I had the pleasure, not long ago, of reading an advance copy of PALISADES PARK, by Alan Brennert. The novel will be coming out from St. Martin’s Press next April, and I recommend it highly.
Let me say up front that I’m a big Brennert fan. I have been since I first saw his work in issues of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD from DC Comics, teaming Batman with other DC heroes. Brennert didn’t tell straightforward adventure stories, he told character stories—of teen heroes Hawk & Dove as maturing adults, thinking back on what their lives had been, of the courtship and marriage of the Batman and Catwoman of DC’s Golden Age, of the repercussions of Batman’s efforts to save the young Bruce Wayne of an alternate timeline from the same tragedy that had haunted and shaped Batman’s life. And whatever else Brennert wrote, whether it was TV series like L.A. LAW or novels like KINDRED SPIRITS, a romance between two disembodied spirits discovering on the verge of death that life is perhaps worth living after all, I sought out his work and couldn’t get enough of it. Everything he writes is imaginative and human, creating richly textured worlds full of engaging, believable characters that don’t so much suck the reader in as welcome him in, enveloping him in story for as long as it takes.
And then, a couple of books back, he took what felt like a quantum leap forward, abandoning the fantasy of his previous work for history, in MOLOKA’I, which I can only describe as the most positive, uplifting, heartwarming novel about decades of life in a leper colony that you’ll ever read. As with all of Brennert’s work, it found a great depth of humanity in its characters, but it did so in a world so outwardly horrific and unsettling that the impact of the book was all the richer for it, mixing tragedy, sweetness, endurance, emotion and hope into a powerful and compelling story. Much as I like fantasy, and much as I liked what Brennert had done before, MOLOKA’I showed that historical fiction was what he should be doing, ushering us into worlds and times that we simply could never see or experience in any other way.
Anderson, Sherwood – WINESBURG, OHIO
Bacigalupi, Pauklo – THE ALCHEMIST
Block, Lawrence – GENERALLY SPEAKING
Buckell, Tobias S. – THE EXECUTIONESS
Chesterton, G.K. – THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
de Lint, Charles – ANGEL OF DARKNESS
Dean, Pamela – THE SECRET COUNTRY
Lord Dunsany – TALES OF THREE HEMISPHERES
Lord Dunsany – TIME AND THE GODS
Lord Dunsany – THE SWORD OF WELLERAN AND OTHER STORIES
Flynn, Michael – EIFELHEIM (sample)
Frost, Gregory – LORD TOPHET
Gaiman, Neil – AMERICAN GODS
Gischler, Victor – THE DEPUTY
Harris, Mark – THE SOUTHPAW (sample)
Hartwell, David (ed.) – YEAR’S BEST FANTASY 3
Headley, Maria Dahvana – QUEEN OF KINGS (sample)
Hobb, Robin – ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE
Hodgson, William Hope – THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND
Hughes, Matthew – THE DAMNED BUSTERS
Jensen, Carsten – WE, THE DROWNED
Kostova, Elizabeth – THE HISTORIAN
Kowal, Mary Robinette – SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY
Link, Kelly (ed) – THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR 2008
Lynch, Jim – THE HIGHEST TIDE
MacDonald, George – PHANTASTES: A FAERIE ROMANCE FOR MEN AND WOMEN
McCammon, Robert – SWAN SONG
McKillip, Patricia – ALPHABET OF THORN (sample)
McKinley, Robin – SPINDLE’S END (sample)
Mieville, China – PERDIDO STREET STATION
Morris, William – THE WELL AT WORLD’S END
Morris, William – THE WOOD BEYOND THE WORLD
Morrow, James – THE LAST WITCHFINDER
Novik, Naomi – VICTORY OF EAGLES
Powell, Anthony – A QUESTION OF UPBRINGING
Powers, Tim – THE STRESS OF HER REGARD (sample)
Pratchett, Terry – NATION
Priest, Cheri – BONESHAKER
Schilling, Peter – THE END OF BASEBALL (sample)
Seger, Linda – WRITING SUBTEXT (sample)
Shute, Nevil – MARAZAN
Stephenson, Neal – CRYPTONOMICON
Tarkington, Booth – PENROD
Valente, Catherynne M. – THE HABITATION OF THE BLESSED (sample)
Watt-Evans, Lawrence, ONE-EYED JACK
Westlake, Donald E. – GOD SAVE THE MARK
Whates, Ian (ed.) – FABLES FROM THE FOUNTAIN
The difference between GRIMM and ONCE UPON A TIME:
The one that was created by ex-BUFFY personnel is the one about a hero who discovers they’re the latest in a long line of monster-killers and has to take on the role relatively unprepared, but with the help of an aged mentor and a quirky helper.
And the one created by ex-LOST personnel is the one where everyone’s stuck in a location that’s pleasant on the surface, only there’s a complex mystery going on they have to unravel and lots of flashbacks to their earlier lives before they got stuck in this place.
As for tone, the one created by the Buffyistas feels like BUFFY and ANGEL but at least so far, thinner, and the one created by the Lostians feels like LOST but at least so far, much thinner.
We’re following both, here at Casa Busiek, to see what they develop into. They’re both watchable, though I’m used to Jennifer Morrison from HOUSE, so I keep wanting her to have snappier, faster-paced, smarter dialogue. Or at least be quicker on the uptake.
[On the great FABLES question: I can readily believe that GRIMM isn’t terribly influenced by FABLES, since there aren’t that many similarities and there’s been a spate of fairy-tale movies that could certainly have gotten the genre some notice. ONCE UPON A TIME has more similarities, though, and in the pilot, the fairy tale characters are referred to as “fables” once, which is odd because, well, they’re not. Hard to believe they didn’t pick that (and other things) up from Willingham.]
Here’s an e-mail I figured I’d deal with separately, so it doesn’t get lost amid the others.
Eric Sellers asks…
Did the forums linked at your website and the Astro City homepage get deleted or moved? I tried accessing them from your website but it said it didn’t exist and then the Astro City homepage link wouldn’t connect with anything.
Yeah, they don’t exist any more.
I’m not 100% sure what happened—it was while I was dealing with some pretty severe fatigue issues, so I wasn’t listening as well as I might when it was explained to me. But I think it had something to do with the forums generating exponentially-growing spam attacks or something, meaning it was taking up more and more server time, and eventually it got too much to handle, and the guys at Comicraft didn’t have the resources to keep running them.
The forum was never quite what I wanted it to be, in any case. There was always a spam problem, so anyone who wanted to register for the boards had to be manually approved by the webmaster, which I think prevented people from signing up and joining in.
What I’m planning to do is, sometime between now and when we’re ready for ASTRO CITY to start coming out again, I’m going to line up another message board for discussions. For now, those “Comment on this in our forum” links are probably still going to hang around, even though they don’t lead anywhere, so that when we have a new forum, we can just slot that in and have the links direct there.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to respond to something, or want to keep up on whatever I’m babbling about at the moment, the best places to find me are:
Since spouting off on Twitter or Facebook is easier than writing a blog entry, even, I’m a lot more active there than here. I hope to change that, in time, but for now, theyr’e good places to find me and/or keep up on what’s new.
Also, in case anyone’s wondering why they signed up for the newsletter and haven’t gotten any, the answer is simple:
There isn’t any newsletter.
Again, there should be one someday,so when this site was being put together, Design Wizard John Roshell put in a sign-up option, and I’ve been dutifully saving e-mail addresses for that happy day when I’ll have a newsletter to send. For now, though, all that exists of it is that list of e-mail addresses.
So don’t let that stop you from signing up for it, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get anything for a while.
And that’s the story of all the stuff that doesn’t exist around here!
Brilliant layouts. And a magic brush. And pen, I’d assume.
From “The Riddle of the Glass Bubble,” Tales of the Unexpected #18, Oct 1957