Recently, I managed to convince Rob Bedford, of Rob's Blog o' Stuff and moderator at SFFWorld forums to stop in for an interview.
Rob, aside from putting together tons of stuff for his own blog, completes plenty of reviews for SFFWorld and helps to moderate the forums. So, we made a beneficial trade - he promised to stop by and I promised to no longer raise dead threads (the "necro-thread"), as well as relenting from creating unnecessarily redundant threads.
PW: What was it, in sf&f, that captured your interest and catalyzed your activity?
Rob: I’ve been a geek since a young lad, growing up watching Saturday morning cartoons like Super Friends and Godzilla (the cartoon from the late 70s/80s as well as the movies), and the Superman and Star Wars movies . From there, I was led to comics, which coincided with my early RPG days, playing Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons as it was known then – the first edition that came as a boxed set of books. D&D led me to the DragonLance books, my parents were big Stephen King and Robert McCammom fans, which got me interested in horror. So really there was never any hope for me.
PW: Please tell us the origins story of the Blog ‘o Stuff.
Rob: Well, I saw a lot of people blogging in the early 00s. At the time, I followed a few comics and SFF bloggers regularly and thought, shit, if these clowns can go on and on about what they like to read and watch so can I. It also helped that I had involvement at SFFWorld. In a sense, the blog was an extra outlet and place to link my SFFWorld reviews and interviews.
PW: I’ve seen that you are extremely involved in SFFWorld. How did this come about and what is your role/duties there?
Rob: I’ve been a member of the forums for nearly a decade, which in intarweb years is like a century and a half. When I first joined, it was relatively small and I was one of the more vocal people in the forums. The site owner, Dag Rambruat, asked if I wanted to help out with some behind the scenes stuff like moderating the forums. I said sure, and that eventually lead to reviewing books. So in the end, I really owe a great deal of where I am and what I’ve done on line and in the genre to Dag. Dag’s a generous, smart and all-around good guy.
PW: How were you hooked by comics and what keeps you there?
Rob: See answer #1, I liked the Super Friends, as well as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and wanted to find out about the superheroes. When I got really serious about reading and collecting comics, DC Comics was in the middle of their first major crossover/universe reset, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Soon after that, all the major icons were re-booted, Superman had The Man of Steel origin by John Byrne, Flash was re-launched, so it was an exciting time. Round the time I was in college, I was drawn back in by the Death of Superman and kept in the world of comics by that and a lot of cool Vertigo stuff like Preacher and Sandman.
PW: In your various activities throughout the sf&f landscape, what was your best day ever?
Rob: Either having Neil Gaiman link to my blog or having my interview with John Twelve Hawks continue to be linked and quoted on Wikipedia and other online resources. I was one of the first people (maybe even the first) to interview JTH.
PW: By that same token, what was your worst day ever?
Rob: I don’t know probably being called out once or twice on the depth and quality of one of my reviews by a person from whom I didn’t expect. And the review in question I felt was, at the time, a pretty strong review. The review was of the first book in a series a bulk of the review was quoted on book 2 of the series.
PW: In your travels across the sf&f-scape, what’s the funniest story you have to tell?
Rob: Hmm…maybe seeing the guys on The Big Bang Theory playing the Talisman board game I played for years. Coincidentally, the version they were playing was the newer version I’d recently received for Christmas. For the uninitiated, I highly recommend this game – it will take a few hours of your time but if you’re in the mood for some fantasy gaming, it’s worth it.
PW: Since we all know frustration and have competing priorities for our time, what keeps you involved at your blog and sffworld?
Rob: I really, really am a biblioholic and I like to share my disease with others. Is that too sick? Honestly, I just really enjoy talking about the books I like to read, finding new authors to read, and showing off my knowledge just a little bit. If I can steer a person from reading Terry Goodkind to reading somebody like Matthew Stover, George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, R. Scott Bakker, Glen Cook, Stephen R. Donaldson, Gary Wassner, James Barclay, or Steven Brust then I think I’ve helped to make the world a better place.
PW: In your analysis, what is the state of the sf&f-scape (i.e. publishing, blogosphere, movies, et. al.)?
Rob: Good. Very Good. It seems more genre books are being published and a lot of what I read was good. Publishing is seeing a shift every year from physical books to virtual books (POD and eBooks) – I should know, I’m kind of in that business, so there are more venues for not only new authors, but for keeping classics and favorites available. Look at Baen – they have a crapload of stuff available online. POD really is the way to go for keeping things in print that have a consistent demand.
Blogosphere – everybody has a blog now it seems, so opinions are being shared. This is a good thing – publishers are beginning to pay attention to bloggers (i.e. their readers, fans and maybe even potential future authors).
Movies – One of the best reviewed movies of the year was District 9 – an SF movie. The most anticipated film of the year is and SF movie – Avatar. ‘nuff said.
PW: What is your boldest prediction for sf&f in 2010?
Rob: A new Science Fiction writer will generate the same amount of buzz that Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, and Peter Brett did for fantasy. At least I hope that happens because while SF is strong, I’d love to see somebody generate the buzz those guys did. Al Reynolds is hugely popular in the UK and I’d love to see that be mirrored here in the US.
PW: Will the Devils contend for the Cup this season?
Rob: Hah! You do know me pretty well, or is it just my avatar? Seriously, I think they’ll be in contention just like they are every year. Gionta was a big loss and a disheartening one for me since he really left everything out on the ice. Much as I liked Madden, I think maybe a change of pace will be good in that end for the Devils. Despite these two losses and a few other more minor losses, they made the two most important signings – Oduya who I’ve come to affectionately call ManBearPig and Zajac. Lou is one of the top 3 GMs in any sport and he always knows what he’s doing, so in the end I’ll miss Gionta, but have faith that the Devils will do fine – as long as they don’t blow it with 2 minutes remaining. The Flyers will probably be their toughest competitor in the East with the additions they’ve made and I expect Chicago to win the West. So, I think we might be looking at a Blackhawks-Devils Finals in the summer of 2010.
Well, I hope my Bruins can put some kind of improvement on the decent turn-around season they had last year, and keep the Devils at home during the April - June stretch when the greatest hockey players in the world contend for Lord Stanley's Cup. Otherwise, Rob is a great guy. Seriously, Rob has great reviews, as well as tips and hints into what is transpiring behind the sf&f curtain.
Stop by the Blog o' Stuff or SFFWorld and check in with Rob.