Movie Review: Charlie Wilson’s War

Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a fun romp of a movie about a not-so-serious man who winds up having a serious effect on American foreign policy–specifically by helping allocation funds to the CIA to help conduct a secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is a comedy, folks, and as such it eschews the use of nuance and complete historical accuracy. (Books like Ghost War, for example, call Wilson a crackpot who did indeed focus attention on the plight of Afghan freedom fighters, but who also was seen by the CIA as a loose cannon. Also, according to that book, Wilson’s contribution was not as significant as others would have you believe.)

Hanks and Hoffman are fine in this movie, but you begin to wish about a third of the way through that the Roberts character–a right-wing, old-money fundraiser from Texas–would have been played by a non-star. The broadness of acting and the face recognition Roberts brings to the role tends to throw things out of balance. Still, as breezy, fun movies go–and the two qualities are not to be scoffed at with so many bad Hollywood movies out there–Charlie Wilson’s War is a hoot. Just remember you’re entering fantasyland when you rent it.

US Macmillan Page for Shriek

This seems kinda funny–a very complete page for my novel Shriek from US Macmillan. Excerpts and everything. Linkage, etc. It’s much more complete than what Tor/Forge has up on its site, as far as I can tell. (BTW–I am in the middle of creating an online bookstore for ordering my books directly from me, as part of this site. I’ll have lots of cool stuff, including first editions of Shriek. You can email me now at vanderworld at if there’s anything you’re looking for.)

Jeanette Winterson at the Sydney Book Festival

Full article here.

“It’s like a wake-up call, that’s all. You’re not telling people anything they don’t know – you’re telling them something that gets buried under the accumulating emergencies of modern life,” she said.

“The creative life is a central part of life and not a luxury and not an extra and not a peripheral part of life. It’s about our imaginative response ourselves, and to the world.”

LA Times on Tallahassee: Florida, Decay, and the Literary

(The aftermath of a night at Waterworks, the local tiki bar here in Tally, with book dealer Mark Wingenfeld. The guy checking IDs was reading the latest Stephen King simultaneously with some William Faulkner and some esoteric engineering book. Way cool.)

Carolyn Kellogg just posted her piece on Tallahassee, for which she interviewed me, as part of her literary tour of the country. (See also her post on Lexington, with Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe.)

Excerpt: For me, this place is in Florida and not in Florida. It’s too far north to be subtropical or metropolitan in the way people think of this state (i.e., Miami). It’s also too far north to have participated in the artificial plastic Renaissance of the Disney Empire in the center of the state. Yet, it’s got that sense of subtropical decay from farther south, almost a Southern Gothic sensibility, as in parts of Georgia and the rest of the South. People ask me where the inspiration for the fungal technologies and fascination with entropy in some of my work comes from. … Well, it comes right from the front yard! I always say that if you took away air conditioning and pesticides for a year, Florida would recede back into wilderness.

Below the break, a piece I posted on my old blog about living in Florida from an inspiration point of view.

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Books Received–May 20 (including The Foreigner)

Life is good when you can get the latest Taschen catalog, a finished copy of Little Vampire, and a finished copy of a marvelous new mystery, The Foreigner, all on the same day. I’ve added The Foreigner to my list of recommendations on the sidebar, which allows you to support me as an Amazon associate and also get some great reading material.

Mostly set in modern-day Taiwan, the novel involves financial analyst Emerson Chang’s visit to Tapei on a quest to scatter his mother’s ashes and re-establish contact with his shady brother, Little P, who has been given the family hotel. Soon after, he finds himself mixed up in the dark underbelly of the city. Yes, this is a mystery novel, but more than anything it’s a closely observed character study of Chang, who is charming in a campy way. It’s smart, sharp, and original.

(Tomorrow, btw, should be a big stack of books, my insider post office contact tells me. I just didn’t have time to go pick it up.)

My New Definition of Patience…

…involves discovering a medium-sized cockroach had infiltrated my shoe while lifting 800 pounds on the leg press. My natural reaction, having a phobia about such bugs would’ve been to immediately start dancing around screaming. My brain, however, told me it would be much more useful to my continued existence to slowly lower said weight, put the locks back in place, and then limp over to the bathroom–there to conduct said dancing and screaming in the privacy of my own locked stall. I don’t know how the roach got there, except we have had a lot of rain of late…

Steampunk, Amazon, Etc.

Proof positive that I’m working on those little weird stories for the people who subscribed to Weird Tales via the special offer on this blog.

Also, I’ve posted two short Amazon features, one on Tales Before Narnia and another on Kay Kenyon’s SF series.

And, at risk of putting people to sleep, just a little more Steampunk news. Scifi Wire’s got a piece on our anthology here and our friend Anne Sydenham has posted about receiving her copy of the anthology and the photos that resulted…