Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Dance of the Mathoms

Hi. A gallimaufry of items today, I'm afraid. First off . . .

Podcasting "Koboldtown"

Escape Pod has podcast "A Small Room in Koboldtown" as part of its project to (I believe) podcast all the current short-fiction Hugo nominees. You can find it here.

The story is read by Cheyenne Wright, of Arcane Times and Girl Genius (my nominee for Most Entertaining Story Ever; she's the colorist), and has my favorite be-careful-of-this-Swanwick-guy warning of the year to date:

Rated PG. Contains dark, seedy places and dark, seedy characters, only a few of them alive.

A Long Overdue Disclaimer

Henry Wessells, who is not only my good friend but the man responsible for the publication of What Can Be Saved From the Wreckage?: James Branch Cabell in the Twentieth Century, wrote to correct my speculation in Monday's post that some reviewers might have been particularly kind to the book because they received their copies free:


As your publisher, it is with a wry smile that I tell you your theory of reviewer enthusiasm is full of holes!

Steven Hart subscribed to the deluxe issue of Wreckage; and Douglas A. Anderson (yes, that one) bought a copy of the paperback, and reviewed it subsequently:

"Swanwick is an engaging critic, and his enthusiasm for what he likes is infectious . . . . There is gold in the past as well as in the present, and it's nice to have writers like Swanwick point out the treasures."
— Douglas A. Anderson

Also, Paul Di Filippo lauds the book in the July 2008 Asimov's.

Your pal,


So I am, not for the first time, wrong. Some reviewers, believe it or not, will put a lot of work into a review of a book they bought despite the fact that the money they receive will not pay for the book itself. I think we should all be a little appalled with admiration at that.

Stephen Saperstein Frug, who was as I expected appalled to discover that his (mostly positive) review was the most negative one I received, wrote:

Aside from the free/bought copy issue, I wonder if there isn't another difference: was I the only reviewer to have read the book without having actually read any Cabell?

And that may well be. One of the essay's chief functions, after all, was to make the interested reader aware of which of Cabell's books he (or, more rarely, she) need not bother with, and why. To read Cabell and like some of his books -- as I did and did -- is to feel vaguely uneasy that there might be something wonderful out there that one is missing. Which I also did.

But it occurs to me that I haven't yet posted a disclaimer that I should've put up in my very first blog. So I'll do it now:


I've been assuming all along that everybody understood this. But, of course, that assumption being about matters of fact and coming from me, is absolutely unreliable. I believe that Kurt Godel had something to say about this.

Oh, and I'll exempt my formal essays on Cabell and Mirrlees from the above. I researched them as best I could, and if I got anything wrong, I'll take my lumps for doing so.

Hylozoic Soil

Okay, this is just bizarre. Bizarre and cool. It looks benign, but it's hungry for your blood. What the heck was this guy thinking? I like him a lot.

And Finally, Laptop Skins

Capitalism discovers yet another way to separate you from your money!


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