Aloha From Hell is the long-awaited third volume in Richard Kadrey's hard-boiled, kick-ass supernatural horror series Sandman Slim (the other two being the Satanic revenge novel Sandman Slim and the hard-boiled zombie thriller Kill the Dead). The series' hero, Stark (AKA "Sandman Slim"), was a wild-talent magician whose jealous coven sent him from LA to Hell, where he spent 20 years fighting hellions in a gladiator pit by day and assassinating the princes of Hell by night. When he escaped to Earth and discovered that his nemesis Mason had killed his beloved Alice, he exacted slow and brutal revenge on the whole magic circle -- except Mason, whose power had grown and who had seemingly disappeared from the universe and zipped it up behind him.
In Aloha, Stark has finally started to recover from his time in Hell, to become something better than "the monster who kills monsters" -- in other words, he's losing his edge. He's falling in love (with another monster, of course), and has taken up hobbies (like cat burglaring with the immortal alchemist Vidocq, who invented forensic science 150 years ago, just before he figured out how to infinitely extend his life and switched to thieving).
But Stark isn't compatible with peace (even relative peace), and it's not long before Stark finds himself embroiled in a new adventure: an exorcism of a rich kid in Studio City, assisted by a defrocked priest who dabbles in Cthulhuism. And as has been the pattern in the other two books, every complication reveals itself to be the work of Mason, Stark's old archnemesis, who has been bottled up in Hell, but hasn't let that get him down -- he's made lemonade out of his lemons and is organizing the legions of Hell under his banner in a plot to storm Heaven and destroy the universe. Read the rest
Welcome to the second half of the 2010 Boing Boing Gift Guide, where we pick out some of our favorite books from the last year (and beyond) to help you find inexpensive holiday gifts for friends and family. Can you guess who chose a Sarah Palin book?
Tom Waits and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band recorded a pair of songs to benefit the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program and they're releasing them as a limited-edition 78RPM album. Donate $200 and you can get a gorgeous, custom 78RPM record player to go with it (alas, the first-day sales are limited to in-person customers at Preservation Hall in NOLA, and I'm guessing everything will be snapped up for eBay resale by the time the official online sales open up the next day).
I'm really interested in the creative use of premium physical objects that trade on the value of digital art. It seems to me that the more widely copied and well-loved a digital piece is, the more the limited physical premium will be. Alas, many of the physical premiums offered by bands and authors and so on look like they came out of a Skymall catalog. But stuff like this, well, it's so far in my sweet spot that I'm wondering if I can get back to NOLA for the sale.
Mr. Waits traveled to New Orleans in 2009 to record two songs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the critically acclaimed project Preservation: An album to benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program, "Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing" , and "Corrine Died On The Battlefield". Originally recorded by Danny Barker in 1947, these two selections are the earliest known recorded examples of Mardi Gras Indian chants.
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The two tracks will now be packaged in a special limited edition 78 rpm format record, each signed and numbered by Preservation Hall Creative Director Ben Jaffe.
Richard Kadrey's Kill the Dead
is the sequel to his 2009 hard-boiled supernatural thriller Sandman Slim
, and it's everything a sequel should be; that is, more
Sandman Slim was one of the most hardboiled, hard-assed novels I'd ever read. James "Sandman Slim" Stark was banished to Hell by the betrayers in his magic circle. In Hell, Stark fought in the gladiator pits and was hired out as a contract killer by demons. Once he escapes hell and returns to LA, he wreaks absolutely terrible revenge on the members of the circle who betrayed him, beats the shit out of skinheads and minor demons, and generally is as badass as any three antiheroes combined.
Kill the Dead is more: more hardboiled, more badass. More bodies. More monsters. More drama. More sex. More porn stars. More universe at risk. In this book, Sandman Slim has settled into a post-universe-saving rut, living in a second-rate video-store on the Sunset Strip with a decapitated head (it rides around on an eight-legged steampunk skateboard and drinks beer and pisses it out its neck). But then Lucifer shows up and demands that Stark work for him as personal bodyguard while some studio exec who sold his soul to the Dark Prince produces a biopic of his life. Stark's not just working for Lucifer; he's also a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security's angelic justice squad, and they bring him in to work a gruesome killing (or possibly a suicide: the victim was an autophage pervert and it's possible he died by feeding his member too enthusiastically to a demon called an "eater"). Read the rest
Spanish graphic novelists Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido created their hardboiled, anthropomorphic animal comic Blacksad for the French market in 2000, producing three full-length stories over the next five years (Spanish editions were published shortly after the French market). The individual stories have been published in English, but now, for the first time, Dark Horse has collected them all in a single volume.
In the hands of a lesser writer and artist, Blacksad would be a trite furry joke -- anthropomorphic cat/hard-boiled detective solves crime in an alternate America populated by other anthropomorphic animals. But Blacksad is superb: Guarnido uses the animals as totems, to expand the range of expression into expressive realms that make the story more gripping and immediate, despite the fantasy element. And Canales keeps puns and double entendres to a minimum, airbrushing in the faintest references to the animal natures of the players, to excellent effect.
The three noir stories here are classics of the form: in Somewhere in the Shadows, a rich and powerful man offs his lover and gets away clean; in Arctic Nation, white supremacist demagogues kidnap a poor girl; in Red Soul, the Communist witch-hunt overshadows a story of murder and betrayal. They could be straight out of Hammett or Chandler, but for the fact that the players on the stage are humanoid lizards, cats, dogs, bears, frogs, and so on.
The improbable fit between the grim theme and the silly conceit is what makes this such a standout, more than the sum of its parts. Read the rest
Mark and I have rounded up some of our favorite items from our 2009 Boing Boing reviews for the second-annual Boing Boing gift guide. We'll do one a day for the next six days, covering media (music/games/DVDs), gadgets and stuff, kids' books, novels, nonfiction, and comics/graphic novels/art books. Today, it's novels!
Makers (Cory Doctorow):
Technology lets low-cost providers take market share away from established companies, as Detroit auto makers and Paris fashion house designers have seen. Even high-tech companies have a hard time building sustainable businesses now that good ideas are copied so quickly that they become commodities.
In a time of great change, fiction can sometimes provide better understanding than facts alone. "As the pace of technological change accelerates, the job of the science fiction writer becomes not harder, but easier--and more necessary," he writes. "After all, the more confused we are by our contemporary technology, the more opportunities there are to tell stories that lessen that confusion."
L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal
Full review | Purchase
The Strain: Book One
of The Strain Trilogy Someone said The Strain is a
combination of The Stand, Invasion of the Body
Snatchers, and I am Legend, which I'd say is a pretty
fair way of describing it. The first chapter is about an airplane that
lands at JFK from Germany and goes completely dark on the runway. It's
so creepy that when I told my wife and daughter about it *they* got
creeped out just from my description. Read the rest
Last month I blogged about Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim, a glorious, gritty revenge novel from hell
, tinged with Aleister Crowley, Tom Waits and Raymond Chandler. Sandman Slim, AKA Stark, is one of Los Angeles's magicians, and 11 years ago, his fellow magicians sent him to hell because they were jealous of his power. He's spent the past 11 years fighting in Hell's gladiator pits and working as an assassin for one of Hell's Dukes, but now he has escaped to Earth and is on a quest to hunt down and execute his betrayers.
I've just finished listening to the unabridged, 10-hour audiobook of Sandman Slim, which is available on a single MP3 CD without DRM from Brilliance Audio. The reading is performed by Macleod Andrews, who does the narration in a perfect whiskey voice that's 80 percent Tom Waits, 20 percent Clint Eastwood. The performance and production are marvellous, a great interpretive reading that really brought the novel to life for me. I also love that I could get it without having to suffer through either DRM through one of the audiobook download stores or through ripping ten CDs' worth of material, which is how I normally get my audiobooks onto my computer.
Sandman Slim Audiobook MP3 CD
Kadrey's SANDMAN SLIM: a hard-boiled revenge novel from Hell
Kadrey and Shaw Live - Boing Boing
Kadrey and Shaw Live - Boing Boing
Kadrey's Butcher Bird -- free download - Boing Boing
Kadrey online - Boing Boing
Boing Boing: Kadrey's Butcher Bird: Dante meets RE/Search
Boing Boing: Kadrey's cyberpunk video podcast
Pithy thoughts from Richard Kadrey, - Boing Boing
Kadrey's latest novel as free PDF - Boing Boing
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Richard Kadrey's new novel Sandman Slim
is the most hard-boiled piece of supernatural fiction I've ever had the pleasure of reading. William Gibson says it's a "deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece" and that's just right.
Eleven years ago, James Stark was banished to hell by his circle of magic buddies, betrayed by his supposed friends for the crime of being a better magician than them. For eleven years, he's suffered hell's torments as Azazel's mortal slave, first made to fight in the pits and then turned into an assassin. And now he's escaped hell by stabbing himself in the heart with a key that opens every lock, and he's returned to Los Angeles to seek his vengeance on the magicians who betrayed him. He hunts them across a demon-infested Los Angeles, dishing out and receiving relentless, graphic violence, determined to take his revenge and then die and leave the Earth behind forever.
In another writer's hands, this might be just another of those gonzo-funny books about demons and magic and so forth, an over-the-top, ironic novel that eschews horror for yuks.
But Kadrey's Stark is hard-boiled -- not just self-conscious and wise-cracking, but bereft of hope, burning with anger, without any of that self-reflexive, cutesy stuff that writers put in when they're worried about sounding like a poseur. Kadrey's not worried. In the way that Lovecraft's best work is totally unapologetic about the horrors of hell, in the way that Chandler is totally unapologetic about his antiheroes who inhabit a world without redemption or light, Kadrey's Stark is in a living hell, and he hurts, and he will make other people hurt, and he will not stop. Read the rest
(Rudy Rucker is a guestblogger. His latest novel, Hylozoic, describes a postsingular world in which everything is alive.)
I saw Richard Kadrey and Heather Shaw reading at the SF in SF series this weekend.
The readings were good and somewhat cyberpunk/urban-fantasy. Heather read her story "LIttle M@tch Girl," and Richard read from his Sandman Slim novel, due out in July, 2009.
"Little M@tch Girl," by the way, exists online, but in the context of incredibly weird zine called Tumbarumba. In order to read the stories in Tumbarumba, you go to their site, download a Firefox add-on, and wait for random story scraps to show up on pages that you're browsing. If you click on one of the story scraps you get more of the story in question. Not exactly the kind of presentation that most writers would pick! I'm kind of hoping to see "Little M@tch Girl" in an easier-to-access format one of these days...
Before the reading we had dinner at a place near this great collaborative graffiti mural at 2nd St. and Minna St. in San Francisco.
I dig that savage alien fire hydrant. "Bad dog!" Read the rest