Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living

Fever Called Living

Review: Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living by Paul Collins, 2014.

Like his subject, Collins is “clever with his pen” and touches on every aspect of Edgar A. Poe’s life. It’s all here in a shade over 100 pages: Poe the poet and soldier, Poe the hoaxer and ghost-writer, Poe the critic, Poe the cryptographer, Poe the orphan, Poe the journalist and editor, and, of course the Poe who wrote famous stories of murder, mutilation, and obsession. Continue reading

The Beautiful Cigar Girl

The summer Poepalooza continues.Beautiful Cigar Girl

It’s all in preparation for the review of Paul Collins’ new biography of Poe, Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever of Living.

Review: The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower, 2007.

You can read Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Roget”, about 38 pages long in Stephen Peithman’s excellent The Annotated Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, or you can read this 386 page book.

You will have a lot more fun with this, and it will at least seem shorter than Poe’s story. Continue reading

Yes, That’s Why Aldiss Wrote Non-Stop

For some reason, one of the most popular reviews I’ve done at Amazon is for Brian Aldiss’ Non-Stop.

If you look at the comment fields, you’ll see people questioned my statement that the novel was “written as response to Robert A. Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky, a novel he felt lacking in emotion”.Non-Stop cover

I couldn’t find my documentation for this — until now.

From an Aldiss interview in the August 2000 issue of Locus:

 After all, that first novel of mine, Non-Stop, is directly attributable to Heinlein. His ‘Common Sense’ seemed to me such a good story, but bereft of any human feelings. I thought long about that story, and then I thought how wonderful it would be to write about a spaceship in which people have been imprisoned for generations and to put in something of the human feeling.

“Common Sense” became part of Orphans of the Sky and was first published in the October 1941 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction. (The first part of what became Heinlein’s novel, Universe, was published in the May 1941 issue of that magazine.)

And, yes, I’m going to maintain that “lacking in emotion” is the equivalent of “bereft of any human feelings”.

Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe

(That’s Poe to the seventh power in case you’re counting.)

I came to Poe relatively late. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe cover

Oh, I read “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Pit and the Pendulum” in fifth grade in a collection. “The Casque of Amontillado”, for some reason, bored me senseless at that age, and that was the end of my Poe reading except brushes with it in high school literature classes. (It’s now my favorite Poe story, and I’d recommend Vincent Price’s gloating rendition of the tale in An Evening with Poe.)

As an English major, I again came across Poe in my Early American Literature class. It was a largely worthless class taught in a desultory way. But I did do an extensive paper on Poe’s influence on science fiction.

There’s a fairly strong case to be made for regarding Poe as “the father of science fiction”, and Sam Moskowitz’s Explorers of the Infinite seems to have been the first to do that. I don’t believe you can push science fiction as a genre back to anything before Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But Poe influenced Jules Verne, and, when Hugo Gernsback started Amazing Stories, the first science fiction pulp magazine, he said he wanted to publish stories in the spirit of Poe among others. But we’re not here to talk about that. You can get some idea of Poe’s influence on and use of science fiction ideas with his entry at the Science Fiction Encyclopedia.

While I listened to all three versions of The Alan Parsons Project’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a concept album, centered on Poe, it was twenty years before I really dived into Poe. Continue reading

A Spy to Die For

Review: A Spy to Die For by Kris DeLake, 2013.

Reading this book was a mistake.

It wasn’t because it’s a romance. That’s obvious from the cover and description. It’s not a genre I read, but I’ve liked some of the work of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the author behind the Kris DeLake pen name. This is a follow up to Rusch’s “Skylight”, a short story explaining the origins of the novel’s heroine, Skylight Jones.140226285X.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_

I wanted to see if more was done with the idea, from that story, of an interplanetary civilization where inadequacies in the legal system lead to a system of legalized assassination as a remedy. Can’t extradite a criminal?  Can’t get a conviction? Well, just kill him. Continue reading