Archive for September, 2008

The Living Dead–Starred Review in PW

Publishers Weekly reviews The Living Dead: (Starred Review) "Recently prolific anthologist Adams (Seeds of Change) delivers a superb reprint anthology that runs the gamut of zombie stories. There’s plenty of gore, highlighted by Stephen King’s ‘Home Delivery’ and David Schow’s classic ‘Blossom.’ Less traditional but equally satisfying are Lisa Morton’s ‘Sparks Fly Upward,’ which analyzes abortion politics in a zombified world, and Douglas Winter’s literary pastiche ‘Less than Zombie.’ Also outstanding, Kelly Link’s ‘Some Zombie Contingency Plans’ and Hannah Wolf Bowen’s ‘Everything Is Better with Zombies’ take similar themes in wildly different directions. Neil Gaiman’s impeccably crafted ‘Bitter Grounds’ offers a change of pace with traditional Caribbean zombies. The sole original contribution, John Langan’s ‘How the Day Runs Down,’ is a darkly amusing twist on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. There’s some great storytelling for zombie fans as well as newcomers."

Also, the blog Dusk Before Dawn reviews The Living Dead, providing capsule reviews for each story. The reviewer’s favorites were: Ghost Dance by Sherman Alexie, The Third Dead Body by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Malthusian’s Zombie by Jeffrey Ford, Home Delivery by Stephen King, Deadman’s Road by Joe R. Lansdale, and The Song the Zombie Sang by Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg.

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Give Books to Books4Barack

I mentioned the Books4Barack fundraiser a while ago—the free books offer is now over (though of course, you can still donate). But there were so many takers that the organizers are having trouble filling all the orders. So if you’re an author, and you’ve got books to give away, you can donate in another way, by sending Books4Barack some of your books to give away in their goodie bags. If you want to donate some books, send an email to books4barack AT gmail DOT com and let organizer Ayelet Waldman know that you’d like to help. She’ll send you the mailing address, along with a donation form you’d need to fill out.

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Absentee Voter

Because I’m going to the World Fantasy Convention at the beginning of November, I was a bit worried any flight delays might cause me to run the risk of missing my opportunity to vote in the presidential election. (My flight home is on Nov. 3, so if there were any significant delays due to a snowstorm or something, for instance, being home by Nov. 4 couldn’t be guaranteed.)

So, to stave off any possibility of my vote not being cast, I decided to vote by absentee ballot. In New Jersey (and possibly in other states), you don’t need any particular reason to vote by absentee ballot—you can just request one and they’ll send it to you. Mine came in the mail today, about a month after I sent in my request (though I think it only took that long because there was plenty of time before the election—I think they can process a request in as little as a week).

In any case, I bring this up because I was surprised to see the number of people running for president. Here’s the complete list:

* Roger Calero, your campaign is made of fail—I couldn’t actually find your campaign website. What I’ve linked to is the closest thing I could find.

** For your own amusement, it might be worth visiting Jeff Boss’s campaign website. It’s chock-full of crazy, which doesn’t surprise me, as I’ve seen some rather crazy-looking signs for Boss up around northern NJ. I even witnessed someone hanging one outside the Hudson United Bank on 14th St. in Hoboken. Could it have been Boss himself? Hard to say, there’s not even a picture of him on his website. But he claims to have witnessed the US government arranging 9/11. So, yeah, go take a look at the website. I think his caps-lock key is stuck. At least he *has* a website.


I find the ballot interesting for a few reasons.

  1. With all of the focus on the fact that Hillary Clinton could have been the Democratic nominee for president, and then the fact that Sarah Palin is the Republican candidate for VP, you’d think that someone on the news at some point, might have mentioned that the Green Party actually did select a woman as their candidate for president. (As did, apparently, the Socialism and Liberation party, which I have never heard of.) Also, considering the attention given to the fact that Barack Obama is black, you’d think someone might have mentioned that Cynthia McKinney is not only a woman, but black as well.
  2. Speaking of the Socialism and Liberation party, I find it interesting that there are not one, not two, but *three* different candidates running on a fully socialism platform (I’m assuming, based on the names of their parties). It’s possible there are more socialists on the ballot, but I’m not familiar with some of the other candidates.
  3. Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are the only two people I’ve heard of other than Obama and McCain (well, except for Boss, since I’ve seen his crazy, hand-written signs). I heard it talked about that Nader did not get the Green Party nomination. Curiously, I never did hear who actually did (McKinney) until now. I’ve only heard of Bob Barr because he appeared on either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. 

If you don’t live in NJ, your ballot may differ. Apparently, you can get on the ballot in certain states, and may not be able to get on it in others. People can always write in, however, if the candidate is not on the ballot in their state. (I think Boss is only on the ballot in NJ.)

That’s about all I have to say on the subject. I will add, however, that I support Barack Obama, and would encourage you to do the same.

I’m John Joseph Adams, and I approve this message.

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Colbert Report Now Online?

On The Colbert Report last night, I swear Stephen said that you could now go to the all-new and watch every episode of the show (i.e. since episode #1). But for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to go back more than a week or two. Maybe it’s obvious to everyone but me.

Well, in any case, for those of you who don’t have cable, now you can watch new episodes every day for free online.

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Trivium & Metallica

Speaking of sound systems, what I’m currently listening to is the pre-release stream of Trivium’s new album Shogun, via their MySpace page. Two songs in, it sounds a like they’ve mostly returned to a more heavy style, in line with their first two albums, as opposed to the much lighter, Metallica-like style of The Crusade, but we’ll see how the rest of it turns out.

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Speaking of Metallica, their new album, Death Magnetic, is pretty solid. A lot of people have been calling it a return to form, but that phrase gets thrown around a lot, and I’m not sure it makes sense in this case. What’s the form they’re returning to? To me, that would mean that the new album is a return to the Metallica of And Justice for All… and the albums previous to that. Their sound changed subtly after that to The Black Album, then drastically on Load and Re-Load, both of which I hated at first, but grew to appreciate a bit later. St. Anger was decent, and Death Magnetic is a pretty good follow-up, but it’s in that modern Metallica mode, not a true return to form. “Unforgiven III” and “The Day That Never Comes” are probably my two favorite tracks, but there’s plenty of other good stuff on there as well, and no songs I actively hate. I was especially glad to see them include an instrumental track again, as their instrumentals have always been some of my favorites (though this one is not in the league of “Orion” or “Call of Ktulu”).

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Help Me Upgrade My PC Soundsystem

Can anyone recommend a good, affordable set of speakers for use with a PC? I’m not actually sure how important the speakers are vs. the soundcard, but my system currently doesn’t have much power to it—I can’t turn it up very loud, videos in particular are generally too quiet for me, even at max volume. I don’t often listen to music on my computer (I usually use my iPod, since iTunes causes my whole system to crawl if I try to play music with it), but I do occasionally listen to Pandora or an artist’s MySpace songs, etc. and I find that I can’t turn it up as loud as I’d like.

I can’t really tell what my current sound card is, it just says Creative SB Live Series (WDM), but I’m not sure if that’s a full description. My speakers are like $20 cheapies picked up at Office Depot.

So…any ideas what’s the best option for an upgrade here?

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Protest Without Words

I’ve mentioned the band Protest the Hero here a few times, naming them as one of my favorite bands. Well, I just discovered something that makes me like them even more.

Their latest album, Fortress, came out in January of this year, and it was awesome. But I recently discovered that they’ve made it even more awesome—there is now available a version of the album that has all the regular tracks, plus instrumental versions of all of the tracks, and it’s still the same price as the regular album. (Of course, I paid double, since I bought the album when it originally came out, which did not have the instrumental tracks.) Or, I’m assuming this is new anyway—I bought the CD version of the album, and this double album version seems to only be available via iTunes [link (opens iTunes)], so it could have been there all along as an iTunes exclusive.

In any case, the instrumental version of the album is equally awesome, and speaks highly of just how intricately crafted their songs are. I’d imagine that you couldn’t strip away the vocals of just any song and still have a “complete” song—it would seem like it’s missing something. Having listened to the with-vocals version many times myself, it’s harder for me to judge the instrumental version of Fortress purely—at first, to me, it did sound a bit like there was something missing, but after having listened to the instrumental version a couple times, I have to say, I’m not sure that anyone who wasn’t familiar with the vocal version would ever think that, and the more I listen, the more I think they work beautifully without the lyrics.

If you like metal at all, or you just really dig fancy guitar-work, I’d highly recommend picking up the instrumental version of the album. I don’t think you can listen to whole instrumental tracks anywhere online, so if you want to try before you buy, I’d suggest buying “Sequoia Throne”—it’s probably their best song with or without vocals.

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