Friday, March 15, 2024

Comic Cuts

Let's talk about a classic of science fiction:
"Not long got back home to discover a copy of Steve Holland's latest magnum opus – I should say, mega-magnum opus – his history and study of Badger Books, BEYOND THE VOID. This is astonishing as it not only looks at the whole history of Badger Books – not just the sf and supernatural series but everything else – war, westerns, hospital romances etc etc – and goes into great detail revealing many identities behind pseudonyms and reproducing masses of covers and illustrations. No self-respecting collection should be without this.  Well done, Steve. An astonishing job." — Mike Ashley, 8 March 2024.

Yes, BEYOND THE VOID is officially on sale, although I've set the publication date as 25 March so that I have a chance to get some copies in hand and get some others distributed to people who have taken me up on my pre-publication offer of 10% off the cover price.

So a couple of copies bound for America went in the post on Tuesday (Mike, to whom the book was dedicated, got one of the early copies) and others will be ordered up from the printer over the next few days. I have an order in for copies that will be heading here so that I have copies to hand to take to the Book Fair on 24 March, but they'll be in limited supply. Best get your order in sooner rather than later.

I'll also be taking copies of THE TRIALS OF HANK JANSON to the Fair, including a small number of hardbacks. I have three left, so if you want one let me know sooner rather than later.

A copy of Sinister House has arrived from Stark House Press, who rescue out of print hard boiled crime novels. Publisher Graham Shepard got in touch in May 2023 asking if he could reprint a Bear Alley post as an introduction; instead, I revamped the whole thing so that Greg had something new to print. It proved to be an interesting story, as Booth was British-born but lived most of his life in Canada and the USA, becoming a  naturalized American citizen in 1927.

Sinister House (1926) was his first novel, a mystery, but I've argued that his use of dialogue and criminal argot makes him one of the first hard-boiled writers, following in the footsteps of Carroll John Daly, who penned what is recognised as the first hard-boiled story in 1922 and created the first hard-boiled detective in Race Williams. Booth's novels were mysteries and thrillers rather than hard-boiled, some even featuring a comical French policeman, and his eight novels are all but forgotten today. He was probably better known as a screenwriter, and he won the Academy Award for The House on 92nd Sttreet (1945).

The book came out in February, meaning the intro. takes the prize for being the first piece of mine published in 2024, although that is going to be immediately followed by BEYOND THE VOID and, very shortly, by FORGOTTEN AUTHORS Volume 5. I think I had 17 pieces published last year, and one book (THE TRIALS OF HANK JANSON), and I'm hoping to beat that total this year.

On Wednesday I finished compiling the index to FORGOTTEN AUTHORS Volume 5, so the text is now complete. All I have to do is sort out a cover. I have an idea what to do, but it will depend a lot on whether I can get some good photographs. Wish me luck. I still need to get printed proofs, so we're not quite finished yet.

Wednesday and Thursday were Dune days. We re-watched the first part of Denis Villeneuve's mighty (and sandy) saga on Wednesday evening and we're off to see part two at the cinema this evening. I re-watched  Blade Runner 2049 earlier in the week and Arrival not so long back. Villeneuve must be the best director of SF movies around at the moment, which makes me hope that, once he's done with Dune** he'll get back to Rendezvous with Rama. Good as that might be, I still think Eon by Greg Bear would make a fantastic movie or TV series... it, too, starts with a Big Object arriving in the solar system, a la Rama, and would tie in nicely with another of Villeneuve's upcoming projects, Cleopatra (you'll have to read the novel to see why).

(** He's writing part three at the moment, but has no intention of taking the story further... only Alejandro Jodorowsky should be allowed to tackle the mess that the later series became (I gave up after Dune and Dune Messiah)

It's six-fifteen Thursday evening at the moment and I'm due at the cinema at eight, so I'm going to have to bring this to a close.

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