give a damn about the X-Men despite the fact that I didn’t know anything much about them before I picked up the book.

So yeah. Joss Whedon. Brilliant.

*     *     *

These next few books were donated by artist Ray McCarthy. Turns out he’s a fan of Name of the Wind, and after checking out some of the titles he’s worked on, I’m a fan of his, too.

  • A copy of Batman: Contagion. Signed by illustrator Ray McCarthy.

This is one of the classic Batman storylines from back in the mid-90’s. A slew of great writers and illustrators collaborated on it, including Ray McCarthy who donated this book and has signed it.

  • Two copies of Catwoman and Vampirella by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Ray McCarthy. Signed by the illustrator.

Part of me wants to feel guilty about looking at this cover for as long as I have, and the rest of me doesn’t care.

  • A set of Red Robin graphic novels . Collision signed by Ray McCarthy.

I’ll admit that this new series was completely off my radar until Ray brought it to my attention. But I picked it up and was immediately pulled in despite the fact that I’m not up-to-date on the current Batman storylines. Dynamic storytelling. Cool art.

  • Original Red Robin Art and matching comic from Ray McCarthy.

Lastly, Ray was cool enough to donate an original page of art from Red Robin #16.

To make sure this unique item ends up in the hands of someone who will love it properly, we’re putting it up for auction. Remember, the proceeds from the auctions go to support Worldbuilders and Heifer International.

You can bid on the Red Robin original art over here.

*     *     *

Two months ago I gushed about Girl Genius on the blog.

In that blog I professed my undying love for the series. I even went so far as to tell people that if they bought the first book on my recommendation and didn’t like it, I would buy the comic back from them.

Since then, people keep emailing me, wondering how many copies of the book I’ve had to buy back.

The answer: None. Not a single one.

Given my love for this series, I’m so excited to add this item to the mix today.

Phil and Kaja Foglio were cool enough to donate two full sets of Girl Genius to Worldbuilders this year. Both sets are signed by both Phil and Kaja.

One of these will be going into the general lottery so anyone can win it.

The other one we’re putting up for auction.

You can bid on the autographed set of Girl Genius over  here.

*     *     *

Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them.

In addition to that, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made on our Team Heifer page.

Matching donations and a chance to win cool swag. What more could you ask for? Go on. Do it. You know you want to.

To see the other books you can win, and other auctions Worldbuilders is running, you can head over to the main page HERE.

Also posted in Neil Gaiman, Worldbuilders 2010 | By Pat49 Responses
  • Our Store

  • Previous Posts

  • Archives

  • My Twitter

  • Bookmark this Blog

    (IE and Firefox users only - Safari users, click Command-D)