Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJ Lifestyle

Patrick Richardson

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.

After Years of Looking, a Decent Shave

Friday, October 25th, 2013 - by Patrick Richardson

harrys-razor-blade-1

I’ve spent years looking for a decent shave.

My beard is like steel wire. I can’t shave every day, I can’t afford to. With blades costing upwards of $4 each and a beard that would wreck a blade in just a couple days if I shaved every day, I really really can’t afford it.

Not only that, but finding a decent razor at the store has been… interesting. I liked the Mach 3 but blades run over $3 each. I went with a Shick Quatro, but, while those cartridges are more reasonable, they don’t last as long either.

I’m not unique in this issue; most men I know complain they can’t find a decent shave at a decent price.

So then I came across this website harrys.com. I just clicked on an ad on impulse.

“Hmmm, blades for $2 or less, razor for $10, $15 or a razor, three blades and a tube of shaving cream,” I thought to myself. “Prices aren’t bad, the razor looks nice, I just had a birthday.”

So off I go to the wife-unit.

“Hon? Look at this site?”

She looked it over and mulled it and said, “Oh just order one.”

So I did. I got the Truman, in Olive, because green is my favorite color. It arrived yesterday.

First impressions on the next page…

Read bullet |

The New Human Wave in Science Fiction Literature

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 - by Patrick Richardson

Over at According to Hoyt, Sarah A. Hoyt has a series of posts up about a new movement in Science Fiction (yes this includes fantasy as well) we’re calling “Human Wave SF.”

I say we, because — full disclosure – I’m a member of this movement. It’s a simple movement really.

As fans, reviewers, writers and editors we’re sick of grey goo SF. Books where unlikeable characters with no redeeming value wander about doing nothing for 300 pages in a grey landscape without hope or joy.

We are tired of the “message books,” foisted on us by the pretentious literati gits who currently control almost all of the major publishing houses.

We want to return to the sense of wonder and awe we felt when we picked up our first SF novel as children. We want to walk Zarathustra with Pappy Jack and Little Fuzzy. We want to return to Foundation and Foundation’s Edge. We want to ride the ‘stalk with Friday and fight monsters with Owen Z. Pitt. We want to read about the worst Thursday which ever happened and why the universe is much safer if you bring a towel.

In short, we’re taking SF back.

So with no further ado, here is a list of ways you can tell you’re a Human Waver from Sarah:

YOU MIGHT BE A HUMAN WAVER IF:

  • You like to write (or read) stories in which someone wins.
  • You don’t think just making someone white, black, Asian, Hispanic, any other race or sub-race, alien, human, straight, gay, Western, non-western is enough to make him a villain.
  • You don’t think just making someone white, black, Asian, Hispanic, any other race or sub-race, alien, human, straight, gay, Western, non-western is enough to make him a victim.
  • You don’t think the purpose of a story is to deliver a message.  (The story can have a message, but that should be subordinate to the characters, plot, events, and it shouldn’t leave the reader feeling like he just read a very long pamphlet.)
  • You think a great story can touch the core of humanity and the human experience without being relevant to current political events or polemics.
  • You think something should happen in a story.  Or something should have happened, the aftereffects of which are reverberating through the characters.  (It can work for short stories.)
  • You think the writers’ job is to write and sell stories – not to (pick one) educate, elevate, raise the consciousness of the public, change the world, stop a war, start a war or any other quixotic, grandiose and unlikely aim.  (If you achieve any of those, great, but you won’t if you don’t sell.  And if you “just” sell a lot, the Human Wave movement salutes you.)
  • As a writer, you are humbly aware that readers are sacrificing their beer money for your story.  As a reader, you don’t feel you owe a writer and have to read a book that’s a hard slog or no fun at all.
  • As a writer, reader, critique or reviewer, you do not sneer at success.  Yes, in the time when push worked, it was possible that a “mega block buster” simply made it because of distribution and access.  But barring that, if a book is selling, it is because people like it.  Congratulate the writer and move on.  If your wish is to tell people what they SHOULD like for their own good, then you’re probably NOT a Human Wave writer/critic/reader.

Read bullet |

Fantasy Author Dave Freer Emerges as Major Talent

Saturday, December 31st, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Dave Freer is far from your usual fantasy author — certainly not a normal writer of “epic” fantasy, some times known as the Big Fat Fantasy novel, or BFF.

His work has more of the feel of classic Heinlein with a dash of Gordon R. Dickson’s Dragon and the George, thrown in for humorous measure.

Dave, Monkey to his friends, is a rather interesting character all on his own.

His high fantasy novels Dragon’s Ring and the recent Dog and Dragon, which I review over at Otherwhere Gazette, are a wicked twist on the usual fantasy tropes. In fact, he used just about every standard BFF meme and then proceeded to turn them on their head.

Dragons become the main characters, rather than supporting cast or beasts of burden. They even fall in love with odd human girls.

Dr. David Freer, PhD, is an ichthyologist (fish scientist) originally from South Africa now resident in Tasmania, Australia. Somewhere along the way he’s also managed to be an army medic, gourmet chef, rock climber, commercial diver, bad fly fisherman and all around renaissance man who feeds his family mostly off of food he catches or grows himself. The sort of guy, who, if someone actually wrote him as a character people would be scream “Mary Sue.”

He’s written several novels with Eric Flint in a fairly standard practice for Baen in which they pair an up and comer with an established talent like Flint or David Drake or David Weber in order to put on a little polish and get their name out there. It usually works fairly well, although in Monkey’s case it’s his solo novels which really shine. Out from behind the shadow cast by the bigger names, Dave’s work showcases his brilliant, if slightly bent, talents.

If you love fantasy written with wry humor and with an almost child-like delight and wonder you should head over to Baen or Amazon and pick up Dragon’s Ring and Dog and Dragon.

You should also go and buy every bloody thing Dave Freer has ever written. He’s one of the most underrated talents writing today with a wicked wit and a penchant for puns.

Read bullet |

Musings on the Kindle and the Book Store…

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Proving that lots of brick-and-mortar book retailers don’t get the new realities of publishing any more than the publishers do  James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstone’s, a British book chain had this to say about Amazon.com in the London Telegraph:

They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer’s interest. They’re a ruthless, money-making devil. The computer screen is a terrible environment in which to select books. All that ‘If you read this, you’ll like that’ – it’s a dismal way to recommend books. A physical bookshop in which you browse, see, hold, touch and feel books is the environment you want.

Which is of course why Amazon is the largest single book seller in the world and sales of e-books have gone through the roof since the introduction of the Kindle Jimmy.

Then in a moment of supreme hypocritical irony, he added they were working on their own e-reader a la Barnes and Noble and the Nook.

~snip~

Read the rest of it at the Otherwhere Gazette.

Read bullet |

Love Me Some Auto Correct

Saturday, November 12th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Some of these are far from safe for work, but Damn You Auto Correct has to be one of the funniest websites out there.

For example:

Read bullet |

Cat’s Paw, Like Watership Down Meets the Terminator

Saturday, October 29th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

So I edited this new book for our own Sarah A. Hoyt’s son Robert, It’s called Cat’s Paw and it will soon be released by Naked Reader Press. It was good enough I decided to review it over at Otherwhere Gazette, here’s an excerpt from the review. Sarah, I blame you for the insanity you have unleashed on the world.

I recently had the privilege of editing a young man’s first book. That book was Cat’s Paw, by Robert Anson Hoyt. Yes, that Hoyt, the son of the redoubtable Sarah A. Hoyt whose work I’ve reviewed here in the past.

It was an … interesting … book.

It’s about a group of cats and this bird.

You see, there’s this giant bird, and it rubs it’s beak on this mountain, and when it wears away the entire mountain the universe comes to an end. There’s exactly one rub left.

Then there’s these cats.

Two sets of them.

One set, the Cat Royal Family, who are the ones who actually rule the world, (this is true actually, ask any cat) and whose job it is to stop Happy (the bird) from rubbing it’s beak and then this cult of ninja cats who are trying to see to it the universe ends.

To this end they’ve managed to kill the entire cat royal family, or maybe not.

Regardless, if you add in plenty of dry British humor — from an author from Colorado and a horde of truly pissed-off killer squirrels (they’re just not fond of cats) a drunken junk-yard cat named Tom (our hero) a pregnant Persian by the name of Fluffy, a male cat who grew up in a library and is named Guinevere and you begin to get an idea of the sort of mad-cap ride you’re in for.

~snip~

Read the rest over at the Otherwhere Gazette.

Read bullet |

Our Own Sarah A. Hoyt

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

As was noted another time, our own Lovely and Talented Sarah A. Hoyt won the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Fiction for her excellent novel, Darkship Thieves.

She accepted the award at WorldCon in Reno just a month or so ago and here is the video of her acceptance speech:

YouTube Preview Image

No, she’s not originally from America. Yes that means she understands us and appreciates us probably better than we do ourselves. No that accent is not Easter European, it’s Portuguese. No I don’t know why it sounds Easter European. Stop asking me stupid questions and watch the video, ya ninny!

Read bullet |

‘He Beats Me but He’s My Publisher’

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Beginning with the headline above, Sarah Hoyt had some great thoughts on the (sometimes abusive) relationship between writers and publishers and where the publishing industry is headed over at her writing blog According to Hoyt:

First let me point out no one beats me. Not literally. For those of you who’ve read Athena (Darkship Thieves) this should not be an incredible surprise.

The title is denoting of the relationship existing in traditional publishing between the writer and the publishing house. It is also the sort of thing I heard many women say about their husbands in the village where I grew up. Portugal, like most countries whose cultures were strongly influenced by Islam, had a streak of wife-abuse running through the poorer or more culturally backward classes. Since in the village where I lived my dad was one of the very few white collar workers, this meant my mother and my grandmother were forever saving women who ran away from home when they were two steps from landing in the emergency room… Only to see them go back to their husbands because “He beats me but he’s my man.” Or “He beats me because I’m not good enough.” Or “He beats me because he loves me so much.” Or even “Whom should he beat but his own.”

Needless to say, the one thing my family told me, from – I think – before I could toddle (I could talk before I could walk. No. Don’t ask.) was “If your husband ever so much as slaps you, you leave. That day. And you don’t go back.”

Unfortunately my family never knew about publishers and the status of the mid-list author.

I wasn’t going to talk about any of this. I wasn’t. I like at least one of my publishers immensely, and I do understand how their hands are tied. On the other hand the last few days have been very trying. First, is it my impression or are all the establishment’s blue eyed boys going out of their way to tell us how we’ll starve in the gutter without traditional publishing? They remind me of my first agent, who btw, ONLY made official the sale I had already made to the publisher, and who then told me I’d die in the gutter without her, when I fired her. (Yeah. That… didn’t work as she thought, curiously enough.)

But then yesterday, in the Baen bar, someone posted that he sent letters to WRITERS complaining about their publishers’ DRM policies and pricing for ebooks because, I don’t know, the Kool-Aid man is red? Oh, wait, no, it’s more nonsensical than that. Because and – clears throat – I am quoting: writers choose their publishers. I want them to choose publishers who don’t do these things.

Read the rest here.

Read bullet |

If You’re Not Reading the Dresden Files, You Should Be…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

I admit it. I’m a Jim Butcher fan-boy. I picked up the first novel of the Dresden Files a few years back when a huge ice storm was bearing down, along with a couple other books, because I was afraid the power might go out and I’d need something to do. Well, and because any excuse to buy books…
In any event I went through Storm Front in about — well — one day, and then proceeded to devour them until I was caught up with Proven Guilty, the eighth book and then eagerly awaited each new novel, insisting on buying them in hardcover because I think I’m ADHD and couldn’t wait for the new one.
While waiting on each new Dresden book, I went out and picked up Butcher’s Codex Alera and blasted through those as well.
We’ve now reached the 13th book in the Dresden Files, Ghost Story, and it’s another amazing chapter.Read the rest of the review over at the Otherwhere Gazette, fair warning it’s still under construction!

Read bullet |

Book Review: Into the Hinterlands

Sunday, July 24th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

hinterlandsJust finished reading the Baen eARC (Electronic Advance Reader Copy, the unproofed manuscript) for Into the Hinterlands by David Drake and Jon Lambshead. It’s the beginning of a new series with an interesting premise.

The book follows Allen Allenson, a gentleman of middling rank, and his friends Royman Destry, a gentleman of somewhat greater rank, and Jem Hawthorn, a gentleman of rank similar to Allenson, but who is a bit more practical and less refined.

The distinctions are important because, like many of Drake’s novels, the society is somewhat modeled after Napoleonic War-era Britain.

Allenson, Destry and Hawthorn, then are more or less colonial aristocracy in an area known as “The Cutter Stream,” an area claimed by one of the two major human powers, Brasilia. Not on Earth mind, but a former colony world. Terra is the other.

When Allenson’s older brother dies, he finds himself compelled to take up the mantle of “Inspector General of Cutter Stream Militia,” despite never having been in the military, as the book moves on, Allenson finds himself, much to his own surprise, a bit of a hero.

The series appears prepared, as good science fiction often will, to take a hard look at how we see ourselves and how we handle having our societal assumptions shattered.

None of the three friends, or for that matter any of the sundry “gentlefolk” we meet, really give a thought to the feelings or attitudes of the “lower orders.” Moreover, while the colonies are inextricably bound to their home worlds, Allenson is early on, beginning to question the attitude that the only purpose for a colony is to benefit the homeworlds — and that once it’s served it’s purpose it can be tossed away.

It would appear the Navigation Acts have been recreated — down to taxes on tea — and Allenson reminds one in someways of a more active, personable John Adams. It doesn’t take a genius to see there’s a revolution brewing in the future.

For all the political and historic undercurrent, like any book with Drake’s name on it, there’s a whacking good story underneath and more action than one would think could be fitted into any one book.

I highly recommend Into the Hinterlands, for any David Drake fan. Available as an e-book from Baen’s Webscriptions only right now for $15. Publication is slated for Sept. 1, 2011.

Read bullet |

‘Monster Hunter’ Books Explode

Sunday, July 17th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Over at Death by 1000 Papercuts I have a review out of Larry Corriea’s Monster Hunter: Alpha. I do reviews there from time to time and will be posting some here as well. Here’s a few excerpts from the review:

Larry Corriea is brand new on the scene and already tearing it up. His first novel Monster Hunter International started as a self-published title that got picked up by Baen books and then proceeded to explode on the Science Fiction and Fantasy scene like a flash-bang at a garden party.

Comes the new one that’s not even out in print yet the third installment of his salute to B movies crossed with gun porn Monster Hunter: Alpha.

Corriea’s signature voice and humor still come through, his characterizations are sharp as ever and even his supporting characters are three dimensional.

Monster Hunter: Alpha is slated for release July 26 and is available in both mass market paperback in book stores or on Amazon.com or as an e-book in pretty much every available format from Baen’s Webscriptions.

Read the full review here.

Read bullet |

Southern Kamikaze

Friday, July 15th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

Loved these back in my drinking days…

Ingredients:

1 1/4 oz Southern Comfort
3/4 oz Triple sec
1 oz Lime juice
Mixing instructions:

Shake and strain over ice

Read bullet |

Q&A with Award-Winning Author and PJM Contributor Sarah Hoyt

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

As noted over on the Tatler, our own Sarah A. Hoyt is now an award-winning author, having won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s prestigious Prometheus Award for best novel for her excellent book Darkship Thieves. We at PJM are of course very happy for Sarah and happy to have her here at PJM. Toni Weisskopf, editor and publisher of Baen Books, was equally excited for her:

Of course we’re thrilled whenever a Baen author wins an award, but we appreciate the work of the Libertarian Futurist Society so it means even more. I’m very pleased Sarah Hoyt will be joining the distinguished ranks of the Prometheus Award winners.

I contacted Sarah to do a little profile on her earlier this week. I had originally thought to do a basic interview and profile story. Having sent her a list of questions I found basically the same thing I found when I did the science fiction piece a few months back — when you let authors respond via email, you get way more information than you anticipated, and of course, they’re generally better writers than you are anyway. So in this case I thought we’d do a Q&A With Sarah A. Hoyt.

1. What does the award mean to your career?

SH: Honestly? I have no idea. I’ve been aware of the Prometheus Award for a long time and have always thought it was an award I’d like to win, mostly because of what it meant. But it never occurred to me I would actually win it at some point. My history with awards is to be a finalist, but never to win, so I didn’t think of a win as likely even after it was announced I was a finalist. It seemed particularly unlikely after I saw the other nominees.

Awards, in general, are supposed to help the marketing, though at the moment at least one award in Science Fiction and Fantasy has a reputation for reducing print runs and publishers’ expectations. I’ve never heard the Prometheus discussed in terms of its effect on extending your fan base and marketing which, ultimately, is what career is all about.

In the couple of days since the win I’ve been a little surprised at both the level of publicity for the win and the people who seem to suddenly consider me “big noise” after years and years of treating me like someone who could be safely ignored.

So, I have no idea. Right now I’m proud, and happy, particularly since the legacy award is Animal Farm which is one of my favorite books (not so much for how it’s written but for what it says.) I expect the future will eventually reveal itself.

2. What are the challenges facing Libertarian/Conservative authors?

SH: This is another one in which I’ll have to sort of hedge and beg. Look, like all the arts, writing is a liberal’s game. Science fiction, too, I think encourages extreme ideologies, which almost inevitably default left. It’s part of creating a world. You start thinking you could create “logical” rules for “this” world. (I tell you, if Lenin had written SF instead, we’d all be happier.) The climate in the field can best be judged by the fact that I could stand up tomorrow in the middle of a conference room full of my peers and announce I was a communist and they’d all applaud. However, if I announced I’m anti-communist, they would laugh. Some of them might laugh nervously and sympathetically but they would laugh.

Anyone clinging to Marxist theory is immediately believed to be very smart, and someone who goes against it is considered a lightweight.

Do they intentionally discriminate against Libertarians and conservatives? I don’t think so. Not the vast majority of them. The vast majority of my colleagues are decent people. They are also, like the vast majority of the human race, conformists. Most of them attended good schools and grew up in upper middle class neighborhoods (at least most of them who came into the field in the last fifteen years. Yes, there are reasons for that, which I’ll mention rapidly later, if I have time.) Their parents were taught in college about class struggle and that money was evil. They got it at home. They got it from schools. They got it from magazine articles and newspapers. The books they read growing up were infused with unconscious Marxism. OF COURSE they assume anyone who doesn’t agree with them is either stupid or evil. And would you give a leg up to the career of someone who is evil? Would you help them?

The funny thing that always startles me a little is hearing myself addressed as a “conservative.” I’m full of wild-eyed radical ideas not proposed out loud since Thomas Jefferson talked in his sleep, and I’m a “conservative” because I am, ultimately, anti-communist. This is a through-the-looking-glass world, since the establishment is as close to soft — (and sometimes hard) — communism as someone can go without sewing hammers and sickles into all their undies.

And that’s part of the problem there too — I don’t think any of them means to discriminate against me. Some of them even like me, in a slightly bewildered way, but they don’t know what to do with me. I was born in a Latin country, I am female, and yet I don’t consider myself a victim and you truly don’t want to get me going on a-historical theories of great mother goddesses. They don’t know what to make of me, or what to do with me. I make them uncomfortable, and it’s easier to ignore me or not to have me around too much.

Of course, it’s entirely possible these aren’t problems of the normal libertarian/conservative (the more… er… left-libertarians can even be embraced by the system at times) but just a problem of being me and cross-grained. This is entirely possible.  It’s also entirely possible my fiction writing sucks.  I don’t think it does, and I hope it doesn’t, but it’s sort of like judging your own kids.

3. What made you decide to come out of the political closet at PJM?

SH: I spent the first ten years of my career keeping quiet and commenting on political blogs on line ONLY under a nom-de-blog. This included the infamous Nebula Awards ceremony where the speaker took the podium and engaged in a campaign speech for… (rolls eyes) Howard Dean, “our next president.” It included cozy dinners with friends and editors who suddenly and without provocation started a political rant. One of my editors once went on a foaming at the mouth rant about evil libertarians at breakfast, and I could feel my face set and crack, as I struggled not to show any expression.

More difficult, it involved writing books from which I CAREFULLY expunged every trace of political leanings. This is considerably harder to do than it sounds, even when someone is a writer like me, who prefers not to preach or emphasize politics. I lived in fear that some hint would get me “caught out.”

And then strange things started happening. The first one of those is that my editor/publisher at Baen, Toni Weisskopf, called me and asked me to write the afterword to Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein. She didn’t tell me what to write, but we’d spent some time in the last few months emailing back and forth on the similarities between that book and the “war on terror.” And that’s what I wrote, because it had to be written, and because it was the truth.That afterword caught Glenn Reynolds’ attention. Imagine still-deeply-closeted Sarah sitting in front of the computer with her cup of coffee in hand and seeing something like “Sarah A. Hoyt says” and a distinctly politically incorrect opinion. I spit coffee all over my monitor. And then I decided it felt good, and emailed Glenn and thanked him.

Read bullet |