On Sunday, December 30, 2012 my father-in-law, Alfredo Rodriguez passed away from cancer of the pancreas. He was 61. His death was agony, to the point that his last days on Earth were spent entirely under the influence of morphine. I was there at the end and the days, weeks, and months leading up to it. I’ve never witnessed anything so heroic.
Four days before my father-in-law passed my wife turned 32. She was pregnant with our second child. Now, nearly a year later, with a healthy baby boy in my arms, I’m able to reflect on his passing, the struggle, the emotion, and the relief when it was all over. That reflection led me to consider death in general, but more specifically death in fiction. And, of course, even more specifically, death in the fiction I love.
I’m reminded of a famous line from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, “Duty is heavy as a mountain, death is light as a feather.” It implies, if not outright says, that death is easy.… Read the rest
October was crazy. My family finally joined me in Texas, completing our relocation from Washington DC, and we bought a new home. This is the first home we’ve owned that doesn’t share walls with another structure (condos, row houses, etc). This means things like lawn mowing, trash lugging, and copious amounts of cleaning. Who knew?
And we got this:
Concurrent with this I’ve been asked to read a lot of manuscripts, which is excessively time consuming and provides no end product for this blog. In fact, I’m not sure it provides an end product of anything except some reasonably coherent notes for a writer. Well, that and it’s helped me become a much better evaluator of fiction seeing these projects in their infancy grow into published works.
That said, with October over and life resuming some normal patterns, I hope to return to consuming two books a week and maintaining the best blog on the internet.… Read the rest
I’ve been fairly outspoken at times about how the SF&F community could do with a little more diversity. I’ve mostly talked about how we need to look beyond the borders of the United States and the British Commonwealth, but there’s a lot we can do for diversity here at home. Two New York City publishing publicists are trying to do just that. . .
Despite data that shows women read more than men, a lot of our stories still reflect “straight white man, or often a bunch of straight white men, creating things with science, wielding magic, saving the world, blowing stuff up. If there are women or people of color involved, [they're] probably love interests or sidekicks. [They] probably only talk to, or about, the white male lead. [They] probably die first, or to provide motivation for the protagonist.”
I pulled that quote directly from the fundraiser being run by Ellen Wright and Faye Bi who are running the New York City Marathon for Speculative Literature Foundation Inc., a non profit that promotes science fiction and fantasy and encourages new writers of both adult and children’s genre literature.… Read the rest
With my recent career change and relocation, I was considering a full re-brand of Staffer’s Book Review. I had a new name picked out, a new domain bought, and I began to rebuild the site. When push came to shove, and the rebuild was almost complete, I decided to stick with the girl I brought to the dance.
I mean, who cares if the new blog was younger and better looking? I’m not going to dump old Staffer’s Book Review just as I’m getting popular. No, sir! We will march on together with slightly sleeker lines. To that end, I hoping my readers will provide me with some feedback.
- Does everything work?
- How are the colors?
- Does the header font bug you as much as it bugs some people?
- Are there functions in a sidebar that you can’t live without?
- Will you still love me in the morning?
I’m sure the site will undergo some more changes in the days and weeks ahead, but let me thank you all for being a part of Staffer’s Book Review for the last two years.… Read the rest
We have news(!) – Speculative Fiction 2012 is now available on Amazon.
This collection contains over fifty of the year’s best online essays and reviews, from Tansy Rayner Roberts on Supergirl to Lavie Tidhar on China Miéville to Aishwarya Subramanian on My Little Pony to Joe Abercrombie on, er, himself. It is a diverse collection of some of last year’s best and most interesting writing. We fully expect – and hope – it will cause discussion, debate and a bit of a ruckus.
The book also contains a foreword from Orbit author Mur Lafferty, an introduction from this year’s editors (Jared Shurin and myself) and an afterword from the 2013 editors, Ana Grilo and Thea James of The Booksmugglers. Not to mention the beautiful cover from the talented Sarah Anne Langton.
All proceeds from sales of this book are donated to Room to Read, supporting literacy and gender equality in education around the world.… Read the rest
Every year, stealing a page from Neth Space, I like to review the statistics behind my reading. I thought I’d share it with my readers.
In 2012, I read:
- 100 books
- 37,290 pages (interesting that I read 10 fewer books a year ago, but 5,000 pages more!)
- 75 were published in 2012
- 11 were published in a prior year
- 3 will be published in 2013
- 1 will be published in 2014
- 10 are written, but are not currently under contract, or have yet to receive a publish date.
- 59 are part of a series
- 82 were provided by the publisher or author
- I read more books published by Hachette (17) and its various imprints than any other – in this case all 15 were from Orbit, and 1 was from Little, Brown.
- The next closest were Penguin (15), Night Shade (14), Macmillan (12), Random House (11), Angry Robot (5), and Pyr (3).
… Read the rest
Last year, I began a partnership with Jared Shurin, co-owner/editor of Pandemonium Fiction, to release an anthology titled Speculative Fiction 2012, The Years Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, with proceeds to be donated to charity.
Our goal, if any such thing can be claimed, is to create a record of all the incredibly rich content being created on the web. We put out a call for submissions from the community at large and received over 200. Accounting for our own finds, that means well over 300 pieces of non-fiction that range from reviews, to essays about the field, to what it means to live the genre life (or something to that effect).
Over the next few weeks we’ll be narrowing that down under fifty, contacting authors to get rights, and writing our witty and charming introduction that will both highlight our complete capability as curators of taste and impugn our credibility with self aggrandizing adjectives.… Read the rest
I started this blog nearly two years ago. There were a few things I expected might happen with time. I figured publishers might start sending me books. I figured people might start reading me if I made any sense. And I even figured I might gain some measure of internet celebrity (I can’t be right all the time, can I?). Even still, it’s been a pretty successful endeavor.
Last night, I received a copy of Francis Knight’s forthcoming debut, Fade to Black. It really solidified how fun this can be. Wrapped in black glossy bubble wrap and then inscribed tissue paper, Orbit Books announced Knight’s novel with panache. It screams, ‘this is going to be a huge book in 2013, don’t miss it.’
I retain the right to tell Orbit they’re full of shit if it isn’t any good, but I’ll be damned if I’m not eagerly anticipating cracking it open after I finish the short stack next to my bed (for the curious, The Red Knight by Miles Cameron, Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky, The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones). … Read the rest
I’m not sure what prompted me to write this post, but it seems like an appropriate time to talk about the five books that most influenced me as a person and as a reader. Perhaps it’s because I’m going through a big transition now, both personally with my father-in-law’s declining health and professionally with my impending doomsday of January 1 for unemployment, that I want to reflect a bit. Either way, I think there’s something significant to be learned about someone in a list like this.
Maybe other bloggers will take my cue and do a list of their own?
The Tower Treasure by Franklin W. Dixon
The first Hardy Boys book is my number one, and it’s not close. It was the first proper book I ever read and it’s largely, if not entirely, responsible for kindling in me a love of story. My parents’ raised me to find my own path.
… Read the rest
I don’t read comics anymore, but I sure used to. For the last three weeks I’ve been on a work trip, which blissfully coincides with where I grew up. I’ve been staying with my folks in the same room I was raised in, albeit with a much different decor aesthetic (mom didn’t dig bikini clad women, wtf?). I’ll be getting on a plane later tonight to head home.
In packing up, I stumbled across a few boxes in the closet. I thought some of you might get a kick out of what I found:
Is that the first issue of almost every one of Image’s launch titles? Yes, yes it is.
|Spawn #1, Cyber Force #1, Spawn #1 Signed
|Youngblood #1, WILDCATS #1, Shadow Hawk #1, Shaman’s Tears #1
|StormWatch #1, The Maxx #1, Savage Dragon #1
|Team 7 #1, Brigade #1
|Tribe #1, Savage Dragon #1 (alternate?)
And then some old Marvel favorites:
|Cable #1, X-Men #1 signed by Jim Lee
|Quasar #1 (LOL?), X-Force #1, Hawkeye #1
Did they actually MAKE these comics?
… Read the rest