In two weeks

The paperback edition of The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country drops in two weeks, on February 20.

As always, signed and inscribed copies of the novel will be available from Secret Garden Bookshop (206-789-5006 / bookshop@secretgardenbooks.com), who happily ship anywhere in the world.

If you’re in the Seattle area and you’d like to get a book signed in person, I currently have two upcoming events scheduled:

On Saturday, February 24, I’ll be reading and signing at the Darby Winery’s Woodinville Tasting Room, starting at 2 PM. The $45 admission fee gets you a copy of the novel and your first glass of wine. Details here.

On Wednesday, March 13, I’ll be reading and signing at the Queen Anne Book Company starting at 6 PM. (Admission to this event is free.)

In two weeks Read More »

The Destroyer of Worlds: in paperback February 20

The paperback edition of The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country will be in stores five weeks from today, on Tuesday, February 20.

Publisher’s Weekly called Destroyer “another virtuoso blend of horror, action, and humor,” and Kirkus Reviews said it’s “a ripping yarn with shocks and surprises at every turn.”

If you’d like to know more about the novel, check out the FAQ and the Destroyer of Worlds podcast (where we also talk about the original Lovecraft Country and the HBO series it inspired).

You can preorder the paperback here; or if you’d rather not wait, you can get The Destroyer of Worlds in hardcover, ebook, or audiobook right now.

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2023: last word

Thirty-three years ago, I began writing what would become my second published novel, Sewer, Gas & Electric, a science-fiction satire of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged set in 2023.

At the time, 2023 seemed ridiculously far in the future—but not so far that I couldn’t reasonably expect to live to see it. Indeed, that was part of the fun, imagining Older Me comparing SG&E’s fictional future with the future that actually came to pass. And while one of the many things Younger Me failed to anticipate was the invention of blogging, if he had known about it, Younger Me would absolutely have said, “Yes—when the milestone year finally arrives, Older Me will reread the novel and write a comprehensive blog post about it!”

…and, well, I really did mean to do that, but as happens more and more frequently these days, time got away from me.

So before 2023 becomes history, let me at least mark the milestone by giving a shout-out to Younger Me way back there in 1990. You were right, man: It was an altogether different year.

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A short list of things I enjoyed in 2023

A Murder at the End of the World — I’ve written before about how much I appreciate Brit Marling’s work, so I was excited to learn she had a new miniseries coming out, and it didn’t disappointment. Emma Corrin (young Princess Di from The Crown) plays Darby Hart, a hacker/amateur sleuth who gets invited to a tech billionaire’s retreat that quickly turns into an Agatha Christie murder mystery. As with Marling’s previous series, The OA, I’d advise you to avoid spoilers and just dive in; the opening is a masterclass in how to grab an audience’s attention, so you’ll know in the first five minutes whether it’s your kind of story. A Murder is currently streaming on Hulu.

The Fall of the House of Usher — The latest Netflix miniseries from Mike Flanagan (Oculus, The Haunting of Hill House) is a sort of Edgar Allen Poe’s greatest hits: Each of its eight episodes is inspired by a different Poe classic, which together tell the tale of the final reckoning of the wicked Usher clan. Great cast, great story.

The critical response to Starfield Starfield is an open-world science-fiction roleplaying video game from Bethesda Game Studios. It debuted in September, three days before my birthday, and as a longtime fan of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series, I of course had to check it out. Long story short, I ultimately found Starfield to be mediocre—but as often happens when something I expected to like doesn’t work for me, I then started thinking about why it didn’t work, which led me to YouTube and its many, many videos dissecting Starfield’s flaws. A lot of these are unhinged rants (which can be entertaining), but there are also some really thoughtful critiques that get into the weeds of game design and storytelling, like this one and this one.

No Man’s Sky — Another open-world sci-fi game that clearly inspired some of Starfield’s mechanics. I bought No Man’s Sky on sale back in 2020, but only got around to playing it a few weeks ago after I got tired of Starfield, and despite the similarities, I’m enjoying it a lot more. I’m still mulling over exactly why that is, but to borrow a point from one of the critique videos I linked to above, No Man’s Sky is a more focused game with a much clearer sense of what it wants to be.

Reacher — This Prime Video series, based on Lee Child’s novels, follows the adventures of an itinerant ex-military policeman who wanders America with nothing but the clothes on his back, dispensing justice to bad guys who are unlucky enough to cross paths with him. I decided to check the show out after one of my Twitter follows described Reacher as “an autistic savant in the body of a silverback gorilla.” I’m really digging it, and surprisingly, so is my wife, who ordinarily wouldn’t be into this sort of thing.

Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor — And finally… I’ll have more to say about this in a future Lovecraft binge-watch post, but if you want to end the year with something good and creepy, this latest installment in the Hell House LLC series should do nicely.

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Signed books for the holidays, 2023 edition

This is your annual reminder that signed copies of my novels make excellent holiday gifts.

You can get signed and custom inscribed copies of any of my novels from Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle (206-789-5006 / bookshop@secretgardenbooks.com). Tell them what you want and they’ll order it, get me to sign it, and ship it anywhere in the world, usually within a few days.

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The hunger killer

Happy Thanksgiving. Here at the Ruff-Gold house, we’ll be having the traditional lamb-and-pita holiday dinner. But a couple days ago, I decided to experiment with something different: an Argentine dish called matambre (“hunger killer”).

As my South American cousins are sure to remind me, the original matambre is a beef dish, but flank steak is $18 a pound at the local QFC right now, so I opted for a cheaper variant that uses pork loin. You butterfly the meat to a uniform thickness of about half an inch, then roll it up around a filling of hard-boiled eggs, sliced meat, olives, roasted red peppers, and chimichurri sauce. Roast for about two hours and serve.

It’s really good, and it looks cool. The only problem is that the name is accurate: one slice of this stuff is enough to fill you up, so while it’s a great party dish, with just two people you’ll have more leftovers than you know what to do with.

If you’d like to try it yourself, the recipe I used is here. N.B., I substituted salami for capicola in the filling and it worked just fine. Also, unless your knife skills are really good, you’re going to need a meat tenderizer to pound the pork to an even thickness—I used a heavy bottle of vinegar as a mallet, but you probably want to go with something that isn’t made of glass.

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In which I cross a very old item off my bucket list

The black comedy Arnold, directed by Georg Fenady, was released in 1973, when I was just eight years old. I still vividly recall the TV commercials for it. They featured a number of the film’s more gruesome murders and put Arnold on the list of ’70s horror flicks whose advertising campaigns made me afraid to close my eyes at night—a list that also included Suspiria, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Phantasm, and The House That Dripped Blood (whose title alone was enough to inspire nightmares).

Once I’d gotten a little older and become a full-fledged horror fan, I of course made a point of going back and watching all those movies. The sole exception was Arnold. Though it did get a VHS release, I never came it across it in a video store, and it’s one of the many films of that era that didn’t make the leap to streaming. But recently I discovered that someone had uploaded a copy of the full movie to YouTube, and last week I finally crossed it off my bucket list.

The Arnold of the title is Lord Arnold Dwellyn (Norman Stuart), recently deceased. The movie opens not with a funeral, but a wedding. As his lawyer helpfully explains, Arnold’s death has made his wife (Shani Wallis) a widow, thus freeing the dead man to marry his mistress, Karen (Stella Stevens). The ceremony is held in the chapel of the Dwellyn family cemetery, with the minister (Victor Buono) drinking his way through the vows to help cope with his shame at being a part of this.

After the “I do’s,” the members of the wedding party return to Dwellyn manor for the reading of the will. Arnold has left a recording of the text, which is played back on the tape machine installed in the side of his casket. The widow gets to keep her title and her Rolls Royce, but not much else. Arnold’s devoted sister (Elsa Lanchester) gets a small monthly pension, while his ne’er-do-well brother (Roddy McDowall) gets nothing. The bulk of the estate, including “an enormous hoard of cash… the location of which I shall reveal in the near future,” goes to Karen, on condition that she “keep me with you, always, just as you see me now, for as long as you shall live.”

Nobody is happy with this—least of all Karen, who has no intention of spending the rest of her days shacked up with a corpse. But Arnold is (or was) a master at predicting other people’s behavior, and as Karen and the rest of the cast hunt for the aforementioned hoard of cash, they start getting killed off, their deaths accompanied by Arnold’s pre-recorded taunts.

It’s an enjoyably demented mix of comedy and suspense, and while the horror elements are tame by my current standards, I can see how my younger self would have been creeped out. But the real reason I’m glad I waited to see Arnold is that the adult nature of the humor would have gone completely over my head back then.

If you’d like to check out Arnold for yourself, but don’t feel like wading through dozens of Schwarzenegger videos on YouTube to find it, there’s good news: I just found out that a new Blu-ray edition of the film is being released on Halloween. Fingers crossed that a digital release won’t be far behind.

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Talking about Scream on the Fear of God podcast

On the Fear of God podcast, my friends Reed Lackey and Nathan Rouse are continuing their annual Spooky Season tradition of rewatching an iconic horror movie franchise. This year they are revisiting Wes Craven’s Scream franchise, and they invited me on, along with Brandon Grafius, to talk about the very first Scream from 1996.

This sort of nostalgia is catnip for me, especially coming on the heels of my birthday. One of the things about getting older is that you understand more and more how ephemeral culture really is: books, movies, songs, celebrities, and institutions that were once famous either fade into obscurity or, if they do manage to stick around, take on a very different meaning and significance than when they first appeared (hi, Miramax film logo!).

You can listen to our conversation here. And if you sign up for the Fear of God Patreon, you’ll get bonus content and well as early access to new episodes.

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RIP TweetDeck (2008-2023)

Yesterday afternoon I was messing around on TweetDeck when the screen refreshed and the dashboard was replaced by an invitation to subscribe to Twitter’s Premium service. TweetDeck, rebranded as “X Pro,” is now paywalled.

It wasn’t a huge surprise. Elon Musk announced last month that he was going to do this, but I had hoped that, as with his long-promised Mars colony, the deadline might get pushed back. I guess he needs the money.

The irony here is that TweetDeck is something I actually would have been willing to pay for, once upon a time. The ability to monitor multiple Twitter streams simultaneously is very useful, especially when I’ve got a new book out. But if I’m going to pay for something I’m used to getting for free, at a bare minimum I want it to work as well as it always has, and ideally the paid version would come with significant improvements. Instead TweetDeck, like Twitter generally, has gotten worse since Musk took over, and I see no reason to believe that that will change. It’s like being offered a chance to upgrade my cabin on the Hindenburg.

Oh well. It’s Musk’s site, he can do what he wants with it, and I remain morbidly fascinated by the ongoing apocalypse that was Twitter. But I will miss TweetDeck. RIP.

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