Monday, May 17, 2010

The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski

Duane Swierczynski seems to have carved out his own niche of crime stories with a twist. If Expiration Date is time-travel noir, The Blonde is femme fatale sci-fi. Not hardcore sci-fi, mind you. More the Michael Crichton kind, since this story revolves around self-replicating nanobot parasites that live in the blood and can be tracked by satellites. They are also able to somehow sense proximity to other people, which is why the title character has to stay within 10 feet of someone else, otherwise these nanites rush to the brain and force a severe hemorrhage and death. To force someone to stay with her, she poisons an unwitting traveler at the airport bar and tells him she's only give him the antidote if he helps her.

The Blonde is a lot more violent than my previously-read Swierczynski novel, mostly because of the assassin taking orders for hits and decapitation, and the language is a lot more "adult". Nearly all of the story takes place in the hours ticking down to the poisoned man's death (which happens to coincide with his appointment with his wife's divorce lawyer.) Fast-paced, relatively short (around 200 pages), and imminently readable seems to be Swierczynski's modus operandi, but while I'm sure I'll read Expiration Date again and own it, I'm satisfied I just got this one from the library.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Newest Holga pics

If you haven't caught on by now, I really like stark black and white industrial images.

More here:

Saturday, May 8, 2010


See more sprocket hole pictures here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New film camera

I won (as in free, not auction) this little gem from in Honolulu. (In fact, here's the announcement.) It's a Japanese (apparently even Japan has their stuff made in China) 35mm plastic Superheadz clone of Vivitar's Ultra Wide and Slim camera that captures vivid colors, wide angles, and vignettes (dark corners). Limited to 2,000 worldwide in this color, but the best part so far was when I took the camera out of the plastic pack and the backing card revealed the message: "welcome to magical camera world."

I can't wait to start shooing some Kodak Ektar with it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

I'd never heard of Duane Swierzynski before I saw Expiration Date as one of the Early Reviewer books on LibraryThing. I didn't win a copy, so I purchased one based on the summary of the title and the enthusiastic responses I found to the author's previous novels.

Expiration Date is a fast-paced, twisty time-travel mystery written in a first-person hardboiled crime pulp style, and featuring occasional B&W ink illustrations by comic book artist Lawrence Campbell (this is a novel, not a graphic novel). Mickey Wade lost his job and his grandfather is comatose in the hospital, so Mickey moves into his grandfather's apartment and accidentally discovers that the pills in the old Tylenol bottle from his grandfather's medicine cabinet aren't meant for headaches. Oh, and they also happen to cause him to travel back to around the year of his birth in 1972. Now, this could present some interesting opportunities...if Mickey wasn't invisible and allergic to light while in the past.

I'd hate to give too much away, but Wade is juggling problems in both times, trying to piece together family mysteries in the past while convincing his best friend that all that time he spends passed out on the floor has nothing to do with being a drug addict. The crux of time travel stories is usually how the past affects the future and the question of how will a particular author or movie treat the consequences of actions in the past.

Suffice it to say that I consider myself a new fan of Duane Swierczynski and look forward to reading his other novels (already picked up Severance Package and just got The Blonde from the library). The only complaint anyone should have is that it's only about 235 pages, and will be over before you know it. To be fair on the length, though, I should mention that the story was conceived as a weekly serial for New York Times Sunday Magazine, and you'll probably want to read it again anyway.

I'll leave you with part of the prologue:

Time's arrow only seems to fly straight when you're alive. Dead is something else. Once you cross that invisible line, you see things how they really are. You see that every moment seems to happen at once.

Which makes telling this story - or the most important parts of it, anyway - difficult. Usually, you start at the beginning. Or the middle, so the audience doesn't get bored.

Problem is, I'm very hazy on the beginning and the middle, as I came in at the end. I can speculate, but it'd be nothing more than a wild guess. I guess I should start with the day I moved into the apartment and went back in time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Red Scale film

This is what happens when you shoot pictures through the back side of normal 35mm film...or in this case, when they intentionally load it backwards at the plant and sell it as Red Scale film. (Also, it's fairly difficult to get the photo lab to understand that you want the film developed with no prints, and no CD, but developing itself is really cheap...$1.78.)