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neil a
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 04:16 am:   

Hello again, Mike.

I finished reading Light at the weekend.

Loads to think about in there. Some of the science went over my head a bit, but that didn't detract from my engagement with the story. The thing I liked most was the synchronicity (and not) with the three narrative threads.

Coincidentally I found a copy in WH Smiths yesterday (the first of your books I've ever seen in Smiths) so, in honour of my recent reading, experience I moved it to a prime position on the bestseller chart.

Overall was a great, intriguing read.
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MJH
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:17 am:   

Hi Neil. Glad you enjoyed Light, and thanks for my promotion to the bestseller chart--probably the only one I'll ever have. Light's the first book of mine for some time to be shelved at Smith's. It's still a staff pick in several London branches of Waterstone's; and it's still there on the airport bookstalls. This makes everyone happy, even me.

>>Loads to think about in there.

Well, I hoped there would be.
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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 05:56 am:   

Hi Mike - Is there any truth to the rumour that an original story went out with the US galleys of Light? And if so, is there any way we can get to see it.

Jonathan
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 09:07 am:   

Hi Jonathan

As with all rumours, some truth lies behind that, yes. The plan seems to have shifted a little over the months, but there is an original short story which will go out as part of the marketing effort. It's called "Tourism"; it's by way of being a taster for the next novel; and everyone will have a chance to see it, on the day, at the time. I'm not saying any more than that in case I lose my rep for being teasing, conflicted, inaccessible and innately mysterious (as well as cruel, bleak, politically incorrect & misanthropic). Also I don't know how much of this I'm supposed to admit to.
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B Evans
Posted on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 03:03 am:   

There is a very nice review of Light here

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/08/15/RVG4U82SDS1.DTL

Does this mean the US edition is available?
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 04:14 am:   

Hi, B Evans. As I understand it, the US edition is available from 31st August. San Francisco Chronicle jumped the gun a little--but with such a rave I can't find it in my heart to blame them. There are other reviews out there, I think, in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Reviews are also scheduled for the NYT and Entertainment Weekly; and I believe Time Out New York will be interviewing me as part of some larger feature.

Meanwhile, Light continues to sell quite well in the UK, with--shock horror--a continuing presence even at W H Smith. What readers are making of it, I don't know--but they're obviously recommending it to one another despite its supposed heartlessness, obnoxious sex scenes, cold technicality, unlikeable characters, etc.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 06:00 am:   

I got my Spectra e-mail newsletter yesterday and it was mostly about LIGHT. I've had a ton of recommendations for it, and after reading the newsletter, I can barely wait to pick up a copy of it.

JK
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 06:38 am:   

Hi John. You wrote--

>>I've had a ton of recommendations for it

Lateral transmission certainly seems to have kicked in, here and over in the UK. It's a genuine pleasure to receive both good reviews and good word-of-mouth. Being the "writers' writer" is fun; but getting out to readers is fun too. I hope you enjoy the book.
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MJH
Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 03:23 am:   

That original short story, "Tourism", set in the Light universe and a preview of the next novel, can now be found here--

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/536970/102-6597089-5424939
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 03:46 pm:   

Light just hit the big chain stores (Borders, Barnes & Noble). Looks great. Can't wait to grab a copy and dig in!
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 01:59 am:   

Hope you enjoy it, Marc.

The only fly in the ointment at the moment is those appallingly sour reviews at Amazon. I wake in the night with the taste of fear in my mouth etc etc, from dreams in which I've done an Anne Rice, pressed "post message", and it's too late to take it back...
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 09:19 am:   

Ha! The most amusing review I ever received on Amazon was a one-star: "This is the worst book I have ever read. Actually, I have never read it!" Thanks for the star, buddy!

It's pretty strange to have those reviews just hanging out there in the permanent forum...daring one to take them up... Better to pretend you're just a figment of the author's own imagination, unable to respond.
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MJH
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:34 am:   

Luckily, I am a figment of the author's own imagination. While I struggle to overcome that limitation, here's the optimum internet review--

Don't buy this book
The sex is sordid and the characters are so unlikable! The story is almost to confusing
to follow.
You won't be able to find 1 single good thing to say about this book.
Who does this author think he is ?
His primary antagonist could sure do with more work :-)
Another thing, none of the awful things in this book could happen! This isn't proper science.
You'll know how wrong it is, people doing disguting things to one another without being angry
Or even Good. Don't buy this book
I would give it less than no stars
The author probably lost all of the feeling's people have about life, and
You won't find a person you can like or identify in this book


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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 05:19 pm:   

Holy shit Mike! that review covers just about every single title Night Shade has ever published. I think I'm going to put that in the catalog.

:-)

-jl
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MJH
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 01:46 am:   

Hi Jeremy. It's the first genuinely all-purpose review. First, I thought of selling it to people. Then I thought, no, it would be wrong to keep this to myself.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 10:28 am:   

I just finished reading LIGHT. Achingly beautiful. The way the threads came together was very satisfying, as was the feeling of thematic culmination rather than a mechanical plot. The way the lives echoed and reflected each other was reminiscent of CLOUD ATLAS, which I read very recently. I'll have to go watch "Black Cat White Cat" now; I watched Kusturica's "Time of the Gypsies" a couple months ago and have been meaning to seek out more of his work.

I can only conclude that the negative reviews on Amazon were written by, yes, I'm not afraid to say it, stupid people. I'm more convinced than ever that the world is full of them!
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MJH
Posted on Saturday, November 13, 2004 - 03:04 am:   

Hi Marc. Kusturica is so brilliant. I saw Black Cat White Cat again recently and sat there thinking, I'm not sure I have the slightest idea what any of this means but I can't stop laughing. My advice, keep watching the geese as well as the cats.

Benoit Mandelbrot, interviewd in New Scientist recently, said: "People have generally been indoctrinated to believe that the world is simpler than it is." I think that sums up the Amazon reviews of--and indeed generally stupider sorts of reaction to-- Light. What interested me in the end, I think, was not so much their anger as a definite sense I had that they didn't really know why they were so angry. If I was their therapist I'd be pursuing that.
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, November 13, 2004 - 11:02 am:   

That Mandelbrot interview is great stuff; I read that while I was reading LIGHT.

Have you seen MAROONED IN IRAQ? It's an incredibly wonderful movie. The director says he's heavily influenced by Kusturica...that was one of the main reasons I sought out GYPSIES.

I guess I see the reaction of Amazon readers as a revulsion for certain types of s.f., which from the historical perspective of a long-time s.f. reader, I am used to, but still cannot fathom. They don't have any sense of scale even in terms of the contemporary novels that LIGHT shoulders in amongst. It's as if they are unaware that there was ever a New Worlds, a New Wave, cyberpunk...as if it all boils down to a long line of Dr. Who and Perry Rhodan books. When I was working in bookstores, I saw far too many customers give a disgusted sneer to a Gibson novel and grab up the Star Wars novelization next to it.
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MJH
Posted on Sunday, November 14, 2004 - 02:56 am:   

I'll look out for Marooned in Iraq. We have a great repertory cinema, the Riverside, just down the road from us in Hammersmith. If you're cinematically bored on a trip to London, that's the place to head for. (They also do live art, performance & interesting theatre, as witness the recent Forced Entertainment season.)

>>When I was working in bookstores, I saw far too many customers give a disgusted sneer to a Gibson novel and grab up the Star Wars novelization next to it.

They're lazy, they're greedy, they're easily satisfied and unassuagable at one & the same time, and now they have their own political philosophy. Consumer's always right, Marc.

Don't you hate bird colonies ? The only use of a bird colony is to produce more birds. Year after, the smell and the shit build up on the headland above the sea, and every baby bird is exactly the same as every other baby bird they ever made. In the old days I had these dreams in which I was a gannet or whatever perching on the edge of the nest, staring down at all these shrieking open beaks demanding to be fed and thinking, "Nobody would know if I flew away & didn't come back."
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Mastadge
Posted on Sunday, November 14, 2004 - 11:03 am:   

Just putting in a kind word for Star Wars novels here. Most of them aren't very good, but there've been some surprisingly good ones by the likes of Matt Stover, Sean Stewart, Karen Traviss, etc.

And Gibson's certainly not to all tastes. I haven't read much of his, but I'd hardly consider myself a fan. Maybe that'll change once I read one of his novels.

//waits impatiently for Climbers to arrive.
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MJH
Posted on Sunday, November 14, 2004 - 11:38 am:   

Mastadge: I hope you enjoy Climbers when it arrives. I'm sure you're right about Star Wars novels. The ones I tried to read were so bad I actually preferred the TV series. Once bitten, twice shy.

Speaking of gypsies, Marc, interesting piece on Desmond Hogan in the Observer today. Hogan, one of the novelistic hopes of the UK in the 80s, "went missing" (as far as the London publishing industry was concerned, anyway) in post fall-of-the-Wall Europe; and now turns up again living with gypsies in rural Ireland, just listening to the stories they tell. He quotes Martin Buber, "The anecdote is the recital of an incident that illuminates an entire destiny." Then adds: "The world has become a very commercial place in the last 10 years... The human voice has been lost. All you're hearing now is shrieks." It occurs to me this is one of the reasons Kusturica is so engaging: a human voice.

Weirdly enough, Hogan's antithesis, the super-urban White Stripes, are saying much the same thing in the same issue of the same paper.

When I read the Buber quote, I wanted to be back writing Climbers and The Course of the Heart again, building up layer by layer from the anecdotal life instead of slumping in front of the Mac all day making shit up. Hogan reminds me of Lucas Medlar, vanishing into himself as he follows his own fiction into deep Europe.

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Al Robertson
Posted on Monday, November 15, 2004 - 03:48 am:   

Hmm - I'm intrigued that you feel that way; I always saw the more and less fantastical work as emerging from the same personal experiences, albeit expressed in radically different ways. Is it the directness of engagement / transposition you're missing?
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pippa
Posted on Monday, November 15, 2004 - 04:47 am:   

Mike, reading the article on Hogan I noticed that on The Observer's list of other writers who've dropped out of sight in recent years is Adam Lively. Weren’t you quite friendly with him at one time?
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, November 15, 2004 - 09:59 am:   

Not to speak for Mike, but for me, drawing directly on experience and setting stories in more or less the same world where you experienced them is very different than making it all up...even if the fantastical stuff has its origin in personal experience. It feels like a very different process; and one's relationship with the finished story is very different too. Not better or worse, less or more valid, just...different. They fulfill different needs. And the more deeply you're involved in doing the one, the more attractive the other appears.
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MJH
Posted on Monday, November 15, 2004 - 11:42 am:   

I like it when the "real" permeates and enlivens the fantastic, and is permeated by it in turn. In fact this happens in the most experientially-based of fiction. (But never in the most literalistic. Literalism weakens the experiential novel as much as it weakens sf, which is why I loathe the plaintive readerly question, "But am I supposed to think these things have actually happened or not ?" The baby bird wants to be fed again, but it's a mistake to think of me as Mother. I'm a writer, not an immersive virtual world. Stand out of my way, kid, and I'll send you a card when I get to Vegas.)

pippa: I haven't seen Adam since 1996 when we fell out over a woman. Actually (speaking of anecdotalism), it was more complicated and less interesting than that makes it sound. Adam had a self-destructive streak when I knew him, but not of the same type as Hogan's. I heard he went into television. Come to think of it, that indicates a self-destructive streak much worse than Hogan's.
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Nels
Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - 09:00 am:   

MJH, talking of the "anecdotal life", may I ask if you have you ever read "Peace" by Gene Wolfe?

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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - 09:21 am:   

Afraid not, Nels. I'm a couple of decades behind on Wolfe.
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Nels
Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - 12:27 pm:   

Oh. It's just the way it's constructed made me think of what you were talking about earlier. I for one can't get on with Wolfe's SF or Fantasy stuff, myself (ducks), but Peace is one of my favourite novels. Impossible to describe it as other than "fragmentary nostalgic stream of consciousness ramble", filled with blind alleys; incomplete anecdotes, folktale fragments, backstories which don't quite fit... But when you think you've gone down all the blind alleys, the narrator seems to ambush you, opening up more inside the heart of the book. It's quite splendid, really.
It was written about 1970, and I think you can get it in one of those Fantasy Masterwork editions.

Right, sorry. I have read "Light", by the way. I thought it was fantastic. The narrative strand juxtaposition thingie, there's a word for it -- the thematic/emotional compare/contrast that you do so well -- also crops up in "Peace", but I've wittered on enough...
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - 03:07 pm:   

Wolfe's a big gap in my reading. I remember reviewing a novella of his for NWQ. I think I read one of the 70s novels, but nothing after that.

I'm a big fan of parallel-and-contrast. A nice organic way of building structures.
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MJH
Posted on Saturday, December 04, 2004 - 04:48 am:   

MarcL, if you're out there, just picked up on your review of Light, many thanks.

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