11.02.2011

WFC 2011 in San Diego, a town I've only been in for Comic Con.

I attended the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego this past weekend. It was pure luck that I headed west while NYC was hit with a phantom Halloween weekend snowstorm. But sometimes lady luck is on your side. 

In attendance was guest of honor, Neil Gaiman; Lifetime Achievement award-recipient, Peter S. Beagle; and the lovely, Charlaine Harris, author of the best-selling Sookie Stackhouse series, what is not to love about WFC?

Not to mention a several of my tribe that flew out of Dodge (Neueva York, in this instance) to attend. A special thanks goes to soon-to-be-published, mil-fantasy writer, Myke Cole, for sharing accomidations with me, making it easier for us both to be in attendance. He was a gentleman and a scholar, except when he wasn't.


I was pleased to reconnect with friends not from my hometown, a second tribe of sorts, whom I've become friends with at past WFCs (this being my fourth, I missed the San Jose show 2 years back). It's been nice to continue that friendship via social media like facebook, twitter and our collective blogs. But it's much nicer to share a beer with them at a con party, hanging by the back door.

Then there are the new people I met, some of whom I only rec'd a quick introduction and a handshake, others like the ridiculously charming Brent and Kristi Weeks, I was lucky enough to share a meal and some hysterical stories with. They were a super cool couple, I'll be for some time relaying their story with Kristi's infamous line, "not no." [you had to be there]. I also literally walked into Pat Rothfuss, another incredibly nice guy, easy to talk to about fantasy and all things, whom I hadn't met before. We wound up joining a big group for lunch, and it was just one of those easy breezy things that happens at WFC.


I was able to attend a few panels covering topics such as "Timeless Literature: What Makes a Book a Classic" to others, like the one moderated by my WFC bloodbrother since 2007, Peter Brett, entitled:  "Out from Under the Bed: Monster as Protagonist," where Pete and his fellow panelists dished on what it was like to write a monster's perspective, or what went into humanizing monsters (or making monsters of humans...) It was a great way to launch the 4 day convention.


I perused the dealer room with my very good friend and co-worker at DK Publishing, Nancy L. who reveled along with me when we saw a DK book in the choc-full-o-books Dealer's Room. [More on that, and a new friend I made in the dealer's room to come.]

I also got a chance to see one Lauren K. Cannon, a magnificent artist, make her first official appearance in the Art Show, with several magnificent pieces (note: Lauren has worked with Peter from the very beginning, designing wards, and creating artwork for his website, and eventually most of the artwork for his Subterranean Press projects).  I think we've seen just the tip of the iceberg with her talent as an artist.

I stayed through the Awards Banquet [pics to come] as I've not hit that jaded point where I feel I don't need to go to the dinner anymore. I enjoy it and it reminds me of the Edgar Awards banquet I used to attend while working for the Mystery Guild. There is something very cool about gathering with so many like-minded individuals, celebrating the work that inspires, those that create it, and our little niche of the book world.

More to come, as I believe this is my re-entering the blogging world. Hip-hip hooray!

6.16.2011

My review of READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

I recently finished reading an Advanced Reader Editon of READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline, and I am now wondering if the crafty author and I were separated at birth. His funny, action-packed near future sci-fi romp, was so packed full of 80s nostalgia, that I could swear we were twins, almost every reference hitting a direct cord with me.

Every piece of this fun novel was packed with movie, comic book, video game, and song references from the 80s, and I laughed at every mention of Crom, Intellivision, and many, many more. 

His character, Wade Watts, goes on the gaming adventure of a lifetime, very Wonka-esque, in fact, to win the golden ticket, or in this case the fortune of one John Halliday, inventor of the most popular video game in the future, the OASIS, where he hid his billions for one lucky winner to find at the end of the quest.

This book was part 1-part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in it's poor boy gets a chance, 1-part Little Brother in its mastery of a depicting a computer hacker pop-culture prodigy in the near future, and 1-parts Butter Scotch Ripple. It had that feeling that every single reference mixed in spoke directly to me, brethren, tribe, some would say. 

Then he did a bit about the band, Rush. And I realized this author was only human. We were not separated at birth. (Editor's note: I hate Rush. I just do, sorry, not my cup of tea.) It's okay, by the way, it did not pull me out of the book, it just reminded me that my alter ego did not write this story while I was sleeping and submit it under a false name.


So, aside from that one, minor point, I found Cline's book to be totally entertaining, hysterically funny, a creative whirlwind, and it is a book I've been recommending all over town.

All the while, the professional me, whose done a bit of licensing in my day, imaged just how challenging it would be to pull off that end of this book, as I've read it's going to be made into a film (I believe film rights have been sold and this is in early development) With practically every major fantasy and science fiction film, comic book, and video game mentioned (not to mention lots of music), I don't want the licensing clearance job on that project. (whew!)

In conclusion--a really fun book. My only criticism is that if you are not someone interested in the culture of the 1980s, comic books, video games, fantasy novels, John Hues movies, pop music, and all things related, you might not be interested in the slightest. For the rest of us, it's a damn good time.

5.11.2011

When video games and digital books collide

I just read this tonight in the Publishers Lunch daily email newsletter and thought this was a stroke of genius idea. I love it when gaming and books collide (two of my favorite things):

DIGITAL
L.A. NOIRE: The Collected Stories, published in conjunction with Rockstar Games, a series of short stories by authors including Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski and Andrew Vachss, some of which are based on characters and cases from the world of L.A. Noire, Rockstar's forthcoming new video game, featuring murder and deception in 1940s Hollywood -- actresses desperate for the Hollywood spotlight, heroes turned defeated men, emotionally torn protagonists, depraved schemers and their ill-fated victims, to Mulholland Books, for publication as an ebook original on June 6, 2011. 

What an interesting move to rally quite a collectible list of respectable authors to release a book associated with Rockstar's release of L.A. Noire video game. The folks at Mulholland Books are doing some amazing things, check out their site, they do quite a job with it.

4.14.2011

What I've been up to

So, what have I been up to? A lot of changes going on in my professional life, but more on that to come in the following weeks.

A good friend recently gave me a copy of Carrie Vaughn's newest novel, After the Golden Age. This is Carrie's first superhero novel, a category of fiction I've become enamored with since I read, Soon I Will Be Invincible a few years back. I was initially intrigued by the eye-catching jacket art, and I'm a few chapters in and so far its' good stuff.

I saw this novel first mentioned on Tor.com -- they send out a great newsletter & run a cool site, if you haven't checked it out, please do, it's become a hub for all things sci-fi and fantasy. I hear about many new and exciting things there.

Without spoiling too much (and since I still have plenty to continue reading myself), I'll simply say it is the story of a young woman, the daughter of a famous superhero mom and dad team, who is a much sought after prize to the enemies of her parents. You can see how that can get annoying real fast.

I also have been reading the ebook app version of Reif Larsen's illustrated novel, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet. This well crafted book was originally published in hardcover in 2009, and I'm enjoying the app so much I plan to attempt to track down a hard copy to add to the attic library. A clever mix of Wes Anderson-like attention to detail and the endearing story of a 12-year-old using his obsession and skill at cartography to figure out life. I highly recommend the interactive app or go and seek out the actual book which is out in paperback now. Even the original hardcover jacket is made of awesome.



Here's to hoping I post more regularly. But until then...

2.28.2011

monday night rambling, ramblers.

Listening to Bad Religion while I pay bills and try to accomplish some freelance work.

Reading fantasy manuscript in PDF form on iPad, not so bad, with the multitasking I can jump to notepad, jot some quick notes then transfer my notes to reader report later on.

Oh, now Pearl Jam, I do love the shuffle. ("W.M.A." if you're wondering.)

Not sure if anyone even reads this blog anymore. And hell, I don't blame you, as I am an infrequenaut of blog activity.

I actually started writing a draft blog the other night about how in my world (and my buddy Joe's) when we were kids, Cobra worked with the Empire, storm troopers and Cobra soldiers in AT-ATs, Snake Eyes vs. Vader. Seriously. A Jedi-trained Snake Eyes is nothing to scoff at. (Still saved as draft, I might post some day.)

I particularly liked Firefly working with Boba Fett. My two favorites.

I digress.

Some more book reviews will be posted soon. A few manuscripts I've read recently are close enough to publication to write about them. I'd also like to write a review of a friend's play I saw (full disclosure, it's a friend and I liked it, so it's more of a discussion).

Anyway, I'm stalling. Back to work.

Look ma, no pictures in this post. Who would have thought.

One random commenter on this post will win a copy of book I did some copyediting work on. It's a snappy science fiction collection exclusive to a certain book club where I used to work.

Prove to me you're still out there. Shoot up a flare.

I'll end as Radiohead's "Reckoner" comes on. Nice.

2.16.2011

Iron Man Noir by Scott Snyder and Manuel Garcia: a review


Pulp adventurer Tony Stark and his team go on journeys looking for rare artifacts. In his newest trek into the unknown he is seeking an ancient jade mask. Unknown to the rest of the group is his bad heart and the reason why he searches for this mystical item.

That is the core of this reinterpretation of Iron Man in the 30s. What I really liked were the interspersed old magazine covers for: MARVELS: A Magazine of Men's Adventure. The cover gallery alone, a clever way to intertwine pieces of actual Marvel history in this pulp setting. Reminded me of what I liked best about the X-Men: Noir collection, the segments of pulp science fiction novels about a hero known as the Sentinel.

Also, the issue covers (and cover for the trade paperback) illustrated by Mike Fyles drew me in when I initially saw solicitation for the collection, I feel like the below image with blimp would make for an awesome limited edition print.

Of course what tale taking place right before World War II would be complete without nazi involvement, and they weave the Marvel villianry right in with the world's most evil from our own history. Baron Zemo and Baron Strucker, who have been working with a figure from Tony's past, reveal themselves at the real threat and are after the technological advances that Tony seems to be endlessly making.

The combination of story by Scott Snyder and moving illustration work throughout by Garcia made for a good read.

Sadly, I felt the most underwhelming part of the book was the design of the armor itself. I felt that this what if type scenario book, would give the creative team some freedom to come up with an interesting interpretation. Look at how Spider-Man was re-imagined for his noir book, all black with goggles and pistol, that version even wound up in a recent video game as a different costume option. There are actually 3 suits in this book and they all felt like rough interpretations of the Mach I suit made by Tony in the cave in the Iron Man I movie with a helmet inspired by the Ultimates version of Iron Man -- the manga-esque helmet.
The mini-trade paperback was terrific. Extras included the full script of issue #1 by Scott Snyder and concept art and sketches by Manuel Garcia. I was really pleased with that, a small trade, only 5 x 7 inches, and Marvel still remembered to add in some extras.

I still don't get why the Wolverine: Noir book was released as a more expensive full-size hardcover, I guess because Wolverine can still drag in the bucks, although I would have prefered the mini-trade like the X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and now this Iron Man Noir for a nice little collected spot on my book case. (I'm still holding off on my purchase of the Old Man Logan book because the collection was so expensive, and I read all but the last two issues I believe, talk about torture). I digress.


Overall an enjoyable Marvel noir tale. I wouldn't rate it as high as the Spider-Man, Daredevil or even Wolverine story, but they were real good. If you're a fan of these noir Marvel re-imaginings, it's worth checking out.

1.17.2011

Mission Accomplished, Ebook App Released: War in the Pacific

As some of you may know my day job at Gameloft is developing ebook projects. I've been working on adapting War in the Pacific [this is the iTunes link] by Richard Ovary for many months, and was very proud when it was released in iTunes for the iPad last week.

It was great to see some of the early reviews such as: http://stylishipadapps.tumblr.com/post/2793308704/remember-the-war-war-in-the-pacific, it seems the tech world is starting to grasp what we're trying to do. Expand.

Check out this promotional video made by our team at Gameloft made to promote the app.



It was a fun project to bring to the digital world, it was a lot of work, but very satisfying to see the vision come to fruition. Developing ebook apps for the iPad is incredible work, and the possibilities seem limitless.

There is much more to come. Stay tuned.

1.02.2011

In the way of blogging.

Hi all! Happy New Year, 2011 is here. Well, many things have gotten in the way of blogging in the latter part of 2010, but I'm not going to sit here and whine about it, instead, I'm going to move right along just like father time...as it keeps ticking.

My day job of developing digital book projects has me working many hours and although much of my commute time had turned into sleeping in bits when able, I also managed to keep the reading going right on into this new year.


The last book of 2010  that I've read goes back a long way. One of the holes in my Stephen King reading has long been the Dark Tower books (gasp, shock! I know), but I'm finally getting around to it. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger was just the introduction to this western fantasy landscape that I knew it would be. I look forward to continuing with the series, especially the next three books which I've heard many good things about.

I did have a bit of an ass-backward preamble having read many of the Dark Tower comic book tie-ins that Marvel released over the past few years which set up the atmosphere for me and led me right into Rowland's harsh world.

Just wanted to share that bit. I have a few manuscripts to get through before I journey back to the unread shelf in my office, but I plan to be back here reporting on this and that more regularly.

Until next...