Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday roundup

Robert Eggleton: Rarity from the Hollow

Robert Eggleton's novel Rarity from the Hollow has attracted some enthusiasm from readers. E.g. 'The mixture of sci-fi, gritty reality, humour, and the mode of thriller reminds me a great deal of Dean Koontz's writing.'

The book is published by FatCat Press and the web site provides an excerpt to try before you buy.

Promoting your book

In the Times, Anthony Thornton tells how he promoted his non-fiction book The Libertines on the internet. Nothing startlingly new here -- 'Publishing companies seem a long way behind when it comes to realising the potential of the net' -- but an interesting case study.

One thing is clear. It helps if you have some web savvy. Anthony Thornton is a former editor of the music site And the web site set up to plug his book is called The Libertines Bound Together.

Stuck in an elevator

Escape Pod describes itself as the Science Fiction Podcast Magazine. What you get (as far as I can see) is podcasts (i.e. recordings) of science-fiction stories.

I found out about this because Kitty Myers has a story posted there as of 3 July. Title: Stuck in an Elevator with Mandy Patinkin. It's quite short, and is recorded with a surprising degree of professionalism. But then, everything is getting so much more professional these days. I recommend it, if only to see/hear what is possible these days.

I have to say, however, that the experience of listening to a story is quite different from reading it. (Compare, for instance, the print and voice versions of Ginny Good.) And, from a technical point of view, I would say that a story which is intended solely, or mainly, to be read aloud needs to be written in a different way from one which is going to be read on paper.

More autism

Following Monday's mention of a novel about autism, C.E. Petit Esq. tells me that one very good novel on autism is Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark. Many people who know little about autism reportedly find the book disturbing, primarily because it makes no excuses. The Speed of Dark was a Nebula award winner and an Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist.

Chisholm Trail bookstore

The Chisholm Trail bookstore is located in Duncan Oklahoma -- but fear not, its catalog of secondhand books is available online. And very interesting it is too.

Real literature and Peter Pan is a site which offers short biographies of a number of famous authors, plus the compete text of certain of their works. Example: for J.M. Barrie we have a handy summary of his life (accurate as far as I can tell), plus the text of Peter Pan; or a version of it, because there's more than one I believe.

If you've never read the narrative version of Peter Pan you might give it a try. But be warned. It is a very disturbing book, written by a man whom some might describe as sick, or damaged. When I last read the book I made some notes on the last page, as follows:

Terrifying. Appalling. It is the confusion of the mother/wife role which is so disturbing. The book gives a horrifying glimpse of the author's dreadful confusion of mind -- painful to contemplate. It is the embodiment of the fear of maturity -- the dread of adult responsibility -- of having to take command of one's own life.

Mitzi Szereto is off again

I don't know how this girl does it. Never sits still for a minute. Pops up here and there. Mitzi Szereto is now offering a week's instruction in how to write erotic literature on the Greek island of Skiathos, 9-15 September. Details on Zoe Artemis. Unfortunately that's the week I'm going walking on Dartmoor. (You think I'm kidding?)

Cascioli fined

Luigi Cascioli, whose theory that Jesus Christ never existed was mentioned here on 16 June, has evidently been fined 1,500 euros for being so impudent as to make this suggestion.

I say evidently, because this information comes via an email from ? an Italian p.r. firm which has not entirely mastered the art of translating Italian into English. E.g.:
However the Court feels him in obligation to underline the singleness, not to say other, of the denunciations of the Cascioli, which besides, he has pushed his own hedlessness up to ask that he proceeded to technical ascertainments finalized to establish the historicity of the figure of Christ.
And more like that. Cascioli has refused to pay, as a matter of principle. More info is available on his web site. Mind you, as I said last time, if you have Giovanni di Stefano as your lawyer...

Support your local (UK) bookshop

Let's suppose that you have accepted that it is in your own interest, not to mention that of the book trade in general, that independent local bookshops should continue to flourish; and you'd like to do what you can to help. Well, here's a possible way forward.

Go to and you will find an embryo scheme which enables you to order books online, but through a local and independent supplier. The book can, in due course, be collected from your local firm.

Alternatively, if you want the book delivered to your home, the site also lists some online suppliers who form an alternative to the inevitable Amazon and other giants.

At present this scheme only works for the UK (apart from Dubai).


Are you the sort of person who needs access to academic works of literary criticism and articles in scholarly journals? If so you might, perhaps, be interested to know about Questia, an online library which provides just such a service. You do, however, have to subscribe at about $100 a year.

Ansible newsletter

The monthly Ansible newsletter, produced by Dave Langford, is nominally about science fiction, but almost always features a dry (rather English?) humour which might appeal to anyone. In this month's version, we have a few friends planning to take some of a writer's ashes to Australia, 'and scatter somewhere appropriate, perhaps a vineyard. You have to buy a box for the purpose from the crematorium, which proved to have two stickers on the underside. One said "John Brosnan"; the other, "Made in Poland". None of us had known that.'


Anonymous said...

Rather than subject my children to such trash as Peter Pan, I bought them Walter the Farting Dog, one of today's best sellers for children. The Anniversary issue of Peter, I might add, is only 10,000 on Amazon and one reviewer complained of "language that is inapropriate for seven year old children." Walter, a long time best seller, is described as "the greatest kids' book ever."

Anonymous said...

Robert Eggleton's novel Rarity from the Hollow has attracted some enthusiasm from readers

Marketing blurbs = reader enthusiasm?

dovegreyreader said...

Walking on Dartmoor in early September is an eminently sensible occupation, the weather is always glorious, and don't forget to pay a visit to the nation's favourite market town,Tavistock, though leave out the Oxfam bookshop, it's my manor:-)

Anonymous said...

I tried to read Peter Pan as a child. It's all a bit hazy, but I remember not being able to make head nor tail of it, but finding it somehow disturbing. Don't think I'll bother going back to it.

Anonymous said...

Optimistic news about "Rarity from the Hollow." It got one year free advertising on a prominent science fiction site and a great review will be published on another. The review will appear in Baryon Online sometime this month (

The best sentences are:

"Eggleton has crafted a novel that deals with social commentary mixed with some eerie science fiction and a strange problem that Lacy has to solve to save the universe with the help of her family and her dog, Brownie. I can almost hear a blue grass version of Metallica while reading this. I expect to see more from Eggleton and Lacy Dawn. Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find."

-- Barry Hunter

Thanks for your support.

Robert Eggleton

Anonymous said...

A Joke Appreciated in Rarity from the Hollow:

Three women -- a German, a Japanese, and a Hillbilly -- were sitting in a sauna.

Suddenly, there was a beeping sound. The German pressed her forearm and the beep stopped. The others looked at her questioningly. "That was my pager," she said. "I have a microchip under the skin of my arm."

A few minutes later, a phone rings. The Japanese woman lifted her palm to her ear. When she finished, she explained, "That was my mobile phone. I have a microchip in my hand."

The Hillbilly woman felt low tech. Not to be outdone, she decided that she had to do something impressive. She stepped out of the sauna and went to the bathroom. She returned with a piece of toilet paper hanging from her butt. The others raised their eybrows and stared at her.

The Hillbilly said, "Well, will you look there...I'm getting a FAX.

Robert Eggleton

Anonymous said...

Robert Eggleton's constant and consistent spamming of any and all internet outlets does not equal reader enthusiasm. The guy is a snakeoil salesman and a liar.

Anonymous said...

Is the Missouri Review a liar too? I assume that you recognize significance when you see it?


I Owe One to Robert Eggleton

October 30, 2006, by Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

Earlier this year I was contacted by first-time novelist Robert Eggleton, asking if I would review his forthcoming e-book. If people knew how many requests of this kind editors get, they would understand that out of self-preservation we sometimes… well, I ignored the request.

Robert tried again. There was something in the tone of his e-mail: this mattered to him. So I said yes, I’d take a look, though I didn’t think we could review Rarity From the Hollow. This is all fogged somewhat in memory: in the months since then our magazine moved its office, I was hospitalized for a cat bite (yes, they’re dangerous), we’ve published two issues, read hundreds of manuscripts, I went to Africa, etc., etc. But as I recall, Robert sent me the first chapter, which begins with two impoverished schoolgirls (from the Hollow of the title) studying together and spelling the word for a sex toy. It was quirky, profane, disturbing. I said I’d look at the book, not entirely sure what I could do to help.

He sent me the whole thing by e-mail. I read portions of the book, which is subtitled "A Lacy Dawn Adventure," after the girl protagonist, Lacy Dawn. I liked Lacy Dawn, who lives in a world of poverty, classmates with precocious sexual knowledge and/or experience, unemployed men, worn-down women, and cruelty so casual that it’s more knee-jerk than intentional. Maybe I was just too bothered by the content, but at a certain point I knew I couldn’t do anything. My time was nonexistent.

So I deleted the book from my desktop.

Robert contacted me again, and I got soft. You see, there was something about the whole project in general. Robert is a social worker who has spent at least a portion of his career working with child-abuse victims in Appalachia. The book was partly about that, and mostly very strange. In the Hollow, Lacy takes up with an android named DotCom, from "out of state," which really means off of this planet. Under DotCom’s wing, she decides that she will "save" her family. Little does she know she will end up saving the universe. The subject was not exactly run-of-the-mill. And Robert was donating the proceeds from sales of the e-book to help child-abuse victims.

Robert is not a kid; he’s maybe my age, maybe older. What was at stake wasn’t youthful ambition, vanity or reputation. This was about some kind of personal calling. I believe in those. I also believe in people who are driven to get their writing out there to an audience, through whatever venue. The e-book idea intrigued me. The earnestness of the appeal got to me. Send the book again, I said. He did. It’s still on my hard drive. (I suppose I should delete it, since I haven’t paid for it.)

Robert kept after me. If I liked it, could I write a blurb? Yeah, of course. I was fund-raising for my African trip (a Habitat for Humanity build), teaching, editing, raising three kids. But who is not busy and overwhelmed? We set our own priorities. I put Robert, and his book, lower than some other things, which really wasn’t fair because I had said I would do something, and I didn’t.

And it has bothered me. Here’s another thing people don’t know about editors. They sometimes have consciences about books/stories/poems/whatever that they’ve allowed to slip through the cracks, to get lost or neglected in the shuffle of what amounts to thousands of pages.

So I’m belatedly giving Rarity From the Hollow a plug. Among its strengths are an ultra-convincing depiction of the lives, especially the inner lives, of the Appalachian characters. The grim details of their existence are delivered with such flat understatement that at times they almost become comic. And just when you think enough is enough, this world is too plain ugly, Lacy Dawn’s father (who is being "fixed" with DotCom’s help) gets a job and Lacy Dawn, her mother and her dog take off for a trip to the mall "out of state" with Lacy Dawn’s android friend, now her "fiancĂ©" (though as Lacy’s mother points out, he doesn’t have any private parts, not even "a bump.") In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.

Rarity is published by FatCat Press, which has other e-books for sale as well. You can find it at The blurb on the website says in part:

Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her mom, her Vietnam Vet dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's very skilled at laying fiber-optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend, DotCom, has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. DotCom has been sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp: he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save Earth, and they must get a boatload of shopping done at the mall along the way. Saving Earth is important, but shopping – well, priorities are priorities.

Yes, priorities are. I should have had mine in order. Robert Eggleton's book deserves your attention. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Rarity from the Hollow Won an Award!

Please see:

Thanks again.

Robert Eggleton

Anonymous said...

Thanks for hangin' onto my posts. Darrel Bain is now reading "Rarity from the Hollow" (but, probably only because it sales raise fund to prevent child abuse). Please keep your fingers crossed. He's the best selling 2005 ebook author, and one heck of a lot better than the ones that got paper to print. I hope that he likes it. Robert Eggleton

Anonymous said...

“Give yourself a treat with something different next time you're ready to read. Try Rarity from the Hollow. It is one of the most unusual novels I've read in a great while. Look in on a dysfunctional family, poverty, child abuse, and the thought processes of a young girl turning the corner from childhood to adolescence, then put them all together in a surreal setting that looks at our society from a distinctly different viewpoint. You'll enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn and friends and family, but don't expect the ride to be without bumps and enough food for thought to last you a long time.”

Darrell Bain -- 2005 Fictionwise eBook Author of the Year
Double Eppie Award winner 2007
May 8, 2007

Anonymous said...

I'm still plugging. Following is the most recent book review of Rarity from the Hollow. It’s by the Editor of Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine. Please post the review, mention the project again, or anything else that you think would help. The third short story of the series will be in Beyond Centauri in January. The others were in Wingspan Quarterly and Atomjack (reprinted in Aphelion). Thanks. Robert

Rarity From the Hollow:
A Lacy Dawn Adventure

by Robert Eggleton

Review by Adicus Ryan Garton

Imagine “Wizard of Oz” and “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” smashed together and taking place in a hollow in the hills of West Virginia. Now you have an idea of what to expect when you sit down to read Rarity From the Hollow: A Lacy Dawn Adventure by Robert Eggleton.

This novel is an unabashed, unashamed exploration of the life of young Lacy Dawn, as she learns that she is the savior of the universe. The naked, genderless android, Dot-com, who lives in a ship in a cave, told her so. Add her abusive father, her weak-willed mother, a sexually-abused ghost for a best friend that was murdered by her own father, trees that talk to her, a dog that can communicate telepathically with cockroaches and so much more.

There is so much to this story, and its writing is so unblinkingly honest; Eggleton spares us nothing in his descriptions of her father beating her and her mother, the emotions that the mother and daughter go through, the dark creeping insanity that eats away at her Iraq-veteran father, and the life in general of people too poor, too uneducated to escape.

In part, it is a grueling exposition of what children endure when being physically and emotionally abused. Eggleton almost seems to suggest that the only way for a child to escape is to learn that she is the savior of the universe. Lacy Dawn is strong, tough, smart—all those attributes that any child should have—and she reminds us that children are survivors, adaptive and optimistic. Instead of giving us a story of escapism, Eggleton shows us a girl whose life follows her through the story.

But don't think you're going to be reading something harsh and brutal and tragic. This book is laugh-out-loud funny at times, satiric of almost everything it touches upon (some common themes are shopping, masturbation, welfare, growing and selling drugs, and the lives of cockroaches). The characters from the hollow and from the planet Shptiludrp (the Mall of the Universe) are funny almost to the point of tears.

I hate happy endings to stories that deal with any kind of oppression or abuse because they tend to suggest, “In this case, it worked out okay,” and the reader walks away with the impression that the world is a better place (think of all those inner-city sports movies about black kids who win the big championship despite being addicted to crack). I thought for a long time that this book was an escapist fantasy, and when the fantasy broke, it was going to be tragic. No one wants to see a little girl go through heaven only to learn that hell awaits her at the end. And then when I realized that Eggleton was not writing an escapist fantasy, I worried that this happy ending effect was going to take place, making me not like the book, despite all its positive attributes. But when I realized that Lacy Dawn had to fix her life first before the story could progress, and that this was IMPOSSIBLE except by extraterrestrial means, and that Lacy Dawn carried her past with her as part of her instead of in spite of, it made the prospect of a happy ending much better.

Go here, buy the book and read it. It's absolutely fantastic, and the proceeds go to the Lacy Dawn Adventures project. It's like buying ice cream for charity—everybody wins.


More information about Robert Eggleton and the Lacy Dawn project can be found here.

"Stainless Steel", the story of Lacy Dawn's best friend, can be read right here in Atomjack.



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