Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Experiments

I've been trying to catch up with off-kilter assignments and other miscellanea, but have returned from the ether with a few items of interest.

It's worth noting that, for some unknown reason, Little, Brown has dropped the new Rebus novel on U.S. shelves a few weeks early. The new book, The Naming of the Dead, was due out on April 2 but I've seen it on bookstore shelves already this weekend. Visit www.ianrankin.net for all sorts of malty goodness from Rankin including a 20th anniversary microsite, an auction where you can bid to meet the author at The Oxford Bar, and get a bit of warmth from the Rebus20 whisky. The Scotsman also gives a rundown of books that have influenced the author and the series. The next, and possibly last, Rebus puzzle will be delivered in October of 2007 to those lucky denizens of the United Kingdom. God only knows when it will cross the water at this point.

Lucky for the Americans, you can finally lay hands on The Raw Shark Texts in just under a week. I stumbled across it when I was assigned to interview its British author, Steven Hall, who is admirably appreciative of the praise the book is attracting. Hall reveals that Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) has been tasked to write the screenplay. Check out more shark weirdness at the microsite and at lostenvelope.com.

In more experimental adventures, the good folks at Bantam are paddling around in Second Life. It seems the publicity mavens have opened a bookstore in SL, broadcasting bits of interviews with Lee Child and others. Last week, they hosted a virtual book reading with horrorist Dean Koontz. While it's certainly not the most innovative (or indeed, horrifying) function in Second Life, kudos to them for trying something more interesting than a podcast or a contest. I missed the event but muddled about in their space for a few minutes; here's a snapshot.

Now if someone can just model The Oxford Bar, which seems quite possible. While muddling about last week in SL, avoiding people in kangaroo outfits and carnival barkers, I stumbled across a bloke who had modeled the center of Dublin. It's accurate to such a degree that I could find my way from the General Post Office, cross the River Liffey, stop for a moment on the Ha'Penney Bridge and then listen to music for a few minutes at a pub that was a dead ringer for the Oliver St. John Fogarty at the real junction of Fleet and Anglesea in Temple Bar. I never thought ones and zeros could be so entertaining.

In more traditional mediums, Charlie Huston talks vampires n' funny books at The Bat Segundo Show. (link via The Rap Sheet). In other vampiric news, Christopher Moore seems to be getting more comfortable in front of the cameras. The entirety of one of his recent events is online at Borders Media.

In less interesting news, there was some kind of big squabble last week regarding comments made at the National Book Critics Circle's recent panel on genre fiction. While I am a dues-paying member of the NBCC, I can't be bothered to delve too deeply into the quarrel. As usual, Sarah has a comprehensive rundown of the showdown and posts the responses from the crime writing community, such as they are. Myself, I think Rankin sums it up best:

"The big prizes are the Booker and the Whitbread and they are for literature. You never get a crime novel long listed for those prizes, let alone short listed. The Queen, God bless her, gave me an Order of the British Empire a couple of years ago for 'Services to literature.' That was important because it wasn’t services to 'Genre fiction which you read on a train journey and then discard when you get to your destination.' If the Queen is starting to take crime fiction seriously, surely everybody else is going to follow suit."

Lastly, I gather that there's been lots of action in Austin this week. SXSW has posted some decent video from a few of its panel discussions including a panel on the future of the online magazine. Bruce Sterling, discussing the future of media, says time is not on the side of the incumbents.

To end, Warren Ellis shares some inspiring words for the day. Chin up, folks.

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