Monday, December 26, 2011

Heavy reading

I had the wonderful experience this Christmas day of leafing through a decade's worth of old Galaxy magazines. They'd been donated to SF in SF, the program Tachyon sponsors to raise money for Variety Children's Charity of Northern California. About a dozen people were drinking spiced apple cider, eating cookies and cakes, and poring over the magazines, which spanned about 10 years between 1952 and 1961.

The authors featured in these issues included Theodore Sturgeon, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Clifford D. Simak, Philip K. Dick, Robert Sheckley, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, and Cordwainer Smith, among many others - giants of the field all writing in the prime of their lives. But what drew our attention most of all were all the wonderful covers by Emsh and the science articles by Willey Ley, the German-born scientist whose articles often centered on spaceflight and rocketry. His column ran for 40 years from 1937 (in Astounding) to his death in 1967.

One article that caught my eye was written in October 1952, with the sentence that began "I don't believe in the 'electronic device' which replaces the newspaper. Nor do I think that books will be printed on anything which we would not call paper," Ley continues, "even though it may technically be something else.... In quite a number of stories, the spaceship pilot looks up the characteristics of a planet in an almanac "printed on indestructible metal foil.... But while the paper book, with binding, weighs two lbs., the metal book, if aluminum, would weigh nine pounds!"

It still remains to be seen if ebooks will, in fact, replace the real thing. No matter how powerful it becomes, the Kindle will probably never weight nine pounds. Not all of Ley's predictions in this particular column were off the mark, though. He did predict the advent of answering machine and that helicopters would not replace the automobile.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Uncertain Places is (clearly) one of the best books of 2011

Happy holidays! As 2011 winds down, the best of the year lists begin and your early 2012 reading is settled. Michael Berry at the San Francisco Chronicle has selected Lisa Goldstein's The Uncertain Places as a standout in the science fiction and fantasy genres: "Goldstein weaves a tale of magic that stretches from Berkeley in the '70s to the vineyards of Napa Valley to the outer limits of Faerie."

Hope you are accruing lots of great books to read and that your [insert your traditional holiday fare here; mine is Chinese food] is tasty...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah from the Fantastical Andrew Fox

It's a fairly-well known fact that some of Tachyon's staff, as well as some of our authors and editors, are Jewish. I leave you to guess which ones, though I'll give you a freebie, our fearless leader Jacob Weisman. Meanwhile, Andrew Fox is giving you an excellent Hanukkah gift, an excerpt from The Good Humor Man. About latkes! Here's where it begins:


Shit. I’m late for Cindy's dinner party in La Jolla. Apart from my father, she's the only family I have left. Worse, I forgot to get out to the store to buy a gift. I search the kitchen for something to bring. The best I can find is a bottle of California table wine. I wrap it in tin foil and hope Cindy won't notice that the top fifth of the bottle is empty.

Buddy answers the door. I've never much cared for him. According to Cindy, he’s been an emotionally removed husband and father, burying himself in his engineering business. It's probably the resemblance to my own father that irks me. But he's certainly provided my cousin and their son with a comfortable home.

"Hello, Lou. Cindy was just wondering whether you'd make it."

"Hi, Buddy. How are you?" We awkwardly shake hands. I catch him looking curiously at my black eye. "You haven't fed the last crumbs of the latkes to the dogs yet?"

"Not yet. Cindy’s just taking them out of the oil now."

"The latkes or the dogs?"

No smile. "The latkes."


Read more here. And enjoy some non-government-banned latkes for us!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Corycast - Interview with Cory Doctorow on The Command Line Podcast

The Command Line is a blog and podcast "exploring digital citizenry as a creator and a consumer." Nifty! And now The Command Line Podcast's latest episode features an interview with Cory Doctorow. They discuss Context, take questions, and talk about other Cory-fied topics like copyright laws, and living in the future.

A fun, informative listen. You can download it here.

Friday, December 09, 2011

'Tis the Season for Kafka

Kafkaesque has been getting a lot of love lately! You'll find a nice review in Sci Fi magazine's latest issue. They give Kafkaesque an A!

And if you, like Michael Weingrad, wonder why there is no Jewish Narnia, Gillian Polack over at Biblio Buffet thinks Kafka has the answer:

"Kafka is many things to many people, which is impressive, considering that his writing is distinctive and always identifiable, even in different translations. His stories aren’t a simple formula of strip-bare-and-add-telling. This is why the volume Kafkaesque, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly, is so very good. It shows us that Kafka was an allegorist (like C.S. Lewis, although that comparison remains unmade)...Each of these stories is good in its own right, and each of these stories illuminates different facets of Kafka’s writing and our perception of Kafka."

Read the rest of the review here

Friday, December 02, 2011

An Evening with Franz Kafka and Friends

Do you live in or near North Carolina? John Kessel, one of the editors of Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, will be leading a discussion on Kafka, his works, and his influence at Quail Ridge Books and Music on Wednesday, December 7th.

If you aren't an NC local, but still would like a signed book, you can request one by contacting

Click here for more details