Friday, May 29, 2009

Handy Guide to Who Owns Whom

Keeping track of which imprint belongs to which publisher makes one feel a little like Danny Kaye in THE COURT JESTER trying to keep track of whether the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle, the flagon with the dragon, or the chalice from the palace. But here's my best effort:

Note 1: Corporate parent is in bold, US publishing subsidiary or affiliate in parentheses, imprints below.

Note 2: I have omitted some imprints (e.g., paperback reprint-only imprints or imprints that don't do novels and sometimes unintentionally) and have included some that may be defunct but which may still appear on books.

Bertelsmann AG (Random House)
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
David Fickling Books
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Random House Books for Young Readers
Wendy Lamb Books

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (Bloomsbury USA)
Walker and Company

CBS Corporation (Simon & Schuster)
Aladdin Paperbacks
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Paula Wiseman Books
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Simon Pulse

Egmont (DK)(Egmont USA)

Houghton Mifflin Company (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Houghton-Mifflin Books for Children

La Martiniere Groupe (Abrams Books)
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Lagardere Groupe, Hachette Livre (Hachette Book Group)
Little, Brown & Co. Books for Young Readers

News Corporation (HarperCollins)
Balzer and Bray
Bowen Press (defunct)
Greenwillow Books
Katherine Tegen Books
Morrow Junior Books (defunct)

Pearson PLC (Penguin Group USA)
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Scholastic, Inc.
Arthur A. Levine Books
Scholastic Press

Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (Macmillan US)
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Feiwel and Friends
Henry Holt
Roaring Brook
  First Second
  Neal Porter Books

Walker Books UK (Candlewick Press)
Candlewick Press

Walt Disney Co. (Hyperion Books)
Disney Hyperion
Hyperion Miramax

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


THE BATTLE OF THE RED HOT PEPPER WEENIES, by David Lubar (Starscape 2009)(ages 8 and up). In his fourth Weenies collection, Lubar delivers another set of often funny, sometimes gross, and occasionally creepy Twilight Zonish short stories. From red hot pepper battles to spooky amusement park rides to mysterious things that will eat you in the night (and more), the new Weenies stories are guaranteed to amaze and horrify! (Okay, that might be a bit too much of the hyperbole, but WEENIES is a great read; and especially now that summer is upon us, the stories feel like they were absolutely meant to be read around a guttering campfire deep in the woods...) .

Friday, May 22, 2009

Congratulations all!

Congratulations to the UT class of 2009!

Go here to see a video of the fireworks at the Main Building.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Star Trek '09

So we finally went to see it tonight.


And it was, well, Star Trek. In a good way.

No, really.

Yes, okay, there are a couple quibbles I have with treatment of canon (I wouldn't be a Star Trek fan without them :-)), but I think some of them might be ironed out in the next movie (and even if some of them aren't, I might be okay with that :-)).

But, really, on the whole, it's absolutely fantastic and it's the first movie in about twenty years that I want to see again in the theater. Maybe even IMAX.

Good work, people.

Live long and prosper.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Enterprise, crippled after its encounter with Khan, limps back home to Space Dock in orbit above earth. There will, of course, have to be an official inquiry while they decide whether it's worth it to send Enterprise to the body shop or just pay out blue book value. Thus, the crew is given unpaid leave (or something) and told to wait. Scotty, however, is reassigned to Excelsior, where he is to help out with something called "transwarp" drive.

Meanwhile, Kirk goes back home and gets a visit from Spock's father, Ambassador Sarek, played terrifically (as always) by Mark Lenard. It seems that Spock is only mostly dead: he left his katra (spirit/soul) with McCoy who is having an allergic reaction thereto and trying to charter starships to take him back to the Genesis planet (which incidentally is now off limits).

So Kirk et al decide to steal Enterprise and take it back to the Genesis planet and try to reunite Spock's katra with his body. There is, of course, the small problem that they're in space dock and even if they make it to the Genesis planet, the science vessel Grissom is on station and it is revealed that the technology is unstable, which will eventually cause the planet to explode. Nevertheless, in some of the best scenes of the movie, Kirk et al. succeed and make it to Genesis, only to discover a Klingon bird of prey, captained by Christopher Lloyd, is already there and causing problems. In short order, Grissom is destroyed, Kirk's son is killed, an adolescent Spock has sex with Saavik, the Enterprise self-destructs, they find Spock's body (now all grown up), and kick the Klingon commander in the face. They also hijack the Klingon bird of prey and make it back to Vulcan where Spock's katra is re-united with his body and our gang requests political asylum. Yay.

The Search for Spock began the long Star Trek tradition of strange casting and/or directorial decisions (and also suggested that the odd-numbered movies being less good than the even-numbered ones might be a pattern). The replacement Saavik seemed to have been told that she must speak in a monotone and E-NUN-SEE-ATE every word, thereby turning every moment of what had been a perfectly good character into something cringeworthy. Speaking of cringeworthy, the captain of Grissom was also kind of strange and unctuous and smarmy, more like a game show host than a starship captain. (Captain Styles was over the top, but then he was supposed to be). And Christopher Lloyd as the Klingon commander was just distracting. I kept expecting him to mutter something about 1.21 gigawatts...

On the other hand, Scotty had some really good lines, as did Uhura.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Ricardo Montalban reprises his role as Khan Noonian Singh, tyrannical overlord of over a quarter of the earth during the Clone Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. You'll recall from the episode "Space Seed" that he was abandoned by Kirk on Ceti Alpha VI; well, apparently things went bad and only through his genetically engineered intellect and ability to quote Moby Dick was he able to survive with a group of his likewise genetically engineered but less intelligent comrades (his muggle wife died from an ear parasite, though).

The starship Reliant (no word on whether the captain's chair has rich Corinthian leather) comes by and doesn't notice that one of our planets is missing. Long story short, Khan et al. seize control of Reliant and use it to try to steal something called the Genesis Device, which can "create life from lifelessness" on an epic scale and which, of course, can also be perverted into a terrible weapon, also on an epic scale.

Meanwhile, back at Starfleet Command, Admiral Kirk is feeling old and, lugubriously, has drinks with McCoy; Enterprise is under command of Capt. Spock and is being used as a training ship; Kirstie Alley is introduced as Spock's protege, the half Vulcan, half Romulan Lt. Saavik; and we are introduced to the kick-ass Kobayashi Maru no-win training scenario.

As Enterprise starts out on a training cruise, Admiral Kirk gets a call from the head of Project Genesis (the two, apparently, used to be an item) and wants to know why Reliant is on its way to pick up the Device. So Kirk takes command of Enterprise again and leads the ship to intercept Reliant, whereupon he shows precisely why he was promoted up and out of the way when he nearly gets the Enterprise destroyed (To be fair, Spock contributes to this idiocy as well, but then, he too, is no longer in command of a ship of the line, either). Eventually, however, Kirk and Spock use their knowledge of the Reliant's ATM PIN code to shut down its shields and fire back.

Stuff happens, and eventually Enterprise leads Reliant on a wild goose chase through the Mutara Nebula, where neither ship will have effective shields or sensors. Enterprise cripples Reliant and kills all of Khan's people. As a last act of vengeance, Ahab Khan activates the Genesis Device. Enterprise, having been damaged by the battle, won't be able to escape in time.

Oh, no. What to do?

Spock leaves the bridge and heads down into engineering where he does something in the highly irradiated dilithium chamber that fixes the warp drive. In the process [SPOILER] he dies. (It's never been entirely clear why they don't have robots in the 23rd century to handle things like this (or why one of the engineers who's wearing an actual radiation suit didn't go in there); of course, back at Starfleet Command, they use a guy with a mop and bucket to clean the floors, but I digress). And Enterprise gets away.

After some poignant words and bag-piping, they shoot Spock's body out a torpedo tube onto the newly formed "Genesis Planet." And we all go home.

Wrath of Khan is by far the best (and my favorite) of the Trek movies, notwithstanding certain sparks of idiocy and over-acting. (Kirk does redeem himself with several awesome moments, not least of which is his solution to Kobayashi Maru). The Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic is fun, and Saavik is an effective addition. As for Kirk's son, well, the less said the better. (And, yes, this one came out a lot snarkier than I'd initially intended, but these things have bothered me for 25 years...).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

In which I self-indulgently comment on Star Trek movies in preparation for seeing the new one:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Ten years after the series went defunct, Paramount revived the franchise (this might have had something to do with the success of a certain George Lucas movie). James T. Kirk is now an admiral and regrets taking the promotion. Enterprise is undergoing an extensive refit and under the command of one Capt. Decker, son of the man who went crazy after his crew was eaten by he Doomsday Machine. Spock is off on some Vulcan cult thing and McCoy has retired from the service.

Just as Enterprise is ready to undergo space trials, a really big space cloud is detected, heading toward earth. It's already vaporized (or something) a trio of Klingon battle cruisers and Enterprise is the only ship in the quadrant. Again. (But wait, this is the home quadrant, right?)

Anyway, Kirk gets the command of Enterprise after pulling a few strings at Starfleet Command, Capt. Decker is pissed, Spock returns after a telepathic moment with Kirk, and McCoy is drafted and full of wonderful curmudgeonlyness (and Chapel is now a doctor). They go off and, after an interminable amount of time flying through clouds and whatnot, get to the heart of V'ger (the cloud's name) and save the day.

Perhaps the best thing about the movie was the score and the refit Enterprise. The scene where the shuttle pod "tours" space dock with the first sight of the new ship (after ten years) is absolutely glorious. And the refit Enterprise is still my favorite incarnation of starships Enterprise. Sleek, elegant, and without a lot of inexplicable junk kludged onto the outside. The uniforms, though. Wow.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


LEAVING GLORYTOWN: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro, by Eduardo Calcines (FSG, 2009)(10-14). In this memoir, Calcines (b. 1955) provides a fascinating (and sometimes chilling) look at how his family's lives -- and the lives of other middle class Cubans -- were affected by the thuggery of the Castro regime.

Calcines artfully portrays the frustrations of daily life in communist Cuba and his family's decade-long quest for freedom (until, finally, in 1969, they are allowed to leave everything and everyone behind to come to America).

Throughout LEAVING GLORYTOWN, Calcines's humor and love for family and friends shine through, even in the toughest of times. From beginning to end, LEAVING GLORYTOWN is an affecting story of faith, family, love, and hope. Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Am I the only one who does this?

The first thing I do when I pick up a book is to look at the copyright date (or date of original publication). This tells me, in addition to the date of original publication, something about the author's perspective and also allows me to ignore "Are you kidding me?" moments because either: (i) that's what people thought at the time; or (ii) that's what the author wanted people to think at the time; (iii) the thing they're mentioning hasn't occurred yet (this occurs particularly in science fiction); or (iv) yes, that is, in fact, what things cost back then.

I always thought everyone did this, but lately when I tell people, I keep getting funny looks...
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