Deadly Women (with Matt Fullerty)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Huffington Post: New Planet Is Right Out Of 'Star Wars'

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Charles Dickens Statue Planned For Bicentenary

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Is This The End For Books?

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's A Kindlegraph?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Borders Failed While Barnes & Noble Survived

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

America's Drunkest Writer

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Monday, July 11, 2011

THE TURK by Tom Standage: The True Story of the Chess-Playing Machine that Fooled the World

The Turk: The True Story of the Chess-Playing Machine that Fooled the World

What was 'The Turk'?

With its exotic name and semblance of a man and mechanical arm over a chessboard, The Turk was an amazing automaton or  'automated device' from the 1770s that played chess...amazing crowds like a modern-day computer. But what was its secret? Was it really a machine that could play and beat anyone? Or was some trick involved?

Today, seated among world-class chess players Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand and young prodigy Magnus Carlsen of Norway, we seem far removed from the players of the past. But do we have any idea how their brains - human masterminds - work? Great players of the past from Paul Morphy to Bobby Fischer, the Russians, Germans, Czechs or Cubans, are even harder to now dissect for glimmers of pathways for us to understand their genius. What about those chess machines - Deep Thought, Deep Fritz, Deep Blue - that claim artificial intelligence?

Author of THE VICTORIAN INTERNET and THE NEPTUNE FILE, Tom Standage is well versed in historical studies that focus how technology impacts our everyday lives, especially those that reflect our need of magical discovery. While those books explored the development of the telegraph and the discovery of a planet in the far reaches of the solar system, THE TURK focuses on the automata marvels of the eighteenth century that amazed, deceived and inspired their audiences around Europe, but were eventually unmasked.

Wolfgang von Kempelen was a senior court official in Vienna - he toured Europe an America with The Turk. Kempelen's showpiece could automatically move the pieces with its hand, astounding all. Benjamin Franklin and even Napoleon (see Tom Robertson's play Napoleon Vs the Turk) took on the so-called 'intelligent machine.' The great player François-André Danican Philidor challenged The Turk too, winning, but strangely exhausted by his experienced, as though fear were mixed in with the peculiarity of playing a machine...

The strength of Standage's book is its wealth of associated stories. Not only does it conclude with an assessment of the modern chess-playing computer, for example the defeat of world champion Garry Kasparov by Deep Blue in 2006, but the book's style is both gripping for its innovative science - for the tech junkies, if you will - and examination of human psychology, personality, rivalry and morality. Not to over-egg the pudding, but the eighteenth century is here a hybrid of real and make-believe experience, claiming progress and showmanship, and filtered through our minds as audience. Perhaps we are far removed from this Age of Enlightenment that had its fair share of tricksters and conman and theatrical sideshow entertainment. But don't we love being tricked? Are we really that far removed? THE TURK is an intriguing examination of this human mentality: the relationship between the delighting performer and the delighted audience as something distinctly human.

Conflicting theories tried to explain the secret of The Turk, everything from Edgar Allan Poe's MAELZEL'S CHESS PLAYER (1836) to French magician Jean Robert-Houdin's theory that a Polish soldier called Worousky - a paraplegic - was inside the device. You will have to read THE TURK to find out the truth. But ultimately, how could the truth surpass the audience desire to be entertained, even once the secret is known? We need our stories, however they are packaged. THE TURK is a revelation that keeps its secret. You will be puzzled and delighted in equal measure.

Tom Standage is Digital Editor at The Economist and you can buy THE TURK from Amazon here.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Do Publishers Hope You're Reading More Crime Fiction?

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

UK Booksellers Seriously Scared As Amazon Grabs British Online Rival

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Amazon Publishing to Authors: 'Review' Our Books And We Will Promote You

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Thursday, June 30, 2011


The Chess Artist

One of my favorite books on the subculture of chess players, THE CHESS ARTIST is a psychological travelogue about spending time on the road with a chess master. The book is a journey of discovery into the obsessions, passions and - at times, negative impact - chess can have on an individual's life.

Part insider, part outsider, like Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, J.C. Hallman is able to explore an adventurous but sometimes darker side to 'the chess life' as he follows chess master Glenn Umstead first around the U.S. as he enters various tournaments, and eventually to the small impoverished Russian province of Kalmykia (ruled over by its president-dictator Kirsan Ilyumzhinov).

By having this double vision, this book both encapsulates and surpasses the ambitious world of chess into more universal expressions of what it means to devote your life to a single focused pursuit, to travel as an expression of identity, to win or lose and what they mean, and most of all, to develop friendships that are complex, challenging and rewarding all at once. THE CHESS ARTIST is a must for chess fans and readers interested in human psychology. 

Click here to buy THE CHESS ARTIST on Amazon.
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Paul Morphy and the Evolution of Chess Theory

Two-time Virginia chess champion Macon Shibut's PAUL MORPHY AND THE EVOLUTION OF CHESS THEORY is a great introduction to both Morphy's life and chess games. Paul Morphy was undoubtedly the greatest player of the 19th century, but his reign as a fast and highly developed positional player was brief, his flame burned brightly and short, yet the games remain!

A book for the student as much as the casual admirer, here are more than four hundred of Morphy's best games. PAUL MORPHY AND THE EVOLUTION OF CHESS THEORY includes all the young champion's serious tournament games and 'special games' such as simultaneous and blindfold play. Morphy's games were full of risks and clarity, making them great examples of science and art combined - attacking play but with a purposeful exactitude. Mr. Shibut's book is a testament that Morphy has been forgotten by history, and yet the wonder of his chess games survive. Here is a revelation to any student of Morphy or examiner of chess history and the personality behind the board.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Move over Twitter... Make Room for Tumblr

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Which eReader Beat The Kindle In Ratings?

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Most Bizarre '80s Choose Your Own Adventure Books

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Query Fail: How NOT To Write a Query Letter

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Friday, May 20, 2011

New publishing venture: Parkgate Press goes live!

Parkgate Press is a new, independent publisher of literary and crime fiction (imprint Dionysus Books), non-fiction and academic books (imprint F Street Books) and poetry (imprint Prometheus Poetry). Our hardbacks are published by Parkgate Originals and our e-book by Parkgate Digital.

We seek to bring those titles to the marketplace which are often overlooked by mainstream publishers, works we believe have a distinctive voice and can reach a viable audience. We supply directly to Amazon and

We are welcoming submissions and proposals for academic mongraphs (including Ph.D. dissertations), novellas, literary novels (up to 160,000 words), crime novels (up to 100,000 words), short story collections, poetry collections, general non-fiction (especially history), and biographies (especially literary biographies).

All Parkgate Press books are printed on acid-free paper.
Please visit the appropriate submissions page:

For fiction, please see the Dionysus Books submissions page.

For academic, please see the F Street Books submissions page.

For non-fiction, please see the Woodgate Books page.

For poetry, please see the Prometheus Poetry submissions page.

For e-books and audiobooks (a-books), please see the Parkgate Digital page.

For hardbacks, please see the Parkgate Originals page.

For classic literature, please see the Parkgate Classics page.

A British and American Joint Publishing Enterprise.
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Interview for Discovery Channel's "Deadly Women" (February 2011)

On 16th February 2011, I will be interviewing as a 'talking head' for Beyond Productions's television show "Deadly Women" in New York, NY. No doubt I will be fitted with a suitable office-like set for transplanting DC to NYC!

I have been invited to speak about the subject of my second novel, Kate Webster, one of an episode's featured subjects. "Deadly Women" will air in the US on Investigation Discovery during this fall's 5th season of the show, from August 2011. You can watch previous episodes of the show here.

To read more about my novel THE MURDERESS AND THE HANGMAN please click here.

I am also writing a non-fiction 'true crime' version of the story called THE LADY, THE MAID AND THE HANGMAN here.
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vermont Studio Center (August 2011)

Having enjoyed my time at the I-Park Foundation as a Writer-in-Residence (fiction) in July 2010, I am pleased to attend the Vermont Studio Center on an Artist's Grant in August 2011. Residencies: you can't beat 'em. The location looks beautiful and I hope to complete my third novel American Con Artist on-site. That would be a fine way to end the summer!

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