Criminal Paradise by Steven M. Thomas

I rarely actively recommend people not read a book, but in this case…In Criminal Paradise by Steven M. Thomas (Ballantine, February 2008), the first-person protagonist Robert Rivers at worst rapes the Vietnamese girl he rescues from the sex trade, at best takes extreme advantage of her. (I’d say rape, frankly.) Up until this point, the book has been relatively benign, but this sexual encounter is so predatory and described in such intense detail, especially compared to the style around it, that it’s easily one of the most disgustingly prurient things I’ve read in recent years. It’s morally repugnant not just because of the situation but because of the lengths Thomas goes to to justify it in the narrative. There is no reason for this act to occur, either, in terms of the plot. Nor does Rivers’ action seem at all consistent with his character to that point.

Ironically, in this case the much-maligned (rightly so) Harriet Klausner actually read the book closely enough to notice this fact. Others, like this Mysterious Galaxy bookstore guest reviewer (scroll down), must not have read the whole book or thinks it was perfectly fine.

I think it’ll be fascinating to note which reviews mention this scene and which do not. I’d be willing to bet many of those that don’t…didn’t finish the entire book. Because ignoring this scene would be next to impossible.

(It’s probably unimportant to mention that the book also devolves from that point, especially the ending, which has some ludicrous plot developments.)

New Weird Interview

Rick Kleffel at the Agony Column interviewed Ann and me for a podcast about the New Weird anthology, in addition to doing a write-up. It sounds pretty good, although I should’ve just read out the definition of NW we have in the introduction (reproduced below the cut). The book comes out in March.

This is probably the best antho we’ve edited and we’re very proud of it. We think readers will really enjoy the heck out of it. (Also note this piece on New Weird on the Guardian blog, which is not bad. I considered commenting, but the one thing I have no wish to do is get involved in a NW discussion anything like the original one!)

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The Three Quests of the Wizard Sarnod

In picture form! Although the story has changed, this is the crappy graphic I drew to orient myself to begin with. I will not be inflicting it on Dying Earth editors Dozois and Martin…

Excerpt (rough draft) after the break…

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The Situation–Available for Pre-Order

I just scribbled on and sent back the signing sheets, so it must be real! The Situation, coming soon from PS Publishing (March-April). Available for pre-order in two hardcover editions:

Slipcased 200-copy signed limited limited with dustjacket

500-copy signed limited with art on the boards

Here’s some blurbage and an excerpt:

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Polluto and Finding Sonoria

The very cool new London-based mag Polluto is out the end of this month, including work from Rhys Hughes, Michael Moorcock, and myself. Above find the art for my story, “Finding Sonoria.” I think this is a classy new effort and well worth your attention. Below the break find a Sonoria excerpt.

Jeff

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What I’m Reading..What’re You Reading?

Currently, I’m reading the following. Most of it falls into pretty traditional genre categories. I’m just on a tear of this kind of stuff.

Jeff

The Adventures of Little Lou by Lucy Swan (a beautifully designed book–John Coulthart–from Savoy; it’s a bit punkish, a bit Lord Horror-ish)

Lankhmar Vols 1 – 3 by Fritz Leiber (reissues from Dark Horse of the Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser stories)

Inside Straight: Wild Cards edited by George RR Martin (the series of superhero novels written by Martin’s troupe of collaborators)

Hunter’s Run by George RR Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham (action-packed SF)

The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (heroic fantasy, gritty–I kinda sped through the first one and then had to read the second quickly, too, and I want to be more leisurely and savor the really cool stuff about both)

Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi (short stories; really finding this intriguing)

Truancy by Isamu Fukui (very cool coming-of-age SF novel)

Carlucci by Richard Paul Russo (the three collected near-future SF detective novels; I really am loving these, just like I loved his Ship of Fools)

SO, that’s me, what about YOU?

Washington Post Book World Review of Laura Warholic

Here’s my WP Book World review of Laura Warholic, by Alexander Theroux. I love a lot of Theroux’s fiction, but this one has some problems.

Can a novel about love and the illusions of love be created out of almost 900 satire-laced pages devoted to obscene invective, hatred, pettiness, ignorance, pity, pride and hubris? This is the question raised by Alexander Theroux’s first novel in 20 years, Laura Warholic or, The Sexual Intellectual. If the answer is “maybe,” the blame lies less with Theroux’s prodigious natural talent than with how he has chosen to structure his narrative and the repetitive nature of his characterizations.

Anne Sydenham on the Solomon Islands

Great post by our friend Anne. With photos. Made me think back fondly to my childhood in the Fiji Islands.

Solomon Islands culture, with its bloodthirsty past was typified by the deity Nguzunguzu who is represented as carrying a skull (for war) or a bird (for peace). Used as a figurehead on head hunting canoes, Nguzunguzu’s image is common. At the bishop’s house, in the dining room, there was a very fine carving of Nguzunguzu carrying a bird. He is also on the Solomon Island dollar coin.