Care to join us for breakfast? It's over on the sideboard -- oatmeal with whole milk, plump peppered pork sausages sizzling with fat, thick slices of crisped bacon, smoked Scottish salmon, scrambled free range eggs, molasses bread thick with butter and gooseberry jam, blackberry scones, a Quebec traditional pork pie, lobscouse, lapsang sousong tea and Turkish coffee...
Oh, and lots of fruit -- apples, blood oranges, grapefruit, mangos and papayas, slices of breadfruit, strawberries from the Border all white on the outside and red in the center, cherries, kiwi, melons of all sorts, and grapes blessed by Bacchus Himself. Go ahead, dig in! We'll take a long walk through Oberon's Wood later so you won't feel quite as guilty for being a glutton.
So did you read the entire Kage Baker edition that we just did? It's well worth reading. And next up is our special Neil Gaiman edition with lots of interesting goodies, so do come back for that as well!
Now that we've finished breakfast and taken a long walk through Oberon's Wood, we've settled in with more excellent coffee with a wee dram added in to discuss more of our favourite fall entertainment selections.
(Mind you, getting the general staffers to do anything this time of year is difficult so we decided to not push them to be productive, nor were we inclined to actually edit and proof their work when dancing and drinking and feasting are so much more fun!)
As you may know, Emma Bull is one of the writers that garners much approval here as she's a great writer, a talented musician, and a really nice person. So it's not 'tall surprising to me that one of her novels is on many of the lists of best novels that our staffers suggested for your reading pleasure.
Some twenty-two years ago, one of the best urban fantasies ever written was published by Ace Books in an unassuming mass market paperback format -- that work was her War for The Oaks novel. Just how good it is was noted by Michael Jones in his in-depth review
Emma Bull revolutionized the way we look at the world around us with her debut novel, War for the Oaks, a no-holds-barred, fast-paced, magically written rock-and-roll fable about Eddi McCandry, a Minneapolis singer/musician who gets dragged into a supernatural war taking place out of mortal sight.
So why is this novel now our featured review? Simply put, it is a novel set at Summer Solstice and it should be read when summer is in full force. Like Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series which is set in the winter season and reflects the bleakness of that season so terribly well, War for The Oaks perfectly captures the feel of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts in High Summer. After fourteen years out of print, Tor in 2001 released it in a nifty trade paper edition -- well, it is possible that there was also a hard cover edition but neither apparently Tor nor SFBC officially released one even though the Green Man library has copies of not one but two different hard cover editions including one very obviously done for inclusion in lending libraries with its cool embossed cover! Why Tor never released a hard cover edition is a mystery still begging an answer!
(Emma noted over pints in the Pub that this novel has an interesting history -- 'It was the first book of the Ace Fantasy Specials, which Terri [Windling] agitated for in light of Terry Carr's successful line of Ace Science Fiction Specials, which were created to introduce new SF talent (Gibson, Sterling, Shiner, etc.). The Ace Fantasy Specials included WftO and Delia Sherman's Through a Brazen Mirror, as well as work by other first-time novelists in fantasy.')
Michael goes on to talk about the other aspect of the novel which should be stressed...
No review of War For The Oaks would be complete without a closer look at Emma's other talent -- writing beautiful lyrics. As any fan of the Flash Girls or Cats Laughing can tell you, her songs are simply gorgeous. Their presence in the book is subtly appropriate, and blends in seamlessly.
Yes, many of the songs here in this novel would later be recorded by Cats Laughing (of which Emma was a member) on their superb Another Way to Travel which is reviewed here by Maria Nutick so let's have her tell that tale...
The Green Man Library may be the only place where you can go to read William Shakespeare's The Trapping of the Mouse or Edgar Allen Poe's The Worm of Midnight while listening to the music of Gossamer Axe or Snori Snoriscousin and His Brass Idiots. The world of literature is a big, big place, and it's an intrepid and meticulous soul who can keep track of the shifting tapestry that we call 'reality'. There are books within books and bands you can only listen to in your imagination. So you're to be forgiven if you've seen references to Cats Laughing in novels like Bone Dance or the Bordertown series and assumed that they were only another fictional group like Wild Hunt or Eldritch Steel. But if that was your assumption, it's time you learned the truth -- Cats Laughing were very real, and they were one hell of a band -- and they live on in these CDs, and they're still one hell of a band.
So there you are -- a novel and a soundtrack to that novel, both of which are highly entertaining. There's even a bit of film for a War For The Oaks movie which never got made in full -- the script is sort of reviewed thisaway.
Oh, I just recently asked Will Shetterly about the music on the video
Emma obligingly added
I envy those of you that are encountering these works for the first time, as you get to be impressed and surprised by just how great these works are. Hell, I think I'll go read War For The Oaks once again. Catch me in the Green Man Pub after you've read it and I'll buy you a pint of Mackeson Stout so we can toast Emma!
We have a fair number of recommendations for your Fall entertainment needs. After all, this fine Summer weather will give way to those cool, rainy days when being inside will seem a fine idea indeed!
As the summer wends to a close and we head into the autumn months, Deborah Brannon can think of no better book to suggest than Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia, of which she says 'not only does it invoke the hard, bright days of summer via its desert setting (thus giving you a last parting dance with the season), but its themes of life without fear, love and its consequences, and the nature of hope are well-suited to the contemplative fall.'
The approach of autumn also always gets her excited for one of her favorite holidays -- Halloween! According to her, 'What better way to anticipate that spooky season than Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick's gorgeously and eerily rendered Coraline? Whether you've read the original novel or no, the film is a real treat!'
Finally, as days of change come on, turning the world sere and thinning its borders, she says that there can be 'no better accompanying graphic novel experience than Bill Willingham's Fables. This series dealing with the exile of fairy tale and literary characters from their homelands is full of bloody murder, shadowy mystery, surprising love, occasional nobility, and fairy tale tropes -- perhaps the essence of autumn itself, no?'
Echoing her choice, our Librarian, Iain Nicholas Mackenzie, offers up for your reading pleasure something that we have not reviewed but which he's read the galley of: 'Bill Willingham's prose novel Peter & Max -- A Fables Novel, which will appeal very obviously to followers of his long running Fables graphic novel series but is not likely to be a terribly worthwhile read for anyone who has not read the series. April Gutierrez, our Book Editor, is reading it now and I look forward to seeing her review!' Look for Peter & Max in any fine bookstore in October.
Kage Baker recommends a Terry Gilliam film, to be precise The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. She notes that 'Terry Gilliam will probably go down in history as the only filmmaker dogged by a genuine curse.' Gilliam's struggles to make his films in spite of various catastrophes are well documented -- and to add insult to injury, his films are often underrated by critics and the public alike. But we here at GMR disagree. In fact, we rarely do more than one review of the same material, but The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is such a good film that we made an exception. April Gutierrez originally reviewed it for us here. Now Kage takes a second look at the beloved fantasy. As she says in her review, 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a marvel of unforgettable images and choice performances.'
Our entire staff enthusiastically recommends the works of Charles de Lint for those of who have read his amazing fiction. I like him so much that we did a special edition on him here. Specific recommendations? Cat Eldridge says Forests of The Heart, which he likes so much that he wore out a hardcopy copy re-reading it a few too many times!
J.S.S Boyce opines 'The best I've reviewed this year is the recent audio version of the novel, The Speed of Dark, though the book was first published in 2003.''
Meanwhile Robert Tilendis pondered his choices a bit....
What do I recommend now that summer's ending? Good question. It's a stay-at-home time of year coming up, pretty much, and if you live someplace like Chicago, there will be a little bit of Autumn -- maybe two or three times -- and then Winter, which settles in for a while, so you need something that's going to last. Well, there's always Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen, which is almost complete (Volume 9, Dust of Dreams, is out, so there's only one more to go), and will certainly keep you interested for many long winter evenings.
If the portions seem large on that one -- it is a massive series, and each volume is substantial -- try Glen Cook's Annals of the Black Company, slightly less unwieldy to carry home, but certainly no smaller in entertainment value. Both feature adventure, intrigue, dark humor, dirty tricks, magic and the foibles of humanity.
If you're after something lighter, try Kazuya Minekura's Saiyuki, but be warned -- there are three series, Saiyuki, Saiyuki Reload, which continues the story begun in the first, and a prequel series, Saiyuki Gaiden, and I promise you'll be hooked. It's the quest to end all quests, pungent, irreverent, sometimes hysterically funny, sometimes unbearably poignant, all with Minekura's quirky and enchanting drawing. (And if you don't feel like reading, limber up the DVD player and get the anime -- there are three series there, too, and if anything, they're even better than the manga.)
And if words and images are just not doing it for you, make your own to the accompaniment of Clemens Kraus' brilliant recording of the complete Der Ring Des Nibelungen, marked by Astrid Varnay's glowing Brünnhilde and Wolfgang Windgassen's irrepressible Siegfried, not to mention some of the most beautiful music ever written.
There. If you can't find something in that list to keep you occupied for the winter, you're hopeless.
Chalice by Robin McKinley is the choice of Tammy Moore, who explains why rather nicely for us -- ' What could be more summery than romance, bees and magical intrigue?'
Camille Alexa says her choices are simple -- 'The two duologies I've reviewed for The Green Man are definitely among my enduring favorites -- Juliet Marillier's Wolfskin and Foxmask, and Patricia A. McKillip's Moon-Flash and The Moon and the Face.'
Peter Massey says that for him 'The measure of a good CD is one you just keep playing over and over again. This is why I simply had to nominate Show of Hands' Witness. Released in 2006, it is a masterpiece in my view. Having recently seen Show of Hands (Steve Knightley & Phil Beer) with Miranda Sykes on bass, the live‚ stage sound was exactly the same as on the CD. Not many bands today can claim that! Perhaps I'm a hard taskmaster or just getting cynical in my old age! This album does it for me..'
Around Green Man, the matter of ale and other forms of drink is a sacred subject indeed. Be it the Neverending Session enjoying a few ales, prolly Guinness or maybe a Harp, with an Irish fry in the morning, or a one of the house brews, say Dragon's Breath Ale which our Librarian, Iain Nicholas Mackenzie, is rather partial to, some form of the sacred drink is being consumed 'ere all hours of the day. (Please no letters from the British Association for the Promotion of Temperance as we've heard your lectures continuously since Queen Victoria was a young girl!) So we asked staff and frequent visitors to our Pub what they liked best for a summer ale as we can serve up anything from anywhen that the heart desires. Their answers are quite fascinating!
First up, Paul Brandon has a Proustian moment -- 'I hold up an empty ghost glass for the long-passed Kentish Fremlins Bitter, which was a wonderful fruity, hoppy explosion of happiness best sampled in an English beer garden at 10 pm in midsummer, when the sun is going down smoking and the bats are flitting after midges. Alas now just a memory. Wychwood's organic Circle Master Golden Ale is just wonderful (and I've sourced some here in Brisbane, though at a kidney a bottle my quaffing options are becoming limited), and of course there's Cider. Best bought from a rickety farmyard door somewhere in deepest, greenest Somerset. It comes in plastic containers that probably recently carried pink agricultural diesel, and upon first chug, one feels one's left eye start to involuntarily twitch. Ah...'
Almost as Proustian is the answer from Peter S. Beagle -- 'When I can get it -- and I only know one pub in Berkeley that stocks it -- I'll take Blackened Voodoo, which is really a dark ale (as is the Brazilian Xingu, which is even harder to find. Blackened Voodoo is a Dixie Beer product; I think Katrina almost put them out of business -- anyway, I couldn't find it for quite a while. Sierra Nevada's always a reliable bet, but BV's worth the extra searching...'
Peter later added that it reminded him of a Housman poem
I wish you strength, to bring you pride,
Which he noted 'Of course, it's actually a poem about fratricide - but, hey, that's Housman for you...'
Charles Vess, art book, Drawing Down the Moon, will finally be released in early December by Dark Horse, says he 'never developed any sort of taste for beers, but my drink of choice on hot summer these days is a Mojito made with top shelf rum and fresh as can be mint. Then sit back and smile.'
Phil Odgers of The Men They Couldn't Hang fame says 'I like to relax with a nice cool pint of cider in the summer - and the winter too come to think of it. Especially now as I've been told to lay of the wheat. Although I am also partial to a Fullers Organic Honey Dew from time to time. Which is a Light golden beer with a with a zesty edge and a bitter-sweet flavour, Honey Dew is a naturally palatable brew that is Soil Association approved. Fullers brewery is only down the road from me in London so that helps.'
Denise Dutton proclaims 'I don't care if it's Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring, Young's Double Chocolate Stout is always my favorite libation, no matter the occasion. If I can wrap my hands around a pint, I'm a happy woman. You want Summer? Try it with s'mores. Trust me.'
Tobias Buckell says 'I just recently had a Trappist Ale that has absolutely become my favorite ale, summer or not!' When pressed he said the actual ale was called Chimay.
Charles de Lint notes that he's 'not much of a beer drinker, but when I do it's either a bottle of Negra Modello, or Kilkenny if it's on draft.'
Kathleen Bartholomew waxes nostalgic -- 'Nova Albion of blessed memory -- a bright copper, richly hopped ale with an aftertaste of roses. But in the world of beers I can actually get my hands on ... maybe Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, full of fresh new Zealand hops. Or Lagunitas Censored Ale. Or even the venerable Bass Ale -- served room temperature, of course. With straw floating on the top. I like hops...'
Chris Fowler says simply that it's 'Theakston's Old Peculiar, naturally!' Why this is so will require you to read Full Dark House, the first novel of his excellent Bryant & May mystery series to see why!
Lou Anders states that it 'used to be the Cherry Lager from Sam Adams. That's not really an ale though, is it?' He says it's raspberry frambuas now.
Catherynne Valente from her new digs on Peaks Island in the city of Portland, Maine, ponders a minute before answering -- 'Mmmm. I'd have to say Sea Dog Blueberry Ale. Especially since moving to Maine, it's nice and fruity without losing the sense of being beer.'
Will Shetterly, puzzled, asks 'Is there a bad summer ale? If so, I've never had it. I wish I could name a favorite, but if it isn't made by a major American company, I'll probably be very happy with it.'
A fruity ale hits the spot for Elizabeth Bear -- 'Wachusett Blueberry Ale! Mmmm. Also, Dogfish Head Burton Baton oak-aged IPA.'
For Ellen Kushner, Allagash White will do just fine.
Neal Asher notes 'Well, since I spend summers on Crete now, it has to be Mythos/'
Jennifer Stevenson prefers the lovely named Honker's Ale by Goose Island Brewery.
Christopher Golden says, alas, that 'I'm not much of a drinker, actually. A Corona with lime is enough to get me through a summer afternoon.'
The same dark beer year round will do for Ellen Datlow -- 'The only beer I like is Baltika #6, the dark porter, a Russian beer I get at KGB Bar all year round.'
Tim Pratt says this year he's liking Skinny Dip Ale, a Belgian style libation.
Simon R. Green who has neither an official website nor a blog to our knowledge says his 'favourite summer libation is fresh orange juice and perrier water, half and half, straight from the fridge.'
Neil Gaiman says he 'drinks tea, proper English with milk and honey, and water.'
Sarah Monette says 'Sangria. (I don't like beer.) The combination of fruit, wine, and ice is too good to pass up. Also, the color is festive!'
Josepha Sherman likes a New England favourite ale -- 'I like Sam Adams, thanky. (Psst: 'It comes in PINTS?')' She alter added that she also enjoys Cranberry juice on ice or iced coffee.
For Emma Bull, the same thing all year is quite fine -- 'I drink winter ales in the summer, too, because mmmm, winter ale! Summit Winter Ale, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, is delicious, with plenty of toasted malt flavor and a lovely slightly sweet finish. Good all year 'round!'
Another winter ale aficionado is found in Lahri Kirwan of Black 47 fame -- 'Hi: It's basically the same as my Winter one -- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. But if that's not available I like Harpoon and will try whatever microbrew IPA that's available.'
Fellow Irish musician Nick Burbridge says simply 'Harvey's Sussex Bitter!'
Tim Hoke is of a German inclination -- 'In the summer, I'm partial to hefeweizen. There are some German-American events that take place not far from my house, throughout the summer, and I get a good hefeweizen there. Sorry, I don't know the name. There's a picture of a monk on the label. As summer closes, I'll go for Oktoberfest brews. Warsteiner has a nice one.' Tim later remembered that it was called Franziskaner.
A pale ale will do for Kage Baker -- 'I suppose my favorite all-round dependable ale for summer would be Lagunitas India Pale Ale.'
Richard Dansky has a definite favourite -- 'I must confess, it's the Carolina Summer Wheat -- from a wonderful local brewer whose product largely doesn't make it out of the Carolinas. They do a fantastic (and beer-tastic) brewery tour as well.'
Some prefer alternative libations.
For Holly Black, it's a 'Dark & Stormy - dark rum, really spicy ginger beer and plenty of limes. Yum!'
From David Kidney, we get this cool riff -- 'Ever since I first saw it on the shelf at the local liquor store...it's been Innis & Gunn for me. Aged in oak, with a delightful sweet hint of vanilla, toffee and orange, when served ice cold it is a special elixir! Mmmm. A Scottish brew, but one which was very difficult to find on my recent trip...not available in Glasgow, Isle of Skye, Inverness...but there it was at The Wee Windae on the Royal Mile! The perfect accompaniment with my duck and avocado on panini!'
Robert Tilendis muses 'Y'know, if it had started off as'libations' rather than ale,' I would have had no hesitation about jumping in. But as a confirmed consumer of the hard stuff (and not much of a beer drinker, I'm afraid), I do feel some constraints. However...
'Due to the recent and ongoing unpleasantness in Jamaica, I no longer drink Cuba Libres with dark Jamaican rum. (And I really miss that rich rum flavor. Quite enjoyable on the rocks with a squeeze of lime, too.) Margaritas are a nice substitute (that's with salt, thank you very much, and a nice golden tequila). If it's really, really hot, I can handle a Bombay Dry and tonic.
'And when the weather cools down, which it will soon enough, I'll go back to my nice smoky Lowland blends -- but they have to be at least twelve years old.'
Deborah Brannon knows what she likes -- 'It's all Irish whiskey all the time for me, honestly! Irish coffee, especially, tends to be my drink of choice -- there's just something glorious about quality coffee, heavy cream, and a generous bit of sweet, golden Irish sunshine. Er, not to wax poetic or anything.'
Sharyn November says iced coffee with one sugar, very light. (I don't drink.)'
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 findthisaway and over 'ere.
We did 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; not to mention ones on Catherynne M. Valente, Patricia McKillip, and Elizabeth Bear.
Lastly, we have put together a Recommended Series Reading List covering many genres from fantasy to mystery and (of course) sf for your reading pleasure. You can find that list thisaway.
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 Green Man Review, 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 some kick ass metheglin while listening to The Flash Girls, he'll try to answer your question!
Green Man Review News is an e-mail list for readers of Green Man Review. Each edition, we'll send you a brief précis of the week's What's New. This is an announcement-only list. To subscribe, send an e-mail from the address where you want to receive the précis, to this address, or go here to subscribe. Green Man Review also posts its updates on Livejournal.
Entire Contents Copyright 1993 - 2009, Green Man Review, a publication of Toad Hall Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Shelley Eshka is the artist of the War For The Oaks cover art shown on this page.
A metafictional postscript -- all
actual living beings referred to in the Green Man
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
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This edition revised 08 August 2009
posted 8th August, 2009 10:12 pm pst LLS
archived 6th September, 2009 LLS