Mark Twain Forum Reviews Gears and God

As promised earlier, here is a link to the full text of John Bird’s review of Gears and God on the Mark Twain Forum.  Here’s an excerpt:

Gears and God is important for the way it places Mark Twain’s works within the context of dime novels that link technology, imperialism, and religion, all important topics in Twain studies. While Williams is careful not to claim that Twain was a reader of such popular sub-genre fiction, his study shows that Twain was part of a broader cultural movement that has not been fully explored.

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Book Review News: Gears & God; Strange Stars

Gears and God received a really positive review from John Bird on the Mark Twain Forum last week. I’m unable to reprint it, but will try to link to it in the future.

Speaking of reviews, I’m thrilled to be reviewing Jason Heller’s new book, Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded, in a future issue of SFRA Review. This book is an astounding feat of research into rock history and science fiction.


I was thrilled to hear about Heller’s book at Worldcon, and was so stoked by its contents that I promptly volunteered to review it for SFRA Review. I’m going back through it, doing a critical reading, but my initial impressions were “These connections are amazingly cool.” The Bowie material is only the tip of the iceberg. I’ll link to that when it’s out.

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Mark Twain Center Hosts “Gears and God” Short Essay

A few months ago, Joe Lemak from the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College asked me if I’d like to write something to promote my book for their web site.

Today, they’ve published that essay, along with some great visuals. The piece is called “Gears and God: What Powered Twain’s Speculative Fiction?”

I’d encourage folks to read it, and to browse some of the other material Elmira has published in the last year on the site. They do an excellent blend of notes on recent research, coverage of their “Trouble Begins a 8” lecture series, and notes on international Twain scholarship. They’ve really been knocking it out of the park.


The image on the left is one of Dan Beard’s illustrations from the original edition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). The image on the right is from a Frank Reade, Jr. dime novel from a few years earlier. Both feature 19th-century guys in chain mail. To learn more, read the article at the Center for Mark Twain Studies.

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Dr. Who Draws from David Bowie (Again)

This week, BBC announced the official premiere date of the new season of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker. The first episode’s title will be “The Woman Who Fell to Earth.”

It’s a tip of the hat to 1970s sci-fi film starring David Bowie. There’s more on the connection in the Radio Times article.

I’ve written before about connections between Who and Bowie:

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Gears & God (& Me) at Worldcon 76

My box of author copies of Gears and God arrived a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also heard that people who’ve already ordered it on Amazon have received their copies in the past weeks.

I’m lucky to have Borderlands Books carrying copies at the World Science Fiction convention this weekend.

The book also comes with a fine color photo of me on the back flap, taken by my friend Julia at Jewel Photography. I’m posting that here, mostly so the photo starts showing up on Google; there are a lot of Nathaniel Williamses out there.

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Worldcon Academic Track and Schedule

This weekend, I’m working as the lead coordinator of Worldcon 76’s academic-track programming in San Jose. This means I’ll be moderating multiple panels, as well as attending most of the other ones. Full info is on the online programming guide. Stop by and say hello!

I have two additional events (both on Friday):

  • Moderating “Un-Pulping the Pulp Heroes” panel with Cat Rambo, Sheila Williams, Sean Grigsby, and Ira Nayman at 1:00 p.m. Friday in Room 211C.
  • Signing copies of Gears and God at the SFWA Author’s Autographing Table from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. Friday.
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Oxford Fantasy Class

In four weeks, I taught seven novels at Jesus College, Oxford and oversaw multiple day trips. Examples?

  • After reading Alice in Wonderland, we visited Christ Church College in Oxford where Lewis Carroll taught and took a boat ride down the Isis River to see the meadows where he’d picnic with the Liddell Family.
  • After reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we visited Magdelen College where Lewis taught and followed the path at Addison’s Walk (where Tolkien convinced Lewis to convert to Christianity).
  • Before finishing Fellowship of the Ring, we went to Stonehenge and looked at the barrows around the area.
  • After finishing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we took the Harry Potter Studio tour outside London.
  • After finishing The Book of Dust, we ate at the Trout pub and walked the ruins of the Abbey nearby (both prominently featured in Pullman’s book).

I’m posting a few pictures below:

We also enjoyed following the English team during the World Cup, playing Aunt Sally, and many other events.

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