Yes, we got some letters. First, Editor and Publisher Cat Eldridge got these comments on his review of Halting State
From: Peter da Silva
Subject: Comment on your review about "Halting State"...
Date: 30 Jul 2007
"The protagonist's 's use of computer hacking to escape pursuit in a dystopian future, and for the coining of the word "worm" to describe a program that propagates itself through a computer network, makes it a seminal work in the cyberpunk genre."
I didn't read the world of Shockwave Rider as particularly dystopian, since by the time I read it (well before the end of the decade, since I was still living in Australia) Apollo was dead and the space program was lying in shards. G2S seemed terribly optimistic to me.
The mob running the government? Nixon was a recent wound in the body politic!
Don't forget, we only briefly see the middle and upper classes. Rev. Lazarus is a minister in an area beset by gang warfare (you'd find those in any city, even back then), and most of the book takes place in a disaster area that was deliberately never reconstructed (something the British would have been well aware of... it took a long time for London to recover from the Blitz... and which is happening now in New Orleans). The only view we have of the rest of the society starts when FOR PURPOSES OF IDENTIFICATION he introduces Sandy Locke and his brief career (career: an uncontrollable downward plummet).
I could see 2001 and Shockwave Rider both taking place in the same world.
One can turn any society into a dystopia by taking the right (wrong?) viewpoint. It's a mainstay of mainstream fiction... it was just rarer to combine the literature of ideas with that kind of view... and most of the subsequent writers in that genre seemed to miss that point.
From: Laini Taylor
Subject: Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer
Date: 20 Sep 2007
Hi there! I just wanted to send a quick thanks for the beautiful review that Elizabeth Vail wrote of my book, Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer. It really made my day, and I'm thrilled she enjoyed it!
Have a wonderful day!
Master Reviewer Gary Whitehouse was in line for both thanks and a discussion:
From: Clay Eals
Date: 26 Sep 2007
Just saw your review of my book at Green Man Review. Thanks for such a thorough assessment. Some of your praise made me blush but also was music to my ears, appreciation that any writer yearns to hear.
And I'm not bothered by your knock at the book's thoroughness. It's an arguable point. What I've found in recent months is that the book's girth is what stirs the most attention and intrigue. To me, comprehensiveness was key, for two reasons. First, if you look up "gregarious" in the dictionary, you will find Steve Goodman. He connected with countless people in his 36 years. It's a major lesson of his life, that we are not meant to be hermits.
So, recounting his life necessitated talking with as many of those people as possible. Second, I knew this could be the only book ever done on Goodman, so I had a mantle on my shoulders to do it right and not shortchange the subject. Obviously, I leaned toward erring on the side of too much instead of too little.
Your idea for an alternate way to open the book is a good one. I decided to open it by describing the hell out of a complete Goodman concert, to put the reader in the room, to set the tone of Goodman as entertainer and of mortality as the book's theme. But certainly "City of New Orleans" would be have been an equally legitimate way to get into his life. As you state inyour opening paragraph, it's a tremendously metaphoric song.
Two requests, both relatively minor.
1. I deeply appreciate the link to my Internet site, from the green, underlined reference to my name in the second paragraph. But I've tried the link on two browsers, and it doesn't work. It sends readers to a "This page cannot be found" page. The address, http://www.clayeals.com, appears to be correct, but perhaps there's an extra character in there that's throwing it off. Can that be fixed?
2. Your Richard Wedler sentence says "a few months later," but that's not quite right. I was not able to dig up the exact time interval, but it was much shorter -- more likely a few hours or perhaps a day or two after the train trip with Nancy. In the book, I say "upon returning" from the trip Steve "hurried" to the Earl. Instead of "a few months later," the interval would be better stated as "soon" or "not long after the trip." Since yours is an online review, can that be fixed?
Again, I am humbled by your review, Gary. You obviously took delved into the book seriously, and I'm grateful for your time, the greatest gift. I will link to your review from my Internet site, and I hope our paths cross in person someday.
Peter Massey, Senior Reviewer, got a very nice letter about his review of the Watercarvers Guild's recording Balladeers and Aeronauts
Fom: Rose Casey
Subject: Thanks for the review!
Date: 19 Oct 2007
To Peter Massey,
I just wanted to write and thank you for the wonderful review that you gave Watercarvers Guild "Balladeers and Aeronauts" CD on Green Man Review. I will be sure and put it on our CD review page on the website very soon.
I had actually given up hope that it would get reviewed by Green Man Review, since I sent the CD to them in May of 2006.
But then I see that it did indeed get a review! And I want to say that I am certain you listened to the CD very carefully, judging by your astute comments. I really appreciate what you wrote, and so does the trio. Thank you again.
My name is Rose, and I am Darrell's wife and (of course) the mom of David and Nathan. Watercarvers Guild really loves to perform and record well-crafted music. You may wonder why it is that they are not better known around the US. Well, music is great, but family is first. So we keep the touring localized to the Northwest for now. Not that we wouldn't love to be on Mountain Stage or play bigger festivals. But you know how much competition there is, and it is tough to travel (the price of gas!) and support 3 families too. So we do what we can and hope that word of mouth helps our fanbase to grow beyond our ability to tour. That's why we appreciate your CD review.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Nollaig Casey and her husband Arty McGlynn and an honor when she agreed to play on our CD. I see that you are from England. Well, than you are probably familiar with Nollaig and Arty, since you have been in the folk scene there for quite some time. Anyway, we would love to tour in England, Scotland and Ireland someday.
I hope you visit our website sometime again. If so, send us a note from the Contact page to say hello if you'd like. I am in the process of updating the website at the moment, so the Stuff page is in need of a little work and we need to add a few new CD photos and Paypal links to the Store page. All will be done within the week.
Again, it was really a delight to read your review.
Rose Casey, Manager
And lo! and behold -- Yours Truly got a note about Roger Zelazny from another science-fiction writer:
From: E. E. Knight
Subject: Damnation Alley
Date: 22 Oct 2007
I enjoyed your review muchly. Hell Tanner is one of my favorite characters. Someone needs to put John Carpenter in thumbscrews and get him to admit that Snake Plissken is really Hell Tanner with a cobra tattoo.
And a book like that is required to have giant lizards and spiders. If I read DA's backcover copy and then at some point or other the hero wasn't fighting giant spiders with flamethrowers, I'd feel cheated.
That certainly deserved a response:
Thanks for your e-mail.
Yeah, someone could make a really cheesy movie out of this one. Oh, wait. . . .
I'd love to hear what you think of the idea of Hell Tanner as a Trickster. Come to think of it, I think I see intimations of the same thing in David Valentine. Hmm. . . .
Of course, Eek!, as he is known to his friends (actually, I just made that up), has a rejoinder
Someone really needs to do a "Jung for Writers" book. I've got a couple of volumes, the best being Storr's "The Essential Jung" and a textbook on personality theory that has a really good analysis of Jung but honestly, it's heavy going (though I understand he was very easy to understand when you spoke to him). People get hamstrung sometimes by "The Hero's Journey" which is pretty much recycled Jung anyway ("OMG! I left out a boon!").
As for Hell being a Trickster, yeah, I'll buy that. Good call. Though he's also a classic hero in that he gets the job done at the end.
It's really nice to get rave reviews of your reviews, and a good discussion is the frosting on the cake. Keep that in mind for next time.