Monday, May 23, 2011

News of the Day: Recording Update

Tin Tin Can is set to record the basic tracks to our upcoming record the first and third weekends in June. Over the past few weeks, we've been working hard on writing and tightening the set of songs we'd like to record. The ultimate goal, during these recording sessions (and others, as necessary), is to get 12-14 songs and then cull from those what will make up the record.

I can tell you from the way the songs are shaping up, the record is going to showcase both our penchant for dark, southern-style rock, while also bringing to light our Beatles or Beach Boysian influences. There are a lot more harmonies happening in these songs. And we're all very excited to get them out there for (what we hope is) your listening pleasure.

During the recording process, I will be doing my best to update this blog with photos and video. I'll also be documenting our escapades outside the studio, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente continues her mastery of turning fairytales on their heads in her latest, Deathless. Set against Stalinist-era Russia, Deathless tells the story of Marya Morevna, youngest of four sisters, and Koschei, called Deathless, the Tsar of Life.

Each of Marya's sisters marry men who previously had been birds fallen from the tree outside Marya's window. Marya waits for her magical bird-man to swoop and whisk her away too; instead, eleven other families move in to the house and, in an attempt to escape the encroaching claustrophobia, Marya falls in with the house's magical creature-protector-imp Zvonok, a domoviye. Zvonok introduces Marya to an invisible world, a world of magic, of the Tsar of Life and Tsar of Death, to a place only a few humans have ever visited.

Finally, a man comes for Marya: Koschei the Deathless, the Tsar of Life. In Russian folklore, Koschei is usually depicted as villainous and, though he can be monstrous in this retelling, Valente invests enough empathy in him a small amount of tenderness and love leaks from beneath his savage veil. And Marya, in love with Koschei, yearns to become a queen of this invisible world, of the island of Buyan; however, she must successfully complete three tasks set by Koschei's sister, Baba Yaga.

Deathless isn't escapist fantasy, however; being Koschei's queen is not how Marya Morevna survives the Stalinist regime and the siege of Leningrad during World War II. Instead, Marya experiences the horrors of war firsthand on two levels: 1) the "comprehensible, real" world and 2) the magical realm of Koschei. Marya moves between these worlds, fighting in a war between Koschei and Viy, the Tsar of Death, a war they've been waging since time began, and surviving during the siege of Leningrad. Valente balances these paralleling worlds - the real and the fantastic - with skillful grace. As Marya recounts to her magical friend, Comrade Lebedeva, "If a novelist wrote a true story about how things really happened, no one would believe him, and he might even be punished for spreading propaganda. But if he wrote a book full of lies about things that could never really happen, with only a few true things hidden in it, well, he would be hailed as a hero of the People..." It is the hiding of these "few true things" that makes Deathless so compelling - the chapter concerning the siege of Leningrad seen through Zvonok the domoviye's point of view is particularly affecting, as is the push-pull nature of Marya and Koschei's marriage.

Adding to this intriguing fairytale is Valente's captivating prose. Her words are always full, nearly bursting with wonder, and Deathless is Valente at her finest. Here is an example (Zvonok speaking to Marya):

Last week a man held a concert Glinka Hall. Snow fell in through the broken roof the whole time, piling up on the oboist's head. The air raid sirens played, too. We all listened from the roofs. Like cats. But not like cats. There are no cats left in Leningrad. Ivan said, If only we could eat violin music. I kissed his thumbnail. He said he was glad of me. Then he crawled into that bed...

Valente expertly mixes a sense of dread and hopelessness with something like absurd normality: as families starve during the siege, a man holds a concert and everyone listens from the roofs of their houses. And even after Ivan wishes to "eat violin music" he says he is "glad of [Zvonok]." In the direst moments hope is still preserved.

In the end, Deathless is a dream: of different worlds - ours and the magical - coexsting together, understanding the differences between what is living and what is really dead, and where each of us belong. Recommended.

Also recommended: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ode to White Gourd

You've read my tweets and facebook posts on it. If you've seen me in the flesh over the last couple of weeks, I've probably made you try a sip of it - but only a sip, god forbid you drink allll of it. It has a smoky, caramel flavor. It is what heaven would taste like if heaven had a taste. I thought it was a dream I had: in that dream, the world was light green and perfectly misshapen and everywhere I went was the taste and smell of it (there were also spectacularly large candy-wrapped beetles discussing the mundanity of boomboxes, but that's besides the point).

For you, on this Monday, I give you the White Gourd Drink. Imagine the beauty inside:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (the pen name of the ubiquitous Daniel Abraham and George R.R. Martin's assistant, Ty Franck) is an engaging by-the-seat-of-your-pants space opera, replete with noir grit, excellently realized futurescapes, and "vomit zombies."

The story is told through the voices of two distinct characters diametrically opposed to the other's views on just about everything. The first is Franck's James Holden - XO of the Canterbury, an ice-hauling freighter. Despite some previous naval experience and being an Earther in the Outer Planets, Holden has remained an optimistic fellow. He sees the solar system in black-and-white terms: "So, now the Canterbury and her dozens of sister ships in the Pur'n'Kleen Water Company made the loop from Saturn's generous rings to the Belt and back hauling glaciers, and until the ships aged into salvage wrecks. Jim Holden saw some poetry in that." Holden's universe is an easy math equation where people are naturally good and everything adds up.

On the other side of this is Abraham's Joe Miller. A detective on Ceres Station in the Belt. A noirish cynic. The guy who's seen it all and buried it at the bottom of a whiskey glass. Though he works for a security company owned by an Earth corporation, Miller is a Belter by birth and distrustful of anyone who's ever seen a sky or not had their water and their air pumped in from outside. Yet, what makes Miller a good detective is his ability to detach himself when necessary, to notice the facts, regardless of personal sentiment. As Abraham notes, "When Miller started working homicide, one of the things that had struck him was the surreal calm of the victims' families. People who had just lost wives, husbands, children, and lovers. People whose lives had just been branded by violence. More often that not, they were calmly offering drinks and answering questions, making the detectives feel welcome...A month earlier Miller...had been the steadying hand of the law. Now they were employees of an Earth-based security contractor. The difference was subtle, but it was deep."

Holden's and Miller's worlds collide when the Canterbury picks up a distress signal from a derelict ship - the Scopuli - and responds, to discover the horror that's happened to its crew. As Holden transmits data that ignites an already tense situation between the Belt and Mars, Miller is assigned the job of searching for the missing Julie Mao. The link: Mao was one of the crew on the Scopuli.

There is a lot to like in Leviathan Wakes. The aforementioned "vomit zombies" are a real treat. There is a great backstory concerning the colonization of the solar system and the evolutionary process of humanity. There's a sleek generation ship built by the Mormons. There are gunfights and secretive corporations. There are elements of hard SF mixed with rock 'em sock 'em adventure, giving the story a realistic and gritty tone throughout. Hints of Heinlein and Clarke are all over the place.

However, the foremost engaging part of Leviathan Wakes is the relationship between Miller and Holden. It's about watching these characters grow and feed off each other (zombie pun intended) and shape events around them, understanding the future from their point of view. Through Miller's eyes Holden can look a naive fool who believes the best in people; through Holden's eyes Miller is an unpredictable wild man with a penchant for getting shot at and shooting everything in sight. Yet, through their own eyes, each man is sensible and rational and seeing things through the best way he can. Highly Recommended.

Leviathan Wakes is the first in the Expanse series and will be released June 15th, 2011. It is available for pre-order now.

Also Recommended: Dread Empire's Fall Trilogy by Walter Jon Williams.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What Did I Do Last Weekend?: A True Life Quest

On April 30th, 2011, Dustin Monk - White Gourd Drink drinker, beard aficiando, beetle hugger - set upon a journey to recover The Silent Land by Graham Joyce and Up Against It by M.J. Locke. He plotted three bookstores throughout the Chicago area: Unabridged Books on Broadway, Half-Price Books in Niles, IL, and Book Cellar on Lincoln. Dustin enlisted the help of Moddang, Mandy (aka A. Lynn), and Justin. There was also a lot of talk about Indian food.

In the morning Dustin and Moddang visited Unabridged Books. The sun was high already but it was not. Already, Broadway bustled with people and parked cars lined the side of the street. Yet, Dustin was lucky and found a parking spot in front of the bookstore. He took this as a good sign.

However, Unabridged Books did not carry either The Silent Land or Up Against It. That was too bad. On the plus side, it does carry one of the best collections of LGBT selections in Chicago; it also carries smaller, independent publishers and authors, a lot of which one cannot find in the chains. Dustin nearly purchased an on-sale hardback copy of Ian McKewan's Solar, but neglected as it was not part of the Quest. Moddang explaimed, as Dustin perused the various Samuel R. Delany books, that she was hungry and A. Lynn and Justin were probably awake and awaiting our arrival. This made much sense.

Onward to Kedzie, to A. Lynn's garden apartment. Dustin and Moddang listened to The Antlers' new record, Burst Apart, honking and braking their way from Broadway. Then, with A. Lynn and Justin showered and in tow, the foursome headed north to Niles. To H-Mart, the colossal Korean grocery.

They ate a quick, but slightly expensive lunch. Dustin had bulgogi beef. Moddang ordered spicy beef soup. A. Lynn: pork dumplings. Justin ate a salad concoction everyone marveled at. The fluorescent lights weighed heavily. A butcher carved a large, red tuna. Dustin itched to continue his Quest; though this side-quest was certainly interesting. He was excited to find Pennywort Drink, but disappointed there was no smoky, syrupy White Gourd Drink. A. Lynn purchased a rice wine that tasted like soy sauce. It was delicious only to Dustin. Justin stopped in at Gamestop and bought Portal 2 (he has his own side-quests.)

The four Questers, bellies sufficiently full, returned to their vehicle, driving along tree-lined Caldwell Street, hanging a left on Touhy, expertly following Dustin's phone's Google Maps to Half-Price Books. Justin commented that, with his recent purcahse of the Amazon Kindle, he had no desire for "paper books." Dustin was ready with fisticuffs and various phrases essentially boiling down to, "How dare you!" but Moddang calmed him and gave him a sip of her pure cane sugar drink.

Half-Price Books carried the thick tome We, the Drowned by Danish writer Carsten Jensen that Dustin had been eyeing in bookstores for awhile; bookmarked on page 74 was a pamphlet of Mr. Jensen's touring schedule, indicating an appearance the following Saturday at that very store. Dustin considered purchasing the book, despite it not being part of the Quest, because he thought he might like to attend the reading and be able to ask pertinent questions about the book. Deciding that anything sidetracking the goals of the main Quest was, at the least, unheroic and, at best, near-blasphemic, Dustin put the book back on the shelf. The four left the second bookstore somewhat discomfited and ready for a victory, even a small one.

It was Moddang who spotted the replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on their way back to Chicago. A. Lynn said, "Let's have an adventure." Dustin parked the car in the adjacent YMCA parking lot. A. Lynn believed the four could climb the tower and look out over the city of Niles.

Sleeping stone lions guarded the entrances of the tower replica. A plaque posted on one of the tower's walls indicated it was ninety-seven feet high, about half the height of the original Leaning Tower of Pisa. This tower was a storage facility for water. No climbing allowed. They checked anyway, but the doors were locked.

The four Questers returned to A. Lynn's garden apartment, tasting the rice wine and shivering at its unique aftertaste. Afterward, they watched the first episode of Game of Thrones, waiting for hunger pangs to strike. Justin showed everyone the Kindle. Dustin tweeted something about a quest. Moddang watched A. Lynn play Call of Duty.

Finally, hunger. Darkness. Cool night air. A wind full of abandon. They set off for the much talked-about but seldom-mentioned Indian food. Though originally the dinner was meant as a celebration of Dustin's new job, it turned conciliatory as the position didn't pan out. Perhaps, in some small way, this "un-panning out" was Dustin's reason for his Quest. Perhaps he is simply addicted to bookstores.

Essence of India on Lincoln Avenue is one of the best kept secrets of Chicago. For drinks, everyone ordered chai tea except Dustin, who ordered a bottle of Kingfisher. With the serving of garlic naan came three delightful chutneys. They were visited by the chef, who explained that the murg makhani - butter chicken - that Moddang and A. Lynn ordered was the most popular dish at the restaurant. It is a fairly common dish at Indian restaurants, but Essence of India's butter chicken is the best. The four Questers' spirits were significantly raised.

Reinvigorated by the good food and beer, Dustin Google-mapped a final bookstore within walking distance. The Book Cellar. It was late. The smell of beer and exhaust mixed together. The foursome passed a water fountain in the middle of the street. A taxi cab honked its horn. Lincoln Avenue was a circus of lights and people and cars and bars.

The Book Cellar was nondescript, nosed between two buildings almost as an afterthought. Dustin expected to be disappointed again. It seemed the Quest was all for naught. He was right about the M.J. Locke: the Book Cellar did not carry it. But...

There, in the shelves between Tree of Smoke and Ulysses, smaller than the other books, was Graham Joyce. The Silent Land. He'd found it. Dustin had found it! His shoulders relaxed. A weight was lifted. He felt warmth in his belly for the first time that day. He looked through The Silent Land's pages, perusing, running his finger along the lines of Joyce's words in the quiet dark of the bookstore.

Yes, he wanted it. Yes, this was a Quest. A True Life Quest and he had found half of the Grail. Wasn't that enough?

Dustin put The Silent Land back on the shelf. It did look great in its place. Moddang asked if he was going to buyt it. "Not tonight," Dustin said. "Not tonight."

Justin exclaimed the Quest was anticlimactic. He shrugged his shoulders exasperatedly and rolled his eyes and slapped his forehead and cursed the Quest a thousand times. Moddang said, "You came all this way!" A. Lynn did a little dance (she needed to use the restroom). Dustin said, "Half the grail is not enough."

The foursome returned once again to A. Lynn's apartment to watch the second episode of Game of Thrones. It was very sad when Eddard killed Lady. The next morning Dustin ordered Up Against It and The Silent Land from Amazon. Yes, he thought, it was very anticlimactic. In the meantime, Moddang has perfected her version of murg makhani.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Fun Time, Great Deal!: Ye Olde Cautionarie Tale

Here are the facts: the story you are about to read is dumb. I mean really dumb. It concerns a dumb orc tricked by another dumb orc into finding a dumb diamond-encrusted ballcap in the Mountains o' Gore'n'Ick. Yeah. That kind of dumb.

The thing is, it was written for a contest with the most outlandish, absurd, and straight-up what-the-hell-y picture for a contest...ever. EVER. Yes, that's Wil Wheaton in a clown sweater riding a unicorn-cat-pegasus thing. (The picture to the left was drawn by my sister, Mandy Monk, for a moleskin project I was doing.)

No, I didn't win the contest. I only marginally followed the rules. Who cares. It was too much fun to write.

Why am I sharing it now? Honestly, it got a little giggle out of me and I hope it does you too. Enjoy!

Ye Olde Cautionarie Tale

What about a quest?  O’ the usual sort: the kind with treasure boxes full o’ gold’n’jewels, and a trunk full o’ beautiful virgins—eyeless in me case, god forbid they see me horribly disfigurement and scream whilst I tarry a fortnight at their nether regions with me thick white teeth and moist snaky lips?  Aye, ye ask: what about a quest, indeed.
I will tell ye straightly, for, in god’s eyes, there were no treasure boxes nor no eyeless virgins at the end o’ this, me mighty quest, having foolishly undertaken at the behest o’ Orcious Badmanius, who in his olympic wisdom and easy charm, did deceive and connive to burden this orc, yours truly, one Orcman Orcman, aye, to travel the Mountains o’ Gore’n’Ick and, once through, unburden the inner cavity o’ a particularly nasty cave o’ its diamond-encrusted ball cap.
I was not the first to attempt such a dangerous adventure.  And if ye not heed me words and warnings—o’ the sort that will water ye eyes and make ye wish to cut off your ears for the hearing of’t—then neither will I be the last.
How I came upon the clever raconteur, that wily skin’n’bones and his devilish disposition, Orcious Badmanius, was upon me usual walk at dusk, just after suppertime—wherein I’d eaten a stew replete with boiled rabbit bones and filed-down wolf teeth and, it goes without saying, the flesh o’ manbabes, and washed down with a cup o’ blood mead—and, though these walks were on most night without incident, I was perhaps more buzzed and bewildered than as was me custom.
Hence, the surprise attack!
From out the bushes like a she-lion, glistening’n’golden, thrusting forth lashing tongue and poisoned paw, snapping big juicy gums and wild-eyed, came Orcius Badmanius!—or no, mayhaps ‘twas me who, in me daydreamery and making shapes o’ the clouds, had stepped into his path, aye, and jarred the old orc from his slumber there upon the mossy stones o’ the Rotted Heads o’ Yummy Fleshy Men Gardens, and perhaps ‘tis true too, that I nearly stuck him in the throat with me pointy armor, falling as I was.
(Ye will see, listener, which o’ the previous paragraph is the truth and which is falsehood.  Aye, ye will see.)
Here, Orcius Badmanius awakes and, awaking as orcs will, in an ill humor, proceeded to curse me name and family.  “Alas, alas,” I called to him.  “Do not curse me name nor me family, for at the end o’ this season I must fight the yummy fleshes and I, being an orc and ruthless as any orc ye will ever meet, do want victory o’er me foes.”
Orcious Badmanius stopped raging but did something far worse in return: he began to weep.  ‘Tis not a thing orcs do, ye will no doubt know.  But he was an old orc and, despite weeping be o’ the weak’n’sickly’n’stupid, there’re times when I had seen me grandorc shed a tear: just the one, lest his soul be cursed to roam the Land o’ Yummy Fleshy Men eternally.  Ye see, a tear, fallen at just the right moment, can be a thing o’ beauty, but this, gods, this was gross.
The old orc was going on in his weepy manner about which something I could not catch the words o’.  I said to him, as politely as one says to an orc as weak as a cornstalk, “Dear sir, I’m afraid I know not what you’re saying.  If ye could please slow it down and quit with all the blubbering’n’sniveling, ‘twould make the whole process a pinch easier, thank ye.”  Orcious Badmanius sniffled once and took hold o’ me shoulders, fingers splayed around the pointy spikes.
Here, I will relate to ye the tale that mischievous evil orc gave to me:
“Ye strong, well-oiled orc, please accept me apologies for both cursing ye and your family and then, in me weakness o’ character, a weakness I dare say I shan’t be holding to again, for weeping upon your freshly shined boots.  But if ye must know why ‘tis I cry I will tell ye, for ‘tis the saddest tale ye will ever hear.
Me youngorc from me daughterorc’s brood, went missing the night before yesternight.  Ye know how it is, I’m certain: young men full o’ blood mead and blood lust, go a-roving to the land o’ men to make a name.  Me youngorc, lad by the name o’ Orcorc, set upon just such an adventure, leaving as he did wearing a diamond-encrusted ball cap me own grandgrandorc had sewn and encrusted: a family heirloom, o’ course, worth its weight in, well, diamonds, to be sure.”
Orcious Badmanius almost started weeping again.
“Alas, alas,” said he, “Orcorc did return to us a broken’n’burdened boyorc.  The gods-be-damned men tortured and burned his flesh crisply and poor Orcorc’s brains turned to mush.  What’s worse: he returned without the diamond-encrusted ball cap.
“If only, if only,” said the shrewd deceiver, “there was an orc brave enough to bring back the diamond-encrusted ball cap from the Mountains o’ Gore’n’Ick where it hath been left.”
Perhaps it was the blood mead buzz or the way the sun at dusk glinted off me shiny armor or perhaps ‘tis simply in orc makeup to quest for gold’n’jewels’n’such, but I readily accepted his offer to find the diamond-encrusted ball cap.  Especially once I’d heard the reward.  Said Orcious, “A full twenty-five percent o’ the diamonds encrusted thereupon the ball cap, good sir.”
What I did not know and—even now I cannot say with certainty—what Orcious Badmanius did not warn me o’: the clown-sweater warrior-jester.  He said nothing o’ the Crusher.
I set upon the journey forthwith.  Getting out o’ the orc vale was easy and I simply climbed o’er the green hills and through the foggy ruins.  Then, me quest began in earnest.
I knew it would be dangerous: an orc alone in the Land o’ Yummy Fleshy Men.  Every orc goes alone at least once in his orclife, but, alas, I was an orc with a belly and o’ an age that spoke o’ slowed reflexes and more nights by the fireside, picking rabbit meat off me ax blade, relating tales to me kin o’ yesteryear.
Me legs burned and me tummy rumbled.  The journey to the Mountains o’ Gore’n’Ick was uneventful: green pastures and farms where many a fairy tarried in their magical way; the buzzing lands where insects toil; the fruiting forests o’ fungi; the mighty sick-blue ocean where I upchucked many a meal a-voyaging.
And then!  In the distance, the peaks covered by clouds o’ soot’n’ash, awaited me destiny: the Mountains o’ Gore’n’Ick!  I performed an orc dance on the boat’s deck to the surprise’n’joy o’ the crew.  Everyone clapped and someone brought out a flute.
The ship came to shore and I was unloaded with much adieu and set upon me way toward the fiery black rocks.  Ye may be asking if I was scared.  And to ye I say, with gusto:  No!  An orc is never scared.  An orc will jump into a pit o’ slithery poison snakes and the snapping jaws o’ a panther if it be for gold’n’jewels or a beautiful virgin.  Aye, I tell ye, we will do the dumbest o’ things for a pocketful o’ shiny or soft, yummy skin.  Or, in this case, a diamond-encrusted ball cap.
The way was rough’n’tumble.  Footholds were few’n’far between.  I dropped me hand-chalk early on and ye know how hard it is to grip rock with these heavy thick bear paws.
Using me orcsense I at last came to the cave where Orcorc had dropped the diamond-encrusted ball cap.  The sky was black’n’red’n’fiery and lava o’erflowed the dark rocks and mountainsides.
Me ax was in me left hand, me shield in me right.  Something about the place seemed wrong.  I took several deep breaths and reminded meself: Orcman Orcman, ye are an orc and ye are frightened o’ nothing.
I had time only to think it when the thing came crashing upon me.  ‘Twas a beast no orc had ever seen before and lived to tell of’t.  A winged feline with a ten foot horn upon its head, huge scratchy paws with nails extended, crazy glowing yellow eyes, and a ferocious mouth full o’ razor-sharp teeth.  I tell ye: ‘twas a pegasus and a cat and a unicorn: a unicatasus (+/- dimensionality).  A thing o’ myth’n’mystery, shrouded in the musty pages o’ orc lore, half-in’n’half-out o’ this world, the very beast that won men their yummy fleshy lands!
And riding atop the mythical beast was a man wielding a spear.  But not just a man wielding a spear: a man in a clown sweater.  Screaming for orc blood.  Could it be, thought I, in the moments before the spear came crashing upon me shield, the warrior-jester?  The hero o’ legend?  The Crusher?
I had not time to think but only to act.  The spear crashed against me shield and the blood lust o’ orcery overtook me.
The Crusher landed several blows and scratched’n’chipped the beautiful wood o’ me shield.  I, alas, thrust me ax with the fervor and fury o’ an orc battling two hundred men but could not even glance the beast or the warrior-jester.  Soon I was breathing snot from me nose and me breath was fire-hot.  Me legs, sore and bruised as they were from climbing rock faces, went numb and became akin to jelly.  Me wielding arm, thrusting’n’parrying, burned’n’ached.  There wasn’t much for a poor orc to do.
‘Tis here the Crusher got the best o’ me, I’m afraid.
Spear cut through wooden shield and through me good body armor and I did feel its shiny sharp tip pierce me insides.  Felt it turning as the Crusher hefted and lifted me from the ground and blood was slithering all along me body and pooling on the ground and me guts were, o’ course, churned like butter.
I asked o’ him one question—the one’n’only question an orc had ever been able to ask.  Said I, “What?”
The gruesome pinwheeling o’ me insides abruptly stopped.  Before me the great gelatinous yellow eye o’ the unicatasus (+/- dimensionality) glowed’n’watched.  The Crusher looked upon me too and said, in a voice little more than a whisper, “I am that which ye lust for and which ye fear most.”
I said, through gritted spearing pain and blood gurgles, “There is no diamond-encrusted ball cap is there?”
“Fool orc,” said the warrior-jester.  “There is no Orcious Badmanius.”
I was flung from the Crusher’s spear—the unicatasus (+/- dimensionality) cackling like something not o’ this world, for which it was not—and me guts sprayed the air and splattered amongst the rocks like cold magma.  I lay in a heap, discarded, me bones broken’n’bloodied, me skin curling in lava, though, I confess even now, I felt nothing o’ the searing molten river or the charring black rock.
So ‘tis here I rest and curse Orcious Badmanius, the sly trickster, and the warrior-jester and the howling unicatasus (+/- dimensionality) as these, me last breaths, issue forth from collapsed windpipes and lungs into thin ashy air, as me heartbeat does sloweth.  O what power hath lust!  O what power hath a quest!  The doom o’ orcery!
Aye, the doom.  But—what is this?  Moisture upon me cheek?  Just one tiny drop.  What could it be but a single tear.
The End

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A List of My Favorite Books (So Far) in 2011

With awards season right around the corner - we've got Locus, Nebula, Hugo, Jackson, to name a few  - I thought I would go ahead and list some of the books I've liked reading the most in 2011. They're weren't all published this year or even last year and I don't think any of them are nominees for any of the awards listed above except Nora Jemisin's first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Regardless, these are books I'll probably read again and again.

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (Small Beer Press)

The Fixed Stars: Thirty-Seven Emblems for the Perilous Season by Brian Conn (Fiction Collective)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms/The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin (Orbit)

Babel 17/Empire Star by Samuel R. Delany (Vintage)

Light Boxes by Shane Jones (Penguin)

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (Orbit)

Half World by Hiromi Goto (Viking)

Most of the aforementioned books I've reviewed on this here blog, but a few, like Shane Jones's Light Boxes, I haven't had time to yet; others, like Leviathan Wakes, will have a review within the next week or so. I'm currently reading Catherynne M. Valente's Deathless and really loving it.

Though I have quite a backlog of books to get through, I've recently picked up the following and I can't wait to read them:

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine (Prime)

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Tor)

Embassytown by China Mieville (Del Rey)

Up Against It by MJ Locke (Tor)

A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin (Bantam)

Do YOU have any favorites?