All of these things considered, it is not surprising that one can detect echoes, correspondences and even an eternal return or two within the work of a single author. The passage of time does bring changes, yea and alas; but still, I would recognize myself anywhere. — Roger Zelazny in his Unicorn Variations collection
Yes, we’re hunkering down from the effects of the worst rains we’ve seen in generations here. Gus, our Estate Grounds Keeper, has his hands full making sure that none of the buildings get damaged from the high winds and torrential rains, but otherwise everyone’s inside until this passes, which it should by the time you’re reading this Edition.
So I’ve put together our usual eclectic Edition of books, music, food and such to tempt to open your purse strings. There’s everything from classic Sixties SF alongside the latest in a beloved offbeat detective series. There’s chocolate and hedgehog puppets and of course music.
Cat has an interesting work for us: ‘On a whim, I picked it up a novel and started reading it — it felt like classic Zelazny such as The Isle of The Dead, so I kept reading. Now keep in mind that this never before published Zelazny novel was finished posthumously with the help of his co-author and companion, Jane Lindskold. But unlike so many of this sort of collaboration, Donnerjack has Zelazny written all over it. This is important to emphasise as the online reviews that I looked at for it generally trashed it as not being true to the spirit of Zelazny!’
Richard says ‘Lavondyss is perhaps the most problematic of the Ryhope Wood books, the least accessible and at the same time the richest. It also plays the most games with time, narrative flow and character identity, and as such is either going to delight or frustrate the reader far more than an ordinary tale of a young girl lost in the wood has any right to.’
Warner has a look at the latest in a beloved detective series: ‘The Hap & Leonard series is one of Joe R. Lansdale’s most engaging works, a series of strange and fragmented crime stories which showcase two men who care for one another like brothers and find themselves frequently in complicated situations of one sort or another. The latest collection of these stories is Of Mice and Minestrone and follows Hap and, to a slightly lesser extent, Leonard through some of their childhood formative years up to the time the two reunite after a Vietnam-war related separation.‘
Looking for some classic SF to read on these long Winter nights? Well, Warner has the collection for you: ‘The Library of America’s Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s is another impressive feat by editor Gary K. Wolfe. As he explains in his introductions, stories in this two volume slipcase set were chosen both for quality and impact. In addition, he includes information about the selection process to avoid including volumes that appear elsewhere in the Library of America collection. Of those included, two are very worthy of note.’
Raspberry Creme and a Buttermilk Lemon are the two flavours in chocolate bars Robert looks at this time: ‘As you will remember, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG is a major German chocolatier and candy manufacturer. I happen to have recently received two of their Limited Edition candies for review — which means, sadly, that I wasn’t allowed to just snarf them down. These are part of a series of candies made with yogurt and flavorings and covered in chocolate. Strangely enough, I wasn’t able to find information on the Ritter Sport website. I guess when they say “Limited Edition,” that’s just what they mean.’
Michael has a double bill for your viewing pleasure: ‘Some of the greatest fantasy movies in recent memory have come from the incomparable, unbeatable, and sadly never to be repeated collaborations of Jim Henson and Brian Froud. Take the magical madness of Henson’s muppets and the bizarre mythic imagery of Froud’s faeries, throw in some special effects and superb actors, and you get two of the best-loved fantasy movies of the 1980s, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.’
April reviews the first volume in an ongoing series by David Petersen: ‘The year is 1152, treachery is afoot, and the Mouse Guard, defenders of all mice, must suss out the traitor in their midst before the Guard is destroyed. So goes the basic plot of Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, a graphic novel collection of Petersen’s award-winning comic. And just so there’s no confusion, Mouse Guard isn’t a nickname or colloquialism — the protagonists really are mice, the small, furry rodent kind.’
Gary enjoyed Wild Wild East by jazz drummer Sunny Jain. ‘It’s as wild a mashup of genres and styles as I’ve encountered in 30 years of reviewing music, and one of the most engaging and exciting releases of this young decade.’
Let’s have Michael say a few words about the next recording: ‘It would be easy to say that a collaboration between Steeleye Span and Terry Pratchett was always inevitable, given their respective histories and their proclaimed admiration of each other’s work. It may be an example of retrospective inevitability now that it has actually happened in the form of the Wintersmith CD, however. In any case, the end result is one that is overwhelmingly a credit to all concerned; worthy of the names involved and their reputations.’
Robert has a look at a couple of concert hall staples, none other than Beethoven’s Symphonies 5 and 6: ‘There isn’t much to be said about Beethoven: there he is, take it or leave it. It is doubtful that anyone had more influence on the music of the 19th century than he did — even the archenemies Brahms and Wagner both claimed Beethoven as their artistic forebear.’
From the Archives a long time ago, comes our What Not this time: ‘“OK, you do know that we have a resident hedgehog at this Scottish Estate by the name of Hamish? So it won’t surprise you that Robert reviewed this puppet: ‘Well, I finally got my first Folkmanis puppet to review, and appropriately enough, it’s the Little Hedgehog — and let me tell you, he’s a real charmer.’”
So let’s finish off with some choice music from Nightnoise, to wit ‘Toys, Not Ties’ which was performed at Teatro Calderón de la Barca, which is a theater in Valladolid, Spain, on the 23rd of April twenty-six years ago. For more on this superb sort of Celtic band, go read our career retrospective here. Nightnoise had its origins in members of the Bothy Band and Skara Brae, august bands indeed, and also included fiddler Johnny Cunningham for a while.