The Momentum Blog
Posted May 8, 2013 by Alex
‘If “books are the windows to the world” as they say, then their pages are the magic carpets that lead us there.’ - EDEWEDE ORIWOH
‘If “pages are the magic carpets” as they say, then e-readers are the fabric of the magic.’ - ANONYMOUS KINDLE USER
‘Ereaders are great. Ebooks are great. Buy Momentum ebooks.’ - ANONYMOUS MOMENTUM PUBLISHER
Does an author have exclusive rights to the world they have created in their book, or series of books? Would you say intellectual property trumps the captured imagination of the fans? Can an author really ‘Lucas’ their franchise with sequels, reboots adaptations or revised editions to fulfil their fantasy, just because they had the idea in the first place? Or does the world, once set loose into the public domain, belong to the readers as much as the writer?
You can apply this train of thought not just to books, but across all mainstream entertainment media. This is from the Star Wars Special Editions to The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, to all the movie sequels that should never, ever have been made, and can never be undone. Many a time have millions cried out in terror, their voices suddenly tweeting a lot of complaints.
I tip my hat to authors. Family homes, cities, countries, worlds, even galaxies beckon for you to inhabit them and go on incredible journeys of wonder, gore, sex, technology, action, suspense, intrigue, and ‘OMG no way!’ They can be epic or intimate in scope, with events that can span a day, year, decade or even a century. They are the ones who take us on these sojourns of emotion.
A typical author sheds blood, sweat and tears in the creation of their work: tears from the struggle of getting a publisher; sweat from being told they have to work out how to use Twitter to help promote their book; and blood from smashing the keyboard after reading their first bad review. However, does an author’s role as ‘creator’ automatically mean they trump the rights of the reader?
Try to count the hours an author may spend imagining their world, dwelling on the characters and talking about their plot bunnies incessantly to their partners. What about all the writing, rewriting, re-rewriting, the endless struggle to get a publisher, having a mental breakdown that involves copious chocolate and/or alcohol, then somehow finally landing a deal? After all that there is that little thing called the publishing process to go through and all the marketing (read: tweeting) that goes into promoting the book once the text is finalised. The hours stack up. How long did it take you to read the latest instalment in your favourite series, and how do you think that compares to the length of time invested by the author? Unless you’re an epically slow reader, you’ll end up losing.
An author can take a year or more writing a book – six or seven if your last name is ‘Martin’. I may read that new book I’ve been waiting for in a day, over a weekend or up to a fortnight, depending on its length and how much time I have. One-on-one the author wins, right? Of course. The author has spent far longer on their work, no matter how dedicated I am to the series.
Like I said, one-on-one.
Whether you are thinking of a franchise spread over multiple mediums with a large and fervent fan base, or your more typical author who still has thousands of readers per book, the hours quickly sway from favouring the writer to the readers.
So, does the author of a book have exclusive rights? Does intellectual property trump the captured imagination of the fans?
Let’s look at a book-orientated example. You can barely open the internet without seeing a reference to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Whether it’s hating Joffrey or loving Daenerys, this nerdy series of books about medieval-like lords and ladies fighting for an iron chair with direwolves, dragons and ice-zombies thrown in the mix has captured pop culture imagination after being realised in television form. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is the latest fantasy franchise to cash in on the ‘once-geek now-mainstream’ trend. While some fans of the first season may have mistaken the show for porn’s answer to endless complaints of lousy acting, low production values and flat storylines, the HBO show has unsurprisingly sky-rocketed sales of the books. New trade paperbacks and mass market formats, including those with covers to match the show, are everywhere, not to mention the Enhanced Ebook editions.
So what does Game of Thrones have to do with reader rights versus author rights? Well, quite a lot. George R.R. Martin not only gave HBO his blessing, but is a co-executive producer and writes at least one episode per season. It’s fair to say Martin enjoys a reasonable amount of influence steering the direction of the show. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss also fill in the role of ‘writers’ in this context. This begs the question (from me, at least), what about the readers?
Skip the next paragraph if you are not up to date with Season 3 Episode 2 of Thrones, otherwise keep reading.
On a case by case basis, you may get convincing answers from HBO as to why Kahleesi’s visions in the House of the Undying were replaced by the ones featured in the TV show, or why Peter Dinklage didn’t lose more of his face in the Battle of Blackwater Bay, and so on. I’m happy to let Peter keep his nose, so I’ll let that one slide, but the visions? I would like to have seen them. Everyone will have different nitpicks they are willing to concede, or for which they are deeply upset. I’m largely lenient towards changes in the show as I appreciate a lot of stuff on the page would not work on screen as well as what HBO decided to do. The showrunners have also given nods to the fans: Cersei says she heard Tyrion had lost his nose, acknowledging the difference between the book and the show; and Gendry criticises Arya for not spending one of Jaqen H’ghar’s kills on King Joffrey or Tywin Lannister. The latter is a conversation never seen in the books, but a common fan reaction. To me, this indicates that Benioff, Weiss and Martin are listening and engaging with the readers to create the best adaptation they can.
Do the readers get a say in the Thrones adaptation? Of course not, there are far too many differences of opinion for HBO to conform to, and why should they? So far HBO have shown they not only understand make good television, they understand the books as well. If anything, Benioff and Weiss represent the readers, and are our voice in ensuring the characters we have come to love – or pray that they die – are treated with respect. They were fans of the series before the show came into being, after all. It may not be absolutely perfect in the eyes each individual, but for most, it will be pretty damn close.
If you find Martin’s books too gargantuan to tackle, or just think boobs are far better on the screen than on paper, there are plenty more examples. The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings have all shared some criticism on how they have been adapted to film. They have also enjoyed a lot of fan adoration, from both readers and filmgoers-only. I chose Game of Thrones as my main example, though, as George R.R. Martin has a constant, active presence in the writing room, exercising his ‘author rights’. J.K. Rowling exercised some for Harry Potter, but loosened the reigns after the first couple of films, or at least that’s how it seemed.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Have you read the books too? What do you think of the show as an adaptation? Have your say in the comments below.
Have I picked a fair example with Game of Thrones, or is the fact the TV show has received such high critical acclaim make the changes in the adaptation ‘acceptable’? Is a critically unsuccessful but ‘true’ adaptation a failure? Can you think of any examples?
In terms of ‘reader rights’ being respected in adaptations like Game of Thrones, I think we will have to hold our breath and pray to the Old Gods and the New. Can we make a practical difference? Not likely. Does that render readers’ combined hours of love, dedication and eyestrain as obsolete? Not to me. Then does no power come with no responsibility? I suppose so, but it doesn’t take away my sense of entitlement.
What do you think about the rights of authors vs the rights of readers? Are we sentenced to just watch whatever may happen to our favourite books with no say?
Alex Lloyd is an editorial assistant at Pan Macmillan Australia. He interned briefly at Momentum before Pan snapped him up for full time employment. You can follow Alex on twitter at @AlexDNLloydauthors, Books, characters, fandoms, Game of Thrones, George Lucas, george r r martin, HBO, publishing, readers, reading, sean bean, spiderman, star wars, television, writing
Posted April 5, 2013 by Anne
Momentum is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. Established in February 2012, we publish high quality ebooks globally. Our website and blog is the hub of our operation, and we’d like to include as many diverse voices as possible. Our blog currently hosts opinions from Momentum employees, authors and other contributors, and now we’d like you to have the chance to have your say about the world of books, writing and reading on the Momentum blog.
We are looking for someone who is interested in books, specifically with an interest in genre fiction (predominantly romance and science fiction/fantasy).
What we want from you:
– 4-8 blog posts a month, with a minimum word count of 300 words each
– The posts can cover any topic that you think is relevant to reading, writing, book and storytelling culture and can be in the form of reviews, interviews, author profiles, recaps, catch-ups, re-reads and reader polls – creativity and audience engagement is the main aim
– Preference will be given to a blogger with a relevant social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, etc)
– Genre bloggers step to the front of the line. If you love romance, science fiction, fantasy and thrillers show us your passion for your genre(s)
What we are offering in return:
– An audience of readers and writers
– $20 per post (minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 posts per month)
– free Momentum ebooks
To apply, send a sample blog post, covering letter and brief resume to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 25th 2013 with the subject line ‘Momentum Blogger’ and be sure to include your name, city, country of residence and occupation. We welcome applicants from all over the world, but the posts must be in English.
Your sample blog post should be the type of thing you’d be posting on a regular basis (not a hokey introductory post). And of course, if we select you as our resident blogger then you will be compensated accordingly if you decide to use your sample blog post as your first post.
If you have any questions, feel free to email or ask in the comments below.
Terms & Conditions
- The winning applicant will be subject to a trial period of one month.
- Posts will be vetted by staff before going live.
- Posts will remain the copyright of the author, however, Momentum will retain an exclusive right to first posting for a period of no less than six months.
- The successful blogger will invoice Momentum monthly for posts within the previous four week period.
- The successful blogger’s contract can be terminated with two week’s notice.
- These conditions are subject to change.
You might find this book useful for 100 examples of what not to do (well).
Posted February 8, 2013 by Mark
1. When you’re introduced to a book’s family, it’s usually awesome
The Hunger Games introduces you to Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The Passage introduces you to The Twelve. And if you find the family isn’t to your liking, you don’t have to pretend to enjoy their company. Drop ‘em and move on.
2. A book won’t look at other readers while you’re reading it
But other readers will look at you and be jealous of how awesome you look reading your book. Especially if you’re doing it on an ereader (because tech is sexy).
3. It’s not a problem if your best friend borrows your book
This tends to cause friction in human relationships. And you can borrow your best friend’s books in exchange. Please note that sometimes ‘borrow’ means ‘keep’.
4. You never have to buy your book a gift
And with all the money you save you can buy yourself other books. And your first book won’t even care!
5. Books won’t try to cook you a meal
One of the worst things about being in a relationship is when someone thinks it will be romantic to cook you a meal regardless of their own cooking skills. So many overcooked pasta dishes and undercooked chicken fillets have been forced down the digestive tracts of people who just closed their eyes and pretended it was pizza for the sake of a relationship.
6. You don’t have to impress your book
When you pick up a book you can be in day-old underwear, eating Nutella from the jar with a spoon and your book won’t care. You have the freedom to be as flatulent as you want.
7. When you finish a book you have the option of keeping it for the memories
Try telling an ex that you want to keep them on a shelf with your other exes as a token of the time you spent together. It’s a great way to get a visit from the police. Or so a friend told me.
8. A book will always wait for you
It will sit patiently on your shelf, not caring how long it takes you to get around to reading it, not jealous of all the other books you prioritise before it, and it won’t ever be with anyone else while it waits.
9. If you get bored halfway through you can leave your book without any hassle
You don’t have to say, “It’s not you, it’s me”, “I need some space”, “I think I’d like to have a break”, you can just…stop.
10. It’s the perfect no obligation relationship
And let’s face it, that’s what were all searching for. A relationship where you’re engaged, extremely interested in what your partner has to say and always able to be yourself.
Love isn’t dead – it’s just a little tied up right now.
On Valentine’s Day the bestselling Zom-rom Flesh by Kylie Scott will be available FREE.
Tagged: Books, list, Valentine's Day
Posted by Mark
The following titles are all at reduced prices for a limited time:
Dragonfly by Erica Hayes is currently only $1.99
Willie’s Bar and Grill by Rob Hirst is currently only $1.99
Casting Couch Confidential by Bessie Bardot is currently only $1.99
The White by Adrian Caesar is currently only $1.99
The Beginning of Everything and the End of Everything Else by Christine Townend is currently only $1.99
The Fourth Passenger by Mini Nair is currently only $1.99
Time to Declare by Mark Taylor is currently only $1.99
The Bollywood Beauty by Shalini Akhil is currently only $1.99
More Aussie Gags by John Blackman is currently only $1.99
Aussie Slang Dictionary by John Blackman is currently only $1.99
Tagged: Books, discount books, list
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Posted January 14, 2013 by Mark
Do you have a spare less-than-one-dollar in your pocket? You do? Excellent!
Drive Me to Distraction by Caitlyn Nicholas is currently FREE
Don’t Come the Raw Prawn! by John Blackman is currently only $0.99
Aussie Slang Dictionary by John Blackman is currently only $0.99
Best of Aussie Slang by John Blackman is currently only $0.99
Christine’s Ark by John Little is currently only $0.99
The Beginning of Everything and the End of Everything Else by Christine Townend is currently only $0.99
The Raw Scent of Vanilla by Emilia Bresciani is currently only $0.99
Down to the Sea by John Little is currently only $0.99
Time to Declare by Mark Taylor is currently only $0.99
Tagged: Books, discount books, list
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Posted December 22, 2012 by Hannah Story
Gift-giving is hard. Too hard. I mean, how many gifts do you people want? Aren’t birthdays and anniversaries enough?
Apparently they’re not enough. Everyone wants presents on December 25 too. But luckily for you, I’m saving you all the thinking and the tear-jerking sense of failure that comes with being unable to pick out something perfect for your mother, father, brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, and that guy who you’ve noticed watching you as you walk down the street. I’m just so helpful. You can thank me with a gift later.
I’ve chosen books, because if I had my hipster way I would give everyone Radiohead’s entire discography (on vinyl) and be done with it, but apparently giving people the stuff you like isn’t very “thoughtful” or in the “Christmas spirit.” Plus books make good Christmas presents because Anne said so.
And you know what the best parts about giving an ebook for Christmas are? There are so many options, and there are no lines on the internet.
So for dad, you could buy Defender by Chris Allen- because we all know dads love books with explosions in them.
And for mum, you can try Pamela by Samuel Richardson because classic romances make middle-aged ladies swoon.
And for your brother who thinks he’s the next George R.R. Martin, you could buy How to Write Badly Well by Joel Stickley. That way he’ll know if everything that he’s doing is wrong and he should start again.
Your sister who spends summer star-gazing in the mountains might like The Big Book of Astrology by Kelli Fox- she’ll then be able to tell you about your doomed Sagittarius-Taurus romance.
And your girlfriend? Buy her Flesh by Kylie Scott and wait with bated breath for your sex life to be magically spiced up. Also this way there’s no awkward unwrapping-apocalyptic-erotica-in-front-of-grandma moments.
Your boyfriend can read The Book of Bloke by Ben Pobjie to justify his disgusting bedside habits (and you’ll let it slide because it’s the festive season and he just poured you another glass of red).
And as for that stalker from down the street? I don’t know why you were considering buying him a gift. Don’t do that. That’s daft. He definitely wont stop sending you creepy emails if you acknowledge him at Christmas time. This is why your mother says you always make bad decisions. What were you thinking?Books, Christmas, ebooks, ereading, gift ideas, gift-giving, intern, list, reading
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Posted December 6, 2012 by Anne
WARNING: There is a spoiler for Game of Thrones book 5 at 12-13m, so if you don’t want to know what happens at the end of this book just fast forward that bit.
First Podmentum of December! Who knew we’d make it this far. This episode includes discussion of endings in pop culture, spoilers and then we have a special guest who came in to give us all a dose of Bond culture, from Ian Fleming to Skyfall.
Topic 1 – Books and endings
There has been a bit of discussion recently about the endings of books, ignited by a column in The Guardian in which the writer expresses annoyance at ambiguous endings.
Happy endings – modern readers apparently aren’t big fans of sad endings, according to Salon. I disagree but having recently learned about the phenomenon of romance readers and their unbending penchant for a happy ending perhaps there is something in it.
Topic 2 – Spoilers
In the office we talk a lot about the pop culture we’re currently consuming, and the one thing Mark and I always clash on is spoilers. I’m quite happy to know what happens in a book, movie or tv episode before I see it, whereas Mark is vehemently against hearing about the outcome before he gets to experience it himself.
Turns out my way is better, according to NPR and Time magazine.
Spoilers might actually make reading stories more enjoyable, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego. They gave their subjects short stories they hadn’t read before, spoiling one group of readers but not others. So for example, when the assignment was Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” some readers were informed about its joltingly morbid ending. Others weren’t.
It turns out that most of the people for whom the story was “spoiled” reported enjoying it more than those who read it unprepared.
“It’s much more terrifying to know that something horrible is about to happen than not to know it’s about to happen,” – James Poniewozik, Time
Dan Kois: Spoilers: the official Vulture statute of limitations (2008)
Here’s why I’d first politely ask that you consider holding your tongue in terms of spoiling… well, anything within reason (and a reasonable amount of time, as set by John Q. Scalzi, Esquire): because it suggests that you’re the most important person on social media. I get it. You want to talk about what you just saw. But we all want lots of things. I want a pony. I want to punch people sometimes. I want to eat a gallon of ice cream and guzzle liquor every night. But I don’t. I don’t do a lot of things because it’d either be bad for me or bad for someone else. We don’t just follow our every id-driven impulse because: uhh, hello, selfish.
I’m just asking that you cool it on the spoilers.
Topic 3 – Chris Allen and James Bond
Chris Allen – Homeland
Mark – Infinitas Bookshop
Joel – Old Man’s War
Anne – Ablutions
Books, endings, Ian Fleming, James Bond, podcast, podmentum, reading, spoilers, writing
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Posted November 9, 2012 by Anne
Second podcast! We’re totally on a roll. In this episode we discuss the epic Genre versus Literature battle to the death in the wake of the inaugural GenreCon Australia, then we make fun of Joel for being such a gadget nerd. Also Mark outnerds himself in the recommendations. Enjoy.
Topic 1 - What we read: Genre v Lit
Arthur Krystal’s Easy Writers: Guilty pleasures without guilt in May in The New Yorker laid down the theory that the divide between genre and literary fiction is becoming less clear, and some genre fiction is now being afforded “literary” status.
Lev Grossman in Time April 2012 responded with an article entitles Literary Revolution in the Supermarket Aisle: Genre fiction is disruptive technology, challenging the idea that literary fiction should be regarded as “superior” to genre fiction. He basically lays down the theory that literary fiction is itself a genre with certain tried and true tropes that every book identified as such follows.
Krystal then responded to Lev Grossman with It’s genre, not that there’s anything wrong with that! in October, which had Joel absolutely apoplectic with rage, and convinced us that it was worth discussing.
Interesting look at horror in The Guardian recently with Horror: a genre literally doomed to hell?
*note – The Ian McEwan novel that was released the year before he won the Booker for Amsterdam was Enduring Love, not On Chesil Beach (which was actually released a decade later). To my enduring shame, I completely forgot about Enduring Love, which is actually one of my favourite McEwan books. Golf clap.
Topic 2 - Devices: how we read
Joel got his new Paperwhite last week and now that he’s had enough time to fall completely and utterly in love with it, it is probably time to talk about reading technology.
Mark’s Recommendation Star Wars Expanded UniverseAmazon, Arthur Krystal, author, Books, devices, digital publishing, DRM, ebooks, ereading, fiction, genre, iPad Mini, john birmingham, Kindle, Lev Grossman, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, podcast, podmentum, publishing, reading, review, romance, star wars, The Silent History, writing
Posted November 6, 2012 by Anne
Our very first podcast ever covers Amazon and DRM, books that have been made in to movies, and the renewed popularity of the short story format.
You can subscribe via iTunes here, or listen below.
Below you’ll find some links to things we discussed in the inaugural Podmentum: the one where Jeff Bezos is a super villain.
DRM, Amazon and the missing digital library
“As a long-term writer about technology, DRM, privacy and user rights, this Amazon example shows the very worst of DRM. If the retailer, in this case Amazon, thinks you’re a crook, they will throw you out and take away everything that you bought. And if you disagree, you’re totally outlawed. Not only is your account closed, all your books that you paid for are gone. With DRM, you don’t buy and own books, you merely rent them for as long as the retailer finds it convenient.”
Recent and upcoming book to movie adaptations, Flavorwire’s “unfilmable books”
(If any outraged Harry Potter fans would like to email their thoughts to Mark please direct said emails to email@example.com and they’ll be forwarded directly to him.)
Short stories – is the form really under threat? Really?
The Paris Review has just released a short story collection (Object Lessons) and it prompting a rash of new articles questioning the form.
“The medium isn’t as popular as it used to be, but a new anthology from The Paris Review makes the case for the power and promise of short stories. Below, an interview with editor Sadie Stein.”Amazon, Books, Cloud Atlas, Jeff Bezos, Mightnight's Children, movie adaptations, movies, Paris Review, podcast, podmentum, reading, short stories
Posted October 23, 2012 by Anne
APRIL 13, 1955: CENTRAL SIBERIA
Joseph Stalin knew he was being watched. He closed his eyes and adjusted the soft, red blanket that covered his legs, like a child hiding under his bed covers, thinking that if he could not see the monster, the monster could not see him. The sun was warm on his face, and bright, through his paper-thin eyelids. Sitting there in his wheelchair, his face turned up, eyes closed, it was possible to imagine the whole world was a pink, warm womb.
He let his chin slowly fall to his chest before opening his eyes and turning his glare on Beria. “We are delayed, Lavrenty Pavlovich. To what end?”
Stalin patted his pockets, looking for his old pipe, forgetting that he had not smoked in years. The doctors had said it would kill him. Frustrated at the delay, frustrated at the doctors, angry that he could not enjoy a simple pipe, his scowl grew darker. Once upon a time the hardest men in Russia had quailed at the sight of him playing with that pipe. To turn it this way and that, to stroke the bowl with his thumb while never moving to pack even one shred of tobacco in there – that was enough to signal his displeasure. Enough to make strong men quiver with fear. Now when he patted his pockets, he just looked like an old cripple, forgetful and failing.
Still, what little colour Beria had in his face leached away at the thunderous look on Stalin’s. That was something.
“No delay. There is no delay, comrade. Everything is running to schedule.”
The chief of the Functional Projects Bureau stammered over his last words and nervously checked the iPad he carried. A rare and valuable working model, an Apple original, one of the last before the ‘flex’ models debuted, and salvaged from the emergence of the British stealth destroyer way back in 1942, it was still sleeker and more powerful than anything Functional Projects had managed to produce. Then again, it was also vastly more elegant and powerful than any of the cheaper Samsung or Google flexipads they had also salvaged.
Stalin waved him off with a backhanded gesture. “Gah. Enough excuses, Lavrenty Pavlovich. Begin the demonstration. I have many days of travel to return to Moscow. Push your buttons. Bring down the sky. Be done with it.”
“The satellite is almost in position now,” Beria assured him. “We must retire inside.”
His bodyguard leaned forward. “Vozhd?” he asked, seeking permission to move him.
“Yes, yes,” said Stalin, who did not really want to give up his place in the sun. The winters grew longer as he grew older. He was certain of it. He enjoyed the mild spring weather, but soon enough, too soon, the leaves on the small stand of trees outside his apartment back in the Kremlin would turn red again, then gold, then brown as winter stalked back into the land. What did those books say? The ones his daughter loved, from the broken future. Winter was coming? His last perhaps. He adjusted the blanket again – an old habit, it had not moved – and tried to not let his disappointment show as his guard wheeled him off the terrace out of the sun and back inside the bunker.
He felt the chill as soon as they passed into the shadows of the deep concrete passageway. Solid iron blast doors rumbled behind him as the small party of high officials, bureaucrats and technicians filed in, trudging in procession to the bunker from which they would monitor the test. Moisture leaked from the thick concrete walls, giving Stalin pause to worry about his arthritis. He regretted having insisted on traveling all the way out here to witness the test firing for himself. Then he smiled. Beria undoubtedly regretted it more, and that was cause for some mild amusement. Stalin knew his deputy premier would be fretting now, squirming inside like a greasy little weasel, anxious that nothing should go wrong.
The tension in the control room was tangible. He could feel it on his skin, taste it even at the back of his mouth. It was a familiar taste, of a fine vintage. He had been supping on men’s fear for so long now he believed he could take some nourishment from it. The scientists and military officers – no, they were NKVD Spetsnaz; Beria’s thralls, not Red Army, he reminded himself – all did their best to avoid catching his gaze. Beria scuttled about, snapping and hissing at the technical staff, his spidery white fingers stabbing so hard at the screen of the iPad that Stalin thought he might punch it to the floor. That would be amusing.
His bodyguard – it was Yagi today – wheeled him past banks of computer terminals, monitoring screens, and control boards dense with flashing lights and illuminated buttons. The supreme leader of the Soviet Union understood none of it. The technology was all plundered from the far and impossible future, the world that could not be.
He would never see that particular future. He knew that, of course. Accepted it. Life ebbed away from him now – in spite of all the new “miracle” medical treatments and organ therapies, life itself retreated from Joseph Stalin on a quickening tide of years and minutes. But nobody else would see the future from whence Kolhammer and his international fleet had Emerged either, because he would not let it come to pass. He would not let it be, this false future where Putinist thugs and bandits ruled the Rodina, where the revolution was mocked and mourned. And dead.
It would not be.
At a word from him, as long as Beria had done his job, the sky would fall in on the world outside this bunker, and the real future would draw that much closer. Yagi brought him to a stop a few feet from the viewing port created especially for him. The armored glass was 7 inches thick, they had told him, and the reinforced concrete wall of the bunker at least 3 feet deep. Peering through this personal viewport was a little like looking down a short tunnel. The glass distorted the view somewhat, and gave it a dark green tinge. Steel shutters stood ready to slam down if needed, but he could not see them. Nobody could. Only a wheelchair-bound Stalin and one of the technicians, who was a dwarf, were of a height to have an unimpeded view through the port. Everybody else had to make do with the viewing screens. There were dozens of them about, but the two largest ones hung from the wall directly in front of him, above the viewing slit.
The room was chilly, because of all the infernal computers, which always seemed to be in danger of overheating. The cold, stale, recycled air irritated his eyes and seeped into his bones, but it awoke his senses, and he did want to see this. It was why he had traveled so far east, beyond the natural barrier of the mountains.
Involuntarily he glanced upwards, imagining American satellites prowling overhead, peering down on him. But there was only the low ceiling of unrendered cement. And above that – tons of rock.
“You are sure Kolhammer is not watching this on some television in the White House?” he growled at Beria. “They are always watching us.”
Startled out of some reverie, the NKVD boss jumped a little, and even squeaked. He was more nervous than usual. “We have done our best, our utmost, to draw their attention away from the proving grounds,” he said, stammering as before. “Ten Red Army divisions and fraternal bloc forces are exercising as close to the Oder as we dare. There have been incidents. I made sure of that personally. What satellite cover they do not have watching us there will be trained on Admiral Koniev’s newly unmasked fleet base. Our strategic forces are ready to test fire a fusion warhead to mask the geologic signal. This is all settled, Vozhd. By your very self.”
Stalin waved him away again, a stock gesture when dealing with Beria. He knew everything the man had just said, but he wanted him to repeat it. If Beria’s plan to mask the Hammer Fall test failed, Comrade Beria would pay the price. Not Stalin.
Klaxons and sirens began to sound all around them, and somewhere in the distance he heard the deep, bass rumble of more blast doors sliding into place. The countdown clock between the two large viewing screens clicked over to ten minutes.
In spite of his weariness and his age – he should have been dead two years now – in spite of all that he had done and seen, Joseph Stalin could not help but feel a flicker of excitement in his chest. Well, hopefully it was just excitement … After his last heart attack, the doctors had told him (or rather suggested, very mildly) that he might need to think about cutting back to one serving each day of his favorite lamb stew. He wiggled his fingers now, marveling at how old his hands looked, how skeletal and heavily veined.
1953, he thought.
These hands through which his blood still flowed, with which he could still touch the world, they should have clawed at the last moments of life in 1953. On March 5 – as a massive stroke shredded his brain and twisted his body into a crippled, piss-stained mess.
He smiled at the thought. He was still here. For now. Inside, he still felt like a twenty-year-old revolutionary, but his body was failing him. Even with his blood washed clean by a fresh, transplanted liver, even with improbably tiny machines regulating his heartbeat and sweeping toxins from his body, it was failing him. He should have been used to it, he supposed. So many had failed him over the decades. Their bodies, at least, he could pile up like cordwood. His own, he was stuck with, mostly, despite the efforts of his transplant surgeons and pharmacists.
The Vozhd had simply given too much to the struggle over the years. That was why he was so excited and intrigued by the possibilities of today’s test. Since the reactionary Kolhammer forces had Emerged from the Gordian knot of history at the Battle of Midway, Joseph Stalin had lived every day with the knowledge that he had limited time to set history right, to secure the revolution, and his place in it.
Emerged from history, and destroyed it, he thought. Destroyed the settled history of the twentieth century, and the twenty-first century after that. It was still a wonder to him how nobody in the West could see the obvious truth of it. How the very impossibility of Admiral Kolhammer’s arrival from the year 2021 through this ‘wormhole’ spoke to the impossibility of the future from which he had come.
He grunted in frustration, setting off a momentary panic amongst his hangers-on, but he ignored them.
The forces of history operate like a machine, he thought, as technicians and dogsbodies fussed about him. History: driving human progress from barbarity to civilization, from the feudal to the capitalist, and then inevitably on to the final socialist stages. A history in which the USSR fell was simply not possible. Reality was not engineered in such a fashion. Thus history had righted itself with the destructive miracle of the Emergence.
Or rather, it had started to right itself. The revolutionary work of men was in the hands of men, of course. Stalin hoped that today they would come one crucial step closer to completing that work.
“Two minutes, Vozhd,” said Beria, surprising him.
Where had the time gone? Stalin shook his head, disgusted. He had been daydreaming again. He leaned forward to peer out through the armored glass. A nameless valley fell away from them hundreds of feet below, disappearing into the haze. Ten miles away, hundreds of obsolete tanks and trucks, many of them salvaged from the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War, waited on the valley floor. He was aware of increased tension behind him as the technicians hurried through their last-minute procedures. Literally – the last-minute procedures. The countdown clock had reached sixty seconds. Beria really had nothing to do, setting himself to annoy everyone with his pestering and interference as he did it.
“Leave them alone, Lavrenty Pavlovich!” Stalin ordered. “Let them do their duty.”
Chastened, the chief engineer – Pah, that was a laugh! – of the Functional Projects Bureau quit bustling around and hovering at the shoulders of his senior men. He opened and closed the cover of his flexipad a number of times, before setting it down on a steel workbench and shuffling over to stand beside Stalin.
“There is nothing left to do but wait,” he said.
“Then we shall wait,” replied the Vozhd.
The final countdown was strangely disappointing. A disembodied voice on the public address system took them through the last few seconds: “Three … two … one … launch …” But of course there were no rockets to roar or shake the earth beneath their feet.
“How long?” asked Stalin.
Beria seemed unnaturally pleased to have a question he could answer promptly. “Less than two minutes,” he said with confidence. “These are the small, tactical rods we are testing today. They will launch from low orbit and accelerate to 9000 meters per second.”
Stalin scowled at him, stealing some of that confidence away. “And we are safe here in this bunker?”
“Oh yes,” said Beria, with apparent relief. “We would not dare test the largest of the rods like this. They are designed to reduce mountains, such as this, to smoking craters.”
Beria hesitated, as though it were a trick question. Which in a way it was. The scientists and engineers – real scientists and real engineers, unlike Beria – had briefed him well at the start of this project. They had to. It was a massive investment of the state’s resources, and one that drew money and men away from one of Stalin’s pet projects: the electronic storage of human memory and consciousness. His gaze faltered for a moment, slipping away from Beria to stare at the back of his old, liver-spotted hands again.
“Pah! Do not bother,” Stalin told him, worried that his mind had wandered again. “I know about Tunguska. I know how it was different. The rock from space – a giant snowball, they told me – it exploded in the air. These rods will not.”
“No,” said Beria. “Look …” He bent his knees and leaned forward, pointing toward the viewing aperture, even though the giant screens hanging above it afforded a grand, God-like view of the entire valley.
The dictator peered out through the armored-glass slit but found himself watching the screens too. They had split into windows to display the video feeds from a dozen cameras scattered up and down the valley. None of the hundreds of tanks, trucks and APCs out there were moving; they sat warmed by the afternoon sun. Stalin opened his mouth to say something when he thought he spotted a flight of birds sweeping across the scene, but before he could form the words, bright white streaks of light speared down from the sky. He saw the flash of impact through the glass just a moment before the very planet heaved and rumbled in shock. His mouth dropped open in surprise as the roaring noise of impact and detonation reached deep inside the bunker.
There was little and less to see on the screens, which didn’t so much blank out as “white out”. He squinted involuntarily before turning his attention back to the viewing port. Beria too had bent over again to look through it, as other men and women, some in uniform and some in coveralls and lab coats, did the same. A few flinched away, as an enormous fireball raced up the valley toward them. Stalin thought he could make out the pressure wave that preceded it, flattening the sea of grass and a few small saplings that stood between the foot of the mountain bunker and the point of impact.
Then heavy steel shutters slammed down, blocking off even that view. A few people jumped. But not the supreme leader of the Soviet people. He closed his eyes and imagined the sun, warm on his face, and bright even through his eyelids.
authors, Books, chapter sample, excerpt, fiction, john birmingham, prologue, reading
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Posted October 18, 2012 by Anne
Today we have the pleasure of unveiling the covers for the first two books in Chris Allen‘s Intrepid series. Starring the dashing Intrepid agent Alex Morgan - policeman, soldier and spy – Defender will be released on November 1, followed closely by Hunter in December.
You can pre-order both books by clicking on the links and choosing your favoured retailer. Defender is available for the excellent price of $2.99 and Hunter has a special pre-order price of $4.99 for a limited time.
Tagged: Alex Morgan, book cover, Books, Chris Allen, Defender, design, fiction, Hunter, Intrepid, soldier, spy
Posted October 12, 2012 by Mark
People love telling others what to read. There’s always a new list popping up that contains all the books you most definitely should read before you get hit by a hovercar. Usually these lists are just an opportunity for the author to show off about the books they’ve read (or pretended to at any rate). So here’s my contribution:
10 books you absolutely must read
1. Every single book by your favourite author
2. The one that a friend recommends even though it’s in a genre you’ve never read
3. The one by the debut novelist you aren’t familiar with
4. The books that mean something to your parents
5. At least one book that was written in another language (preferably a translated edition…unless you can speak the language. In that case, show off)
6. The one with the really cool cover that caught your eye
7. The one you found on a park bench/train carriage
8. The one a struggling writer begs you to read
9. The “adult” novel that was just ahead of your reading level when you were 13
10. The Young Adult novel that one of your kids loved
Some of our books meet the criteria listed above! 100 Ways to Write Badly Well by Joel Stickley is a hilarious guide to the art of awful writing. Remember – if a thing’s worth doing badly, it’s worth doing badly well. Available now for $2.99
Tagged: Books, list
Posted October 11, 2012 by Anne
“When we served in the Paratroopers together, Chris Allen was always the most suave and entertaining officer in the Regiment: A natural storyteller, equal parts Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum, but with far better hair and teeth than both. Similarly, his Alex Morgan novels are a thrill a minute, and the aftertaste of blood and gunmetal makes it clear these books are written by a real soldier. DEFENDER is must read for literary action/adventure addicts, and I cannot wait for the release of HUNTER on November 1st.”
BTG kindly sent us a copy of his hilarious new book Curses and Blessings for All Occasions recently, and we can confirm that it is both blessed and occasional.action adventure, Alex Morgan, Books, Bradley Trevor Grieve, BTG, Defender, Hunter, Ian Fleming, Intrepid, paratroopers, reading, soldier, writing
Posted September 27, 2012 by Annika Cleeve
An excerpt from Mattress Actress. The seventeen year-old Annika has just started working at a high-class brothel in Sydney, and we pick up the action just after her first trip to a sexual health clinic.
That evening I fronted up to work ten minutes early and Louise greeted me. She took me into what’s called the ladies’ lounge. That’s where the girls put their feet up, watched TV, eat, smoked or just gossiped. Adjoining the lounge was the dressing room. I noticed there was no curtain or door between the two rooms. I later found out it was so that the management could scrutinise the girls while they were dressing. They were always waging war against drugs. Mind you, this day I did resemble a pincushion, thanks to the Randwick clinic, as we called it.
Louise told me to put my bag in the locker in the ladies’ lounge and get dressed. While I did that, she sat and explained the rules to me.
‘Don’t talk to the other girls. Don’t wear black. You must buy a new dress every fortnight, and bring it in for inspection before wearing it. Don’t socialise with the other girls outside of work. Hand in all tips. Do not exchange personal details with clients, this includes accepting business cards. No drinking unless your client is partaking. No personal calls in or out during working hours. No leaving in the middle of a shift, for any reason. Refusal of a client must be based on medical reasons, for example he has warts or VD. The only other reason you can refuse a client is if you know him, like he’s your brother or so forth.
I thought if I just watched TV and fucked I should stay out of trouble.
We went on a tour of the place. It covered at least four other three-storey terraces. There was a bar room that adjoined the office and a formal lounge that extended the length of two terraces but had concertina screens separating the rooms if need be. Also on ground level were four small TV rooms that played hardcore videos all day. Louise explained that one of the receptionists always answered the door and brought the client into room one, if that was busy he would go to room two and so on. If all four rooms were taken he would be escorted to the main lounge. If we were still filling up, the screen would be pulled across and the second lounge could be used. If everything was full, gentlemen could sit in the bar and be offered a drink. Louise didn’t like the place getting this busy but it often did. Some evenings you could find ten to twelve men sitting in the bar.
There were also three spa rooms. Each had a bar, a shower, a large spa, and a plastic-covered double bed that would have looked more at home on a boat. Each room was decorated a different colour, so they were distinguished as the blue room, the pink room or the peach room.
The office was also on the ground floor, right beside the front entrance. It was a small room but very detailed. There were twenty buzzers on the wall, all linked to one of the fifteen rooms upstairs or the spa rooms or the ladies’ lounge, the laundry or the dressing room. There was a specific knock to gain entrance to the office. The desk inside took up most of the room. Behind the desk was a lady who would have been about fifty. She never said a word but had a brain on her like a computer. She was in charge of buzzing the girls ten minutes before their appointment was up to remind them to wind it down, then again at the correct time. I tested her so many times; she was always right on time. Another lady collected the money and did up the pay at the end of each shift. As there were always two shifts a day, there were two managers, two pay ladies and two ladies in charge of the buzzers on any given week. Then there were always two gofers who made drinks, tidied, or stood in the ladies’ lounge inspecting, handbags, make-up and hair. It was also the gofer’s job to inform us of who the client had chosen.
Louise explained the drill to me and I knew that if a girl deviated from Louise’s rules it would be instant grounds for dismissal. I listened intently, all the while wondering if this ice-queen routine was a put on in order to gain our respect and obedience or if in fact she really was like this, even in the quiet of her own home. I also considered that maybe once she got to know me she might chill a bit, realise that I was honest, hard working and not drug dependent at all.
Louise told me I should arrive promptly for every shift, get dressed and wait in the ladies’ lounge for inspection and announcements. The girls all walked together to meet the first client of the evening. We’d stand in a semicircle and introduce ourselves: ‘Hello, my name is Kate.’ When everyone had clearly said her name, we’d leave and go back to the ladies’ lounge. The receptionist would then call on the girl the client requested.
‘Some clients will make their decision directly, if that’s the case take a seat beside him, but don’t speak to him until the last girl has left the room. Ask him whether he cares for a spa—this of course will cost him extra—according to his decision take him to the appropriate room. There, ask him how long he would like to stay, take the money from him, and ask if he wouldn’t mind being inspected first. If you find anything out of the ordinary, come downstairs and we’ll have one of the available girls give a second opinion. If everything is in order bring the money downstairs, and tell us your name, your room number and how much.
‘At your first buzz, say nothing but OK, any other response will lead us to believe you are in trouble. At the end of every job shower, touch up your make-up and show your client out. Let us know you are in the lounge and wait for further directions.
‘At the end of the night you will be called in to the office to receive your pay. You are given fifty per cent of everything you earn and tips are all yours, but don’t let us catch you with money in your condom purse. If you own your own car you can leave on your own, if not, a taxi will be called in your work name. When that arrives you may leave.’
I wanted to pinch myself – surely I had fallen asleep and woken up in an episode of Mission: Impossible.
‘Are we clear on everything?’ Louise asked. ‘Good, then let’s get to work.’ She ushered me into the ladies’ lounge, where about fifteen of the most beautiful women I had ever seen were sitting. ‘Ladies, this is Kate, you all look lovely, have a good night, now, go to rooms one and two. Sue, your regular is in the bar.’ And with that, Louise left. Talk about being thrown in head first!
Like cows going for a milking we made our way downstairs. I tried to remember the names, but there were too many. The funny thing is the names were the same, it was just the faces that varied. In every brothel you go to there will always be a Tiffany, Amber, Storm, Cindy and Bridget.
Thankfully I wasn’t chosen by either of the first clients. That privilege went to Grace, a tall girl who was about nineteen, was almost too thin, and had waist-length fair hair. The gentleman in room two chose Anne. Anne was eighteen, short and stocky but extremely well-endowed.
This gave me time to acquaint myself with the other ladies even though I was under strict instructions not to speak to them.
Finally one girl piped up and said, ‘Welcome.’ Her name was Toni; I later learnt that she used to be named Anthony. But she was stunning and always friendly.
‘Darling, don’t listen to Louise, she’s a ball-busting lesbian who couldn’t cut it as a model because she wouldn’t fuck her way to the top. She’s never actually worked in the sex industry, but by the way she goes on you’d think she invented it.’
For more of Mattress Actress, click here.Tagged: authors, Books, excerpt, non-fiction, sex work
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Posted September 18, 2012 by Anne
Recently there has been a lot of discussion in the book world about reviews and criticism. There have been warnings about an epidemic of niceness on social media, articles on unfavourable reviews, the outing of sock puppet reviews on Amazon, and revelations of authors buying reviews in bulk.
Discoverability (drink) has been overtaken by sockpuppeting (drink) as the buzzword of the moment in publishing circles (so says FutureBook maven Sam Missingham), but it’s still the central concern of most ebook publishers. Readers can’t just go into a bookstore and pick up one of their books – they need to stumble across it in the wilds of the online jungle, so reviews and web chatter are increasingly important. Little wonder some authors are driven to fake their own book reviews.
If you’re concerned about how technology and web culture is affecting books, reading and writing, there are several things you can do. There are so many authors and books out there that for the truly excellent to come to the fore they need a bit of help from devoted readers.
I’ve put together a handy list of things you can do to support your favourite authors, and help fellow book lovers.
1. Buy books. I know right, easy
2. Read books. Bizarre, yes, but proven effective
3. Review books. Review widely, review often. You don’t have to be a professional reviewer anymore for your opinion to count (thanks Internet!). All you need is an account with your friendly (internet) neighbourhood retailer. Amazon is likely to be the most effective, but there is also Apple’s iBookstore and Goodreads. Or you could even set up a blog and become one of those people that publishing publicity departments adore, a book blogger. But let’s not get too crazy
4. Social media mention it up. Post your thoughts about the latest book you’re reading on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – hell, even Google+. Do it as you’re thinking about reading the book. Do it when you buy the book – post a photo of the cover. Do it mid-read, if you are inspired by a particularly interesting plot twist, or a beautiful sentence. Triumphantly announce your completion upon finishing the book, or mourn the end of a particularly brilliant book. The more you talk about reading, the more you will motivate others to read
5. Give ebooks as gifts. Okay sure, ebook gifts aren’t quite as impressive as a gift-wrapped print tome, but they are usually far less expensive and far more portable. Just enter in the email address of the lucky recipient, and bam, you’ve made someone’s day. Unless you give them a diet book or something. Don’t do that. Ebooks aren’t just for Christmas guys. They’re an everyday gift. Give one today.
May I suggest one of these?Tagged: Amazon, authors, Books, discoverability, ebooks, ereading, FutureBook, gift ideas, iBookstore, list, reading, review, social media, sock puppet, writing
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Posted August 22, 2012 by Anne
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” – John Waters
That’s all very well and good, but these days you don’t need to take someone home for them to be able to see your bookshelf. You just need to show them your device. No not that device.
So before you go all the way home with your date, ask them to hand over their e-reading device. Take a quick look at their library, and use this handy guide to what your date’s taste in books says about them as a lover.
Chuck Palahniuk/Bret Easton Ellis/Philip Roth
If you bruise easily you may want to exercise caution.
Jonathan Franzen/Haruki Murakami/David Foster Wallace
You might need to pull the “shut up and kiss me” routine with this windbag, but once you’ve got things underway you can likely expect this lover to last the distance.
Thomas L. Friedman/Tim Flannery/Michael Pollan
I hope you like body hair. [Um, I wrote that before I saw the above photo and now I'm kind of all turned around on the subject. He's holding Hot, Flat and Crowded, by the way.]
Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchens/Sam Harris
If you’re one of those people who has a tendency toward “oh god” exclamations during sexual activity you may want to tone that down.
Diana Gabaldon/Nora Roberts/Jodi Picoult
There will definitely be cuddling after sex, quite possibly prior to and during the act also. Suffocation warning, and not the good type either.
George R. R. Martin/Robert Jordan/Raymond E Feist
This date has no problem with commitment or patience. Likely to be a dedicated lover, but may require a detailed map. When it comes to the cut and thrust part of the night, expect great things.
Anthony Bourdain/Marco Pierre White/Gabrielle Hamilton
Likely to have an excellent appetite, and a willingness to eat out, if you know what I mean.
Charlaine Harris/Anne Rice/Stephen King
Watch out for teeth. If you like that type of thing, by all means, take this one home. But look, you may want to lay down towels. Could get messy.
Stephanie Meyer/J.K. Rowling/Suzanne Collins
Ask to see their ID and double check their birth date.
Definitely, definitely fuck them.Tagged: Books, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, dating, e-reader, ebooks, ereading, fiction, Jonathan Franzen, library, list, non-fiction, Philip Roth, reading, romance, sex
Posted July 31, 2012 by Maggie Dana
One of the most frequently asked questions of authors is why they began writing. Their answers range from “I wrote my first story when I was five and I’ve been writing ever since” to “There are characters inside my head that were dying to be heard.”
At a recent writers’ conference my answer to this question invoked a couple of throat clearings, several red faces, and a lot of shuffling in chairs. I guess I’d hit a nerve.
“Boredom,” I said. “That’s why I began writing.”
The panel’s moderator gave me a sharp look.
Okay, at this point you—and the rest of the audience—can be excused for jumping to conclusions. Here I was, a reasonably well-dressed, middle-aged woman who clearly needed something to fill her time between hairdresser’s appointments, coffee klatches, and neighborhood cocktail parties.
Except you’d be wrong.
When I began writing I was a newly divorced mom with three kids at home, a massive mortgage, and two jobs that barely covered my expenses. One of those jobs was editorial assistant at a children’s publisher.
I worked in the super secret “New Products Department” and it was so secret that nobody else in the company knew what we did. Half the time, we didn’t either, but it involved lots of closed-door meetings, clandestine mutterings in the corridors, and much speculation around the water cooler. When my boss was in the office, I was busy. When he wasn’t there, I had nothing to do.
So when he was laid up in bed for three weeks with a slipped disc, I was bored witless. My workload dwindled to a ten-minute meeting at his bedside every morning. To keep from going crazy, I asked if I could help out in other departments.
“No,” he said, through gritted teeth.
The poor guy was in a lot of pain.
“Why not?” I said.
“Because they’ll find out what we’re doing.”
“I promise not to tell them,” I said. At that point, our top secret project was a series of index cards on make-up tips for teens by a celebrity model with legs like a giraffe, tangles of blond hair, and teeth that were whiter than they needed to be.
My boss groaned. “I can’t risk it.”
“So what should I do?” I said, feeling cross that he didn’t trust me enough to keep my mouth shut. “I’m sitting outside your office doing absolutely nothing while everyone else is swamped. People will talk.”
“So look busy,” he said. More gritted teeth, plus a few curses. “Pretend you’re working.”
“Write letters, a shopping list.” My boss plucked a book off his night table. “I’ve been trying to get through this miserable thing for six weeks,” he said, wincing. “Do me one better. Write a novel.”
So I did.
On their time-clock, their typewriter (it was the 80s, okay?), and their paper.
And then, sweet irony, I sold it to them for $1,500—a princely sum.
From that point, I was hooked on writing for life.
Want to read more from Maggie? Her book Painting Naked is available at a special pre-order price until the start of August.Tagged: authors, Books, boredom, fiction, publishing, publishing jobs, reading, top secret, writing
Posted July 26, 2012 by Anne
I’m a huge fan of having things beamed directly into my brain, so obviously podcasts are just about my favourite way to pass the time. Well, that and reading books. My favourite podcasts up until now have been largely pop culture-themed – This American Life, Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, all of the Slate podcasts (with the exception of the sports one because what? But if someone wants to make a good argument in favour of it I’m all ears), WNYC-created Alec Baldwin’s Here’s The Thing and RadioLab, and the always salacious Risk.
I’m even seduced by economics podcasts like Freakonomics, Planet Money and EconTalk. But up until very recently I’d avoided the world of book podcasts. Too much like work, perhaps. But I’ve been listening to a few lately, and am (predictably) addicted. These are my favourites, but I’m sure there are many more that I’m missing. So in the interests of filling up even more of my time, please make your book-ish podcast suggestions in the comments.
The Bookseller UK’s The Naked Book
This podcast does have a tendency to be a little ‘inside baseball’, but if you have any interest in the future of books and reading I highly recommend keeping an eye (ear?) on it. Philip Jones is the host, and he is joined by some of the most interesting people in the UK (and often US) book industry. It’s actually the podcast of a fortnightly radio show that is aired live in the UK, so there is usually input and questions from twitter and forums.
Joanna Penn is a thriller author and entrepreneur who has written, published and marketed several books. Her podcast is a must-listen for anyone with writerly aspirations. I listen to it because it gives a different perspective on the publishing industry to the one I’m usually faced with, and great insight into what it is like to be an author. Joanna is completely unaffected, and she is open and honest about her process. I like her interviews because she has no pretensions and covers exactly what I would want to ask of her guests.
While not technically a book podcast, it is story-based, so it totally counts. If you’ve never heard of The Moth, remedy this immediately. They also have a YouTube channel so you can watch the storytellers as well as hear them (but I prefer doing it the old-fashioned podcast-y way).
Ditto. Hosted by the excellent Isaiah Scheffer, these are short stories written by some of my favourite writers (including recently Richard Ford, Jennifer Egan and Etgar Keret) and performed by some of the best actors that New York City has to offer.
Two publishing types (Random House US employees, but I don’t hold that against them) talking everything book-y. Reviews, events, book creation and authors, they cover it all – and always have the inside word on the next big book to set the literary world abuzz, just before it hits.
Slate’s The Afterword
An in-depth discussion with authors of non-fiction books. Interesting interviews, and the host June Thomas has such a lovely accent that no matter what they’re talking about I’m always fascinated by the conversation.
Some of my favourite twitter personalities feature on this, with Rebecca Schinsky from Bookriot and recently Jon Page from Sydney’s own Pages and Pages Booksellers talking about the books they’re reading, and then delving into larger topics centred around books and reading. Conversational and fun, with great insight and tips about interesting book-ish sites and blogs.
As you might have guessed from the pic of Archer up top, we’re tossing around the idea of doing our own book-ish podcast at Momentum. Stay tuned for more details (ie stay tuned to find out whether I ever figure out what lead to plug in where), and in the meantime let me know which excellent podcasts I’ve missed.Tagged: Alec Baldwin, Books, ebooks, economics, Joanna Penn, Marc Maron, non-fiction, Philip Jones, podcast, reading, Shorts, slate, The Bookseller, The Moth, writing
Posted April 13, 2012 by Mark
1. I’ve never listened to an audiobook
Despite all my favourite podcasts now telling me to, I haven’t yet. I think the podcast people are getting into bed with the wrong sponsors. I have very little time these days to listen to podcasts, and if I were to buy an audiobook I would listen to it in podcast time. ‘Podcast time’, sounds like I set aside a little bit of time to make a cup of tea, put on my comfy slippers, sit outside in the sun, maybe have a cookie or a muffin and listen to podcasts. I don’t. I’m much cooler than that. I don’t own slippers. And I’m allergic to being outside for extended periods of time.
2. A book has never made me cry
I’m not a robot. I sobbed at the end of Toy Story 3. I cry when I’m given really thoughtful and heartfelt gifts. But I’ve never been reduced to tears by a book. I read a lot and quite widely. I don’t know what it is that has stopped me, perhaps my relationship to books is somehow disconnected from my emotions? I don’t know. Although most of the books I read are about space/aliens/robots/psychopaths/ or some combination of the four.
3. I’ve never sat in a bar in France, smoking a Gauloise while reading a paperback on philosophy
You can’t smoke at bars in France anymore so that one is so off the list.
4. I’ve never read anything by Jane Austen
…and it’s not because I’m a man. People keep telling me to read Jane Austen and because I’m a miserable contrarian, I have to do the opposite. Plus I think she’d be against the whole ebook thing.
My friend: “You can’t be a book lover and not read any Jane Austen. Here, borrow my copy of Persuasion.”
Me: “Thanks for the offer, but I’m busy reading this book where Abraham Lincoln fights a Triceratops*.”
My friend: “Well, when you’ve finished that book, why not try Pride and Prejudice?”
Me: “I don’t know. Mr. Darcy getting out of a lake with his shirt all wet isn’t my thing.”
My friend: *sigh* “He’s so dreamy.”
5. I’ve never enjoyed a book so much that I started reading it again, immediately after finishing it
Who has the time? There are books I love that I keep coming back to, but never straight away. I’m not afraid to say that anyone who tells you they’ve done this is a liar and shouldn’t be trusted around your young children.
6. I’ve never read a series of books in one go
There always has to be a healthy gap between books in the same series. There’s a whole world of stories out there and I often feel like I’m missing out when I spend too long with one author. This is also known as ‘the George R.R. Martin rule’.
7. I’ve never borrowed a book that I didn’t return
[I wanted to find an image of two people laughing while they exchange a book. But after literally minutes of searching I couldn't find one. Use your imagination.]
That’s right, I’m the most trustworthy book borrower on the planet. If you loan me a book, BAM! I read it and return it ASAP. Please note, that by ASAP, I mean I’m lying. It takes ages.
To all my friends who want to say ‘hey you still have my copy of [blank]‘, please don’t leave a comment below.
*this is actually a real book.Tagged: Books, reading