06-21-12:Live Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson at Capitola Book Café, June 16, 2012
"...it's a somewhat Utopian situation in space, and still a somewhat grim and screwed up situation on Earth..."
—Kim Stanley Robinson
In the statement above, is Kim Stanley Robinson describing the present or the future? That's not an easy call until you hear it in context. In this case, the future as written in his latest novel '2312' is certainly an outgrowth of the present, and there is more than enough "funhouse mirror" material in the novel to let you know Robinson has a lot to say about how things are here in the present.
It has been almost a year since I last spoke with Robinson and it was ever so kind of him to battle apocalyptic traffic to make it to the Capitola Book Café for a live conversation about his latest novel, '2312.' For a book that is chock-a-block with ambition, it is a really a racing, bracing read; I read most of it in a single day. That should signal readers that Robinson is hitting the sweet spot with both content and pacing. This is big-idea science fiction that doubles as pacey thriller.
06-20-12 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 49: Richard Ford, 'Canada'
Click image for audio link.
Here's the forty-ninth episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.
My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.
The forty-ninth episode is a look at Richard Ford, 'Canada.'
"...a story which was about the wild, wild, very beautiful thrilling inventions..."
I've wanted to speak with Peter Carey for quite some time now; longer than I actually knew. When I saw that he would be in town for his latest novel, 'The Chemistry of Tears,' I made sure to get in the queue before I even had a chance to find out what the book was about.
The book turns out to be tailor made for my sensibilities, with a measured, artful dose of the fantastic and a basis in reality. The mcguffin at the heart of 'The Chemistry of Tears' is based on The Digesting Duck, a real automaton created in 1738 by Jacques de Vaucanson. But Carey has a lot more on his mind than historical fiction. He sets his controls for the center of the human heart.
As I did a bit of research for the interview, I learned that Carey's first novel, 'Bliss,' was the basis for a 1985 movie that I had seen when it first came out and never forgotten. Carey himself co-wrote the screenplay with director Ray Lawrence. It's the story of a man who briefly dies as the result of a heart attack, and upon being resuscitated, believes that he is in Hell. It's hard to argue with that sort of logic.
Talking with Carey was a bit too easy, as we ran rather long. Howard, the engineer at KQED, is ever too kind in this regard. Carey told me about the "sci-fi B-Movie" premise from which the book began its life, and the very real fears that literally drove its creation. Even though the novel is not particularly historical, there certainly was a bit of research required to get the clockwork right. You can hear Peter Carey and I have a bit too much fun by following this link to the MP3 audio file.
New to the Agony Column
09-18-15: Commentary : William T. Vollman Amidst 'The Dying Grass' : An Epic Exploration of Simultaneity
08-21-15: Agony Column Podcast News Report : Senator Claire McCaskill is 'Plenty Ladylike' : Internalizing Determination to Overcome Sexism [Incudes Time to Read EP 211: Claire McCaskill, Plenty Ladylike, plus A 2015 Interview with Senator Claire McCaskill]
Agony Column Podcast News Report : Emily Schultz Unleashes 'The Blondes' : A Cure by Color [Incudes Time to Read EP 210: Emily Schultz, The Blondes, plus A 2015 Interview with Emily Schultz]