Saturday, December 07, 2013

Once Upon A Time...

There was a time when it took skill to sell a novel and see it meet the light of print. Once there were writers who earned their way to publication by learning to tell a story and honing their craft to a sharp edge. These folk did it the hard way, day by day, story by story, line by line.

This was, of course, in the times before ebooks and that most hideous of practices, self-publishing via one of several formats made far too easy and far too popular.

A case in point of the right way (the hard way) to do it is Gary Raisor's LESS THAN HUMAN. Back in the mid-90s, this book was something of a legend in my circles. Raisor--who had worked his way through the small presses and into professional magazines and anthologies creating and selling vivid and spectacular short stories--had sold this novel to Berkley Books. I had heard a great many good things about the book and went searching high and low for a copy. But no copy was to be found! For some reason, while the book had completely sold out its print run in quick order, Berkley Books did not see fit to order it up for a second printing!

Everywhere I looked I failed to find a copy. It was so popular with its readers that I couldn't even find one in the second-hand bookshops. (And let me tell you, I really tried to find one!)

Eventually, the book was reissued in hardcover in a limited edition format. I knew about it, but I was really poor at the time and could not afford one. So....I was at a loss.

Fast-forward 20+ years and Crossroads Press has finally reissued LESS THAN HUMAN in ebook format. As I've stated many times here (and elsewhere), I am not a fan of ebooks. I hate them, in fact. I just don't enjoy the experience of reading books on a glorified video screen and I rarely use my Kindle Fire device. But I made an exception for LESS THAN HUMAN and bought my copy  via Amazon and had it downloaded to my Kindle.

The praise for the novel was well-deserved. It actually never went far enough.

Technically, the book is about a vampire. But this ain't no sparkly, virginal Mormon vampire. This sumbitch is a monster, which is what vampires are freaking supposed to be. Raisor takes us on a trip from today (well, the late 80s, I reckon, but you know what I mean) back more than a hundred years to the Old West of the latter days of European expansion, back hundreds of more years to the reign of ancient pre-Colombian empires, and forward again to modern times.

And the author does this all the while following the conflict between a modern day pool hustler/psychic and an ancient evil that parades as a pool hustler but who is something far more monstrous than a cheating bastard after your stash of cash.

And you'd best pay attention. The novel juggles a boat-load of characters, all of whom are integral to the storyline and each whom is irreplaceable within the narrative.

It's not for your average dimwit out to read about cute, immortal boyfriends and friendly werewolves.

The sad thing about the overdue reappearance of LESS THAN HUMAN is that the book is getting lost in the enormous dumpload of crappy ebook releases and stinking, lousy, worthless self-published novels by every moron who can push the "publish" button at Amazon and Smashwords.

Gary Raisor did it the hard way. He learned his craft and practiced until it was sharp. This book found its way to publication through quality and not from some egotistical whim. So do the world a favor. Pass by the latest self-published piece of crap and buy Gary Raisor's LESS THAN HUMAN. It's from Crossroads Press and you can find it anywhere books are sold online.


LESS THAN HUMAN by Gary Raisor. From Crossroads Press.

3 comments:

Frank Errington said...

I love this book and that was a worthy review.

James Robert Smith said...

Deserving of all of the praise I could give it, and all of the positive things I'd read and heard about it over the years. It was good to finally get a chance to read it. Shout out to Dave Wilson and Crossroads Press for making it available.

dogboy443 said...

I bought it and it's in my digital pile of books to read including The New Ecology Of Death: A Zombie Novel which I'm reading right now.