Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hauer, Rutger and Patrick Quinlan. All those moments: Stories of heroes, villains, replicants, and blade runners. New York: Harper, 2008.

Actor autobiographies are one of those things you need to pick very carefully. I haven't read too many of them over the years, but the ones I have I've been quite pleased with -- Christopher Lee, Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cushing. Ok, William Shatner not so much.

Which brings us to Rutger Hauer.

Made famous by his role as the replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner, he's also appeared in a bunch of B movies, tv movies and a host of other things. Most recently, he's appeared in Batman Begins.

Most importantly, he's always seemed to be more thoughtful and intelligent than the average Hollywood actor. And he definitely confirms this is his very interesting and engaging memoirs. From his childhood in post-war Holland (yes, he's Dutch rather that German as I always assumed) through all his most notable roles, Hauer takes us along for the ride in a very interesting career. Concentrating on his early years more than the post-Blade Runner era, we see him struggling to find his way. One thing I liked was that no matter how lame the project seemed, he always seemed to give it his all.

A good, solid memoir of an important genre actor.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Depp, Daniel. Loser's town. Toronto: Penguin, 2009. 339pp.

I must admit I had pretty low expectations for this one. In fact, very low.

Daniel Depp, you see, is the half brother of Johnny. The prospect of reading a novel, not by a Hollywood star but by a relative of a Hollywood star certainly set off the alarm bells.

Serves me right for jumping to such conclusions. Depp's Loser's Town is terrific. It's basically a Hollywood hardboiled PI noir, set amongst the fakes and phonies of the film industry. The potential series character, David Spandau, is well drawn and believable -- a tough guy, smart, heart-broken and sensitive, has a lot of potential. The voice is strong and assured. I look forward to futher novels in the series, not because it mentions that another is coming, but because you have to believe that Depp won't be allowed to leave it at one.

The plot is appropriately convoluted but not improbable at all. It's dark enough by the end to keep even the most cynical reader happy.

Good stuff. Give it a try.

(Uncorrected proof supplied by publisher.)

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What I read: 2008

What do you care what I read in 2008? Nothing, of course, but I do. As I get older (I was 20 in 1983 when I started keeping track of the books I read) I find myself more and more in the position of looking at a stack of books on my shelves by, say, Cornell Woolrich and they all have the word "Black" in the title. I know I've read a couple but I can't remember which ones. Fortunately, I've been maintaining a little list in a little brown book since April 1983 of all the books I've read (or at least attempted). By putting this list here it will be searchable. I may ultimately put at least some of it in something like LibraryThing, but for now I'll be putting it here. The advantage is that the blog is quick and dirty, without a lot of effort per entry. The books are in the order I read them.

  1. Ambient Findability by Peter Morville
  2. Year's Best Fantasy 6 edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer
  3. Slide by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr
  4. Farthing by Jo Walton
  5. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007 edited by Richard Preston & Tim Folger (Series Editor)
  6. The Keeper by Sarah Langan
  7. A Century of Noir edited by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
  8. Einstein: A Life by Walter Isaacson
  9. Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks And The Masters Of Noir by Geoffrey O'Brien
  10. Supercrunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way To Be Smart by Ian Ayres
  11. Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
  12. 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania by Matthew Chapman
  13. Year's Best SF 11 edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer
  14. Infected by Scott Sigler
  15. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  16. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky
  17. Free as in Speech and Beer: Open Source, Peer-to-Peer and the Economics of the Online Revolution by Darren Wershler-Henry
  18. The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr
  19. The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
  20. Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover
  21. Complications: A Surgeon's Note on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
  22. Best New Horror 17 edited by Stephen Jones
  23. Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
  24. The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel J. Solove
  25. The Best of Technology Writing 2007 by Steven Levy
  26. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy
  27. Wrinkles in Time: Witness to the Birth of the Universe by George Smoot and Keay Davidson
  28. The End of the Beginning by Harry Turtledove
  29. Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton
  30. The Ruins by Scott Smith
  31. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  32. Comrades of War by Sven Hassel
  33. Solomon's Vineyard by
  34. Pursuit of Genius: Flexner, Einstein, and the Early Faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study by Steve Batterson
  35. Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them by Clifford Pickover
  36. Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design by Michael Shermer
  37. Triptych by Karen Slaughter
  38. Dark Crusade by Karl Edward Wagner
  39. Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas
  40. The Wraparound Universe by Jean-Pierre Luminet
  41. Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 by Sarah Lacy
  42. Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry
  43. The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier
  44. The Best American Science Writing 2008 edited by Sylvia Nasar & Jesse Cohen (series editor)
  45. Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
  46. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008 edited by Jerome Groopman and Tim Folger (series editor)
  47. The Quantum Ten: A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition, and Science by Sheilla Jones
  48. The Dime Detectives: a Comprehensive History of the Detective Fiction Pulps by Ron Goulart
  49. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
  50. Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future by Cory Doctorow
  51. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
  52. Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken by Michael Calce and Craig Silverman

I should mention that there are a significant number of books I've read that aren't on the list. I'm not recording the books I read for the Sunburst Awards as I don't think the list of books actually submitted for consideration are made public anywhere.

One book that I did read that's not on the list is The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing on Blogs 2007, edited by Reed Cartwright and Bora Zivkovic. Since I was on the advance screening panel of judges for the book, I did read all the posts that are reprinted in it during the judging period at the end of 2007; I also ordered and received the book in 2008. But I never actually cracked the cover and re-read all the posts during 2008. I did re-read a few, but not all.