The Replacements: “Live and Drunk” at 35

Thirty-five years ago, the Replacements performed one of rock music’s most brilliant acts of artistic sabotage.

In 1984, the Minneapolis-based band was receiving accolades in the press. Music fans discussed when (not if) they’d move to a major label and leave the indie/underground behind. They were on the verge of being the Next Big Thing. And they weren’t entirely happy about it.

On December 9 that year, they played a special show at New York’s CBGB, the famed birthplace of American punk. The show,  often bootlegged under the title “Live and Drunk,” features the band creatively deconstructing everything around the concept of the “Big Break” gig. They pop the balloon of pretentiousness surrounding them and make themselves look like damn fools just for the joy of dragging their audience of trendy NYC taste-makers down with them. After the first song (the then-unreleased “Lookin’ for Ya)”, Westerberg yells to the crowd “The first person to compliment us….” His threat goes unfinished, but the show makes good on it.

The results are painful, and often hilarious. The ‘Mats are sloppy and mostly play other band’s songs. At the start, fans are shouting to the band the names of covers they want to hear (one girl really wants “Heartbeat” by the DeFranco Family and the poor thing never gets it). By then end, people are shouting “Play the Replacements!”

Now understand–the show should be listened to in its entirety from start to finish, like you’d watch a stand-up comedian’s special, rather than picking songs from the set. All the songs sound bad, but in an intentional way that shifts as the show goes on. That said, I’m going to post links and some highlights to look for (times according to YouTube video marked **):

6 min, 30 sec – A crowd member demands the band “Do the Pussy Set!” The band responds by playing “Color Me Impressed,” one of their best-known songs, at half-tempo. The drag-ass result is presumably the polar opposite of what crowd members who went to see a punk-inspired band would expect.

12 min, 50 sec – A pretty great cover of Elvis Presley’s “Do the Clam” with their roadie Bill Sullivan on lead vocals segues into a version of “Walk on the Wild Side” with sarcastic revamped lyrics about themselves: “Replacements came from Minneapolis, Minnesota/Thought they could pull one over on ya.”

43 min – The band begins covering songs while Westerberg sings Replacements lyrics. They start by doing U2’s “I Will Follow” while Paul sings their single “Kids Don’t Follow.” By the end of this portion, he’s crooning Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Looking” while the band plays “Temptation Eyes” by The Grass Roots. Shambling, but often clever as hell.

1 hr. 6 min – Sullivan warbles through “If I Only Had a Brain,” the Scarecrow’s song for Wizard of Oz and a tune the band clearly identifies with. He then sings the Gilligan’s Island theme, with lyrics about touring inserted.

Bob Mehr’s excellent Replacements biography, Trouble Boys, covers the self-destructive side of the band very well. They had an intense fear of success, and their alcohol-dependence didn’t help.

While Mehr’s book captures that element, it underplays the performance art quality that the Replacements had, including Westerberg’s assertion that they had a lot in common with Andy Kaufman (another bewildering 80s artist who, like the ‘Mats, got banned from Saturday Night Live). Which is to say, yes, they were drunk at CBGB’s but they also knew exactly what they were doing. They liked pissing off/on their audience and its high expectations.

It’s one thing for a band to have jitters and blow their shot at the Big Time, and quite another for a band to outright mock the entire notion of Big Time by delivering a willfully (and extraordinarily funny) awful show.  That’s what the “Live and Drunk” show is at its heart.

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C19 Presentation on Steampunk

I learned this week that my proposed presentation, “The Pros and Cons of Steampunking a C19 Syllabus,” was accepted for the C19 (Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists) 2020 Conference.

The presentation will be part of the “Teaching the Weird Nineteenth Century” panel put together by Erin Pearson and moderated by Duncan Faherty. It’s in Coral Gables, Florida this April.

I’m going to start it by referencing this snarky, awesomely titled Vice article. Other portions will come partly from my class last summer and partly from first-year seminars I’ve taught.

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Minor Updates: Writing & Teaching

October is always a busy month that starts with a birthday and ends with Halloween. Not having any major news doesn’t mean I’m not really busy. To wit:

  • Drafting paper for MLA presentation on Twain’s love of sea adventure fiction.
  • Teaching 2 sections of Writing in Science and 1 section of Advanced Composition at UC Davis.
  • Securing reviewers for three new, major books for Mark Twain Annual.
  • Working on Long-Term Writing Project #1, which is so secret I shouldn’t be talking about it.
  • Enjoying a number of things I’ve read, including Brad Denton’s new Wild Cards short story and David Epstein’s new book on the value of not specializing in a single field, Range.

Busy, but low key. This is good.

 

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Go Country, Young Man (90s Music Nostalgia)

The Ken Burns-produced Country Music documentary that premiered on PBS last week is predictably great. It’s also giving me fits of nostalgia remembering the time I tried to be an “alternative country” singer.

It was a very late-1990’s thing to do, especially if you liked roots-music and were getting bored with “grunge” or Lollapalooza bands. It’s just outside the era Burns covers in his documentary, which ends in 1996.

Most of the “alternative country” material that came out in the 90s was positioned (by promoters and journalists) as a remedy for the Shania Twain and Garth Brooks-driven suburbanite garbage-country sounds of that era. A lot (though not all) of the alt-country bands were converts–artists who started in indie, hardcore, or even metal bands who’d discovered older country and grew into it.

Now, I never considered myself a country fan. I’d grown up loving the earlier generation’s first wave of rock and roll (Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry)  and I’d grown up obsessed with bands channeling roots music through punk or bar-band lenses (The Blasters, X, The Beat Farmers, and, yeah, Bruce Springsteen). I’d heard George Thorogood covering Carl Perkins and Huey Lewis covering Hank Williams. Twangy roots rock was my thing before (and during, and after) I discovered alternative music.

By the time people started throwing the term “alternative country” around, I’d kind of sworn off playing live music. The band I’d played with in college had dispersed around the country and life/work balance became a challenge.

But, man, the music coming out that kept being labeled “alternative country” was so damn good. They had sweet melodies, powerful guitars, intelligent lyrics, some edge. And twang. “Timebomb” by the Old 97s jumps out of the stereo and grabs you by the lapels every time. So does “See Willy Fly By” by the Waco Brothers (on stalwart label Bloodshot Records). Songs like that convinced me that it was time to get a group, learn some covers, and write more songs.

It feels weird saying that in hindsight. It sounds like “cashing in on a trend” when it felt more like “holy shit, people are finally listening to the stuff I actually like.” And no real “cashing” happened. We barely broke even, never got a real record deal, never saw a royalty check, and toured outside our hometown only a handful of times. (On the plus side, we got airplay from deejays we respected and a good review from No Depression magazine, the alt-country Bible.)

Looking back, I was scared and a little snarky. I felt the lack of 80s hardco re street-cred that other bands had. I wrote a self-parodying Onion “Area Man”-inspired press release when our bands album came out. I wasn’t brave enough to send it out, but I cleaned it up a little and have it here.

Local Alt-Country Singer Still likes Springsteen

I also obsessed about what made our band more “poppy” than “country.”  My favorite bands made poppy records, but usually only after they’d done something more traditionally honky tonk or folky.* I wrote “Top Ten” lists on bar napkins pondering this stuff. Example:

Top Things Rockabilly Bands Never Say (But “Roots Rock” Bands Will)

5. I prefer James Burton’s textured guitar playing to Scotty Moore’s picking.

4. Those burlesque dancers are too fat.

3. I really need a Vox AC-30 for this song.

2. We’re heavily influenced by Big Star.

1. When you get right down to it, all of Johnny Cash’s Sun Records singles sound the same.

For a better example, this is a bit of our live show: bad sound, bad music, NSF anyone ever anywhere. Self-defeating humor aside, I loved playing the material and am still proud of some of the songs we wrote. It wasn’t fun, but it was real. That’s country enough.

*I’m thinking of Wilco’s Summerteeth, Old 97’s Fight Songs, Robbie Fulks’ Let’s Kill Saturday Night–all great records preceded by equally good but more traditional albums.

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Twain Trip and Strange Stars Review

I’ll have at least one more research trip to the Mark Twain Papers in Berkeley between now and December (before I present at MLA on Twain’s love of sea adventure novels). I’m hoping to work a Bay-area bookstore appearance in there to discuss and (sign copies of) Gears and God. More to come.

I’ve also learned that my review of Jason Heller’s Strange Starsthe most enjoyable non-fiction book I read last year–will be delayed a little longer before it appears in SFRA Review. Again, I’ll post more when it comes in. For fans of pop music and science fiction (esp. David Bowie but also soooo many others), it’s a must read.

I was bummed that Strange Stars didn’t get a Hugo nom for the Best Related Work category, even though I applaud the expanding definition of that category (beyond just books!) to include things like this year’s winner, Archive of Our Own, and other multimedia projects like the Mexicanx Initiative at San Jose Worldcon.

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American Novel to 1900 (Class Details)

This summer, I’m teaching UC Davis’s “American Novel to 1900” class. I used the class to try something I’d always wanted to do–something scholar Paul Lauter did while developing the uber-inclusive Heath Anthology of American Literature–namely, asking students to prioritize course content and choose their own selections.

After all, six weeks to cover 100+ years of national novels can’t begin to cover everything, so what should we read? And just as importantly, what do we have to leave out?

Before I provide the list, I’ll note a few things. In an anonymous preliminary poll, students didn’t seem overly worried that they might miss books they’d been told were “great works.” Only two students mentioned wanting to read the most famous works of the era (and one of them they wanted to read those just to “avoid looking stupid” when asked if they’d read something). At least 10% of the respondents mentioned that they wanted to read authors from diverse backgrounds (several of them specifically mentioning “books by people of color” as a priority).

After the poll, I gave them a list of about 15 books and some short introductions about each one. Here is the final reading list, with the ones they chose :

  • The Female American, “Unca Eliza Winkfield” (pseudonym) (1767)
  • The Coquette, Hannah Webster Foster (1797)
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
  • Benito Cereno, Herman Melville (1855)
  • Ruth Hall, Fanny Fern* (1855)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (1876)
  • Imperium in Imperio, Sutton E. Griggs* (1899)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum* (1899)

As you can see, Fern, Griggs, and Baum were the winners. Some other thoughts:

A) They reeeeally wanted to read Wizard of Oz. That one received the most votes. It covers the “children’s literature that adults read” space occupied today by the likes of Harry Potter and company, though I suspect some students just thought it’d be a fun, easy read.

B) I added the novella Benito Cereno so that we’d have at least one representative from Mattheissen’s “American Renaissance” conceptualization of C19 literature.

C) Had I let them vote on it, I’m pretty sure Tom Sawyer would’ve been rejected. A fair number had read both Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer (the former didn’t surprise me, but the latter did). The ones who’d read it universally disliked it. However, I was in Hannibal this summer and have a lot to share about the book. I also suspect that whatever my next long-term academic project is, Tom will be involved.

D) They found the idea of a secret Black republic from Sutton Griggs’s novel amazingly compelling. Several students are writing papers on it, even though we haven’t got to it in class discussion yet.

E) I had to pick the first three novels, mostly so we could start class and people could do advanced reading for summer session. The Female American is fun because it’s a gender-bent Robinson Crusoe narrative, and forces us to consider that there might be “American Literature” or an “American Identity” before the U.S. was officially formed. I’ve taught The Coquette and Pym before.

F) Personally, I was pulling for John Rollin Ridge (Yellow Bird)’s Joaquin Murieta novel. It’s a good example of popular narrative with a Latino hero written by a Cherokee author. But Baum won. Democracy in action, I suppose. (That said, we have numerous Native American characters–particularly heroic “half-Indian” characters in Female American and Pym, and the unfortunate villain in Tom Sawyer).

G) If the poll I gave is to be believed, The Scarlet Letter, Huck Finn, and The Awakening are the most frequently taught C19 novel in high schools. Other former stalwarts–The Red Badge of Courage, Daisy Miller–barely manage a blip of recognition.

 

 

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August Updates: Book and Articles

My American Novels to 1900 class for UC Davis started last week, and I’m finishing up some big projects before fully diving into that pool.

First, I’m doing final proofreading review for my “Science and Technology” chapter of Cambridge University Press’s Mark Twain in Context. The site says it’ll be out in January 2020.

I’ve also been working to get Gears and God into the hands of local booksellers. The good news is that the Hannibal History Museum in Hannibal, MO will be carrying copies soon, just in time for the Big River Steampunk Festival on Labor Day weekend. I’m hoping the convergence of Twain tourists and 19th-century retro-futurists will result in a few sales.

The first major paper for the summer class comes in next week, so reading/grading will overtake everything else for a bit at that point.

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New Gears and God Review

Last month’s issue of Nineteenth-Century Literature featured a review of Gears and God. It requires a subscription to read the whole thing, but I’m providing a link to the preview of the first page from University of California Press’ page.

Thanks to Thomas Allen of the University of Ottawa for his insightful review!

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New Editing Gig at Mark Twain Annual

Last week, I formally agreed to be the new Book Review Editor for the Mark Twain Annual.

The Annual is a fantastic journal–one that I look forward to each year. They publish Twain scholarship that takes risks, tries things, and digs deeply into the topic. It’s exactly what a single-author specific journal should be.

The outgoing Book Review Editor is Kerry Driscoll, former President of the Mark Twain Circle and author of the excellent, Mark Twain among the Indians and other Indigenous Peoples. It’s a little intimidating to follow her, but she has generously offered to help me get on board.

It’s worth noting that teach 8-9 classes a year (depending on summer schedule and whether I teach my first-year steampunk seminar) as a full-time lecturer whose job description is allotted 100% to teaching. Sabbaticals or decreased teaching load for national research aren’t possible. And I don’t get any research funds, unless I teach the first-year seminar.

But this position means a lot to me. The Mark Twain Circle means a lot to me. And there are several fantastic books on Twain being published in the near-future. This is worth working some extra-long days during the school year.

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Live at ConQuesT 50

I returned from Kansas City a few weeks back and thought I’d share some highlights from the annual science fiction convention (ConQuesT).

I appeared on two panels (one on American Gods, one on Doctor Who) and had reading that included parts of Gears and God and a short story called “Boomaland” that’s still under construction.

The highlight, however, was artist James Hollaman’s Room Con party, which featured Bland Lemon Denton and the Lemonades playing one of their marathon sets of blues classics, 60s singles, and deep cuts from Texas songwriting legends. Photographer and Guest of Honor Keith Stokes was there to document it (as he has many SF events). That’s yours truly on the second page of photos.

I should explain. I’ve jammed with Bland Lemon Denton exactly once (at one of KU’s summer writing workshops). Apparently, I was just not awful enough for him to trust me with his guitar temporarily, while he grabbed another guitar (with a wireless connection to the amp) and sauntered off into the hotel hallway to perform a solo. I was happy to add to the show for a minute or two.

Also, in their alter egos, Bland Lemon Denton and Caroline “Honey Badger” Spector wrote a killer short story in George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe last year. Check it out. 

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Full ConQuesT 50 Schedule

My full schedule for Kansas City’s 50th Anniversary ConQuesT SF Convention is now available under Appearances.

Come by the Sheraton at Crown Center and see me talk about Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Doctor Who, and read some of the stranger excerpts of my research on American sci-fi from Gears and God.

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ConQuesT 50th Anniversary

The Kansas City Science Fiction Convention (ConQuesT) has updated its list of panelists. I’ll be appearing there, along with some fine writers, artists, and fans, starting on Friday, May 24.

I’ll post more under the “Appearances” tab once I know what my actual schedule is.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the event. I think I attended my first one as a young Star Wars fan, accompanied by a nonplussed father, in the 1980s.

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Summer UC Davis Class: American Novel to 1900

This summer, I’ll be teaching the “American Novel to 1900” course for UC Davis English Department. The full information is on their course schedule page. The first three novels we’ll cover in the six-week class:

  • The Female American, Winkfield (1767)
  • The Coquette, Foster (1797)
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Poe (1838)

My goal is to incorporate something I’ve wanted to do since I saw Trinity College Professor and Heath Anthology of American Literature general editor Paul Lauter lecture on U.S. literature over a decade ago: student input into the choice of readings. Because books from this time period are mostly out of copyright and available online, I can do it without putting undue burden on the students.

On the first day, they’ll take a poll (what American “classics” they’ve read, what authors they think we should read in a college class) and then I’ll introduce parts of American literature that they may not be familiar with, including sentimental/domestic fiction, sensation and serialized novels, utopian fiction, dime novel western/invention/detective serial narratives, and more. Then we’ll vote on what novels to cover in the 2nd half of class.

As we do this, I’ll challenge them (or they’ll challenge each other) to pick a variety of material based on what they think is important. We’ll address inclusiveness, historical importance, etc. We’ll also cover things like how these novels were published and how writers or publishers conceived of what a “novel” was. Some things I’m particularly curious about:

  • Will they gravitate toward “American Renaissance” antebellum works or toward Realist novels of the late 1800s?
  • Are the books that were standard U.S. high school curriculum 20 years ago still entrenched? Have they all read Red Badge of Courage or The Scarlet Letter, for example? If not, what works have ascended to that often-dubious honor?
  • Will anyone question the inclusion of a work (Female American) from before the U.S. was actually a nation?
  • What novels have they already covered at the university level, perhaps even more than once?

I’m very much looking forward to it.

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Cambridge History of Science Fiction is Out!

I received my contributor’s copy of The Cambridge History of Science Fiction this week.

This book is a thorough, thoughtful collection of essays about key developments in the history of SF worldwide. Gerry Canavan and Eric Carl Link have done a splendid job in making this project happen and editing the edition. My essay on American Edisonades (19th-century “proto-steampunk” inventor tales) is just one of 46 chapters in over 800 pages(!) taking science fiction from antiquity to today.

It’s comprehensive, which is often publishing speak for very big and somewhat expensive. If you can’t buy it, ask a local library to pick up a copy for everyone to access.

Photos (with help from my office staff, Sam and Ed) are below:

ScienceFictionCambridgephoto

SFCambridgeopen

 

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This Year’s Sturgeon Short-Fiction Award Nominees

One of the coolest things my alma mater’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction does is facilitate the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best SF short story of the year. They announced nominees this week.

Named for the phenomenal author who bridged pulp SF and highbrow literary complexity, the Sturgeon Award is aimed specifically at short fiction: anything from flash to novella.  I’m copying the list of finalists from the Center’s Facebook page below:

This year’s finalists for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction story have been selected. The award will be presented this year during the Campbell Conference Awards reception on Friday, June 21, 2019.

Our 2019 Finalists Are:

“Freezing Rain, A Chance of Falling,” 
L.X. Beckett.
Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 2018.

“The Only Harmless Great Thing,”
Brooke Bolander.
Tor.com Books

“The Secret Life of the Nine Negro Teeth of
George Washington,”
P. Djèlí Clark.
Fireside Fiction, Feb 2018.

“Umbernight,”
Carolyn Ives Gilman.
Clarkesworld, Feb 2018.

“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,”
Daryl Gregory.
tor.com, Sept 2018.

“When We Were Starless,”
Simone Heller.
Clarkesworld, Oct 2018.

“The Starship and the Temple Cat,”
Yoon Ha Lee.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Feb 2018.

“When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis,”
Annalee Newitz.
Slate.com, Dec 2018.

“Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach,”
Kelly Robson.
Tor.com Books

“On the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog,”
Adam Shannon.
Apex, Dec 2018.

“Yard Dog,”
Tade Thompson.
Fiyah, July 2018.

Congratulations to the nominees!

And just to clarify, I’m on the advisory board of the Gunn CSSF, but I’m not on the Sturgeon Committee or involved in the nominations process in any way. That task is reserved for a dedicated group of pros with a collective publishing experience that spans more than six decades and hundreds of works, that includes Kij Johnson, Andy Duncan, Elizabeth Bear, the center’s founder and namesake James Gunn, and trustee of the Sturgeon estate, Nöel Sturgeon.

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This Year’s Nebula Finalists

Just a quick note that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced nominees for the Nebula Awards this week.

I’m posting a link to the full list. I just want to commend Andy Duncan, Tina Connolly, and Mary Robinette Kowal on their nominations. (That’s just based on my prior reading; I need to book up and read some of the other nominees, esp. in short fiction categories).

Probably most related to this blog, however, is the nod Janelle Monáe got for her album, Dirty Computer. Sci-fi music turns up in the Nebula and Hugo awards for media/related categories more and more frequently. That’s a good thing.

SFWA is a fantastic organization that works very hard to help speculative writers get opportunities (for good-paying story sales, for representation, etc.). I’ve been an Associate Member since my first professional sale.

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New Review of Gears and God

U of Alabama Press just recently sent me a copy of a forthcoming Gears and God review by John Rieder that will be appearing in the next issue of Science Fiction Studies. I’ll try to get permission to excerpt it here, but for now you can read it on the book’s Amazon site (they’ve added it to the blurbs under “Editorial Reviews”).

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The Updates Before Christmas

The quarter at UC Davis is over, and I’m spending most of my time revising a 4,000-word entry on “Science and Technology” for Mark Twain in Context, a book forthcoming from Cambridge U Press. It’s a joy to read/re-read some of the famous moments in Twain’s life, especially now that we have all three volumes of the Autobiography out (thanks, Berkeley!) So I find myself writing about Tesla, vivisection, patent law, steamboat safety, and other things Twain was interested in.

On the fiction front, not so much luck. A rejection last week. Only one story currently making the rounds. I just don’t have the time to do the Twain entry and revise a couple of stories in progress to the level they really need to be before submission.

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Projects from Steampunk Freshman Seminar 2018

This week, students in my Fall 2018 “First-Year Seminar” on steampunk turned in their first round of creative projects.

The assignment asks them to “steampunk a common object.” As you can see from the photo below, I got some clever responses including steampunk “blue books” for final exams, hair salon fixtures, water bottles (with analog temperature gauge), and light sticks (for those Victorian EDM raves).

IMG_4158

I have a particularly smart and fun bunch of first-year students this year, though I wish we’d had more time; two sessions of the class were canceled due to smoke from the Northern California fires.

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Gears and God Signing at Avid Reader

I’m doing a reading/signing for my book, Gears and God, at the Avid Reader in Davis this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Please share with friends who like Mark Twain, science fiction, or U.S. history!

avidreaderpromo

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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.

strangestars

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.

image3_BeardandFRJ

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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