Eat, drink. and be merry.

Ecclesiastes VIII 15, King James Version

There's no host tonight as that would too formal for this decidedly casual affair and would interfere with whoever the host is having a good time drinking lots of Young's Double Chocolate Stout (which is the favourite of Paul Brandon who's over there playing with the Neverending Session along with Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris, his lovely wife) eating the really good nibblies piled deep on the sideboard, listening to the Neverending Session not play holiday tunes, and conversing with the other celebrants. Right now, they're playing de Lint's 'The Tinker's Black Kettle' jig as transcribed in The Little Country novel he wrote.

Indeed there's lots of other libations as well ranging from newly tapped casks of Smashing Pumpkins Stout and the house cider, Ryhope Wood, to a 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 single malt cured 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 they experienced in the last year. There are no rules 'tall as to what they could pick, so be ready for some surprises!

Also befitting the time of year, we asked them for what their favourite creature comforts were to push the dark just a bit back -- favourite foods, music that brings joy, and so forth. Both their 'best of' list and their winter comforts can be found this away in this article in our in house newsletter, Le Hérisson de Sommeil (The Sleeping Hedgehog).

Neat website alert. If you are like us, you enjoy getting multiple perspectives on a book that you are thinking of reading. So here's a site that helps you do that. SFFMeta, a website gathering reviews for science fiction, fantasy and horror books is now including our reviews. They assign a score based on the general impression of the review in order to be able to show an average score for every book. They also have yearly and all-time (mostly for books published since 2007 for now) high scores lists.

We have just a single featured review his edition and you'll see why by reading on...

It is a little after 1.15 PM, January 31, 2010. Kage Baker passed away just 12 hours ago and I [Matthew Winslow] found out about it less than a half hour ago. Even though the Green Man community knew it was coming, and Kathleen, her care giver, kept us up to date on how Kage was doing, I am still numb from the news. Although I never met her in person, Kage Baker became a part of my life. I remember quite clearly reading her first published story, 'Noble Mold', in the March 1997 issue of Asimov's. I was on lunch break, sitting on a park bench in Scottsdale, Arizona. The story was so different than the rest of that issue; I could tell there was something new and exciting starting here. I made a note to myself to keep track of this new author with the interesting name.

Then, shortly after, Kage's first novel, In the Garden of Iden came out and I picked up a copy. I read it aloud to my wife (a tradition we've had since we were first married), and we were both hooked. Every single short story and novel that Kage published after that, we would grab up and read, setting aside anything else we were reading. The characters of Joseph, Mendoza, and Lewis became like family members to us as we felt their anguish and joys. We would devour the latest and then wait impatiently for the next installment that could never come quickly enough.

Somewhere along the way, I wrote off to Kage, thanking her for such enjoyable stories. She graciously responded. We emailed back and forth for a short span. I noticed she had the wrong date for one of her stories listed on her Web site. She thanked me, and also sent me a signed dust jacket for her forthcoming book, The Graveyard Game. (Unfortunately, that dust jacket got ruined through mold or mildew or dampness a few years later, but I still have the memory of the graciousness Kage showed me.)

And so, here I am, fighting back the lump in my chest and the tears in my eyes, to write a review of what will most likely be the last Kage Baker book, Not Less Than Gods. (Matthew earns himself an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.)

Donna Bird reviews The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon, an historical fiction novel set against the background of the Crimean War. She finds it 'interesting and entertaining, particularly in terms of its detailed portrayal of the Crimean War and the opinions held by various groups of people in Britain about it.' She explains why this modern novel differs from the the one it would have been had the same story been written in the mid-Victorian era. 'The novel would have been deadly dull by today's standards...but The Rose of Sebastopol is contemporary, so of course there's a lot more than that going on.'

No More Dying is the next-to-last installment in David Robert's Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne murder mystery series. According to Donna Bird, it 'would have had a very satisfying story line as a straight political thriller sans any murders whatsoever.' Well, that, and her assessment that 'Lord Edward has enough sex drive to make a stallion proud.' Roberts apparently refrains from providing salacious details, so probe elsewhere if you are looking for a turn-on.

Sweet Sorrow is the most recent and final installment in that historical mystery series by David Roberts. Although she found some of the scenes 'quite engrossing', Donna thinks it's high time the series ended. 'Compared to the earlier books, I found this one to be lacking in the verve and charm that attracted me to the series in the first place.'

Donna says one of the strengths of Ben Fong-Torres' Grateful Dead Scrapbook is the careful documentation of materials. Presented in a beguiling scrapbook format, it spans the history of the band 'in a way that makes it easy for me to put the pieces together,' according to a friend of Ms. Bird's. Donna earns herself an Excellence in Writing Award with this review.

She ends off her book reviewing with The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin. The third in the mystery series featuring Investigator Yashim who lives in Istanbul during the first half of the nineteenth century, she says the book 'gives me hope that Goodwin and his publisher have figured out how to make these work.'

If 'tales of the Old West that have horrific or supernatural elements' excite you, then reviewer Craig Clarke asks, 'where do you find more?' The answer is Paul Green's Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns. Says Clarke, 'There are plenty of discoveries awaiting, and some old favorites to revisit.' Craig garners an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

'Here's a book with a perfect title,' proclaims reviewer Faith J. Cormier. Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D.James 'is exactly the sort of intelligent discussion of a literary genre, by an expert for a non-expert, that I enjoy. If you like detective fiction it is certainly worth reading.'

Richard Dansky says that Christopher Golden's zombie anthology The New Dead is 'a refreshing exemplar of what can be done with the concept of the zombie'.

He calls the new edition of Thomas Ligotti's Songs of a Dead Dreamer from Subterranean Press 'a definitive take on the collection.' He recommends that '...those looking for something other, literally and figuratively, will undoubtedly find this collection to be one of their most treasured reads.' This review earns Richard an Excellence in Writing Award.

Is Avilion able to live up to its siblings in the Ryhope Wood saga? Richard Dansky thinks so. It's 'accessible in a way that none of its predecessors ever managed.' He says, 'an affectionate gift of endings to characters who, in their own ways, have all earned peace.' Find out more in this review of the late Robert Holdstock's final entry in the Ryhope Wood cycle.

What I Wore To Save The World is Maryrose Wood's YA novel following Why I Let My Hair Grow Out and How I Found The Perfect Dress. This new story finds teenage heroine Morgan bidding farewell to her junior year. Reviewer Denise Dutton says, 'Wood's prose is light and easy, tugging readers forward by the hand with her gentle style'. Sounds worth checking out.

Next she reviews Volume Five of 'Buffy Season Eight -- Predators And Prey by Joss Whedon, et al. It 'seems a bit off its game. . . . This feels like a lead-up to a bigger, badder volume.' She tells you why in her thorough review.

Kestrell Rath says, 'It's refreshing to find a fantasy novel which opts to make its protagonists something other than nubile teenagers,' about Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder's Except the Queen, but wonders if, even so, the genre's clichés regarding physical beauty and personal worth might weaken the story.

The favorite living author of Kelley Sedinger is Guy Gavriel Kay. In discussing The Sarantine Mosaic and Lord of Emperors he asks, 'what good is an objective review, anyway?'  Kelley has the honour of reviewing his forthcoming novel, Under Heaven, and you can look for that review shortly!

'The sprawling, complex web of characters costs the movie intimacy,' but The Shooting Script -- Gosford Park by Julian Fellows doesn't suffer this fault. It 'highlights small, vital details the same way a good cigar brings out the fine nuances in a post-dinner brandy.' Reviewer Joseph Thompson recommends reading it to while away the rainy, wintry afternoon hours before the cocktail hour.

Dreamwish Beasts and Snarks, reviewed by Robert M. Tilendis, is a collection of stories which are a good start for those looking for an introduction to Mike Resnick's work. 'The overriding metaphor of this collection is 'on safari',' although 'the stories are about the hunt in a much wider sense.'

Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture is, according to Robert, a collection of easily digestible and highly informative essays and papers edited by Joseph Bristow. The book 'traces the elements of Wilde's rehabilitation and transformation from complete outcast to iconic figure.'

Robert found the temptation to compare The Saga of Solomon Kane and The Chronicles of Solomon Kane irresistible. 'They reflect, I think, part of a transition from the real pulp comics, action/adventures in black and white, to the more sophisticated treatments we are used to in more recent graphic literature.'

Terry Dowling is a name Leona Wisoker will be looking for in the future after reviewing his book Amberjack -- Tales of Fear and Wonder. It relies 'on subtleties and nuance, rather than guts and gore, to convey intense creepiness,' and has 'a fine understanding of psychology, description, and balance.

Donna Bird starts us off this issue with a review of Ej tu dejot, the latest offering from Igli, the 'energetic and imaginative Latvian folk-rock band' that Donna has reviewed before. Is this a good CD to start with if you're new to Igli? Not really. Read Donna's review to find out why not!

Next up is an Excellence in Writing Award-winning review by David Kidney of 'four songwriters from different backgrounds and with different styles all creating music that speaks to the soul, to the heart.' Read his review of For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen by Samuel James, House of Cards by James Keelaghan, Hymns and Hers by Oliver Schroer, and Jason Yates' eponymous album to see how such a diverse group of albums (some are first efforts, one is a final disc) can all manage to speak to David's heart and soul.

David also brings us a review of a live album by Québécois artist, Johnny Hallyday, Live at Montreux, 1988. David tells us that 'it is true in Canada that performers who sing en français do not have much success outside Quebec, and this holds true for Johnny Hallyday on a global scale.' David's review helps to bring Hallyday's music a little more attention that it deserves.

In his first review of many for us this issue, Peter Massey finds a track that 'is probably worth buying the album for'. What could get Peter so excited? Well, we'll tell you that the album is Past and Present by Roger Watson, but for the rest, you'll have to read his review.

Even after such an exciting first album, Peter continues on with a review of Let the Circle Be Wide by legendary singer-songwriter Tommy Sands with Moya and Fionan. He tells us that 'All of the songs on this album, except 'A Stor Mo Chrol' (Brian O'Higgins) are written by Tommy Sands. Most touch on the plea for peace in Ireland, and are written around the peace process with views taken by the ordinary people, and/or Irish craic.' For more, though, you'll have to read his review.

The next album Peter looks at for us is Looking Both Ways by George Papavgeris, who is obviously Greek by birth, but now lives in Middlesex, England. George's motto is 'Singing the praises of ordinary people' and that's definitely what he does in this album. Peter's review tells us about these 'songs about inner thoughts, experiences, and emotions.' Do they sound good? You'll have to read the review to find out!

For his next review, Peter takes a look at The Waiting by Issy and David Emeney with Kate Riaz. The Emeneys are originally from Suffolk but have recently moved to Somerset. Peter finds influences from both locations in their music. Into this they've also infused 'obvious fun and enjoyment' to deliver an album whose strength, Peter tells us, should result in the Emeney's appearing on the guest list for many folk festivals. Read the rest of Peter's review to hear more about this up-and-coming group.

Peter then turns his attention (and ours) to a duo that has been around for a number of years, delivering consistently good Irish folk in a traditional manner. As its title suggests, A Song for Ireland by the Baileys is 'a superb album of favourite Irish songs.... It simply entertains from start to finish.' So traditional are they that 'it is almost like a step back in time listening to the arrangements and delivery of the songs; true Irish pub folk as it used to be played when I was a lad.' Is Peter excited about this album? Oh, but of course! But you'll have to read the rest of his review to see just how highly he can sing the praises of a band he likes.

Keeping in this mode of traditional music, Peter brings to our attention The Axford Five by the Askew Sisters and Craig, Moran, and Robson. The album is comprised of '15 traditional English songs collected by George Gardiner from five women singers who lived in or around Axford in Hampshire, England over 100 years ago (1904).' Peter's review takes us back to that time to give us a look at some music that might have been lost if it were not for one Sarah Goodyear. Sound interesting? Read Peter's review for more.

Peter finishes out our recorded music section this issue with one more (whew! He's been busy!) review of traditional music. He's reviewed English and Irish music. Where is Peter headed now? Why, to Scotland with Home and Beauty by Paul Anderson. 'Paul is from Tarland in the far north of Scotland on the edge of Cairngorms National Park. It is indeed an area of outstanding natural beauty, so for him 'Home and Beauty', and so it is only natural Paul has taken influence from living in this part of the world in his own compositions,' Peter writes. The first track made Peter think, 'Oh! another White heather album.' Is this all there is, or did Peter find something more? Read his review to find out!

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Editorial Staff

Editor

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Lisa Spangenberg

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April Gutierrez

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Joseph Thompson

Film and DVD Reviews Editor

Maria Nutick

Performance Reviews Editor

Chris Tuthill

Recorded Music Editor

David Kidney

Editors-at-Large

Faith Cormier

Denise Dutton

Robert Tilendis

Continuity Writers

Camille Alexa

Kate Bartholomew

Faith Cormier

Zina Lee

Jack Merry

Joseph Thompson

Robert Tilendis

Proofers and What's New Writers

Camille Alexa

Faith Cormier

Michael Jones

Iain Mackenzie

Robert Tilendis

Joseph Thompson

Matthew Winslow

Leona Wisoker

Author Editions

Kage Baker (1952 to 2010)

Peter S. Beagle

Elizabeth Bear

Charles de Lint

The Frouds

Neil Gaiman

Christopher Golden

Patricia McKillip

J.R.R. Tolkien ( 1892 to 1973)

Catherynne Valente

Other Editions

Bordertown series

Celtic Music

Folktales

Nordic Music

Ryhope Wood

Series Reading

Summer ales

Winter ales

YBFH anthologies

Words and Music

Kage Baker reading her The Empress of Mars novella

A reading from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn

Peter S. Beagle reading 'The Fifth Season', 'Marty and the Messenger', 'Mr. McCaslin', 'None But A Harper (Ibid.)', 'The Rock in the Park' and 'The Stickball Witch'

Excerpts from Peter S. Beagle's forthcoming novels, Here Be Dragons and Summerlong

Elizabeth Bear reads The Chains that You Refuse

Black 47's 'Liverpool Fantasy'

An excerpt from Paul Brandon's The Wild Reel novel

Tunes from Paul Brandon's old group, Rambling House and his 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'

Charles de Lint performing his 'Sam's Song'

Gaelic Storm's 'Kiss Me'

Christopher Golden's 'The Deal'

The opening chapter of The Weaver and The Factory Maid, the first novel in Deborah Grabien's Haunted Ballad series.

An excerpt from Deborah Grabien's Rock & Roll Never Forgets -- A JP Kinkaid Mystery

'The Oak King March' (featuring Will Harmon and Zina Lee on fiddles and Pete Strickler on bouzouki), composed in honour of Peter S. Beagle

'The Winter Queen Reel' (played by Roger Landres), composed in honour of Jane Yolen

Chuck Lipsig on 'Star of Munster' variations

McDermott's 2 Hours' 'Fox on the Run'

Jennifer Stevenson's 'Solstice', plus a reading of 'Solstice' by Stevenson herself.

An excerpt from James Stoddard's 'The High House'

Tinker's Own performing 'The Tinker's Black Kettle', a jig by Charles de Lint from The Little Country

A Vasen tune for your enjoyment

Cathrynne Valente's 'The Surgeon's Wife'

Cathrynne Valente reading a selection titled 'The Tea Maid and The Tailor' from The Orphan's Tales

Robin Williamson's 'Five Denials on Merlin's Grave'

Author, Artist and Editor Interviews

Kage Baker

Peter S. Beagle

Steven Brust

Emma Bull and Emma Bull & Will Shetterly on the War for the Oaks screenplay

Tom Canty

Glen Cook

Ellen Datlow and Gavin Grant of YBFH

Charles de Lint in 1998 and 2006

Gardner Dozois

Brian, Wendy and Toby Froud

Neil Gaiman in 2004 and 2005

William Gibson

Christopher Golden

James Hetley

Michael Kaluta

Patricia McKillip

James Stoddard

Catherynne Valente

Gordon Van Gelder

Charles Vess

Terri Windling

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Archived vernal equinox March 20, 2010 7:07 pm PT LLS