Early afternoon, Sunday, 31 January
Kage is gone.
From Kathleen in an email that she said can be shared
Early morning, Wednesday, 27 January
Just in from Kathleen Bartholomew, Kage Baker's sister and care giver:
All of us here at Green Man Review are saddened by her pending passage and our prayers are with both of the sisters.
That lovely piece being played by is Penguin Cafe Orchestra's 'Music for a Found Harmonium' off their Concert Program recording -- proof of how great a modern English composer and his work can be! Along with a cup of freshly brewed tea, lapsang souchong to be precise, with a splash of cream but no sugar, there's no better way for two good friends to watch a bleak midwinter storm that writer and illustrator Christina Rossetti would have appreciated.
(If you're feeling peckish, there's a not so traditional pub style poughman's lunch of a mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, sliced apples, pickled onion, chutney and yet more pickles, cold sausage, smoked Scottish salmon, even pork pies, and the usual crusty rolls on the sideboard.)
We were just discussing Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films and discussing possible alternatives to his proposed film of The Hobbit. I'd rather see it told as in the manner of the Storyteller series, with John Hurt who played one of the narrators in that series playing an older Bilbo (with appropriate make-up and costume of course) telling the stories to the wide-eyed young Frodo by the fire at Bag End on a bleak midwinter night... How does this sound to you?
Speaking of storytellers, I should note that we have two special editions coming up in the near future -- first up is Our Winter Queen edition with the honouree this year being Elizabeth Hand. Now we could have, as we've noted before, honoured the freshly turned New Year by feeding the Summer King a bowl of oatmeal and plying him with metheglin before we cut his throat and buried him ever so deep in the peat bog here on the Green Man estate, where archaeologists centuries from now would find him and write really truly boring dissertations about him and who sacrificed him, but instead we offer you, our dear readers, an edition devoted to our newest Winter Queen. Now don't you feel better about what we decided to do? Now if we get the radical Druids on staff to stop grumbling about sacrifices not done. . . .
Our second special edition's an in-depth at a series described for us by April Gutierrez this way -- 'Bill Willingham's Fables series for Vertigo Comics. The Fables, as they call themselves, have long since been driven from their lands by an entity they call only The Adversary. The human-looking Fables settled in New York City, in a neighborhood they call Fabletown. Those who are less than human (think the Three Little Pigs, Shere Kahn, and Oz's winged monkeys) live in bucolic upstate New York. Good King Cole is mayor of Fabletown, but the real power is in his deputy, Snow White. Long divorced from Prince Charming and estranged from her younger sister Rose Red, Snow White is quite far removed from her former passive self. Helping her maintain order is the Big Bad Wolf, better known now as Bigby Wolf, gumshoe detective.' Cool eh? Come back in early March for that edition!
Before we get to our reviews this edition, the story of a most unusual tea party. No, not the one that Grace Slick tells of in 'White Rabbit' which definitely is odd in and of its many selves, but another tale which tells us something about The Librarian at Green Man that I'm not altogether sure we needed to know...
It couldn't have been any more atmospheric, for on that deep winter afternoon a dirty leaden light filtered feebly through the high narrow windows of the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room. Outside one could hear the 'Winter wind as it broke loose and raged about like a recently-escaped jinn woken from a centuries-long dream of vengeance, tearing down curtains of cold rain while all the leafless trees bent low as if they were nothing more than trembling supplicants before a mad and merciless lord.
Within the dark-paneled walls of the Reading Room, we humans felt impervious to the temper of the maddened elemental as we stood or sat about, according to the inclination of each, holding hot cups of tea and still-warm scones (it need not be said that these were not the unholy blasphemies which certain shops in the cities would seek to fiendishly foist upon an ignorant populace which, seeking the comfort and consolation of real and right baked goods, is doomed to disappointment).
As it has already been mentioned, each person sat or stood according to inclination, some talking between themselves while others wandered idly amongst the shelves to peruse the seemingly infinite number of rare and arcane volumes, and one or two sat in the old leather wingback chairs before the crackling fire, silently turning pages and occasionally taking sips from old china teacups.
Iain Mackenzie and a couple of tweedy professorial types stood talking in front of one of the Reading Room's locked cabinets (which feature some of the older and more fragile volumes), discussing arcane books, rare manuscripts, and the various obsessions of their fellow bibliophiles. They kept their murmured conversation low, but at one point one might have overheard the lady scholar say something about their old schooldays at Miskatonic University in Arkham.
Upon the old Victorian loveseat tucked away into a corner only dimly illuminated by the fire sat an older gentleman in an old-fashioned suit, the style of which may have dated it to the first decade of the previous century.
The gentleman appeared to be disinclined to speak to anyone, but did allow the library cat--which walks not in the spaces we know, but between them--to sit upon his lap. It purred as he idly petted it, staring absently into the flames of the fire.
Suddenly, the cat rose up, hissing, and flung itself at a particularly dense shadow between two tall bookcases which appeared to be amongst the most ancient in the library.
As if startled, the old gentleman bumped one hand against a bowl of sugar where it stood next to his hand, spilling a drift of sugar upon the small table next to him. His fingers moved quickly, as if sketching some strange device into the sand of sugar.
There came from the shadowy corner where the cat silently stalked the sound of something which scuttled as if with rat's claws but with more than the usual number of legs, a slither of sound, a wisp of scent, suggestive of something which had never walked upon this world in the bright blessing of daylight.
Then it was gone and, half-smiling to himself as if in satisfaction, the strange gentleman in the old-fashioned suit sat back and took a sip of tea.
Donna Bird raves about the DVD release of the first season of a little show called Sons of Anarchy. She exclaims 'The only other complaint I have about Sons of Anarchy is that it was so damn' good I had a hard time getting engaged in any other series after we watched Episode Thirteen. Oh, I guess that's not a complaint! That's a compliment!'
Our featured book review this issue covers the latest installment in an on-going series by an author we definitely fancy here at GMR, Steven Brust (be on the lookout for a special Brust edition coming this spring!). Robert Tilendis claims he's 'noted before how Steven Brust manages to keep an ongoing series alive by the simple expedient of presenting the protagonist with new challenges in each volume.' Read Robert's Excellence in Writing Award winning to review to see how Brust's latest, Iorich, follows suit.
Chris Tuthill attended the Metropolitan Operato see Il Trittico perform Pucciniâs trio of one-act operas. He says taht they finished 'a run of performances at the Metropolitan Opera. The production was fantastic, filled with beautiful music and great spectacle.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award review for all the juicy details.
Fancy a little highly danceable Franco-Canadian music anyone? If so, Gary Whitehouse has a recording for you to consider in our featured music review -- 'Those prolific fellows in Le Vent du Nord are back again with another album, following on the heels of last year's live set Mesdames et messieurs! On La Part de Feu they incorporate a few ideas from other avenues of world music, particularly Celtic and American roots, that they've picked up on tour. But mostly, they continue to do what they've always done, perform traditional French Canadian music with an ear toward modern sounds.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review thisaway!
Donna also read two Nigel McCrery novels, Still Water and Tooth and Claw. Do these books with their 'gruesome murders' automatically qualify as the murder mysteries they were billed as by the publisher? Donna's answer to that is, 'Well, sort of. If left to my own devices, I would rather characterize them as suspense thrillers.' Her review explains, though she does remind us that 'As we often say around the Green Man offices, your mileage may vary.'
Is it possible the latest release set in Orson Scott Card's Ender universe, Ender in Exile, is 'a gap-plugger of less consequence than others in the series, and not strictly necessary'? J.J.S. Boyce gives us some answers in an Excellence In Writing Award-winning, in-depth review.
Faith J. Cormier sums up some salient plot -- and life? -- information in her review of Douglas Clegg's Isis -- A Tale of the Supernatural. She writes, 'Trust me on this one, any attempts to bring back the dead are going to end badly for someone.' She also has some lovely words for Glenn Chadbourne's illustrations.
It's important that Faith opens her review of Nevin Martell's Looking for Calvin and Hobbes -- The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip with, 'Before starting this review I want to set some parameters. I have never been a Calvin and Hobbes fangirl. I've never lived anywhere that the paper carried the strip, so I have only very rarely seen them. I'm so out of touch that I didn't even realize that Calvin and Hobbes' adventures had ended n 1985. After reading Looking for Calvin and Hobbes I now want to start saving up for The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.' What won her over? Read the review!
Come discover why dark fiction author and Master Reviewer Richard Dansky says Ray Bradbury's A Pleasure to Burn -- Fahrenheit 451 Stories 'is best summed up as literary living history, and as a pile of paradoxes.'
Mr. Dansky also got to read Deborah Grabien's While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the 'story of rock guitar god (and accidental sleuth) JP Kinkaid.' More detailed analysis in his review.
As for Ben Horton's Monster Republic -- The Divinity Project, Richard says it has 'a refreshing absence of cuteness.' Sound good? Read on.
And is John Shirley's Black Glass really the 'lost cyberpunk novel' it purports to be? Despite its 'cyberpunk signifiers -- dystopic future with a zaibatsu twist, AIs run amuck, and all that sort of thing,' Richard's not so sure.
And Cat Eldridge is on familiar ground with his review of Volume Three of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny -- This Mortal Mountain. Very familiar ground. He writes, 'First, go read my review of the first volume in this series, Threshold -- Volume One of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, before continuing any further into this review. While you're reading that review, I'll pop down to our Pub and have a pint of winter ale...'
Who wouldn't want to read Michael Jones' review of Mark Henry's Battle of the Network Zombies? 'In a perfect world,' Michael tells us, 'Amanda Feral, Seattle's favorite zombie fashionista, socialite, and trouble magnet, wouldn't have to worry about a thing.' So why worry at all? Read on.
On the other hand, Michael says, 'If you live in Boston and have demon problems, there's only one person to call -- Victory Vaughn.' Read his review of Nancy Holzner's Deadtown for more detail.
Does Jill Myles Gentlemen Prefer Succubi stack up to similarly-themed paranormal romances? You'll have to read Michael's review to find out!
Robert also took a look at Hand's Glimmering. His review forays into territory encompassing some fascinating scholarly -- yet personal -- analysis of creator control, transcendent fiction, and the 'contract between creator and audience.' Read the review to discover why Robert says, 'This book is very likely a treat for that semi-mythical creature known as the 'casual reader'. . . .'
Next, Robert reviews a collection of stories based on Will Eisner's character the Spirit which he was less than enthralled with. Read his review to see why Robert feels Will Eisner, The Spirit -- The New Adventures falls flat despite its vaunted list of contributors.
For his last review, Robert checked out the first installment in the collected works of Poul Anderson, Elizabeth Vail looks at a Catherynne M. Valente novella, Under in the Mere. She sets the stage with, 'the author who crafted the gorgeous and multi-layered Orphan's Tales books ... turns her considerable literary talent toward the fertile ground of Arthurian myth.' We've a lot to say about the talented Ms. Valente around Green Man Review. If you're a fan, don't forget to check out our special edition devoted to her works.
Ms. Vail also read for us Jeff VanderMeer's Finch, which she describes as, 'a fantastical crime noir set in a magical city ruled by evil mushrooms.' How could you not want to read this Excellence in Writing Award-winning review?'
Elizabeth Vail opens her review of Liz Williams' The Iron Khan with, 'There's something comforting about a consistently good series, about an author who continually produces intelligent, creative and entertaining stories again and again.' But does she think this one hit its mark?
Gary Whitehouse says, 'Steven Amsterdam takes a literary and mostly successful approach to the genre with his debut work, a collection of linked stories whose title, Things We Didn't See Coming, is itself a wry commentary on dystopian tales.' Mostly successful sounds mostly good, and we love a debut author! Tell us more, Gary.
Camille Alexa brings us our first film review this edition, with a look at a six-part British mini-series. She says 'I'm talking superhero live-action teen dark comedy drama, British-style. I'm talking unexplained meteorological phenomena causing a massive ice/lightning storm, granting superpowers and supernatural abilities to those caught in its path. I'm talking murder, sex, drugs & booze, and a truly inspired soundtrack and opening credit artwork.' She's talking about Misfits.
Donna Bird is prolific this week, with offerings in all of our categories! She brings us three film reviews. First up is a look at For the Next 7 Generations -- 13 Indigenous Grandmothers Weaving a World That Works. She explains that 'For the Next 7 Generations tells the story of who the grandmothers are (in brief), how they came together (more or less), and what they did (at least the highlights) at their first few Council gatherings.' Find out what she thought in her review.
Finally, Next Donna looks at Acorn Media's release of the twentieth anniversary edition of the British series Traffik. 'Although it's fiction,' Donna says 'much of Traffik feels like a documentary on the heroin trade. It's morally challenging, reminding the viewer that there are both opportunists and innocent victims all along the path of this international drug distribution network.'
Everyone is talking about James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar. Joseph Thompson agrees that the effects are excellent, but he says that the story is lacking -- 'Ultimately, Avatar is an expected story. And an expected story is a lazy story. After watching Avatar a second time, active viewers will see through the glare of bioluminescence and want something more.'
Chris Tuthill finishes out our film reviews with a look at a Jane Campion film about John Keats. Chris says that 'The movie . . . does an admirable job of helping the audience to see Keats as what he was -- an ambitious, immensely talented, but fragile and very young man.' Find out what else he liked about Bright Star in his review.
Camille Alexa has a recording she's sure you'll like -- 'Indy label Greyday Records, out of Portland, Oregon, is to thank for Portland artist and songstress Grey Anne's delightful little collection of musical flights and bittersweet fancies, facts n figurines.'
Donna Bird says that she has 'always loved Tim Buckley's work, and in fact was just a few weeks ago indulging myself by listening to his incomparable studio album, Goodbye and Hello. Naturally, I raised my hand at the Green Man staff meeting when this unexpected gem came up for review!' Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review for how this live recording fared.
Read Scott Gianelli's review of The Dreamer to see why he says this -- 'Although largely unknown to mainstream music audiences, Eric Bogle is a legendary figure in Celtic folk circles. The 65-year-old Scottish native who immigrated to Australia has amassed a large assortment of memorable songs over his long career. Some are funny, but his most famous songs are sharply poignant.'
He moves on to a very nice Nordic recording -- 'The genre of New Nordic Folk music went through a wildly creative period in the nineties, with recordings by groups like Värttinä, Hedningarna, and Väsen ranking among the essential albums in any genre for the decade. While the musical traditions of the Scandinavia remained rich and vibrant in the decade just past, there have been very few really great albums in the genre since Värttinä's Ilmatar and Gjallarhorn's Sjofn came out in 2000. Happily, the recently reunited group Boot have added their names to the short list of elite Nordic bands with the release of their new album Soot.'
Väsen's Väsen Street and Mikael Marin and Mia Gustafsson's Mot Hagsätra are two more tasty Nordic music recordings according to Scott -- 'Over the past fifteen years, no band has epitomized new Swedish folk music more than Väsen. A superior live act with an unsurpassed sense of instrumental interplay, Olav Johansson (nyckelharpa), Mikael Marin (viola), and Roger Tallroth (guitar) have built up enough of a following internationally that the organizers of the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival have started lobbying the town of Bloomington, Indiana to name a street after them. Whether their efforts come to fruition or not, Väsen Street can be enjoyed by anybody for the price of a typical CD. Mikael Marin has been busy on another front as well. Recently, he married Mia Gustafsson. Naturally they have taken to performing together as well, and their first album together is titled Mot Hagsätra, in reference to a Stockholm subway line.' Scott picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
David Kidney leads his review off with a look at an artist who just passed on -- 'Skitter on Take-Off is the latest album by Vic Chesnutt, this one produced by minimalist rockers Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkin. Richman and Larkin have presented the essential Vic Chesnutt, just the man and his guitar. In the promo sheet that accompanied the album Richman says, 'My drummer Tommy Larkin and I were driving in the van across the United States as we do two or three times a year on our tours of clubs and I said, 'Y'know, we should produce Vic's next record!' And he said he thought so too... just Vic, no arrangements, no guest guitar solo guys, no 'ironic' touches or anything else to cloud his voice or his poetry.' And that's what you get here!' Read his Excellence in Writing Award review thisaway!
David says that he 'can't believe how time flies. These two sets from Collectors' Choice have been in my hands for months...and when I looked at the release dates I was shocked to see 2008! The only thing that assuages my guilt is that it took twenty-three years for them to release Detroit '85 and Too Hot For Snakes is a compilation of albums originally released in 1993, '94, '97, and 2002!' Read his review of Carla Olson & Mick Taylor's Too Hot For Snakes... plus and Carla Olson & the Textones' Detroit '85 Live & Unreleased for all the nostalgic details!
He finished out his reviews with a look at the most recentrecording from an well-respected artist -- 'The bio of Jason Yates says 'If the name Jason Yates isn't instantly recognizable, the sound of his Hammond B3 is surely familiar -- Jason has played in touring bands for Macy Gray and Natalie Merchant. His keys have graced sessions with a diverse collection of artists from Taj Mahal to Mazzy Star, G. Love, Michael Franti, and Toots & the Maytals, to name but a few. For the past five years, Jason was a member of Ben Harper's band the Innocent Criminals, a stint that included a Grammy-winning collaboration with the Blind Boys of Alabama on the 2004 disc There Will Be A Light.' Whew, that's quite a resume! And from the first strike of the piano keys on 'My Way Out' Yates grabs your attention.'
Peter Massey has a number of Celtic recordings he looked at this time with the first being a classic recording, Old Hag You Have Killed Me, which just got re-released -- 'The Bothy Band's second release was hailed by many as a ground breaking album. Irish music was to move forward in a different direction. It is hard to believe it was 33 years ago when listening to this album, as it sounds just as crisp as anything that might have been recorded today.'
(Digression time. Charles de Lint has a very nice riff on Hag titled tunes in his tale, 'The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep' which is collected in his Dreams Underfoot collection -- She looks like the wizened old crone in that painting Jilly did for Geordie when he got onto this kick of learning fiddle tunes with the word 'hag' in the title -- 'The Hag in the Kiln', 'Old Hag You Have Killed Me', 'The Hag With the Money' and god knows how many more.)
Next from Peter is an album that 'will appeal more to the traditional folkie' -- Islands on the Moon by Mark Dunlop. Dunlop is better known as an original member of Malinky, and this is his first solo album. Read Peter's review to see if he's as good solo as with Malinky.
Gael Day is up next for him -- 'The Elders are based in Lenexa, Kansas, U.S.A. and are 'arse kickin' music from the heartland,' to use their description. In fact, they are an Irish Celtic folk rock band with a strong punk-like sound. With a six strong line up, they are full on and very commercial. They put me in mind of the Oysterband, as the Elders might be just as at home playing Glastonbury or any folk festival. The album grabs your attention and sets your foot tapping from the minute you put it on.'
Peter also brings us a review of the debut album of the Australian Celtic band Sunas, A Breath Away from Shadow. Is there anything unique about this band? 'They are proud of their Australian background,' Peter reports, 'by the inclusion of a didgeridoo in the backing.' Does it work? Go to Peter's review to find out!
Robert M. Tilendis says that 'Rolf Lislevand, in his essay accompanying Diminuito, says that this collection is about the Italian renaissance, 'how it understood itself, how we understand it today, and how we would have understood it if we had been contemporary with it.' That's rather a tall order.' Read his review to see if the recording lived up to this tall order!
Something rather different is next up for Robert -- 'There's a place where it all overlaps. Maybe it does more than overlap -- it blends. I suspect that holds true of any human art form, at least conceptually. It's easier to find examples in music, in my experience, which leads me to the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble's The Moment's Energy.' Intrigued? Read his review for a detailed explanation!
He finished off his review with a bit of German medieval music from a band called Wûtas. He says their name 'is an Alemannic word denoting the Wild Hunt. (Alemannic is either a group of discrete languages or a group of dialects, depending on which school of linguistics is your favorite, spoken mainly in southern Germany, Austria, parts of Switzerland and France, and a few other places of less interest here.) It is also the name of a group formed in 2008 with the avowed intention of performing medieval music, which seems to be a going concern in the German-speaking world. However, Wûtas (the group) also evidenced a love of folk music and a tendency to get a little experimental, as well as a fondness for themes from myth and legend. The result, as presented on their eponymous debut album, can perhaps best be described as medieval pagan folk rock.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review for all the details!
Book Reviews Editor
Culinary Reviews Editor
Film and DVD Reviews Editor
Performance Reviews Editor
Recorded Music Editor
Proofers and What's New writers
Words and music --
Kage Baker reading her The Empress of Mars novella
Peter Beagle reading his 'The Fifth Season'
An excerpt from Peter Beagle's forthcoming Here Be Dragons novel
A reading from Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn
Peter Beagle reading his 'Marty and the Messenger' story
Peter Beagle reading his 'Mr. McCaslin' story
Peter Beagle reading his 'None But A Harp er (Ibid.)'
Peter Beagle reading his 'The Rock in the Park' story
Peter Beagle reading his 'The Stickball Witch' story
An excerpt from Peter Beagle's forthcoming Summerlong novel
Black 47's 'Liverpool Fantasy' song
An excerpt from Paul Brandon's The Wild Reel novel
Tunes from Paul Brandon's old group, Rambling House
Tunes from Paul Brandon's new group, Sunas
Emma Bull and Will Shetterly's The War for The Oaks movie trailer
Nicholas Burbridge's 'Open House'
Cats Laughing's 'For It All' song
Charles de Lint performing his 'Sam's Song'
Gaelic Storm's 'Kiss Me' song
Christopher Golden's 'The Deal' story
The opening chapter of the first novel in Deborah Grabien's Haunted Ballad series, The Weaver and The Factory Maid
An excerpt from Deborah Grabien's Rock & Roll Never Forgets -- A JP Kinkaid Mystery
Mattie Lennon on Pat Murphy's Meadow
Cjuck Lipsig on 'Star of Munster' variations
McDermott's 2 Hours' 'Fox on the Run' song
Jennifer Stwvenson's 'Solstice' story
Tinker's Own performing 'The Tinker's Black Kettle' which is a jig by Charles de Lint which is found in his The Little Country novel
A Vasen tune for your enjoyment
Cathrynne Valente's 'The Surgeon's Wife' story
Cathrynne Valente reading a selection titled 'The Tea Maid and The Tailor' from her The Orphan's Tales novel
Robin Williamson's 'Five Deniels on Merlin's Grave'
Author, artist and editor interviews --
Still have questions? Email our Editor here. Provided he's not in the Green Man Pub savouring some kick ass metheglin while listening to Blodeuwedd tell her tale, he'll try to answer your question!
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Uploaded 23 January 2010 1o -- 00 pm PST