Come in! Put your wet cloak, gloves, and boots over by the roaring fire so they can dry out properly. Yes. it's winter; yes, it's colder than a witch's tit; yes, the wind is howling like a seriously pissed-off banshee; and yes, only mad Englishmen should be out on a night like this one but you're 'ere and we're having a party!
I'm not your host tonight as that would too formal a role for this decidedly casual an affair and that would interfere with me drinking lots of tasty Bleak Midwinter Ale and nibbling on the dark chocolate truffles infused with Alexander Keith's Stag's Head Stout while listening to y'all gossip 'bout all sorts of things, but I can most likely answer any questions that you might have. Or not if I don't want to. We Jacks are a contrary lot!
Indeed there's lots of libations ranging from newly tapped casks of Full Moon Pumpkin Ale and the house cider, Ryhope Wood, to a rapidly being depleted case of the ever-so-rare Midnight Wine, and nibblies from crusty bread with a garlic-heavy baba ganoush or with Rauchkäse, a German smoked cheese, to lots of good Beluga caviar that pairs well with one of the better Russian vodkas, say Zyr. Right now, do try the thirty year-old single malt cured Scottish Republic salmon -- quite tasty!
Yes, it's true that we're celebrating another year of Green Man by having our editorial staff and honoured guests, many of who were reviewed by us, pick their personal choices for the very best books, chocolate, films, live performances, and recorded music in the last year. There are no rules 'tall as to what they could pick, so be ready for some surprises!
You can find the links to their choices below, but first do read our story concerning how the Best Of comes to be every year, and just how one rather unique Green Man staffer helps out...
Yipes! It's that time again, and they'll all be after me soon so they can make their picks for 'The Best of 2008.' I've got to get over to the Archives, quick, before they start pounding on my door.
Well, we -- that is, Green Man Review -- published somewhere over a thousand reviews this past year, they told me, and the staff can't possibly remember them all. Even the stuff that stood out at the time can get buried in the memory, so it all starts with doing some research. Mmm? Well, our reviewers all have different methods of deciding what counts as a 'best of,' but they all have to start with knowing what actually got published, right? That's where I come in. They asked me to pull everything together so they can look it over to make their choices, and that means digging around in the Archives for a bit.
Oh, Miss Liath won't mind -- she's given me permission. She says my intuition is very orderly, which I don't quite understand, but it seems to make sense to her, so that's all good. So I'm allowed in the Archives on my own.
Nuts -- we're going to have to use the East Tower stairs. Well, let's get started. We'll just have to avoid that third-floor landing. Miss Liath taught me a trick for getting past it to where I actually want to go, but I'm not sure I remember it right.
Me? Oh, I don't actually have a name yet, but I'm promised one this year. And the Annies are teaching me to read and write -- Mr. Mackenzie gave permission -- so I can start writing my own reviews soon, and I'll get a name and maybe even an office of my own. Maybe I can be an editor someday -- I know code already. (Don't tell, but I've actually started doing some music reviews -- just for practice. Mr. Robert helps me, when he's actually here. Umm -- have you met him? Well, sometimes he's here but he's not, really, you see? But I can usually tell. Anyway, he says you can't just look at the surface -- it's really kind of funny, watching him storm around his reading room yelling about subtleties. he gets excited, but he's normally a quiet person. And he's very kind, in a vague sort of way.) Everyone just calls me Pix, for the time being.
Well, I used to live in the computer network, but when I started helping Miss Liath, somehow I got downloaded. So now I have my own cubby by the kitchen, and a place to keep my things -- isn't this a nice T-shirt? Mr. Cat gave it to me. He's not really all that scary after all, even though he's the Chief. Mrs. Ware lets me take meals with the kitchen staff. They're all very kind to me, except Paidrag, the pot-boy -- he's rough and not always pleasant, so I avoid him.
Well, here we are, and we missed the third-floor landing. If you'd like, you can sit over here and read while I start rummaging. Well -- I don't know about that. It's an illustrated edition of The Epic of Gilgamesh, but the clay tablets are very delicate. I think it's actually supposed to be in the Library -- we really shouldn't mess with it, or we'll get in trouble. Here's a copy of Xi-You-Ji -- that's a wonderful story, very exciting -- it's got demons and everything. Hmm -- that should probably be in the Library, too. Miss April read it to me once, in a Japanese version. Oh, you don't read Mandarin? Well, there must be something here...
Andrew Wheeler in an attempt to emulate the list Old Nick keeps leads off with the most detailed list that I've ever seen in the many, many years we've been doing this affair. But before reading his highly entertaining Best Of commentary thisaway, I recommend you have one of our barkeeps prepare you an Irish coffee as you may be here long into the evening and I wouldn't want you to get thirsty! Hell, I'll have one too...
April Gutierrez, Green Man Book Editor, notes that 'The older I get, the harder it is to remember back a year and recall everything I've read during that time. Thankfully, there are the GMR archives to fill in the gaps for me!' Read her choices for best of 2008 thisaway!
Camille Alexa, crack continuity writer and What's New wrangler, titles her essay 'Camille Alexa's Mildly Anarchistic Review of Favorites of 2008' and notes correctly that 'All year long, we reviewers stand dutifully still as thousands of worthy offerings shoot past our heads like a white-hot neverending meteor shower of books and CDs, of live performances and dead ones, of chocolate bars and puppet shows and action figures and films.' So how did she choose her Best of 2008? Go 'ere to find out!
Green Man Editor and Publisher Cat Eldridge says 'Best chocolate treat? Without doubt, that would be the dark chocolate bread pudding baked by Sara, the bakery manager, at Standard Baking Company in Portland, Maine. Best served warm with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream!' Oh, and he has a recommended reading list too!
Charles De Lint, an Oak King who's a poet and a writer and a musician and even an artist (!), says that 'My favourite thing about 2008 was our dog, Johnny Cash. We got him from the Humane Society at the tail end of 2007, so 2008's the first full year we got to spend with him and he can be a busy boy.' Read more about Johnny Cash, not to mention their cat who sleeps a lot, and his book and music choices thisaway.
Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May mysteries of which the latest is The Victoria Vanishes which our Editor is listening to now as an audiobook, had a decidedly more obscure choice among his best films and whatnots.
Elizabeth Hand says the 'only music I totally fell in love with and played excessively was Fleet Foxes' eponymous album. Beautiful'. Oh, and she has a great chocolate story as well! Her Best of '08 is thisway.
Founding editor of the now ended Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology and proud mother-to-be of the first annual Best Horror of the Year anthology, Ellen Datlow says her choices include 'Swedish vampire movie, really knocked me out. ' Read her cool choices for the Best of 2008 thisaway!
Assistant GMR Music Editor Gary Whitehouse 'didn't find it to be an exceptional year for recordings' but adds that 'the best sci-fi I've read in years was Neal Stephenson's Anathem.' See why this and a fav artist live were his Best of 2008.
I see that 'nother Winter Queen, Josepha Sherman is a Hellboy fan as well as she picked Hellboy II -- The Golden Army as her favourite film of the year, and has a book or two written by herself that she recommends as well.
Kage Baker, author of the ongoing Company series, says '2008 was, for me, a hectic and scary year, and so its highlights shone all the more brightly in their dark setting.' Her detailed recommendations can be read thisaway. Oh, and do check out her latest fantasy novel, The House of the Stag. Kathleen Bartholomew, one of our Continuity writers, Kage's sister and co-parent of Harry, the parrot who's really a space faring dinosaur who thinks he's a pirate, echoes her sister's note that '08 was not a great year personally, but found some cheer in all things cultural.
Editor of F'Stix, the Australian Fairport Convention zine, Michael Hunter ever so slightly whines 'Fraught with danger, this 'best of' malarkey. Mainly, the danger of omission -- not to mention the odd dichotomy of having heard so much music during the year it's hard to recall it all, versus the reality that there's so much more I would have liked if it had come my way. But working with what we have...'
A Summer Queen (OR Melling) has a confession -- 'To be honest 2008 was a blur. My daughter underwent the barbarous Irish initiation rite called the Leaving Certificate (state exams at the end of secondary school) and I was working on no less than three books and two film projects. But somewhere in there I managed to surface a few times and here's what I remember reading, viewing or listening to.'
It's interesting how writer-musician (and an Oak King to boot!) Paul Brandon describes his choices -- 'This has been an odd sort of year. For a Celtic musician to name an ambient album as his favourite release of the year, and a fantasy author to plum for a biography as his best book.'
Another writer-musician who's also an Oak King 'ere, Green Man favourite Peter Beagle, discovered the joys of mysteries set in the sprawling Ottoman Empire and a rather dazzling guitarist he'd never heard of. Intrigued? If so, go 'ere for the details.
Dark fantasy writer Richard Dansky has a book choice that is, in his words, both heartbreaking and enlightening. And his film choice is one you can sink your teeth into. Lastly, find out what he wrote Firefly Rain to. All the details are thisaway.
Green Man Editor-at-Large Robert Tilendis says '2008 was, in books and music at GMR at any rate, a very good year, whatever you may think about it otherwise. It wasn't easy coming up with these selections, and I probably have too many, but that's just the way it is sometimes. This year really needs a trip through the Archives.' His trip is recorded along this path.
The Dark Knight also made the best of picks by Tim Pratt, author of one of my favourite novels, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl. Tim also chose Bill Willingham's Fables -- The Good Prince, one volume in that long-running series. Read the rest of his lovingly detailed choices 'ere.
Finally Tobias Buckell, an author of a superb Caribbean tinged space opera series, picked another space opera, Walter Jon Williams' novel Implied Spaces, as his best book choice. Read all of his recommendations 'ere.
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.
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!
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Entire Contents Copyright 1993–2009, Green Man Review, a publication of East of the Sun and West of the Moon Publishing except where specifically noted such as this one which has the cover art for Charles de Lint's Tapping the Dreamtree which was done by Charles Vess and is copyrighted by him and used with his permission. All Rights Reserved.
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uploaded on 30th January, INM
archived 18 April, 2009 LLS