G'Afternoon -- Do come in! What I am researching here in the Library on this first day of the Fall season when I should be enjoying the still warm weather? Ahhh, my quest for the coming winter -- as curling up by the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room fireplace with a good read and endless cups of lapsang souchong tea is always desirable -- is to read as many modern tellings of the Tam Lin story as I can. To date, my list which is based on a list a theatre intern here did last winter has Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, Jane Yolen's Tam Lin, Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron, 'Tam Lin' in The Book of Ballads as illustrated by Charles Vess and written by Eliane Lee, and Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip. Now if you, dear reader, know of any more worth my time to read, email me at this address.
This weekend we're observing a different celebration than that in the Tam Lin story -- Mabon, most popularly known as the 'Fall Equinox,' but there's much more to it than that, as our occasional visitor Jake points out...
After you read this harvest tale, turn your attention to our reviews which include looks at a never before published Roger Zelazny mystery (!) which April Gutierrez says is a delight to read, a video mystery series set in an English county where murder is afoot all too much, a most unusual superhero team, and a ye olde pirate tale complete with treasure! Read on, MacDuff!
Come in. Yes, the party is here in the Pub tonight. There will be rituals in the hills and the Wood later, but I advise you to avoid them. Join me here, at least for the time being. I can't stay for the evening -- there are things I must do elsewhere tonight, but that will be later on. Oh, forgive me -- I'm sure you recognize Reynard, and there's Reynard's cousin Kit, and I saw several Jacks around earlier. I am . . . well, I have many names, but you can call me Jake. Yes -- Jake will do for tonight.
You're just in time. People are starting to arrive from the press barn -- yes, we do it the old-fashioned way here, and everyone pitches in. Fortunately, it's still warm enough to use the pumps outside to clean up. That's what I like to see -- people are tired but happy. Look, even McKenzie is smiling, and the Annies are positively glowing. After all, it's the Wine Harvest, the Merry Moon, when Summer's work is done and the bloody business of colder days has yet to start. So, no meat for tonight's feast, but we have fresh bread and a rich vegetable stew and good cheeses to share.
Grab a glass or a tankard -- we still have the last of the old vintage, and good ale and beer. Come over to the corner, where the Neverending Session has set up. The music will be a little different tonight, I think. I've brought a couple of friends who will be playing -- yes, those fellows there. Ah, I see you recognize the piper. Fitting him for boots was a problem, and we had to cut a hole in his pants for his tail. Oh, yes, we had to put him into pants, else the evening would have gotten much too lively much too soon. He lacks restraint, and I thought it best to keep him indoors tonight, and to keep him playing -- there will be enough madness in the wild places. At any rate, there will be some fine music tonight -- my friends have been playing together for time out of mind. And there will be tales later -- I know the storyteller of old, and he's a rare one.
What? The Equinox? Oh, no -- that's only part of it. Yes, tonight is a night when we observe time in balance, but it's more than just day and night -- it's one of the days we can look back and forward, like Janus the Two-Faced. It's nothing so simple as 'balance,' at least as your thinking of it -- it's a complex and delicate thing, an equilibrium that is already out of place, that only holds its shape for an instant, part of the long interplay between day and night, dark and light, the eternal dance of the Kings as each in turn takes his place as Lord of the Wheel. It's the ends of the circle that count, do you understand? Tonight is just a pause to take a breath and rejoice before the serious business starts again.
And it's the midpoint of the Harvests, which I rule with my brothers. You hold a mug of my brother John's bounty in your hand, and my brother Kern will come in his turn with the harvest of the woods, that can only be bought with blood. They offer sustenance, as do I -- I stand between them and bring joy. Remember, the Harvests mark a time of sacrifice -- we offer our lives, and I my beloved as well, and tonight we celebrate my gift. No, don't regret it. Accept it gladly, as it was given, lest you belittle them and me -- no one lives without the sacrifice of others. Acknowledge it, and treasure it, and give us your blessing.
Ah, I see them slipping out. I suspected they would -- fox-haired Kit and his cat-eyed companion. Ha! You didn't even know he'd come in, did you? They're good at being unnoticed, the both of them -- I've seen them slipping through the Wood like smoke, and not even the sharp-eyed ravens marked their passing. They'll be coursing the woodland paths tonight, offering shelter. That Wood belongs to Kit, though I can't guess how much of it he's gifted to his friend -- and don't be fooled by that one -- they are subtle and devious, both of them -- and they understand that sacrifice must be willing. Kit has declared that tonight is not the night for bloodshed in his domain, and I have agreed, out of respect -- he is my elder, after all. I daresay any bands of my celebrants who wander into the Wood will find themselves wandering out again in short order.
For the rest, you'd best stay in tonight. Stay close to the fire. See, the storyteller is here, so there will be tales told, strange and wondrous, and, if I know anything about this place, many healths pledged.
No -- sadly, I have other tasks ahead of me, other places I must be, and I must say adieu. Tomorrow? No, I can't promise that, but next year -- next year for certain.
For tonight, be merry!
Autumn is upon us, now – Harvest Home, the first nuts filling baskets in the kitchen, the last stalks being plaited into Corn Maidens up in the wild barley fields beyond Oberon’s Wood. We’re balancing on the Equinox, that moment of cosmic stillness where the days and nights balance – just – so … before we begin the slide down toward Winter.
Anyway, this one is called The Rock In The Park and it’s gonna be a glory. Mr. Beagle is making good on his promise to give all these tales a Bronx setting, but the story has a universality quite beyond the beautifully evoked New York. It’s that perfect autumn day when magic really does walk out of the woods and changes us forever. If you never had a day like that, borrow this one. Mr. Beagle won’t mind – as long as you buy him a beer to ease his throat while he tells the tale. Now let's listen in...
This time around, our featured book and DVD reviews have a common theme -- mysteries. First up is a novel that won't actually see publication until next year, but we're absolutely thrilled to have an advance copy of, Dead Man's Brother, from Roger Zelazny. Yes, that Roger Zelazny. Lost for over 30 years, and brought to us by the good folks at Hard Case Crime, this novel is a definite treat for Zelazny's fans. Book Editor April Gutierrez did the honours, saying that Zelazny's one foray into the mystery genre has 'enough quirky twists and turns to keep the plot rumbling along at a good clip' and that the 'dialogue is sharp and witty, vintage Zelazny'. So be sure to be on the lookout for Dead Man's Brother in early 2009!
Next up is another review by April, this time a graphic novel from Vertigo, Ed Brubaker's Dead Boy Detectives. Drawn from the pages from Sandman, the Dead Boy Detectives are just that -- dead boys who solve crimes (or rather, want to). Unfortunately, April wasn't as impressed with this selection as with the Zelazny. She says that there are some 'engaging side characters' (also from Sandman), the lead characters are amusing, but that the central mystery is revealed too soon. She concludes that the graphic novel is 'a pleasant enough trifle' but a 'minor addition to the Vertigo universe'.
Our last featured book is another from Hard Case Crime, Charles Adai's Fifty-to-One, a celebration of Hard Case's fiftieth publication. Reviewer Tammy Moore states that even though it's a promotional gimmick Adai has put together a 'coherent, fast-paced story' and 'the plot is clever and throws enough twists and red herrings in the readers' path to keep them guessing'. Tammy concludes that Fifty-to-One is an 'immensely enjoyable crime caper' -- and earns herself an Excellence in Writing Award for her review in the process.
Donna Bird wraps up our featured mysteries with a look at a DVD set of the Midsomer Murders, which she exclaims 'are so much fun to watch!' Although she says it's a 'misnomer to call Midsomer a series, the episodes are tied together by 'thematic similarities' and a few main characters. She has very high praise for John Nettles, who plays the primary investigator, Barnaby. Donna declares him to be 'inveterate and talented'. Further, she avows that 'the experience of watching one [episode] all the way through without interruption is truly delightful!' So what you waiting for? Go get this now!
'Coraline has seen life as a Dave McKean-illustrated novel, an audiobook read by Gaiman himself, an upcoming stop-action animated feature film, and now as a graphic novel.' See if the graphic novel of Neil Gaiman's story measures up to the Coraline standard by reading this review by Green Man Review's head book editor, April Gutierrez.
Another Gaiman-related graphic novel, Mike Carey and Glenn Fabry's adaptation of his novel Neverwhere gets April's attention. She concludes that 'readers new to the world of Neverwhere will easily be drawn into Carey and Fabry's taken on Gaiman's creation, and fans of the original will likely find enough of the humour and charm of the novel and mini-series to enjoy here'.
April also gives us the lowdown on Stephen King's The Colorado Kid. Pulp western novel? Hard crime case? See what April thinks, pre-armed with her warning that 'anyone going in expecting a typical procedural or 'whodunit' is probably going to find this hidden treasure a bit puzzling.'
Already have all the Hellblazer issues or graphic novels? Should you add John Constantine -- Hellblazer -- Rare Cuts to your collection? Read April's review of these 'six stories [...] which give readers a glimpse into John Constantine's beginnings and his adult self's psyche' and decide for yourself.
Finally, April reviews for us this week The Umbrella Academy -- Apocalypse Suite, out from Dark Horse Books. If you're intrigued by the description 'Part steam punk, part superhero comic and all attitude,' give this one a read.
In Camille Alexa's review of the Ellen-Datlow-editedThe Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, she poses the question, 'How many editors are so respected, so recognizable, that their names on a cover sell an anthology as thoroughly as any author represented within?' This Excellence in Writing Award-winning reviewexplains why she suggests that if one tried to compile such a list, 'Datlow's name would be on nearly every permutation.'
Camille also reviewed The City of Dreaming Books, which begins with the main character inheriting 'the most glorious manuscript ever beheld by beast or . . . beast.' See what she thought of this heavily illustrated, adult fable about a fantastical beast on an epic quest.
Cat Eldridge states, 'Normally I detest the blurbs provided by companies like Vertigo but they got it right...' Read more to find out what they -- and Cat -- have to say about Fables Seventy-Five, the seventy-fifth issue of this compelling series.
Denise Dutton says she thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man this past summer. She doesn't keep us in suspense over her opinion of Iron Man -- Beneath The Armor by Andy Mangels. 'It's everything an Iron Man fan could wish for, with knowledge, history and drop-dead gorgeous illustrations from every Iron Man era.' Read on.
Donna Bird writes, 'Since most of the mysteries I encounter are written by Americans or Brits, I harbor a special interest in those whose authors are neither, hoping to find in them new and different approaches to the genre.' Read her review to understand why she was particularly pleased to receive The Final Betand Mind's Eye -- an Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery, and why she decided to review them together.
Donna reviewed the first novel in this historical mystery series, The Sultan's Seal, back in 2006 when it was initially released. When she got the second in Jenny White's series, The Abyssinian Proof she 'was looking forward to this sequel with eager anticipation.' Was she disappointed? Find out here.
Elizabeth Vail earns an Excellence in Writing Award this week for her review of Empress, the first book in Karen Miller's Godspeaker trilogy. A definite feat, considering she claims 'Empress is incredibly frustrating to read.' Frustrating, but worthwhile? Read more.
Says Elizabeth, 'Orphan's Journey is the third book in Robert Buettner's military sci-fi series, after Orphanage and Orphan's Destiny. However, thanks to an easy-going, relatable writing style and an engagingly down-to-earth protagonist, readers who are new to the series and just picking up this book should still be able jump right into the story and enjoy it immensely.' Read the entire review for more detail.
Faith J. Cormier opens her review of Barth Anderson's The Magician and the Fool by inviting the consideration of a series of questions, including 'Is the tarot older than the Pyramids?' and 'Why did Romulus kill Remus?' and 'Are all 12-step programs actually attempts to rebuild Troy?' Hmmm. Well, if we don't have answers, let's at least hear all the questions.
Kestrell Rath wins an Excellence in Writing Awardfor her review of Neal Stephenson's Anathem. Read the whole thing to discover why 'a great deal of the pleasure of reading Anathem comes from the careful plotting which allows the reader to fill in the puzzle piece by piece.'
According to Matthew Scott Winslow, 'we're awash in a field of 'year's best' anthologies in the speculative fiction field right now.' He goes on to claim that 'With such a large selection, the finicky reader can choose his or her best and go with it.' Read more to see if Tachyon's Year's Best Fantasy 8 should make your shortlist.
Matthew also reviews a novel by Theodore Judson, The Martian General's Daughter. He 'went into this book excited about it,' but how did he feel at the end of it?
Robert M. Tilendis reviews Grendel -- Devil Child, which, 'written by Diana Schutz and drawn by Tim Sale, tells the story of Hunter Rose's adopted child, Stacy Palumbo, and the birth of her daughter, Christine Spar, who became the next Grendel.' Worth reading? Find out here.
'Pyr has issued two of Resnick's entries into the 'fantasy noir detective' subgenre, tales of John Justin Mallory, a private investigator in a Manhattan that parallels our own and sometimes intrudes. Unless we're intruding on it.' Robert's twofer review of Mike Resnick's Stalking the Unicorn and Stalking the Vampiredelves deeper.
Robert says, 'Kage Baker's short novel, Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key, is not a sequel so much as a continuation of the adventures of John James, fugitive, sometime pirate, and free-lance muscle, who was introduced in her novella 'The Maid on the Shore' in Dark Mondays.' Let him explain.
We here at Green Man are quite smitten with both Charles de Lint and his literary and musical creations which he has done over the years. Most of his fiction has been within the setting of Newford but he has decided now to leave that city for the desert Southwest as the setting of his fiction. His first full-length novel, The Mystery of Grace, to be set there sounds really, really cool! Read for yourself a description of this novel courtesy of Tor publicity who send it along --
We should remind you about our special editions which are our way of looking at specific writers and other subjects worthy of exploring in-depth. Of course, we've done several editions on master storyteller Peter S. Beagle which you can find thisaway and over 'ere; a great edition onCharles de Lint who's now beginning to set his tales in the desert Southwest; one on the ever fascinating trio of Brian, Toby, and Wendy Froud; naturally we did one on master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien who is much loved by our staff; and one on a fantastic new storyteller, Catherynne M. Valente who is always worth reading.
Oh, we should mention that every year that we do both best books and best music in which many of the wonderful folks we review 'ere pick their choices of what they liked for that year. And our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror series.
We have special editions coming up soon on Patricia McKillip and Elizabeth Bear. In edition, our Oak King and Winter Queen this year are gentle folk whose work all of us have admired for years.
For our main page, please go here; to search the roots, branches, and leaves of This Tree, use the Google search engine; every past edition of our fortnightly What's New can be found here; for a detailed look at us, go thisaway; and lastly, you report errors over here. Still have questions? Email our Editor here. Provided he's not in the Green Man Pub savouring a properly poured pint of Guinness whlie listening to the Neverending Session, he'll try to answer your question!
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Entire Contents Copyright 1993 - 2008, Green Man Reviewand Midwinter Publishing except where specifically noted such as the piper used here which is copyrighted by Blowzabella and used with their permission . All Rights Reserved.
A metafictional postscript -- all actual living beings referred to in our metanarritve have agreed to be there. Really. Truly. Confused? Just set back and enjoy our stories within stories. And do keep in mind that opinions expressed in the metanarrative do not necessarily reflect the views of Green Man Review or that of Midwinter Publishing. They might, they might not.
Any resemblance in Continuity to persons, places, or times of anyone or anywhere living or dead, is purely coincidental unless otherwise noted. Those who know differently are unlikely to admit their involvement.
Revised and proofed by a Several Annie looking
forward to bundling by the first Fall bonfire!
Archived Samain, 2008 LLS