Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

What I read in 2012

I only read through 25 books in 2012, compared with 36 in 2011. (And down further from the 38 in 2010, and barely half my 2009 number: 46.) Those books (linked to my GeekDad reviews where applicable) were:

The list does include fewer re-reads than the previous few years, the exceptions being American Gods, the Hunger Games trilogy (read as a psyche-up for the movie), and Revolt on Alpha C, a childhood favorite.

I did specify at the beginning that those are the books I “read through,” because I spent a lot of time in the pages of larger reference-style books, even if I don’t count them as cover-to-cover reads (links, again, to GeekDad reviews):

I also have a monthly Kindle subscription to Lightspeed magazine, which I don’t consume beginning to end every month, but which adds another bunch of short stories and interviews to my count.

I’ll also note that this was my first year owning the Kindle, which led to something that hasn’t happened much to me in the past: Unfinished books. Being able to grab books on the cheap (or for free) made it incredibly easy to load up, and there are several books on the device (or in my Amazon cloud) which I either haven’t started yet or which remain only partially read. Part of it is because I tend to read those when I’m not at home, which is part of the point of the Kindle, after all.

Maybe I’ll put those – plus the ones on the shelf on my new bookcase which I’ve reserved for unread books – at the top of this year’s list.

Once I’ve finished the book I’m reading now, of course.

January 2, 2013 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, geek | , | Leave a comment

Akron Comicon – Saturday, Nov. 10

Collect All 21 Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek by John BoothI’ll be spending Saturday, November 10 at the inaugural Akron Comicon, hanging out at booth A12 shamelessly promoting Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek and Crossing Decembers.

Adam Besenyodi will be sharing the table and selling Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan. He may even have some copies of Exo-1 and the Rock Solid Steelbots on hand. (And if he won’t, I’m sure he’ll let me know soon enough.)

There will also be many cool creators and guests, and several neat panels and groups at the convention.

I believe I speak for all both of us at booth A12 when I say it would be excellent for you to come by and nerd out for a few minutes.

November 4, 2012 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Fiction, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mouse and Mos Eisley

In no particular order, a few thoughts on Disney buying Lucasfilm, mostly composed in my head on the way home from work:

  • I started out thinking, “I’m OK with this.” This has since evolved into, “YES, I’m really, really freaking OK with this.”
  • I remain amused that this sentence – “Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.” – is at the end of the sixth paragraph.  Best. Buried Lede. EVER.
  • Disney’s overseen mostly amazing work in its ownership of the Pixar, Marvel, and Muppets properties, which makes me think the Star Wars universe will be in good hands.
  • Incredibly smart move on George Lucas’ part: If Disney messes up the Star Wars franchise, he has washed his hands of it. If Disney can pull an Avengers-esque success with Episode VII, then Lucas is the guy who turned over control of his empire in order to save it, and he regains Favor Among Nerds.
  • No idea where Episode VII will take the story. Original Jedi leads are out of the question. The droids? Han & Leia’s kids? A direct sequel recast with new actors in the leads? (Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy? I like it a lot, but I don’t think it will ever be positioned as big-screen canon.)
  • Star Wars Celebrations with actual movie build-up involved again? Sweet. I wonder if Disney ownership improves Orlando’s chances of landing future conventions.
  • Star Wars movies scripted and directed by someone other than George Lucas? History proves this is not an ungood idea. (Please see: The Empire Strikes Back.)
  • Yes, like every other dang geek on the planet, I thought, “JOSS! JOSSSSSS!”
  • I took my daughter to opening night of Episode III, thinking it would be the last chance for us to see an original Star Wars big screen premiere. She was eight years old. When I told her about Disney buying LFL and announcing Episode VII in 2015, and that it meant we’d be able to do another opening night Star Wars, her reaction was, “That rocks so hardcore.” I have to love that.

October 30, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, eighties, Fiction, geek, science fiction | , , | 4 Comments

An eight-pack of Star Wars interviews

Big surprise: I really like talking with people – especially first-generation fans – about their Star Wars memories, and about growing up loving the saga and then sharing it with a new generation of kids.

So in planning my GeekDad coverage of Star Wars Celebration VI back in August, I thought it would be fun to set up a series of short interviews with some notable geeks and Star Wars personalities, asking them about their favorite memories and toys and things like that.

Eight great people took some time during the four-day convention to hang out and answer the same five questions, and I had a blast conducting the interviews. (MAJOR thanks again to everyone who participated!) The series ran in August and September at GeekDad, and I thought it would be fun to round up all the links here, too.

Photo by Jim Carchidi

  • Gronk creator and Lucasfilm-licensed artist Katie Cook was the first person I asked what were later named the “Five Force-Full Questions.” Her interview is here, and it includes her “deep dark Star Wars secret.”
  • I was psyched to meet everyone I interviewed, but I’ll confess that when Fanboys and Ready Player One writer Ernie Cline accepted the invitation, I had a bit of a nerdsquee moment. I’ve identified very strongly with his writing, since he grew up not far from my home in Ohio, and at around the same time. We actually spent about a half hour talking about tons of other geek stuff before we even got to his Five Force-Full Question answers, and then, generous and patient guy that he is, Ernie was kind enough to repeat his answers over the phone a couple days later due to a digital recording error on my part.

Photo by Jim Carchidi

  • Marc Thompson is a voice actor and a narrator of several Star Wars audio books, and he was actually attending Celebration with his kids, so he gets bonus geeky dad points for that. His interview is here.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Rutherford

  • Kristen invited me to one of the Nerdist crew’s Star Wars Transmission tapings and introduced me to several other neat geek types, including Chris Hardwick, who, it turns out, also has an affinity for the second wave of Kenner’s original Star Wars figures (the grouping which brought the action figure total to that magic number of 21). Read which one was his favorite here.

Finally, I did a trio of interviews with three actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

Photo by Jim Carchidi

Photo by Jim Carchidi

Photo by Jim Carchidi

Man, was that a fun trip.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, eighties, Fiction, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hail and Farewell, Ray Bradbury. Thank you.

The lump in my throat has snuck up on me several times since I heard about Ray Bradbury’s death this week.

Thinking about how his name first meant something to me when I was a little kid and I watched (but didn’t understand) the TV adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, but it was 1979, and I ate up anything science fiction because I was still drowning in the wake of Star Wars. Thinking about being older, then, and recognizing his name when I found Fahrenheit 451 at a library’s used book sale. It scarred me in the best ways possible, and I wanted more.

Thinking about being at Bowling Green State University in 1990 and 1991, which is when I really started scarfing down Bradbury stories by the handful, sitting in the stacks on the first floor of the library. This is where I met those bratty kids from “The Veldt” and the time-traveling hunters in “A Sound of Thunder” and the inventor of “The Toynbee Convector.” (It was also in this period when I read a review of Bradbury’s collections that featured a description of “The October Game” as the most chilling story that Ray had ever written. It would take me a long time to track down a copy, but I still remember finding it in the Upper Sandusky library on a visit to my grandmother’s, and feeling icy water down my back when I read the story alone in a quiet den.)

Thinking of “The Lake,” one of my favorite Bradbury stories ever.

Thinking over and over again of a train and a bridge and a poem and a story and, finally, the time Ray Bradbury sent me a letter.

In December of 1990, my friend Tobi took me to Five Mile Bridge, west of Bryan, Ohio, to watch a train thunder past. Years later, I wrote the following in Crossing Decembers – and though my novel is fiction, this part is pretty close to reality as I remember it:

I wrote about the [train] in that green spiral notebook, but that was a two a.m., hurry-God-please-don’t-let-me-forget-a-nanosecond rush of howl and sigh and adrenaline.

The next night, I fell asleep trying to recreate the train, the bridge, and her eyes in my mind.

After I soaked it into my blood for a week or so, one night while my roommate was out, I shut off the lights and sat down at my desk by the window, where a bright pink-orange glow came in from the floodlight on the outside of the building.

Tree branches clicked in the wind, and over an hour or two, I wrote a poem I called “For Kallie: A Night at Five Mile Bridge.”

The next morning, on my way to the cafeteria, I stopped by her room. I was pretty sure she’d be at class already, so I slid the poem in an envelope with her name on it under the door.

Late that afternoon, I was alone in my room again and there was a quick, soft knock at the door.

When I opened it, Kallie was standing there, shaking, and her eyes were wet.

Before I could even say hello, her arms were around my neck, her sweet hair like spring, her body quaking, and in one of her hands was single sheet of paper, folded in thirds, with my poem typed on it.

Jump forward a few years to late summer, 1995. I have just sold my first piece of fiction, “Heading Home,” to Florida magazine for $100. Having practically memorized large chunks of Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, I found myself thinking about the part where Ray wrote that the greatest reward a writer gets is when someone “rushes up to you, his face bursting with honesty, his eyes afire” at how your work connected with him. And I thought about Tobi, and then, since it was well past midnight, I wrote Ray what I’m certain was a rambling, barely coherent letter about these thoughts bouncing around in my head.

I mailed it the next day and forgot all about it.

Two weeks later, his response landed in my mailbox, and I remember that my hands just started shaking when I saw the return address. Inside was a one-page typewritten letter, with a few errors and one ballpoint spelling correction.

At the top of the page were these images:

My Bradbury Cats

And below, a short note, reading in part:

These celebratory cats are Bradbury cats and they are celebrating John Booth and his first story sale and the night his girl friend flung her arms around him and wept because of the beauty of his poem!

Much luck in the coming years from Win-Win, Ditzi, Dingo and Jack, the Bradbury cats, and from

(Oh, how I love this part – )

old man Bradbury himself signed below

Over the years, I’ve opened that envelope time and again, always carefully unfolding the letter and imagining that maybe the tiniest remnants of  typewriter dust from Bradbury’s fingernails are still settled in the weave of the paper, quietly crackling with static electricity and magic.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | 1990s, Books, Fiction, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , | 3 Comments

What I read in 2011

I read 36 books in 2011, which is two fewer than my 2010 total, but a number which still pleasantly surprised me, given that I landed a full-time career-changing job in February.

Mostly fiction, by far. The eight non-fiction reads included two biographies, an essay collection, a book on gaming and society, and four pop culture niche explorations.

Nine books on the list are re-reads, although one of those was the extensively annotated Heir to the Empire 20th Anniversary Edition. If you want to get technical, it’s ten counting Pillars of Pentegarn although it’s been probably 25 years – at least – since I last read it.

Obsessive streak: I closed the year on a 10-day break from work, during which time I read volumes 2-7 of the Harry Potter series. (I had planned to read the entire set, but then realized I had already read Sorceror’s Stone over the summer.)

Shared joy: My daughter and I fell in love with the Scott Pilgrim series after I bought her the first volume and then went to the library within a day or two to check out the other five.

I have Adam to thank for two books on the list which were gifts: John Landis and Manhood for Amateurs. Excellent call on both.

I reviewed twelve of the books for GeekDad.

The list:

And first on the list for 2012:

Ganymede by Cherie Priest


January 1, 2012 Posted by | Books, Fiction, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , , | 3 Comments

2011 in (GeekDad) review

GeekDad reviewsI reviewed some awfully fun stuff this year for GeekDad – a dozen books and a couple TV shows, most of which are well worth checking out:

Gaming Fix: Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken

It’s A Craft Trap! The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton

Fuzzy Reboot: John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation

Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer

Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well

The Transformers Vault: Treasures from Cybertron

The Snow Queen’s Shadow by Jim C. Hines

The Science Channel: Dark Matters

Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Heir to the Empire 20th Anniversary Edition

Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads by Kirk Demarais

Man in Black: Star Wars: The Complete Vader

Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott C.

Doctor Who: The sixth series DVD set

The Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual

December 30, 2011 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, science fiction, Television, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My GeekDad interviews of 2011

Two facts: One, contributing to Wired‘s GeekDad is, no question, one of the most fun things I get to do as a writer; and two, I’ve always loved the inspiration and energy rush that comes from talking with creative people about their imaginations, work and passion.

So when I get to do both of those things at the same time, well, it’s like sticking the equivalent of a plant nutrient spike into the nerdiest corner of my brain.

I wrote up four interviews for GeekDad in 2011:

From Monty Python to Mad to Manga: An Interview with Mark CrilleyDon’t forget, Brody’s Ghost, Volume 3  is set for a May release.

Please Don’t Stab John Scalzi in the EyeballsWe talked about Fuzzy Nation and geek parenting, and he shared a father-daughter anecdote which he later turned into a Penny Arcade comic strip.

Air Cars to X-Ray Spex - My friend Kirk Demarais has a blast pulling back the curtain on the real stuff in old comic book ads in his book Mail-Order Mysteries.

What’s Behind James Gough’s Cloak? – Great premise for a book, fantastic guy to talk to. You’re ever in the market for an extra kiloton of energy, spending five minutes with James will replenish your stores and then some.

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Crossing Decembers in the iTunes Bookstore.

Crossing Decembers, back cover image

Five Mile Bridge, looking west.

Hey future-dwellers: Crossing Decembers is available as a $4.99 eBook through the iTunes Bookstore, so if you’ve read any or all of it online and enjoyed it, why not pick up a digital edition you can keep for your very own?

Crossing Decembers by John Booth

(The paperback edition is, of course, still available through Amazon.)

October 23, 2011 Posted by | 1990s, Books, Fiction, Ohio, writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pictures from a fall walk.

This is not Bloomfield, New Jersey.

image

Neither is it New York Comic Con.

Both are places Jenn and Kelsey and I were supposed to be visiting this weekend for a long-anticipated get-together with friends and a GeekDad panel at the convention.

We were supposed to leave this morning. Unfortunately, it turns out my car needs a new wheel bearing, and it needs it now. Frakafrakkingfrak.

This all came to light yesterday, and I was tremendously pissed off and mopey and sad. A couple hours of Wednesday’s regularly scheduled Dungeons & Dragons Encounters at Backlist Books helped, as did an unexpected but very welcome past-midnight phone call from my old friend Ivan, whose family we were going to stay with for the weekend.

I drove my car to the mechanic’s this morning. It’s only about a mile-and-a-quarter from our house, so I walked home. It was bright and mild, and because it rained yesterday, the air was full of fall: the smell of wet leaves in the sun, an occasional whiff of apples, acres of corn husks drying and the sound of leaves falling in the woods.

image

(It wasn’t all pretty: My walk also included two cross-the-road detours to avoid recently deceased possums.)

image

image

I reminded myself of what I’d told Ivan last night: I’m planning to make the most of the time off work. I have three writing projects I’d like to tackle, movies and TV shows I’d like to enjoy with a beer or two, a book to finish and another to start.

image

image

I’m still frustrated over the scuttled weekend plans, of course: I haven’t been able to attend a GeekDad panel since the first one at PAX East in 2009; my friend Kirk is signing his book at Comic Con; I was looking forward to catching up with Bonnie Burton; and we don’t see Ivan and his family nearly enough. Jenn and Kelsey are also missing a reunion with one of Jenn’s oldest friends and a belly dancing convention.

image

Big-picture-wise, though, it’s just an inconvenience, and there will be other conventions and other excellent times with friends.

This was a good walk home.

October 13, 2011 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Ohio, photos, Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 972 other followers

%d bloggers like this: