Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crit List 8: The Parade Of Sleaze Continues -- Alligator Alley and Dr. Adder

Come on, just look at that cover.

Alligator Alley

Well, I may not know for sure, but I get the impression that this is a collaboration between underground cartoonist Tim Ferret and underappreciated novelist K.W. Jeter. The book itself -- a particularly delicious example of the Book-As-Object -- claims that it's written by the two main characters.

Allow me to quote:

In a nutshell, it was over before it began. The first guy ate a long, rectangular trash can and promptly laid down to 'sleep.' The second, apparently experiencing some last minute trepidation, tried to pull away from me. "What's your hurry, pal?" I locked my hand around his throat and lifted him up into my face, the red coals of my eye holes reflecting back to me from within his own. He went for his piece, but I folded his arm back around him until it snapped and, much to my amazement, came off! Upon finding himself 'disarmed,' he obliged me by proceeding to eat the sink and several other restroom accessories. I forget which ones exactly, as I was checking his wallet at the time.

If you can say no to that I will happily beat you to death with a nail-studded two-by-four... Nah, not really. The two-by-four fits uncomfortably in the hand. You know what I really like? A kid-sized baseball bat, one of those little ones. Enough mass to give a substantial wallop but not so much as to slow a guy down.

Maybe weight the end with a little lead -- drill a hole in the tip and fill it with melted sinkers. Sweet.

Anyway, the book is pretty fucked up; no real story and a bit of tedium here and there. I do not care. I love this book. If you think of H.S.T. as the conduit through which the spirit of Gonzo flowed, this work is the one piece of science fiction moved by that same great spirit.

Plus, there are great illustrations. Like I said, book as object.


Dr. Adder

Those in the know tend to credit John Shirley's City Come A Walkin' as the Patient Zero of cyberpunk. For me, it's this book, which was finished in 1972. If Shirley is the Ramones, this is the Velvet Underground. Not exactly the thang but it has all the markings -- and it has the specific vibe of the sixties turning into the seventies, of moral decay really setting in. Of the Hustler/Penthouse era that made my flesh crawl when I was a child. The pervasive feel of urban scum in this one is just awesome.

You've got high-tech lowlifes, perverse sex (genetically manipulated intelligent giant chicken fucking is how the book starts out), lethal prosthetics, and Philip K. Dick references.

It's a SF novel written, to a great extent, about decadent Seventies pornography and the spiritual toll it exacted. Hey, folks, we live in an even more porn-saturated culture now. The plot of this novel centers on the personal and political conflict between a porno-doc who performs elective surgery on women to turn them into uber-whores and the degraded TV preacher that he done wrong. I read this in the Reagan years and Jeter was right! (rings bell, waves placard) Jeter was right!

The edition I have is the Bluejay Books version, with excellent interior illustrations by Matt (Was I just talking about the gonzo?) Howarth. If I included comics in this list, his Those Annoying Post Bros. would be near the top.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Crit List 7: Let The Parade Of Sleaze Begin -- The Fungus and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Turn your head. Now cough.

Fuck it. I have three short stories to revise, an issue of Swill to start assembling, the next print to make and the one after that and so on, the novel is pleading with me, begging with me...

Fuck it. Internets, I have been away for too long. And it's been too damned long since I just had a little lonesome geek fun.

It's time for the sleaze. Sometimes I want nothing more than a simple, wholesome diet of sex, drugs, and violence -- or, to be depressingly honest and list them in the order of significance in my resume, violence, drugs, and sex a distant third...

Weep for me. But sex moves way up on the list if you include frustration and obsession. I am, after all, a twenty-year veteran of a committed monogamous relationship.

Anyway, let's get down to it. No comics, no movies, and yeah, I've got literary pretensions but sometimes I need to read something fucking sleazy. The following volumes should prove adequately repulsive, and the keen-eyed reader shall find keys to other realms of sleazery.

These books are fucking great. The standard by which all of belles-lettres are to be judged. And if you disagree?

Say it to my face, motherfucker. Go ahead. East Bay, motherfucker.

also published as DEATH SPORE

Film critic John Brosnan wrote a number of horror novels, both by himself and in collaboration with friends of his. These were done under the pen names Sidney Ian Childers = sick and Harry Adams Knight = hack.

These are R-rated B-movies on the page. The clever kind with a wicked subtext -- think Roger Corman or Larry Cohen. Brosnan's great literary innovation lies in his treatment of victims. I mean, if you've got a monster you need some fucking victims. Brosnan had a real knack for developing characters you care about in a couple of pages -- and then he'd kill them in fine gross-out style. The videonasty pattern of cutting from the main story to a victim and then back to the main story is a very useful narrative pattern.

Victim-oriented high points in The Fungus include an obese bartender who suffers explosive fermentation from the yeast in his belly and a lesbian couple, one of whom intentionally infects the other with thrush. They come across as real people, you like them or at least sympathize with them, and they die horribly.

When I say these books are movies on the page, it's not just story structure that I'm talking about. Brosnan has a vivid visual imagination; I see everything in his books. Don't quite get the voiced but I watch his books.

One of the minor pleasures of these works is the sense that Brosnan (or one of his collaborators) spent some time in the library looking things up. The Fungus is willing to toss the occasional scientific name at you. I dig that shit.

Slimer is weak; Tendrils is weak. Every other SIC (Worm) and HAK (Carnosaur, Bedlam) book is great. May I make a particular note of Carnosaur? It came out before Jurassic Park, had pretty much the same idea, was a more entertaining read, and had better science. Funny, that...

A quick aside concerning Tendrils. I picked up a copy at a library sale and was thrilled. Unfortunately, it had a misprint that ran through the whole book and rendered it unreadable. So I had to order another copy from a bookstore in the UK.

Thing is, the two editions have far and away the best Monster As Penis imagery ever.

I am convinced that this painting originally had the penis monster going right into her mouth...
For christ's sake, who the fuck did they think they were kidding with this?

For a while this guy and Aleister Crowley were my main role models...

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

When I was a teenager my buddy Mac Melendez turned me onto this one. I'd previously dipped into The Great Shark Hunt without much real interest; this grabbed me like no other book had up to that point. I read it every day for months -- the book itself got me high a couple of years before I got into drugs.

I read it as fantasy adventure. And I knew -- knew! -- that this was what fun was all about. Recently a friend asked me what drugs I've done...

"Well, I've never done heroin. Never had enough opium to actually get off on it. And there's a whole bunch of psychedelics that came out in the nineties that I never did. Never had an adequate dose of Ecstasy. Came close to ether once. And I haven't had access to most pharmaceutical stuff."

That took less time than it would have taken to talk about what I have done. Fuck it; I'm a Californian who grew up in the Seventies. What the fuck did you expect? Drugs were our rite of passage.

Anyway. As a writer I look at two things -- the headlong flow of action and the use of vivid specific detail. Not to mention the drug-addled logic -- the protagonist sees a giant flying electric snake outside his hotel window. His reaction? "I want to study its habits." Fucking brilliant. And this is all highlit by the casual quality of his prose -- you can tell this was coming off the top of his head.

Got to say, though, I think Thompson would have been a lot better off if he'd copped to the fact that drug abuse was bad for him. So far as I can tell the great tragedy in his creative life was that he never wrote a great novel and I think the drugs had a lot to do with that. You need clarity and focus to work in long forms and being able to toss short pieces out without effort does not help you in that arena -- not that I'm pitching too heavily for sobriety. A lot of people do their best work during their times of maximum intake. But those folks tend towards the mayfly side of the longevity spectrum...

... and not all of their work is what it could have been.

And his stupid tough-guy pose was more than likely the cause of his pussying out at the end. That's what did it to fucking Hemingway as well... There's nothing more vulnerable than someone who can't cop to their vulnerability. Why do you think women live longer than men?

Still, who can read Fear And Loathing and not want to tour Las Vegas with an extensive pharmacopoeia and little interest in self-preservation? Not me, that's for darn sure.


Monday, April 6, 2009

I Really Shouldn't Do This: The Guardian's Science Fiction And Fantasy Novel List

This is the piece that's in the art show tomorrow and is being printed in the Laney Tower today... Hmm. That makes it my most-published work of art.

Over at the Biology In Science Fiction blog, Peggy has responded to a meme -- The Guardian published a long list of must-read novels and included one hundred and forty-nine SF and fantasy novels. See her post for more details.

Anyway, I read down the list and found myself thinking -- so here's my annotated version. The novels I've read are in bold. And having gone over the list, I'm not fond of it. It smacks of committee work -- one guy is interested in proving that some of this stuff is Real Literature, someone else is fixated on Klassic SF, another person it way totally Goth...

And if you're going to do a representative list of fantastic literature, you need to include more stuff from outside Europe and North America. Where are the Latin American Magic Realists? (Although where I come from, we call those guys fantasy writers.) Where's Amos Tutuola? Where's A Voyage To The West or The Ramayana? And why aren't there more children's books?

And I was irked that my favorite group of North American fantacists, the Weird Tales crowd, got totally shafted.

My main complaint was that this was restricted to novels. One thing that really bugged me was the continual inclusion of second-rate novels by people who should have been on the list for their short fiction.

And the methodology behind the listing seemed weird -- some series were included under one heading, others were broken up, others had a couple of books from a series listed seperately. Like I said, this feels like the effort of a poorly-coordinated group.

Oh, well -- this was still a fun little stroll down memory lane. Perhaps I shall construct my own lists -- Ten Worthwhile Supermarket Horror Novels, Ten Genre SF Books That You Don't Have To Be An SF Fan To Enjoy, Ten Fantastic Novels From World Literature, Ten Novels That Gave Birth To Modern Genre... It's something to think about.

Now, on with the kvetching!

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Kinda cute. If you like this, read Robert Sheckley instead.

2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
It was okay -- his Hothouse and The Malacia Tapestry were both a lot more fun.

3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
I tried but I just bounced off of it. I dunno; I'm just not that crazy about Asimov's stuff. I loved his robot books and Lucky Starr novels when I was a sprat but as an adult, eh.

4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
5. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
I've been meaning to check these out for a while but have been put off by the whole, "I am a writer, these are not science fiction," schtick.

6. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
Been meaning to get around to this guy, too. Got one of his books on the shelf.

7. J.G. Ballard: The Drowned World (1962)
8. J.G. Ballard: Crash (1973)
This one's sitting on the shelf. Ballard is one of those people I'm supposed to like more than I actually do.

9. J.G. Ballard: Millennium People (2003)

10. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
One of my favorite books. I must have been through six copies of this and I currently don't own a copy -- people borrow them and I never get them back. Good-natured nastiness with a curiously domestic edge, perfectly captures the vibe of 'child as a compulsively superstitious religist.'

11. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
It was okay, I guess, if you like big loud noisy weird space opera.

12. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
I have yet to read a Barker novel that was anywhere near as much fun as The Books Of Blood. His first was more controlled; this one wobbled around a bit.

13. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)

14. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
A real hoot, especially for those of us who are Morlock sympathizers. (My first Thaumatrope submission: "You do understand," the Morlock said, "that it's in very poor taste to fuck them.")

15. Greg Bear: Darwin's Radio (1999)
A ridiculous premise, competently executed. I've read a bit by Bear but aside from Blood Music I've never had much enthusiasm. I'm just not in his target audience.

16. William Beckford: Vathek (1786)
Great, great fantasy, wonderfully decadent. It's Arabian Nights stuff written by a brilliantly degenerate nobleman.

17. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
A hoot and a half. The beat version of Cyberpunk, fast dense high-tech lowlifes.

18. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
In the second and third grades I went through a phase where I read nothing but Ray Bradbury. Now the only stuff I can take is The October Country. Another guy who's really worth listing because of his short fiction, although I've come to find his use of metaphors hooty in the extreme.

19. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
Read some of her short fiction; hipster stuff, kinda bored me. Isn't she the one who wound up with a suicide-scented edition of one of her books, due to an immolation in a warehouse?

20. Charles Brockden Brown: Wieland (1798)

21. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
Tried it; it was impenetrable. Another writer I wish I liked.

22. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
Hilarious stuff but I just didn't get the connection between the main storyline and the Pontius Pilate flashbacks. Well worth reading, though.

23. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
This is the kind of thing I wonder about -- is this here because it's a readable novel, or is it here because of its historical significance?

24. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
Not the most impressive of Burgess's works but a mean little bit of lit-flavored pulp. I used to have a sheet that my brother handed out to his friends containing all the terminology from this, 1984, and Brave New World.

Duncan also went through a phase where the only shirts he wore were Clockwork Orange T-shirts based on the movie poster. Once in public I pointed out to him that his shirt was actually a Sigue Sigue Sputnik shirt; he tore it off of his body. I mean, tore -- grabbed the chest in both hands and ripped. God, I miss that stinky bastard.

25. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
I went through a Burgess phase when I was twenty-three -- it was his book on Napoleon that ended the binge.

26. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912) 27. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
You want an explanation for me? In the fiction section of the Richmond Public Library these two authors were mingled together indiscriminately and that's how I read them. Nowadays, with my visual imagination Edgar reads just as pornographically as William -- 'naught but a sword-belt' translates to 'pretty much butt-naked.'

Naked Lunch was one that I put off reading for a looooong time and when I got to it, it was just as hilariously appalling as I'd been told. I have very mixed feelings about WS Burroughs, though. On one hand he's a childfucker who shot his wife in Mexico; on the other hand I've found him one of the most useful writers I've run across, in terms of expanding my creative toolchest.

But if I only allowed myself to appreciate art by genuinely good people, I'd be shit out of luck, now wouldn't I?

28. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
This one's sitting by the side of the bed right now. I've got a hell of a lot of respect for Butler's work. She never takes the easy way out; her depth of thought is admirable and her work is strongly moral.

29. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)

30. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
I've got a copy of Cosmicomics that I've started any number of times. It seems great; I have no idea why I've never gotten more than ten pages into it. Perhaps that says something...

31. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
I went through a Campbell phase as well; my favorite is still The Face That Must Die. Quite unpleasant in a good way; this guy knows his crazy.

32. Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) 33. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
These were childhood obsessions; my mom paid me a buck to memorize Jabberwocky when I was three and it's still on tap at a moments notice.

I'm also in the habit of picking up the various differently illustrated editions -- Barry Moser, Ralph Steadman, etc.

Shame about the whole pedophilia thing; that does give it a taint. See Burroughs.

34. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
35. Angela Carter: The Passion of New Eve (1977)
I've got a copy of The Bloody Chamber on the shelf. She's one of those writers I'm supposed to love, so I'm feeling a bit hesitant about actually cracking the covers.

36. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
Right, so was this SF or fantasy? I'm still irked at Chabon's disingenous introduction to Thrilling Stories -- he acts as though plot-oriented short fiction was dead when he knew damned well that genre fiction is the Serenghetti of the short form. He's good, though.

37. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood's End (1953)
Loved Clarke as a child and still take great pleasure in Tales From The White Heart.

38. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
This reads like the work of a very nice fellow indeed.

39. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
It's sitting on the shelf.

40. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)

41. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
The Mojo Nixon cover of the song of the same title rocks.

42. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
Again, on the shelf, but it looks like one of those books where sooner or later you have to get up and go to the bathroom in order to read a reverse-printed passage in the mirror and life is fucking short, you know?

43. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)

44. Samuel R Delany: The Einstein Intersection (1967)

45. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
46. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
Delany and Dick are both writers I ought to like but don't. (Not entirely true -- I have thoroughly enjoyed short fiction by both.) See Angela Carter; this is why I'm shy about her.

47. Thomas M Disch: Camp Concentration (1968)
Someone else whose best is their short fiction. Pretty decent poet as well. This one is great until the cop-out happy ending.

48. Umberto Eco: Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

49. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)

50. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
This one's on the shelf. The missus recommended The Sot-Weed Factor as well.

51. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
He's developed into a quite decent novelist; his single issue stories in the Sandman comic book series remain his strongest work. He's someone who works the same field as magazines like Unknown; his agriculture improves the quality of the topsoil, if you'll forgive me the hooty metaphor. (See Bradbury.)

52. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)

53. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
When this came out I was going through my above-mentioned Ramsey Campbell phase. I was sick of science fiction and getting deep into punk rock. When I read about this the phrase cyberpunk thrilled me so much that I avoided reading any so that I could just mentally riff on the concept -- here's some of what I came up with.

Another Duncan memory -- we had a power struggle for a while. I wanted him to read Neuromancer; he wanted me to read this story he'd found in an old Omni called Johnny Mnemonic. Each of us knew we'd found the best SF ever. Duhr. More a phase than a great work; still great fun.

54. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
The Yellow Wallpaper is bone-crushingly miserable and transmits massive testicular guilt.

55. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
I read it in one period in high school -- one of those assigned texts that just captured me. For that hour I lived that book.

56. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
Read it a couple of times; kinda sorta liked it.

57. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
Sitting on the shelf.

58. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
I tried to reread Tanglewood Tales recently -- god it was awful. Rapacinni's Daughter is great, though.

59. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
I like me some Heinlein when I'm in the mood but this was just plain bad. The Dawn Of The Horny Heinlein. And not horribly entertaining like Farnham's Freehold; it was dull as well as dirty. Not hardcore porny; dirty minded masquerading as wholesome.

60. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
I read this while my family was driving back and forth to Oregon; it was worth the carsickness. I'm gonna try it again but I'm afraid it might not hold up.

61. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)

62. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
I've had two copies of this and have never read the damned thing.

63. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
Man, I loved this one. I should go back to it soon. Realistic, visionary, full of the whiff of true madness. Funny as fuck, too.

64. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
Dude wrote an asinine self-satisfied rape of H.P. Lovecraft that made me want to smack him. Fuck you and everything you stand for, Houellebecq. It's your kind that gives hyperintellectual solipsistic nihilism a bad name.

65. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
Read this again recently; not bad at all.

66. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)

67. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
She's so good -- but the works of hers I love the most are her humorous domestic memoirs, Raising Demons and Life Among The Savages.

68. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
Tried reading The Golden Bowl; I could not care about his characters and I did not like his prose. Boredom carried to an exquisite pitch.

69. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)

70. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)

71. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
I keep getting her mixed up with Diane Wynn Jones, which certainly isn't fair to either of them.

72. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
I haven't read enough Kafka but what I've read I've loved.

73. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
It jerked my tears when I was eight or nine; doubt I'll ever want to read it again.

74. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
Still haven't seen the Kubrick film based on this one... I enjoy King but he needs either discipline or an editor with a chair and a whip and a pistol loaded with blanks. I'm of the opinion that he could be a lot better than he is -- that he has chops he hasn't used yet.

75. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)

76. CS Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56)
I heard one of these as a book on tape a little while ago; genuinely hateful. The racism and misogyny in his works are not fucking subtle. I have to wonder whether or not he was a dick in person.

77. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
I need to check out more of this guy's work -- ever read Carmilla? Ooh-la-la, that one carries an erotic charge.

78. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
Haven't read this one but The Cyberiad is one of those books I read every few years. Funny, funny stuff, both clever and smart, full of remarkable wordplay. I really should read more Lem.

Interestingly, a work pal once recommended the writer Michael Kandel to me. I loved Strange Invasion but found it strangely reminiscent of The Cyberiad. That was because Kandel was the translator.

79. Ursula K Le Guin: The Earthsea series (1968-1990)
I read and loved the first three when I was in Jr. high; I've been saving the more recent ones for a binge when I'm emotionally vulnerable enough to really appreciate them.

80. Ursula K Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
I'm supposed to read this one, aren't I?

81. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
My Independent Study sponsor in high school gave me this one. I really owe that woman a debt; I can see her face and hear her voice but her name has been stolen by the years. Man, she had to put up with some ugly shit from me.

I found this alternately fascinating and frustrating -- I was a lot more genre-oriented at that age and her refusal to play by the rules bugged me.

82. MG Lewis: The Monk (1796)

83. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
Sitting in a stack of books at the top of the stairs.

84. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
Loved his first four novels, liked his next three, haven't read any since. Why are so many of the best SF writers Scots socialists?

85. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)

86. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
I've read a couple of books by him; not bad, not good.

87. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
Another writer with a half-assed novel on the list and brilliant short fiction that should be here instead. Why the fuck did the specify novels?

88. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
Sitting on the shelf.

89. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
Loved it -- brutal and depressing, just like me. But it's a realistic story -- why the hell is it on this list?

90. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
Someone else I'm supposed to like -- it's Blood Meridian that I really want to read.

91. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)

92. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
Lousy prose, many dull passages, both more than compensated for by brilliant moments of visionary imagination. Hmm. Kinda like The Night Land, now that I think of it. My favorite of his thus far. For a while I thought he was the next Gene Wolfe; then I noticed the prose. But hell, Gene Wolfe isn't the next Gene Wolfe anymore.

93. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)

94. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
Sitting on the shelf.

95. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)

96. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
I've read a good chunk of Moorcock and I just am not that crazy about his stuff. I suspect I'd like the man, though.

97. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
I dug The Woods Beyond The World but I was in the mood for it. More interesting than good.

98. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
Sitting on the shelf.

99. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
The missus has been reading Murakami; she was surprised to find out that Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World was one of her first presents to me. I really dug it and should read more of his stuff.

100. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
Got a copy of Pnin on the shelf; have been hesitant.

101. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife (2003)

102. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
Loved it as a kid, it's influenced me strongly. Great, but not very good. I read Niven with the same feeling I get when I eat candy, and do neither very often. Still, he's influenced me.

103. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
I tried reading this one. Just not good.

104. Flann O'Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
One of my absolute favorite writers. But again, it's his short work I love the best. The twist ending here is predictable but the side-trips more than justify the book.

105. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)

106. George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four (1949)
Like everyone else, I reread this in 1984. Been meaning to read Down And Out In Paris And London.

107. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
I just don't like his stuff. I dig shock value but gimme a break, you've got to have something else there. But people I respect love his stuff so I'll probably try it again.

I do like the movie based on this book, though. More than I ought to.

108. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)

109. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
Haven't read the second two; loved this one. He writes like an artist but in a good way.

110. Frederik Pohl & CM Kornbluth: The Space Merchants (1953)
Reread this recently; just wasn't as crazy about it as I was when I was a kid. Kornbluth wrote some top-notch short fiction, though.

111. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)

112. Terry Pratchett: The Discworld series (1983- ) (A few of them)
More substantial than Douglas Adams; still, it seemed more like product than literature. Not bad, though. I'll probably read more. His Strata was a nifty riff on Ringworld.

113. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
Really well done but it seemed to labored to be truly entertaining.

114. Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials (1995-2000)
I really enjoyed these but I felt that they fell apart at the end. His shorter novels like Clockwork are among the most strongly plotted fiction ever. Every writer should study them.

115. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
Whenever I've sat down to read this one, I've found myself incapable of resisting his exhortations to the reader to drink. So I've never finished it.

116. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)

117. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)

118. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)

119. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)
I can't even remember if I gave up on these with the fourth or the fifth volume. At one point I was reading a collection of old Robertson Davies newspaper bits from the fifties and he included a deconstruction of a play with a hoary old cliche plot dating back to the 1800s. It was the plot of this book.

120. Geoff Ryman: Air (2005)

121. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
Again, ought to try him.

122. Joanna Russ: The Female Man (1975)
Read Alyx recently; eh.

123. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
When I was a kid I hated this for being sad but read over and over again anyway. I hear it's a fuck of a lot better in the French.

124. José Saramago: Blindness (1995)

125. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)

126. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
Read the version illustrated by Bernie Wrightson for the pictures; found myself empathizing more with the creature than with any other literary figure I'd read to that point.

Imagine you're the creature. You're living in a shed, you're held together by stitches, and you're teaching yourself to speak and read with the help of a book.

That book is The Sorrows Of Young Werther. Bummer, dude.

127. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
I tried but I just couldn't do it. Seemed like a Gene Wolfe ripoff; I was probably unfair to Simmons, who has written stuff I've liked.

128. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
Sitting on the shelf.

129. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
His lead character is named Hiro Protagonist. You just can't lose with that sort of thing.

130. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
Amazing. Structurally fascinating. Really, this should be much more highly regarded.

Of course this was written on a coke binge and I've had to deal with some coke freaks in my life so I may be biased.

131. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
I've tried. I picked up an Edward Gorey-illustrated version at a yard sale recently so I suppose I'll try again.

132. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)

133. JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit (1937) 134. JRR Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)
Massively influential in my life. My first book was The Hobbit, which provided the key cultural reference for most of my childhood. TLOTR was my grandmother's favorite fiction.

Shame they aren't all that good. TLOTR in particular doesn't read as though it was meant to be read. I'll give Tolkien this much -- he may not have known a damned thing about women but unlike Lewis, at least he thought they were probably a good idea. Sorry, Inklings.

135. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court (1889)
Really sadistic at the end. Loads of fun.

136. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
Sitting on the shelf; my favorite is still Cat's Cradle.

137. Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto (1764)

138. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)

139. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
Her Kingdoms Of Elfin was brilliant; I need to score another copy.

140. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)

141. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895) 142. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)
Most of his stuff still works quite well -- he's a genuinely good author. Very fond of this stuff. I'm thinking about doing some illustrated editions for self-promotional purposes, actually.

143. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
Sitting on the shelf; was read to me aloud as a child and I loved it.

144. Angus Wilson: The Old Men at the Zoo (1961)

145. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
I was fixated on this one for a while. One of those brief, "This is the best book ever," things. I've been meaning to go back to it...

146. Virginia Woolf: Orlando (1928)

147. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
Decent prose but a ridiculous plot. Still, he's always good for an afternoon's light reading.

148. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)

149. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

12: An Art Show Opening On Friday

The design on this postcard was done by Jayson Cheung, using art elements by everyone else involved in the show. Pretty nice, huh?

Well, I've got another art show coming up. This one's being organized by my Art Marketing and Portfolio Management class. The class is loaded with good artists -- check out the website for a taste of what's on display. Here's some more information, from the official press release.


Attention, art enthusiasts! An eclectic group of artists based at Berkeley City College is pleased to present 12, a gallery show featuring a wide variety of both traditional and digital media, including video.

Participating artists include Ricardo Ayala, Sean Craven, Jayson Cheung, Kristin Doner, Bowie Johnson, Madeline Ibrahim, Yuko Leong, Danny Neece, Jon Stich, Nicole Thayer, Tonya Truso, and John Wong.

12 will run from April 7 to April 28 in the Raw Space Gallery on the third floor of Berkeley City College, 2050 Center Street.

The reception will be Friday, April 10, 5:00 to 7:00 PM.

So if you're in the Bay Area, show up already! The artists will be attending, there's going to be food -- and while the art looks nice on the website, you haven't seen anything until you've seen the works live.

I'll see you there.