Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: May 2014

Ack! Moo!

On my way to work the other morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see some ads for Akdong Musicians (aka “Akmu”) on the walls of the malls by the subway.

Anyhow, it is nice to have a job where I get to walk by the new Dongdaemun Design Plaza every day. The architecture really can put you in a great mood.

And, since I am posting pics, here is a photo from Seongneomeojip, a chicken restaurant up in the hills of Seongbuk-dong. I’m not a fan of dalkdoritang (chicken in a spicy soup), but this place has really excellent dalkdoritang. And some amazing atmosphere. A great place to eat and drink makgeolli with friends.

Fun Books: Watts on Tap

A couple of years ago, I read Peter Watts’ Blindsight and discovered a new favorite science-fiction author. It was the story of a first-contact with alien life situation, with the Earth sending a small ship filled with broken people out to the edge of the solar system to learn about this alien race. It was also very hard s/f, with a lot of ideas about biological systems – not only were the aliens very alien, but the humans sent out to deal with them had been heavily modified, too.

Then last December, I was lucky enough to enjoy a few beers with Peter in a Toronto pub. He was great fun to talk with, and he even showed us the current state of his leg, post-operation for the flesh-eating bacteria problem he famously had a couple of years ago. Gnarly good fun.

Now I’m going through some of his earlier works. His first novel, Starfish, is also about highly damaged people in a high-stress situation (the bottom of the ocean in this case), dealing with bizarre life forms (thermophiles that grow along deep-sea vents).

And I’m reading his collection of short stories called Beyond the Rift, which so far has also been good fun.

Note: Most (all?) of Peter’s stuff is available on his website with a Creative Commons License, so you can read it for free. I doubt any of my publishers would be so accommodating, but I think it is a great idea. The problem for most authors in this world is exposure, so getting the word out is far more important than a couple of dollars of royalties (and for most authors, royalties really are just a couple of dollars). Once you’ve realized how good Peter’s stuff is, you’ll probably be happy to buy a few copies.

Peter’s new book, Echopraxia (a sequel to Blindsight), is coming out in August. Yay.

 

Amazonian Algorithms

In these early days since K-POP NOW came out on Amazon.com, it is pretty interesting to see the various ways the book turns up on the book giant’s data trackers. For instance, it has been doing well on the Travel > Asia > Japan category (peaking at No. 1, now at No. 6).

Now K-POP NOW is turning up on Amazon’s Hot New Releases category — turning up as the No. 15 for Pop Culture > General (and No. 22 for Pop Culture overall).

Note: I assume the book won’t stay at those links for long. So here is a screen grab:

K-Pop D-Day, Plus 2

Well, I’m no expert on these things, but so far it looks like the Amazon.com rollout of K-POP NOW! is going fairly well. We have a couple of reviews there so far (big thanks for those) and sales, while bouncing around a bit, are now around 6,600th — that’s the highest I’ve ever been there.

Meanwhile, over on Goodreads, 17 people have given K-POP NOW a rating and 319 have marked it “to read.” All very cool.

In addition, the popular American radio program Marketplace was nice enough to have a little segment about my book. Big thanks to Kai Ryssdal and everyone at the show who made it happen (especially thanks to Bridget!). You can listen to the interview here:

UPDATE: I just checked out Amazon.ca and there K-POP NOW! is up to 3,100. Yay, Canada. Strangely, though, Amazon says it is the No. 1 travel book for Japan. Wth?

 

Offtopic: Raptor Reckage

(Contains SPOILERS for the latest game, in case you haven’t watched yet).

As a long-time and long-suffering Raptors fan, it is great to have the team back in the playoffs at last. And this is probably my favorite incarnation of the team in its 19-year history. We currently have a 3-2 lead over the Nets and a good chance of moving on to the second round for just the second time in the team’s history.

HOWEVER, jeez’, this team is frustrating. Blowing a 25-point lead and having a complete fourth-quarter meltdown. Nearly losing the game on a goaltend. Brutal stuff.

Sigh. Sports suck.

Can’t wait to see the next game.

Oh, and Kyle Lowry is amazing.

 

 

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