Tag Archives: J.C. Hutchins

Autumnal Equinox 2009: The Fall of the Summer Reading List

I’ve been updating the status of various books on this list since shortly after I first published my 2009 Summer Reading List. This post is scheduled to be published at 5:18pm on the 22nd of September, the official start of Fall. Let’s see how much reading I actually got done this summer…

Finished

  1. Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow.

    Rating: ★★★½☆ 

  2. The Touch by F. Paul Wilson.

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

  3. Glasshouse by Charles Stross.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ 

  4. His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire · Book 1) by Naomi Novik.

    Rating: ★★★★★ 

  5. Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Audio; narrated by William Dufris).

    Rating: ★★★★☆ 

  6. Lamb by Christopher Moore.

    Rating: ★★★★½ 

  7. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Audio; narrated by Simon Prebble).

    Rating: ★★★★★ 

  8. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ 

  9. The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (Audio; narrated by Ron Perlman).

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

  10. WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Audio; various narrators).

    Rating: ★★★★☆ 

  11. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (Audio; narrated by Marguerite Gavin).

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

  12. The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ 

  13. Paranoia by Joseph Finder (Audio; narrated by Scott Brick).

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

  14. Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout.

    Rating: ★★★½☆ 

  15. The Destroyer #14: Judgment Day by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir.

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

  16. The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ 

In Progress

  1. Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Audio; narrated by Bianca Amato).

Not Yet Started

  1. Throne of Jade (Temeraire · Book 2) by Naomi Novik.
  2. Personal Effects: Dark Art by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman.
  3. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi.

Not too shabby, overall. My peculiar flavor of attention deficit disorder came into play, as I expected it would, and I read or started to read several titles that weren’t on the original list. I also failed to even start a handful from the original list, but maybe I’ll get around to them this fall. Speaking of fall, here (in no particular order) is the 2009 Fall Reading List:

  1. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (Audio; narrated by Lyndam Gregory).
  2. The Devil You Know by Mike Carey.
  3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
  4. Batman: The Stone King by Alan Grant.
  5. Black Powder War (Temeraire · Book 3) by Naomi Novik.
  6. Broken Crescent by S. Andrew Swann.
  7. Furies of Calderon (The Codex Alera · Book 1) by Jim Butcher.
  8. Fool Moon (The Dresden Files · Book 2) by Jim Butcher.
  9. Condemned to Repeat It: The Philospher Who Flunked Life and Other Great Lessons from History by Wick Allison, Jeremy Adams and Gavin Hambly.
  10. Ill Wind by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason.
  11. The Two Faces of Tomorrow by James P. Hogan.

Summer Reading List 2009

I’m taking a page from Ken Newquist‘s book (or rather, his blog and podcast) to present my Summer Reading List. As we’re well into the season, the list includes books I’ve read since late June, those I am currently reading, and those I intend to read before summer comes to a close. The last of these three lists is—to put it lightly—mutable, as which book I pick up next is subject more to whim than design.

Pages Past

  • Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow. During World War II, a B-movie actor is hired to play the part of a giant, fire-breathing lizard in order to convince the Japanese to surrender or have a trio of Godzilla-like creatures unleashed on their cities.
  • The Touch by F. Paul Wilson. The third installment of The Adversary Cycle tells the tale of a doctor who suddenly gains the ability to heal with a touch. It wouldn’t be a medical thriller if there weren’t a terrible price to pay. This isn’t my preferred genre, but I enjoyed The Keep and The Tomb, so I thought I’d continue the cycle; The Touch isn’t anywhere near as creepy as its predecessors, but it’s a pretty entertaining tale.
  • Glasshouse by Charles Stross. In a far-flung future where technology makes changing your gender, race, and even species as commonplace as changing your shirt, and humanity has been through a great Censorship War, Robin wakes with no memory of his past and a killer on his tail. How much of what makes you you is determined by your physical being, your memories, and your relationships with other people? This was really a fascinating read.
  • His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi NovikHis Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire · Book 1) by Naomi Novik. During the Napoleonic Wars, the H.M.S. Reliant, a British naval vessel, captures a French ship and siezes a most unusual cargo: a dragon’s egg. When the dragon hatches and bonds to Will Laurence, the Reliant’s captain must leave the Navy behind for His Majesty’s Air Corps. I love Novik’s writing style and the relationship that forms between the dragon, Temeraire, and Laurence is beautifully executed. This is definitely my favorite book of the summer so far.
  • Anathem (Audio) by Neal Stephenson. The audio version of this lengthy tome consists of twenty-eight compact discs and took me eleven weeks to complete. As Chris Miller pointed out to me, Neal Stephenson doesn’t so much write novels as essays stitched together with bits of story. Much time is spent explaining how the world in which Anathem takes place is different from our own, complete with excerpts from The Dictionary (4th Edition, A.R. 3000) that mark the beginning of each of the eleventy-three thousillion chapters. Anathem follows Fraa Erasmas of the concent of Saunt Edhar as he ventures out into the sæcular world during (and after) Apert. And to explain every term in that sentence would require more space than I’m willing to devote to a single bullet point right now.

Pages Present

  • Lamb by Christopher MooreLamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. The Bible doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail where the first thirty years of Christ’s life are concerned, and now Levi (who is called Biff) has been resurrected by the angel Raziel to fill in the gaps. Chris Miller and I will be discussing this somewhat-apocryphal gospel on a future episode of The Secret Lair.
  • The Strain (Audio) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Vampires!
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Audio) by Susanna Clarke. Magicians!
  • The Way of Shadows (Book 1 of The Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks. Assassins! (Sorry: wetboys.)

Pages Future

Finally, here is a fourth list, which may be considered a bonus by some and entirely excessive by others. I have been using GoodReads to track my ever-expanding library and hummingbirdlike reading habits, but there are a number of similar sites and as I become aware of one I can’t help but set up an account and import at least a portion of my books, just to see how it compares to the others. Here is a list of said sites (I don’t claim it is comprehensive, and if you know of another please leave a comment with a link to it.) that I’ve been using recently, in the order I joined:

  1. GoodReads. Very well put together. The interface is generally very intuitive, though management of group “shelves” could be enhanced. GoodReads is, unfortunately, ad-supported.
  2. Readernaut. My favorite of the bunch so far. Pages aren’t as “busy” as those on GoodReads or LibraryThing and there’s a lot of flexibility around tweaking books (I especially like that I can upload my own cover images). Pages tend to render poorly on some installations of Internet Explorer. Readernaut is not currently ad-supported.
  3. Shelfari. My least favorite by quite a large margin. I’m not a fan of the default “shelf” layout and though the add/edit book interface is nice and streamlined, it is also rather limited. Shelfari is ad-supported.
  4. LibraryThing. I haven’t played with this one very much, but I do like that there is space for BookCrossing IDs (though it’s been months since I last logged in to BookCrossing) and they seem to pack in a lot of information about individual titles. LibraryThing is not ad-supported, but offers both free and subscription-based models, so I can only assume that the size of my library (as a free user) has a limit.

Non Sequitur: Fun Facts (Round 1)

Recently, I spouted a series of “facts” about some of the folks I converse with on Twitter. In their original form, these all contained 140 characters or less. For ease of use today I have expanded the names of the Factees, so some individual facts may exceed the 140-character limit.

BONUS QUEST: Savvy readers might be able to determine the impetus for this exercise in lunacy if they examine the list carefully.

  • FUN FACT: Sam Chupp has not one but two arms, each with a five-fingered hand at the end. Individually, the hands are incapable of clapping.
  • FUN FACT: Jared Axelrod can go from clean-shaven to a goatee in seven minutes flat if he concentrates.
  • FUN FACT: Chris Miller once stabbed a minor Internet celebrity in the face…WITH HIS EYES!
  • FUN FACT: J.C. Hutchins loses all his super powers if he sees the color chartreuse, but only if it is actually Pantone® 14-0445.
  • FUN FACT: Contrary to popular belief, Bob is not married to the daughter of a prominent Mafia Don…ANYMORE.
  • FUN FACT: Evo Terra would just as soon kill you as look at you, but in actuality HE DOES NOT WANT TO LOOK AT YOU.
  • FUN FACT: Kris Johnson had a triple-shot venti mocha from Starbucks after lunch, and now his BRAIN IS ON FIRE.
  • FUN FACT: Ken Newquist has never been within arm’s length of an extraterrestrial being, but only because he has RIDICULOUSLY SHORT ARMS.
  • FUN FACT: Ivan has a removable face, used to switch expressions and show emotion, but he never changes it because he is ALWAYS ANGRY.
  • FUN FACT: Mur Lafferty once wrote a romance novel under the pseudonym Karyn Van Heusen. The title: LOVE’S FORBIDDEN FILLING.
  • FUN FACT: As a master of several forms of martial arts, Jason Penney knows 114 ways to immobilize a man, seven of them using JUST HIS GILLS.

SECRET BONUS QUEST: If you are extremely observant (and I suspect you are), you have already noticed that each of the names mentioned above is actually a hypertext link to another area of the Interwebs altogether. If I were to suggest that a CODED MESSAGE can be revealed by reading the fifth word of the most recent blog post (as of 18 January 2009) at or near each of these locations, I WOULD BE LYING. If I were to suggest that the first person to embark upon such a wild goose chase and comment here with the unscrambled message might win a prize of not-insignificant fabulosity, THAT WOULD ALSO BE A LIE. You should not do this. There is no message. There is no prize. Any effort you expend in attempting to glean such a message in order to attain such a prize would be UTTERLY WASTED. I am absolutely not kidding.

Podiobooks to Print: Brave Men Run by Matthew Wayne Selznick

Brave Men Run - I Will Be ThereMatthew Wayne Selznick‘s Brave Men Run: A Novel of the Sovereign Era is the latest podiobook to make the jump to the print market. The book will be released by Swarm Press this Sunday, 13 July 2008, and Matt has planned a day-long “Book Release Web-a-thon” to help promote sales on Amazon.com. There are plenty of details at the the book’s official site but the gist is this: beginning at 10am EST on Sunday and continuing every hour throughout the day, Matt will be streaming live video and reading new short stories set in the universe of his novels. Contributors include Mur Lafferty (Playing For Keeps), J.C. Hutchins (the 7th Son trilogy), Nathan Lowell (South Coast, Quarter Share) and other well-known podcasters and podiobook authors.

Brave Men Run is the story of Nate Charters, a teenaged boy who is about as far from normal as teenagers get: he looks different and he has abilities that he has kept hidden from his peers for his entire life. But when the existence of the so-called “Sovereigns” is announced on live television, Nate learns that he is not alone, and his life changes forever. Brave Men Run is a superhero coming-of-age story that doesn’t feel like it was lifted from the pages of a comic book, but rather like it was born in the halls of your own high school and on the streets of your home town.

Brave Men Run: A Novel of the Sovereign Era is still available as a free, serialized audiobook at Podiobooks.com, read by the author. The audio version was nominated for a Parsec Award in 2006.

A Major Award

First PrizeThere are days when you just have to put it all on the line, throw caution to the wind and go for it; you put your best out there and see whether it’s good enough. The sad fact of the matter is that no matter how hard we try, no matter how much effort we put forth, no matter how far beyond what is theoretically achievable we push ourselves, we’re going to fail. We simply can’t all be winners every day; it’s statistically impossible.

Do you think I’m going to let some statistician tell me what I can and cannot do? Hell, no! I’m going to raise my middle finger high to their bell curves, their means, their medians, and yes, even their modes. I am a walking, talking, blogging deviation, dammit! A non-standard deviation, at that! Mine all the data you want, math boy, it’ll do you no good: I do not compute!

Today, I did something that defied our mathematical understanding of the universe. I won the unwinnable. “Success against all odds” is my middle name. Okay, that’s not true. I mean, what kind of whack-job parents would name their kid “Kris Success against all odds Johnson”? That’s just stupid. My middle name is “Alan”, but it probably means “success against all odds” in Swahili. Either that or “crossbite”, but that’s beside the point; the point is that I won, baby. I won big time. A major award.

Which award would that be? Why, Funniest Tweet of the Day, of course. Awarded on a whenever-he-feels-like-it basis by novelist/podcaster J.C. Hutchins to the individual on Twitter who utters the single funniest thing ever uttered (that day, on Twitter), the Funniest Tweet of the Day grants the recipient fame, adoration and respect that will last a lifetime, or until J.C.’s award tweet scrolls off everyone’s front page, which ever comes first. That’s some serious Internet cred, folks. It’s not the same as street cred, but I live on a cul-de-sac, so my chances for street cred are few and far between.

Here’s the best part: I’m going to let you in on how I did it. That’s right, I’m going to tell you the secret of my success, and it’s not going to cost you a penny. You don’t need to buy my upcoming bestseller, The Utter Incompetent’s Handbook to the Funniest Tweet of the Day, (available in paperback at most major booksellers or as a pay-per-play downloadable audiobook) or attend one of my sold out seminars—I’m going to tell you right here and right now, for free.

Write this down on a sticky note and attach it to the mirror in your bathroom. Might as well write it on a dozen or so sticky notes, while you’re at it. Put one on the fridge and another on the edge of your computer monitor. Put two on the front door—one on each side—so it’s the last thing you see going out the door and the first thing you see coming in. Stick one on the center of the steering wheel in your car and another between your girlfriend’s shoulderblades. You get the idea.

This is what you’re writing on those sticky notes—and remember, penmanship counts, so don’t just scrawl it like you’re a doctor writing a prescription for Zanaprexinol, print it in nice, friendly, legible letters so you can read it later—the secret that’s going to set you off on the road to success: bring the funny.

That’s it. That’s all you need to know. If you keep that one thought—bring the funny—in the back of your mind every waking hour, you’ll be writing tweets that make J.C. Hutchins laugh in no time.

Okay, that’s a lie. Thinking about bringing the funny isn’t enough, you have to make it your credo, your entire way of life. You have to walk the funny, breathe the funny, eat the funny and crap the funny if you want to get a giggle out of The Hutch. It doesn’t matter where you are, what time it is, or what the circumstances may be, you have to be ready to bring the funny at all times, and that ain’t easy.

Take the Funniest Tweet of the Day, for example. By now, you’re probably wondering just what it was that made J.C. laugh so hard a smiley-faced JPEG shot out of his nose. Well, I’m not keeping anything close to the vest today, my friends. I’m going to tell you. That’s right, I’m not going to keep this award-winning tweet under wraps anymore.

Okay, I’m awake. Everyone roll for initiative.

That’s comic genius, right there, pure and simple. It just doesn’t get funnier than that. Not on Twitter. Not today.

I’m not going to explain it to you, not because what makes it funny is a secret—we’ve gone over this, that’s not how I roll today—but because dissecting the funny is like watching Spider-Man 3: it might seem like a good idea, but by the time you’re done you’ve died a little inside.

But I’ll tell you this: that tweet didn’t just happen. That tweet is the result of me striving every hour of every day to bring the funny. I work at it relentlessly. I could make a montage of me training like Rocky Balboa, but it would be a boring montage, because the funny isn’t like boxing. Training yourself to bring the funny doesn’t happen in a meat locker or on the stairs of a stadium, it happens in your head, and nobody wants to watch what’s going on in your head. No one is that twisted.

I won today. I beat the odds. You can, too, if you bring the funny. And if J.C. Hutchins follows you on Twitter. And he happens to be watching at just the right moment. The guy follows twelve hundred people, so your chances of him actually seeing your tweet, no matter how funny it may be, are pretty slim—maybe one in a twelve hundred. Statistics are a bitch, which is pretty much what I’ve been saying all along.

The Secret Lair: Comics, Clones, Books and Budding Rivalries

The Secret Lair - Overlord KrisThere’s plenty of activity over at The Secret Lair these days. We’ve posted our discussion on Richard K. Morgan’s Market Forces in the latest episode of The Secret Library, the donations from our loyal minions have completely covered the cost of our new Samson Zoom H2 mobile recorder, our promo has been played on some great podcasts (including J.C. Hutchins‘ UltraCreatives and Geek Radio Daily) and the comic strips just keep coming!

P.G. Holyfield, who apparently isn’t busy enough recording his own audionovel, has published some comics over at Bitstrips suggesting that things aren’t exactly rosy over at The Secret Lair. I couldn’t let that kind of impudence go unanswered, so I fired a shot across his bow. Unfortunately for Mr. Holyfiend, he couldn’t take the hint, and his continued poking and prodding has awakened the dragon. I am assured by a very reliable and trustworthy source that his uppance will soon come.

Rivalries aside (and Mr. Holyfiend has more than one), I’ve ventured into morally and bioethically challenging territory with a strip that addresses cloning. “Evil Kris” introduces a new character to The Secret Lair and brings up a very interesting question from my co-overlord, Mr. Miller.

Bitstrips: Evil Kris
image-891

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Artistic Propaganda has been busy creating comic strips the old fashioned way. The overlords and their rivals must leverage emerging technologies to bring the illustrated funny, but Natalie Metzger has something better than a drag-and-drop interface: loads and loads of talent. Episode 0002 of our web comic finds yours truly participating in a very dubious blood drive. Click the preview panel below to see the full comic (and yummy cookies!).

Blood Drive

I’ve seen the scripts for the next few episodes of the webcomic and I must admit that I’m very pleased with our Secretary of Artistic Propaganda. Ms. Metzger has quickly risen through the ranks of the various minions, pursuivants, lickspittles, lieutenants, lackeys, lobbyists, goons and thugs we employ at The Secret Lair and proven herself to be quite valuable. I have informed the Disposal Squad that they can stand down…for now.

What I’m Reading (February 2008 Edition)

Bloginatrix Lorelle van Fossen issued another of her blog challenges earlier this week: Blog about what you are reading, what you like to read, and why. I hesitated to take up the challenge because we’ve been talking about books and such a lot over at The Secret Lair, but then J.C. Hutchins took up the call and I thought I’d be a good little clone and follow suit.

What I’m Reading
Blood and Rust by S. A. SwiniarskiBlood and Rust by S.A. Swiniarski is actually two previously-published horror novels collected in one volume. Both stories are set in Cleveland, Ohio, but in different eras.

Raven, set in the present, is the story of a man who wakes up in a storm drain with no memory of how he got there or who he is. His investigation into the events leading up to his awakening reveal the horrible truth: somehow, in the last few days, he has become a vampire.

The Flesh, The Blood and The Fire is set in the late 1930s, after Safety Director Eliot Ness failed to capture the Cleveland Torso Murderer, a notorious serial killer who left more than a dozen decapitated, mutilated corpses in his wake. From the back cover text: …one Cleveland cop refused to give up the case. And his search led him down a bloody trail from the depths of the city’s shantytowns to the inner citadels of industrial power to the darkest parts of the human soul…

Swiniarski, who publishes science fiction novels under the name S. Andrew Swann, is a local author and Chris Miller (persuasive fellow that he is) talked me into buying Forests of the Night, the first book in Swann’s Moreau series (which now has four volumes) last winter. Looking at Swann’s bibliography, I realized that I’d read another of his books, The Dragons of the Cuyahoga, several years ago; so after finishing Forests of the Night I grabbed the sequel to Dragons: The Dwarves of Whiskey Island. Both were fun reads; enough so that I thought it might be worth giving his horror a try.

Spook Country by William GibsonSome people might consider this cheating, as I’m listening to Spook Country by William Gibson on CD, but I’m not going to argue the merits of listening to an unabridged audio production versus reading the actual text; I’m just going to enjoy the damn book.

The first Gibson novel I ever “read” was Virtual Light way back in the days when books on CD were a novelty but books on cassette were abundant at the local library and I was still driving a hand-me-down ’77 Mercury Marquis (ride-engineered by Lincoln-Mercury). My 30-minute commute to and from work was the perfect time to catch up on my reading, and I would go to the library check out any of the Recorded Books audiobooks if Frank Muller was the narrator. Unfortunately, Frank Muller was severely injured in a motorcycle accident several years ago and is no longer able to narrate; Spook Country is narrated by Robertson Dean. I’ve only listened to about 10 minutes of the first disc, so I can’t render even a partial review at this time, except to say that Dean seems like a good narrator.

Skein of Shadows by The Wandering MenSkein of Shadows by The Wandering Men is a book I’ve mentioned here before. At last year’s Con on the Cob I interviewed one of the authors, Brannon Hollingsworth, then pre-ordered a signed copy. The book arrived in the mail just before I went on The Great December Information Detoxification and I had every intention of reading it while on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As usual, I managed to get distracted by a host of other stuff and I find myself just over halfway through the book.

Skein of Shadows is five short works, each by a different author, that tell a single story. I really enjoyed “Vendetta”, “Fiend Fighter” and “Seaborn Sentinel” (by Nathan Ellsworth, Davis Riddle and Brannon Hall, respectively), but “The Bonds That Bind Us” by Corey Blankenship feels disconnected and has really slowed me down, to the point where I don’t look forward to picking the book up and continuing where I left off. This is unfortunate, because I’m very curious about the final story in the book, Brannon Hollingsworth’s “Tenet’s Tale”.

I Am America (And So Can You!)I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert is one of those rare books—along with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction—for which I’ll break my “no hardcovers” rule; the books just work better as hardcovers. Plus it was a Christmas gift.

I Am America is one of those books that can easily be read in little bits over the course of a few months, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. The humor is an extension of what Colbert does Monday through Thursday on The Colbert Report, complete with margin notes that duplicate the ironic bullet points on “The Wørd”.

What I Like To Read (and Why)

  • Science Fiction – No surprise there. As a child of Star Wars I tend to prefer the more fantastical sci-fi to the hard stuff. I’m in the definite majority minority of people who prefer Kevin J. Anderson’s Star Wars novels to those written by Timothy Zahn. Speaking of Anderson, I also like the Dune stuff he’s written with Brian Herbert, which is probably cause for the hardcore Frank Herbert fans to burn me as a heretic.
  • Fantasy – Again, this isn’t a big shocker. I think the first fantasy novel I read was Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb, which I picked up thinking it would help me beat The Curse of the Azure Bonds game for my Apple //GS. No such luck. Not long after that I started reading the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series also falls into this category, as do the Harry Potter novels, which I loved to the last (more than I can say about Dark Tower, unfortunately).
  • Mystery/Thriller – It’s probably not fair to lump these two genres together into one, but when you’re writing your own list you should feel more than free to separate them. I read plenty of Agatha Christie (and before that Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon) in my youth, but I don’t read much in the way of pure mystery anymore. Instead, I go for stuff like the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
  • Horror – I read plenty of Stephen King, Robin Cook and Dean Koontz in my post-adolescent years, and I do enjoy a good vampire novel now and again (though most of those probably fall into the Fantasy genre). I read most of a Lovecraft short story collection last year, but H.P. can be a difficult slog.
  • Non-Fiction – Every once in a while I pick up a random non-fiction tome, such as Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey—The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World or Daniel Schorr’s Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism. Come to think of it, NPR seems to drive a lot of my non-fiction reading.
  • Chuck Palahniuk – I have no idea what genre this guy writes in, but I love it.

You can always see what I’m reading (as well as what I plan to read and what I’ve recently read) over at GoodReads.com.

Netstuff: Podiobooks article in the New York Times online

There is an article in the Books section of the New York Times online today about one of my favorite websites, Podiobooks.com.

Podiobooks combines the concepts of audiobooks and podcasts to deliver free, full-length novels (fiction and non-fiction) in regular, bite-sized installments to your favorite podcatcher (I use iTunes).

After signing up for a free account, you can browse the site and subscribe to more than 90 titles. Once you’ve subscribed, chapters from the novel(s) are delivered to your podcatcher on a weekly basis. Feeds are customizable, so if you want to receive chapters more frequently you can tweak the delivery settings to meet your preference.

With most podcasts, when you subscribe your podcatcher downloads the latest episode; if you go to J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son website right now and subscribe to his feed, you’ll get the latest episode of the second novel in his trilogy, which is definitely not where you want to begin listening.

On Podiobooks, when you subscribe to Hutchins’ first novel, 7th Son: Descent, (and you should), you get a custom feed that starts from the beginning of the book and delivers a new chapter on whatever schedule you like. That’s what makes Podiobooks unique.

Read the article, then go sign up for an account at Podiobooks.com. If you want some recommendations, I can suggest a few titles:

  • Ancestor by Scott Sigler.Am I the only one who finds the idea of Scott Sigler recording in a closet absolutely hilarious? I hope not. I want a poster made of that photo! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the New York Times article, dammit! Most of the action Sigler’s second podcast novel takes place on a fictional island in Lake Superior, where scientists are hard at work creating beastly critters that want to eat us all. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, but I have one bone to pick with Mr. Sigler: No self-respecting Yooper would name his dog “Pasty”.
  • 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins. I’ve talked about this book on KJToo.com and on The Round Table more times than I can count, and with good reason: it rocks. After a four-year-old boy kills the President of the United States, seven men are suddenly ripped away from their ordinary lives to discover that they are all clones of the man responsible assassination, and only by working together can they stop him.
  • The Red Panda Adventures by Decoder Ring Theater. Radio drama in the style of The Shadow and The Green Hornet. The Red Panda and The Flying Squirrel use clever gadgets, hypnosis and fisticuffs to fight crime on the streets of Toronto. By day, the costumed vigilantes are actually one of the city’s wealthiest menUnless I missed something, The Red Panda’s alter ego is never named throughout Season One. I only realized this about halfway into the season, so I’ll admit I wasn’t listening for the name in the first few episodes. Very clever. and his sassy driver, Kit Baxter.
  • Voices: New Media Fiction edited by Mur Lafferty. A collection of previously-podcasted short stories from authors like Cory Doctorow, Tee Morris, James Patrick Kelly and Patrick McLean (whose “Death of a Dishwasher” is one of the collection’s highlights).
  • The Curious Education of Epitome Quirkstandard by A.F. Harrold. How to describe this one? At the risk of insulting the author and the citizens of the United Kingdom, I’ll call it “very British”. Epitome Quirkstandard is an English dandy who — thanks to World War I — finds himself without a cadre of servants waiting on him hand and foot. Simone Crepuscular ran away from home to join the circus and accidentally joined the army, instead. After a long tour in India, Crepuscular leaves the service and travels across Asia and Europe, eventually returning to England where he self-publishes an astonishing number of pamphlets that contain the length and breadth of his considerable knowledge and experience. When the clueless Quirkstandard passes out near Crepuscular’s pamphlet shop, it marks the beginning of his curious eduction.

Podiobook Review: 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins

7th Son: DescentBack in April, I mentioned that I was very much hooked on the podcast novel 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins. I had started listening to the novel in preparation for having J.C. Hutchins on The Round Table and very quickly found myself drawn into the story.

Throughout the summer, I waited patiently for each new episode to appear in my personal feed from Podiobooks, and 7th Son shot to the top of my “Must Listen” list.

The story revolves around seven men who are abruptly pulled out of their normal lives and brought to a top secret facility where their true history is revealed. The seven men couldn’t be more different—from the hardcore marine to the musician to the computer hacker, the geneticist and the criminal psychologist—but they soon find out that they have more in common than anyone could have guessed. In fact, they are all clones of a man known as John Alpha, who engineered the recent assassination of the President of the United States.

Alpha’s intentions are unclear, but he leaves a trail of clues that only the clones—with their unique skills and their shared childhood memories—can decipher. Alpha has also kidnapped the clones’ “mother,” providing further incentive for them to unravel the mystery and follow their progenitor’s twisted path.

7th Son is a tight, gripping thriller with a healthy dose of near-future science fiction thrown in for good measure. Hutchins not only dives head first into cloning and its ramifications (one of the clones is Father Thomas, a Catholic priest who fears that he and his brethren have no souls), he also delves into memory transference and storing an individual’s personality and experiences in a massive supercomputer.

Descent covers a lot of ground, with tendrils of the story reaching out all across the United States and beyond, to military installations in the former Soviet Union. John Alpha has enlisted the aid of a mercenary named Doug Devlin, and in doing so has created his own personal army. To what end? The first book does not reveal the intricacies of Alpha’s plot, but there are two more installments to come.

Book Two, subtitled Deceit is set for release in late September. As with Book One, Deceit will be released in weekly installments, a format that has worked incredibly well so far. Every chapter ends on a cliffhanger, or with some new revelation that leaves the listener hungry for more. If Hutchins can maintain the momentum he built up in Descent, Book Two is bound to be one hell of an exciting roller coaster ride.

Podcast Stuff: Recording the Round Table, Addicted to 7th Son

Last night Mick Bradley, Max Massey, Chris Miller and I recorded episode 2-4 of The Round Table podcast, with special guest host J.C. Hutchins. I expect the episode will be available for download in the next day or two.

J.C. Hutchins is the author of the podiobook 7th Son: Descent, a tale of assassination, conspiracy and cloning. Given the subject of my 2004 NaNoWriMo novel, Bubba, I suspected that this might be right up my alley, so I subscribed to 7th Son: Descent at Podiobooks.com. I’m three chapters into the book and it has not disappointed in the slightest. The story opens with the assassination of the President of the United States by a four-year-old boy and launches directly into the abduction of seven men from all walks of life who all turn out to be clones of an eighth man. How are the assassination and a top secret cloning project related? I have no idea, but J.C. Hutchins has got me right every author wants their audience: I am hooked and I want to find out what the hell is going on.

After we finished recording the show, Chris and I recorded some new bumpers for Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast and one for Dragon’s Landing that I really hope Chuck and Lonnie play in their next episode. We had a blast recording the thing, and I think it turned out really well.

Chris and I also began work on a little side project we’ve codenamed Free Eggroll. I’ll release details as we declassify them.