Thursday, June 14, 2007

Matt Stover sent me the new Caine novel ...

"Caine Black Knife"

I have a bunch of stuff I revisit every decade or so -- Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy, a half dozen of the best Heinlein's, John D. MacDonald, Gregory McDonald, Roger Zelazny. (Every now and again I look longingly at the "War Against the Chtorr," and I'd dive back into that in a minute if David Gerrold would ever finish the fucking thing. And yes, I get the irony there.)

And I have a much smaller set of works that I read over and over and over again -- it's the stuff listed in my profile. Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" – the best novel I personally have ever read. "The Perfect Thief," by Ronald J. Bass; the Vimes and Granny Weatherwax novels by Terry Pratchett, and "Heroes Die" by Matt Stover.

My wife bought Matt's first novel and I read both of his first two Caine novels in manuscript – I can remember Amy passing the first manuscript to me with the comment, "Let me know what you think of this, it seems your style of thing." And I sat on the bed all night long, unable to put the manuscript down. I remember thinking there were a couple of minor things wrong with it – I'm not being nice to Matt when I say I no longer remember what they were, I just don't remember – but when the book saw print I picked it up again and read it out of curiosity, and man, it had gotten better – I found myself sitting up all the night long reading the book again. And six months or so later, doing it again –

The sequel came, "The Blade of Tyshalle" – which in an unrelated note has probably my favorite cover art of all time – I'd pay real money to hang that painting on my wall. And I read that in manuscript, and it was brilliant – a richer and more ambitious work than Heroes Die – and over the course of the years I've read that book maybe 3 times now (maybe 4) …

I can't tell you how many times I've read Heroes Die, because it's turned into one of my touchstone books – it's by my bedside. I pick it up and browse a chapter, and find myself lost and reading for an hour – put it down, come back the next day and start from the first scene, come back a month later and start from wherever I vaguely remember leaving off –

Last night Matt sent me the manuscript for the 3rd Caine novel, "Caine Black Knife." I read the first 75 pages last night when I hadn't slept more than 4 hours a night in 3 straight days and damn well needed to catch up – and I'll be done by this weekend, despite all the crap swirling around me at the moment. John D. MacDonald's dead, Zelazny's dead, Heinlein's dead, Gregory McDonald's last few novels have disappointed, Larry McMurtry's last few have disappointed, Bass only writes screenplays, Mary Stewart is really old and I'm going be as old as Mary Stewart is before David Gerrold finishes the damned Chtorran series …

But I have a new Caine novel. Every day on the right side of the dirt is a good day.

14 comments:

AndyDeck said...

Was that the paperback cover? That seems to have been a Dave McKean piece, surprisingly difficult to track down more information on it. I was able to locate what appears to be a comprehensive bibliography as part of "Narcolepsy: a Dave McKean Retrospective" which has a page on that book at this page - but the art appears broken. Amazon's page on the book permits a view of the cover - it is indeed quite a striking piece of artwork. (their copyrights page on the book is where I found the artist's name in the first place)

No sign that I could see of a way to get prints of Dave McKean's work - what pages there used to be now seem rather gone. I really wished that I could find a way to give back to you some fraction of the enjoyment I've realized from reading your books...

Dan Moran said...

This is the Blade of Tyshalle cover.

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0345421434.01._AA_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Dan Moran said...

That link's running off the screen.

Try this

Mark D. said...

Dan,
I just want you to know I feel exactly that way about The Long Run. I am a huge fan of Heinlein and Zelazny, but The Long Run is my "go to" book. I read it again at least once a year. The idea that I might actually get to read AI War someday fills me with joy.
Mark D.

jj sutherland said...

It's amazing because I've put the AI War and, what was your plan, 28 more books, into the Chtorran category. Great books, great ideas, and for some reason my favorite authors don't seem to want to finish them. In my old age I've come to accept that.

However, I still quote Trent from The Long Run regularly. And curse the fact I don't have a slo-mo field everytime I run out of ice.

I agree with you on "Hero's Die" but I thought "Blade of Tyshalle," while great, over reached at the end and he didn't quite pull it off. But I am, of course, anxious for the third one.

Jeff said...

This is great news. I check Matt's blog every day, hoping for news, and now I find it here :)

Dan Moran said...

JJ --

I can't promise anything. I am working on AI War -- worked on it some last night -- and I'm calling Bantam next week. My current intentions on the Continuing Time are -- in this life --

AI War
Crystal Wind
The Always Rising of the Night
Lord November (700 pages of that novel on disk -- also a decade old now)

... a Camber Tremodian project. I don't know what that means at this point. I sketched out 8 novels about that character -- I'm pretty sure I'm never writing 8 novels about him. But I might write one very long one.

"The Always Rising of the Night" is my Lonesome Dove -- the general sketch of that novel much predates Lonesome Dove, but I didn't have a good way to describe what I wanted to do with it until I read Lonesome Dove -- an epic novel about the ending of things is probably a fair description. I'll write that unless someone shoots me.

Dan Moran said...

JJ, btw -- as far as Heroes Die vs. Blade of Tyshalle -- yeah. Blade tries harder and misses in a couple places. Heroes Die does one specific thing perfectly. It reminds me of the split between Long Run and Last Dancer. Last Dancer is more ambitious and misses in spots -- Long Run is more successful book -- in a minor key.

Sean Fagan said...

This is a very weird thing: just reading your comment about the future of the CT books has me excited.

I can't think of anyone else that's done that -- I don't care about the Chtorr books any longer, I didn't read the last Bellisarius book from Flint and Drake, and I just wasn't interested in any new Covenant novels... all because it'd been too long since the previous book came out.

But, it seems, that's not the case with the Continuing Time. (Rather, I keep wanting to go to B&N and buy the books right now. Which I can't.)

That's pretty impressive.

P.S. The Always Rising of the Night is a very B5-esque title.

Steve Perry said...

Dan --

I don't have your email address, but after reading Rodgers' blog about siccing PI's on you, I might be able to offer you some advice in that arena, since I was one of those PI's, in L.A. and later in Louisiana, for about five years in my misspent youth.

Drop me a note ...

Steve

Dan Moran said...

I'm not worried about PI's. I've been passing background checks for 20 years -- Alan Rodgers doesn't understand how the world works, and his fantasies about dark secrets are those of a man who has some. I quite recently ran all database operations for a $2 billion a year multinational -- prior to that I had millions of dollars invested in a company where I was the CTO. Right this minute I have a background check being run on me by the U.S. Army for a consulting gig I'm involved in -- nobody at my level of seniority in IS works without background checks.

Drop me a line anyway at danmoran909@yahoo.com -- I have another email address I check more frequently, but I'm not posting it, I'm hoping to have at least one damn email adress that doesn't get spammed to death.

Dan Moran said...

It's fascinating how well the basic functionality of the web works. I get notified when posts appear on this blog through my Yahoo mail -- Blogger.com itself is a google service. I hit the submit button on the previous post, and Time/Warner talked to blogger which talked to yahoo which talked to Time/Warner and I instantly got a popup box from my Yahoo email telling me there was a new post on the blog --

I had a working email address back in the early 80s -- my FatSam/BBS days. You'd send a message to one of the few (maybe) tens of thousands of people who also had email, and wait for hours (days) until it arrived -- you'd call them on the phone, and let them know to be on the lookout ...

Cool time to be alive.

jj sutherland said...

Dan...

So I just re-read Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle. Both quite good, but I agree with your analysis. Heroes Die is dead on, while Blade of Tyshalle is trying to be bigger...but I would say a bit more than flawed in parts, for some reason I just couldn't care about many of the characters, and the brilliance of the Caine character was hampered by some of the other clunkiness. (The prison sequence was brilliant, for instance, but the literal Deus ex Machina left me cold).

Hoping the next one, which I of course will buy, is better...

jj

Anonymous said...

FWIW, The Long Run is NOT a work done in a minor key, Dan.. at least not from the perspective of this fan. The Last Dancer tries for big things and fails at some of them, true enough -- but The Long Run succeeds in bigger things without even trying.

You don't need space aliens or time travel or the machinations of beings older than the human race to give a story meaning. The Long Run succeeds because it doesn't need those things and doesn't ask for them. It's about one person, and the choices he makes, and why he makes those choices.

It's not wrong to characterize tLR as a less ambitious work than tLD. I suspect Trent would describe ambition as a character flaw.