Monday, November 26, 2007

Book Selection of the Month: Todd Seavey! (now with Bibliography)


No, I haven’t finished writing a book (though Conservatism for Punks will exist eventually, sooner rather than later, I hope — and for a little right/left remixing in the interim, check out what’s on deck for our Dec. 5 Debate at Lolita Bar, now that I’ve found a hawk and dove to spar). However, I have written book reviews — not just the twelve monthly Book Selection entries that preceded the one you’re reading now (which began even before the blog was fully operational) but previous reviews for venues like New York Post and People magazine.

(And at least four friends of mine from the Post have written books of their own, including last year’s holiday reading Book Selection[s] Dawn Eden and Kyle Smith [who also edited my People reviews], as well as Gersh Kuntzman and, now, Jon Blackwell, with his violent, historical overview Notorious New Jersey: 100 True Tales of Murderers and Mobsters, Scandals and Scoundrels.)

As I’ll recount in this coming Friday’s Retro-Journal entry, I had no idea senior year, as I faced graduation and entry into the real world, whether this whole writing/editing thing would be viable in the workaday world, but so far things are going all right. I do have a few specific writer regrets, though — and, as with a great many writers, it’s not the things I wrote or the things I didn’t write but, far more heartbreakingly, the things I wrote that didn’t run.

In the case of the Post, I was the regular sci-fi book reviewer for a while in 1999 (giving me professional reason to read gems like quasi-libertarian cyberpunk Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon and blander things like the novelization of Phantom Menace, the most disappointing Star Wars movie — and having read it, I can say with authority to anyone confused by that film’s lame opening scroll about trade blockades and taxation that the anti-tax forces were the bad guys [led by a creature named Nute Gunray, no less] and the Jedi were the noble and progressive pro-tax enforcers, all the more reason to stick to watching the older Star Wars films instead). My stint ended, alas, just as I was about to publish a review (which might well have significantly boosted sales) of a swell sci-fi novel called Shiva 3000 by Jan Lars Jensen in which god-shaped robotic vehicles lumber across the plains of a future India, wrecking havoc amongst the low-tech populace — and in which our hero at one point, amusingly, liberates hypnotized Buddhists from a mind control device with a simultaneous slap to the face and mind-jarring paradox, a shouted “What is the sound of one hand clapping?!” (smack).

Shiva 3000 bears some resemblance to a later comic book miniseries by Grant Morrison called Vimanarama and a great, earlier novel by Roger Zelazny called Lord of Light, set on a planet where scientists have been functioning as a ruling elite clad in Hindu-based rituals and myth for so long and are armed with such fantastic technology, that there is by now little practical difference between their world and the world of Hindu mythology, particularly in the minds of the masses who must worship and obey them. That is, of course, our long-term plan at the American Council on Science and Health as well.

An amazing side story about Lord of Light: in a notorious boondoggle that some charge was merely a con to begin with, a Lord of Light-based themepark was at one point planned — complete with costume designs by comic book legend Jack Kirby, creator of such cosmic characters as the mighty Galactus — but the whole thing collapsed before construction ever began, to the sorrow of numerous doomed investors. Weird enough to be a sci-fi story itself [UPDATE: After reading the Response by George Guay, below, I must add a link to the Wired article (the one Mark Evanier also linked to) about how the whole Lord of Light scheme was really a CIA trick to free some of our hostages from Iran in 1979 -- Hindu pantheon + Jack Kirby + Canadian embassy > Iranian terrorism].

My biggest didn’t-run regret at People is that I would have been the first person to diagnose Anne Rice’s nervous breakdown if they had run my extremely negative review of her atrocious (and as we now know, final) vampire novel, Blood Canticle, written shortly after her husband’s death and marked by a deranged-sounding vampire Lestat, dropping his traditional aristocratic mode of speech in favor of what sounds pretty much like the voice of Anne Rice, angrily ranting at the reader in the opening about how he’s sick and tired of telling vampire stories and wishes his readers would stop expecting them from him, since he’d rather be paying visits to the Pope. I was genuinely worried about Rice after reading it. Shortly thereafter, as you may be aware, the distraught widow Rice left Katrina-devastated New Orleans, turned to Christ, and vowed henceforth to write novels about Jesus instead of vampires, noting in an online essay that she now has qualms, as a pro-lifer, about voting for Hillary Clinton.

People, alas, was running a mostly-laudatory interview with Rice in the same issue that my review would have run, and that would have been a weird mixed message (“Meet the fascinating, lovely Anne Rice — who just wrote this steaming pile of [vampire] bat guano”), so the review never ran. Luckily, People gave kill fees. Would that someone, someday would just put me on a retainer to write constantly about whatever I wanted, of course — this sentiment being as common among writers as regret for unpublished pieces.

I can’t complain, though — life has afforded me the opportunity to write (and in most cases get paid for) numerous articles including the ones on my new Seavey Bibliography page, not necessarily everything or even the best, but everything I easily found online, after a long-overdue Web search. Maybe you’ll find something there you like and didn’t read before. Naturally, I hope to write even better stuff in the future.


George Guay said...

Todd, check out Mark Evanier’s site, where you could find out that the “Lord of Light” boondoggle was actually part of a US scheme to secret out employees, through the Canadian embassy, during the events in November, 1979 in Tehran. Evanier is a faithful chronicler of Kirby’s work.

Todd Seavey said...

That may be the coolest piece of information ever posted on this blog. But the question then becomes: who would win a fight between a teddy bear dressed as Galactus and a teddy bear named Mohammed?

(Scroll down for first one, pointed out to me by manga-selling Ali Kokmen.),,70131-1294838,00.html

Todd Seavey said...

I added a link to the CIA story in the entry above, too.