04-14-13 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 93: Stephen Kessler, 'Scratch Pegasus'
Click image for audio link.
Here's the ninety-third episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the one-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning.
04-09-13:Matt Richtel Reads at SF in SF on February 9, 2013
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"I'm much more interested in the mental miasma..."
You might have run across the work of Matt Richtel in a variety of ways. If you're lucky, and you read a daily newspaper, and your newspaper carries the strip Rudy Park, then you've found his work as a comic strip creator. For many, that in itself would be enough; a comic strip that follows the lives in an Internet Café could easily be a life's calling.
But that's just one layer of Richtel's work. His "day job," so to speak is working as a reporter for the New York Times. Readers of this column are likely to have heard about, if not read, his technology reporting. His series, "Our Brain On Computers" looked at the way we use tech — and the way it uses us, changing not just our behavior, but the way we think, the sorts of thoughts it is possible for us to have, and even the physical brain itself. File these under "Real Life Horror Non-Fiction."
He won his Pulitzer Prize for a 2009 series of articles about the dangers of trying to drive and do every other damn thing in the world at the same time. (To my mind, a drive-thru burger is just about as dangerous as a cell phone in the wrong hands.) Richtel writes the sort of news stories that are about things we actually do and, upon being published, change those things, generally for the better. (There are probably those who talk on their hands-free cell phone while eating the burger, alas.)
And in his grand spare time, Richtel writes novels, science-fiction horror novels set in the here-and-now that have the disquieting ring of truth. It is, after all, just a short leap from reporting on how technology changes us to extrapolating worst-case scenarios. Readers of his novels might wish he were less well-informed. Plausibility is only a plus when the monsters we read about are not waiting to enter our skulls and devour our brains from within. Presumably, we lost that battle with the advent of television, but hope reigns eternal in the gullible minds of those who might find the similarity between enthralled and in thrall disturbing.
And here we have SF in SF doing what it does so well, bringing writers to readers and having the writers read their own work to an audience ... in thrall. You can hear the hypnotic voice of Matt Richtel filling your mind with post-hypnotic suggestions involving your estate and charity giving by following this link to the MP3 audio file.
04-08-13:A 2013 Interview with Ruth Ozeki
"...through the act of writing, she would somehow conjure the reader into being..."
— Ruth Ozeki
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ruth Ozeki at the Capitola Book Café, in the morning before she appeared to talk about her new novel 'A Tale for the Time Being.' My little studio in their tiny back office was already set up when she arrived, so we sat down and I had her read the beginning of the novel.
It was amazing to hear Ozeki read, to hear her bring the voice of Nao alive with such ease. It was a transformation, an instantiation, a bringing-into-being that was accomplished with complete ease. In a trice, she handed the book back to me and we began to speak. The effect was something like stepping from one reality into another.
The novel seems so intricately woven and immaculately conceived that hearing the story behind its creation is nearly as interesting as the story itself, and to a degree, given the self-referential nature of the story, that's to be expected. It's fascinating to hear the many worlds that night have resulted had Ozeki take any one of a number of different turns in the course of creating 'A Tale for the Time Being.'
Apparently, none of the interviewers she had spoken to hade twigged to what seemed to me to be a major element in the novel. I really don't know whether that is to be attributed to the fact that perhaps other simply did not want to see those elements, or did not consider them important, or perhaps unseemly, that is, un-literary to discuss. I was happy to discuss these aspects with Ozeki, to the degree we were able to without stepping on the reading experience.
And that was the true goal of this conversation, to offer readers and listeners insights that would enhance their reading experiences whether they read the book before or after they heard the interview. We'll give listeners clues about the novel, but you'll want to read it yourself if you want to explore the world anew; and that's entirely in keeping with this wonderful novel.
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]