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Starred Review: Ask Not by Max Allan Collins

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment

“A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides—all documented in the historical record… Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection.”

Max Allan Collins’ Ask Not got a starred review in Booklist!*

Here’s the full review, from the August issue:

 The third in Collins’ trilogy of Nathan Heller novels about JFK, this one jumps from a few weeks before the assassination (Target Lancer, 2012), when a planned attempt on the president’s life in Chicago was aborted, to several months after the events of November 22, 1963. Heller becomes involved when he and his son are nearly run down as they leave a Beatles concert. Recognizing the driver as one of the Cubans involved in the Chicago plot, Heller sets out to take his family off the assassins’ radar and soon finds himself even deeper in hot water, as he follows the trail of a host of spurious suicides by witnesses of the shooting in Dallas whose versions of what happened conflict with the official, “one-man, one-shooter” version being promulgated by the Warren Commission. Teaming with TV star and investigative reporter Flo Kilgore (read Dorothy Kilgallen), who is on the verge of exposing the cover-up — and its ties to several LBJ cronies — Heller ruffles feathers at the CIA, in the Mob, and possibly even in (or very near) the White House. A master at thoroughly believable historical re-creations of unsolved or covered-up crimes, Collins is the perfect fiction writer to tackle the JFK assassination, and he does so brilliantly, working the edges of the story by focusing on the little-known raft of questionable suicides — all documented in the historical record — and making great use of the Kilgore/Kilgallen character, who was herself one of the unlikely suicides. Even readers who aren’t conspiracy theorists will find themselves utterly drawn into the story and convinced by Collins’ version of what happened. And, best of all, it’s a terrific detective novel, compelling and well constructed even without the historical connection. — Bill Ott

Ask Not will be published on October 22nd.

*Booklist is a subscription-only publication.

The Week in Review

October 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

  • Do you like science? How about cooking? If the answer is yes to both, then check out a free class from Harvard on the science of cooking.
  • Check out this amazing Wonder Woman short. It makes me want a full length film immediately!
  • Daniel Kalla, the author of Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, will be on LitChat today at 4 PM. Check it out!

And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

Throwback Thursdays: A Conversation with Richard Matheson

October 3, 2013 3 comments

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

Earlier this year, the legendary author Richard Matheson passed away at age 87. We were lucky enough to get a chance to chat with Mr. Matheson in December 2007, as he was getting ready for the premier of the movie I Am Legend. Enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

“Maybe now that I’m in my eighties, people will discover me…”

How did you get the idea for I Am Legend?

As a teen, I saw Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. It occurred to me that if one vampire was scary, then if the whole world was filled with vampires and there was only one normal person left, than that would be even scarier.

Do you like Will Smith playing Richard Neville?

I like him very much. I’ve always enjoyed his performances. They sent me a book of art from the movie and I’ve seen photographs of [Will Smith] as Neville and he looks like he really immersed himself into the part.

How do you feel about the previous film versions of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston?

The Vincent Price [movie] came closer to the book but I didn’t care for it too much. I wrote quite a few pictures for Vincent and he was marvelous in all of them but I think he was miscast in I Am Legend. And it was done in Italy…it’s not as bad as I thought, I saw it recently again. But it certainly didn’t capture the book all that well. I didn’t care for the Heston movie [The Omega Man]. It was so far removed from the book, though, it didn’t bother me.

Why do you think I Am Legend has remained so popular after more than fifty years?

Apparently, it’s the most popular book I ever wrote. I wrote it over fifty years ago and it’s still selling. I thought I only had a small legion of fans…I guess I have quite a few.

Indeed – Stephen King has said you were one of his main influences in writing…

Yes, Stephen King has said that I Am Legend was one of his main influences – it got him thinking the way he does: for instance, my idea of the vampires using freezer boxes in supermarkets instead of down at the graveyard – it could happen in your own neighborhood.

Do you see yourself as a horror writer?

I hate that word [horror]. I prefer to think of myself as an off-beat writer. I’ve written 5-6 western novels, a war novel, and a love story (Somewhere In Time). I guess you could call me an off-beat fantasy writer. I do write scary stories, but I think of terror, not horror. I’m a neighborhood terrorizer. I’m incapable – or don’t want to even try – to write a Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or something set in a complete other world. I just can’t get interested if it’s not someplace that seems real.

How did you research the science in the book? Was that in your background?

No, I have no background in science. [I did] research, and then I had a doctor check it and it all adds up scientifically — from a biological standpoint. It is a vampire novel, it’s just my “scientific explanation of vampires”. To me, I Am Legend is the only science fiction I ever wrote.

Have you seen the movie?

No, I haven’t seen it yet – but I think they’re going to do a great job. The writer-producer and director are all very talented, and Will Smith is very talented. From what I have seen, they have done an outstanding job.

Will you attend the premiere? Are you doing any events?

I may attend the premiere in California. I’m also hopefully going to be signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank [scheduled for Dec 2 at 2:30pm]. People often come in with a truckload of my books to sign, but I’ll be signing the movie edition of I Am Legend, and then one other book for each person. If they want more, they have to go to the end of the line and start all over again.

Many of your books and stories have been made into movies. Which are some of your favorites?

Somewhere in Time — I think that’s the best written of all my books. What Dreams May Come is not bad either.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

There’s a new movie version of my story Button, Button coming out. That should be exciting. Somewhere in Time is about to be a musical on Broadway. Ken Davenport is producing it – he had written telling me that he was thinking of using some of my major ideas for the show. I wrote him a song for it. I took [music] courses in college, but though I never really understood harmony, I can work out an arrangement on the piano by ear. I wrote many songs (years ago). I don’t know if it’s always true, but it seems like the author gets more power/influence over their stories on the stage than with movies/cinema — though the motion picture people have been very nice to me and I’m happy to be identified with I Am Legend.

This article is originally from the December 2007 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

The Week in Review

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

  • MIT and Harvard have made a real life lightsaber. I want one. Immediately. I promise not to point it at my eyes first thing.
  • Want to see a bit more of the Formics from Ender’s Game? Check out the new TV spot! Not long until November 1st now…
  • Over at Tor.com, The Cure author Douglas E. Richards has taken a two part look at science fiction’s greatest movie villains, asking whether or not they’re psychopaths. It’s a great, fun read. Check out Part One and Part Two.
  • And finally, the full video of Flight From Shadow, a fan-made short film set in the world of The Wheel of Time, has arrived!

 
The Tor/Forge newsletter went out this week! Check out these fascinating articles from our authors:

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

The Week in Review

September 20, 2013 1 comment

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

  • Have you been on a literary pub crawl? What do you think of events that combine books and booze? I think they could be a lot of fun. Would you prefer something like this, or a more traditional bookstore event?
  • My favorite science awards happened not too long ago: the Ig Nobel awards!

And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

Throwback Thursdays: The Best, Worst, and BESTWORST Stephen King Adaptations

September 19, 2013 1 comment

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

On September 10th, Kendare Blake begins a brand new series with the first book in The Goddess Wars, Antigoddess. With Antigoddess, Kendare brings her talent for horror to a whole new world, so to celebrate, we thought we’d dip into our archives and share an article she wrote in August 2012, for the publication of Anna Dressed in Blood. Enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

Written by Kendare Blake

A couple of months ago, a friend and I were talking about Stephen King adaptations (they were running Stephen King with Story Notes on AMC that week) and got to wondering exactly how many movies had been made from his work. We were able to name so many: Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Cujo, Misery, The Tommyknockers, Hearts in Atlantis; we could go on and on.

“How many books has the guy written?” my friend wanted to know. “I wonder what percentage have been made into movies?”

So I said, let’s count. “And remember, it’s not only King novels, but short stories that have to be tallied. Movies have been made from short stories, too. 1408, for example. And we might want to track which works have been optioned for film without ever being produced.”

“You’re getting too involved in this,” my friend said.

Based on the rough and lazy count that followed, we arrived at this rough and lazy answer: Stephen King writes a lot of stuff, and a lot of that stuff gets made into movies. Pick up a short story collection, and somewhere inside, a film awaits. The novels are probably optioned before they’re even written. When will we see a movie version of Under The Dome or 11/22/63? The answer?

Someday. Probably. Odds are looking good.

This conversation got me thinking about the best and worst Stephen King adaptations, and I thought I’d share my list, including a special category for the BESTWORST adaptation. And oh yeah, there will probably be spoilers. Here we go.

THE BEST

Stand By Me

Raise your hand if you thought I was going to say The Shawshank Redemption. Ha! Well I didn’t. That would’ve been the obvious choice. Instead I say that this tale, adapted from King’s pensive novella “The Body” does all the things that King does best in his non-supernatural work: it studies the transitory nature of childhood friendships; short-lived but often the most memorable of your life. It’s a beautiful, careful film, carried along by genuine good times and undercut with the constant menace of knowing these kids are in real danger.

THE WORST

Dreamcatcher

Raise your hand if you thought I was going to say Maximum Overdrive. Well I didn’t. I like Maximum Overdrive. It’s hilarious.

No, my vote has to go to Dreamcatcher, a big pile of turd of a movie, complete with horrible CGI aliens that go up your butt and I don’t know, incubate until you poo them out again. If Ridley Scott’s aliens had taken this route, we would never have been able to watch Prometheus, because no other Alien movies would have been made.

Right now, Dreamcatcher is whispering in my ear about how good the acting was, by Jason Lee and Thomas Jane and Damian Lewis and heck, even Morgan Freeman. It’s telling me that the strong childhood friendships are back in abundance. But dammit, no, Dreamcatcher! Just, no.

THE BESTWORST

I was tempted to say Riding the Bullet, because it’s laughably watchable on a Sunday afternoon. And I do recommend you see it, because it’s great watching David Arquette try to make those scary faces. But in my mind, the BESTWORST Stephen King adaptation will always be the 1990 TV miniseries of IT.

I love IT. I own IT, and once a year I order Chinese food and watch IT, and eat right at the part where they get to the Chinese restaurant, because the eyeball in the fortune cookie always makes me giggle. It’s terrible, and fantastic, and features a pre-puberty Seth Green, and a just slightly post puberty John Boy Walton. Is it scary? Not exactly. But Tim Curry flashing between those hanging white bed sheets is undeniably one more reason to distrust clowns.

So there you have it. My list. With so many films based on King’s work, I expect that few will agree with my choices. I invite you to make your case for your own.

It’s important to note that this list is reflective of the movies only, not the works on which they were based. While I don’t doubt that these days King could have a lot of input on how his tales are adapted, I also don’t doubt that for many of these films he had little control, just like most authors. Someday, it would be cool if Anna Dressed in Blood was adapted, and I could be one of those no-control authors. But in case it doesn’t, here’s a short Best/Worst/BestWorst list of possibilities:

Best: Anna Dressed in Awesome: Directed by the dream team of Joss Whedon and Tim Burton, from an adapted screenplay by Neil Gaiman, a dark, visceral tale with undertones the book didn’t even think of and visuals to kill for.

Worst: Anna Dressed in a Red Dress: Anna reimagined as a 1940’s crime noir, in which Anna is a deranged socialite who murders her wealthy stepfather. Hard-boiled private detective Cas Lowood must run down the mystery in a dark coat and one of those hats. Starring an undiscovered Hemsworth brother and a rapidly aging Kardashian sister.

BestWorst: Anna Dressed in Blood: The Musical.

This article is originally from the August 2012 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

The Week in Review

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

  • Unfortunately, the weekend, and this week, weren’t all good news. Frederik Pohl and A.C. Crispin have both died. Both will be greatly missed.
  • Check out this wonderful trailer for “Flight From Shadow,” a fan-made movie set in the world of The Wheel of Time.
  • WorldCon wasn’t the only convention last weekend – it was also Dragon*Con, a fan convention that’s become incredibly well known for its elaborate cosplay. Epbot’s Jen has shared some of her favorite cosplay from the con. Don’t forget to check out her own White Rabbit cosplay!

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!