What’s New for the 27th of August: Kage Baker on Peter Beagle, dark fantasy, Brahms-a-rama, other somewhat Autumnal matters


I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.  ― Patricia A.  McKillip’s Winter Rose

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Impressive, isn’t it? When we built the new Library in the late eighteen century, we moved the Pub here to top floor of the cellar. And we made sure the Greensward facing side had as much glass as possible. So that means for you that every sunrise, barring inclement weather, is visible here and with all of them being spectacular indeed.

The chair you’re sitting in is commonly known as The Falstaff Chair as Estate lore has him telling tales in it one winter’s night. Yes I know he’s fictional but I’ll bet you’ve got characters and stories you believe strongly are real. So do be careful what you think of while here as nightmares as well dreams can come true …

I see you’re reading Solstice Wood by Patricia Mckillip. I assume you’ve read Winter Rose already? It’s sort of a prequel to the book you’re reading but not quite so. Both are excellent reads, though I prefer Solstice Wood to read again. Now let’s see what we found this time…

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Liz has a choice morsel of Tolkieniana for us: ‘In Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon Brian Rosebury presents a critical assessment of the entire body of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. He also attempts to locate Tolkien within Literature and the History of Ideas and to examine the “afterlife” of Tolkien’s works in today’s popular culture. He sees the book as both a complete introduction to Tolkien and his works for general readers, and as a critical analysis for fans and scholars. A shorter version of this book appeared in 1992. This new extended edition was written in the light of new scholarship and two new developments: the publication of Tolkien’s unpublished manuscripts by his son Christopher, and the release of Peter Jackson’s film version of The Lord of the Rings.’

Robert — no, not that Robert, a different Robert — brings us a look at James Morrow’s The Asylum of Dr. Caligari, which he rates as somewhat difficult: ‘I knew from the title that the story was at least related to the classic silent horror movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with which I am only passingly familiar. That was not as great a handicap as I’d feared. . . . I did not, however, anticipate the amount of artistic theory and discussion that I would find within.’

And Robert — no, not the other Robert, the regular Robert — has a look at Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels Trilogy: ‘I have to regard The Black Jewels as something of a landmark. I don’t think it will spawn a host of imitators — how could it? It is so individual as to defy imitation. Aside from my reservations about the portrayal of villains and madness, it is a marvelously rich tale inhabited by fascinating people who, in spite of their differences, are more human than we have any right to expect.’

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Robert takes us back to the nineteenth century and one of his favorite composers of the Romantic era, with a look at two recordings of works by Johannes Brahms: ‘Johannes Brahms was, to put it mildly, one of the more thoughtful composers in the history of Western music, as evidenced by the fact that, although he is known to have been working on a symphony in 1854 (never finished, although parts did find their way to the Concerto for Piano in D Minor and the Deutsches Requiem, his first, the C Minor, was not published until 1877, when he was forty-four.’

And more Brahms: Robert also takes a look (a listen?) to one of his favorite pieces of music, Brahm’s Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34: ‘We’ve run across the thematic material in the Piano Quintet before, in the two-piano treatment of the Sonata in F Minor, but here the character is somewhat different: that Brahmsian bigness that is somewhat muted in the Sonata is here given greater scope, and the feeling of a symphony orchestra lurking in the wings waiting to jump in is that much more prevalent.’

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Our What Not is about Peter S. Beagle, who is not only of one our best storytellers ever, but also without doubt one of the best loved as well. We decided to ask some of the many writers who’ve passed through our pub, errrr, offices what their favorite piece of fiction by him was, and why so. Their answers run from the obvious choices, i.e. The Last Unicorn, to some that greatly surprised us.

Kage  pondered her answer — ‘How to decide? The Last Unicorn probably had the greatest effect on me, reading it as I did at an impressionable age and learning there that fantasy could cut through the mannered, medievalist crap and speak sharply of real life. I See By My Outfit always delighted me and still does, as it must delight anyone who has ever been young, dumb, brave and On The Road. To take off across the country on motor scooters (of all things), sleeping in tents, trusting in fate, having adventures — yeah!! But my all-time favorite Beagle character I met in The Innkeeper’s Song: the little, little fox with soft fur…’

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Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ is a definitely dark take on the Sandman myth for which vocalist and rhythm guitarist Hetfield wrote the lyrics as it deals with the concept of a child’s nightmares. The lyrics such as this stanza, ‘Hush little baby, don’t say a word/ And never mind that noise you heard / It’s just the beasts under your bed / In your closet, in your head’ are as dark as any tale was that the Brothers Grimm collected oh so long ago.

This hour long concert was played acoustic outside with the sound transmitted to the listeners on wireless headphones so as not to disturb the the residents who weren’t human. Here’s what their website had to say about it:

This was the most unique show Metallica has ever done. The band, contest winners, research station scientists (from Russia, South Korea, China, Poland, Chile, Brazil and Germany), and the ship crew, all crammed in this little dome out on the helipad of Carlini Station in ANTARCTICA! The energy in the little dome was amazing! Words can not describe how happy everyone was.

The band cranked out 10 songs for the small crowd including Creeping Death, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Sad But True, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Master of Puppets, One, Blackened, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman, and Seek & Destroy.

No word on if there were any penguins were attendance.

About Diverse Writers

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don't always. It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we've done.
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