I think I’ve now read all of the Laundry Files novels. They all have their quirks, including a few excellent lines, but I think this one works best, though I’m still a tad shaky on the whole notion of an Eater of Souls and the True Religion. It does have one of those annoying splits, however: partially written in first person and partially in third. Stross has done this before but seems to have a better grasp on how to handle mixed POVs now than he did before. It’s actually conceivable that he (his first person narrator) could have known enough about what the third person characters are thinking and doing to have written about them with a large degree of, um, believability if that’s a word, credibility if it isn’t. Harkens back to the first book in the series in a few respects, though some of the grotty bits strike me as more David Cronenberg than HP Lovecraft. Don’t want to give anything away but here’s a Brit writing about American evangelists as if they’re evil incarnate. Take that for what it’s worth.
Well, it isn’t exactly filching when it’s your own; rather, when it belongs to Phantacea Publications (James H McPherson, Publisher). So have a bunch of shots previously displayed on pHantacea on pHacebook as well as google+phantacea.
Text is by Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos. He took the pictures in Mexico City while he was there in January 2016.
‘Wilderwitch’s Babies’ will probably turn out to be two or three mini-novels long, with “Tsishah’s Twilight” either the last installment or, if expanded upon, as I’m currently leaning, a standalone novel.
Here are some Mexico City shots along with a bit of a plot summary for the first book. I’d call it ‘Decimation Damnation’ except for one thing. It gives away the whole story.
First of all, the titular Witch (#1) did not fare very well in “The War of the Apocalyptics“. Won’t be akin to Dyana the Huntress again for months, if ever. She’s still alive at the outset of new series, though. Has already had one child, Fey Woman, who was mentioned in that novel.
The series title is plural, not singular. Dervish Furie is infertile so that rules him out as father. He also seems to be transforming into a faun and we all know what fauns are good at. That’s #2, though that wouldn’t be the Witch pictured.
She spends virtually all of the opening book either on her back being operated on in order to save her leg or in a wheelchair. Not saying if the operation’s successful, who performs it or where it’s done.
As recorded in “Helios on the Moon“, the Untouchable Diver disappeared during the final battle for Diminished Dustmound. #3 is actually called the Diver, though I’ve seen the same or a similar Mayan deity referred to as the Descending God.
Besides it being kind of neat, I scanned it in because he disappeared in Hadd/Iraxas and that’s where Native Americans go when they die according to one theory. Not saying if he’s back, please note.
We already know that Wilderwitch had a mother, Miracle Memory (#4), and that she needs to be possessed in order to become human. Wilderwitch is supposed to a reincarnation of Harmony, who’s now Freespirit Nihila (#5). Guess who’s vying for Memory, along with Pyrame Silverstar (#6). Harmony and Pyrame appeared together most notably in “The Death’s Head Hellion“.
BTW, all of these places Google, as do the murals found in the Palacio de Bella Artes. pHanta-pHans may already be familiar with some of them from the Afterword for “Feeling Theocidal“, Book One of ‘The Thrice-Cursed Godly Glories‘ epic fantasy.
Didn’t conclude Jim McPherson’s Phantacea Mythos obviously.
Not saying she does, but Sorciere’s quest to find a way to get Granny Garuda to phoenix leads directly to events recounted during ‘The Vampire Variations‘ web-serial that appeared on pH-Webworld in the Twenty Noughts (early Two Thousands).
It’s a storyline that Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos, keeps threatening to revisit when he finally gets around to completing, as in completely revising, “Tsishah’s Twilight“. (Current reckoning has it as the third and final entry in the saga of “Wilderwtch’s Babies”.)
In this regard, he has discovered …
Have a boo at the upper right hand corner of this mural (“Presence of Latin America”). Could that be Tsishah Twilight, who wears Sorciere’s daughter, the Shah Demon, as a way to keep them both semi sort of alive in 5980/1?
Could it be Sorciere herself, some fifteen years before her horrendous murder in June 1953? More importantly, is that really Granny Garuda phoenixing (to coin a word) at her side?
Of course not. Yet … it has to be, doesn’t it. Have a closer look and make up your own mind. Already have mine.
As for what got McPherson researching Camarena, when he was in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle in January 2016 he not only spotted Camarena’s “Clash of Two Worlds”, he was allowed to take a picture of it.
BTW, the last time he was in the castle, fifteen years earlier or thereabouts, he was actually asked to leave for trying to take pictures inside it. Then again it might not have been a bonafide history museum then.
Stevo’s Monthly Picks (Read-Only Folder) – December Book Recommendations (182 views): http://forums.delphiforums.com/stevo1/messages?msg=189.1
Nuclear Dragons by Jim McPherson, creator/writer, and Ian Bateson, cover artist (Phantacea Publications, $20.00)
The Launching of the Cosmic Express took place on Centauri Island at the end of November 1980. It was destroyed … Or was it? No matter. Its destroyers thought it was. And they’re not done yet.
Who or what can stop them? The Menace on the Moon? Silver-armoured Signal System? Supra-Clones? Loxus Abraham Ryne, the eighty year old head of SPACE (‘The Society for the Prevention of Alien Control of Earth’)? A couple of middle-aged, newly-minted supranormals named Doc Defiance and Mr. No Name?
A twenty-seven year old who neither knows who his parents were nor what an Amoeba Man was? An obesity who knows far more than he should but is disinclined to share that knowledge with anyone, not even his own son? Or maybe, just maybe, a notorious little trickster who has been seven years old for something like sixty years!
Truth told: How can anyone stop Nuclear Dragons!
(Also in the series: “The War of the Apocalyptics”)
How do I know that? From the National Post, Canada’s argument against freedom of the press. See, to put its title succintly: “Infantilized” nature of genre fiction
I looked up “infantilize” on the Free Dictionary and got this:
(ĭn′fən-tl-īz′, ĭn-făn′-)tr.v. in·fan·til·ized, in·fan·til·iz·ing, in·fan·til·iz·es1. To treat or condescend to as if still a young child: “The Victorian physician infantilized his patient” (Judith Moore).2. To reduce to an infantile state or condition: “It creates a crisis that infantilizes them—causes grown men to squabble like kids about trivial things” (New Yorker).
in·fan′til·i·za′tion (-ĭ-zā′shən) n.
The article that inspired such simply scintillating research is actually, if awkwardly, entitled:
Simon Pegg is right, geeky genre fiction usually IS childish, even when it’s also something more
While I’ll admit to having heard his name before, I’d have to resort to Google to find out what movies Pegg’s appeared in. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of the article’s author, Daniel Kaszor, though.
One that stuck out, since it seems to apply directly to the National Post’s living saint, the Tar Party’s Chief Blue Nasty, is as follows:
“… in the superhero genre … characters are very explicitly given almost god-like powers. It’s a very simple fantasy to want to just be able to punch the world better.”
And that derives almost entirely from the celebrity celery pandered to by today’s mainstream media, genre television, video games and society’s seemingly resultant need for instant gratification to go along with a severely reduced attention span.
“I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste.” — Simon Pegg
“… more modern fans of genre fiction want to read … “realistic” heroes through a childish mindset.
“And that’s part of what Simon Pegg was griping about — even when presented in an adult manner, genre has a way of being pre-chewed and regurgitated back in such a way that renders much of the nuance moot — signifiers such as brutal violence and grey morals reinterpreted as being cool instead of troubling — making the end product even more childish than the sanitized basic version.”
Which echoes Point #4 in the pre-Mithramas Mistletoe Miscellanea posting, the reference being to two of the Gun Porn TV shows made in Vancouver that have since been renewed:
“As to using arrows as implements of torture, using arrows for anything except killing and target practise, there are such things as arteries. Pierce a Captain Boomerang where Arrow hit him, evidently just because he deserved it, and, sorry Flash, it’s not a joking matter.”
So, go to any of the lynx highlighted in blue above and spend some quiet, unhurried, but satisfying time having a read or re-read.
Just don’t doubt for a minute that Jim McPherson is above infantilizing his characters, if hopefully not his readers:
In the midst of the mad, the dead, and the dying squatted Mars Bellona. His mentality reduced to that of a low-grade simpleton, the presumption of immortality manifestly did not preclude the onset of insanity. The once tremendously powerful Apocalyptic was playing toy samurai with an even more demented Lord Tornado.
“So sorry, Bellona‑sama. I killed your man first.”
“Seppuku-fie yourself, Tornado-san. I killed you before you killed me.”
… from “The War of the Apocalyptics“, 2009
- Go straight to start
- Define your terms:
– Generation X,
– what grimdark means as a meme,
– more online lynx re the grimly grimy genre
- Lizzy as the Lizard Queen — graphic with two letters adjusted
Don’t call him cynical; he’s just sensitive about the unimaginative deterioration of his chosen genre. Perhaps if he played video games or went to the movies more often he might sound more approving.
As a public service, the Free Dictionary defines millennial as “a member of the generation born from the early 1980s to late 1990s, especially in the United States and Canada; a member of Generation Y.”
And if you’re wondering who or what Generation X is, well, from the same source comes this very disturbing definition:
1. (Sociology) members of the generation of people born between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s who are highly educated and underemployed, reject consumer culture, and have little hope for the future
“Grimdark is an adjective used to describe a setting or situation in a fictional work that is considered dark, depressive, violent or edgy”
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Grimdark presents a lengthy entry on ‘grimdark’ whereas Wikipedia’s entry is only slightly shorter. One of the definitions found therein brings to mind Freespirit Nihila and the pHanta-pHavourite term ‘anheroic‘.
“Liz Bourke considered grimdark’s defining characteristic to be “a retreat … into a kind of nihilism that portrays right action (…) as either impossible or futile”. This … has the effect of absolving the protagonists as well as the reader from moral responsibility.”
All in all, very discouraging. At least, as a kind of happy news counterweight, Queen Elizabeth just turned 89.
Too bad, since clearly she’s actually a lizard, Lizzy’s ever so appropriately named.
Millennial Checklist for Super Grimdark Fantasy TV
- OMG variations: minimum 3 times per episode;
- Hugs: minimum twice per episode, preferably more; always after a massacre;
- Smiles: guys only smile to appear goofy; gals only smile when they greet their guys;
- Embrace the stereotype; series can be cancelled at any time so why waste authorial brain cells seeking to rise above the tried and true;
- Recall consequential importance of cookie-cutter characters; gals who look good in tight dresses should be interchangeable between action series;
- Since scolds are mandatory in suchlike invariably deadly serious affairs, scowls and frowns must be practised endlessly in mirrors; it’s called acting because, OMG knows, the only other thing that counts besides good looks is an ability to give good grunts;
- Shirts off: buff men once an episode, fit women as often as possible; bras uplifting, cleavage-enhancing, coloured, but opaque, and reinforced (presumably with Kevlar, given short lifespan of girlfriends in most series), the better for nipple-suppression; suck in those abs, guys, flex them biceps; emphasize the tattoos, the brighter the better;
- Heart-to-heart talks essential, at least twice an episode; that’s what motherly and fatherly characters are for, but only if they’re hot; recall, they’re likely to be killed earlier rather than later for purposes melodramatic, as well as budgetary, so make the most of them while you’ve got them;
- Best friends can be boy and girl – really (super TV is Fantasyland after all); as such they’re allowed to heart-to-heart, usually after one says to other: “Want to Talk about It?” (hopefully not while texting);
- No matter how frequent, heart-to-hearts must be kept short — or not, dependent on budget (despite how lousy they sometimes look, SFX are expensive);
- Heart-to-hearts act as important breathers between action sequences, allow opportunity to maintain hugs quota and either aren’t readily available in video games or else get in the way of the next kill-for-points moment; be sure to end with: “I’m always here for you”;
- Humour not allowed in actioneers; if attempted, make sure it’s American-style, which by definition isn’t funny anymore (and probably hasn’t been since before Reagan, whoever that was);
- Laughter frowned upon, literally — see above point re practising in mirrors; laughing not cool, though occasional chortle permissible; almost always attempts at making jokes must be dismissively deemed as “Lame”;
- Kill, yes; best with NRA-approved weaponry; but don’t gloat — only villains gloat (when they’re not sneering, snorting or, OMG-forbid, scorning the good guys guff-awfully); unless it’s after a keyboard-battle, that is, see next point;
- Cell phones, yes; tablets, yes; computers, of course, but concentrate on how fast fingers flash across keyboards; never show what’s on screen because numbers are boring;
- Hacking’s dead easy – but any yob can hack, N Korea proved that, so don’t overdo it;
- When fighting by electronic proxy, ball fists and pump often; say “Yes” & “Gotcha” a lot; when win, stand up, point trigger finger at screen and spout “You lose, dirt bag!” like big macho bully you are when it comes to ’puters;
- Use sparingly, though, as even ad-target Millennials find keyboard battles, when filmed, tedious; never forget: in real world keyboards are meant to be played; they’re not shot, let alone used to write anything (men and, occasionally, women of action never write anything anyhow; don’t read, either, unless it’s about “celebrity celery”);
- Sex, good; pregnancy, impossible; condoms, who needs ’em? – hence why “dirt bag” always preferred to “scum bag”; bare backs, sexy; only for Millennials, though; over thirties having sex is yucky, over forties positively obscene, cause for cancellation;
- Ridiculousness never ridiculed, given whole situation is likely ridiculous to start;
- “America!”, must be said with pride, chest-thumping optional, once or twice an episode (lest anyone think show’s filmed anywhere else, even if it is); never the US or the States; only use USA lightly, as in “good old U S of A”;
- Never acknowledge Canada or Mexico, implicitly they’re part of America!; when not entry points for drug dealers, super villains or terrorists, that is;
- Secondary characters are cannon fodder; don’t get too attached to them; minorities die first, that’s what they’re there for; blacks get done away with straightaway but don’t single them out overly much, plenty of Hispanics and Asians available; native Indians not allowed, except as supplemental bad guys;
- Heroes never real heroes until after first kill; always make a big deal about not wanting to kill but, you know, sometimes it can’t be avoided since heroes never walk away from a fight for fear of having their series cancelled too quickly;
- For heroes, killing should appear to be in self-defence, me or them, didn’t have a choice — but that’s mostly so you don’t have to agonize about it for too many minutes, let alone episodes, afterwards;
- Heroes can never be brought to justice because they are just that, Justice; anyone can get away with murder so long as they’re recurring characters; villains should always be referred to not as evil (too religious?), but by that truly offensive Americanism ‘the bad guys’;
- Just to be doubly confirmatory, make sure that’s how they’re depicted: as unequivocally, over-the-top, irredeemable;
- Recall, the only time the US wins a war on anything is on TV, in the movies or in the occasional book (which Millennials don’t read anyhow, perhaps due to writers using too many syllables), so don’t disappoint.
Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos, recently returned from his late winter, early spring brain break.
A brain break for him of course means a new book is on the horizon for Phantacea Publications and pHanta-pHans everywhere. At least it has in the recent past, witness “Nuclear Dragons” and “Helios on the Moon“, the long-awaited concluding entries in the ‘Launch 1980‘ epic trilogy.
Maybe not this time; at least not in terms of ‘new’ so much as recombined.
More on that as the year progresses, though you might find a couple of mysterious additions to the Earthlings’ row in the ‘Devils by Tribal Affiliation‘ webpage that appeared last January instructive.
For now he’s happy to report some serendipitous readings in the January 2015 edition of Fortean Times (FT 323).
Here’s something I didn’t know. According to ‘Blasts from the Past’, a column by Theo Paijmans in FT 323 (p 32; “#55: The Cities of Lost Children”), an American writer, none other than Charles Fort himself, coined the term ‘teleportation’. (Wikipedia seems to confirm that he did just that — in 1931, to be absolutely precise — here.)
This would be the same Charles Fort (1874-1932), who inspired the delightful oddballs behind Fortean Times to launch, as long ago as 1973, what’s now a regular dweller in my bin of bathroom readings. (In the same issue, Arthur C Clarke is quoted as considering forteans “… ignorant and opinionated science-bashers.”)
Nearer to the beginning of the same issue (pp 6-7), we read about something else — better make that somebody else — I’d never heard of: namely, another American, a stage-managing ‘visionary pictographer’ as much as portrait photographer by the name of William Mortensen (1897-1965).
Talk about Peculiar Perspectives, I’d provide a link re this ‘master of American Grotesque’ but don’t want to get pHantaBlog into trouble. Don’t mind getting the US edition of Huffington Post in trouble, though. So have a boo, literally.
Will say that I googled him, which was where I learned of his relationship to Cecil B DeMIlle and Fay Wray, not to mention King Kong and the Mad Hatter. Also recognized his fabulous photographic imaging of Belphegor, Hell’s perceived Prince of Sloth, among other things, including invention.
Header point being yet another article in FT 323: “I Sing the Mind Electric” by Marinus van der Sluijs (pp 40-43). As a preface, recall this from “Goddess Gambit“:
“Fisherwoman wasn’t there either. Not yet. Then she was, in a way. She was bigger than life, much bigger than Diminished Dustmound … She did look good in a glowingly golden, chain-mail hauberk; no question of that. And there was nothing better against incoming missiles, no matter what they were tipped with, than teleportive Brainrock chains.”
Or this, from the aforementioned:
Young Death, as he was best known below the larger Dome, didn’t blame the Diver. He reckoned – probably correctly – that Freespirit Nihila, whom he still regarded as Fisherwoman, must be taking it [teleportive Brainrock-Gypsium] all into herself; her Borealis brolly, put better.
Or this from a few pages later:
She [Fish-Nihila] twirled it, simultaneously raising it as if a Kevlar umbrella; impermeable not just over her, but over most of Diminished Dustmound. She thus rendered it akin to a roiling, Aurora Borealis sunshade; a whirling dervish’s flaring skirts, equally so.
So, not only am I and every other writer in books, for Star Trek, and many another elsewhere, indebted to Charles Fort for the word ‘teleportation’, it seems I’m personally indebted to the magazine he inspired for this quote from van der Sluijs’s article:
“… auroral emissions also occur at ultraviolet, infrared and other wavelengths. Enunciations of a dazzling geometry of dynamic shapes are common to both near-death experiences and eye-witness accounts of aurorae. And, bizarre as it admittedly sounds, there appears to be an uncanny logic to the impression that the auroral lights contain myriad units of incorporeal consciousness exchanging information.”
There’s also this caption under a pretty picture of the Northern Lights:
“… the Aurora Borealis [is] traditionally identified as the abode of posthumous souls.”
All of which makes for quite a stunning example of serendipitous reading, especially when you consider how my recently completed brain-break-writings concluded in terms of the as yet unresolved task of “Annuling Nihila“.
The Serendipity entry’s here. And just in case you need another dose of serendipitous same, on the day Oz prepared it, the CBC Online provided some stunning shots of, well, not Fisherwoman/Nihila’s Borealis Brolly per se, but close. They’re here.
Some six weeks ago pHantaBlog republished Jim McPherson’s review of “Raising Steam”, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. In it he expresses the sentiment, shared by a great many in the reading world, that it read like a valedictory.
Last week (12 March 2015), sad to say, that proved prescient. The tweets his daughter sent out to mark his passing deserve preserving here as well as multiple elsewheres.
Apparently Pratchett left us so comparatively young (at 66) because he was trying to avoid the rush.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Needing a break from Terry Brooks I took a chance on a collection of short stories. I tend to avoid the format but this one was in part edited by George RR Martin so I bought it anyhow.
He wrote the best vampire book I can recall reading, “Fevre Dream”, and “Armageddon Rag”, which I seem to recall combined Jim Morrison with Robert Johnson in terms of having one of those perhaps spurious crossroads connections. Plus, he’s the main man behind the Wild Cards series, which I’ve been reading since its inception howsoever many years ago now (1987, according to his website).
None of his stories are in this collection but there is a Wild Cards sequence. It features the Amazing Bubbles, Hoodoo Mama and the former’s daughter Pumpkin. (Sorry, Adesina, who seems to an insectoid version of Gustave Moreau’s Sphinx in New York’s Met Museum.) Too bad it lacks a proper ending but, hey, that lack leads me to suspect it’s deliberate, a teaser; that there’s a new series of Wild Card books on the way, which I’d welcome.
The title suggests what I’m loathe to repeat for fear of spoilers. However, one theme seems to be that before they became dangerous women they had to have been victims. This can get a little tiresome as it’s very Biblical. Do bad to me and I’ll do bad to you; except that’ll make me a hero whereas you’ll deserve what you get, you swine. No less than 5 of the 7 stories involves rape, so be warned.
Even the novella-length Diana Gabaldon Outlander prequel, the best of not a bad lot, loses its oddly good-natured, semi-swashbuckling, having a romp in pre-revolutionary France, quality by resolving some unfinished business that I didn’t realize was unfinished until it got finished.
There are a couple of misses. I’d forgotten I’d come across S.M. Stirling’s work before. He’s a competent writer but his attitude toward capital punishment is appalling. Can never be justified, as far as I’m concerned. The Sam Sykes story strives too hard for a twist ending and the contribution from Sharon Kay Penman is mostly a straightforward rendition of Britannica history, more essay than story.
I might consider picking up Dangerous Women 1 someday. Lev Grossman’s Magicians might also be worth looking at judging from the humourous piece in this collection. Not sure the world needs an American Harry Potter, though, albeit one written by a man and featuring a female college student studying magic at an Unseen University, but if the tone holds it might not hurt it either.
Not a high recommendation, somewhat disappointing given it’s got Martin’s name on the cover, but might be worthy of a purchase at a used bookstore.