The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.’
~ from Fahrenheit 451
I woke up to the news that Ray Bradbury, one of the hugest icons in Science Fiction, had died. This has been a horrible year for book lovers. We have lost Maurice Sendak, Carlos Fuentes, Lee Dillon, Jean Craighead George and others. While these authors and illustrators have lived long and full lives, bringing wonder, enjoyment and beauty to millions of people, they are deeply missed and their passing felt keenly.
A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?
~ From Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury was a huge influence on me and to all AmoXcalli’s writers. One of the first books I read of his was Fahrenheit 451 and it made me think. It was my first experience with dystopia and was one of the reasons I took television away from my own children years later (they still grumble about it 20 years later but they are prodigious readers). After Fahrenheit, I fell in love with Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I can’t imagine a life without those well worn covers on my shelves or a life without his gift for words and language or his flair for styling a story.
We’re nothing more than dust jackets for books, of no significance otherwise.” — Granger from Fahrenheit 451
Others from AmoXcalli will be posting their own thoughts and, as is our custom, we will be collecting links about him here. Rest in peace Ray Bradbury and thank you for a lifetime of beautiful words. I like to think that he followed the Transit of Venus and left this world piloting the planet as it crossed the sun.
The first book I read by Ray Bradbury was Something Wicked This Way Comes. I remembered liking the book, but didn’t retain remembering who wrote it. I saw it mainly as “just one of those books I was assigned”. It wouldn’t be until years later when another book – again assigned as reading, but this time in high school – would make an impact forever.
This would be the first time I ever read a required book in school that made me cry. Ever since sixth grade I knew with conviction I wanted to be a writer. So now I found myself reading a book proposing a world in which the written word is destroyed. The thought that anyone might even want to do that was devastating enough; the fact Bradbury created such a world where it seemed possible with such believability amazed me. It also changed my definitions of what I perceived as “science fiction” – another fact for which I am forever grateful. Also, when I was reminded that he’d written Something Wicked This Way Comes, this also impressed me. I’ve now never forgotten that book.
My exposure to Ray Bradbury’s worked increased greatly once I moved to Los Angeles. It turns out that my longtime friend and now fiance’ Kevin Paul Shaw Broden considers Mr. Bradbury to be one of his most favorite authors. Through Kevin, I finally gained exposure to The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, The Toynbee Convector… and more I can’t think of right now. I still can’t believe Ray Bradbury’s gone.
Every year, Kevin and I made sure that on our list of things to do at Comic-Con, we always went to the Ray Bradbury panel. This year we’ll be fitting in the tribute panel, I suspect. It better be Standing Room Only. Mr. Bradbury deserved no less.
A few years back when Worldcon was in Anaheim, I also went to Mr. Bradbury’s panel there. Afterwards as we all filed out, he came out the door near where I was and some people approached him and started crowding around. Part of me wanted to go up to him – he was so very close – but for some reason I didn’t want to crowd him there in the Convention Center hall. I think part of me will always regret that.
Farewell, Ray Bradbury.
— Shannon Muir, Writer/Reviewer for AmoXcalli
Watch this wonderful little documentary, Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer by David L. Wolper.
“#9 in the national best selling RCN space adventure series.
Captain Daniel Leary with his friend–and spy–Officer Adele Mundy are sent to a quiet sector to carry out an easy task: helping the local admiral put down a coup before it takes place. But then the jealous admiral gets rid of them by sending them off on a wild goose chase to a sector where commerce is king and business is carried out by extortion and gunfights.
With anarchy and rebellion in the air, a rogue intelligence officer plots the war that will destroy civilization and enlists the help of a brute whom even torturers couldn’t stomach.
And, of course, it’s up to Leary and Mundy to put a stop to the madness.” (publisher’s synopsis)
Each of David Drake’s Republic of Cinnabar Navy interstellar adventures begins with an Author’s Note explaining where he got his idea. This novel is a space opera expansion of a brief mention in Livy’s history of Rome from its beginning to the death of Augustus in 14 A.D., about the chaos in Northern Italy following the end of the Second Punic War in 201 B.C. “Northern Italy at the end of the third century BC was a patchwork of Roman colonies and allies, Celtic tribes recently conquered by Rome, and independent tribes, mostly Celtic. A man calling himself Hamilcar and claiming to be a Carthaginian raised a rebellion against Rome. In the course of it he sacked cities and destroyed a Roman army sent against him. Nobody was really sure where Hamilcar came from. […] The point that particularly interested me was that the Roman Senate reacted by sending an embassy to Carthage, demanding that the Carthaginians withdraw their citizen under the terms of the peace treaty. […] Livy’s account got me thinking about the problems that the envoys would have had. […]” (pgs. ix-x).
The Road of Danger is a direct sequel to Drake’s What Distant Deeps. In it, the Republic of Cinnabar (Rome) and the Alliance of Free Stars (Carthage) have finally declared a truce to their long-running war; or more exactly, both sides are exhausted. But unlike the historic Rome and Carthage, Cinnabar and the Alliance are still equal in power. “Neither superpower could resume the conflict without collapse: forty years of nearly constant warfare had strained both societies to the breaking point.” (p. 1) Captain Daniel Leary and his subordinate, Communications Officer Adele Mundy, of the sometimes-RCN Princess Cecile (a space yacht that Leary has heavily armed) and their loyal crew, are sent to deliver an important message to a Cinnabar admiral in a backwater space region on the Cinnabar-Alliance border, and then place themselves under his orders. The admiral, jealous of Leary’s past successes, sends him on what is meant to be a potentially-fatal wild-goose mission. The Macotta Region of the galaxy is a hodgepodge of Cinnabar and Alliance planets, independent planets loosely allied to one or the other superpowers, and truly independent planets (that the superpowers do not consider worth annexing). The Funnel Cluster in the Macotta Region is mostly Alliance-controlled. When a revolt breaks out on Sunbright in the Funnel Cluster, it would normally be considered an Alliance internal affair, except that the Alliance charges that the rebel leader claims to be a Cinnabar citizen with backing from the Cinnabar government. The Alliance has formally protested and demanded that Cinnabar stop the four-year-old rebellion. The Cinnabar admiral commanding the Macotta Region sends Leary in the Princess Cecile, without any backup, to “solve” the problem. Leary recognizes that if it is genuine, it could force the Alliance for its interstellar prestige into resuming the war against Cinnabar that neither wants.
This is the background for another space opera adventure of interstellar derring-do and political intrigue. Instead of going to Sunbright openly as a Cinnabar government representative, Leary and his crew disguise the “Sissie” as a neutral Kostroman space yacht owned by a Kostroman noblewoman (Mundy in disguise), rich but of dubious morality, touring the stars; while Leary, also in disguise, joins the crew of an Alliance civilian blockade runner chartered to deliver a cargo of weapons to the Sunbright rebels. Leary and Mundy discover separately that Everybody Is No Damn Good: both sides of the “rebellion” are corrupt local politicians and merchants hoping to line their own pockets, or petty warlords building their own personal armies, or perverts out to destabilize society so they can practice their own perversion without any local government to stop them. The only honest party in the whole affair is the Sunbright rebel leader, a naïve young idealist who has gotten disgusted after realizing that the “oppressed peasants” are as brutal as their oppressors, and who has become a helpless figurehead of his corrupt subordinates. He is more than ready to return to Cinnabar with Leary, if the latter can figure out how to get them out of the hellhole and end the “rebellion” in a manner that will defuse the Cinnnabar-Alliance tensions. There is lots of bluffing, macho face-offs, outright murders and assassinations, deals and betrayals, and space naval action when Leary and the Princess Cecile confront a more powerful gunboat of one of their enemies.
The main complaint is endemic to this series: Drake does not convincingly dress up the various primitive tribes of pre-civilized Europe, or the Scandinavian viking societies, into futuristic interstellar nations. It is hard to swallow that a space-traveling multiplanet government would be controlled by so many independent trigger-happy local despots and ungovernable guerrilla warlords. But the action is non-stop, and Leary and Mundy and their crew are charismatic underdogs who always satisfyingly confound (or kill) their adversaries. The Road of Danger is #9 in a series that will probably go on for some time to come.
A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics: Choosing Titles Your Children Will Love
Author: Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith
Foreward: Jeff Smith & Vijaya Iyer
Publisher: Krause Publications (May 31, 2012)
What kid doesn’t love comics? The colors, the drawings, the easy and short format make comics both appealing and fun for kids and publishers know this so there’s a ton out there. The world of comics and graphic novels can be hard to navigate for a parent. Enter Snow Wildsmith and Scott Robins with their practical and comprehensive guide to help you out.
The guide is incredibly detailed and well-made. There are sections by age group and type of comic. Each page is covered with glossy images and good details on each series or comic, making it both as fun as the comics it addresses and visually appealing for parents and kids.
At my house, the grandkids got to it first – six year Aiden specifically. They have permission to open my mail if it looks like books and they love letting me know I have book mail. By the time I got home from work and was handed the book, it was covered in Post-it highlighting stickies. Aiden had already selected all the comics he liked and made sure I knew that the yellow stickies were his. Jasmine’s predictably, were the pink ones. They’d both pored over the guide and I have a long list. They found old favorites too, books I’d reviewed and books I’d judged for the Cybils, so the guide also became a source of much discussion. We jabbered on for hours about comics and what they liked about them and what they looked for. I didn’t expect that. I was expecting a book for parents. This is much, much more.
I highly recommend buying A PARENT’S GUIDE TO THE BEST KIDS’ COMICS not just for the great recommendations, but for the fun you and your kids will have going through the book. Since it promotes literary discussion, it’s highly educational for both parents and children and will foster of a love of reading that will last a lifetime.
I’m not surprised at how well the book is done or how organized it is. Snow was on a Graphic Novel panel on the Cybils with me years ago and I remember being very impressed with her insight and knowledge of the genre. If you have kids in your life, you NEED this guide. It’s perfect for librarians and teachers as well.
About the Authors
Snow Wildsmith has served on committees for the American Library Association and Young Adult Library Services Association. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2.com, Good Comics for Kids and Robin Brenner’s No Flying No Tights. She also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco’s NoveList database. McFarland will publish her first books for teens, a nonfiction series on joining the military, in 2012.
Scott Robins is a librarian at the Toronto Public Library and an advocate for children’s graphic novels. He is a contributing blogger for Good Comics for Kids via School Library Journal.com, and is the children’s programming director for the annual Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He has also served on the graphic novel selection committee for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens in 2010 and 2011 and was a jury member of the 2011 Joe Shuster Awards in the “Comics for Kids” category
Disclosure: A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via the publisher, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.
New York, NY– June 4, 2012 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced that stores nationwide will host a new Hands-On Learning event series, for children ages four and up, designed to help promote cognitive development, literacy, creativity, social skills and scientific thinking. The Hands-On Learning events will take place in June, July and August and mark the expansion of the company’s Summer Reading Program, “Imagination’s Destination,” to its Toys & Games Department. Kicking off the program this month is a Lego® Building Event designed to help children develop fine motor skills, while having fun with ever-popular Lego micro bricks. Customers are encouraged to visit www.bn.com for more information on Hands-On Learning events at their neighborhood Barnes & Noble location. “We are thrilled to provide children with fun, engaging activities that foster critical thinking skills and spatial relationships with our new Hands-On Learning events,” says Kathleen Campisano, Vice President, Toys & Games. “Through this exciting new program, Barnes & Noble is both the ultimate resource for families’ educational needs and a great destination for summer fun.” The Barnes & Noble’s Toys & Games Department features 3,000-square-feet of play space incorporating interactive displays, creativity and learning through activities, scientific discoveries, and favorite children’s characters. Through unique strategic partnerships with world renowned toy and games manufacturers, Barnes & Noble has five interactive play areas – Building, Learning, Imagining, Creating and Playing – that offer children hands-on learning experiences in a fun, engaging and comfortable environment. Source: Barnes & Noble
Colossus: Stone & Steel
Author: David Blixt
Publisher: David Blixt
Pub Date: May 25, 2012
When historical fiction is done right, it leaves you wanting. It makes you eager to learn, you start digging into history, looking up eras, people, places in order to find out more about what you just read. Good historical fiction leaves you hungry for the real story. That’s what I love about it and COLOSSUS: STONE & STEEL is just such a book.
I had no frame of reference whatsoever about the Judean Wars. I had no clue and had never heard of it. By the time I was through the first chapter of Colossus, I was hungry for more. I had fallen in love with the story and couldn’t wait to finish it so I could a) find out what happened and b) get to doing some research of my own to find out the real historical data the story is based on.
The story opens with a small band of Jews fighting the Romans with only slings and spears. Judah, the main protagonist ends up fighting hard and fast and somehow manages to team up with Levi, an experienced fighter and bodyguard for the other side. In the distance, Judah spots the Roman eagle, their standard and decides to take it. Defeated and shamed by the loss of the eagle, the Romans retreat, but retribution is coming. The taking of the eagle is an insult that Rome cannot ignore.
The story follows Judah and his people as they prepare for the eventual war and it is a fascinating one. It explores the politics of the different bands of Hebrews as well as the Romans under Nero. Both Roman and Hebrew culture are illuminated beautifully. You can almost see ancient Rome and Jerusalem as you read. I fell in love with the descriptions of Galilee, the fortifications and the people.
An epic novel of the Roman-Jewish War.
Judea, 66 AD. A Roman legion suffers a smashing and catastrophic defeat at the hands of an angry band of Hebrews armed with only slings and spears. Knowing Emperor Nero’s revenge will be swift and merciless, they must decide how to defend their land against the Roman invasion.
Caught up in the tumult is the mason Judah, inadvertent hero of Beth Horon, who now finds himself rubbing shoulders with priests, revolutionaries, generals, and nobles, drafted to help defend the land of Galilee.
Denied the chance to marry where he will, he turns all his energy into defending the beseiged city of Jotapata. But with a general suffering delusions of grandeur, friends falling each day, and the Roman menace at the walls, Judah must brave a nightmare to save those he loves and preserve his honor.
About the author:
Author and playwright David Blixt’s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE’S FOOL) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, “Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It’s well worth it.”
Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”
For more about David and his novels, visit www.davidblixt.com.
Disclosure: A free copy of this book was furnished by the publisher for review via NetGalley, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.