Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Study of the Feminine Graces: Wit, Charm, Snark, and Theft

Thief’s Covenant
Ari Marmell
Pyr Books
Hardcover, 273 p., $16.95
various ebook editions (Nook, Kindle) $7.99

I’ve heard of Ari Marmell, but until now I hadn’t read one of his books.  Thief’s Covenant won’t be the last.

Part of Pyr’s new YA line, this is a fun, albeit dark, novel.  The central character is Widdershins, formerly known as Adrienne Satti.  She’s an orphan, at one time adopted into a noble family.  Until she was witness and sole survivor of a massacre at the temple of her god.  Fearing she would be blamed for the killings, she fled back to the slums, adopting the identity of Widdershins.

Oh, and there’s one thing.  Her god went with her.

That’s one of the unique things about the world Marmell has created.  At some point in the past, a Pact was formed among the gods and their worshippers.  There are 147 sanctioned gods, and strict rules apply to how they and their followers interact, with a Church to oversee the whole setup.  The god Widdershins was worshiping wasn’t one of the 147.

That was two years ago.  Now things are beginning to heat up in the city of Davillon.  The Archbishop is coming for a visit.  The people behind the massacre are still looking for Adrienne.  The Taskmaster of the Finder’s Guild (the Thieves’ Guild, in other words) has a personal vendetta against her.  Widdershins is beginning to take more and more risks.  And someone, somewhere, is about to make a vicious play for power.

For a YA novel, this one is pretty complicated.  There are a number of named characters, both major and minor, the plot is complex, and things get pretty dark at times.  The dust jacket says the book is for readers twelve and up, but I’m not sure how many twelve year olds are emotionally mature enough for some of the content.

But then my son has several years to go before he reaches that age, so I tend to think in terms of what would be appropriate for him.

Regardless, this was a great book.  Marmell is definitely an author I’m going to read again, probably starting with The Goblin Corps, his previous book for Pyr.  Marmell writes from the viewpoint of multiple characters, giving us a fully fleshed-out world and allowing us to see certain individuals through multiple eyes.  This is highly effective; the reader understands the interactions between the characters more than they do themselves.

The society is modeled after French nobility in the years before the French Revolution, so there’s some contrast between the haves and the have-nots. Widdershins has a habit of sneaking into balls and parties in disguise.  This isn’t an era I’ve seen used much in recent fantasy, so the setting was a nice touch (and the source of this review’s title).

The humor and verbal fencing were delightfully cheeky, perfect for a YA novel.  Here’s a sample from a flashback showing Widdershins’ first day in an orphanage:  “Sister Cateline smiled shallowly at the dull, mumbled chorus of amen, already drowned out by the scraping of cheap wooden spoons on cheap wooden bowls, scooping up mouthfuls of cheap porridge (probably not wooden, but who could really say for certain?).”  Clearly Marmell is a man who has eaten lunch in the school cafeteria and on more than one occasion.

That’s another thing Marmell does well, the flashbacks.  Almost every other chapter shows an incident in Widdershins’ past.  We get a little more information about her and about events that led to the present crisis, but never in one large serving.  Instead, Marmell uses the flashbacks to serve up small bites, whetting our appetites while at the same time making us hungry for more.  It’s one of the most effective uses of flashbacks to build suspense and create a sense of mystery that I’ve seen in a long time.

This is the first in a series.  False Covenant is due out in June, and I’ll be watching for it.

Whether you’re twelve in real years, or merely still twelve in some part of your heart, Thief’s Covenant is a book I highly recommend.

Blood and Thunder, Release 2.0

Blood and Thunder
Mark Finn
The Robert E. Howard Foundation Press
$45 REHF members, $50 nonmembers, plus shipping

It’s been a few years since the first edition of this volume was published, and in that time Howard studies have moved forward, with new biographical material coming to light.  In fact, new biographical details  have continued to be unearthed since this edition went to press. That will probably (hopefully) continue for some time.

As he explained in the two part interview posted here last year (part 1, part 2), Mark Finn felt it was time for a second edition.  Rather than rehash his remarks, I’m going to get straight to the point and discuss the book.

Including the endnotes but not the bibliography and index, the book comes in at 426 pages.  It starts slow, giving family background information.  That’s typical in any biography, so please don’t take the previous sentence as negative.  That’s just the way it is.  The book is divided into four sections, same as in the previous edition, with some chapters being heavily rewritten and others hardly touched.  Again, not surprising or in any way atypical of many biographies that have new editions.

The book really took off for me in the second section, with the first chapter, “Authentic Liars”, discussing the oral storytelling tradition in which Howard grew up.  It’s the tradition of the porch raconteur, the spinner of tall tales, the person who mixes enough truth into his words that you’re never really sure at which point he begins pulling your leg.  It’s also a tradition that is vanishing, and in many parts of the country, lost.

This chapter sets the tone for much of what follows.  Finn’s central thesis, or one of them at least, is that to understand Howard, one must understand the Texas in which he grew up.  It’s a valid point, and one which is easy to overlook.  With many of the traditions and values of the time being passed down relatively unchanged, we often forget how much has changed.

While this concept was central to the first edition of the book, Finn has expanded on it.  What’s fairly new, and in my opinion of major importance to future Howard studies, is Finn’s assertion that an understanding of Howard’s humor is required to truly understand the man and his work.  This is in my opinion one of the strengths of the second edition.  I’ve never gotten into Howard’s humor.  After reading the new material on his humorous stories, and reading again about how those stories fit in with the tall lying tradition, I’m going to be seeking them out.  There’s a lot there I’ve been missing.

Finn tries his best to avoid the excesses of arm chair psychoanalysis engaged in by L. Sprague de Camp in Dark Valley Destiny.  In many ways this book was written as a refutation of that biography.  Fans of de Camp, and of DVD in particular, won’t be pleased with what they find here.  While some interpretation of how events in Howard’s life showed up in his work is inevitable in any study of the man, Finn walks a delicate line between projecting his own agenda and biases on his subject and erring on the side of caution too much by not offering any interpretations at all.  For the most part, I think he’s successful.  He tries to delineate what are his opinions and what are facts.

By the time I turned the last page, I had a new understanding of Robert E. Howard the man.  While I had always pictured him as someone who wanted to fit in, some of the details had been filled in.  Hopefully I’m not merely projecting my own experiences growing up in a similar small Texas town nearby onto what I read.  Finn  quotes from Howard’s correspondence (collected in three volumes by the REHF Press), especially his correspondence with H. P. Lovecraft (collected in two volumes by Hippocampus Press).  I’ve got these volumes but haven’t finished reading them.  I will, if for no other reason than I want to understand better the different facets of his personality Howard presented in his correspondence.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Finn has expanded his remarks on Conan.  Rather than get into Conan here, I’ll just say that he thinks “Queen of the Black Coast” isn’t one of Howard’s best Conan tales.  While I’ve not posted anything new in my series on Conan (see links in the sidebar) in a while due to other projects, I’ve not given up on the series and will save my remarks for upcoming installments. 

I do have a few gripes about the book overall, though nothing major.  At the front is a map of West Central Texas during Howard’s time, showing the roads.  Mark told me at ConDFW last weekend that he had pieced the map together from several maps and had removed more than one road that didn’t exist in Howard’s lifetime by hand.  He missed one major highway, though:  Interstate 20.  The interstates weren’t built until a couple of decades after Howard’s death.  This might seem to be a minor thing, but it does call into question the accuracy of the rest of the map.  For what it’s worth, the interstate is near the top in the middle of a number of other highways (I used a magnifying glass to confirm it was there), and thus easy to miss.  I personally don’t think it’s a huge deal.

A map of Cross Plains during Howard’s lifetime would have been nice, though.  Surely it wouldn’t have been too difficult to obtain one.  I was also disappointed in the number of photos.  Each chapter opens with a photo.  There’s no section of photographs, and some of the more famous ones are missing.  Primarily on this point, there’s no photo of Novalyne Price.  I’m not that crazy with the one on the cover, either.  In fairness, I realize that copyright issues probably prevented Finn from including some of the photos most readers might expect.  Also, more pictures of Cross Plains in the 20s and 30s would have been a nice touch.  And I’ve never seen a drawing or map of the Howard property at the time of his death.  Where was the car parked?  Was it outside or in a garage?  Did they even have a garage?  Also, Howard took to wearing a mustache near the end of his life.  Did he still have it when he died?  It’s clearly visible in the last known photo of him (included in the book).

Overall, though, this a major work.  Howard scholarship and fandom are contentious enough that it would be easy to stoop to the level of picking nits (which I’m sure some will say the preceding two paragraphs did).  Finn has set the standard here by which future biographical projects will be measured.  By examining the cultural influences on Howard, Finn has expanded the avenues by which scholars can approach their subject.  I would like to see further analysis of Howard’s humor for example.  Still, this is a volume that belongs in the library of any serious fan of Texas literature, Robert E. Howard, or the pulps.

Publications from the REHF Press tend to be priced out of the range of the casual fan.  The production values make them worth the money, and the limited print runs mean if you want a copy, don’t wait.  While popular titles go through more than one printing, not all of them do.  While I have every expectation this one will see a second printing, they take time.  If you want a copy, grab one now.

Sailing on the Carpathia

Matt Forbeck
Angry Robot Books
1 March 2012
384pp B-format paperback, £7.99

28 February 2012
384pp trade paperback
$12.99 US / $14.99 CAN

28 February 2012, £4.49

That movie by James Cameron a few years back kind of cooled my interest in the Titanic.  Matt Forbeck has rekindled it.  It seems the shipwreck was only the beginning.  The real nightmare started after the Carpathia picked up the survivors.  The ship was infested with vampires trying to return to the safety of the  old world.  Can you say smorgasbord?  Now why couldn’t Cameron have filmed that part of the story?  It would have made a much more interesting movie than that sappy love story.  Oh, well.  To each his own.

This is the story of Quentin Harker, Abe Holmwood, and Lucy Seward (perhaps you’ve heard of their parents?), who are traveling to America.  Abe and Lucy, engaged to be married, will travel the continent until Lucy starts college in the fall, at which time Abe will return home to England and wait for his bride-to-be to finish school.  Quin will seek employment in a law firm in New York. 

Except it’s not that simple.  Quin is in love with Lucy.  This love story is much more interesting than the one in the movie.  Then the ship hits the iceberg.  You probably know this part of the story.  Of course, all three are rescued. 

That’s when the fun starts.  There are a number of vampires who are returning to Eastern Europe, where they feel it’s safer than New York.  Some of them have gotten careless and drawn attention to themselves.  This has created a bit of a power struggle in the ranks, with the leader Dushko Dragovich being challenged by the upstart Brody Murtagh.  Of course there’s a female vampire stirring things up.  (I told you this love story was more interesting than the one in the movie.)

HMS Carpathia

The chapters are short, lending a sense of urgency to the story.  Forbeck shifts the viewpoint between multiple characters, major and minor, human and vampire, while keeping the focus on the trio.  The dialogue is sharp and crisp, witty and fast paced.  The chapters focusing on Lucy, Quin, and Abe read like we’re eavesdropping on long time friends, each with his or her own distinct personality. Even the red shirt characters are more than just cardboard cutouts; although brief, each is given a backstory.

The imagery is often creepy.  The scene towards the end, with the hold full of sleeping vampires, was especially effective.  These are not the angst-ridden, pedophilic vampires of Twilight fame who glitter in sunlight.  These are, if you’ll pardon the expression, the real deal.  They sunburn easily.

Comparisons with Jasper Kent’s Danilov Chronicles are probably inevitable.  I’m a huge fan of Kent’s work (see my reviews here, here, and here), and I have to say this book holds up well against them while blazing its own trail. It’s a fine addition to the subgenre of historical vampire fiction.

That’s not to say the book isn’t without its flaws.  I thought the ending was a little over the top, although I loved the way the romantic triangle was resolved.  (Much more interesting than the movie.) 

In the chapters in which the Titanic is sinking, Forbeck gives a number of famous people who were aboard cameos.  I’m okay with that; the temptation to do so would be too great to refrain.  The one famous person who has more than a cameo is Molly Brown, nicknamed “Unsinkable” for her habit of sailing on ships destined to sink while not going down with the ship herself.  She and Lucy end up in the same lifeboat.  Once they are on the Carpathia, Ms. Brown is never heard from again.  This I have a problem with.  Forbeck departs enough from recorded history that I don’t understand why he didn’t include Molly Brown in the rest of the story.

That’s a minor point, though.  Overall, this was a highly enjoyable vampire novel, enough so that I’d be willing to read more of Forbeck’s work, and one I recommend if you like traditional vampires.  The book hits shelves and is available for download next week.  Look for it.

Report on ConDFW XI

Author GOH Cherie Priest

ConDFW XI was held over the weekend, beginning on the afternoon of Friday, February 17 and ending, as these things tend to do, just over 48 hours later, on Sunday February 19.  The author Guest of Honor was Cherie Priest, and the artist Guest of Honor was William Stout.

I wasn’t able to get away as early as I’d hoped Friday morning, so I missed the afternoon panels.  I visited with friends, kibitzed with Mark Finn during his signing, then went and grabbed some food.  The Opening Ceremonies were held after dinner and only lasted five minutes.  Since I was five minutes late, I got there just as everyone was leaving. 

I visited with some more folks, confirmed the time for an interview, and generally hung out.  Mark Finn hosted a panel on talking during the movies, a sort of live Mystery Science Theater 3000.  I only sat through part of one of the movies, but it was baaaddd.  I visited the Fencon party, the only one on Friday, and called it a night.

Self-publishing panel

There were a couple of panels on electronic publishing Saturday morning. The first was really good and consisted of advice from Tom Knowles, Carole Nelson Douglas, Nina Romberg, Kevin Hosey, and Bill Fawcett.  This was followed by a panel on scams aimed at authors looking to self-publish.  It consisted of P. N. Elrod, Lillian Stewart Carl, Melanie Fletcher, Mark Finn, and Bill Fawcett.  I snuck out of this one part way through to stick my head in on a panel about breaking writing rules.  Panelists included Kevin Hosey, Chris Donahue, K. Hutson, A. P. Stephens, and Rhonda Eudaly.

I had lunch with some former students.  When I returned I attended a reading by Martha Wells and Sue Sinor.  Afterwards, Martha was gracious enough to answer a few questions for an interview.  I’ll post it after I’ve transcribed it.  I poked around in the dealer’s room, then ended the afternoon with a couple of panels.

Space Opera Panel

The first one on trends in space opera, a subgenre near and dear to the lump of coal that passes for my heart.  This panel was the most fun.  The panelists were Ethan Hahte, Lee Martindale, and Mark Finn (who always introduced himself differently on each panel).  Poor Bill Ledbetter tried to moderate.  Mark was drinking an energy drink, and the conversation was lively.  Since I’m friends with all the panelists, I tended to throw in my two cents a lot as well.

From there, I went to the opposite extreme, the panel on using Norse mythology in your fiction, another topic near and dear to my heart.  I got there a minute or so after the panel started and stood at the back.  It was in one of the larger rooms and well attended.  What I could hear of the discussion, which wasn’t much, was interesting.   Unfortunately the woman moderating spoke in just above a whisper, and at the risk of sounding sexist, so did all the other women on the panel.  The only panelist who even tried to project his voice to the back of the room (and succeeded) was the sole male.  After about ten minutes, I decided that if I had been sitting down, I would have fallen asleep, so I went and met friends for dinner.

That night was the traditional panel on pornography vs. erotica.  The conclusion was that erotica is what I like, and pornography is what all you perverts like.  If you want details, you’ll have to provide proof of age.  I went party hopping after that.  The best one was thrown by Tom Knowles, author and the publisher of Dark Star Books.  In addition to homemade corn bread and venison chilli, I scored a free copy of Morticai’s Luck by Darlene Bolesny.  Look for the review sometime this spring, probably April.

Sunday brought an interview with Brad and Sue Sinor, some readings, and a panel on how to fix terrible prose from Lee Martindale, Mel White, Lou Antonelli, and Adrian Simmons, one of the editors of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  Then I rode off into the sunset.  Literally.

Other than the whispering panel, I only had one frustration.  There was a late addition to the schedule, a tribute panel to Ardath Mayhar.  I had an appointment for an interview at that time, and when I got there (still within the advertised time), the room was empty.  While I applaud the con committee for adding the memorial, I I wish it had been emphasized more.  I hope someone attended.  Hopefully there’ll be one at Fencon.  Ardath was one of the guests one year.

The dealer’s room didn’t have as many books as in the past, mainly because Edge Books is in the process of shutting down and only had two tables.  Still it was good to see them there.  I was under the impression that had closed for good.

The hotel is a great venue.  It’s a triangular atrium style design, with the elevators in the middle of the place, facing each other.  It was fun to watch get off them and then try to figure out which way to go to get where they were headed.  The restaurant gave convention attendees a 10% discount, a nice first.

I’ve attended all but one of the ConDFWs.  I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable.

Guest Post by Ty Johnston

Fantasy writer Ty Johnston is touring the blogosphere this month, in part to promote his latest e-book novel, Demon Chains, but also because he loves blog touring. His other fantasy novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb and Ghosts of the Asylum, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords. To learn more about Ty and his writing, follow him at his blog
Some questioning from a fellow fantasy writer got me to thinking recently. Why do I write mostly in the fantasy genre?
It is a question with no easy answer. Literature of the fantastic and speculative was part of my childhood, a big part, so perhaps there is a bit of nostalgia which keeps my interest going.
That being said, after spending some time thinking over this topic, I came to what I feel is a stronger reply, a better answer. I remain tied to the fantasy genre because of the freedom it allows me as a writer and as a reader.
While the general public might hear the word “fantasy” and think of dragons and men waving around big swords, fantasy is so much more than that, not that there’s anything wrong with dragons and men waving around big swords. When I write in other genres, I often find myself feeling limited intellectually and emotionally, possibly even spiritually. I have no sense of such fetters when working within fantasy.
Fantasy writers write in their favored genre for a lot of different reasons, but one of my draws is exploration of the mind and perhaps the soul. I like to delve into the various elements that makes us human. I find the ability to do my exploring through fantasy. When I am withdrawn into fantasy, I feel as if I’m an explorer of old, charting new territory. If not new territory for others, often enough I am discovering new territory for myself, within myself.
Again, I gain little sense of this from the other genres.
I do not mean to belittle other genres of literature, because each has its place, its good and its bad, and I read widely across all genres. However, as a writer, I find the other genres limiting, making me feel forced to refrain from boldly traveling to new worlds, whether those worlds are physical or metaphysical or beyond.
Within fantasy, nearly anything can occur, anything can be thought and weighed. Admittedly some of the sub-genres of my favorite literature offer limitations, but those limitations are often similar to the ones I find in the non-fantastic genres. When I feel the need, I can work within those limitations, but when I wish to expand, it is to the wider possibilities of fantasy I must turn and return.
The simple answer, then, is that I write mostly in the fantasy genre because of the philosophical freedom it allows me as a writer and reader. The other genres I find somewhat stifling, at least part of the time, and often too literal, too strict, too methodical. With fantasy, I can fly, I can soar.
And hopefully readers will explore and travel with me.

The Next Week or So

I’m getting over a sinus infection at the moment, something that isn’t helped by the dust and the wind here on the South Plains.  Unless something major happens tomorrow, I probably won’t be posting anything new until Sunday night or more probably Monday evening.  I’ll be attending ConDFW this weekend and will give a full report when I get back.  I’m also reading Mark Finn‘s updated biography of Robert E. Howard, Blood and Thunder, and Matt Forbeck‘s Carpathia.  They’re both great reads, and I’ll review them next week.  I had hoped to finish one of them in time to write a review before the con, but being sick has slowed me down some.

In the meantime, this Saturday will see the first guest post here.  Author Ty Johnston is doing a blog tour to promote his new book, Demon Chains, the latest in his Kron Darkbow series.  I’d like to thank Ty in advance for his column.  I’ve read it, and it’s good.  Check it out.  And if you haven’t read any of his books, start with City of Rogues, which I reviewed a few months ago.

Coming up after the report on ConDFW, I’ve got commitments to review (not necessarily in this order) Shadow’s Master by Jon SprunkThief’s Covenant by Ari Marmell, The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, Trang by Mary Sisson, and Rise and Fall by Joshua P. Simon.  I’ll probably look at some short fiction in the midst of all that, plus the occasional essay.

First Professional Payment

After years of sporadically collecting rejections, I received my first payment for something I’d written.  Well, for fiction at least.  Review copies of books don’t count in this context.  And while it’s not professional rates by SFWA standards, I got paid for it, so by that loose definition it’s professional.  I just transferred the money from my Paypal account to my bank account.  What a rush.  I can definitely get used to that.  Anyway, the story is supposed to be available in a few weeks, so I’ll post a notice when that happens.

A Visit to the World House

The World House
Guy Adams
Angry Robot Books
 416pp A-format paperback
£7.99 UK   $tbc Aus
416pp mass-market paperback
$7.99 US    $8.99 CAN
 ISBN 978 0 85766 037 4
ebook  £4.49 / $5.99
 ePub ISBN 978 0 85766 038 1

This one has been out for a while but it’s still worth a read.  As Dean Wesley Smith likes to point out, books aren’t produce; they won’t spoil.  When the book arrived in the mail, I was on my way back to work after meeting my wife for lunch and had stopped by the post office.  I decided to read it on my lunch breaks.  That didn’t happen for two reasons.  One, I keep having to run errands during lunch, and two, I was just too drawn into the story to be able to read only a short number of pages every few days.

The idea of a house where each room contains a world or a passage to a world isn’t new.  James Stoddard used it in The High House and The False House, just to give one example.  And while Stoddard’s books had some creepy moments, The World House does them one better.

This house is not one you want to live in.  In fact, it’s basically a prison.  I’m not giving away anything by saying that; the cover copy mentions a prisoner waiting for a door to be unlocked.  

I’ll mention some, but not all, of the things you find in the house.  There’s a Snakes and Ladders game painted on the floor of the nursery; when you step on it, it becomes three dimensional and the snakes are alive.  There’s a chapel with blood-thirsty cherubs.  The bathroom has an ocean in it.  (No, nothing has backed up.)  Various rooms have taxidermy, which can come to life.  The library has a book about each person’s life, unless of course the book worms eat your volume.  And let’s not forget the cannibals…

For a novel of this length, Adams includes a large number of characters, roughly a dozen or so, depending on how you want to delineate between major and minor characters.  Not all of them make it to the end.  Still, he does a good job of making them individuals, and some are deliciously evil.  They come from the late 1800s to the early 2000s, and all of them entered the house the same way.  They fell through a box.

There’s a small Chinese box.  If you find yourself in a life threatening situation, say about to get the crap beaten out of you by a loan shark, or being chased by your fiance who has taken you somewhere isolated so he can rape you, and you happen to be in contact with the box…well, you just fall in.  Once you do, you’ll find yourself somewhere in the house.  

The characters try survive and figure out how to get home.  The box is known in the real world, and a few have managed to make it back.  And of course, there are people who are searching for the box for reasons of their own.

I’m not going to try to summarize the plot lines involving the characters any more than I have, which I realize isn’t much.  I’ll just say that who the heroes and villains are may surprise you.  And that’s one of the satisfying things about this novel.  Adams doesn’t do the obvious with the characters, and there are hidden relationships between some of the characters which aren’t revealed until the final pages.  

This one was a lot of fun.  Adams has a wonderfully dark and twisted imagination, especially when it comes to populating the rooms of the house.  Half the fun was seeing what he would throw at the reader next.  Even though the story isn’t over, I thought for the most part he did a fine job tying up all loose ends for the first half.  The second part of the tale, Restoration, is sitting on my desk at work.  I’ll be starting it soon. 

John Seery-Lester’s Safari Paintings

Cover Painting for Legends of the Hunt

Jim Cornelius had a new post this evening over at Frontier Partisans.  It featured a link to the safari art of John Seery-Lester.  These are paintings of classic safaris, many of them based on actual safaris.  Teddy Roosevelt is prominently featured in some of them.  The paintings brought back my boyhood dreams of going on safari.  If this is something that might be of interest to you, check it out.  If you really like his work, there’s a link to order a collection of John’s paintings.

Battlepug to be Collected by Dark Horse

For just over a year now, Mike Norton has been writing a weekly webcomic, Battlepug.  With Allen Passalaqua and Crank assisting on the artwork, it’s a unique blend of a Conan-like barbarian and giant animals.  I just discovered it today.  I’m still trying to decide if it works for me, but I like the visuals and the framing story.  With weekly installments, it took a while for the story to really get going, but it seems to be picking up steam.  Norton is beginning to flesh out the background and add supporting characters.  Dark Horse recently announced it would collect the first year, to be published in July.  Anyway, I thought I’d mention it in case some of you who aren’t aware of it might be interested.