Editorial Notices Books Received

My New Book (still); Requiem For A Visionary; Seasonal Notes

Publisher's Note: The personal views of the publisher, expressed here, do not necessarily mirror those of other contributors to this magazine. This is always strictly my own personal rant.

Invasion of the Mushroom People Last month I wrote a new novel (my 21st book)—there's the cover illustration I did for it (at right).

Requiem for Byron Preiss

These things always come out of nowhere and slam you like a sudden left hook to the temple. July 10, the Sunday before ComiCon was to kick off in San Diego, I had an email from Dennis Latham, who had spotted an article on a horror website about the sudden and unexpected demise of my publisher, Byron Preiss. Here is a eulogy by Jim Steranko of Komikwerks, along with a blog of dismayed comments from people who knew Byron.

Here's the gist of what I said at his eulogy: "I liked him. I think he was a guy one instinctively liked and trusted. I only knew him for 2 years, as my publisher, and never had the chance to meet him in person, but we talked on the phone a number of times, and emailed many times. I had begun to think of Byron as in the beginning stages of being a friend. How many people can say that they can pick up the phone and just call the publisher direct? Thatís how it was with Byron. Byron gave me an immeasurable gift in publishing my books. Not only that, but he actually brought out capabilities in me that I had never developed—like my nonfiction/archeology/ancient history book A Walk in Ancient Rome. In the end (no pun intended) I have this book which I pulled out of my arse because Byron had the patience and the vision to let me do it. The world is a bit emptier without Byron."

Seasonal Notes

When you run a monthly magazine, you acquire a bit of time dilation. On the one hand, if you're a writer and editor and publisher as well as occasional cover artist and family man, etc., you tend to lose track of time. If you don't have a fully automated website (like me) you find yourself typing "August 2005" and thinking, Wow, where has this year gone? On the one hand, it's a weird and creepy feeling as we wing through this universe at enormous speed (and through the successive days of our lives like flying a jet down a hallway full of doors toward that big, unknowable stained glass window at the far end. On the other hand, as I sit here alternately dripping sweat in a monsoonal heat wave coming up from the tropics in Mexico, and then again freezing to the point of being blue and stiff when the a/c is on...I do look forward to those shorter and cooler days not far away now. Yes, we do have seasons in San Diego. For the most part, they are subtle compared to New England, where I grew up. A part of my heart will forever treasure certain moments of New Haven. In fact, that's probably why I am taking a personal moment to write this. You see, the seasons are very powerful in their changes in New England. A New Englander gets a certain feeling in his (her) bones, sometime in August, usually late in August—a sudden inner change, a surprised looking upward, a hint in the breeze, a shifting of wind direction, something paler about the sun, the first rattling stiffness in the elm tree leaves...the change from Summer to Fall. I'm not even sure that 'Fall' is the term in all English-speaking areas. I think most English speakers say 'Autumn,' from the ancient Roman god of the harvest season. All we have left of that is a rather silly (fun) and innocuous Hallow E'en or Evening of All Hallows; the day of All Souls that precedes the Day of All Saints; a day made to overwrite ancient harvest festivals danced and chanted to gods whose names are largely forgotten (Beltane, Mars, etc.). Oh yes, Mars was in great antiquity not a war god but a harvest god—Mamurs, Mamer, etc. Thinking ahead to evening walks under crisp skies, with not hardly enough rustling leaves like those that inundate Connecticut streets—now is when the editor in me remembers to check in his Seasonal drawer to see if there is a fun little story there for 60 days down the road in October. There isn't? Someone better hurry up and send me one. A good one, to make the cheeks giggle while the skin craws with gooseflesh.



Editor's Note: We welcome books and announcements. Please give us at last 3 months lead time so we can present your announcement in a timely fashion. We take no responsibility for the content, format, contributors' editorial opinions, or other characteristics of this information which we publish in community interest.

Invasion of the Mushroom People I don't have anything else from the world of sf/f/h at the moment, so I'll put a plug from my new, as yet unpublished and unagented book in this space. I may add some other stuff if any comes in during the month. Click for details.

Books Received

New & Exciting: John T. Cullen's Invasion of the Mushroom People, a worthy successor to SF/horror cult classics including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Night of the Living Dead, and They Live.

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly (2005 HarperCollins, New York, ISBN 0-0600-0692-7). One of the cultural memories of European civilization. It is probably more correct to call it 'one of the greatest plagues of all time,' since there is now strong evidence that the Classical World was brought down by a plague or mix of plagues in the Fifth Century, which devastated the Mediterranean Rim, crippled Byzantine civilization, finished off any hope to restore Rome in the West, and, with the utter devastation of much of North Africa's cities, opened the door for Arab expansion into Europe. We must also take into account the world influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed up to 40,000,000 people and altered the course of history in many significant ways—hastening the end of World War I; ending all hope to restore the Romanovs and thereby setting the stage for 67 years of Soviet devastation and failure; setting the stage for Hitler in the disgrace and abdication of the Hohenzollern and the creation of anarchy in German cities; and more in a domino effect still being felt in many ways today. That said, nothing can minimize the horrific toll on people, culture, and history by the Great Plague. Entire towns were devastated. With the massive death toll, the value of labor and indeed of human life was drastically changed. The Medieval system, with its Christendom and Feudalism in its last gasp in the Renaissance, ended and Humanism was to usher in three great revolutions—a new, fractive, but more dynamic Christianity with new meaning in the Western individual and his relationship with God; a new way of looking at nature by means of Science; and a new way for men to regard themselves and their fellow men in a form of government called Democracy. Kelly traces the causes, the spread, and the ramifications of the pandemic in fascinating detail.