Sunday, September 30, 2007

National Book Festival: Dining With Authors

Absolutely fantastic time -- we spent Saturday evening having dinner with three authors featured at the National Book Festival in Washington DC. Here's a pic of Kat and me with Holly Black (who's really one of the nicest people around):

Check out my review of Holly's new book in this month's SFRevu.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What am I reading now? And can I stop reading yet?

Well, finished reading/reviewing FATAL REVENANT by Stephen R. Donaldson and read THE UNNATURAL INQUIRER by Simon R. Green (lots of "R" middle names in what I'm seeing, huh?), which isn't due until January. And read BLOODLINE by F. Paul Wilson for review (have to write that one soon, even though Paul doesn't have an "R" initial).

For some reason, September was a very heavy review month for me. I was signed up for about seven or eight books and thought about taking on one or two more just 'cause (like Tony diTerlizzi and Holly Black's new Spiderwick book). Upshot: no writing time for Drew lately. Not for my own stuff, anyway.

That's why I'm basically passing on new things for November's SFRevu. Probably in December or January I'll pick up again but for right now...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

National Book Festival This Weekend

If you're in the DC area, check out the 2007 National Book Festival this Saturday on the National Mall. There used to be a separate science fiction and fantasy section, but it's been merged into a larger meta-fiction category.

However, WSFA is hosting three of the Festival's star authors (Terry Pratchett, Harry Turtledove and Holly Black) for dinner that evening. Kat and I are going and it should be a very interesting, entertaining night.

Monday, September 24, 2007


To feature Kat's interview with author/producer Frank Beddor, we've launched SEEING REDD WEEK at BPD. It's a pretty dramatic thing for us, but it's a lot of fun and we have some very offbeat posts coming. Give it a look!

Stuff to See and Do

Kat and I had a busy afternoon yesterday (Sunday) here in DC.

We got out the door bright and early (and it was bright- hardly a cloud in the sky), went to town and hit the Farmers Market. If you haven't gone to the Dupont Circle mainstay, it's a must-see. Apparently it's doing very well; we could barely walk around at all. The highlight was Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve, who made pork pate. Absolutely terrific.

We then headed out to church, then to the National Mall. Kat was inclined to see La Boheme, but I was less enthusiastic. We compromised; instead of me heading home, I stayed with her and we went to the Freer Gallery. Going upstairs for the first time, we saw a really great collection of ancient Asian art. If you have the chance, visit the Freer. We also went to the Smithsonian Castle-- there's some interesting stuff on display if you look beyond the visitors info desk-- and then fed a mixed flock of birds with the remnants of Kat's almond croissant.

By about 4:30, we were worn out and ready for home. Caught Simpsons and the Family Guy Star Wars shows, then crashed. Got a long night's sleep for the first time in ages (I usually wake up two or three times a night then go back to sleep, but not last night).

And now... it's Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In Memoriam: Luray Hodder

UPDATED 9/21/07
Musician Luray Hodder-Kuca, 39, of Portland, OR, died by carbon monoxide asphyxiation on Sept. 6, 2007. Her husband John Kuca committed suicide with her; their daughter Ruby, 5, found with them, was the victim of homicide according to Portland police.

An anonymous commenter to this blog has reported that police have not yet closed this case and have not ruled Luray's death a suicide. On that basis, my text has been amended and any conclusions stated herein are retracted, with my apologies to any who may have been offended or alarmed. (It appeared to me that the media reports were calling it a suicide, but if the police have not made a determination, it is more responsible to report it thus.)

Luray attended Monmouth Regional HS for some of the years I spent there. She was part of the Drama Club and was part of an extended circle of kinda-sorta-friends; we didn't visit each others' houses or anything but when the Drama Club went out after a performance, both of us were usually there.

It's a sad ending to a life. What makes it monstrous is that their daughter was murdered when Luray and her husband died. I can sort of imagine being so distraught that you'd want to kill yourself if your wife had terminal cancer (as Luray did); I can't under any circumstances imagine wanting to take your only child with you into the Great Beyond.

Kat and I extend our thoughts and prayers to her family and her husband's.

More here.

Kat Scores Bruce Tickets!

Hey gang! Katherine won huge today. She went to the Verizon Center to get tickets for Bruce's November 11 show-- and they were doing a ticket lottery. She chose a number... which happened to be #1! Can you believe it? First in line, she had a prime pick on where to go.

The seats in the very-closest sections were sold out but she got A-row seats in the next section over (section 121 for those of you looking at the VC map). We'll have a fantastic view of one of the rock world's best performers doing his thing.

I am so proud of Kat. She did great and scored us some unbelievable tickets. I have to take her to dinner to celebrate.

We plan to see Bruce and the E Street Band in NJ when he comes back, but his tour dates now are weeknights--hard to manage from here in DC. Still, we hope that there'll be plenty of dates to choose from when he returns to the Garden State. Gotta see him in the Meadowlands or Madison Square Garden.

Very excited, y'all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Review Preview: Fatal Revenant (Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) by Stephen R. Donaldson

Linden Avery is not having a good time. Her adopted son Jeremiah has been kidnapped by Roger Covenant, the sinister son of her long-dead friend Thomas Covenant; he's also managed to kidnap his psychotic mother Joan. Shot down in a blaze of glory, all four have ended up in The Land, a fantastic place where Linden helped triumph over the powers of evil many years ago.

The Land is a mess. It's thousands of years after Linden's last visit and things have gone downhill--steeply downhill. The Haruchai who once served the Lords (scholars and defenders of the Earthpower and the Land itself) now call themselves the Masters and forbid teaching any of the lore that the Lords knew; all use of Earthpower is considered dangerous and ruthlessly suppressed as well. A haze called Kevin's Dirt even steals the "health sense" that all natives of the Land once took for granted. And the white gold possessed by Joan Covenant is spewing out wild magic, creating caesures (temporal cyclones) that destroy everything in their path.

To make things worse, Lord Foul is making another bid to break the Arch of Time and escape imprisonment. With Jeremiah in his power, he may actually be able to do it this time.

That's what happened in the last book.

In Fatal Revenant, Stephen R. Donaldson kicks the story into high gear. Linden has recovered the Staff of Law she created at the end of the Second Chronicles, just in time for Covenant and Jeremiah to catch up with them at Revelstone (the ancient home of the Lords of the Land). But Covenant is not the way she remembers him; he is cold, even cruel, and commands her not to touch him or Jeremiah lest she break the fragile magic keeping them substantial and present to her.

They induce her to follow them on a dangerous expedition, where Linden gains some understanding at a terrible price--and conceives a terrible purpose. Although she encounters figures from the Land's ancient past and learns much about the Land's history, this knowledge does not answer her most urgent needs. Instead, she sets out to reach the Hills of Andelain, where she hopes to find her answers... as well as an object that will let her master two antithetical magics at once. But what will she do with that much power? Can her friends and allies trust her, or will her choices damn the Land once and for all?

Donaldson sets the stakes higher in this part of the Last Chronicles, a four-part series which wraps up the story of Thomas Covenant. Linden takes a dark turn, with heartbreak and anguish conspiring to break her will, not to mention the array of enemies and obstacles in her path. From an insane Elohim (something like an archangel) named Kastenessen to a treacherous ally named Esmer to the suspicion of the Masters to a murderous Giant to... well, the list goes on and on, but Linden has far more enemies than allies this time around. And that isn't even mentioning the Insequent, a magical and enigmatic people who confound the Elohim and have their own designs on the Land.

The language used may daunt readers, in that Donaldson brings heavy-duty vocabulary into play here; the result is that some points of the story feel particularly opaque, leaving the reader in the dark as to characters' situation. This isn't a negative, but rather a characteristic of Donaldson's work (especially in writing Covenant). Anyone who can't ace the SAT after reading these books isn't trying hard enough.

Does it measure up to a trilogy that's become a fantasy landmark (no pun intended)? It sure does. Though perhaps not ideal for casual "skimmers" of fantasy, those who enjoy seeing issues of deep philosophy interwoven with magic and strange creatures will find much to love.

Read my full review October 1 on the SFRevu website! And go here to buy Fatal Revenant on Amazon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In Memoriam: Robert Jordan

Just heard that Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time mega-series of novels, has passed away at age 58 of a rare blood disease. He was working on the 12th volume of his series at the time of his death. Rumors had circulated for a long time behind the scenes that he was not well but his passing is still abrupt and unhappy.

I picked up an advance review copy (ARC for short) of Eye of the World, his first WOT novel, in 1988 at the American Booksellers Association Conference in DC. It was a promising start, a big story about an ancient hero seemingly reincarnated as a farmboy, whose two friends follow him into danger when a sorceress plucks him from obscurity.

The series moved on into byzantine political intrigue, magical machinations, betrayal, heroism, and some extremely convoluted workings aimed at preventing the destruction of the world by Rand al'Thor's ancient enemy (who was breaking the bonds that kept him imprisoned, even as Rand recovered the powers and memories of his earlier self). Rand acquired lovers and prophecies in abundance, while his friends turned out to be destiny's lodestones as well.

I hung in there for a long while but eventually dropped the series after the fourth or fifth novel. The storyline was spinning out beyond my comprehension and it seemed like a lot of effort to retain all the diverse plot threads.

Some of you reading this will remember my long-ago girlfriend Debbie. She loved the WOT series tremendously; our last afternoon was mostly a long conversation about the third or fourth book in the series and where we thought it might go (in those days, we expected it to wrap up around book 6. We were naive.) Well, Debbie passed away in 1997 or thereabouts in a traffic accident, so she never got to see even the last several of Jordan's novels. I met Jordan briefly at Worldcon in 2004 and told him about Debbie, which is my only personal connection to the gentleman; he expressed his regrets somewhat ruefully and said he wished she'd seen it through.

Unhappily, there are now legions of fans who are in the same circumstances.

My thoughts and prayers will be with his family.

News item on Yahoo!
Jordan's blog

Friday, September 14, 2007

Comics: What am I Reading?

Let's see, what's on my list for this week? Lots of stuff... it was a real big week.

GEN 13 #12

Hm. That's a lot of DC, my friends.

Am I missing something insanely cool? Should I be reading more indies? Should I be happy that there'll be another Marvel Zombies series? YOU be the judge! Comment away!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not Angry!

Hey there- just to clarify (in case it came out wrong): I'm not angry at Beth. She called me earlier today and asked if I was mad at her... and no, I'm not. Not at all.

Beth has an awful lot going on, and that her birthday was scheduled to take advantage of perhaps the one weekend in four months that the girls weren't booked solid-- believe me, I can understand wanting to make use of that time!
So everything is cool. I love my sister, she loves me. It's just how we are sometimes, and dry text like this doesn't always convey mild exasperation (comes out sounding angry).

Here's another pic or two from her party...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More Pictures: Beth's birthday party

Another set of pix...

Beth had her 40th birthday party last month (she held it a few days before MY birthday and hasn't even sent me a present, though I sent her a bunch of stuff AND drove from DC to NJ for the party!). UPDATE: she called to thank me and left a voicemail on our house phone (which we sadly do not check very often-- best bet: call the cell!) See the above post; man, I guess I do sound angry! Sorry, Beth!!


Here are some shots of her birthday party. I'm the fat guy in the green T-shirt, if you didn't know.

To give a little context, it's Beth and Rob (my sister and brother) up top, then a shot of the volleyball net, then Kat and my in-laws, then Rob, me, Pop and Beth, then Glenn (not sure why he was barbecuing sideways that day), then Jeff Freeman (Class of '82!) and Rob.

Great day all around.

Baltimore Comicon!

Had a great time this past Sunday at Baltimore Comicon. Kat and I picked up our BPD comrades Sherin and Martin, then headed north. The drive wasn't too bad, the convention center was pretty easy to find and parking could be found no more than a mile away. We think there was too much going on downtown--between the convention, a ball game and two or three other events, B-town was swamped.


  • Saying hi to Jim Lee (who went out of his way to say hello to us and chat for a minute--very much a class act) [visit Jim's MySpace page and his blog]
  • (Jim also gave us a great idea, by asking if we (BPD) had a table down in the dealer's room; not this year but next year...? I think so!)
  • Meeting Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Amanda Conner (The Pro, Power Girl, upcoming Terra series), Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies cover artist), Franchesco (She-Dragon), and a bunch of other folks-- we'll be following up with them for BPD interviews
  • Catching up with artist Pop Mhan (Batgirl, Spyboy) and Tom Raney (Annihilation: Conquest), both ex-WildStormers
  • and finding myself a sweeeet Body Bags two-piece action figure set for $25

After SDCC, Baltimore was so laid back, it was almost like a walk in the park. If you have the time or the inclination to attend a really terrific comic book convention, think Baltimore!

Okay, Time for Some Pictures

This blogging thing isn't as easy as it looked when I started.

But... I promised pictures and I am starting to deliver right now.

Get a look at these:

This is Chrissy on the left and Janet on the right. Janet is chunkier and doesn't like being held as much as Chrissy, but they both are affectionate and like to hang out with Kat and me.

They're both scrappy-- this is them eating dinner. (I know, we get the action shots.) And that's Chrissy "kissing" my nose.
I'll post more pictures on my Flickr account later.