Richard Kadrey, NYT Bestselling Author of the Sandman Slim series


Cool Tools Show 182: Richard Kadrey

Our guests this week is Richard Kadrey. Richard is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim supernatural noir series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Some of Richard’s other books include The Everything Box, Hollywood Dead, and Butcher Bird. He’s also written comics and is a photographer.

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Show notes:

Evoluent VerticalMouse ($90)
I’ve been in some car accidents, and have been some motorcycle accidents and I have some nerve damage from those, so A regular mouse didn’t work for me. Track balls didn’t work for me. I used a track pad for a long time.That didn’t work for me after a while. And the vertical mouse has been a real, real lifesaver for me. It’s a weird device. There’s a big learning curve when you first get it, but I think it’s a wonderful bit of technology. There are like two buttons on one side and like three buttons on the other, and in the end they’re all really useful, but you really make a lot of mistakes at first, and you’re moving the device around incorrectly. It’s a very frustrating process.It’s like if you’ve ever used Photoshop. It’s the same thing where you have this long line of tools on the side. You don’t know their names, they’re very mysterious. Even the icons don’t necessarily match what they do. The vertical mouse is kind of the same thing. It’s just a complete mystery at first. And like Photoshop, the best way to learn it is just to play with it.

Holga Digital Camera ($68-116)
This is a wonderful, wonderful device if you’re a photographer. If you like photography that is imperfect, and I’m a big fan of that, the Holga is a great camera. I used to use a film Holga, but because you have no idea what you’re going to get from a Holga from shot to shot, using film was incredibly expensive. Your traditional Holga is plastic. The viewfinder is virtually useless. The lenses tend to be cheap plastic. So the fun of the Holga was the mystery of it, taking a chance and never knowing what you were going to get. But it became incredibly expensive, shooting whole rolls of film in which you got virtually nothing out of them. But with the digital Holga, you can shoot away and it doesn’t matter if you get things wrong. You can always go back and try it again. And if you shoot 50 shots and 50 of them are bad, all you’ve used is a little bit of memory on a card. It’s chunkier than a little point-and-shoot and smaller horizontally. It’s like if you took a regular point-and-shoot and just kind of squeezed it in a bit and it kind of squeezed out the the other way. It looks and functions like a toy camera, and in a lot of ways it is, because you have no real control over what you’re going to get. You can set it for black and white or color. I prefer black and white for me, especially if you’re going to get weird, off-center, grainy shots, I think black and white is perfect and mysterious enough.

My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive ($200)
I’m very big on controlling my media, and I tour for my books, and I travel a lot, and I like to bring my media with me, because I don’t trust hotels. They have garbage channels on television. It’s hard to stream things. So, I’ll just bring my own media. Now with the My Passport Wireless Pro, you can get several terabytes on there, and you can load on photos and music and movies. I tend to put on movies and television shows. And what it is, it’s just a little streaming box, and you don’t have to rely on hotel wifi, because cause it uses Bluetooth, and it goes straight to your iPad. There’s a little battery inside so you can just recharge it. It’s about the size of the old Sony portable Discman. It’s very energy efficient. It’s also very rugged, too.

Region-free Blu-ray DVD Players
It’s very easy to find region-free DVD players, or you can hack them. I used to have a very old cheap Chinese player, and it was well known that essentially it was built to hack. There were a few codes you would put in. The codes are almost like what you’d use on a game controller. It’s like up, up, left, three, two, and you hit it a few times. And the wonderful part was when you got to the screen where you could turn off the region codes there would be a big message saying you’re not supposed to be here. And you knew it was one click away from being able to turn off all the region controls. Region-free Blu-ray is a whole other matter, because with DVDs it’s just changing the software. The region-free Blu-ray is a hardware hack, so you have to find them on the gray market. They’ll pop up on eBay and even Amazon now if you search on “region-free Blu-ray.” You can get them through there, and I was very surprised to see them. I do weird searches like that every now and then just to see where the technology is landing, and you had to go kind of underground a few years ago, but now I don’t suppose law enforcement looks or cares, but they’re much easier to find. And they don’t cost that much more than a regular player. They used to be around $600-$800 because people were doing hardware hacks. Now you can get them for in the range of $250 to $300.

Also mentioned:

The Grand Dark
It’s a big book for me. It’s actually, literally, it’s my longest novel. It’s my most complex. It’s a big step for me. I didn’t want to be known as a pulp writer forever. The Grand Dark is a much more serious book than I’ve ever written before. I’ve been obsessed with the Weimar Period in Germany for many years, and so this is a a dark fantasy riffing off the Weimar Period, but being a fantasy, there are also robots and genetic engineering. And it’s a very different kind of protagonist than I’ve written. I usually write very powerful, driven people, but this is about a 21-year-old bike messenger. He likes to take drugs. He likes to hang out with his girlfriend, who is a pretty actress, and he’s really a very ordinary guy who gets sucked into a government conspiracy simply because of his own desire to be oblivious. This is a book with robots, genetic engineering, secret submarine bases, action, adventure, but it’s all couched in this story that’s of a city between two wars and they know the second war is coming, and there’s nothing they can do about it. So they are extraordinarily decadent, trying to get in as much sensory joy as possible before the next war destroys them.


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