Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Contest! Creators of Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals Want Your Recipes

Do you make a mean chupacabra challah? Are you renowned for your Loch Ness latkes? We want your recipes! To mark the release of Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals, Tachyon Publications is asking for your best take on kosher cryptozoological cuisine.

Of course we won’t take your recipes and give you nothing in return. We’ve got prizes, bubele. On April 30 We’ll select the five best recipes and send their authors signed copies of The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals.

Visit www.kosherimaginaryanimals.com to learn more about the book and how to submit your recipe.


The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals
by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Hardcover / 96 pp. / April 2010 / $11.95 / 978-1-892391-92-6 
Foreword by Joseph Nigg 
Cover and interior Design by John Coulthart 

Featuring Duff Goldman, star of Ace of Cakes, the Food Network's hit reality TV show.

A perfect gift book, this sumptuously illustrated and whimsically bite-sized bestiary is the definitive – in fact only - guide to the kosherness (kashrut) of imaginary animals. It is an undomesticated romp from A to Z, including E. T., hobbits, Mongolian Death Worms, and the elusive chupacabra. This fantastical journey embarks upon a hilariously contentious debate between the alter-ego of acclaimed fantasist Jeff VanderMeer (a.k.a. Evil Monkey), and his editor/collaborator wife Ann VanderMeer (Steampunk, The New Weird). Once and for all burning questions passed down through the ages will be addressed, such as: Is a vegetable-lamb a vegetable or a lamb? Does licking the Pope make you trayf? What exactly is a Pollo Maligno? Does a Sasquatch taste stringy? 

As featured on Boing Boing and Jewcy.com and brought to you by the same creative team that gave you The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, this irreverent abecedary is the must-have present for anyone seeking to broaden their imaginary culinary experiences guilt-free.

Here's an example from the book to get you started. When you’re ready, send your recipe to kosher@tachyonpublications.com.

Recipe for: Grilled Mongolian Death Worm Maki
Recipe from: The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals
Serves: 6

4-5 lbs of Mongolian Death Worm meat
2 cups Sushi Rice
2-3 Nori sheets (seaweed wraps)
1 Cucumber, sliced into long, thin strips
Fresh Mango, diced
Pickled Daikon
(Note: you will need a bamboo sushi mat to roll the sushi)

First, you will need to de-electrify the creature. The best way to do this is to zap it with a taser (and ignore it of it says "Don't tase me, bro." It is NOT your bro). If you don't have a taser (and why don't you? It's a dangerous world out there, bubele), you can use static electricity. Simply put on a pair of pantyhose and walk across a carpet, making sure your legs are as close together as possible. Once you've built up enough, touch the thing and hopefully you will see sparks. (Note: this second method is very dangerous. We recommend instead that you just go out and buy a taser.)

Soak it in salt water overnight (this will kill any of the acid residue, we trust). Grill the Mongolian Death Worm in soy sauce until it is nice and tender - there is no way you want to eat this stuff raw. You will notice that the meat shrinks up, which is why you must start with such a large amount in order to have enough once it is cooked. Then cut into small pieces. Place the nori sheet on the bamboo sushi-mat. Spread the rice on top of the nori, not too thick, leaving about an inch on the top and bottom of the nori without any rice. Place a strip of cucumber across the rice, then place the mango and Mongolian Death Worm meat across as well. Make sure the left and right sides are even. Slowly roll up the nori from the bottom. you will have a nice, firm sushi roll. Cut into pieces. Serve with sake (preferably chilled), and the daikon and wasabi on the side.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Catching Up

I finally finished the Chronicles of Prydain, and am just as blown away. I'll try and pull together some more coherent thoughts, but right now I'm left with "Wow."

I also finished Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, and I have to say, the man has a knack for kids books that are great for kids and adults alike.

Friends at the elementary school where I read to kids suggested that I give Margaret Peterson Haddix a try, so I picked up Double Identity, which is about a teen suddenly taken to live with an aunt she never knew about where she discovers that she had an older sister that died. As she digs into the story, some surprising revelations come to light. It was quite good--I'll be looking for more by Haddix.

Because I really do sometimes read adult books, and because I loved A Voyage Long and Strange, I picked up Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic. I know that many have found it funny, and Horwitz really does have an excellent sense of humor, but I found it more depressing than anything else.

This feeling was only reinforced when I followed up with Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It's a great book, but a very sad one about a black family during the Depression whose three kids learn exactly what it means to be black in the South at that time.

I also gave Donald E. Pease's mini-biography Theodore SUESS Geisel a try. It was all right, but I prefer the more fleshed-out Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan. Pease is an academic, and his discussions of the Seuss books in lit-crit terms literally sucks the magic right out of them.

I'm currently reading Stephen G. Bloom's Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls and enjoying it, and after that I have Kelly Link's Pretty Monsters, Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, David Carkeet's From Away, and Lisa Grunwald's The Irresitible Henry House to look forward to.

Those of you who are following the saga can find Mark Finn's and my discussion of last week's Lost episode "Ab Aeterno" here on RevolutionSF.com.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


If you're looking to get a little Lost fix before tonight's episode, you can catch up on some of my ideas and questions about last week's episode here at RevolutionSF.com.

As for my reading, my inter-library loan books are taking a bit of time to get here, so I've contented myself with Susan Cooper's The Boggart, E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic (there were a couple of others, but these were the highlights).

I'm currently enjoying Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, and I'll tell you all about it when I'm done.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Checking In

Since last we spoke, I've finished Boneshaker, Real Unreal: The Best American Fantasy 3, and Sandman Slim and am working on reviews. I have been on an amazing reading run recently with a spate of truly excellent books. God bless inter-library loan, without which the pickings would be much, much slimmer.

I'm back to reading juvenile fiction at the moment as I wait for my next shipment of library books, and again I'm running into some really good books that I really should have read long before now.

Christopher Paul Curtis's Bud, Not Buddy is a marvel. This story of a depression-era orphan searching for the man he believes to be his father really sings, largely because of Curtis's gift with character.

Bud Calloway is only ten years old, but circumstances have forced him to grow up quickly. With the life he has led: no father, mother dying when he was six, life in the orphanage and in various foster homes, he could easily have turned sullen and bitter or even violent. Instead he's become tough and self-sufficient and remarkably resilient.

Curtis is equally adept with his other characters, from the kind librarian who remembers which books Bud used to like when he came in with his mother to Lefty Lewis, the Pullman porter who picks Bud up by the side of the road and takes him to meet the man he believes is his father. Even characters who are only present for a few pages are memorable and ring true.

The same could be said of Kate DiCamillo's bittersweet Because of Winn-Dixie. Like Bud Calloway, India Opal Buloni is 10 years old. She and her father, a preacher, have been abandoned by her mother, and her father has just moved them to a new town where Opal doesn't know anybody and is lonely. While on a shopping trip for dinner, Opal meets a huge, mangy, stinky, exciteable dog who smiles at her and wins her heart. Through her friendship with Winn-Dixie (named for the store he was running amok in when they met), Opal is able to reconnect with her father and make new friends, finding a kind of family.

DiCamillo's books (I've also read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Tale of Despereaux) are full of adventure and humor, but there's always a thread of melancholy which adds depth and richness to the story.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Can't Stop the Reading

My reviews of Blackout and The Magicians are both live now over on RevolutionSF.com.

I finished Mieville's The City & the City and loved it. It's not Bas Lag or New Crobuzon or even Un Lun Dun, but it was never intended to be. It's stripped down, like a good noir thriller should be, full of mood and atmosphere and mystery.

I also finished a kids book by Suzanne Collins called Gregor the Overlander, which I was unfamiliar with (it's book one in a series called The Underland Chroncicles). It was a fast-paced adventure, with some terrific characters. It's impossible not to fall in love with Boots, and I never would have believed that I would be touched by the humble selflessness of a four-foot roach.

I've started both Boneshaker and The Best American Fantasy 3, and I have Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy 5th Anniversary, Pyr!

It's hard to believe, but acclaimed and award-winning imprint Pyr has been around for five years already. To celebrate their 5th anniversary, they're sponsoring a contest which emphasizes three of the things they hold dear: creative and powerful writing, a passion for reading genre fiction, and this year's special number, five.

Pyr is inviting readers to submit a short essay on this theme:

Five reasons why fantasy and science fiction is important to you

Elegibility Rules (Any essays that do not meet these guidelines will be disqualified):

1. Entrants must reside in the Continental United States and be at least 21 years of age.
2. Essays must be no longer than 1500 words.
3. Essays must be emailed to publicity@prometheusbooks.com as a Word document attachment, with the subject line “Pyr and Dragons Adventure Essay Submission.”
4. The body of the submission email must clearly identify the entrant’s full name, address (within the Continental United States), phone number and email address.
5. All submissions must be received between April 1, 2010 and June 1, 2010.

A complete list of rules and regulations can be found at PyrSF.com

All eligible essays will be read and reviewed by publishing staff at Prometheus Books. Not all of these preliminary readers will be science fiction and fantasy fans, so outstanding essays will likely be those that pique their interest in the genre and make them want to read it too. The top twenty-five essays as determined by these industry professionals will be read by Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders, who will select the top three.

The writer of the Third Place essay will win a commemorative Pyr 5th anniversary keepsake and five complimentary books of their choice from the Pyr catalog.

The writer of the Second Place essay will win a complete set of Pyr books as published by the contest end date of June 1, 2010 (one copy of each title, without duplicating those that appear in more than one binding) and a commemorative Pyr 5th anniversary keepsake.

The Grand Prize Winner will embark on a “Pyr and Dragons Adventure” that includes:

* A round-trip flight to Atlanta, GA during Dragon*Con, one of the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy,gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US. Dragon*Con 2010 will be held September 3 - 6, 2010 (Labor Day weekend).
* Two nights hotel accommodation in Atlanta, GA, Sept. 3 and 4, 2010.
* Dragon*Con membership/entry badge.
* Dinner with Special Pyr Author Guests and Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders
—details to be announced!

The grand prize winning essay will be posted at the Pyr-o-mania blog, and may be promoted by the publisher by other means, including but not limited to their other blogs, websites, e-newsletters and social networking pages.

"Go to Hell, I'm Reading"

My discussion with Mark Finn (@finnswake, for you twitter peeps) about last week's Lost episode Sundown is now live at RevolutionSF.com.

I've turned in my review of Connie Willis's Blackout, which I both really liked and was incredibly frustrated with, and I'll post the link when it goes live.

I just finished reading Lev Grossman's The Magicians, which deserves every bit of the praise that's been heaped upon it, and I'm currently working on China Mieville's The City and the City (which is terrific so far). Next in line is Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and The Best American Fantasy 3, edited by Kevin Brockmeier.

The image up top is from a t-shirt available at the amazing Murder by the Book bookstore in Houston. If you're in the neighborhood, look 'em up. If you're not, try to get there--it's well worth the trip.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Busy Week

Along with my recent review of Dawn of the Dreadfuls, I have two other reviews live at RevolutionSF.com.

One is my review of The Other Lands, the second book in David Anthony Durham's Acacia trilogy, which I enjoyed a great deal despite it being book two, inevitably the most troublesome book in any given trilogy.

The other is of Peter Straub's latest, A Dark Matter, which was equally enjoyable in a totally different way. If you enjoy books featuring unreliable characters or whose point is less "what happened" than "how did what happened effect us" then you're in for a treat. As a bonus, we also have an interview with Straub, conducted by Derek A. Johnson.

Coming soon is the latest installment in my ongoing Lost discussion with Mark Finn and a review of Connie Willis's Blackout.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost Thoughts

Those of you who may be missing Mark Finn and I obsessing about Lost every week can find our thoughts over at RevolutionSF.com:


What Kate Does

The Substitute

The Lighthouse

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All-Out-Worldwide-Zombie-Blog-Explosion 2010

Some months ago, I picked up a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Honestly, I didn't expect much. I figured it was a one-joke project; a funny title and not much else.

I was wrong.

Using mostly Austen's original words, Steve Hockensmith grafted a zombie subplot onto a romantic classic, and amazingly, it worked. So when the folks at Quirk Classics asked if I wanted an early look at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, I jumped at the chance.

You can read my review of Dawn of the Dreadfuls on RevolutionSF.com, but if you want to read the book for yourself, the good folks at Quirk are having a little giveaway, and all you have to do to enter is go here to QuirkClassics.com and mention this blog to be entered.

The 50 prize packs that they're giving away all include:

An advance copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Audio books of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

A password redeemable online for sample audio chapters of Dawn of the Dreadfuls

An awesome Dawn of the Dreadfuls poster

A Pride and Prejudice and Zombies journal

A box set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies postcards