Who wouldn't want to visit Bordertown? It's like Oz, except a lot grungier, much more dangerous, and with much better music. -- From Michael Jones' review of The Bordertown series
For my summer reading pleasure, I've decided to do a re-reading of all of the Bordertown short stories, novels, and travel guide material in the order that they were published. Now understand that it'll a costly undertaking if you decide now to collect all of them as the first three anthologies, Borderland, Bordertown, and particularly Life On The Border, are increasingly difficult to
find at a reasonable cost.
Of course, the Green Man Library has copies of them though even those are more than a bit tattered due to being read over and over again by staff and visitors here alike, so I'm reading my personal copies and no, you can't borrow them!
If you don't have the time or inclination to read the whole series, you still should read Emma Bull's Finder novel as it really is a great fantasy novel that sums up the series nicely in all its richness, and even the hardcover edition is still quite affordable. For anthologies, the last one, The Essential Bordertown, serves as an excellent introduction for anyone new to this series and is also quite reasonably priced. Together, they will give you a good look at the series.
Finder has some very nice bits such as this one -- 'I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border's little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.)' And The Essential Bordertown has, along with a number of superb short stories, a rough guide style look for newcomers to B-Town that's highly amusing with articles such as 'What to Eat -- A Tasteful Guide to Border Cuisine' and 'Culture Clash #1 -- A Human Guide to Elvin Etiquette'.
Yes, there will be a new Bordertown anthology, tentatively titled Welcome To Bordertown, as Ellen Kushner (who will be co-editing it with Holly Black) announces here!
Speaking of live music, you don't have to go to WOMAD on The Border in the Fare-You-Well Park for great music as Gary Whitehouse notes in his look at the upcoming Pickathon festival -- 'I confess -- I don't have much time to listen to and review many CDs this time of year. And by 'this time of year,' I mean, of course, Pre-Pickathon Season. I've been spending a major chunk of my free time checking out Pickathon 2009's generous Web site, watching videos to familiarize myself with the acts so I can plot my attendance strategy when the detailed schedule comes out.'
Peter Massey has a look at the Wirral Folk on the Coast Festival that just happened -- 'The festival is held on a 9 acre site at the 'OC Club' at Bromborough on the Wirral, about 8 miles from Chester on the Liverpool/Birkenhead road, (A41).The festival benefits from having a dedicated concert theatre right on the site along with all the usual amenities such as toilets, bar and good food,(which isn't too expensive!) At the risk of sounding smug, I reviewed this festival last year and I predicted at that time, that the festival would be a success with great things ahead. Was I ever right! I think everyone who attended this year has to agree. 'It was brilliant'. The organisers tell me the attendance was up by over fifty per cent.'
Of course, we have lots of fresh reviews for you... And if there isn't enough this edition to keep you in redaing material, our forthcoming edition is solely devoted to Kage Baker and her amazing work!
And the conclusion to last week's rather nifty story as well, about a being who is not exactly what he appears to be...
I was looking down the hallway when he appeared at my shoulder, silent as smoke.
'Ah, the little mite -- he's fast asleep, holding onto his yarn for dear life. The room's telling him Genji Monogatari -- in the original court language, it sounds like -- and I 'd guess it was too much. Hmm? Oh, yes -- learned it some while back.' He smiled again, as though at some private joke. 'But that story is hard to follow, even for me. I'm not sure I approve of it for Pix, but Robin says he needs to learn about such things sometime, and he's a straightforward sort of boy -- he'll ask about things he doesn't understand. I'd just rather he ask Robin.' His face was a little flushed. 'Robin can explain -- um, those sorts of things -- much better.'
'Hmm. Anyway, look at the patterns in the paneling here. That thing about the root makes some sense, doesn't it? Because of the Tree, you see -- it's the First Tree, the Tree of Knowledge. What's that? Tcha, that's all much later, and more than half made up. I mean, look you -- the Tree's an ash -- not much in the way of edible fruit, like. Oh, they're real -- they're still out there in one of the gardens, wandering around without a stitch on and eating figs, perfectly content. Naming things -- well, he does, but I would have thought he'd have run out of things to name by now -- it's been some time. I suspect he's naming them more than once -- his memory's not too strong, I think. He seems a bit simple, when you talk to him. Oh, what the hell -- they're happy.
'Anyway, this Tree knows everything. It's a very helpful Tree, or it can be -- Pix uses it for his lessons. But Pix seems to be able to get through to it better than most. There are rumors, I'm told, about this Library, and I hate to tell you how many eager scholars I've seen turn sad and dejected when the Library just won't cooperate. The Tree will answer any question you want to ask, but the thing about trees, though, is you have to get their attention, and it's not always that easy. And this is a very old tree, and a bit careless of ephemera -- that's what they call us, 'ephemera.' Maybe that's why they gave up on having it keep track of the books.
'Well, they have all sorts of ways to do that now, but none of them seem to work very well. Maybe if the apprentices could remember which alphabet they're using'... There was talk at one point about putting in one of those electronic things, with the little guns with red lights in them, and bar codes on the books. I remember the Annies were very much for it, and inked bar codes on their arms -- sort of like wearing a campaign button. (Funny things, bar codes -- I don't understand how they actually mean anything, you know?) I seem to recall there was some controversy about it. You might ask Iain about it next time you see him in the Pub.' The eyes were all bland innocence, but his grin made me a little uneasy. 'I know he always has a lot of ideas about that -- he's like to go on, though.'
'Ah! Talk of going on, listen to me. I'd best go fetch the boy and be on my way. Robin's making a special lunch for us in the Wood, just because, he says -- and that's the best reason, don't you think?'
He ducked into the side room and came out with the boy held close, still fast asleep -- a tiny little sprite, cradled in massive arms, dark hair all tangled curls, ball of yarn clutched tight to his chest. The big man held him gently as he looked across at me, a twinkle just barely sparking his eyes. And then, with a slight bow and a cheery 'sayonara!' he made his way down the hall.
Our first featured book review this edition is of a well-liked novel around the Green Man offices -- that work being Emma Bull's Bone Dance which is now out in a new Orbit trade edition after nearly twenty years being out of print. (You can see the stunning new cover art here.) Maria Nutick said in her review of this stunning novel that 'There are not many authors capable of causing me to sink into groveling sycophancy. Foremost among this privileged minority is Emma Bull, and the book most likely to leave me raving and grinning like an idiot is Bone Dance.' Need we say more? I think not.
We are actually featuring two book reviews as Andrew Wheeler's Grinch Award winning look at The Witchblade Compendium, Volume One is not to be missed! Which is not to say, as Andrew Wheeler notes, is not true of this endeavour -- 'Some stories are merely bad -- dull, uninspired, or simply misformed. Others are bad in entertaining ways -- bad movies, outsider art, and demented pulp fiction. Some stories are so horrible that it's physically painful to read them, such as the work of Rob Liefeld. And then there's Witchblade.' It is now your solemn duty to read his in-depth Grinch Award winning review thisaway to see just why you should really, really avoid this work.
Camille Alexa exclaims that' If the thought of an all-pirate anthology makes you sit up and go, 'yay!,' you'd better check out Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and available from Night Shade Books.' Still not convinced? Well, go read her review and you will be!
J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec are the editors of Gaslight Grimoire -- Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes which Kage Baker says 'All in all, Gaslight Grimoire is well worth picking up if you enjoy lighting the fire, curling up in your armchair with a glass of sherry at your elbow in the gloom of a winter afternoon, and having a good Victorian-era read.' Read her detailed review thisaway!
Donna Bird says 'I have discovered more than a few interesting works of non-fiction by reading about them in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Blindspot is the first work of fiction I have discovered in this particular venue. And why on earth would a weekly trade newspaper for academics even feature a review of a work of fiction? Because it's historical fiction written by two academics.' Read here to see this work by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore was well worth her time to read it!
In her review of The Sick Stuff, Denise Dutton says, 'It seems that Ronald Kelly is back, and with a vengeance. If you like his 'Southern-Fried Horror,' that's all well and good. There's plenty of Southern creepiness here to go around, don't worry. But this time he's jumped the terror and horror queue and goes straight for the gross-out.' Sound good? Read on.
Cat Eldridge is into multitasking -- 'Damn, I have now finished listening to all nine novels in the Nightside series -- a feat that took most of the last six months, as I treated them like radio series by listening to them while I was doing my morning walk'... I envy those of you starting the series from the beginning as you have a lot of truly great listening ahead of you.' Check here to see how Nightingale's Lament fits the big picture.
Another endeavour by this writer, the Secret Histories series, is also out in audio format and Cat delved into that series after finishing the Nightside audiobooks -- 'Shaman Bond is not John Taylor of the Nightside series and the narrator here is not Marc Vietor, but rather is the more than capable Stuart Blinder, who has his own distinctive style. If you enjoyed the Nightside series, you will find much to enjoy in this series of audioworks. The first two works, The Man with The Golden Torc and Daemons are Forever, are now available from Audible with the third work, The Spy Who Haunted Me, most likely out in the Fall of this year.' Read his detailed review thisaway.
Cat also did something we don't normally do as we don't usually review single stories here. So why review the Nightside story, 'Razor Eddie's Big Night Out' now instead of waiting until it's been collected in an anthology?' You really want to know? Check here.
After reading Simon R. Green's 'Some of These Cons Go Way Back,' Cat admits that protagonist Harry might be flawed. 'Ok, he's sleazy -- anyone dealing Martian Red Weed has to be. And not to be trusted. But what happened to Harry in that back room that's got him scared?' Read the review to see what makes Cat say, 'the eventual hardcover collection of all the Nightside tales is on my wish list!'
Mean Streets from Recorded Books is a quartet of urban fantasy works so it was of interest to Cat -- 'Ok, I'll confess -- I initially decided to listen to this collection because it has yet another Simon R. Green Nightside story, 'The Difference a Day Makes', in which PI John Taylor assists a woman who wanders into at the corrupt heart of London. I did indeed listen to that tale first, but I also listened to and enjoyed the other tales even though I found the novels of two of the other writers unappealing when I tried reading then. (No, I won't say which authors, since it really doesn't matter as you are not me.) Certainly they are well-crafted stories and with a running time collectively of nearly ten hours, enough to entertain you for quite some time. ' The verdict? For the most part, he liked it.
Michael Jones starts off with what sounds like a wonderful beginning to a new series -- 'I've read enough vampire books that it takes a certain something special to catch my fancy these days, but Nightwalker definitely succeeds. Jocelynn Drake is off to a great start, and I'll be looking forward to future books in the series, to see just what's up next for Mira, Danaus and the others.' Check out his review to see what grabbed him.
Michael was also pleased with the second entry in Caitlin Kittredge's Nocturne City series -- 'After Night Life, I was interested in the Nocturne City series. After Pure Blood, I'm hooked. It's urban fantasy meets Lethal Weapon (or insert your choice of action/mystery cop movie here) and a whole lot of fun.' Get the skinny here.
'Moody, atmospheric, and raw' is what Michael calls the new offering from Caitlin Kittredge. In his review, he claims that 'Street Magic convincingly evokes a hard-edged, punk-spirited London, where trouble lurks around every corner and magic demands a price.' Cooool.
A. J. Menden's Phenomenal Girl 5 presented Michael with a problem -- treading the line between romance and action-adventure -- 'As a romance, it's a compelling, enjoyable story, featuring strong characters and some rather nice chemistry between the leads. Watching them connect initially, grow into a relationship, and then be forced to rebuild it from scratch makes for an interesting storyline'... However, as a superhero story, it suffers from some awkward pacing and a fundamental imbalance.' See Michael's take on the resolution here.
Michael also took a look at a new one from Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge. He says, 'Black and White is a stunning superhero story built on a science fiction framework.' If that sounds as good to you as it does to us, go here and read the whole Excellence in Writing Award-winning review.
'It's not easy being a succubus in love,' observes Michael. 'In Succubus Heat, we get to see our heroine at her most vulnerable, emotionally, physically, and supernaturally, but it doesn't slow her down for long.' The review details more fully what he thought of this most recent in author Richelle Mead's series, and whether or not he's looking forward to the next one.
Michael also looked at the beginning of a new dark fantasy series from Lilith Saintcrow -- 'Night Shift is the start of a new series, a high-octane, action-packed thriller that takes a supercharged heroine through the bloodsoaked streets and shadowy nightclubs of a city crawling with supernatural nastiness.' Sounds interesting, but check out Michael's reaction here.
A cool title and, according to Kestrell Rath, a cool book as well -- 'Apocalyptic Shakespeare is a collection of academic essays which examine apocalyptic images and themes within recent film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays. Despite the fact that most of the essays are written in a dry prose style densely crowded with academic language, it's a fascinating topic which illuminates the often overlooked -- and frequently edited -- dark thread running through all of Shakespeare's works, even his romantic sonnets and fantastic comedies.'
Of Peter Straub's new book out with Subterranean Press, Kestrell says, 'The Skylark is a stunning story which captures both the heartbreaking innocence of being a teenager and the heartache of realizing one is middle-aged and has failed to attain the dreams, large and small, which seem to come so easily when one is young and innocent.' Read on for more in her Excellence in Writing Award-winning review.
Jane Frank's Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century is, according to Robert M. Tilendis, 'The problems of producing a book such as this are manifold, and it's to Frank's credit that she has pulled together as coherent a resource as she has. What has been done has been done very well. In spite of the omissions I noted above, there is a wealth of information on just about anyone who was active in the field of science fiction and fantasy illustration in the twentieth century.' Read his insightful review
Next up by Robert is a look at a work by Alex Irvine -- The Supernatural Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls is which according to our reviewer is 'an entertaining read, even if you haven't seen the TV show, Irvine has provided a good resource for those interested in supernatural beings and wrapped up a lot of information in an engaging narrative.'
Robert goes on to look Lady of the Lamp : 'Caiseal Mór is an Australian artist, composer, and writer. He has been fascinated by the Holy Grail since his childhood.' IS it good? Oh, yes -- 'For fans of heroic fantasy, here's one with a unique flavor to it, rife with prophetic dreams, unpredictable spirits, plain-spoken heroes and some who may be heroes or villains, all set in a milieu that offers a slightly different take on the world we know.' Sounds like a cool read!
Robert says that 'Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole, from Top Shelf, is another one of those young adult works that gives me pause -- the subject is schizophrenia, and it's not prettied up at all. Presented as graphic literature, it has more impact, I think, than a straight narrative would have had.' Now go read his review of why this bug obsessed character was 'challenging'.
A fellow first namer gets high praise from Robert -- 'Robert Venditti's The Surrogates, drawn by Brett Weldele, is right up among the top graphic works I've run across recently. Set in a near-future megalopolis, it's a fast-moving crime drama with a couple of unique twists.' (Make sure you also read his review of Flesh and Bone is a prequel to this series , taking the story back fifteen years to the anti-surrogate riots of 2039.) Robert earns himself an Excellence in Writing Award for this two-fer.
Lucky Chris Tuthill got to read Ursula K. LeGuin's latest! Her says, 'Her newest novel, Lavinia, is a historical fantasy that is in some ways even more ambitious than her previous work.' His Excellence in Writing Award-winning review explains how Virgil's Aeneid lives on.
Cheap knock-offs are not something that excite Elizabeth Vail -- at least, not in a good way. 'Does anyone remember walking into dollar stores and seeing the knockoff toys? You know, all the 'Spider-Mans' and 'Battman' and 'Wunder Woman' toys in garishly wrong green, orange, or magenta costumes. The toys made by cheap distributors who thought neon paint and an extra consonant would keep the copyright lawyers at bay.' So what did she think of Anthony Johnston and Wilson Tortosa's Wolverine Volume 1? Do you really want to know?
Elizabeth was somewhat ambivalent about a new offering by S. M. Peters -- 'With his previous novel, Whitechapel Gods, Peters demonstrated himself to be a master of the weird, the grotesque, and the inexplicable (although, perhaps at points, he was too good at being inexplicable), and while he maintains his darkly fantastic style in his second stand alone novel, Ghost Ocean, his sense of plotting and story structure (already tenuous) leave a little something to be desired.' So how did it all work out? See for yourself.
Read this next review to see why Elizabeth, though she 'picked up this book with a certain amount of enthusiasm,' was left with the feeling that 'The Best of Michael Moorcock is most definitely not a good introduction for new readers.'
Leona Wisoker has found the prospect of a blissful future, thanks to R. A. MacAvoy's In Between -- 'Once again, Green Man Review and Subterranean Press have led me to the perfect situation -- a 'new' author (at least, a name I hadn't heard of before) with several books already out; thus, an excuse to visit that used bookstore down the street . . . and the pleasant prospect of curling up with coffee and a good book for many nights to come.' See her detailed and insightful -- and Excellence in Writing Award-winning -- review.
Leona also came up with mixed reactions to a pair of story collections, with a cautionary note -- 'These two thin volumes bear out the old saying -- 'Don't judge a book by its cover.' And, I would add, 'don't judge a writer by past work.' Hmm -- sounds kind of intriguing, to me.
This week we have a look at three very diverse film offerings...one fantasy, one mystery/crime series, and one cooking/travelogue. It's never boring here in our own private viewing room!
First up, Kage Baker and Kathleen Bartholomew jointly review a series about two intrepid and adventuresome cooks. They say 'They were perfect role models. They were unashamedly fat, unapologetically old, defiantly erudite, determinedly eccentric, and they roared around the UK on an antique motorcycle with sidecar without giving a damn whether anyone approved of them.' They are, of course, speaking of the Two Fat Ladies, and they have a wonderful review of Acorn Media's release of The Two Fat Ladies: The Complete 4 Series Collection.
Denise Dutton takes a look at another British offering which she liked quite a lot. 'Maurice and Syd are The Invisibles, a pair of thieves who were infamous for their ability to break into any place, any time. The pair were so successful that they retired years ago to the coast of Spain so they could live the good -- and quiet -- life. But as time passes they yearn for Old Blighty and move back to a small fishing village in Devon. Circumstances (typically Syd's goof-ups or familial obligations) soon find them back to work, but they learn that thieving just ain't what it used to be.' Read more in her enthusiastic review of The Invisibles.
Scott Gianelli reviews a fascinating offering this week. It's a Tolkien film, but it's not by Peter Jackson. Scott explains: 'Cyberspace has become a haven for amateur filmmakers of all degrees of skill. YouTube, for example, contains all sorts of homemade movies. Most of these are short and simple, and not the kind of things you would ever subject to a serious critical analysis. Sometimes, though, you come across people with the talent to pull off something more ambitious. Such is the case with The Hunt for Gollum, a not-for-profit production set in Tolkien's Middle Earth just before the main part of the action in The Lord of the Rings.' Interested yet? Go find out why Scott was happy with The Hunt for Gollum!
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. Needless to say, we're very proud of the great edition on Charles de Lint we did.
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
Oh, our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology.
We also decided to have our reviewers pick the single best music recording that they reviewed for us. We think you'll find their choices rather interesting!
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 a properly poured pint of Guinness while listening to Roger Zelazny tell a tale, 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 Le hérisson de sommeil (The Sleeping Hedgehog) Publishing except where specifically noted such as the Life on The Border artwork which is by Sam Rakeland. All Rights Reserved -- any use by you will result in Odin's ravens, Huginn and Muninn, pecking your eyes out. Really. Truly.
A metafictional postscript -- all actual living beings referred to in the Green Man metanarrative has 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 metanarritve do not necessarily reflect the views of Green Man Review or that of Le hérisson de sommeil (The Sleeping Hedgehog) 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.