Tuesday, May 16, 2017

First Ever TED Talk on the Culture of Record Digging

This TED Talk video on record digging (aka crate digging) was brought to my attention via The Vinyl Factory's news blog. The video lasts just under 16 minutes. If you have any interest in music/music appreciation (and vinyl in particular), or music preservation, or cultural anthropology, or a combination there of, you'll want to set aside some time for this TED Talk.

There's No Place Like Home

If you're wondering why I have been fairly quiet blogwise, the pics below should help to explain... This is the living room in my house, just one of the rooms undergoing what I would call a demolition derby. (Through the large window, you can see my wife hanging out in the backyard.)

Carpeting has already been removed (which has allowed the painters to drop voluminous amounts of paint on the bare concrete out of carelessness -- but fortunately it won't matter as it will be covered up eventually with new carpeting).

The two brown shelf units, leaning against each respective wall, were originally mounted in each corner of the room, to the left and right of the window. Those brown bookcases now have a white primer, and will eventually be painted "bone" to match -- and blend in with -- the walls.

The painting should be completed by the end of this week. And then the real fun begins... Clean up, clean up, everybody (my wife and I!) clean up!

We'll need to have the air ducts cleaned first: long story, but the dust from spraying the ceiling got so thick that it set off our smoke alarm and I had to have a nice chat with our alarm monitoring service. Then a complete dusting of all the furniture including having the living room drapes cleaned (you can't see them, but that's one of the lumps underneath the plastic that is covering our couches). After the ducts are cleaned and the furniture dusted, I'll rent a shop vac to clean the floors of said dust and bits of wallpaper and blue tape and other unknown debris....

Then, finally, the new carpeting and flooring can be installed -- hopefully before the onset of winter and the rainy season!

Then, we get to move all the smaller furniture and books and stuff (lots of "stuff") back into the rooms that have been stored these past two weeks (so far) in the bedrooms. After which, I plan to collapse....

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lavie Tidhar's Central Station: Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalist

New Central StationThe Arthur C. Clarke Award has announced the nominees for 2017, and I was pleased to see that Central Station by Lavie Tidhar had made the shortlist.[1]

The Clarke Award lists the publisher as PS Publishing: since the award is a British award, the book must be published in the UK -- which it was, by PS Publishing, in a 100-copy signed and numbered limited edition with a sticker price of nearly $100.00. Of course, the trade paperback edition was originally published in the US by Tachyon Publications, and is available for a mere $15.95 (and much less when on sale, like right now!) from Amazon and elsewhere.

I worked on Central Station back in 2015, and wrote about it in my November 30 blog post. At that time the cover art had yet to be finalized. The final cover art, by Sarah Anne Langton, was showcased in my Book Received blog post on May 6, 2016. And just a couple weeks ago, on April 16, the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards were presented at Innominate, the 68th Eastercon, and Ms. Langton won for Best Artwork for the Central Station cover art.

As I wrote on November 30, 2015: "Central Station delivers a complex, idiosyncratic story, with multiple story lines and multiple points of view: robo-priests, strigoi (data-vampires), robotniks (cyborg ex-Israeli soldiers), enhanced humans, revolutionaries, space colonies -- and weaving through it all, flows the Conversation, the stream of consciousness that connects everyone and everything."

Here are a couple starred reviews to pique your interest (if it's still necessary at this point):
World Fantasy Award–winner Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming) magnificently blends literary and speculative elements in this streetwise mosaic novel set under the towering titular spaceport. In a future border town formed between Israeli Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa, cyborg ex-soldiers deliver illicit drugs for psychic vampires, and robot priests give sermons and conduct circumcisions. The Chong family struggles to save patriarch Vlad, lost in the inescapable memory stream they all share, thanks to his father's hack of the Conversation, the collective unconscious. New children, born from back-alley genetic engineering, begin to experience actual and virtual reality simultaneously. Family and faith bring them all back and sustain them. Tidhar gleefully mixes classic SF concepts with prose styles and concepts that recall the best of world literature. The byways of Central Station ring with dusty life, like the bruising, bustling Cairo streets depicted by Naguib Mahfouz. Characters wrestle with problems of identity forged under systems of oppression, much as displaced Easterners and Westerners do in the novels of Orhan Pamuk. And yet this is unmistakably SF. Readers of all persuasions will be entranced.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
. . . a fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community. Verdict: Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) changes genres with every outing, but his astounding talents guarantee something new and compelling no matter the story he tells.
Library Journal, starred review

The winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award will be announced at a public award ceremony held in partnership with Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, on Thursday, July 27, 2017. Central Station is currently available direct from the publisher, Tachyon Publications, as well as Amazon.com, or your bookseller of choice.


[1] The Arthur C. Clarke Award website has a complete list of the 2017 award nominees.

Monday, May 1, 2017

John Langan's The Fisherman Wins the Bram Stoker Award

The FishermanIn my July 19, 2016, blog post, in which I wrote of my work on John Langan's novel The Fisherman, I said -- and I quote -- "...there is no reason for any hesitation whatsoever to purchase a copy of this new John Langan novel, which I am sure will be on award shortlists next year."

And here we are, in the "next year," and The Fisherman has won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel, which was presented at StokerCon 2017 by the Horror Writers Association.[1]

Matt E. Lewis, on Horror Talk, reviews The Fisherman; I'm including a small excerpt but do check out the full review:
This novel is, without a doubt, the most beautiful I've read all year. In the beginning it's obvious to see the influence of greats like Melville in Langan's writing — in fact, this entire book might be viewed as a twisted spiritual cousin of Moby Dick. But thankfully it isn't exactly like that. Langan borrows from an omnivorous assortment of fiction writers, at times incorporating aquatic abominations that could have sprung from Lovecraft's darkest nightmares, to a hodgepodge of references to the lore from throughout time and cultures....The pacing of the story is consistent, page-turning, on par with the bestsellers of Stephen King. The exposition is shared sparingly, like a heady scent on the wind that only just registers before it's swept away.

But the most important aspect of the book is the all too relatable grief of the characters. It is the anchor that firmly lodges in the heart of the reader, reminding us that true horror does not simply spring from gross-outs and jump-scares, but the darkness of the human soul, the meeting of our primal emotions and our accursed hyper-intelligence....

In addition to the July 19 blog post mentioned above, I had posted on February 23, 2017, that The Fisherman was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. That blog post also included an excerpt from the New York Times Book Review by Terrence Rafferty. So if you're still not convinced that you need this book in your library, read the NYT review of The Fisherman -- and then hit up your fave bookseller and buy this book!


[1] The Horror Writers Association website has a complete list of all the Bram Stoker Award winners.