Sunday, December 29, 2013

Arisia and Boskone: How New England Genre Writers Survive the Darkest Months

Though December has the shortest day of the year, January and February typically have the coldest weather.

Fortunately, those of us in New England who love science fiction, fantasy, horror, or just want to learn more about writing in those genres, have two Science Fiction conventions to keep us warm -- and sane.

I'll be attending both this year (weather willing).

Arisia (January 17-20, 2014)
Westin Waterfront
425 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210

Arisia is a volunteer-run convention that covers all aspects of science fiction and fantasy literature and media.

I'll be hanging out at the Broad Universe table, signing and selling books. Stop by and say hello.

Boskone 51 (February  14-16)
Westin Waterfront
425 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210

Boskone is a regional Science Fiction convention focusing on literature, art, music, and gaming. They're not just SF, though; there's a good amount of Fantasy and some horror representation in panels and author signings.

Once again, I won't be doing any readings, signings, or panels, but you can find me hanging out with members of Broad Universe.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't remember reading this in high school, but even if I did, it's good that I read it now.

Reading it now, after living a bit, I appreciate the difference in class, especially back then, having seen class distinctions change over time. At this time of my life, I've known many self-made people and a few born into money, something I hadn't experienced in high school.

More than that, I could appreciate the beauty of Fitzgerald's prose. I was thoroughly surprised by it. When younger, I would have been too worried about getting a good grade and noticing what I was supposed to notice to actually enjoy it.

This version of the audiobook was read by Tim Robbins who does a great job with all the voices. My only complaint was that when he spoke the part of Tom Buchanan, it was VERY loud, which took a little getting used to when I was wearing earbuds, and some of the dialog spoken by Jordan Baker was too soft. I realize that the volume goes with the character, though, and eventually I got used to it (or they mixed it differently).

The recording includes a selection of letters written by Fitzgerald to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, his agent, Harold Ober, and friends and associates. I know those letters wouldn't have meant as much to me in the days before I knew anything about agents, editors, and the publishing business

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Book Review: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley by Neal Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember reading the Ripley's Believe it or Not cartoons in the Sunday comics and being fascinated and amused by the exotic things he discovered around the world.

What I didn't know then was that he was a journalist, started out drawing baseball characters, and was even a semi-pro baseball player! He was also a self-centered, arrogant, womanizer. Though I don't think I would have thought highly of him if I knew him, the fascinating story of his life kept me interested.

Those were interesting times, especially for Ripley, a Sinophile who watched the countries he loved fall into communism or be destroyed by wars. I think that hearing about the world events as Ripley would have seen them is what kept me interested. I barely remember a lot of my history classes, but I do remember thinking that my college history class was the best because the instructor spoke of how people were affected, how they felt, what it meant to their lives. Thompson makes not just Ripley come alive, but the world around Ripley come alive.

I enjoyed the audiobook edition, though I first thought that the reader was a little dry. Thompson's writing was solid enough so that I was able to visualize the scenes as they read and eventually started to like the delivery of the narration. It was as if the voice came from the times the author described.

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