Tachyon tidbits featuring James Morrow, James Patrick Kelly, Peter S. Beagle, Jacob Weisman, and Michael Swanwick

The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.


James Morrow, James Patrick Kelly (photo: Jim Clemente), Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman (Jill Roberts), and Michael Swanwick


Morrow provides his unique take on the cult classic horror film from the 1920’s as only Morrow can – with wry humor and a wicked twist. And of course sex.

Morrow’s prose is literate and smooth and it’s like eating a delicious piece of chocolate candy slowly so that you can savor it.  You just want to chew on his language and keep moving forward into each new sentence in order to find the next piece of nougat-y goodness. And as if slick writing weren’t enough, Morrow paints characters that have great appeal.  Even Caligari is someone you want to know more about and like, in his own way.

And of course a heady story with a deep philosophical undertone runs through this Morrow book, just as it does with everything I’ve read of his.  This sort of fiction really appeals to me – something that you can read and enjoy just for the surface story but that has deeper implications if you look for it.


Looking for a good book? THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI is another tour de force from James Morrow and is a delicious read.

Paul Semel on his eponymous site interviews James Patrick Kelly about the recent Particle Books digital release of his Nebula Award winner BURN.

For those who didn’t read it when it came out in 2005, what is BURN about?

BURN is a sociological adventure story about fighting forest fires on planet where indigenous peoples set forest fires to disrupt the founding of a would-be utopia based on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Hijinks ensue.

Where did you get the idea for BURN and how different is the finished novel from that initial idea?

As a science fiction writer, I’ve always had problems with Thoreau’s anti-technological notions of the Good Life. So I tried to extrapolate some of his ideas into a small scale agricultural society that was trying to maintain recognizable human values against the background of an advanced interstellar culture.But as I wrote, I got carried away doing research into forest fire fighting and inventing the dominant posthuman culture that the people of Walden were rejecting.


You’ve released numerous novels and short stories both before and after BURN was published. Were there any writers or specific stories that had a big influence on BURN, but not on your other work? Aside from Walden, of course.

Even though I was pushing hard against Thoreau’s conservative and largely agrarian values, I always respected the essence of humanity that he was advocating for. One of my favorite reviews of the book was in Booklist which makes this astute observation: “Besides its fireman hero (a reversal of Montag in Fahrenheit 451) and its would-be-utopian setting, the warm humanity and rural sympathies of this affectionate, winsome short novel will make many recall Ray Bradbury at his best.” While I wasn’t consciously thinking of Bradbury, as soon as I read this, I blushed. The quote captures an important part of the novel’s sensibility in that the people of planet Walden embrace some of Bradbury’s sunnier impulses.

What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, and video games; did any of them have an impact on BURN?

Movies? TV shows? Video games? What are these exotic amusements of which you speak?

Don’t worry about it. Passing fads. Now, this new version of BURN marks the first time it’s legally available an an eBook. Are there any differences between this new version and the original?

I have written a new afterword which talks about some of the same issues we’re discussing here: the sources of my inspiration, the challenges of writing, and the clash of my imagined cultures. It’s called “What I Wrote and Why I Wrote It.” Thoreau fans will get the nod to Walden.


At B&N SCI-FI & FANTASY BLOG, Maria Haskins includes Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman’s THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY among 10 Recent Anthologies That Show Us What SFF Can Do.

The official blurb for this anthology states, “the enfants terribles of fantasy have arrived,” and yes, the focus here is on some of the new(er) kids on the block in the fantasy genre. All stories here were written after 2010, and the table of contents is a veritable treasure chest of authors rocking the genre world (and awards ballots) right now, including Alyssa Wong, Brooke Bolander, Sofia Samatar, Max Gladstone, Amal El-Mohtar, JY Yang, E. Lily Yu, and Usman T. Malik. If you’re wondering if anything new and interesting is happening in fantasy, well, first of all, the answer is an emphatic “yes”, and second of all, pick up this anthology and find ample evidence of said.


Michael Swanwick on his FLOGGING BABEL blog.. um.. flogs the new anthology Once Upon a Time Machine, Volume 2. 

One way in which comics publishing is like prose publishing is that when a book first comes out, the paying customers have priority. Contributor copies get shipped later.

So, as a small gift to me, Marianne ordered a copy of Once Upon a Time Machine, Volume 2 online and gave it to me this morning. There I am on the front porch reading (of course) my own story.With pleasure, I might add. Because artist Joe DellaGatta did a really excellent job of rendering my vision. He really was the right person for the job.

I’ve already told you that this is my first comic book story ever and that I’m pleased with how it comes out. So that’s all the sales pitch I’ll give you.

For more info on THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by Elizabeth Story

For more info about BURN, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by John Picacio

For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover art by Camille André

Cover design by Elizabeth Story