Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"The Shoe Factory" makes "Best Stories of 2010" list...


I just saw that "The Shoe Factory" made at least one person's "Best of 2010" list, that of Gareth Jones in the UK. More details, as well asd the list of other stories that made Mr. Jones' list (including Jason Sanford's "The Plague Birds" and Aliette De Bodard's "The Shipmaker", which also appeared next to my story in Interzone #231) can be found here:


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another "Shoe Factory" review: Nostalgia for Infinity

Ah, Google alerts... how I love thee (thanks, Amy, for cluing me into them)...

Just saw another positive review for "The Shoe Factory" over on the blog Nostalgia for Infinity. , a blog about:

"...punk rock & games & stories & genre literature & other unpop-cultural detritus."

Pretty cool. The review, which also has write-ups for the entire Interzone #231 issue, can be found at:

Me, I'm just totally stoked that so many people are reading the story, and that, so far, the reviews have all been positive. If anyone out there runs across something I missed, please let me know!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New "Shoe Factory" review: John's Reading

A nice little summary/mini-review of The Shoe Factory is up on the blog John's Reading.

Money quote:

While this could quite easily be a simple story of someone reliving his life as he waited for his death, and still been a good story Cook manages a final, rather intriguing, twist as a finale.

Check it out!


The Blood Magic series: STILL AVAILABLE as e-books!

Just a reminder...

I've received some requests lately, asking me where to obtain copies of my books Blood Magic and Nights of Sin. I've checked around, and found that Amazon has used copies of Book 1 available, and still has new copies of Book 2, -OR- you can order multiformat e-book editions at If you haven't bought an e-book before, don't worry - these are licensed editions, which means that purchasing copies helps the authors, just like purchasing paper books. And you don't even need a Kindle or other e-reader - versions are available that display right on your PC. Multiformat e-books will display on any e-reader, or can be viewed on a PC or Mac as a PDF file.

Here are links - you can download the full manuscript here, or view sample chapters of both books:

Blood Magic on Fictionwise:

Nights of Sin on Fictionwise:

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Suck, suckier, suckiest (AKA: The Walking Dead finale)...

So... AMC's The Walking Dead. Awesome comic series, that should have been a totally awesome TV series, right? I mean... you have the director of The Shawshank Redemption... the producer of Aliens... and, basically, a 100% storyboarded work of top-notch zombie fiction, featuring awesome characters facing mind-bending circumstance and life-altering events. All the film-makers really had to do was shoot what they had scripted for them, and follow Robert Kirkman's incredible manuscript. Hell, they even had the shots laid out for them in advance, thanks to illustrators Tony Moore's and Charlie Adlard's amazing pencils and moody, minimalist inks.

Instead... what we got was a murky, cliche-riddled piece of junk.

I mean... seriously. I watched every one of Season 1's six episodes on the night they aired, filled with a growing sense of dread. Not because of the impending zombie apocalypse (convincingly and chillingly captured in episode 1 - easily the series best episode), but rather because of the "additional stuff" that the series authors decided to add to Kirkland's solid story. Instead of a tightly-focused, character-driven story of a tightly-knit band of survivors, director Frank Darabont decided to give us drunken neo-nazi hillbillies shootin' at stuff (maybe to attract the "Sarah Palin's Alaska" demographic?), stereotyped LA-style "homie" gangbangers (hey... isn't this supposed to be Atlanta, 'ese?), weak-ass plot devices that seem inserted at random and are abandoned just as easily ("I told you this Winebago wouldn't make it very far... no, wait, now it's working!"), and a host of other confusing, unnecessary crap.

Episode 6 was the the series nadir in every way. Totally absent was the zombie horde, replaced with long, boring scenes shot in... someone's basement. Oh yeah, and lots of eating, drinking and showering. And some arguments, mainly about whether or not someone will open a door. They even did the unthinkable in the zombie genre: tried to explain the source of the impossibility of the walking dead. No, no NO, guys... that never works. really. Seriously. It's always a bad idea. You really can't do any better than "but the dead... they WALK!" Mystery only adds to the power.

'Nuff said.

To add insult to a pretty grievous injury, episode 6's "explosive climax" is exactly that: an explosion, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that when Hollywood is stuck for a story idea, the answer is always "well... we could try blowin' some shit up!"

And blow shit up they did, specifically a really fake CGI model of the Center For Disease Control, using a weak-ass computer-generated flame effect that looks like it came from a 1992 MTV music video.

Nauseating. No... worse than that. Lazy.

I've seen reviews online all day talking about how amazing the series was, and I suppose that, if you've never read the comic, or had to work even a little bit at imagining just how terrible such an event would be, then sure, The Walking Dead was at least better than the usual dreck... But do yourself a favor: if you liked the series, go pick up a few of the comic's collected editions. Read them, and see just how much better they are. How much tighter and better-written they are. How much more dramatic and tense and gut-wrenching and overall BAD-ASS they are. then ask yourself... "If they'd just made THIS, and left out all the other confusing, 'been there, seen that a million times already' crap, how much better would the series have been?"

Guess we'll never know.

Sorry, but for me, The Walking Dead, Season 1 is a huge missed opportunity and a disappointment. I wanted to love it, I really did, but in the end, all it did was leave a bad taste in my mouth. In the wake of the recent announcement that Darabont has fired the entire Season 1 writing staff in favor of freelancer-written scripts, all I can say is... better luck next time, guys. I hope you can get me interested enough to tune in next year. Because as of now, I'm thinking I won't tune in.


Another positive review...

Gareth Jones just posted a positive mini-review of The Shoe Factory over on SF Crow's Nest - read all about it here:

I've received several positive comments on the story's mingling of past/present tense, which is somehting I'm really thrilled to see. As a writer, I find it interesting to play with concepts of time, specifically how my characters interact with and move through time, and I always worry that I'm going to lose people with such odd shifts back and forth. Readers of my first novel, Blood Magic, will remember that I used an alternating current time/flashback structure, which some advance readers warned me "w0uld turn off readers" (or which would "piss off editors").

So very, very happy that this has not turned out to be the case...


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First reax to The Shoe Factory...

From Twitter user Vanamonde_Dpan:

It's been a while since a story had an emotional impact on me but 'The Shoe Factory' by Matthew
From Blogger Anthony Williams:

"The Shoe Factory by Matthew Cook, illustrated by Ben Baldwin. A man keeps being distracted from his solitary mission on a doomed spacecaft by spells of reliving a past life with a former girlfriend. Can he escape by recreating his former existence? A strange story with a complex structure; I wasn't sure what was going on until the end (and I wasn't entirely certain even then)."

Guess I can't complain about the later review - it *was* kinda what I was going for, after all...

Have you run across any other reviews of the story, or of anything else in Issue #231 of Interzone? If so, please let me know!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Interzone is OUT!! Get it now...

Issue #231 of Interzone (Nov-Dec 2010) is OUT! The Shoe Factory is the first short story in the lineup.

You can purchase copies at places like Barnes and Noble - copies are hidden usually in with sci-fi/fantasy story mags like Realms of Fantasy, Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (look on the bottom shelves if you don't see them). Don't be afraid to call ahead or ask the friendly counter workers for a copy if you can't find it. You can also order copies from the TTA/Interzone web site HERE.

Thanks so much to my amazing writer's group Columbus Writeshop, who provided first-draft critiques of the story, as well as to my friend Sherrian Gildemeister, who assisted me with some crucial details. Your comments and suggestions really helped! Thanks also to the editors over at Interzone, who read (and liked) the story enough to give me precious column space...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kinds words for "Shoe Factory"...

I know it's weird to blog about someone's blogging, but I just saw this nice preview over on Jason Sanford's site. He says some really nice things about "The Shoe Factory" which I, attention whore that I am, find it impossible to not re-post. Thank you, Jason.

As far as Jason's stuff goes, I've only read one of the three stories he has in the forthcoming issue of Interzone, "Millisent Ka Plays in Realtime" (full disclosure: Jason and I sometimes participate together in the Columbus Writeshop writer's critique group, and have been critiquing each other's work for a while now, mainly to MY benefit, I admit...). It's an odd and totally "Jason-esque" tale of hierarchies based on music, and the power of melody, one that I really enjoyed reading. Jason's stuff is usually somewhat skewed (in a delightful, thought-provoking way) and ALWAYS depressingly well written (sigh). I mean, come on... take a listen to this prose:

This isn’t the way the future should be. But still, here it is. And here’s Millisent Ka, born to a doting mother and father in a neo-feudal musical fiefdom, their cement-dusted house perfectly balanced between the cracked asphalt plains of L.A. la la land and the rich-fool castles on the Pacific Palisades. Never mind that those castles rise so far above everything else – hopes, dreams, reality – it’s hard to remember only dirt and rock exist beneath their gilded skies, same as anywhere else.

All of Jason's writing that I've seen shares this almost lyrical tone, carrying the reader along effortlessly. If you're anything like me, you'll find the last paragraph arrives all too soon. I can't wait to read the other two stories in the forthcoming issue!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More info: Interzone and The Shoe Factory

Interzone Magazine posted a preview of my soon-to-be-released short story, "The Shoe Factory", over on their site. You can read all about the line-up (featuring several pieces written by the most-excellent Jason Sanford), as well as see the cool artwork they commissioned for the piece HERE.

Be on the lookout for the issue, which is #231 (Nov/Dec). It should be on store shelves soon, or you can order it right from the Interzone Web Site store.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Full Welcome to Bordertown lineup

OK, last Bordertown post today, I promise...

I wasn't sure if this was "official" or not, but since Ellen Kushner's officially blogged it, it must be OK to release this. Here's the full lineup of stories, poems/song lyrics and graphic tales from the upcoming collection - look at those names!

Introduction - Terri Windling
Introduction - Holly Black
Bordertown Basics (Letter from the Diggers)
Welcome to Bordertown - Terri Windling & Ellen Kushner
Shannon's Law - Cory Doctorow
Cruel Sister (poem) - Patricia A. McKillip
Voice Like a Hole - Catherynne M. Valente
Stairs in Her Hair (song*) - Amal El-Mohtar
Incunabulum - Emma Bull
Run Back to the Border (song) - Steven Brust
Prince of Thirteen Days - Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Sages of Elsewhere - Will Shetterly
Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap (song) - Jane Yolen
Crossings - Janni Lee Simner
Fair Trade (Comic) - Sara Ryan & Dylan Meconis
Lullabye: Night Song for a Halfie (song) - Jane Yolen
Our Stars, Our Selves - Tim Pratt
Elf Blood - Annette Curtis Klause
The Wall (poem) - Delia Sherman
Ours is the Prettiest - Nalo Hopkinson
We Do Not Come in Peace - Christopher Barzak
A Borderland Jump-Rope Rhyme (poem) - Jane Yolen
The Rowan Gentleman - Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
The Song of the Song (song) - Neil Gaiman
A Tangle of Green Men - Charles de Lint


And another B'town plug...

Ellen Kushner herself has blogged about what is now officially The Giving Of The Book (at least, in Matt's world, that's what I'm calling it). Read about it HERE.


Another Bordertown teaser...

For anyone who might not have seen it, my last post on Bordertown has already generated a comment from one of the new series writers, Annette Curtis Klause. She's blogged about the series and her participation in the new volume on her blog site HERE. Annette wrote the story "Elf Blood" in the upcoming collection.

She's also (if I may be so bold as to rip directly from her Wikipedia entry), published
four novels for young adults: The Silver Kiss (1990, Delacorte), Alien Secrets (1993, Delacorte), Blood and Chocolate (1997, Delacorte), and Freaks: Alive on the Inside (2006, Margaret K. McElderry). From 1982 through 1994, she contributed book reviews to the School Library Journal.

Thanks, Annette!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The triumphant return of BORDERTOWN!!

The best news of World Fantasy, hands-down, was the announcement by Holly Black and Ellen Kusher of a brand new Bordertown anthology, titled Welcome to Bordertown.

For those who may be reading this who haven't heard of them: Bordertown was a shared-world series created in 1985 by Terri Windling and Mark Arnold. This was the true precursor of the "Urban Fantasy" movement, a literary sub-genre where the familiar tropes of the fantasy story - elves, magic, glamours, and the power of love and music - intersected with a tough, gritty urban setting and fully developed, three-dimensional characters. They were also, interestingly, consciously targeted at both adult readers as well as what we'd now call "Young Adult" readers, all in a time well before the emergence of Harry Potter and the like, making the series doubly ground-breaking. As Holly Black eloquently said in a panel (and which I'm paraphrasing here): "...everyone writing Urban Fantasy owes a word of thanks to the Bordertown series".

I wholeheartedly agree.

My own history with Bordertown is very personal (buy me a few drinks at a conference sometime and I'm sure you can pry the whole, sordid story out of me), but suffice to say that I'm excited almost beyond the capacity for words that Ellen and Holly have somehow managed to rejuvenate the Bordertown franchise. I was lucky enough to get my grubby mitts on an advance reader copy of the collection (thank you, Holly!), and was thrilled to see stories from such B'town alum as Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Jane Yolen and Terri Windling herself mixed with the work of amazing new writers who came after the series went dormant almost 13 years ago: Corey Doctorow; Catherynne M. Valente; Janni Lee Simner; Christopher Barzak; and others.

I’m reading the book now and will put up a review soon – check back here in a week or so. In the meantime, mark your calendars to remind yourself to look for Welcome to Bordertown in May of 2011 from Random House!

World Fantasy, 2010!

I spent the weekend attending the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus. This annual event is held for publishing professionals from all over the globe, and is where deals in Fantasy and Horror publishing are made for the upcoming year. Oh, and for fans (who can afford the hefty membership price, that is...) and fellow writers, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to meet legendary contributors in the field and to hear them talk about all the basic fundamentals of writing.

As an event, it’s quite frankly wonderful: this year, I was able to meet and talk with authors Walter Jon Williams, Mike Stackpole, Delia Sherman, L.E. Modessitt, Gene Wolfe, Steve Donaldson, Holly Black and a host of others. I also got to meet (or to meet again) editor and publisher luminaries like Ellen Kushner, Gordon Van Gelder, Gardner Dozois, Ellen Datlow, and Tom Doherty. There were also plenty of new and fresh faces, all belonging to writers and editors I’ve never met before, who I won’t list in details here (suffice to say, thanks to you all for your witty conversation and your many, many tips on the craft and business of writing). Truly, there isn’t a better place for any serious author of Horror or Fantasy literature than this gathering.

That said, just as in previous years I’ve attended WFC, I did get somewhat overwhelmed halfway through the event. There’s just something… intimidating… something humbling in the primal sense of the word by the act of walking through rooms populated by such talent. It can (and does) take the breath away.

Bottom line: World Fantasy ain't a place for the faint-of-heart.. YES everyone's wonderful and YES they're encouraging, but... damn. It's just difficult to talk to an author with 25+ novels under their belt, books I've literally grown up reading and not ask yourself tough questions like "What the hell am I doing, thinking I can write this shit?" I did finally get my head together in time to attend some great panels on Sunday, but apologies to anyone I may have been speaking with on Saturday afternoon, particularly, if I looked distracted or scatterbrained – it wasn’t you; it was just my brain melting, and I really did enjoy meeting you all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why strong female characters are bad for women...

Just ran across an interesting article over on Overthinking It titled "Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad For Women". It's got some interesting points, particularly for you writerly types who, I know, are always on the hunt for interesting characters. His thesis, and I agree with it, is that what the world needs is not more "strong" (as in man-like) female characters, but rather more "weak" (as in flawed) ones. Here's a quote:

"This Super Strong Female Character is almost like a Mary Sue, except instead of being perfect in every way because she’s a stand-in for the author, she’s perfect in every way so the male audience will want to bang her and so the female audience won’t be able to say, “Tsk tsk, what a weak female character!” It’s a win-win situation.

Except no."

Read more HERE....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"The Shoe Factory" to appear in Interzone!

I just got good news from Andrew Cox, the editor over at Interzone Magazine: my short story, "The Shoe Factory", will appear in an upcoming issue! Details on recent acceptances can be found here.

No details yet on which issue it will appear in, but it should be coming soon - I'll be sure to drop notice when I know more.

Over the years, Interzone (a British Science Fiction bi-monthly published by TTA Press) has published works from top-notch writers such as William Gibson, Stephen Baxter, J.G. Ballard, Alastair Reynolds, Terry Pratchett and Jason Sanford. Interzone has also been nominated 25 consecutive times times for the Hugo Award for best semiprozine, winning the award in 1995. It has also published several works which have won the British Science Fiction Award.

Having a piece accepted by such a prestigious magazine is indeed an honor, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to proofread the story and offer me comments and suggestions, including: Amy Szabo, Jason Sanford, Sherrian Gildemeister and the members of Columbus Writeshop (the best damn writer's group in the Known Universe) - my work, as always, is worlds better for your help and involvement.


Another black-out - so sorry...

Yes, I know... It's been weeks since my last update - my sincere apologies. The simple fact is that I've had nothing new to report or really talk about for a while, and blogging about the hours I put in at my day job and my hobbies is just a *wee* narcissistic I think . I don't know how it is with anyone else, but when I find myself uninspired, just putting in my hours to pay the bills, I chose to save every last iota of creative energy for my daily writing. That means that blogging comes last.

In this age of constant contact I know that statement is tantamount to heresy, but it's just how I operate. If you just can't get enough of me (um... right), I still post on Facebook - please feel free to look me up there if you feel so inclined. In that much more casual environment I post mainly fun links and other distractions, but this space I save for other things.

I'm posting here now because I *do* have an announcement coming - I'll post it in a separate thread. This space I wanted to reserve for an apology for my absence, as well as a continued nod of thanks and gratitude for all of you who, through your messages and emails, keep me enthusiastic about this craft called writing. So: danke, gratze, gratias agimus, obrigado, tack, diakuiu, gracias, arigato and do jeh!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Mechanical Chimerias, Oh MY!!!

Lucy Snyder is a wonderful writer, excellent editor and a good (if distant) friend. When I began to first take writing seriously, I joined Writeshop, a Columbus-based writer's workshop. Lucy was one of the best reviewers there, and always provided unflinching critiques of my work, some which stung, others which... OK, all of them stung. I really did suck back then, and needed the help, and anyone who's been following this blog for a while doubtless knows how much I've benefited as a writer from their sage advice.

Lucy's moved on since our days in Writeshop, and has enjoyed wonderful success. Her recent book Chimeric Machines just won the 2009 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry, and her other books and novels have been published with gratifying regularity over the years. Here's a link to the book page, where you can order a special, signed edition:

My recommendation? Buy a copy now! Congrats on the book and on the award, Lucy - you've earned it!


Sorry for the blackout...


Sorry for the news blackout folks... I've been trying to post less... um... random crap here (that's what Facebook is for... heh), and my everyday j.o.b. has been challenging. Don't worry though - I'm still writing every day and finishing new works. Anyone with specific questions can, of course, message me here or at

Second, I got a nice comment from a user on an old post of mine about a controversial art show I attended back in art school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago - the original post can be found HERE.

(URL for the link-impared: )

Last, if you like this blog, are on Facebook, and want to see more day-to-day type stuff, please feel free to view and follow my page:

(URL:!/Matt.Cook.Columbus?ref=profile )

I'm sure there's a better way to do this than sending you right to my profile page, so of anyone has any ideas please feel free to let me know.

Thanks, and look for writing updates soon!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Words to study and remember...


With all the current hubub in the mainstream media echo-chamber re: the "Right's" current accusations against the "Panty-Bomber" being read his Miranda Rights and being tried in a civilian court (as opposed to escalating him to the status of "soldier" by trial in a military tribunal), I think it's high time we look at the comments of one Judge William Young (who presided over the "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reed's trial). Reed, you will recall, was tried in civilian court by the Bush administration, and was sentenced to life in prison.

Besides the fact that the authorities now say that the Panty-Bomber is co-operating with officials and giving them useful intelligence (assisted by his family, who no doubt are assisting since no torture or military coercion was employed in his interrogation), the larger issue is that Reed was indeed tried in open court with all steps of the process transparent and visible to the world, and even with these "handicaps" (as the Cheneys of the world would call them for some strange reason), he was still found guilty and made an example of. Sad that people like Rove feel that politically they are so weak (and that the American public is so gullible) that all they can do is attack the administration for performing their core responsibility - upholding the Constitution.

A partial transcript back from 2003 is HERE, but below is my favorite part. Check this out and try to imagine the message that this sent to the would-be terrorists. A little purple at times, to be sure, but I think the Judge can be forgiven his enthusiasm (bold emphasis mine):

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before.

There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist.

You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist.

To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and he said you're no big deal.

You're no big deal...

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea.

It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Furries... kinda.


Yiff that, fanboy... (linkage for the F'book impaired:

(Clicky for bigger...)

Don't get it? You're probably happier that way.

On a different note... Here's a 100% accurate recreation of Amy signing her mortgage papers... (link:

(Clicky for bigger...)

Ah, XKCD... how I love theee... =)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coolest thing ALL YEAR,


Check out this AWESOME 3D simulation of Sully Sullenburger's famout crash-landing on the Hudson. Recreated from detailed maps and historic data. The coolest part is listening to Sully announce the problem and decide to ditch in the river, all while sounding completely calm and in control.

As someone who has flown out of this NYC airport several times, I know I want someone like Sully at the controls the next time - he's the ICE MAN.

(Link for all the Facebook peeps:





Best Fails of 2009. Painful to watch, but worth it. My favorite is the guy who face-kicks the running shoplifter at 1:40 or so.

(LINK for Facebook peeps: