Blog

Tumblr

  • image


    At BOOKGASM, Alan Cranis praises Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE.

    The relationship of these two young outsiders grows with each passing year, to where they eventually think of each other more as brothers than mere friends. There are many challenges to their early friendship, as exemplified in “Not Our Kind,” a story that appeared in the earlier HAP AND LEONARD collection but is well worth reading again in the context of these other formative stories.


    Several stories take the form of a recollection, spurred by a memory that comes up in conversation or by the duo’s drive through Marvel Creek, the town where Hap grew up. So Hap recalls his poor upbringing and the lessons he picked up along the way, either by experience or taught by his stern but quietly compassionate father. Then there are the various other children Hap encounters at school, including the unsettling account of “The Boy Who Became Invisible,” with its unfortunate resonance to contemporary times.


    Leonard doesn’t appear in all the stories gathered here, but his presence is felt throughout. This is strengthened by the underlying theme of racism that permeates several of the stories. The setting is the rural south in the early 1960s, before the hard-fought victories of equality, when blacks were tolerated most diplomatically as “coloreds,” and racism was as common a household trait as church on Sunday. Leonard shoulders the additional burden of homosexuality – a trait not often discussed in those days and quickly dismissed as being “a queer.”

    “The Early Days” might have been the fitting subtitle to this latest addition to the Hap and Leonard cannon. But Lansdale wisely chose instead “Blood And Lemonade,” the title of one of the stories as well as an oddly appropriate description of the memories that it contains. 


    image


    Andrew Andrews of TRUE REVIEW enjoys many of the stories.

    Like Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles,” Lansdale has written this mosaic novel – interconnected short stories that meld into a gestalted, arching storyline – that details the very segmented and disjointed way that Hap and Leonard, friends just trying to stay out of trouble, met.


    Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, blue-collar souls trying to stay behind the law, when they can, make a motley bunch, to say the least.

    There are many recollections of Hap and Leonard’s past throughout the mosaic novel.


    One is “The Boy Who Became Invisible,” about Jesse, a poor schoolboy, who only became what hate-filled and judgmental people at the school would make him be.


    Here’s a tale of Hap as a kid: “Blood and Lemonade.” In this, an abandoned black boy is taken in by Hap’s Mama. The poor kid literally has no place to go. But Mama is persistent and takes him to his family, where Hap learns about the violently dark racism in East Texas and how the hatred runs both ways.


    Another dark recollection of the friendship of Hap and Leonard is the grisly and frightening “In the River of the Dead.” Hap and Leonard encounter some fishing problems on the dark river, and somehow uncover a sunken boat with bodies of a murdered family. Apparently Hap and Leonard have stumbled into a drug-deal-gone-wrong crime scene. For the friends, escape is possible, but there seems to be no escaping the rampant racism and psychopathic behavior of the perpetrators.


    The violent and pervasive ugliness of the Deep South rears its ugly head again in a memory Hap has while driving to a burger joint, as a teenager, in “Stopping for Coffee.” This memory only haunts him because of what he should have done, or at least tried to do, to stave off senseless violence.


    “Apollo Red” details how Hap remembers how his dad, a mechanic, encounters and stands up to a bully.


    image

    Photo: Karen Lansdale


    VICE MEETS interviews Michael K. Williams.

    On this episode of VICE Meets, we caught up with actor Michael K. Williams for an inside scoop on his role in Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo, a murder mystery set in East Texas in the late 80s. Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo is set to debut on SundanceTV Wednesday, March 15.


    Williams—who’s notorious for playing underworld badasses on shows like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire and who hosts Black Market, VICELAND’s series about underground economies—said he drew from his experiences with the LGBTQ community while playing Leonard Pine, a gay Vietnam veteran. Growing up in Brooklyn, Williams said he was mentored by a gay woman who “toughened him up” and introduced him to the area’s larger LGBTQ community.


    “This is my homage to the [LGBTQ] community, because that community has always embraced me, never judged me,” Williams told VICE.


    The Italian site WHY SO SERIAL? reviews the first season of SundanceTV’s HAP AND LEONARD while contrasting it with its source material SAVAGE SEASON (A SEASON WILD in Italian).

    The series, which adapted the first novel “A Season Wild” in six episodes, lacks quell'imprevedibilità which is typical of Lansdale novel, which causes our heroes wield crossbows, pans, chairs, tables and anything else to defeat the villain with the biggest gun or more overt racism. Violent scenes are not lacking, and make perfectly human cruelty and crudeness to its lowest step. The series also sees an extraordinary woman by their side, Christina Hendricks , in the shoes of the former wife of Hap, in trouble with another hippie crowds of their old days. She is to recruit them for a mission that seems bullshit: recover the money ended up in the bottom of a lake. Too bad that not everyone has the loyalty of honor that our heroes and, at their expense, will find themselves in yet another spiral of trouble.


    It is to see the structure of the characters, the deep friendship that can tie two such men and how yet another woman can get them into trouble (and it was only the first: D). And last, but not least, because it is Lansdale Lansdale and even a fistfight in my hiding deep social meanings (I am not entirely ironic). Already renewed for the following season, with the adaptation of “Mucho Mojo”, we trust in the wisdom of the writers not only for the “veracity” of the characters but also for violence. It Lansdale, damn!

    Translation form Italian courtesy of Google.


    For more info about HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover by Elizabeth Story


    For more info on HAP AND LEONARD, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover by Elizabeth Story

  • Three fresh reviews for Alastair Reynolds’ Locus award-winning SLOW BULLETS.


    SFBOOK REVIEWS praises the book.

    SLOW BULLETS won the 2016 Locus award for best Novella and was shortlisted for the Hugo (along with making a number of must read lists). As you would expect from a novella it’s a short read at 192 pages but it packs in more ideas than many more weighty novels manage.

    From the Narration itself memory then becomes part of the story when the inhabitants of the Caprice realise that the computer memory is failing and they must try and preserve as much as they can physically by writing on the metal walls and later on their own flesh. I won’t go too much further into the story itself as it’s worth encountering without spoiler but suffice to say it lives up to Reynolds usual epic scale. The book moves from memories of the individual to those of society and race, how it is all but impossible to keep a reliable record of the past and our faith in electronic storage is a short-sighted one.


    Not only is this book small, it’s incredibly swift too. I read it in one sitting, one morning. There is no wasted space and most is devoted to moving the plot forward, a departure from much of the authors works with little time spent world-building or given over to exposition.


    SLOW BULLETS is incredible, it is a superbly balanced story packed full of ideas and subtlety. It’s also not only the finest of Reynolds work so far but it’s one of the finest nuggets of science fiction you could read anywhere.


    THE SPLATTERGEIST enjoys the novella.

    Reynolds takes the same concept used in the movie PASSENGERS and adds a little twist: when you’re done reading SLOW BULLETS you actually understood what went down and, just as an added bonus, walk away with a satisfied smile.

    A good tactic is by putting your characters in the same room and leaving them to their own devices, leaving them to it to see how they grow and interact with each other – in essence this is a writing exercise used by beginners but at least an iconic writer would also focus on plot and setting. This is a good example of how to write a story; the protagonist is given a ticking time bomb: Scur is threatened with a device that will slowly kill her over a period of time. This approaches the typical ‘dying’ protagonist issue where said character is forced to find a cure or act out revenge against the clock. However, these issues are quickly resolved and now the focus is on keeping the peace between the crew and finding their way home.


    SATALYTE PUBLISHING reviews the title.

    Whilst SLOW BULLETS is a smaller story (a novella length) and therefore did not have the depth of a Revelation Space novel, I still found myself drawn into this story.


    It starts at the beginning of a ceasefire, where we find our protagonist. Scur is a wonderfully written and deep character, given the length of this novel. It is great to see a female kicking butts and taking numbers.


    For more info about SLOW BULLETS, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover art by Thomas Canty

    Design by Elizabeth Story

  • Photo: Scott R. Kline


    At READ WELL, Suncerae Smith enjoys their introduction to Ellen Klages with the forthcoming WICKED WONDERS.

    Ellen Klages’ short fiction has won several awards, including a Nebula, as well being short-listed for Hugo, Nebula, and John. W. Campbell awards, but her work is new to me. WICKED WONDERS is a short-story collection of lyrical fantasy tales (mostly) starring young girls and childhood itself. With elements of historical and modern fantasy, and science fiction, there’s a little something for everyone in this collection.


    Klages’ stories are lovely, strange, and sad things. Some are quite funny, most are clever, and they are all cultivated by these beautiful details that capture a mood of magic. Beware: These stories will evoke memories of your own childhood, or at least garner nostalgia for a childhood dream. Most of these are slow to start, but they stick with you for days. The collection concludes with author story notes, which in the least offer a fun insight, but some of which also provide a greater appreciation.

    Highly recommended as a subtle feminist collection. If you enjoy strong or subversive female protagonists in speculative fiction, this collection is for you!



    Hugo Award-winning author of ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY, Charlie Jane Anders has this to say about the collection.

    Every time you think you know where an Ellen Klages story is going, she pulls another fast one. WICKED WONDERS is fancy in every sense of the word.


    Jenny Blackford, author of DUTIES TO MY CAT and THE PRINCESS AND THE SLAVE praises the book.

    Smart, often funny, and satisfyingly strange, these wicked stories will delight.


    For more info on WICKED WONDERS, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover design by Elizabeth Story

  • image


    For DEN OF GEEK, David S.E. Zapanta enjoys the first episode of SundanceTV’s HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO.

    Overall, “Mucho Mojo” is a strong start. Six episodes may not seem like enough, but the first season covered a lot of ground in only six hours. I’m expecting more of the same this time around. And while I may be missing Christina Hendricks, this episode certainly doesn’t suffer from her absence. What matters is that Purefoy and Williams continue to work so well together.

    image

    Irma P. Hall as MeMaw 

    Crime shows like Hap and Leonard may truck in violence, but a lot of their success also resides in humorous beats. There are some genuinely funny moments between Hap and Leonard, but Irma P. Hall’s elderly matriarch MeMaw is a real scene-stealer. She may laugh off Leonard pissing in drug dealer Melton’s face (as does much of the neighborhood), but she won’t suffer raunchy talk at her breakfast table.


    Melanie Mcfarland at SALON discusses the series in “Me and you ain’t you and her”: How “Hap and Leonard” challenges TV’s portrayal of masculine friendship.

    Strip away the so-called “swamp noir,” a label describing the East Texas twang born of a meeting between arid and sultry. Look behind the curtain of its murder mystery, which careens through turns that are at once predictable and obscenely unfair, and see Sundance’s “Hap and Leonard” for what it is — a wonderful platonic love story.

    image

    Leonard Pine (Michael J. Williams) and Hap Collins (James Purefoy)

    Grounding “Hap and Leonard” in a devoted, affectionate male friendship goes counter to the standard vision of machismo or manly identity seen elsewhere on TV. Mind you, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine fit the popular concept of what it means to be masculine. (Leonard is a brawler, in fact. In the season premiere he beats a criminal senseless for urinating on his prized rosebush, topping off the incident by repaying the offense in kind.)


    Since “Hap and Leonard” establishes the intensity of their brotherhood, it can take the audience into uncomfortable places and make broader topics of prejudice and injustice personal.


    It’s not as if the first season of “Hap and Leonard” ignored the fact that Hap is a white ex-convict and Leonard is an African-American with dark skin having adventures in the Reagan-era South. The previous story was a caper involving Hap’s ex-wife Trudy (Christina Hendricks), who got them into trouble with nihilistic thugs. Television writers love to punctuate the villainy of such characters by having them sprinkle their vocabulary with epithets as casually as a smoker taps cigarette ash onto concrete. Leonard sustained his share of such abuse.


    But the racial divide in the second season is distinct and purposeful, adding an anxious edge to Hap and Leonard’s interactions with the law — more specifically, Leonard’s troubles. And this new act makes “Hap and Leonard” into an allegory illustrating the senselessness of America’s racial divide, showing a community where black and white people live in close proximity while leading almost entirely separate lives. The drama may take place in the late 1980s, but its observations about law enforcement bias and the prejudice corrupting the judiciary are right on time.

    image

    Barbed as its observations about race and class can be, “Hap and Leonard” nevertheless embraces its audience with liberal servings of humor and the heartfelt bond between the two leads. And actually, Hap’s crush on Florida serves to spotlight their enduring loyalty as opposed to splitting them, simultaneously speaking to the societal conflict threaded through this season.


    “She black,” Leonard says to Hap, later adding, “And you ain’t.”


    “That never stopped me and you,” Hap retorts, to which Leonard delivers the perfect rebuttal: “Me and you ain’t you and her.”


    Leonard’s right. Plainly they mean much more to each other.


    SUNDANCETV offers their second exclusive expert from Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE.

    Journey back in time to witness one of Hap and Leonard’s young adventures in this never-before-seen story by Joe R. Lansdale, “In the River of the Dead”

    image


    HAP AND LEONARD: IN THE RIVER OF THE DEAD — CHAPTER 1


    We were seventeen when this happened, out fishing on the Sabine River.


    What we learned was if we went fishing, sat in a boat and dragged some lines in the water, we might catch dinner for our night camp, but mostly we found out about each other. That’s how I learned about Leonard’s family, his feelings about being black and gay, and he learned about my family and me.


    We drifted all day, had our camping supplies in the boat, and the plan was we would find a place to stop before nightfall. The boat was pretty good sized, an open boat. The outboard motor wasn’t strong on horse power, but it puttered us along as fast as we needed to go.


    The river smelled sour because the day was warm. After we motored down a ways, we killed the engine and let the boat drift beneath the shade of the overhanging trees in the narrow part of the river. It was cooler there. The wind finally picked up, which was nice, because it blew the stink and the mosquitoes away from us.


    image


    At ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, Joe R. Lansdale delivers a poignant tribute to his good friend Bill Paxton.

    Bill Paxton died while I was at a hometown film festival I had hoped to rope him into attending. We thought 2018 was possible.


    We talked about it in January when he told me he had to have surgery for a heart condition. Bill said he was starting to think every slight feeling he had was due to the discovery of the heart problem.


    He said, “I’m an actor, Joe. I can imagine anything. Tell me I’m a dog and I start barking.”


    He was a little scared about the whole business, and we joked about it to disarm his worries. I told him my brother had heart surgery more than once and was fine. We ended up laughing hard about all manner of things, most of them pretty silly, before we rang off.


    image

    Bill Paxton, Jake Lansdale, and Joe R. Lansdale


    I only knew Bill for seven or eight years, possibly a little more, but to know Bill for only an hour made it seem you had known him your whole life. He was a Ft. Worth boy, a Texan. Ft. Worth is where we met. At a film festival, of course.


    He was what they used to call a boon companion. Witty, fun, considerate and kind. Nothing movie star about him.


    In an IHOP in Nacogdoches, Texas, me and Bill and our mutual friend, Brent Hanley, screenwriter who wrote FRAILTY, a marvelous film Bill directed and starred in, were having breakfast, and Bill was recognized.


    The waiter said, “You’re a movie star,” to which Bill replied with his usual modesty. “Well, I’m an actor.”


    After breakfast, Brent and I went out of the restaurant, realized we had lost Bill. We soon discovered he was inside having photographs taken and signing autographs for anyone who asked, and he did it joyfully. He was thankful for his career, and for those who loved seeing him on the screen.


    We spent the day tromping around in the river bottoms with my cousin, who was helping us locate possible locations for the film we hoped to make based on my novel THE BOTTOMS.


    Next day we visited with my cousin’s family. Bill seemed as if he had grown up next door. Kind and considerate as he could be. Not a movie star bone in him. He made everyone comfortable.


    Damn, I miss him.


    For more info about HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover by Elizabeth Story

  • Jacob Weisman, Sydney Duncan, John Kessel and Andy Duncan at the 2007 ICFA (photo: James Patrick Kelley)


    Tachyon publisher Jacob Weisman joins creator Charlie Jane Anders, Eileen Gunn, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Ellen Klages, James Morrow, David Sandner, Rick Wilber, and Sheila Williams will all be in attendance for the 38th annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.


    John Berry and Eileen Gunn at the 2008 event (photo: Ellen Datlow)


    The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) is an annual scholarly conference devoted to all aspects of the fantastic (broadly defined) as it appears in literature, film, and the other arts. The ICFA is held annually in Orlando, Florida, USA.


    James Patrick Kelly and Ted Chiang in 2010 (photo: Andy Duncan)


    March 22-26, 2017
    Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside, Orlando, Florida

    • Guests of Honor: Steven Erikson and N.K. Jemisin
    • Guest Scholar: Edward James

    • Special Guest Emeritus: Brian Aldiss
Next Page