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12-05-08: Agony Column Podcast News Report:
Ellen Klages Reads from 'White Sands, Red Menace' : SF in SF, November 15, 2008

Ellen Klages has a vision of science fiction that I absolutely love, which is that it is perfectly happy being fiction about science that involves NO speculation, that is indeed set in the past. Her novel, 'White Sands, Red Menace' is set in the White Sands testing range during those years when we knew that the Rooskeys were ready to bring about the end of everything in order to advance their vision of economic equality, which we KNEW to be another name for totalitarianism. She read from her novel at the SF in SF of November 15, 2008. Given that one of the other participants was Mr. Mundane SF (whose won reading was so un-mundane and wacky it was hardly SF), this was a good pairing. You can hear Klages read from her novel by following this link.

12-04-08: Agony Column Podcast News Report:
Bad Moon Books' Roy Robbins :
E-Bay Bookseller to Small Press Book Publisher

Roy Robbins started collecting books in 1970, and selling them in 1986. That would have been about the year that I started collecting, beginning with Clive Barker's 'Books of Blood' from Scream/Press. Over the years, I've bought a few books from Roy via his website of Bad Moon Books and he's always delivered on his promise which includes delivery — quick. When I found out he's become a publisher as well, I decided to give him a call.

It so happens that Robbins has a lot more going on than Steve Wedel, though he's certainly fond of that project. There's a new-old Clive Barker project in the hopper, and several others as well. I talked to Robbins about his E-Bay experience, and about the plummeting, dipping, diving and occasionally soaring values of books. E-Bay, it proves is the Great Price Leveler, keeping prices on a reasonable level before they get bloated out of all realistic expectations. You can hear his take on E-Bay Books and print runs from this link.

12-03-08: A Phone Interview with Nina Matsumoto : Girls, Earn Big Money Doing Webcomics!

Today I spoke with Nina Matsumoto to get her story directly. I was quite curious as to her interest in manga in the first place. Now I know that a large fraction of manga is aimed at the young female audience, but the whole scene is completely foreign to me, so I asked Nina to tell me what sort of manga she read. I was also curious about what she draws with, and you'll find her answers surprising. It all goes to show that success does not require anything more — or less — sophisticated than talent.

Of course, one of the most fascinating aspects of her first book,
'Yokaiden' was the Japanese folklore that she brings to the work. Again, while I knew this existed in theory, this time around I took the opportunity to ask her about where the critters came from, and how she discovers and researches them — or if she even does. She's an engaging speaker and I'm certain readers and listeners will enjoy hearing her answers through this MP3 link.

12-02-08: Agony Column Podcast News Report : Nalo Hopkinson Reads 'Snow Day' : SF in SF, November 15, 2008

Talk about a knock-em dead live-reading experience! Here's an author who lives up to her press notices, which this article shall presently join. Nalo Hopkinson was one of three authors at SF in SF on November 15, 2008; she was joined by Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman, as well as moderator Terry Bisson. She read her story "Snow Day", which is a wonderful, perfect example of why I love speculative fiction. In just a few short minutes, in just a few words, Hopkinson hops, skips and jumps past a mundane tale of shoveling snow into magic realism territory and then without skipping a beat, into the world of subtle, funny science fiction. This is the kind of thought-provoking, yet totally accessible "SF" that makes its readers and fans run frothing at the mouth to try and explain why this genre is so great.

Don't bother to explain; "Snow Day" is a story that needs no explanation. But what does need explanation is the skill with which Hopkinson reads her own work. This is performance and hearing this story read is probably a substantially different experience from reading it. My reading of the story, if ever I do so, will be heard in my mind in her mellifluous voice with all the subtleties of inflection she brought to the story. What's more, I suspect that henceforth any of her work I read shall be heard in my mind in her voice. That's an interesting effect of attending these readings. They really do change the way we read. Here's a link to Hopkinson's reading, which will change your experience of her fiction forever.

12-01-08: A 2008 Interview with Jonathan Carroll

"All of us have within us cemeteries of old lovers"

Jonathan Carroll is a literary genre unto himself. Sure, in a sense all writers are. But Carroll's work is so seamless and so powerful that as he swoops from a literary, dialogue-based comedy to a surreal scene of subtle supernatural terror, he doesn't meld or combine genres or break boundaries — he simply steps outside genre and writes what readers might first suspect, literature.

But the expectations of our booksellers and publishers and even our critics are not easily undermined. Even our own expectations require some satisfaction. Carroll provides that with work that seems carved from a solid block of words. He describes himself as a "taker-outer" in this linked interview, and I think that shows. With work this strong and powerful, this unique, one is tempted to describe it as poetry, but Carroll's prose is resolutely prose. He scrubs it clean and provides readers with a through-line to the core of his characters. We talked about his process and his interests, his research and his work in the film industry. I preface the interview with a reading, and a reading follows the interview as well. And yes, we not only talk about dogs, but more than this. In 'The Ghost in Love', Carroll offers us readers their first glimpse of what this dog-loving writer thinks of ...cats.

New to the Agony Column

04-29-13: Commentary : Ben Katchor Catalogues 'Hand Drying in America' : Subversive Cities of the Heart

Agony Column Podcast News Report : : A 2013 Interview with Ben Katchor : "...people are hesitant to make their own building into a ruin..."

04-28-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: : Time to Read Episode 95: Ben Katchor : Hand Drying in America

04-27-13: Commentary : Mark Morris Introduces 'Toady' : A New World of Horror

Agony Column Podcast News Report : : Thomas Frank from The Easy Chair and Harper's Magazine: TV's DC Fantasies : "... basically, everyone is corrupt ..."

04-22-13: Commentary : Danielle Trussoni Maps 'Angelopolis' : The Afterlife of Angels

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with Danielle Trussoni : "I wanted it to be accurate...absolutely accurate."

04-21-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 94: Danielle Trussoni : Angelopolis

04-17-13: Commentary : How Not to Leave the House : Reach for the Recycling

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Matt Richtel, Sophie Littlefield and Terry Bisson at SF in SF on February 9, 2013 : "You cannot do this all day long." Sophie Littlefield

04-16-13: Commentary : Stephen Kessler 'Scratch Pegasus' : Lens of Language

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with Stephen Kessler : "..knit a formal coherence by way of sound and rhythm..."

04-14-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 93: Stephen Kessler : Scratch Pegasus

04-09-13: Commentary : Paul McComas & Greg Starrett Sew Up 'Fit for a Frankenstein' : Hands All on Gretl

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Matt Richtel Reads at SF in SF on February 9, 2013 : "I'm much more interested in the mental miasma..."

04-08-13: Commentary : Ruth Ozeki Clocks 'A Tale for the Time Being' : Reading is the Future

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with Ruth Ozeki : "...through the act of writing, she would somehow conjure the reader into being..."

04-07-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 92: Ruth Ozeki : : A Tale for the Time Being

04-06-13: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 91: Lawrence Wright : : Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

04-04-13: Commentary : Danielle Trussoni Excavates 'Angelology' : Gothic Girl

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books With Alan Cheuse : : 'A Tale for the Time Being' by Ruth Ozeki, 'Odds Against Tomorrow' by Nathaniel Rich and 'Pandemonium' by Warren Fahy

04-02-13: Commentary : MacKenzie Bezos Sets 'Traps' : Need to Know

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2013 Interview with MacKenzie Bezos : "...without intention or recognition, we're playing important roles in the lives of other people..."

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