Aug 19, 2014

Linux-Flavored Noir: DARK DIGITAL SKY

His name is Chaucer, but he prefers to be called Chalk - he's a private investigator who is literate, familiar with the world of coders and hackers, and who has a bit of a problem playing nicely. He also finds himself caught in a very elaborate scheme which begins with a man attempting to track down his heirs...ones conceived via a special kind of bank.....

That's the premise of Carac Allison's Dark Digital Sky, a novel due to be released in mid-September. (I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy for review). This is a very sharp, extremely intelligent hard-boiled mystery that mixes great high-end concepts with traditional pulp-flavor. Imagine Mickey Spillane and Daniel Suarez as co-writers, and you'll get a sense of Dark Digital Sky's tone.

It's a very nice, well-paced plot, with Chalk making some nice, well-written soliloquies in between moments of detection. But these aren't literary indulgences - they help make the plot move along at a steady clip. In fact, the plot moves like a well-coordinated game of three-card monte, manging shifts in plot that never seem artificial or forced. Dark Digital Sky also integrates aspects of 21st century life, coming up with very clever takes on military matters, law enforcement, and even literature and movies that never seem self-indulgent.

Dark Digital Sky is a book that's too good to spoil, with a plot that runs like clockwork, characters that feel fully formed, and an atmosphere that simply envelops the reader. It also does what other favorite authors like Spillane, Robert B. Parker, and Jim Thompson do best - make me wish the next installment were out already.

Dark Digital Sky is probably the closest we'll ever get to a model of "geek noir." It's a must-read for anyone looking for a distinctive, unique literary well as an entertaining read.

Aug 12, 2014

Some Thoughts on Robin Williams

Originally posted on Facebook, but with some further additions. Please indulge me.
As much as I hate to be a curmudgeon, I want to put another spin on the "if you're depressed, talk to someone".

Having gone through my own dark night of the soul in recent months, I must admit that it's hard to open up.

Tough to be brave enough to open yourself to someone, especially in an online climate where things get nasty, and an admission of vulnerability can lead to someone snarking, "Oh, let daddy kiss your emotional boo-boos and make them all better".

Tough when, even after losing a friend to suicide almonst a year ago, the only thing that remains are a colleague's comments about, "If you're going through something, you open up. You don't go it alone."

As if I had the power to change things....and I don't.

Even despite the recent upturn in my personal matters, there are things that still linger... I'm still miffed that someone made a crack about me living on the south side of the city - in public. And running some fan-related events the past few weeks have me feeling that although I may love a particular franchise....I can't stand some members of its fandom.

(I can hear Robin making some wisecrack about "Hey, Gordon, great quote! Let's send it to Charlie Brown! He needs the material)

I've been a fan of Robin Williams since Mork and Mindy ...and right now, I wish I could find the rainbow suspenders I had as a kid, go around to people and announce, "I'm Mork, from Ork - Nano nano!"

Because the best way I can mourn Robin Williams is not just to declare what a great comedian he was, or even how I'll miss him....but by working harder to be a better human being, and actually reaching out to people I know are having a tough time (because, let's face it, many of us are having our own dark nights of the soul..

Relieving someone's dark times for a few moments - and remembering our common humanity - is the best tribute I can give him.

Aug 9, 2014

I Know Cool People - Buy THE KING OF CASINOS

I'll keep this amazingly brief, because - let's face it - things have been a bit hopping for me in terms of looking for work, writing, etc.

Ordered Andy's book The King of Casinos: Willie Martello and The El Rey Club, and read it from cover to cover.

Sheer brilliance from cover to cover.

It's a story about a small casino in a small Nevada town, and the owner who had some big ideas. It's a nice, breezy read chock full of some great anecdotes and insights into a time long past. (I wouldn't expect Andy to suddenly write like, say, Dostoevsky...he's the kind of guy who believes Chekhov's gun refers to the fact that, if you show a gun in Act 1, you use it to shoot Ensign Chekhov). It's the kind of book that reads like fiction....but it's all based on fact.

I can't say enough about this - it's a great read. Go buy it. click on the photo below. You'll thank me later.