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Time to Read!!!

April 22, 2018 at 5:27 am
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I cannot tell you how jazzed I am to be a part of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ.

PBS is out to find America’s most beloved novel.   (Note: not the most loved novel by an American writer, but rather the novel most loved by American readers, which is why a number of British books are on the list).  They’ve selected 100 finalists, and in the months to come the public will be encouraged to read all of them… or as many as they can… and vote for their favorite.

It’s Thunderdome for books; 100 novels enter, one emerges.

Of course, it’s all for fun… and to encourage reading, and conversations about books.  About fiction, specifically.

Check it out here: http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/home/ if you want to play.

 

 

And yes, if you squint at that poster, that’s A GAME OF THRONES you see, right in the middle of the fourth row from the top.

It’s a VERY eclectic list, one that runs the gamut from canonical classics of modern English literature to last year’s bestsellers and mega-sellers, touching every base in between.  Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Melville are there, together with Tom Clancy and James Patterson and E.L. James.   Genre fiction, I am pleased to say, is well represented, including SF and fantasy: not only my own work, but also books by Robert Jordan, Douglas Adams, Michael Crichton, Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many more.  And congrats to my friends Ernie Cline and Andy Weir, who made the list as well with READY PLAYER ONE and THE MARTIAN.   Mysteries, romance, erotica, literary novels…. it’s quite a list.

(Are there omissions?  Of course there are.   I can think of a dozen books I’d like to add myself, and a dozen I’d drop.  But that’s where the conversations can start.  PBS wants to get people talking about their favorite books, and so do I).

I don’t think A GAME OF THRONES has a chance in seven hells of winning the competition… but just being on the same list as LORD OF THE RINGS, THE GREAT GATSBY, GONE WITH THE WIND, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, LONESOME DOVE, CATCH 22, CHARLOTTE’S WEB blows my mind.  Those are favorites all, towering masterpieces, books that changed my life.

I can’t pretend to have read every book on the list… but I’m going to do my best to fill in the gaps in the months to come.

Oh, and besides the vote, there’s also an eight-part TV series devoted to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ.   I will be one of the guests on the show, talking about a couple of my own “most loved” titles on the list.   No, not  my own work.  Presumably one of the other guest authors or critics will talk about A GAME OF THRONES, but if so, I have no idea who that will be.

This should be great fun.

And remember:  The reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one.

 

 

 

Current Mood: excited excited

Mister Meat At Last

May 15, 2017 at 6:10 pm
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Hiya, kids, hiya hiya. The fun continues tonight at the Jean Cocteau with the third night of our Max Headroom M-M-Maxathon. Michael Cassutt will be there once again to answer questions and shine his light into the darkness of thirty years ago, and we’ll be screening episodes four and five of season one of the MAX HEADROOM show, “Security Systems” and “War.”

But that’s not all. For the real die-hards, we have a special treat. For the first (and probably last) time, I will be giving a public reading of the story treatment for my own, never-produced MAX HEADROOM episode, “Mister Meat.”

“Mister Meat” was originally intended to be the fifth episode of the show. There’s no script, however, and certainly no film. I delivered my treatment on November 5, 1986… and ABC promptly drove a spike through it. “Offensive” and “disgusting” were a few of the words I recall.

They didn’t like it.

So if you’re in Santa Fe tonight, come by the JCC and hear what ABC found too shocking to air in 1987. And if you’re not in Santa Fe tonight… well, sorry, you’re out of luck.

Re-Read Time!

March 3, 2017 at 3:05 pm
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The Wild Cards Re-Read has kicked off over at Tor.com.

First up: book one, WILD CARDS. That makes sense.

Go join the fun at http://www.tor.com/2017/03/02/wild-cards-reveals-a-dark-reflection-of-our-post-war-reality/#comment-651329

To Jetboy!

Good Stuff

May 18, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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I used to have a couple pages on my website called “What I’m Watching” and “What I’m Reading.” They’re still there, actually, but they’re years out of date. I just don’t have the time to keep them up any longer, with all the other things on my plate.

But that doesn’t mean I have stopped watching movies or television, or that I don’t read. I still read voraciously, watch lots of television, and go to a movie a week, on the average. So I thought I’d say a few very brief words about stuff I’ve enjoyed recently.

Most of the films I see are the ones I’m playing at my own theatre, the Jean Cocteau… but not all. A few days ago, Parris and I caught the new JUNGLE BOOK at the Violet Crown down the street from the JCC, and I loved loved loved it. A magnificent production. Supposedly it’s a remake of the old Disney cartoon version, but it’s about ten thousand times better for hardcore Kipling fans like yours truly (Kiplers?) Not completely faithful to the books, which I count as an enduring masterpiece, but it certainly captures much of their flavor, which the cartoon did not. Gorgeous to look at (CGI has come a long way), genuinely exciting… Shere Khan is scary. My only quibble is Baloo. Much as I love Bill Murray, and I do love Bill Murray, I wanted a lot more of Kipling’s Baloo. Murray’s version is so very Bill Murray he could have wandered into the jungle straight from GHOSTBUSTERS. That’s minor, though; the other voice actors did a marvelous job of becoming their animals, and the kid playing Mowgli (who has gotten some mixed reviews) struck me as charming and unaffected, a natural and believable performance. If you like Kipling, see this one. If you like good movies, ditto. (I wonder if talking animals make this fantasy enough to be eligible for a Hugo next year? I’d certainly be willing to nominate it).

Meanwhile, on television… this really IS the Golden Age of television, so much good stuff to watch. It’s hard to keep up. Parris and I are going to miss THE GOOD WIFE, but we’ve been enjoying the hell out of BETTER CALL SAUL and COLONY, and the new season of PENNY DREADFUL has been fun so far as well. The show that’s really knocking our (argyle) socks off, however, is the second season of OUTLANDER. Diana Gabaldon should be thrilled; they are really doing her books proud. This year the action moved to France, and the costumes, sets, and cinematography have all been fabulous. As have the performances. Both of the leads are terrific, and Tobias Menzies (who also appears in GAME OF THRONES from time to time) is sensational in his double role. They should nominate the guy for an Emmy twice, once for each character. OUTLANDER is one of the best shows on television, a wonderful blend of historical drama, science fiction, fantasy, and romance.

Books? Well, if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Joe Hill’s THE FIREMAN, you need to. Original and gripping, a page-turner… and I am looking forward to meeting Joe in person when he visits the Jean Cocteau on Monday for a reading and signing (tickets going fast! get yours now). I’ve also really enjoyed a non-fiction title from a couple of years ago called THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, by Daniel Stashower, which is simultaneously a bio of Edgar Allan Poe and a “true crime” account of a sensational NYC murder case that inspired him to write “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” Call this one history or biography if you must, but it reads like a novel… and I especially loved the stuff about the New York City press, one of my obsessions.

Oh, and while the stack of ARCs and bound galleys and new books by my bedside waiting to be read is taller than I am, I’m especially excited by a couple of recent arrivals. HIGH GROUND, the first volume of Melinda Snodgrass’s new space opera series, is here, and I can’t wait to get into it… especially since one of her villains, BoHo, is actually my creation (he is not really villainous, he’s just misunderstood) from the days when Snod and I were making up characters for a new shared world series that never took off. ((Think of BoHo as the Flashman of Space; I loved George McDonald Fraser almost as much as I love Kipling)).

Also on hand is David Anthony Durham’s new historical novel, THE RISEN, his take on Spartacus. DAD never disappoints, and Spartacus is another fascination of mine… I look forward to seeing how Durham’s take on him differs from Howard Fast’s and Colleen McCullough’s.

Also just in is Lisa Tuttle’s THE SOMNAMUBIST AND THE PYSCHIC THIEF, featuring Miss Lane and Jasper Jesperson, the Victorian-era detectives she first introduced in her stories for DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS and ROGUES. Those were hugely entertaining stories, and I am eager to see what Lisa does with the characters at novel length. Fans of Sherlock Holmes should love this.

So… lots of good stuff.

Life is too short. So little time, so many books and movies and television shows.

Reading, Reading, Reading

July 14, 2015 at 1:11 pm
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I have been doing a lot of travelling of late — Germany, Sweden, Finland, Chicago — and that means I have been doing a lot of reading as well. When I travel, I read. Always have, always will. There’s no better way to fill the endless hours on the plane, and the strange hours in the middle of the night when the world is sleeping but you’re awake, thanks to jetlag.<br/><br/>A few words about some of the things I’ve read are in order, therefore.<br/><br/>I read the new Eric Larson bestseller, DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF LUSITANIA. Larson is a journalist who writes non-fiction books that read like novels, real page-turners. This one is no exception. I had known a lot about the <i>Titanic</i> but little about the <i>Lusitania</i>. This filled in those gaps. Larson’s masterpiece remains THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, but this one is pretty damned good too. Thoroughly engrossing.<br/><br/>I read an ARC of the long-awaited new novel from Ernie Cline of READY PLAYER ONE fame. ARMADA, like READY PLAYER ONE, is a paean to the videogames of a bygone era, and like READY PLAYER ONE it is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games. (Those who did not may find it incomprehensible, admittedly). Those of you who liked the old movie THE LAST STARFIGHTER will <i>really</i> like this one. Hugely entertaining… though it does make me wonder if we’ll ever see Ernie write something that isn’t about videogames. He’s a talented guy, and I am sure that anything he writes would be terrific.<br/><br/>I read the mega-bestseller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins, a mystery/ thriller/ novel of character about three women who live near the train tracks of a London commuter lines, and how their lives and loves get entwined when one of them disappears under mysterious circumstances. Fans of Gillian Flynn’s books will probably like this one too. I know I did… though I don’t think Hawkins is quite as deft a writer as Flynn. The first person voices of the three narrators sounded too much alike, I thought, but that’s a minor quibble. The main narrator, an alcoholic who is slowly falling apart, is especially well drawn. It’s a strong story, with a great sense of time and place, and one that had me from start to finish.<br/><br/>I read ANGLES OF ATTACK, by Marko Kloos, military SF, third book in his series, and the immediate sequel to LINES OF DEPARTURE, the novel that was (briefly) a Hugo finalist thanks to the Puppies before its author withdrew it as an act of conscience. I’d read LINES OF DEPARTURE as a result of that, my first exposure to Kloos. I liked that one well enough, but didn’t love it. ANGLES OF ATTACK is, I think, better. I’m still the wrong audience for this — my list of “great military SF novels” includes STARSHIP TROOPERS, BILL THE GALACTIC HERO, THE FOREVER WAR, and an oldie called WE ALL DIED AT BREAKAWAY STATION, but not much else — but these are very entertaining books. Since I know there are a lot of fans of military SF out there, I’d say that ANGLES OF ATTACK might actually have an outside chance at earning a genuine Hugo nod solely on its merits… assuming the Puppies don’t slate it again. In any case, Kloos is a writer to watch. (I do hope this series isn’t going on for twenty more books, however. I want to know more about his gigantic and enigmatic aliens, and I want a resolution). <br/><br/>Oh, and I also read a lot more of this year’s Hugo nominees. The stories and books that were NOT withdrawn. Hoo boy. More on that later. Suffice it to say that I was very glad that I had the books listed above to hand, to cleanse my palate after sampling some of the Hugo stuff.

Reading

June 7, 2015 at 5:58 pm
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I used to have a page called “What I’m Reading” on my old website. It’s still there on this new(er) website, actually, but I haven’t updated it in years. Keep meaning to, but there’s too much to do, too few hours in the day.

That doesn’t mean I am not reading, however. I read all the time. Usually a chapter or two right before I go to sleep… but sometimes a novel takes hold of me, and I wind up gulping down the whole thing in a night. A long, sleepless night. But I love that when it happens.

Anyway, just thought I’d mention a few of the books I’ve read recently.

I’ve already commented, at some length, about two of this year’s Hugo finalists, THREE-BODY PROBLEM and THE GOBLIN EMPEROR. You can find my thoughts on those below.

I also read LINES OF DEPARTURE by Marko Kloos. This was part of the Hugo ballot as originally announced, one of the books put there by the slates… but Kloos, in an act of singular courage and integrity, withdrew. It was his withdrawal that moved THREE-BODY PROBLEM onto the ballot. This is the second book in a series, and I’ve never read the first. Truth be told, I’d never read anything by Kloos before, but I’m glad I read this. It’s military SF, solidly in the tradition of STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE FOREVER WAR. No, it’s not nearly as good as either of those, but it still hands head and shoulders above most of what passes for military SF today. The enigmatic (and gigantic) alien enemies here are intriguing, but aside from them there’s not a lot of originality here; the similarity to THE FOREVER WAR and its three act structure is striking, but the battle scenes are vivid, and the center section, where the hero returns to Earth and visits his mother, is moving and effective. I have other criticisms, but this is not a formal review, and I don’t have the time or energy to expand on them at this point. Bottom line, this is a good book, but not a great one. It’s way better than most of what the Puppies have put on the Hugo ballot in the other categories, but it’s not nearly as ambitious or original as THREE-BODY PROBLEM. Even so, I read this with pleasure, and I will definitely read the next one. Kloos is talented young writer, and I suspect that his best work is ahead of him. He is also a man of principle. I hope he comes to worldcon; I’d like to meet him.

I also read the new novel by Lauren Beukes, BROKEN MONSTERS, a sort of crime/ serial killer novel with some supernatural Lovecraftian touches. Set amidst the urban decay of contemporary Detroit, this one has a vivid sense of place and a colorful and interesting cast of characters, but it gets very strange at the end, where the Lovecraftian elements come to the fore. I don’t think it is entirely successful, and it’s certainly several notches below the author’s last, the brilliant SHINING GIRLS (which would have been my choice for last year’s Hugo, but, alas, it missed the ballot by a handful of votes). I found it an engrossing read all the same, and I will be looking forward to whatever Lauren Beukes does next. She’s a major major talent.

I also read and enjoyed the new Naomi Novik, UPROOTED. Novik is best known for her popular series of Napoleonic Era dragon books, so this high fantasy is somewhat a departure for her. The whole set-up has a ‘fairy tale’ feel to it, but draws its inspiration from Russian folklore rather than the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen strains more familiar to modern readers. I thought Novik did a nice job of ringing changes on the old fairy tale tropes, and I liked her characters. But the story rushed by a bit too fast for my taste; I would have liked a longer book, where the characters might have had a bit more room to breathe. And I was seriously disappointed by the ending, wherein several important revelations came out of nowhere.

Next up? Not sure. CITY OF STAIRS and ANCILLARY SWORD and SKIN GAME are all on the stack besides my bed, along with an ARC of the new Ernie Cline novel (yay!). But the new Stephen King has just turned up as well, so…

Amanda’s Art of Asking

November 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm
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When Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman visited the Jean Cocteau Cinema in September, Amanda read a bit for us from her new book, THE ART OF ASKING.  Sounded very cool…. unfortunately, we couldn't sell any copies, since the book had not yet been published.  The only copy on site was the advance copy that Amanda was reading from.

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But hey, the wait is over… the ART OF ASKING has now been published, as of 11/11, and should be available at your local bookstore, or from your favorite online bookseller (alas, we don't have any signed copies available at the Jean Cocteau, but we hope to remedy that the next time Amanda and Neil come to visit).

Amanda says:
      " it's a book about….a lot of things. my marriage, my days as a weird street performer, my amazing band and label disaster,
my difficulties dealing with a best friend who's had cancer for the past three years; but that's all sort of a veil.
mostly it's an attempt to try to discover why all human beings (especially artists) has such a hard time asking for things.

i poured my heart into it. it's a really personal book.
it's also really FUNNY.
and sad.
it's a weird book.
but i'm really, really proud of it
."

Everything you could want to know about ordering a copy can be found here: http://amandapalmer.net/

Happy reading.  Happy asking.

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Author, Author!

April 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm
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We have a couple of really exciting author events scheduled for next week at the Jean Cocteau.

 On Monday, April 21, we will be welcoming the  Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist JUNOT DIAZ, author of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER and THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO, and other titles.

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The evening will start at 7:00 pm with a 90-minute interview of Junot, conducted by Doctors Shante Paradigm Smalls and Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez of the University of New Mexico.  Dr. Smalls is a scholar and artist who works at the intersection of popular culture and critical theory.  She is a professor at UNM in American Studies.  Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez is "an unrepentant border crosser, ex-dj, writer, painter, and academic," and a professor at UNM in the department of Spanish and Portuguese.   After the interview, we will adjoin to the lobby and bar, where Junot will sign copies of his books.

A few days later, on Thursday April 24, the bestselling mystery writer and historical novelist ANNE PERRY will arrive in Santa Fe, and the Cocteau will have the privilige of hosting her as well.  Ms. Perry's awe-inspiring bibligraphy includes 19 volumes in her William Monk series, 28 in the Thomas Pitt series, as well as fantasies, YA novels, stand-alones, and Christmas books.   Anne is on tour, promoting her lastest, DEATH ON BLACKHEATH.

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The event will start at 7:00 with an interview and dialogue, as usual.  This time I'll be doing the interview myself.  That will be followed by an audience Q&A and a booksigning, and we expect to have a WIDE selection of Anne's novels on hand.

Admission to both events is FREE with the purchase of a hardcover book, $5 with the purchase of a paperback, $10 without a book purchase.  Most of our past author events have been sold out, so if you'd like to hear Junot Diaz or Anne Perry, call the Cocteau at 444-5528 and reserve your place now.

Movies are the heart and soul of the Jean Cocteau Cinema… but we love books too, and our author evenings have been hugely popular and will continue to be an important part of our schedule.   In the months to come, we will be hosting MELINDA M. SNODGRASS, comic book stars CULLEN BUNN and BRIAN HURTT of SIXTH GUN fame, mystery/ horror/ SF star JOE R. LANSDALE and his daughter KASEY, author, editor, and country-signing sensation, DANIEL ABRAHAM (who is also half of JAMES S.A. COREY), Hugo-winning novelist JO WALTON, CHERIE PRIEST, JOE ABERCROMBIE, DENNIS LEHANE, and NEIL GAIMAN & AMANDA PALMER.   If you'd like to know the dates and details,  go to our website at http://www.jeancocteaucinema.com/ and sign up for our email newsletter, to keep abreast of what's coming up on Montezuma Street.  All of these events are first come, first seated, and we do tend to fill up quickly.

See you at the booksignings.

Next Up: Neil and Amanda

September 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm
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Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are coming to Santa Fe, and we've got them!

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What actually goes on during the Neil and Amanda Show, you may ask?  Well, there will be music, stories, autographing, and… you'll need to come and find out.

That's Sunday, September 29, starting at 7:00 pm.  Tickets are on sale RIGHT NOW.

Admission will be $75, except for the nine (9) seats in our front row, which will go for $100.

This is a charity event, and one hundred per cent of the box office will be split between two worthy causes: Warehouse 21 and its youth programs http://www.warehouse21.org/ , and the Food Depot, which helps feed hungry New Mexicans http://www.thefooddepot.org/   So help us raise some much-needed funds for these great causes, and spend a Sunday evening with Neil and Amanda.

(Yes, they will gladly sign your books and CDs, and we'll have lots of both for sale on site).

We expect another sellout for this one, so if you'd like to attend, get your seats early.  You can get a ticket via the Jean Cocteau website, or by calling us at 505-466-5528.  (Have your credit card ready).  No more than four (4) tickets per customer, please.

Remember, the Cocteau only seats 120.

See you at the show.

UPDATE:  We've sold seventy tickets since I posted this, just a few hours ago.  If you want one, buy now.

SECOND UPDATE: I left the theatre a couple of hours ago.  At that time we had sold one hundred twelve tickets.  Leaving… uh… eight.  We can squeeze in a few temp seats as well, maybe… but I expect by now the regular seating is all sold out.  I need a bigger theatre.

Reading Recommendations

March 13, 2013 at 1:24 am
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I get emails all the time from fans asking me to recommend books for them to read “while I am waiting for your next one.”

I can’t possibly reply to all my emails, of course. But I do reply to some, when the mood strikes me. And I am always glad to recommend good books. There is so many of them out there that do not get half the attention that they deserve.

For some readers I like to draw attention to the classics of our genre. It never ceases to amaze me to discover that some of my own fans have never heard of all the great fantasists who came before me, without whom A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE could never have been written… without whom, in truth, there might not be a fantasy genre at all. If you have enjoyed my own fantasy novels, you owe it to yourself to read J.R.R. Tolkien (LORD OF THE RINGS), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Cimmerian, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry), Jack Vance (THE DYING EARTH, Lyonesse, Cugel the Clever, and so much more), Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser), Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN, SHARDIK, MAIA), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea, the original trilogy), Mervyn Peake (GORMENGHAST), T.H. White (THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING), Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alan Garner, H.P. Lovecraft (more horror than fantasy, admittedly), Clark Ashton Smith, and… well, the list is long. But those writers should keep you busy for quite a while. You won’t like all of them, perhaps… some wrote quite a long time ago, and neither their prose nor their attitudes are tailored for modern attention spans and sensibilities… but they were all important, and each, in his or her own way, was a great storyteller who helped make fantasy what it is today.

Maybe you’ve read all the fantasy classics, however. I have lots of readers for whom that is true as well. Those I like to point at some of my contemporaries. As great as Tolkien, Leiber, Vance, REH, and those others were, THIS is the golden age of epic fantasy. There have never been as many terrific writers working in the genre as there are right now. Actually, there has never been so much epic fantasy published than right now, which means a lot of mediocre and downright terrible books as well, since Sturgeon’s Law still applies. But I prefer to talk about the good stuff, and there’s a lot of that. Just for starts, check out Daniel Abraham (THE LONG PRICE QUARTET, THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, Scott Lynch (the Locke Lamora series), Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie (especially BEST SERVED COLD and THE HEROES)… they will keep you turning pages for a good long while, I promise…

Fantasies are not the only books I recommend to my readers, however. It has always been my belief that epic fantasy and historical fiction are sisters under the skin, as I have said in many an interview. A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE draws as much on the traditions of historical fiction as it does on those of fantasy, and there are many great historical novelists, past and present, whose work helped inspire my own. Sir Walter Scott is hard going for many modern readers, I realize, but there’s still great stuff to be found in IVANHOE and his other novels, as there is in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s WHITE COMPANY (he write more than just Sherlock Holmes). Thomas B. Costain (THE BLACK ROSE, THE SILVER CHALICE) is another writer worth checking out, along with Howard Pyle, Frank Yerby, Rosemary Hawley Jarman. Nigel Tranter lived well into his 90s, writing all the while, and turning out an astonishing number of novels about Scottish medieval history (his Bruce and Wallace novels are the best, maybe because they are the only ones where his heroes actually win, but I found the lesser known lords and kings equally fascinating). Thanks to George McDonald Fraser, that cad and bounder Harry Flashman swashed and buckled in every major and minor war of the Victorian era. Sharon Kay Penman, Steven Pressfield, Cecelia Holland, David Anthony Durham, David Ball, and the incomparable Bernard Cornwell are writing and publishing firstrate historical fiction right now, novels that I think any fan of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE would find easy to enjoy.

And then there is Maurice Druon. Which is actually why I called you all here today, boys and girls.

Look, if you love A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and want “something like it” to read while you are waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for me to finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, you really need to check out Maurice Druon and THE ACCURSED KINGS.

I never met Druon, alas (he died only a few years ago, and I regret that I never had the chance to shake his hand), but from all reports he was an extraordinary man. He was French, highly distinguished, a resistance fighter against the Nazis, a historian, a member of the French Academy… well, you can read about his life on Wikipedia, and it makes quite a story in itself. He wrote short stories, contemporary novels, a history of Paris… and an amazing seven-volume series about King Philip IV of France, his sons and daughters, the curse of the Templars, the fall of the Capetian dynasty, the roots of the Hundred Years War. The books were a huge success in France. So huge than they have twice formed the basis for television shows (neither version is available dubbed or subtitled in English, to my annoyance), series that one sometimes hears referred to as “the French I, CLAUDIUS.” The English translations… well, the seventh volume has never been translated into English at all, and the first six are long out of print, available only in dusty hardcovers and tattered paperbacks from rare book dealers found on ABE.

But that’s about to change, thanks to my own British publisher, HarperCollins, who are bringing THE ACCURSED KINGS back into print at long last in a series of handsome new hardbacks. The first volume, THE IRON KING, has just been published… with a brand new introduction by some guy named George R.R. Martin.

Iron-King

At the moment, alas, there’s no plan for American editions, but readers in the US (and around the world) can order the Druon novels from their favorite online bookseller through the wonders of the internet.

The best news… at least for me… is the HarperCollins not only intends to release new English editions of the first six novels of THE ACCURSED KINGS, but also… finally!!!… translate the seventh and concluding volume. (Talk about waiting a long time for a book).

Anyway… whether you want something else to occupy your time while waiting for THE WINDS OF WINTER, or you’re just looking for a good read… you won’t go wrong with Maurice Druon, France’s best historical novelist since Dumas Pere.