30 May 2009

The home stretch for the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series

Working in the book business as long as I have, one of the most asked questions that came from fantasy fans was when the next Wheel of Time book by Robert Jordan was coming out.

As a fantasy enthusiast, I read the series, so I usually kept up to date on when a new one was due. I read it until book four, however, when I began to get annoyed with the characters, especially Rand, the hero. Stephen R. Donaldson sort of started the anti-hero in fantasy novels with his Thomas Covenant series, and it was hard for me and others at the time (we're talking 20 years ago) to read a fantasy novel were the author forced you to like the unappealing guy. So when when Rand sort of became that as the series progressed, I got bored with it. Plus the female characters became more bratty and series became more soap opera than sword and sorcery.

Plus, there was only suppose to be seven books. But over the years, it expand and expand. Whether this was TOR Books way of keeping a franchise going (and most fantasy books are usually a series of three or more), or Jordan's inability to do something else, I'm unsure (some authors find their fans unresponsive to other novels not set in the same, familiar universe). Fantasy authors do have a tendency to go on and on (something Tad Williams has admitted too), creating a richly textured universe that while different from ours, you could see some similarities.

As the series expanded, Jordan created more and more subplots, which drew criticism from his fans, as some felt he was sort of milking the series, as later volumes concentrated on secondary characters (and he even took time to write a prequel to the series) and story-lines, sometimes taking 1,000 pages to get to its point, and then abruptly ending it. Plus, as the later volumes came, some of the main characters were sometimes reduced to cameos.

So, when Jordan died in September of 2007 the books had reached 11.

While Jordan was sick for nearly two years before he died, he kept detailed notes on how the series was to end- with the twelfth novel called Memory of Light - and after he passed, his wife Harriet (an editor at TOR Books) assigned a relative newcomer to the fantasy world, Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians) to finish up the series.

But, apparently like the last Harry Potter film to come, it could not be done in one book.

Or even two.

Yep, there will be three volumes to the final book, turning a seven book epic into 14 (well fifteen really, if you count the prequel to book one, New Spring).

So, book 12.1 -The Gathering Storm hits book stores on November 3, 2009, while 12.2 and 12.3 hit 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Well, at least I hope they can keep to that schedule. One does get tired of those fans boys (and girls) asking again and again when a new book was coming. Now, when is Jean Auel coming out with a new book?

27 May 2009

Doctor Who star David Tennant to guest star on "Sarah Jane" spin-off

In what is perhaps a shrewd move on the BBC part, Doctor Who star David Tennant will appear as the Doctor in a two-part episode of the series spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Elizabeth Sladen has already crossed over play Sarah Jane Smith a few times since the revival of the series back in 2005. Now this will be the first time that the Doctor will guest on her show. Of course, this entitles the fans to seeing Tennant a few more times before his swan song as the Time Lord at the end of the year. Plus, one assumes, The Sarah Jane Adventures -heading into season three - should see it's highest ratings yet, if only because while the character has been mentioned on SJA and the other spin-off, Torchwood, the Doctor has actually never appeared on them.

Tennant returns as the Doctor in The Waters of Mars this November, followed by the two-part finale this Christmas and New Years. His appearance on SJA will air in September, however.

Other news comes that indeed, a motion picture version of Doctor Who is in the works. The same production team running the show, will produce a big screen version of the series. However, there is no timetable for release of said film or if it would involve current Who star David Tennant or incoming 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, or something else completely.

26 May 2009

Author Christopher Rice (gay son of Anne Rice) speaks out on today's action by California Supreme Court

“The California supreme court and the gay and lesbian residents of the state are the victims of a backward proposition system that must be abolished if the state is to be restored to social and financial stability. Proposition 13 had done untold economic damage to California’s infrastructure, and now Proposition 8 has reduced us to a cultural backwater and created a bewildering two-class system of gay and lesbian people that is profoundly un-American by its very nature.”

“Even worse, Proposition 8 exemplifies the degree to which obscenely wealthy interests from outside the state can manipulate the proposition system to enable religious radicals to enforce their social agenda on the majority of America’s West Coast. Let no one for a minute paint this as a war of believers versus nonbelievers. Any Christian with a good conscience knows Jesus weeps for those who willfully restrict the right of others to engage in peaceful, largely interior acts of self-realization that pose no physical threat to other members of their community. The hostility toward gay and lesbian people exhibited by the supporters of Proposition 8 originates from those who feel a sense of powerlessness and frustration over the endemic social problems within their own communities, be they working-class Latinos or Orange County Republicans. Denying gays and lesbians equal protection under the law will never restore the semblance of order to social communities that have been upset by financial inequality or spreading social enlightenment among younger generations. This absence of self-awareness combined with a gross perversion of religious principles deserves to be called by no other name than what it actually is — mental illness.”


25 May 2009

Movie: Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band (2008)

In this documentary, we see the behind the scenes look at the first punk/gay band from their beginning to the present. Like Jon Ginoli's recent book, the movie more or less tells the story of how the band was formed and how -as fate or what ever you want to call it -snagged them when Green Day wanted them for their opening act just as the punk band was really getting big.

You get to see plenty of old video footage of them singing in the small clubs and hear the history of what has become legendary about them -well, besides the lyrics to their songs - the never ending search for a drummer.

I enjoyed the film as much as Jon's book and one can't help but get a sense that despite their initial thought that no one would expect them to become half as popular as they did, you have to think that, with Jon's lyrics, that from the very start, Pansy Division was destined to be what they are today.

Books: The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon DeFoe

The Pirate Captain returns in the fourth installment of Gideon Defoe's loony pirate yarns (The Pirates! In and Adventure with Scientists, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Ahab, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Communists). Convinced he’s a shoe-in for the Pirate of the Year awards, if only because his beard is “fantastically glossy and luxuriant”, he’s shocked when he loses. Dejected, the Pirate Captain decides to give up pirating. His archenemy, Black Bellamy gives his deeds to an island called St. Helena. Unfortunately, the Pirate Captain should have known never believe an arch enemy. Still, he captains on, taking up bee husbandry - much to the chagrin of his crew, including the pirate with hook for a hand, and the pirate who liked kittens and sunsets. That is until a certain exiled military leader named Napoleon Bonaparte shows up and threatens the Pirate Captains new way of life.

Once again, Defoe delivers a hugely funny book in a small package, and taking on a very silly, very Monty Python-like style. There’s a lot to like about this series, as time and place mean nothing, along with many anachronistic phrases and objects existing in where they should not. Lite and quick read, these series of books are cool for some cleansing of ones readers pallet after a long weeks of studying for finals or reading anything written by James Joyce.

20 May 2009

Books: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

James Sveck reminds me a lot of Jaye Tyler of FOX TVs short-lived, but brilliant Wonderfalls. He’s 18 and spending the summer of 2003 -before going to college - trying to connect to someone. And, despite being accepted to Brown University (the same place Jaye went and graduated from on the TV show), he feels college is wasteful, insomuch as he hates people his own age and does not want to college with them.

He feels disconnected to the world, one where his mother is on her third marriage -which seems to last only a few days - and has a sister who’s having an affair with a married man. The only people he seems to think are real, are his aging grandmother and John, the handsome man who works with James at his mothers art gallery in New York City. And no one seems to understand why he would want leave the Big Apple for an old house in the Midwest.

But James is cynical, witty, articulate and sensitive to the oddities of the world, and feels he must comment on modern societies love of law firms, art, cosmetic surgery, jobs, dogs, real estate, and therapy. He could, I guess, be compared to Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye or even the hero of John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces.

A charming and often laugh out loud look at growing up, and trying to come to terms with a world that has little time for people who think and act differently from the rest.

18 May 2009

Candy Everybody Wants

FOX reopens the Dollhouse but leaves Sarah Connor in the trash bin

The FOX Network announced today their fall slate, renewing some “bubble” shows and giving the heave ho to Sarah Connor.

New shows include Glee, perhaps the networks most risky show, insomuch it appears to be clever and sophisticated. It combines biting humor with a soundtrack of hit music from past to present, the series follows an optimistic high school teacher who against all odds attempts to restore McKinley High's fading Glee Club to its former glory, while helping a group of underdogs realize their true star potential.

Human Target stars Mark Valley as “unique private contractor” who will do almost anything, including becoming a human target, to keep his clients alive. Based on the popular DC graphic novel, it also stars Chi McBride, late of Pushing Daises, and Jackie Earle Haley, who’s recently resurrected career proves that all it takes is one (or two) roles in movies playing an assholes.

Joining FOX’s Sunday Animation Domination is The Cleveland Show a spin-off of The Family Guy, which also returns along with The Simpsons and American Dad. In the winter, after the end of football season, the live action comedy Sons of Tucson, starring Tyler Labine (Reapers) joins the schedule. Sons of Tucson is a family comedy about three brothers who hire a charming, wayward schemer to stand in as their father when their real one goes to prison.

The drama Past Life, which seems top resemble CBS’ procedural show Cold Case, is emotional thriller inspired by the book "The Reincarnationist." The series stars Kelli Giddish as a gifted psychologist and Nicholas Bishop as a former NYPD detective who work together to explore and unravel mysteries that must be solved in both the past and the present.

The other new comedy is Brothers, is about a former big-city NFL hot shot who returns home to his family and his mother's house to get his life back on track. Michael Strahan and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell star.

Returning scripted shows include 24 (which returns January 17), Bones, Fringe, ‘Til Death, Lie to Me, House and Dollhouse. Reality/Game shows returning American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares.

With MADtv gone, comedian Wanda Sykes gets her own late-night show on Saturday.

Exiting shows are Do Not Disturb, Hole in the Wall, King of the Hill, the aftermentioned MADtv, Prison Break, Sit Down, Shut Up and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

17 May 2009

Books: Shadowplay by Tad Williams

Darkness has fallen on the lands of the sun as an army of misshapen creatures spill out from beyond the Shadowline. Barrick, heir to Southmarch and cursed with madness, has crossed the Shadowline into the realm of his people's ancient enemy. There are stranger things than death here - stranger and older. Much further south, a shadow is also falling over the reign of the Autarch, god-king, and supreme ruler. Qinnitan, junior wife, must flee the royal household or die, her greatest secret as yet hidden even from herself. Ancient blood flows through her veins and she will become a unique weapon in the fight against her greatest terror. And beyond all but a chosen few, the gods are awakening and the world is changing.

Once again, Williams takes us on a long journey (721 pages) in volume two of his Shadowmarch trilogy. As with any epic fantasy novel, the cast of characters is huge, with settings to marvel any Lord of the Rings fan. Williams has created once of most intricate universes and it takes a great effort -but one that is rewarding - to keep things in order.

The characters are well drawn out, and believable. Twin’s Briony and Barrick continue their separate journey’s in hope of one day coming home, while their father, King Olin Eddon faces the challenge of being the “guest” at his enemies castle.

All the while, both the Prince and Princess find allies and enemies in their most desperate hours, and learn that most people they encounter know little of their worlds true history, which puts them in jeopardy when confronted by traitors, tyrants, a mad god-king and some very angry gods.

14 May 2009

Tears of Heaven

BFF: Marc and Jamie

Jamie: Always mischievous

How I'll always remember her: Laughing

Jamie Dyer Dordek: January 19, 1977 -May 10, 2009

"Assure thee, if I do vow a friendship, I'll perform it to the last article."

12 May 2009

What we leave behind

The loss on Mother's Day of my friend Jamie has made we wonder why things like this happen. Of course, the rational part of my mind understands there is no reason, explanation that will make me not sad.

From the postings on the tribute page over at Facebook, it seems when anyone came into the orbit of the bright star in the center of the world known as Jamie Dyer Dordek, you were left with a sense that she was living her life to the fullest and that she was trying to teach us something about what it means to be happy, joyous and always positive.

That, maybe, this bright star that was Jamie was trying to pass her essence, her joy for life to you and all you had to do was grab on, because she had the ticket to the secret of the universe.

Our lives are infinitely short and yet we never live until we are near death. Jamie lived life, as the old chestnut goes, like everyday was her last. And I’m sure it was never a conscious decision, but one hardwired into her personality.

You see, what made Jamie special -not shortbus special, but special - was her ability to happy and pass it on like Halloween candy to anyone who met her. You could not laugh any harder, could not have more tears of joy, could not have your sides hurting more from laughing too much when dealing with Jamie. And while she had little use for religion, I’m sure if God was waiting with a checklist, she has Him roaring with laughter. She was that good.

As always, its who you leave behind, the people who have to go on living who must carry on. It is hard, especially when I could say nothing to Andy when he turned to me and said “I’m not so suppose to be a widower at 31.” Yes, the process of losing a loved one is unimaginably painful, especially if one lingers. And sometimes the pain that those long slides into death take are hard and destructive on the soul. When it comes like this, suddenly like Earthquake, its hard to process the emotions, the logic of it all.

I can be mad, which I am, but I wonder now if that’s what Jamie would’ve wanted us to be. Her free spirit attitude, her snarky, always quick with a joke and a giggle sort of life view does not go with this sadness, these tears, this mourning.

I will try to be a different person. It’s all any of can do, I guess.

The candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long, and you burned very, very brightly Jamie.

Goodbye, sweet Princess. There will never be another like you.

11 May 2009

For Jamie

This makes no sense. When Marc called and explained what had happened, I sat in the chair in the living room not really understanding what he was saying. I mean, it took a few minutes to sink in. I had to finally stand up and ask him if he was joking, if he was pulling my leg. No this could not be true.

Jamie Dyer Dordek died on May 10, 2009.

It started, it seems, with her twisting an ankle on her last day in Dublin. From all accounts, this business trip to Europe was a success, as she posted many happy pictures on her Facebook page. But -as always - hindsight is 20/20. Instead of seeing a doctor before she flew back to the states, she left. From what I’ve heard, an blood clot formed in her ankle, which apparently traveled (and coming home in an airplane probably made it worse) to her heart, where she went into heart failure on Sunday -Mother’s Day of all days to leave this mortal coil.

Some how, I’ve tumbled into the Twilight Zone, cause there is no way Jamie is gone. How could this beautiful, thirtysomething, vibrant girl who I’ve known for the last 12 years be dead? How could this girl with the infectious laugh, with a handsome, lovable husband and two adorable pugs have left the world today?

I feel like Sally Field at the end of Steel Magnolias, crying why? I wanna know why Jamie’s life is over. I want to know why she’s not here any more. Because I’m so mad right now, I don't know what to do, what to say to people. I do want to hit something. What will Andrew do, now that his beloved, his soul mate, is no longer here? Why does the world take away the best, the happiest, the brightest, sharpest people and leave us with killers, and miserable, hateful people (and I’m speaking rhetorically here)?

(And what are the odds that I would lose three Borders co-workers in the last 6 to 8 months. First my old GM, Miriam, back in the fall to a heart attack, and then Pete -who took his own life - just before Thanksgiving. And now Jamie. This is such a bizarre, hyper reality world, right now. I know its coincidence, but I feel I’m being stalked by death, that it’s taking a piece of me one part at a time).

My heart breaks for Andrew, her husband. Here is a man who has the heart and soul as big as the universe, who never seemed to be angry and always was a gas to be with. He is the best friend any LGBT could ever have, and never seemed to care that Jamie and Marc where the Jack and Karen of TV’s Will and Grace (as pointed out in their shared blog -From ORD to LAX -they were “best friends separated by 2000 miles with only the internet to keep them together. These are their bitchy, catty, snotty, endearing, love letters to each other”). I’m sure Andrew had to roll his eyes at some Jamie and Marc’s antics over the years, but he loved her more, I think, because of her relationship with Marc.

And for my friend Marc, who has lost his best friend in the whole wide world. My heart also aches for him, but I’m comforted by the fact he was here in LA when all of this came down. Here for a vacation with boyfriend Brad, they came in on Thursday, flying into Santa Barbara when it was a blaze - I guess, one could see this was the beginning of a horrifying vacation. Yet he got to spend time with her, got to be with her. I’m comforted a bit by that.

I know she’s not really gone, and as long as we remember her, she’ll live on. And I’ll remember her for the rest of my life, but this all makes no sense.

No fucking sense what so ever.