Release day: STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel #Station11

STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel

This book isn't only about Shakespeare. Or the apocalypse. Or fortune and fame. Or celebrity. Or the value of friendship. Or the meaning of family. Or secrets. Or shared pasts. Or nostalgia. Or an uncertain future.

This book is not about survival. Or murder. Or loosing everyone you've ever loved. It is not about mad men. Or false communities. Or false prophets. Or going down the wrong path. Or disappearing forever.

It is not about performance art. Or facade. Or art for art's sake. Or art for personal pleasure. It is not about theater. Or about music. Or a last plane ride. Or that last cup of coffee. 

It is not about comic books. Or science fictional escape. It is not about fathers and sons. Or brothers and sisters.

It is not about a stranger trying to save a man's life. It is not about those who survive letting the past go. And this book is not about remembering it as well.

It is about all of those things, and more.

I really feel Station Eleven has something for everyone. It is a special book.

[Disclaimer: This book is published by Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House. I work for DK, also an imprint of Penguin Random House. I was not coerced into writing this review. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. I do work for the company who publishes this book, but I write about it here because it is terrific and you should read it, and not because I had to. That is all. I made the font size of the disclaimer smaller, because, isn't it always?]


Upcoming Comics Collaboration: Mike Allred and Warren Ellis on The Spirit of Bacardi

Every now and then a pretty amazing sounding comics collaboration comes around and when I heard about this new project from Bacardi Rum (yes, that is a new comic book coming from the makers of Bacardi rum), well I just had to share it. 

Bacardi assembled the dynamic team of legendary comics scribe, Warren Ellis, and Madman creator, Mike Allred, to collaborate and tell the story of the Bacardi family, through the plight of Emilio Bacardi, the revolutionary figure from the Bacardi family history.

Everything Warren Ellis writes is worth a gander as he's up there in that league of amazing talents that warrant a look whenever he puts pen to paper, or clicks at the keyboard, as that's the way it generally goes these days.

I received these terrific promotional photos, and Bacardi has a teaser trailer featuring some behind the scenes/interview type bits about the collaboration with the two wacky (and beloved) creators on their site. And here's the coolest part -- The Spirit of BACARDÍ will be available to download from BACARDI.COM on August 6th. 

That is a nice piece of promotion, and I am very much looking forward to reading what two of my favorite comics creators come up with based on the extraordinary life of Emilio Bacardi. If this photo of Senior Allred at his drafting table isn't enough to whet your appetite, I don't know what'll do it. I'm intrigued...

Check out the reference photo of Emilio Bacardi to Mike's left, underneath the plexiglass of his working desk. I read in an interview years ago that Mike likes to cover his desk with inspirational images as seen here, and work right on top of the plexiglass, letting the images below drive him in whatever project he's working on. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Now listen, I'll be the first to admit I've been known to be partial to a bit of the rum myself, so there's that (okay, I said it). I also happen to think as a publishing professional and lifelong lover of comics that when a company reaches out to tell their company/family story in an interesting way, WITH COMICS, and they reach out to two respected creators such as this, this looks to be a project worth my time. I hope to find out more soon and will report back, or check it out yourselves.

Disclaimer: I have NOT been paid or bribed with promises of endless supplies of rum to write this post (I just really like Mike Allred and Warren Ellis & comics) but I would not turn away an unexpected supply of the good stuff should it be delivered to my doorstep. Carry on.


Books and sunshine on my mind: THIS ONE SUMMER by Julian and Mariko Tamaki

Sometimes books find their way to me in funny ways. Call it serendipity. I look for books everywhere and try to read new and different things although there never seems to be enough time. As I was leaving work on a summer Friday, on a shelf where people place extra books you can take, I saw a copy of THIS ONE SUMMER and picked up this graphic novel to take home. It reminded me of summers spent at the Jersey Shore as a kid, and I wanted to follow the story of Rose and Windy, remembering what it was like to almost be a teen.

When I got home a few hours later, I opened the Sunday New York Times book review section, I saw a wonderful review praising the book. I was glad I picked it up and I can't wait to continue reading it. Just have to finish one or two things first, but I thought it was worth mentioning.


A Long Time Coming, reading Y THE LAST MAN volume by volume

Last weekend I was looking through my collection of comics trade paperbacks on my shelves, some of which I've read and others I have not, and I happened upon a series which I always intended to read and just never got around to it. Until now.

So, with great excitement I cracked open volume 1 of Y the Last Man just a few days ago and jumped right in. I've a few holes in my collection and was able to purchase volume 3 digitally, and borrow volume 5 from a friend. I'll likely buy these so that I have the whole trade paperback collection in print for the library.

It is just a few days later, and I'm midway through volume 5, and enjoying the series very much. 

Thought I should just report in, with that reading update. And if you're like me and haven't read this great series yet. It's not too late.


And the Party Rages On

A psychedelic cocktail of scenes and images from books and film come to mind when thinking about how to explain Afterparty by Daryl Gregory. When I was contacted and asked if I'd read and review this novel, I had to admit, I was intrigued. Maybe I pictured Morpheus giving me a choice, but this time with the yellow pill featured on the book jacket. Maybe. Either way, down the rabbit hole I was going.
First thing that came to mind while reading was SF master, Philip K Dick and for me, his work, A Scanner Darkly, one of the clear inspirations. Clearly PKD was whispering in the author's ear late into the night.

In Gregory's novel we are jettisoned into the near future after the Smart Drug revolution, where any school kid with a chem-jet and access to the net can download and print designer drugs. 

As you can imagine, this revolutionizes things and when a new, god-like drug known as Numinous leads a street kid to addiction and suicide, it gets personal for one Lyda Rose, especially because she was one of the original scientists who designed the drug.

Troubled by the guilt of loosing those close to her while fighting her own addictions, Lyda sets off on a journey across the country to track down the new source of this mind-altering drug and stop the spread and the pseudo-religious following that continues to flourish. "Finding god" becomes a phrase used too often in this novel, and the author does a good job of exploring exactly what it means to find religion under the auspices of mind-altering designer drugs.

If you're looking for a wild ride across country in pursuit of a hot but dangerous drug, a trek only Hunter S. Thompson could appreciate, then this is the book for you. 


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.]