Stray Bits

I have finally made my way through the 3,000 emails that had accumulated in the mumpsimus at gmail account during my absence from checking it. Thank you to everyone for bearing with me on that. If you need a response of some sort to something, and I haven't yet replied, please send me another note, because I think I have responded to everything that seemed to need a response.

There are some sites and items I discovered from the mail, including:
  • The First Book, a site created by Scott William Carter to provide interviews with and information about authors of first novels. Scott was my roommate at the very first science fiction convention I went to, and he's not only a tremendous nice guy, but has developed a great career with lots of short stories published in a wide variety of markets and now a novel that is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in 2010.

  • Noticing my comments on Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Henry Farrell let me know about a conversation with China Miéville about The Road that he had a year ago. I completely missed this when it was first posted (probably because I'd just gotten back from Kenya), and regret that, because it's very much worth reading.

  • Starship Sofa is a science fiction podcast with a great selection of material -- right now there's a podcast (mp3) about the life and career of the much-too-neglected John Sladek, and past shows have included readings of stories by Pat Murphy, Bruce Sterling, David Brin, and others.

  • This isn't from the mail, but I'll add it here anyway: A thoughtful review of the soon-to-be-released Criterion Collection DVD of Alex Cox's Walker. This is an extraordinary movie, and I'm looking forward to seeing the DVD very much, because I've only ever watched it on an old videotape I got a few years ago, and the image quality on the tape is awful. I first got interested in Walker after I returned from a trip to Nicaragua and started reading up on Central American history -- and one of the stories that most captured my attention was that of William Walker, who took a ragged band of ruffians down to Nicaragua and declared himself president. Cox turned the story into a bizarre movie, and when I first watched it my reaction was basically, "Huh?" But a second viewing endeared the movie to me, and Ed Harris's performance as Walker is extraordinary -- he's one of the best actors out there, but seldom gets a chance to really show what he can do to the extent he got with Walker. The film is a political satire, an over-the-top historical epic, a chaotic mix of anomalies and goofiness, a sad and affecting tale of American capitalism and imperialism. Other films were made in '80s about Nicaragua -- Under Fire and Latino come to mind -- but Walker has more depth and nuance (even amidst its blustery weirdness) than its more straightforward and painfully earnest cousins, and it has withstood the passing of time all the better for it.

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