She is our moon. Our tidal pull. She is the rich deep beneath the sea, the buried treasure, the expression in the owl’s eye, the perfume in the wild rose. She is what the water says when it moves. ― Patricia A. McKillip’s Solstice Wood
We’ve hosted many a storyteller here down the centuries, some well-known and remembered centuries later, some such as the one who told the tale of a darker, vicious Robin Hood where the very name of that storyteller is best lost for the good of all concerned over as they say even his grave was intentionally unmarked…
Hmmm… I think the Infinite Jukebox, our digital server of music, video, audio and digital publications, has audio of Charles de Lint telling a tale in the form of a song something he’s very good at… Ahhh here it is — ‘Sam’s Song’. And while you listen to that, I’ll stitch together this edition…
That Charles looks at Charles Vess’ Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess. Now as his detailed review’s as much about the friendship that grew between them, I’ll let you read this charming tale of friendship and art without further ado. Oh and the book itself is simply stunning — truly an art gallery in a book form!
Richard has a look at, well, let him describe it: ‘Not So Much, Said The Cat is a largely themeless short story collection from Michael five time Hugo winner Swanwick. Apart from the byline, there’s little to unify these tales, which leap from the end of the Cretaceous to the deserted highways of post-apocalyptic Russia to the mean streets of Hell itself. Sometimes the stories themselves jump boundaries, as in “Goblin Lake”, which starts out as a Munchausen-style tall tale of old Europe and takes a sharp left turn into metafiction, or “The Dala Horse”, which starts as a fairy tale, veers into postapocalytpic grimness, takes a sudden left into cyberwarfare and sentient AIs, and then closes the circle with a fairy tale ending.’
An (un)novel set in a future Tel Aviv caught the interest of Richard as well: ‘Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is barely a novel, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead, it’s a loosely connected series of stories featuring a rotating cast of characters, and the gently ramshackle DIY nature of the narrative structure matches up perfectly with the DIY, maker-centric vision of the world that Central Station presents.’
Robert brings us a look at a book that’s a little out of the ordinary for this site — and “look” is the key word: a photo sequence by American photographer Robert Adams, Summer Nights: ‘The American West has been a potently mythic icon in the American imagination ever since we figured out it was there. As it moved out of the Ohio River Valley and across the Mississippi and the Great Plains, artists no less than explorers brought back visions of a country filled with vast spaces and cold grandeur, endless plains and soaring mountains in which natural wonders abounded.’ As Robert makes clear, this is not that.
Cat’s look at Kage Baker’s Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen is as much about Kage as it is about the films and the culture of making them which she adored so much. As he says in his review, ‘Most of you most likely know Kage Baker as the writer of The Company series where immortal cyborgs gleaned treasures for their masters down the long years, but but did you know that she had a deep, loving interest in the early years of Hollywood and the film industry in general?’
Robert has a look at a comics series that got turned into a movie: ‘Tite Kubo’s Bleach, an action-packed supernatural adventure, has been a phenomenally successful manga series (approaching 40 volumes in English) and manga, anime TV series (275 episodes). (The irony here is that when Kubo first offered it to a publisher, it was rejected.) Three feature films have been developed from the series. Memories of Nobody is the first.’ All you anime fans, get ready for a treat.
Reece’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups doesn’t sound like the sort of roots and branches of our shared global culture that we’d bother to comment upon but our resident Summer Queen explains why we are doing so: ‘I have a confession to make. Yes, I have a problem. And that problem’s name is Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. I’m the person at Hallowe’en who looks at the bowl of candy designated for trick or treaters and asks, plaintively, “Could we hold the Reese’s in reserve? Or at least hide them on the bottom of the bowl?” and who will blatantly pilfer from the bowl throughout the evening. And if there’s any left over? Bliss!’
Robert has a comics series that — well, let him explain: ‘Planetary is a comics series that ran from 1999 through 2009, with gaps. Created by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday, it’s what I can only call an archaeological thriller. Planetary is an organization that investigates “incidents” that don’t seem to have ready explanations. There is a field team composed of three members. The story opens as Jakita Wagner is recruiting Elijah Snow to become the new Third Man. The other member of the team is the Drummer — as he says, “First name ‘The,’ second name ‘Drummer.’”
And it just so happens that Robert got his hands on another of Ellis’ comics, Ignition City: ‘I promised myself, when I read Warren Ellis’ Planetary, that I was going to become more familiar with his work. Well, up popped the first volume of the collected Ignition City, and it’s just as good.’ Is that serendipity, or what?
An album from Hoven Droven, Swedish trad folk rockers, wins the approval of April, our resident Summer Queen: ‘Groove is a compilation of sixteen tracks from the band’s two previous albums, 1994’s Hia Hia and 1996’s Grov. The last two, previously unreleased tracks were recorded live in 1997. Despite the band’s overall hard edge, perhaps the finest songs on the CD are two slower, more stately paced pieces, the lilting “Kjellingen” and the hypnotic, Eastern-tinged “Skogspolska (Forest Polska).” Other notable tunes are “Sltenbjenn (Slope Bear),” “Okynnesvals (Waltz of Mischief)” and “Skvadern (The Skvader).”‘
Gary says ‘It was a night of sublime “desert noir” for the fans of Calexico at Portland’s Aladdin Theater. The seven members of this road-tested Tucson, Arizona-based combo seemed relaxed but energized as they performed nearly 20 songs old and new in a one-hour and 45-minute show.’
Richard starts off his review of Smoke and Strong Whisky this way: ‘Everyone knows Christy Moore, a central figure in the Irish folk revival of the 1960s and indirectly a significant contributor to the English folk revival that paralleled it. We know of his work with Moving Hearts and we are familiar with his earlier role in the highly influential Planxty, in both of which his path crossed with those of several other leading traditionally-inclined Irish musicians. The cross-fertilization of the Planxty years produced a series of solo and collective ventures by Moore that have built on and developed Irish folk and folk-derived music down to the present day.’ Now read his review to see why this is not the Christy Moore you’d expect to be performing!
Robert has some thoughts on Corvus Corax, a group that takes the idea of “traditional” in a whole new direction: ‘The German pop scene has got to be the one to watch. I’ve run across albums from Nubian drummers and medieval electro-pop duos who are big in the Berlin club scene, and now I’m listening to Corvus Corax, a group of street minstrels originally from East Germany who do a heady mix of medieval and contemporary world-beat/rock music.’
Vonnie says that ‘You know that you are amid a dedicated folk audience when the audience applauds mid-tune as a musician sets down his whistle and picks up a set of bagpipes. Then again, this same audience was also in awe of a horned fiddle and enthusiastic about the hurdy-gurdy. As you might infer, La Musgaña has a distinctive sound — and not just because of the instruments they play. Their music is also distinctive and beautiful.’
So here’s an interesting What Not for you. When Christopher Golden was Oak King here some years back, he gave us ‘The Art of The Deal,’ a short story that I’ll not detail at all as it’s best to read without being told about it, so go here to read it. And do not post it elsewhere as we’ve got exclusive digital rights for it.
Gary here with an antidote to the bunting and flag-waving, but not the fireworks, that will accompany the U.S.A.’s Independence Day holiday coming up on July 4. American roots singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Alvin’s downcast love song “Fourth Of July” was premiered by the L.A. punk band X during his brief stint as guitarist there, and Alvin featured it on his solo debut Romeo’s Escape. But the version that truly captures the song’s essence is this version on his superb acoustic album King of California.