Thursday, January 25, 2018
American actor and horror writer Jack Ketchum has died at the age of 71 from cancer.
His good friend writer Christopher Golden confirmed the sad news on Twitter.
He wrote: "I'm numb. No other word for it. Horror legend and my friend for many, many years, Dallas Mayr (aka JackKetchum ) has passed away after a long battle with cancer. Farewell, old friend. I'm so sorry to see you go."
A tweet on Jack's own Twitter account read: "Kev the Webmaster tweeting - Dallas Mayr, Jack Ketchum, passed away this morning, after a long battle with cancer.
"He was grateful for all of you, and he will be sorely, sorely missed."
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Lari White, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, producer and actress, has died in hospice care after a battle with advanced peritoneal cancer. She was 52. As a country artist, White scored six Top 20 country hits, including the Top 10 singles "That's My Baby," "Now I Know" and "That's How You Know (When You're in Love)." As an actor, she appeared opposite Tom Hanks in 2000's Cast Away.
Diagnosed last September with the rare form of cancer, which develops in the thin layer of tissue lining the abdomen, White suffered a series of complications and hospital visits, which she detailed in a post on Artistworks, where she had been teaching online vocal lessons. A GoFundMe page had been set up for the singer and her husband, musician and songwriter Chuck Cannon, to help the family with mounting medical expenses.
In addition to her recording career, White co-produced Toby Keith's 2006 LP White Trash With Money, as well as albums by Billy Dean and Shawn Mullins. On the big screen, she made a brief but memorable appearance in Cast Away and also had roles in the 2010 country-music drama Country Strong and the made-for-TV films No Regrets and XXX's & OOO's.
Born in Dunedin, Florida, White began performing gospel music at 4 years old with her parents. Although she lost the little finger on her left hand in an accident as a toddler, White played piano, entering talent contests and performing throughout the GulfCoast as a teenager. She studied voice at the University of Miami before moving to Nashville in 1988, where she won the TNN (Nashville Network) talent competition You Can Be a Star that same year.
A recording contract with Capitol led to the release of a single, "Flying Above the Rain," giving her a minor regional hit. Signing with Ronnie Milsap's publishing company, she wrote songs that were cut by Shelby Lynne ("What About the Love We Made") and Tammy Wynette ("Where's the Fire"), among others. She also began taking acting lessons and appeared in several plays and musicals around town. In 1992, White began touring as a back-up singer for Rodney Crowell. The following year, she released her debut LP for RCA, Lead Me Not, co-produced by Crowell with guitarist Steuart Smith. The following year, Wishes would prove to be her breakthrough album, with three consecutive Top Ten hits: "That's My Baby," "Now I Know," and "That's How You Know (When You're in Love)," featuring Hal Ketchum. "That's My Baby" and "That's How You Know" were co-written by White with Cannon, whom she married in April 1994. Her next LP, Don't Fence Me In, was issued in December 1995, with the Cole Porter-penned title cut featuring guest vocals from Shelby Lynne and Trisha Yearwood. A move to Disney-owned Lyric Street Records produced one LP, Stepping Stone, and contained her final Billboard singles chart entries, the Top 20 title cut, "Take Me," which was on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 pop survey, and the minor hit "John Wayne Walking Away."
In 2004, White released the critically acclaimed R&B-flavored Green Eyed Soul, her first of two albums on her own Skinny White Girl label. The follow-up, 2007's My First Affair, was a live document of the diverse material she performed in her cabaret act at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. In February of last year, White's Old Friends, New Loves double-EP collection commemorated her 25th anniversary as a recording artist. Guest vocalists on the project included Delbert McClinton, Suzy Bogguss and Lee Roy Parnell, with Charlie Worsham contributing mandolin to the track "In God's Hands." As a songwriter, White had tunes cut by Keith, Patti Page, Pat Green, Danny Gokey and Sarah Buxton, among others. In 2014, she produced The Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul, a CD compilation combined with a book of short stories by various authors, including White herself.
White is survived by her husband, Chuck Cannon, and their three children.
Copyright 2018 Rolling Stone
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Obituaries|Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88
By GERALD JONASJAN. 23, 2018, reprinted from the New York Times
Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.
Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.
Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.
Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including “The Left Hand of Darkness” — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. The critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as “a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist” who “has raised fantasy into high literature for our time.”
In addition to more than 20 novels, she was the author of a dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories (collected in multiple volumes), seven collections of essays, 13 books for children and five volumes of translation, including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by the Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. She also wrote a guide for writers.
“The Left Hand of Darkness,” published in 1969, takes place on a planet called Gethen, where people are neither male nor female.
Ms. Le Guin’s fictions range from young-adult adventures to wry philosophical fables. They combine compelling stories, rigorous narrative logic and a lean but lyrical style to draw readers into what she called the “inner lands” of the imagination. Such writing, she believed, could be a moral force.
“If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,” she told The Guardian in an interview in 2005. “Little kids can’t do it; babies are morally monsters — completely greedy. Their imagination has to be trained into foresight and empathy.”
The writer’s “pleasant duty,” she said, is to ply the reader’s imagination with “the best and purest nourishment that it can absorb.”
She was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 21, 1929, the youngest of four children and the only daughter of two anthropologists, Alfred L. Kroeber and Theodora Quinn Kroeber. Her father was an expert on the Native Americans of California, and her mother wrote an acclaimed book, “Ishi in Two Worlds” (1960), about the life and death of California’s “last wild Indian.”
At a young age, Ms. Le Guin immersed herself in books about mythology, among them James Frazier’s “The Golden Bough,” classic fantasies like Lord Dunsany’s “A Dreamer’s Tales,” and the science-fiction magazines of the day. But in early adolescence she lost interest in science fiction, because, she recalled, the stories “seemed to be all about hardware and soldiers: White men go forth and conquer the universe.”
She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951, earned a master’s degree in romance literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance from Columbia University in 1952, and won a Fulbright fellowship to study in Paris. There she met and married another Fulbright scholar, Charles Le Guin, who survives her.
On their return to the United States, she abandoned her graduate studies to raise a family; the Le Guins eventually settled in Portland, where Mr. Le Guin taught history at Portland State University.
Besides her husband and son, Ms. Le Guin is survived by two daughters, Caroline and Elisabeth Le Guin; two brothers, Theodore and Clifton Kroeber; and four grandchildren.
By the early 1960s Ms. Le Guin had written five unpublished novels, mostly set in an imaginary Central European country called Orsinia. Eager to find a more welcoming market, she decided to try her hand at genre fiction.
Her first science-fiction novel, “Rocannon’s World,” came out in 1966. Two years later she published “A Wizard of Earthsea,” the first in a series about a made-up world where the practice of magic is as precise as any science, and as morally ambiguous.
The first three Earthsea books — the other two were “The Tombs of Atuan” (1971) and “The Farthest Shore” (1972) — were written, at the request of her publisher, for young adults. But their grand scale and elevated style betray no trace of writing down to an audience.
The Magic of Earthsea is language-driven: Wizards gain power over people and things by knowing their “true names.” Ms. Le Guin took this discipline seriously in naming her own characters. “I must find the right name or I cannot get on with the story,” she said. “I cannot write the story if the name is wrong.”
The Earthsea series was clearly influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. But instead of a holy war between Good and Evil, Ms. Le Guin’s stories are organized around a search for “balance” among competing forces — a concept she adapted from her lifelong study of Taoist texts.
She returned to Earthsea later in her career, extending and deepening the trilogy with books like “Tehanu” (1990) and “The Other Wind” (2001), written for a general audience.
“The Left Hand of Darkness,” published in 1969, takes place on a planet called Gethen, where people are neither male nor female but assume the attributes of either sex during brief periods of reproductive fervor. Speaking with an anthropological dispassion, Ms. Le Guin later referred to her novel as a “thought experiment” designed to explore the nature of human societies.
“I eliminated gender to find out what was left,” she told The Guardian.
But there is nothing dispassionate about the relationship at the core of the book, between an androgynous native of Gethen and a human male from Earth. The book won the two major prizes in science fiction, the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is widely taught in secondary schools and colleges.
Much of Ms. Le Guin’s science fiction has a common background: a loosely knit confederation of worlds known as the Ekumen. This was founded by an ancient people who seeded humans on habitable planets throughout the galaxy — including Gethen, Earth and the twin worlds of her most ambitious novel, “The Dispossessed,” subtitled “An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974).
As the subtitle implies, “The Dispossessed” contrasts two forms of social organization: a messy but vibrant capitalist society, which oppresses its underclass, and a classless “utopia” (partly based on the ideas of the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin), which turns out to be oppressive in its own conformist way. Ms. Le Guin leaves it up to the reader to find a comfortable balance between the two.
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“The Lathe of Heaven” (1971) offers a very different take on utopian ambitions. A man whose dreams can alter reality falls under the sway of a psychiatrist, who usurps this power to conjure his own vision of a perfect world, with unfortunate results.
“The Lathe of Heaven” was among the few books by Ms. Le Guin that have been adapted for film or television. There were two made-for-television versions, one on PBS in 1980 and the other on the A&E cable channel in 2002.
Among the other adaptations of her work were the 2006 Japanese animated feature “Tales From Earthsea” and a 2004 mini-series on the Sci Fi channel, “Legend of Earthsea.”
With the exception of the 1980 “Lathe of Heaven,” she had little good to say about any of them.
Ms. Le Guin always considered herself a feminist, even when genre conventions led her to center her books on male heroes. Her later works, like the additions to the Earthsea series and such Ekumen tales as “Four Ways to Forgiveness” (1995) and “The Telling” (2000), are mostly told from a female point of view.
In some of her later books, she gave in to a tendency toward didacticism, as if she were losing patience with humanity for not learning the hard lessons — about the need for balance and compassion — that her best work so astutely embodies.
At the 2014 National Book Awards, Ms. Le Guin was given the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She accepted the medal on behalf of her fellow writers of fantasy and science fiction, who, she said, had been “excluded from literature for so long” while literary honors went to the “so-called realists.”
She also urged publishers and writers not to put too much emphasis on profits.
“I have had a long career and a good one,” she said, adding, “Here at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river.”
© 2018 The New York Times Company
Monday, January 22, 2018
Reviewed by Jim Brock
Having devoted a lot more of my reading time in recent years to mysteries, its always a good day when I come across a new author - especially one who hits all the right notes for me. Stephen Axelrod does exactly that with NANTUCKET FIVE-SPOT. And for a bonus, there is a previous novel titled NANTUCKET SAWBUCK that I will be seeking out.
Axelrod's main man is Henry Kennis, Chief of Police in Nantucket. Kennis is a former Los Angeles policeman who has become the perfect person for the Nantucket chief's job.He understands the island and he understands the people. When an agent from Homeland Security comes stomping to the island in response to some bomb attacks that could ultimately threaten some of America's elite, Henry is not the type to be relegated to the background. Since that agent has a hidden agenda (don't they all) and his fellow, female agent has a Henry connection, things could be disastrous for the chief.
At the bottom of NANTUCKET FIVE-SPOT is a vengeful plot going back years and the very complexity of the plot is a chore to unravel. Sometimes the getting there is half the fun, Axelrod has the potential to join the list of mystery writers I love like Archer Meyer, Craig Johnson, William Kent Kruezer and others who have strong characters, good puzzles and settings in places I will never see but that adda lot of flavor and uniqueness to their books.
I'm looking for NANTUCKET SAWBUCK and I'm looking forward to more from Stephen Axelrod.
Monday, January 8, 2018
The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people—an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.
Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back—but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.
But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s—and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.
Steven Brust and Skyler White's The Skill of Our Hands is the thrilling and thought-provoking follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Incrementalists.
"Boldly thought-provoking and warmly comfortable." —RT Book Reviews, Top Pick, on The Skill of Our Hands
STEVEN BRUST is the author of Dragon, Issola, the New York Times bestsellers Dzur and Tia ssa, and many other fantasy novels. He lives in Minneapolis.
SKYLER WHITE is the author of And Falling, Fly and In Dreams Begin. She lives in Texas.
On Sale: January 2, 2018, $16.99 USD | 9780765382894
Sunday, January 7, 2018
Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play's iconic characters.
A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.
We all know the tale of Prospero's quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?
In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin—the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.
Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.
“In this stand-alone, Carey evokes the same stunning worldbuilding and imagery of her "Kushiel's Legacy" and "Sundering" series, as she stirs new emotions from an old story and reveals another side to Shakespeare's epic play.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Carey turns Shakespeare’s The Tempest on its head, in ways that are always supportable by the original text, with this brilliant deconstruction. The foreordained pattern of the play mixes beautifully with Carey’s intricate characterization and eye for sensory detail, building mercilessly to dazzling, and devastating, tragic effect.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
JACQUELINE CAREY is the author of the New York Times bestselling Kushiel's Legacy series, beginning with Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen and Kushiel's Avatar, The Sundering epic fantasy duology, postmodern fables "Santa Olivia" and "Saints Astray," and the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. Carey lives in west Michigan.
On Sale: January 23, 2018, $15.99 USD | 9780765386816
Saturday, January 6, 2018
R.S. Belcher, the acclaimed author of The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana launches a gritty new urban fantasy series set in today's seedy occult underworld in Nightwise.
In the more shadowy corners of the world, frequented by angels and demons and everything in-between, Laytham Ballard is a legend. It's said he raised the dead at the age of ten, stole the Philosopher's Stone in Vegas back in 1999, and survived the bloodsucking kiss of the Mosquito Queen. Wise in the hidden ways of the night, he's also a cynical bastard who stopped thinking of himself as the good guy a long time ago.
Now a promise to a dying friend has Ballard on the trail of an escaped Serbian war criminal with friends in both high and low places—and a sinister history of blood sacrifices. Ballard is hell-bent on making Dusan Slorzack pay for his numerous atrocities, but Slorzack seems to have literally dropped off the face of the Earth, beyond the reach of his enemies, the Illuminati, and maybe even the Devil himself. To find Slorzack, Ballard must follow a winding, treacherous path that stretches from Wall Street and Washington, D.C. to backwoods hollows and truckstops, while risking what's left of his very soul . . . .
“A worthy addition to Belcher's highly imaginative series, with a large cast that is both magical and mundane and a well-drawn historical setting. Weird West fans will happily gobble this up.” —Library Journal on The Shotgun Arcana
“Golgotha is the Wildest of the Wild West.” —Publishers Weekly on The Shotgun Arcana
R.S. BELCHER is the author of two acclaimed "weird westerns," The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana. Nightwise is his first contemporary fantasy novel. He lives Salem, Virginia.
On Sale: January 16, 2018, $17.99 USD | 9781250178916
Friday, January 5, 2018
An enthralling YA story of friendship and rebellion from the acclaimed author of Article 5 and Glass Arrow.
Kristen Simmons's Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.
The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.
Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.
In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.
An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.
“I’m clutching my mangled heart and smiling madly. It’s that kind of book. Such gorgeous heartbreak! Ty, Colin, and Lena owned me for 372 pages, and long after I finished reading. Smart, absorbing, and deeply human.”—Laini Taylor, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Daughter of Smoke & Bone
“In her latest, Simmons paints a bleak picture of the future. [Simmons] creates multifaceted characters that are hard to dismiss. It is an unrelentingly grim place, such details as the rat meat Ty and Colin are too poor to buy bringing it to life. In this gritty tale of intrigue, corruption, greed, and human rights, Simmons offers readers a savvy take on a post-apocalyptic society.”—Kirkus Reviews
KRISTEN SIMMONS has a master's degree in social work and is an advocate for mental health. She is the author of the Article 5 trilogy, The Glass Arrow, and Metaltown. She lives with her husband, Jason, and their precious greyhound, Rudy, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
On Sale: January 2, 2018, $10.99 USD | 9780765336651