Ahhh, one moment, jeune fille avec les cheveux rouges, while I introduce this edition...
I always wondered if that high born Hunting Girl was one of the Fey -- certainly she has the attitude to be one! If she had appeared one hot midsummer afternoon in our Pub, no one would have been surprised as we get all sorts here including the likes of you. Indeed we were even the quite honoured hosts for the handfasting of the 'King and Queen of the Faeries a very long time ago. Don't believe me? Read on for that story!
Next edition will be devoted to one of our best and most beloved writer - musicians who Green Man is privileged to know, Peter S. Beagle, and what he has been up to. It's a fat issue with a new interview that Deborah Grabien did with him; 'a preview/overview of the next year of Beagle publishing (which is going to be amazing); Kathleen Bartholomew's advance review of his upcoming story collection, We Never Talk About My Brother; Ann Monn talking about designing covers for Peter; Peter himself on Rebekah Naomi Cox's Last Unicorn art; Connor Cochran's review of the two live music shows Peter and Phil Sigunick did in Wurtsboro, NY; and a look at the favourite PSB story/book of many folks you've read. WOW!
Worth celebrating is the arrival of several advance copies of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, The Twenty-First Edition. We did special edition on YBFH last year and can heartily recommend that every edition is wonderful reading! Our Editor ask Jim Frenkel, the packager for the series to say a few words about the forthcoming edition nd he did -- 'The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror has finally reached the age of majority. Rather than drinking, though, it's celebrating with forty stories and poems, including works by many favorite authors and also some new people who our editors and I are sure will become favorites to many readers.
My favorites include pieces by M. T. Anderson, Nathan Ballingrud, Eileen Gunn, Elizabeth Hand, Kij Johnson, M. Rickert, and Lisa Tuttle. I could go on--there aren't any works that aren't worthy.'
Oh, we do have reviews this edition -- some forty books, recordings, and films get a look-see. Highlights include Robert M Tilendis reviews Isaac Asimov's groundbreaking Foundation Trilogy and Kage Baker's examination of the re-issue of Tim Powers' pirate adventure On Stranger Tides; Camille Alexa takes a look at Hellboy . . . no, not the new sequel out in theaters right now, but Hellboy Animated -- Sword of Storms; and Paul Brandon brings us a group of Celtic albums this round, a live recording by the Tannahill Weavers and two -- or maybe one and a half -- by Kate Rusby.
Ah, there you are! I'm so glad you're back again, because now I get to finish the story Kit told me about the Handfasting of the King and Queen of the Faeries.
Where was I? Oh, right -- Kit and I were sitting on our log and having a bit of a snack from that miraculous hamper of his, and he said, 'Anyhow, she was Queen in her own right, Lady of the Blessed Ones who live here in the Wood, though they stay pretty much to themselves. Beautiful they were, all of them, as the Fay are, but she was the most beautiful -- all moonlight and night skies, with great lovely eyes that spoke riddles and answered with mysteries, a tall and regal Lady indeed. He was a vagabond prince, a lord of the fianna, as much as they would have such a thing, all golden, a dashing figure shining in the twilight, and his eyes were full of sorrow and joy, but there was ever laughter in his voice. Some said he was a son of the Lord of Beasts -- he had that sort of wild look to him -- and some said he was the Lord himself, or one of his brothers. And some said she was more than she seemed, and that her mother was the Moon herself. And that night was the night they were wed.
'The guests came from all over. There were the retainers, of course, and a delegation from the Unseelie Court, and a party of dwarves and kobolds, led by a brawny man who walked with a limp, and a group of the water-folk who stuck close to that brook there,' and he leaned close and pointed it out to me, 'and others who you could see were very important, although I didn't catch their names. One woman -- African, she looked -- arrived in a great wind, with sheets of lightning across the sky. She was an ample woman, but 'lovely, as a ripe yam is lovely,' as they say, and with her was a tall skinny man who had a twinkle in his eye and a big smile. And there was a beautiful Chinese lady, very young looking, dressed all in silks, who arrived with a large rabbit. (I noticed a number of rabbits in the woods around, and foxes, and the Cats all seem to have trooped down from the House. That might explain the way the evening went.) And a quiet young man with a white dove on his shoulder; everyone treated him with great respect, as they did the wild-looking, dark-haired man wearing a leopard skin, who greeted the Quiet Man as 'Brother.' And there was another couple I remember, quite striking they were -- he was blue, but a fine looking man nevertheless, with large, lustrous dark eyes, and she was dusky and curvy, and very beautiful. They had with them a boy, a lovely little thing with long lashes and a mop of curly black hair. I remember when they arrived they presented the boy to Herself, to be her servant. I don't think they noticed the look on the King's face at all. There were more, but I can't remember them all -- it was quite the turnout. Almost the last to arrive, though, was a very young man, with a bow -- a great hunter's bow it was -- and a quiver of wicked looking shafts. That caused a stir at first, but one look into those eyes of his and no one argued. Old, they were, as old as anything, and no pity in them at all.' He shivered. 'He was treated with great deference -- I heard someone call him 'Eldest,' so I suppose that was it, although he seemed the youngest. With this bunch, though, there's no telling. He drew aside with the Quiet Man and the Leopard-Skin Man, and the three of them stood there talking quietly.
'The ceremony was brief, as such things tend to be among the Old Believers, and then the couple stripped off and swam the brook, then ran straight to their bower.' He leaned closer and pointed to where the bower had been. He smelled musky and fresh at the same time. 'Well, then everyone relaxed and started eating and drinking and visiting -- most of them seemed to know each other, and it was quite the happy crowd. The musicians struck up a tune, and the Blue Man and his lady led the dancing -- such dancing it was! I've never seen anyone dance like he did, graceful and forceful, and . . . well . . .' he gave me a sidelong look -- and he was blushing again. 'And a little, uh, suggestive, if you know what I mean. I saw the Chinese lady's rabbit over by the drinks table talking to the Leopard-Skin Man, and the tall skinny African man joined them. The faeries danced, and then the kobolds and dwarves did a dance -- a noisy, stomping dance that was great fun -- we all joined in -- and things were just getting a little loose and friendly when there was this shriek like all the bean-sidhe ever were proclaiming the death of everything, and the King came splashing across the brook without a stitch on, looking more than ready to do his husbandly duty, snatched that pretty boy up and ran off into the woods with the boy clutched to him, and his bride racing along behind him swinging a claymore -- I've no idea where she got it -- and screaming curses and oaths like a whole crew of sailors.
'Well, no one knew what to do. The retinues lined up on opposite sides of the glen eyeing each other, and the dwarves and kobolds drew off to the third side, although the lame man was laughing and cheering the King on (which earned him no few dirty looks). Everyone else just looked confused, except the Leopard-Skin Man, who was standing off to one side smiling to himself. Suddenly he gave a great shout and waved his hand, casual like, you know? There came heady scent in the air, like a fine strong wine, and everyone just started throwing things and tackling each other and yelling. The Quiet Man walked up to him and spoke with him, quite urgently, but I think it was too late -- with all the shouting and fighting, it was a sorry mess.
The Eldest was standing off to the side and started shooting people with his arrows, but no one seemed to get hurt. I noticed when he hit those who were going hand-to-hand, the fighting -- well, they didn't really seem to be fighting any more, you know? And the ones who weren't going hand-to-hand soon were, although they all seemed to be enjoying it a great deal.' I noticed he was really blushing. 'It wasn't much of a party at that point, so I left before I got hit with something. But I wonder if I should have stayed.'
It had gotten cool, and he reached into that hamper again and drew out a blanket, which we shared. 'And that's just the way it happened. Probably.' That twinkle was back in his eyes, but it was different, somehow. And his hands were very warm.
Oh, sorry -- got distracted for a moment. At any rate, that's Kit's story of the Handfasting of the King and Queen of Faerie, just the way he told it to me, and he should know, having been there. What's that? My eyes? Well, they've always been green, but. . . . Really? Well, I suppose things happen when you spend a night in the Wood.
We take a look back in time at a well-loved and revered series for our featured book review. Robert M Tilendis reviews Isaac Asimov's groundbreaking Foundation Trilogy, insisting that just because it's old, doesn't mean it can't provide a solid narrative kick. 'Why bother with them? They're relics, right?' he says. 'Nope. This is science fiction as the literature of ideas in a very highly developed form. The concept of psychohistory itself marks a shift in the paradigm of science fiction, from ‘hard' to ‘soft' sciences, and a consequent predominance of human relationships in storytelling.' Robert earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.
The debut album by the Methera Quartet brought Robert M. Tilendis back to one of his favorite topics -- 'The intersections between high art and the vernacular, at this point in history, come in almost too many varieties to enumerate. Aside from the so-called 'classical' composers who have used folk and vernacular material in their compositions, . . . such groups as the Kronos Quartet have made vernacular music an integral part of their repertoire, while composers such as Eric Whitacre and Richard Einhorn have incorporated influences ranging from plainsong to rock to marching bands. One of the latest manifestations of this urge is the string quartet Methera, who have now released their first, eponymous collection on their own, eponymous label.' Read the rest to find out his reaction.
Kage Baker's timbers were mostly but not completely shivered by the re-issue of Tim Powers' pirate adventure On Stranger Tides. 'The crowded mechanics of the plot are oddly clunky, with some fairly torturous shifts to move the action or to get the characters where the story requires them to be,' however, as 'with any of his books, the pages are crammed with neat concepts, dazzling invention, secret history, exotic locales.'
Donna Bird reviews the scholarly collection of essays Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee -- Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century, which she says is interesting enough if not stringently edited. 'All of the papers in some way challenge a thesis about cultural decline in the late Ottoman Empire that has apparently dominated Ottoman studies for decades. I say ‘apparently' because I have no confirmation about the status of this thesis other than what I've read in this book. I don't claim to be an Ottoman Empire scholar, just an appreciative amateur holding scholarly credentials in other areas.'
Donna continues with her double review of Lawrence Bergreen's Marco Polo -- From Venice to Xanadu and Colin Thubron's Shadows of the Silk Road. Marco Polo is a biography, and says Donna, 'Although I would not characterize Bergreen as a scholar (he doesn't claim an academic affiliation or any advanced degrees), Marco Polo is documented in a way that I think most historical scholars would find consistent with their own standards, as far as it goes.' Silk Road, meanwhile, is more an historical travel book, written in first person, and as lovely as Donna found Thurbon's writing style, 'I found it difficult to follow the narrative as a whole, even though a travel book offers about as straightforward a 'plotline' as you could ever possibly want!'
While Deborah J Brannon feels that some of the stories in the Violet Issue of Kate Bernheimer's Fairy Tale Review tend to try too hard and fail to work within their limitations, most of the issue's explorations of the fairy tale are solid work. 'The Fairy Tale Review is perhaps best seen as that responsive mirror which gifts us with the knowledge of emerging voices and patterns in modern fairy tale writing. In other words, it's definitely a worthy endeavor deserving of support and certainly necessary to the shelf of any contemporary fairy tale scholar.'
Faith J Cormier had mixed feelings over Ron Marz's First Born omnibus, decrying the clichés but loving the artwork. 'If I think about any of this stuff, it's way too kinky for my tastes. If you don't think about any of it, if you let the story ebb and flow around you while you devour the pictures, it's heady stuff.'
Richard Dansky finds that the artistic style of the 1940s doesn't always stay so fresh and relevant in his review of Chuck Dixon, Doug Mahnke, and Sandra Hope's Team Zero. 'For a World War II comic, it's good enough, a professional enough traipse along familiar trails. That's all it is, though, and Team Zero doesn't take advantage of the moral quandary built into its premise.' To be fair, it does have Nazi rocket scientists in it, and they're pretty much entertaining all by themselves.
As a Dungeons and Dragons player (and writer!), Richard's review of Scott Gamboe's The Piaras Legacy carries some weight, hopefully enough weight to send this book to the bottom of the ocean where it apparently belongs. Stating that the plot structure mirrors the progress of an average game of D and D a little too heavily, Richard states, 'I'm sure it was all very fun to play, but it's less enjoyable to read about precisely because it's someone else's game, and intended for their enjoyment, not the reader's.'
Richard's review of Wildstorm's Divine Right -- The Adventures of Max Faraday is no more positive. The story revolves around a geek who inherits God-like power, and according to Richard, 'Part of the problem with Divine Right -- The Adventures of Max Faraday, is that we've seen it before, and better' and 'is also heir to some of Wildstorm's worst excesses.'
Denise Dutton takes an Excellence in Writing Award-winning stab at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus -- Volume 2, a graphic novel based on the beloved show (but not written by Joss Whedon) that fill in a few of the blanks in between episodes. 'Volume 2 serves to catch fans up on how Buffy, her friends and her foes, spent their time outside of the stories we got to see in the TV series. These stories aren't by Joss, but they stay true to the feel of the show, providing deeper glimpses into characters we thought we knew, along with a few others we never got the chance to know better.'
Gaiman fans take note -- according to April Gutierrez, Neil Gaiman's The Facts in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch, a former short story of his that was turned into a graphic novel by Michael Zulli, loses nothing of its impact in the adaptation. While 'the text for Miss Finch has been pared down and slightly rearranged to better fit the flow of panels across the page ... this reworking loses none of the original's dry humour, mystery and otherworldly atmosphere.'
Lory Hess takes a shot at Sideways in Crime an anthology of alternate-history mysteries edited by Lou Anders. While an enjoyable melange of genres overall, Lory warns that 'though this anthology is pitched as a crossover appealing to fans of both genres, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone who is truly a die-hard mystery junkie. You need to have at least a passing fascination with the 'what if' game.'
Last issue Elizabeth Bear's Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth demonstrated how well the Elizabethan Age could be used as a backdrop for fantasy, and Lory's review of Marie Brennan's Midnight Never Come reveals this is turning out to be a trend. 'There is no shortage of historical fiction about the Elizabethan period, including a goodly amount of fantasy -- and small wonder, given the truly fantastic personalities, events, and literature that era produced,' Lory says. 'Midnight Never Come is a worthy addition to the list, spinning something compellingly original out of the threads of history, folklore, and tradition.'
David Kidney experiences the front lines with Willie and Joe -- The WWII Years, the complete works of Bill Mauldin who drew comics and cartoons about the everyday grunt work of a WWII-era soldier. 'These two gorgeous volumes (boxed) contain the complete works, and tell the whole story of the war as seen on the front lines. Even a cursory look will explain the importance of these books, and the work they encompass.' David earns himself an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.
Tammy Moore reviewed Anton Strout's debut novel Dead to Me and was unimpressed with the story of a man with a magical ability working for the government. 'The primary problem is the blend of fantasy and humour is rather heavy-handed and the two elements don't mesh seamlessly enough for my comfort as a reader. It veered from Urban Fantasy, with a touch of humour, to slapstick.'
Claire Owen's reaction to the fairy-tale fantasy The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda, was mixed. While well-written, she maintained that the book was not her cup of tea. 'There simply are not enough stimuli to keep adults interested over long periods, and yet it is too complex for very young children. Its target readers are therefore very obvious, but this is not a fault. It merely shows Emily Rodda's incredible aptitude to appeal to those target readers.'
Kestral Rath urges over-zealous editors to beware with her review of Jack Haringa Must Die! -- 28 Original Tales of Madness, Terror and Strictly Grammatical Murder, in which real-life horror fiction editor Jack Haringa meets several nasty ends at the hands of frustrated authors such as Jack Ketchum and Brian Keene. 'Throughout the course of this chapbook Mr. Haringa experiences many a gruesome death, including death at the hands of zombies and slow torture by pontificating fanboy, not to mention the old Sweeny Todd treatment.'
Robert Tilendis was less than thrilled with Grendel -- Devil Quest, a spin-off from Matt Wagner's celebrated Grendel graphic novel series -- 'This is by no means the most successful of the Grendel stories. The script is at times incoherent, and all too often the graphics fail to carry any of the narrative flow.' He says '[t]here are high points,' but that much of the content is 'fairly repulsive.' Still intrigued? Read the rest of the review for more details (including what Robert did like about this volume).
Chris Tuthill happily jumps into Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, the first two books in Lynch's projected seven-book series. 'Those who enjoy this kind of adventure fantasy will love these books and eagerly await new installments. They are fast paced, well-plotted, and have strong characters; I would recommend them to fans of George R. R. Martin or Robert Jordan.'
Cruel Zinc Melodies despite being the latest in Glen Cook's long-running series, proved to be no challenge to newbie Elizabeth Vail. 'Cruel Zinc Melodies has an interesting mystery, intriguing characters, and a truly original fantasy world that melds the magic and decadence of high epic fantasy with the grittier elements of '40s detective novels. Glen Cook's writing still has zing after twelve novels, so fans of the series should be well satisfied, and newer readers who enjoy this will have a large backlist to explore.'
However, Elizabeth was not so impressed with Sybil's Garage No. 5, an anthology of surreal and weird tales. 'While a few of the stories in Sybil's Garage No. 5 stood out, the majority of them fell into the category of 'nice reads' that amuse for a while but are quickly forgotten. There were few stories that truly fired the imagination or evoked a sincere response from me, so all in all I would have to say that this particular issue of Sybil's Garage is pleasant at best, mediocre at worst.'
Despite her fondness for the romance genre, Elizabeth did not fall in love with Michelle Maddox's Countdown, a novel that attempts to merge science fiction with romance. 'Classified on the spine as an ‘Action Romance,' romance readers might get a kick out of the slick sci-fi scenery but hardcore science-fiction fans might find themselves in a countdown of their own to see how many more pages they can read about forbidden pleasures and googly eyes before an evil robot accountant shows up and they throw the book down in disgust.'
Camille Alexa takes a look at Hellboy . . . no, not the new sequel out in theaters right now, but Hellboy Animated -- Sword of Storms. 'Romance, mystery, action, dancing teapots, dead guys attacking with ancient weapons. Does this sound appealing? If so, go for Hellboy Animated -- Sword of Storms'. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read her review and let her tell you more!
Why in the world should you take a look at this cop show? There are tons of cop shows loitering around cable and network television nowadays, and a few of 'em are pretty good. What's one more? David Kidney lays it down, all simple-like. 'Not just another detective show. No gimmicky camera work with close ups of blood cells or bullets moving silently through space. This is a film about people.' There are a lot of Prime Suspect fans here at GMR -- read David's review to see why. And if you haven't taken a look at this excellent series yet, by all means do so!
We have quite a range of music this time, from traditional to . . . um, traditional, to. . . . Hmm. Well, we do have a couple of unusual things here, too, so read on.
From Italy comes a debut recording by Terrasonora, which Donna Bird found well worth the listening. The package looked a little problematic, says Donna -- 'We are always willing to give a listen to traditional music from Italy, and Core e Tamburo (which means heart and drum, by the way) was a definite winner. All the liner notes on the CD are in Italian, which I can almost, but not quite read.' See how it all turned out here.
Somewhat less esoteric is Goodbye to the Madhouse from McDermott's Two Hours. Says Donna -- 'I can count on the fingers of one hand, with at least the thumb left over, the number of singer-songwriters whose work I tolerate, let alone enjoy. That puts Nick Burbridge, the powerhouse behind McDermott's 2 Hours, in rare and precious company.' Check out what else she has to say.
Paul Brandon brings us a group of Celtic albums this round, a live recording by the Tannahill Weavers and two -- or maybe one and a half -- by Kate Rusby. Spend a minute savoring Paul's Excellence in Writing Award-winning thoughts on the iffiness of live recordings and what it's like to wait for a new release from Kate.
Christopher Conder has mixed feelings about a new release of the piping of Gordon Duncan -- 'It is regrettable that Just for Gordon marks the first time I have heard of Scottish bagpiper Gordon Duncan, because this compilation of largely unreleased work has been put out in tribute to the man, who died in the last month of 2005, aged just 41. It reveals him to have been a truly masterful piper.' Read his review for the upside.
Chris wasn't quite so taken with the debut album by Mary Kathleen Burke. 'Burke's sleeve notes reveal that this is a very personal set of songs for her and they contain plenty of nuggets of self-help philosophy, but few of these songs have a particular impact on this cold-hearted reviewer, a fan of subtlety in music.' Read his review to find the bright spot.
Scott Gianelli took a see-hear at a trio of Norwegian traditional recordings -- 'Like the other Scandinavian countries, Norway has an active folk music scene. Its folk musicians benefit from a number of record labels eager to promote and distribute music influenced in some ways by the nation's folk traditions. . . . I recently had the opportunity to listen to three new Grappa releases, covering a broad range of performers and styles.' See what he found.
David Kidney pulls no punches on a new release by Ladysmith Black Mambazo -- 'For anyone who heard Paul Simon's Graceland and was captivated by the South African choir that is Ladysmith Black Mambazo; for those who have followed their career and been entranced by their dancing and just their look, here is the latest in a long line of CD releases that proves their brilliance once again.' Can't get much plainer than that.
David has a few things to say about the state of the blues, too. 'The blues continues to go from strength to strength. A few years ago, one might have wondered if there was a future for three chords and 12 bars, but every month new blues releases are sent to GMR by a variety of blues labels, including the two represented here.' To see what David thinks of this representation, read his remarks on a trio of new releases.
David found this to say about a follow-up to a well-regarded album he just listened to -- 'Tom Paxton's 2002 record Looking For the Moon was nominated for a Grammy award, and has been finding it's way back onto my playlist over and over ever since. I don't think there's a bad song on the whole CD, so following it up was going to be a major challenge, and maybe that's why it's taken six years to do so. Well, Tom has recently issued that follow-up, and from the first note Comedians & Angels sounds like a perfect sequel to the earlier record.'
And the very busy David also found this treat from John Oszajca -- 'OK, he's 'not a big rock star, not the hippest cat by far,' but he kicks off his latest album by following the solid drum beats with the words, 'Fuck them all and what they're saying...' and who doesn't love a little attitude?'
Peter Massey had some pros and cons about a new offering from Peat & Barley -- 'Peat & Barley, a duo based in Gaithersberg, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.), is Becky Ross on fiddle and Bill Mitchell on hammered dulcimer. They specialise in traditional Scottish and Irish tunes, plus a few original tunes that highlight the interplay between the two instruments.' Seems pretty straightforward, but are two instruments enough?
Robert M. Tilendis continues his explorations of traditional music with a troika from the Anglo-Nordic group, Swåp. Says Robert, 'in Swåp we have a group of musicians with amazing energy, an unquenchable freshness of approach, and the kind of grounding in tradition that allows them to bend the boundaries as much as they want and get away with it. OK -- I can deal with that. I can deal with that very easily.' Go ahead -- see why.
Robert was somewhat ambivalent about Dutch composer Stephen Emmer's new release -- 'I love it -- pop culture invades the avant-garde. OK - now I've got that off my chest and am sitting here listening to Stephen Emmer's Recitement. It's really popular music, and Emmer has boosted it up a level in the 'serious' vein by coupling it with spoken word segments from a wide range of speakers. . . . I noted one comment that claimed that this work represents something unique in popular music, a remark that I can't quite credit.' There's more, of course.
Gary Whitehouse is wondering about country music again -- 'Just when you think country music is dead -- or at least terminally ill -- Mark Chesnutt comes out with another album and revives your faith in the music. He's done it again with Rollin' With The Flow.' But is it real country?
Gary also has some thoughts on string bands. As he says, 'String bands are big everywhere these days.' Go see what he thinks about this.
And that's another tour through our rich and varied musical offerings here at GMR. See you next time.
Those of us who work here at Green Man spend most of our lives happily amongst the roots, branches, and myriad leafs of the Tree that is popular culture. In the course of writing reviews, answering readers' questions, and exploring and discussing our own interests, we've found many like-minded others dwelling in the Tree. So our final bit this week is by our latest Summer Queen, Ellen Datlow who gives us a guided tour of her leaf of the Tree...
Uploaded by a Several Annie from her NeXTBook while high in
the Tree enjoying the view she's sharing with Hugin and Munin.
Uploaded 27 July LLS
Archived 9 August LLS