Friday, July 30, 2010

Fantasy Masterworks. I've read...

Twenty Nine, with one caveat as follows. I was not lucky enough to win the first prize in the Lottery of Life and be born an Englishman (or,even gasp.. Scottish or Welsh as a consolation prize) as Rudyard Kipling so indelicately put it, I missed the chance by just a few threads. But I'm not here to moan about handicaps dealt to me by fate. I just wanted to point out that I've not read these works as they are presented in this collection, "The Fantasy Masterworks". They simply aren't published that way here. All of these works are however in Print in the US, and so I've read a great many of them.. Slightly over half in fact in a variety of formats from a variety of companies. And the list will go up, as soon as I get off my lazy cotton tail and go read the Gene Wolfe books.. as is no doubt obvious to the casual glance.. I eschew the more recent authors and tend to favor the longer established ones.

1 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 1: Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe
2 - Time and the Gods - Lord Dunsany
3 - The Worm Ouroboros - E.R. Eddison
4 - Tales of the Dying Earth - Jack Vance
5 - Little, Big - John Crowley
6 - The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
7 - Viriconium - M. John Harrison
8 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard
9 - The Land of Laughs - Jonathan Carroll
10 - The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea - L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
11 - Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
12 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 2: Sword and Citadel - Gene Wolfe
13 - Fevre Dream - George R. R. Martin
14 - Beauty - Sheri S. Tepper
15 - The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
16 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard
17 - Elric - Michael Moorcock
18 - The First Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
19 - Riddle-Master - Patricia A. McKillip
20 - Time and Again - Jack Finney
21 - Mistress of Mistresses - E.R. Eddison
22 - Gloriana or the Unfulfill'd Queen - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Well of the Unicorn - Fletcher Pratt
24 - The Second Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
25 - Voice of Our Shadow - Jonathan Carroll
26 - The Emperor of Dreams - Clark Ashton Smith
27 - Lyonesse I: Suldrun's Garden - Jack Vance
28 - Peace - Gene Wolfe
29 - The Dragon Waiting - John M. Ford
30 - Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe - Michael Moorcock the first 3 of the six anyway.
31 - Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams - C.L. Moore
32 - The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson
33 - The House on the Borderland and Other Novels - William Hope Hodgson
34 - The Drawing of the Dark - Tim Powers
35 - Lyonesse II and III: The Green Pearl and Madouc - Jack Vance
36 - The History of Runestaff - Michael Moorcock The first 2 are all thats in print by Tor right now
37 - A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay
38 - Darker Than You Think - Jack Williamson
39 - The Mabinogion - Evangeline Walton
40 - Three Hearts and Three Lions - Poul Anderson
41 - Grendel - John Gardner
42 - The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick
43 - WAS - Geoff Ryman
44 - Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
45 - Replay - Ken Grimwood
46 - Sea Kings of Mars and Other Worldly Stories - Leigh Brackett
47 - The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
48 - The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip
49 - Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
50 - The Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales - Rudyard Kipling

And now, I must direct you to the post which inspired this post, at The Blog that Time Forgot. Go check it out, it's awesome. I promise.


What are you still doing here? go on! go check it out. I'm serious!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In this time of Economic Upheaval..

just thought I would pass on a video with some advice for us all to live by.

Oh yeah...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heavy Metal - Incestuousness and the Led Zeppelin Connection

Having set out recently to Cataloging my library, and needing to take a break from my books (of which I am nearing 4000 volumes not including extra copies) I decided to tackle my Music Collection. It consists of CD's and LP's (hundreds of them!) mainly though I've got quite a few EP's too... I can happily report that apart from the BBC radio adaption of "The Lord of the Rings" I have no Audio Cassettes.

So as I was cataloging my CD's I was also ripping them onto my computer so that I could put them all on my MP3 player. I've always been amused by just how interconnected everything in the world really is, I've previously posted about the genesis of "Transformers" and its station as a bizarre love child of G.I.Joe and Japanese Culture.. I started thinking about something I'd never really given much thought too in the past, how incestuous the bands which formed the early " Heavy metal " core really were.

Members from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Elf, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Dio, and others traded off with alarming frequency. They share so many similar members that some of them should possibly just be considered " Super groups " formed by the members of other bands.. I also began noticing how many members of those bands went on to found other Heavy metal Bands.. Ozzy Osbourne arguably being the most successful of them when under the guidance of his shrew of a wife he managed to stay sober long enough to put out some rather good albums.. I refuse to comment on his new stuff.. or his family.. any further.

White snake I know is the butt of a lot of jokes, but David Coverdale really got around, he was Vocalist for Deep Purple MKIII, and Very nearly replaced Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath, hewent on to found Whitesnake.. and then put out an album with Jimmy Page in 1993.. which brings me to another point.. People frequently list Led Zeppelin as a precursor to Heavy Metal.. and in some ways that might be accurate.. But I'd say that its more appropriately the last " Rock and Roll " band.. it stands at the threshold of Heavy Metal but dosen't cross.. much.

Jimmy Page's Supergroup "The Firm" which had members of Free, Uriah Heep and Bad Company.. limped the blues steeped sound forward into the 80's while Robert Plant went on to do a solo Career..which is so full of hits and misses it would require it's own post... But his first solo album had Cozy Powell on Drums for a few tracks.. which leads us right back... to.. Rainbow! Phil Collins did most of the drums on this album however both he and Powell were rumoured to have been in the running to replace the deceased John Bonham.. Another in this rumour mill was Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge who later was in Ted Nugent's band.. and then in King Kobra.. which brings us to a very interesting thing.. Since King Kobra who covered Canadian hair band "Kick Axe"'s song " Hunger " which had been included on the soundtrack for 1986's "Transformers: The Movie"! However I'm digressing now..

Deep Purple is arguably where it all started, though Dio's Electric Elves/Elf started a year earlier.. DP was much bigger.. especially once they got their second vocalist Ian Gillian, He did a couple of albums with them, especially the mega hit "Machine Head" and its track "Smoke on the water" (itself a reference to a Frank Zappa Concert gone wrong)before leaving to go replace Dio in Black Sabbath for just one album.

It really is a tangled web, and one which you can really spend a lot of time thinking about. But by the time you get done with it.. you're likely to wind up with a chart or map which is so convoluted it would be nearly impossible to follow.. highly reminiscent of beach washup art..

Now I guess I will go back to my cataloging..

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Dark Tower Part 2

While I've not been up to much lately, and it shows since I've not been updating anything at all.. I've just finished off "The Waste Lands" which is the third in the series of the Dark Tower. I enjoyed it more than " The Drawing of the three" but the scenes with Roland, Sussanah and Eddie were far superior to the mucking about with Jake... But I felt the same way about the previous one.. so long as they are in " Roland's world" then I seem to enjoy it.. when its in "The real world" I kind of lose interest.

The giant cyborg bear was a neat idea, I'm sorry he had to die though.. Blaine the Mono is a grand villain as well.. and shows a depth of creativity.. who exactly else other than Stephen King would ever come up with a A Psychopathic, senile Monorail with an insatiable hunger for Riddles who wishes to commit suicide and take the main characters with him?

The book ends on a cliffhanger, with the characters in the embrace of Blaine as he is speeding them towards his final destination of Topeka Kansas, how will it end? Who knows!? I will just have to keep reading and find out. Onwards to Volume IV the Wizard and Glass.. and also the short story which initially got me to buy the series in the first place " The Little sisters of Eluria" which was in the first Legends volume..

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Dark Tower

After a very productive shopping trip to a succession of Goodwill stores I had found myself in possession of the Dark Tower books 2-7 for the princely sum of about 7$. Since I'd gotten the others for such a song, I forced myself to pay nearly full price for the first one and began reading it. The only reason I bought these was because there is a Dark Tower novella included in the Robert Silverberg edited anthology "Legends" which is a treasure trove of novellas related to all the most popular Fantasy series by authors who at the time were still living. It really did cross the publisher boundary and included all the biggest names. It reads as a who's who of Fantasy authors... or rather a who's who of the Multi Tomb Epic writer anyway.

I found the first book to be quite good, it wasn't strictly speaking a Fantasy novel as King insists on calling it.. It has none of the tropes I consider imperative for a Fantasy novel to have. But it's got a very interesting concept, it's rather reminiscent of the water pools in "The Magician's Nephew". The story didn't wander over much and kept its eye on the prize, of a gunslinger hunting a man in black. It was coarse and had many things in it which I considered to be juvenile.. but since King wrote it when he was 19, I think I can give him a pass on that.

The Second book however just got weird, and the fake words and silly mispronunciations designed to make Roland seem more alien to the "real world" characters its grating and gets on one's nerves very quickly. The book is even more crass than the first one, and he had had several years to mature as a writer. I especially disliked Detta Walker's speech pattern. It was very annoying and difficult to read at times, added to Roland's Popkins and Astin's it just was too much some time. But when the book ended it really helped to firmly establish the reality of the unreality of the world of the Dark Tower which exists in all worlds but is only physically manifested in one of them. The Axis in un-reality which all reality's orbit.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Geneology is Fun.

So I found out last night that through my Great Grandmothers fathers family.. I'm distantly related to Two French Huguenot Generals, Several Knights, a Baroness, a lesser Plantagenet, an assorted slew of Bishops and Earls, a king of Acre.. and Clovis II of the Franks.

Have no idea if it's true or not.. but I'm going to cherish it forever.

All the other sides of my family have totally let me down on this..

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beer Review - Sam Adams Summer Ale

They've been advertising this stuff like gangbusters on TV lately.. and I'll admit my bias is towards dark English Ales (I really like Hobgoblin and Newcastle for a more mundane choice) so I am biased against this one due to its status as a lighter color'd ale. The real reason I got this is, well if I'm going to have Beer on the 4th of July then it had better not be a British beer.. so I bit the bullet and bought some from Sam Adams. Besides, the guy who runs that company is such a nerd you can't help but like him.. he is like the Rick Steves of the beer world..

That said, I think it could have done without the Lemon zest which lends it an almost oily aftertaste. It has a light flavor which I assume comes from it being made of wheat instead of malted barley.. but yet has a lot more flavor than Budweiser or Miller which are mostly made from Corn and Rice... Other than that it's decent.. but it's not as good as some of Sam Adam's Other products.. I don't think I will rush right out and buy it again though.. I'm going to stick to their Marzenbeir in October as far as their seasonable brews go.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

unexpected finds, unexpected uses.

bit of a double purpose post today,

I went to my preferred used book store and hit pay-dirt. I collected about 11 of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy books.. some I already had but not in that format and some I didn't have.. so now I have all of the William Morris, E.R. Eddison and James Branch Cabel volumes along with a few other assorted one offs.

I think on the whole I have about 1/3rd of the series.. some of them are just rare.. and cost more than I'm willing to pay for a paperback book....

I also went to Goodwill and found an Arkham House first edition of The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson.. which is much better than my normal haul of Forgotten realms and Dragon lance books that I'm never going to get around to being bored enough to actually read.

onto the Uses...

Living in an old farm house (or an old building of any sort) it's an unfortunate reality that you cannot keep 100% of wildlife out. It's something that dosen't make a lot of people happy but there really isn't a lot you can do about it.. except try and eradicate them when you can.

I kept noticing that my bars of hand soap were disappearing in my back bathroom. so I went looking for them and figured out that I had a rather large visitor who decided he quite fancied the zesty goodness of my bars of soap. so I baited a trap with it, and within a few hours had caught my intruder.. he is currently no longer among us.. but my soap is safe.

I wonder if Proctor & Gamble know of this use of their product?