Review:

F&SF

One suspects that for Cory Doctorow many of those truths have to do with magnificent trash, with the signposts, landmarks, and psychic Dumpsters of our time. The first story appearing in his collection, “Craphound” is a demotic hymn to junk culture, catching just right, in its buddy tale of homeboy scavenger and alien collector, the mix of casual affection, greed, and bafflement our throwaways, the myriad ephemera of our past, can engender. In “To Market, to Market: The Rebranding of Billy Bailey” a story tracking the classic sf trope If this goes on, schoolchildren undergo the sort of corporate sponsorship that’s now afforded sports figures and that litters our landscape with clever TV spots, fetching magazine ads, and a succession of inescapable logos resembling nothing so much as the diagram outlines of fighter planes passed out to WW2 civilian watchers.

James Sallis,
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Review:

RainTaxi magazine

Doctorow embeds exposition in the action and dialogue, making his fiction fun to read–in other words, you don’t have to slog through idle descriptions of technology or mythical family trees. When the “robutler” in the title story affixes its “electrode fingertips” to the narrator’s temples to “juice” them and clear away his headache, the incident passes so quickly that it doesn’t seem too cute or campy. The author’s minimalist style is a refreshing change from the meticulous, heavy-handed prose of classic fantasy and SF novels, aptly conveying what it might feel like to have your temples juiced.

Doug Pond,
RainTaxi Online

/ / A Place So Foreign and Eight More, News

RainTaxi magazine has a great review of Place So Foreign in its winter 2003 ish:

Doctorow embeds exposition in the action and dialogue, making his fiction fun to read–in other words, you don’t have to slog through idle descriptions of technology or mythical family trees. When the “robutler” in the title story affixes its “electrode fingertips” to the narrator’s temples to “juice” them and clear away his headache, the incident passes so quickly that it doesn’t seem too cute or campy. The author’s minimalist style is a refreshing change from the meticulous, heavy-handed prose of classic fantasy and SF novels, aptly conveying what it might feel like to have your temples juiced.

/ / A Place So Foreign and Eight More, News

My short story, “Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)” (which wasn’t included in the collection, but is still a personal favorite of mine) was originally published in the print magazine Black Gate last winter. Now, thanks to the good graces of Fortean Bureau, an excellent webzine, the story is online for free in its entirety. Here’s a taste:

We were the Eight-Bar Band: there was me and my bugle; and Timson, whose piano had no top and got rained on from time to time; and Steve, the front-man and singer. And then there was blissed-out, autistic Hambone, our “percussionist” who whacked things together, more-or-less on the beat. Sometimes, it seemed like he was playing another song, but then he’d come back to the rhythm and bam, you’d realise that he’d been subtly keeping time all along, in the mess of clangs and crashes he’d been generating.

I think he may be a genius.

Why the Eight-Bar Band? Thank the military. Against all odds, they managed to build automated bombers that still fly, roaring overhead every minute or so, bomb-bay doors open, dry firing on our little band of survivors. The War had been over for ten years, but still, they flew.

So. The Eight-Bar Band. Everything had a rest every eight bars, punctuated by the white-noise roar of the most expensive rhythm section ever imagined by the military-industrial complex.

We were playing through “Basin Street Blues,” arranged for bugle, half-piano, tin cans, vocals, and bombers. Steve, the front-man, was always after me to sing backup on this, crooning a call-and-response. I blew a bugle because I didn’t like singing. Bugle’s almost like singing, anyway, and I did the backup vocals through it, so when Steve sang, “Come along wi-ith me,” I blew, “Wah wah wah wah-wah wah,” which sounded dynamite. Steve hated it. Like most front-men, he had an ego that could swallow the battered planet, and didn’t want any lip from the troops. That was us. The troops. Wah-wah.

/ / A Place So Foreign and Eight More, News

The (admittedly modest) initial print-run of my short story collection has nearly sold out in just over a month since the initial publication (w00t!). My publisher is going back to the press for a second run, and he’s asked me to provide him with any errata that I would like fixed before it goes to press (this means that the missing acknowledgements page will finally see print!).

If you’ve noticed any typos in the print edition (not the electronic texts), I’d love to know about them so we can get them fixed in the second printing (oh, also, this means that this is just about your last chance to get a copy of the first edition, which is sure to be an errata-filled collector’s item after my untimely death). Please email me by Friday with any tyopos, etc.

Review:

NYTimes

[It’s] a bracing collection of short stories by a Canadian writer whose influences range from Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker to Donald Barthelme and Roald Dahl.

As knowledgeable about computers as he is about flea markets, Doctorow uses science fiction as a kind of cultural WD-40, loosening hinges and dissolving adhesions to peer into some of society’s unlighted corners. His best known story, ”Craphound,” tells of a competitive friendship between two junk collectors, one human and one alien; what it says about the uses of the past is no more mysterious than the prices paid for a vintage Coke bottle or an early Barbie doll. Not every attempt to wrest truth from cliche works — but you won’t want to miss Doctorow’s satiric glance at co-opted dissent among the grade-school set or the insidious horror of his updated Pinocchio tale.

Gerald Jonas,
New York Times