The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. — George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones
October some years here on a Scottish Estate sharing the Border with the Fey are rather quite pleasant feeling more like Summer than Autumn despite the lateness of the year, but late October really is more often than not is truly the beginning of the cold season for us. And this year is decidedly one of those years. Ingrid and I have had the fire going in our fourth floor quarters in Kinrowan Hall both for warmth and for the cheeriness it provides. Not to mention that our feline companions are very fond of laying right in front of it for long periods instead of prowling the Hall.
I’ve been looking through the Archives of The Sleeping Hedgehog, our informal newsletter for staff and friends of the Estate, when I noticed we’d asked some writers about what their favourite Tolkien work was, not a surprise give his fiction’s a perennial favourite here. For Jane Yolen, it’s The Hobbit: ‘While it’s true that The Lord of the Rings is his masterwork and The Hobbit his first attempt at writing (and that, some say witheringly, for children) I have to admit I adore The Hobbit. It has adventure, wonderful characters, fine pacing and spacing, some really scary bits (my daughter ran screaming from the room when the trolls grabbed the ponies, and she refused to hear the rest of it.) And if I could ever write a chapter as good as the Riddles in the Dark chapter I would never have to write again.’
Ok I’m off to the Kitchen as I’m feeling a bit peckish and I’ve heard they’ve made pumpkin and cheddar cheese tarts that are being kept warm along with hot spiced cider, a favoured autumnal drink on this Estate. So here’s this Edition for your reading pleasure…
J.L. offers up a review of a audiobook from an author not known for work being presented in that format: ‘Ray Bradbury used to write tales in the Twilight-Zone-meets-sci-fi vein, but with the publication of One More For the Road it appears that he has ballasted the scientific and kept the fantastic. In place of space-age dystopia we have present-day disillusionment, usually delivered with a “Tales of the Unexplained” twist. These eighteen short stories are performed by actor Campbell Scott, whose film credits include The Spanish Prisoner, Longtime Companion, and Dying Young.’
Richard offers us a novel that I think makes for fine reading on a chilly Autumn afternoon: ‘Seven Wild Sisters, a collaboration between Charles de Lint and Charles Vess, holds no surprises, and that’s a very good thing. The companion-cum-sequel to their earlier collaboration The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, the book delivers exactly what it promises: Gorgeous illustration and an encounter with the otherworld that’s ultimately more about wonder than it is about peril.’
Robert’s been going through the Library shelves again and has some up with another old favorite, and one that fits the season: ‘Summon the Keeper is quite possibly the first of Tanya Huff’s books that I read – she’s another one of those writers who has a long history in my library. This one is a contemporary urban fantasy that is hilariously funny, original, and captivating.’
Denise says that ‘When Charmed first aired, it was dismissed by many as a poor-wiccan’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer knock-off. Which, considering Buffy was only in its first season, wasn’t intended to be kind. But viewers took to the three Halliwell sisters, and even embraced such story-altering changes as the death of a sister and the discovery of a new one. In the eight seasons Charmed was on the air, love came and went, children entered the picture, and powers were lost and regained too many times to count. But in the end, good always triumphed over evil.’
Robert looks at the Justice League Dark film: ‘Once I got started on the Justice League Dark comic, I had to go back and check out the 2017 animated film. If anyone is expecting a film version of the new comic series, guess again: the film was released before the new series was even announced, and while there are similarities, they are very different sorts of critters.’
Sweets of a Halloween nature are up this time as Denise has been gorging herself with such candy on our behalf, so let’s see what she’s got for us. Other than possible indigestion. And a sugar high of truly epic status.
Cheetos’ Bag of Bones is a suitably spooky entry into the holiday snack aisle. And Denise seems pleased: ‘When you queue up a spooky movie this season, grab some of these to really get into the spirit.’ Read her review for more details.
And what better way to wash things down this spooky season with a Harry Potter themed drink? Flying Cauldron’s Butterscotch Beer is just the thing, Denise says. ‘A nice quaff when you’re feeling Potterish. And this time of year, especially with #HarryPotter20, who isn’t?’
Denise says that ‘If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer like I am, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Volume One: The Long Way Home is something you’ve been looking forward to for a few years now. If you’re only generally aware of this series –or only know the title from the so-so practically unrelated movie that preceded it — this collection of the first five comic books that takes Buffy’s story past the ending of the TV series is a good place to get into the mix. Also called “Buffy Season Eight” (and officially subtitled “Joss Whedon’s Season Eight” starting with comic book #6), it’s intended to be the offical follow-up to the series. The first collection of this Dark Horse collection serves as evidence that Joss still has it in spades.’
Robert has a review of of the new Justice League Dark series — or at least, the first two issues: ‘First, a disclaimer: I almost never read single-issue comics, for reasons that will become clear. Secondly, I haven’t been following DC’s Justice League Dark, a series first introduced in 2011. In fact, I have to confess to not being a big fan of the DC Universe as a whole. That said, I was persuaded to take a look at the new series, written by James Tynion IV.’
Barb exclaims that ‘If there are superstars to be named on the Swedish music scene, I would like this opportunity to nominate Lena Willemark (vocal, fiddle, viola, whistle, drone whistle), Per Gudmundson (fiddle, viola, bagpipes, vocal), and Ale Möller (octave mandola, overtone flute, cow’s horn, drone whistle, folk harp, shawm, harmonica, vocal), otherwise known as Frifot. The group’s CD Sluring is most certainly a masterpiece.’
David as a look at Aqualung Live: ‘This new recording of Jethro Tull’s classic rock album Aqualung was produced for XM Radio’s “Then Again Live” programme. This is a show that aims to “re-create the most important albums of all time . . . offering total creative freedom for artists to re-visit their milestone recordings [in order not to] rival the original, but to re-experience it.” Well, I haven’t experienced Aqualung for many years, apart from a few songs heard on the radio; but the recent book by Allan Moore which provided a track by track analysis and this new recording have brought me back to the album with new ears.‘
Aaron Copland’s A Copland Celebration gets looked at by Gary who notes that ‘Sony Classical disgorged a cornucopia of Copland works. This three volume, six-CD set gives a good overview of the career of this quintessential American composer. It includes the best-known works — chamber, orchestral and choral — as well as a smattering of some of Copland’s lesser-known works, and some alternate versions and rarities previously unreleased on CD; and even a few never before released at all.’
Robert is already fed up with autumn and turns to the southern hemisphere for some music — namely, Icehouse’s Great Southern Land: ‘Icehouse is an Australian band formed by Iva Davies in 1977, under the name Flowers. In ’81 he changed the name to Icehouse, as the group started to get some international air play and actually hit the charts in the U.S. and UK. Davies is a classically trained musician who created one of the more musically literate groups in the history of rock. Icehouse early on moved into synthesizers and CMIs (computerized musical instruments), although they never went to the lengths of another of my favorites, Depeche Mode.’
As leaves turn from emerald to shades of yellow, orange and tan, our minds wander to all the delicious treats this season has in store. Chocolate, most especially. While we love the stuff any way we can get it, a number of ads from Lacta 5Star Chocolates has given us a new way to love cocoa. These humorously dark videos show a world made of chocolate, which is constantly being attacked by ‘outside influences’. Mostly cookie crunches, caramel and the like. The blend of hilarious and hairy seems tailor made for October.
We’re entering the season when we celebrate things that scare us, and what’s scarier these days than the future? With that in mind, here’s Leonard Cohen in Zurich, on May 21, 2005, with his take on ’The Future’