Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rasputin's Bastards is available for pre-order...

It's the collectable hardcover, so it's expensive, but my Cold War novel Rasputin's Bastards is available for pre-order for those that like to collect. This edition will cost you - it's going for $50 - but it promises to be very beautiful.

You can find the details by clicking right here. And you can see if it's the kind of thing you'd like to buy right here at the Devil's Exercise Yard. Behold, the first fiblet from Rasputin's Bastards, not far from the beginning, wherein we are introduced to a primary tool of psychic spycraft, only somewhat re-purposed:


Fyodor Kolyokov hadn't needed the isolation tank for a long time: not since the early days when all needs Physick were safely defined by the razor-wire fences of City 512. But need and desire often mingle to the same effect, and so as soon as he found a way, Kolyokov moved the tank from Russia to America. Hang the risk, he told himself. The tank was as much a part of his life as his eyes and his lungs and his heart. 
 
The tank was an early prototype, baffled against sound with a set of casings pressed inside one another like nested Russian dolls -- dolls made of iron and steel, concrete and horse-hair, ceramic and lead. Sealed inside the tiniest doll, it wasn't hard to imagine weathering a nearby nuclear detonation.

The Cyrillic notations stamped on the outermost doll indicated expectations falling just short of that. Kolyokov had at various times tried to fill those letters with different types of cement -- but the cold steel of the tank sucked moisture from the air like a thirsty whore, and Kolyokov's attempts at camouflage crumbled within days of their application. There was no making it into anything beyond what it was: an old KGB isolation tank made for sensory depravation, that to anyone but Kolyokov would stink like an open sewer.

To Kolyokov, who had first swum in its briny middle three decades ago, it merely smelled... comfortable.
For the last of those decades, the isolation tank had gathered dust in a large storage locker in New Jersey. During that time, Kolyokov never visited -- not in person. But he kept a watch on it all the same, in the manner of his training, and once a year, he would send a sleeper to see to matters of cleaning and maintenance in person. There would come a day, he was sure, when such things as this tank did not matter to the intelligence community and its existence would no longer need be secret.

In 1997, with the Soviet Union a half-decade in the grave, Russia in turmoil, and the old arsenal all but on the auction block, Kolyokov deemed that day to have arrived.

So now, the tank occupied most of the ensuite bath to Kolyokov's rooms on the Emissary's 19th floor. The bath had at one time contained an immense Jacuzzi tub set in pink marble. But that luxury, along with the bidet and the vanity, had been sacrificed to make room, so the tank had only to share the space with a low-flow toilet and a shower-stall. 
 
The floor was a thick slab of concrete underneath the tile, but Kolyokov had wished to take no chances and so had constructed a second floor, just inches above the original. It was more of a platform, really, suspended by steel cable and specially-designed braces so as to distribute the tank's immense weight beyond its own dimensions. 
 
The platform creaked as he placed a bare foot upon it now. Kolyokov was still groggy from shattered REM-sleep, but he had to piss something fierce. The pissing, he thought, was why the dream had gone so badly. The reason that it had turned nightmare on him, and driven him awake.

Kolyokov used to be able to piss in the tank without disturbing his dreaming. The tank had been fitted with an assembly from the old Soyuz spacecraft -- but the pump had failed years ago. 
 
So Kolyokov hopped on one foot and the other, bladder twisting and wringing as he moved. He splashed body-temperature salt water all over the bathroom's two floors, as he made his way around the tank to the toilet. A thick stream of urine made a roar in the bowl that was deafening to Kolyokov's silence-calmed ear.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Year happened...

... and I seem to have missed it. Seemed to, being the operative word. While all the other writers with blogs were busily tallying up their year-that-was post, I was in fact not absent at all - just quietly sitting back, playing Skyrim to wall-eyed distraction and breaking it up with a little ego surfing.

After which, I can report that Skyrim is slightly less addictive than cigarettes, slot machines and internet smut combined. And that the clock shifted from 2011 to 2012 with some very fine bits of news.

A number of people said some very kind things in year-end sum-ups, concerning the novel. Paul Goat Allen over at Barnes and Noble was kind enough to tag it as his number one horror read for 2011, right here. Nick Cato at Antibacterial Pope said pretty much the same thing, right here. And Alex Good, who reviewed the book for The National Post, listed it high up in his top four reads of the year, putting me in the company of Julian Barnes, Clark Blaise and David Hickey.

Feeding My Book Addiction liked the book not quite that much - it was sixth out of six year-end favourites. And The Hopeful Librarian dug it also, and said so right here. 

Earlier in the season, the audiobook version of Eutopia went live over at Audible.com. I have listened to a bunch of Oliver Wyman's sublime reading, and can report that he improves the thing considerably. For a little while, it was the Number Two best-seller in horror on the site.  It has slipped since then, but it's still nestled in among the Stephen King adaptations and Robert McCammon readings. I have yet to find a listener who likes it (the audible.com clientel have discerning ears) but there is time.

And finally -  today, I am able to make it known that Ellen Datlow, who once bought a story from me for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, came a-knocking to buy my story "Looker" for The Best Horror of The Year Number Four.  It is there a couple stories away from an excellent story by my pal Leah Bobet, and other fine writers of grim tidings. Here's the table of contents.