RedDevil 4 by Eric C. Leuthardt

Imagine it. A time right ahead of where we are right now. The not so distant future where neurotransmitters are implanted in everyone's brain.

Oh wait, it's not that far-fetched because we already have technology like this and well beyond its infancy. We are aware that tomorrow can easily become today. That much we know, things like Google Glass, microprocessors and need I say the threat of a real Skynet? (Stay off the grid, man.)

Real life neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer, Eric C. Leuthardt, has taken much of his knowledge from his incredible day job and mixed it into a dynamic story about what can go drastically wrong in the near future.

In REDDEVIL 4, we follow Dr. Hagan Maerici, who spends his days—and most nights—in his lab, working on his near breakthrough with artificial intelligence. Not only is his job on the line, as his boss constantly hounds him for results, but it is not playing out well at home, mostly because he's never there. His wife's patience is drawing thin. And just when you think this combined stress might be too much for him, it gets much worse.

A string of grizzly murders, all connected to prominent citizens, baffles the police. Two detectives, Krantz and Goldwin, are assigned the case, which takes them to Maerici, and due to his research he comes up with a theory about the suspects' neural implants. And down the rabbit hole they go.

When I was asked to read and review this book, I was too intrigued to let it slip by. It sounded pretty good and look at that jacket. It's terrific and terrifying in the most subtle way. The digital image seems even more layered than even the printed edition and mimics the artificial intelligence interface the doctor interacts with in the story. So yes, in full disclosure, I was asked to read this novel and participate in a blog tour, and I regret nothing.

And yes, in all honestly, this novel being written by a neurosurgeon did have a couple of moments of "medical speak" that called for a few befuddled moments and re-reads. There were more than a few times when the good Doctor Maerici had to explain to other characters just exactly what he was talking about. 

But... with that came a level of medical expertise not often seen in novels of this ilk. And this reality-infused high level of knowledge made the story scarier, made it more real. Well, because it is. Scary when you think about it. Made for quite the interesting read if I do say so myself. I won't say anymore about it, go find out for yourself. Or perish.


The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price and Why Me?

Imagine the end of the world. And in this version of The End, for reasons unknown to you, a powerful sphere that surrounds you somehow magically protects you, while at the same time allowing you to see the world around you enveloped in an otherworldly bright light and be destroyed.

Crazy, right?

Even crazier, perhaps, imagine then waking up in a place similar to where you were when this all went down, but somehow even though the world looks the same, its also different. You wonder if you dreamed it all. Then you start to notice little things that aren't right or the same, and as you wonder if you are in fact going crazy, you begin to figure out you're not in the same place you had been when the protective sphere shielded you. This place is different and you don't know why until the differences of this world slowly make it clear.

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price starts off with a strange occurrence happening on the highway. Two siblings witness an unexplained disaster while they interact with a mysterious visitor that hearkens of a future event of impossible-to-comprehend relevance.

Then we jump several years ahead and meet those two sisters again—along with four other strangers—and witness through their eyes the foretold cataclysmic event and reawakening.

Why? Where am I? What happened? These are some of the questions the "six" wrestle with as they're "brought in" by s group of scientists promising to explain the differences of this reality.

The Flight of the Silvers is an intriguing novel occurring in a parallel universe where incredible things happen, people have extraordinary abilities, and a few survivors from our world have to discover why they were chosen to go there. To find out why, pick up a copy.

[Disclosure: this post also appeared on Vorpalizer, the official blog of the SFBC, where I am a guest blogger, and a former Editor. Second disclosure: the above title is published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where I happen to work for another imprint, DK. My decision to post about this book was not specifically work related, except that it involves books, which is my work.]


SPACEHAWK by Basil Wolverton, a brilliant & otherworldly collection from Fantagraphics

I picked up this collection last year from Fantagraphics, and honestly, it is stunning. The colors and lines of Basil Wolverton's work -- on the cover alone -- are terrific. Once you dip into the pages and it is like exploring psychedelic space ways and far out locations. His spacecraft and machinations are creative and harken back to a time of science fiction comics that laid the ground work for so much that has come in later years.

The Fantagraphics collection, is massively oversize, I'm talking "artist edition" type size, and as much as I love to see all the detail and colors in this big size, it is somewhat unwieldy. After all, if I put every "coffee table book" I own on my actual coffee table, well that table would be stacked.

I would have personally enjoyed this book in a somewhat smaller "large" format, if that makes any sense. I'm not sure what the perfect size would have been but something a bit more handy. Something larger than normal comic book size, but not quite this big (actual dimensions of the book are over 9 x 12, with a neat flexi-paperback cover.)

Wolverton's Spacehawk is not as well known as his later work in MAD Magazine, but he was trying to break into syndicated comic strips back in the 1930s and 40s at the same time that Buck Rogers, and soon after, Flash Gordon made debuts. His timing wasn't as lucky, but he was eventually published and his legacy lives on, preserved in this prestige format collection. 

Later on, in the 40s, when editors forced his hero to come back to Earth to fight the Axis of Evil in World War II, Wolverton feared his strip would loose its strength and surely enough it was cancelled. I learned all of this from the introduction, written by Monte Wolverton, Basil's son, an accomplished editor, illustrator and writer himself.

Monte speaks with reverence of his father's work, and understandably so, as each lead-in illustration was masterfully crafted as depicted in my attempts to capture in photos.

Within the pages in each battle the 'hero from the void,' battles evil villains, obliterates aliens bent on destruction and travels to the far reaches of space in his spacecraft. He mercilessly handles out justice and is an unflawed heroic icon, clearly a product of the era, as Wolverton's son reflects in the Introduction.

This collection would make a wonderful gift for any fan of early sci-fi comics and science fiction. It is also available as a digital comic via the Comixology app (I downloaded the preview there, which led me to purchase the print edition.) Either way, it is a win.

Go get lost in space.


Found Object: Rocks and Minerals, a Golden Press book from 1957

I found this Golden Nature Guide while running jewelry related errands with my wife in New Jersey a while back. I thought it was a neat little piece of publishing history. I immediately liked this miniature reference book, especially the jacket with the rock hammer, which reminded me of "The Shawshank Redemption," and if you've seen that great film, you'll know exactly why.

I also loved seeing the $1.25 retail price, a clear reflection of its publication year, 1957, when it was produced in the USA by Western Publishing Company, Inc., published by the Golden Press. For a little history on Golden Press, click here.

Filled with charming illustrations such as this one of a prospecting couple exploring subterranean rock structures, Rocks and Minerals, a Golden Nature Guide, was not just a flat reference book but more a piece of cultural history and reflected the era it was published. Within the small paperback, all 160 pages included great photos, classic illustration work and well researched information. 

Perhaps it is the fact that I work at DK which helps me appreciate the history of well done reference books these days.

Also, it could just be the rock hammer.


This Charming Man: A Neil Gaiman sighting and signing...from last year.

I finished reading a book recently, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a terrific book, yes, but that part will have to wait.

Firstly, I wanted to talk a bit about the author, this book's author. This Charming Man. Isn't that the name of a Smiths song? Neil Gaiman is a charming man, there is no denying that. One doesn't have to go far on the internet to find praise from scores of fans of both his fantasy and some of the highest regarded comics ever written.

At a past New York Comic Con I've attended a Neil Gaiman event, not the first time I've seen him speak, he is wonderful listen to, a natural storyteller, pulling you into his world effortlessly with his charming accent (there it is again).

We waited in line as it was listed that the first 500 people in line would receive a book. What we didn't know was that as we were waiting, Neil was feverishly scribbling his signature away, on not one, but two books, so that each of the first 500 would leave with two signed copies. While we waited in line, we noticed a door to one of the back rooms was open, and low and behold, there he was, feverishly signing books. 

This photograph was taken by my wife, Fotini, from that line as we waited. There's Neil at a table scribbling his signature so that us huddled masses could leave each with two signed new books.

A gentleman, that one.

I love the woman racing by out-of-focus on the right side of the photo, it's almost ghost-like, which seemed appropriate being in line waiting to hear Neil speak about fantastical stuff, his writing, both really.

This little snippet of a post is a lead-in to a longer follow-up post, which I hope to have up soon, where I aim to discuss my thoughts on The Ocean at the End of the Lane, where I first heard Neil speak about the book at this very panel at New York Comic Con. Maybe I'll talk more about the panel too. I've got notes somewhere.


NY Comic Con 2013 is Here

Even though NY Comic Con only started a handful of years ago, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Less than 10 years old, and attendance has surpassed 100,000 attendees, and getting a convention badge has become—almost—as difficult as it's older brother con, San Diego.

I'll be in attendance this year, as part of my work for DK, and also to help out in our booth, meet with some of the peeps I do business with, and also scour the floor for items of interest as I say hello to friends in the industry.

Later today (Wednesday), I'll be attending COMICS AHEAD! The ICv2 Conference at New York Comic Con—a special event and report on the "state of the industry" which covers trends in the marketplace and the shifting landscape of comics. As a professional I've attending this conference since it began, and now that I'm working with licensed books, comics reference books, etc., I've found this event informative as  both a bookseller and a comics patron. If you'll be in attendance, look for me in the seats and stop by and say hello.

I thought I'd mention a few other items of interest (from the TONS there is to do at the con). So much to see, so little time.

On Friday, my pal and Del Rey NY Times best-selling author, Peter V. Brett, will be signing at the Science Fiction Book Club booth (#2020) both his Demon War series as well as his Red Sonja comics from Dynamite, a co-sponsor of the SFBC booth. He's got a few exciting panels too, check them out here.

Also, I just saw on twitter that Sean Howe, author of my favorite non-fiction book of the year, MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY, will be signing shiny new copies of the paperback edition on Friday, October 11 at 4:30 pm at the HarperCollins booth (#2118 - 2119). I loved this book, and although I'll admit I am obsessed with the history of American comics and read almost everything published on the subject—I also liked a book Howe edited back in 2004 Give My Regards to the Atomsmashers,(published by Pantheon)—trust me when I say that any fan of Marvel Comics will find something of interest in his comprehensive look at Marvel's legendary and checkered past.

There are tons of things to do on Saturday, although I will not be in attendance that day due to other commitments, but here are a few things I wanted to point out. The talented Robb Pearlman will be signing copies of his new book, 101 WAYS TO KILL A ZOMBIE (illustrated by Dave Urban) at the Rizzoli booth (#1142). This fun book is an illustrated romp through inventive ways to take care of the zombie threat in your life. The cover says it all, death by unicorn! 

I've not even covered panels which are bursting at the seams, it kills me that I'm missing Saturday. I should mention that Dark Horse announced Kazuo Koike, co-creator of LONE WOLF & CUB at 10 AM,  Geof Darrow at 11 AM talking SHAOLIN COWBOY, and my hero, Matt Wagner in a special 30th Anniversary of GRENDEL panel (Vivat!). Details can be easily found online.

I'm always a bit giddy when NYCC rolls around. Even though it is a long weekend of work and fun, this big New York show was a long time coming and it is clearly here to stay. See you on the show floor! 


Books and Star Wars

I really enjoy a good book and I love Star Wars, so when this amazing combo came together as Star Wars Reads Day--this guy loved the idea. I'm constantly using different Star Wars books to teach my son about the excitment of reading, going on adventures and how to steer clear of bounty hunters (or join them).

[this picture of a Star Wars Reads Day t-shirt on my desk at work with my collection of Fett figures]

Reading and a love of Star Wars goes way back for me, as far back as I can remember actually. I found what may have been one of my first books purchased via a Scholastic or Troll book club flyer back in the late 70s--which I still have. Picture to come some time soon.

If you get the chance to get to a book store, library or comic book shop tomorrow (the 5th) you may unexpectedly run into a great Star Wars experience, perhaps if the force is strong with you.