Anne McCaffrey passed away this past Wednesday, November 21, at the age of 85. Like countless other readers, I seem to have spent a good chunk of my adolescence imaginarily living in Pern, starting from when I discovered the Harper Hall trilogy at ten years old…
See Charles Tan’s post here for links to authors’ tributes to McCaffrey. R.I.P.
Terri Windling, editorial and artistic powerhouse and generally amazing person in the field of fantasy, is in need; a Livejournal community for charity auctions has been opened to help her out. Treat yourself, start your holiday shopping, or both – there’s a wide variety of incredible offerings, including baked goods, crafts, art, and signed drafts or ARCs or personalized poems by numerous beloved authors… Want to have lunch with Tamora Pierce, or have a Cat Valente or Jeffrey Ford character named after you? Now’s your chance!
Anne McCaffrey: bio and works reviewed
Terri Windling: bio and works reviewed
And by eight, I mean news:
Ah–! Art Student Hand-Illuminates, Binds a Copy of the Silmarillion; Tolkien fans across the world experience heart palpitations.
Check here for an interview with the artist, and larger images of his gloriously detailed work.
And some incredible (belatedly posted, here) news for fans of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Since the release of the 1982 animated adaptation, Beagle had been denied payment of contractually due royalties for the film. At the beginning of August, Connor Cochran, Beagle’s business manager, sent this announcement:
“THE EIGHT-YEAR STRUGGLE FOR PETER’S LAST UNICORN RIGHTS IS OVER!
Really. No joke, no fooling. It’s over. And everybody won. […] For now suffice to say that Peter has signed an agreement with ITV that (a) ends the whole mishagosh in a way that is great for him, and (b) great for ITV, and (c) great for LAST UNICORN fans everywhere, since now all kinds of things are going to be possible that could never be done before.”
This is news that I’ve been waiting to hear for years.
I’d been exploratorily rereading bits from The Last Unicorn, lately – exploratorily because I know I’ve been growing out of a lot of things that used to fill my head and make me cry. We’re safe; TLU still makes me cry. (It probably helps that I still feel completely unironically about unicorns.) I sound a little flippant, but it’s a deeply beautiful, wise, and timeless book. I don’t like recommending it willy-nilly because I know unironic books about unicorns and mortality and love aren’t everyone’s thing (even though it is sometimes ironic, too! and meta!), but consider this my sideways plea for more people to read it.
Hey, “unironic” and “unicorn” are almost anagrams. Coincidence? I think not.
Peter S. Beagle: bio and works reviewed
The Last Unicorn comic #1 (2010): review by Emera
The Last Unicorn comic #2 (2010): review by Emera
Endicott Studio is an association of writers, artists, and performers dedicated to arts based in mythological and folkloric traditions. (Wikipedia tells me that it began as a warehouse-turned-salon-space in Boston; wish I had been around for it then.) I was aware of their work on the Journal of Mythic Arts, but wasn’t quite clear on who all comprised the studio. While I was looking for something else (that I’ve now forgotten, in the way of the Internet), I stumbled upon this nifty compilation celebrating 20 years of Endicott, featuring photos from 1987 and 2007 of many of the creatives behind Endicott: founder Terri Windling, Charles Vess, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, the Frouds, Holly Black, Catherynne Valente, Theodora Goss, and a host of other Black Letters favorites.
A lot of the 1987 photos are downright adorable, it goes without saying. (prom! ’80’s hair! scrunchies and onesies!) Check them out here:
Twenty Years of Mythic Arts
P.S. Terri Windling keeps an Endicott Studio blog here, filled with art, music, history, and links galore, for those of a mythical inclination.
For anyone who’s ever fussed over conscientious book-buying and the care and keeping of indigent authors, Nick Mamatas advises on How To Buy a Book (or where, really). Much of it seems to come down to whether a retailer feeds into BookScan, a book-sale data compiler that informs many publishers’ decisions. More interesting details with which to inform your future Amazon vs. indie decisions over at the post.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what China Miéville would look like with hair, you may well fall within the target audience for this blog: Could They Beat-Up China Miéville? In a sort of long-form, extra-nerdy variation on Chuck Norris facts, two bloggers take turns scripting deathmatches between everyone’s favorite weird-fiction pioneer/nerd sex symbol and a variety of cultural icons, e.g. Sting and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Why not?
(Juibilatory pre-script, appended 5.11: Valente’s celebrated The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making has finally been released in bookity form! We covet, and so should you – just check out the reviews if you don’t feel convinced by the title alone. [That might be ‘coveted,’ past tense, in Kakaner’s case – she’s probably getting her fix as I type this.])
A few weeks ago, I got to see Catherynne Valente read from her newest novel, Deathless, at Pandemonium Books (conveniently located about twenty steps from the Central Square T stop in Cambridge, MA). Deathless, a Stalinist-era retelling of the fairy tale of Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, was released in late March to glowing reviews, and its first printing already seems to be well on its way to selling out. (I know this because Pandemonium actually couldn’t get copies in on time for the signing due to short supply at multiple warehouses. Bummer for the eager fans at the signing, but fantastic news for Valente.)
Valente read from a segment in which Marya encounters Baba Yaga – chauffered in a chicken-footed limousine – at a swanky club for devils. The prose was vintage Valente – vibrant, blackly witty, equal parts wonder and menace. Part of her motivation in writing Deathless, Valente emphasized, was a desire to bring greater awareness of both less-familiar folklore, and terrible events outside of the usual American perception of World War II. Her Marya emerges from the fairy-tale world into the Siege of Leningrad, a horrific three-year siege that consumed more than 1.5 million lives.
Deathless also includes, of course, generous doses of Communist satire. How do the inhabitants of the fairy-tale world react to Communism? one fan asked. “They love Communism. They’re devils! Communism is great.” (Baba Yaga also demands that Marya address her as “Chairman.”)
Amy Houser‘s lush comic teaser, “The House Committee,” features one such episode from the novel. (Houser, Valente mentioned, designs Barbies and My Little Ponies for a living, and was excited to work on something just a little bit darker.) Images below the cut —
Continue reading Author Event: Cat Valente reads from Deathless (April 2011)
My favorite book-news of late! An uncensored edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray has been published, based on Wilde’s original typescript. Some previously snipped and pruned bits: Basil Hallward’s more explicit effusions towards Dorian (“It is quite true I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend”); a sinuously creepy/sexually charged episode in which a stranger pursues Dorian in the street, “passing and repassing him many times;” references to Dorian’s “mistresses;” and other elements that might offend “an innocent woman.”
Ever wondered how all those prodigious sellers on Amazon actually get their books? A Slate contributor unloads his guilt regarding his current profession: trawling used-book sales with a barcode-reading PDA in search of books that can turn a profit online. It’s a pretty depressing read, but says some interesting things about bookselling, reading, and bibliophile culture.
“The book merchant of the high-cultural imagination is a literate compleat and serves the literate. He doesn’t need a scanner, because he knows more than the scanner knows. I fill a different niche—I deal in collectible or meaningful books only by accident. I’m not deep, but I am broad. My customer is anyone who needs a book that I happen to find and can make money from.”
“When I work with my scanner and there’s someone else shopping near me who wants to read books, I feel that my energy is all wrong—high-pitched, focused narrowly in the present, and jealous. Someone browsing through books does it with a diffuse, forgetful curiosity, a kind of open reckoning that she learned from reading.”
(emphasis mine, just because I liked the observation so much.)
And my silly overlapping-fandom squee for the week: Cat Valente and Ursula Vernon briefly discuss an aviating capybara.
Neil Gaiman will be writing the script for an English-language film adaptation of Journey to the West. This sounds like it should be very fun, indeed. There might also be some Guillermo del Toro in the mix, hurrah.
At first when I read the news I also thought that this might be the project that Gaiman’s been alluding to during his extended travels in China these past couple years, but I suspect that there’s still something else (or maybe several somethings else) to come out of that.
The Gneil has also revealed that a film adaptation of American Gods is underway, helmed by a director with “many, many Oscars.” I must admit that the idea of an American Gods movie seems to me only slightly less disastrous than a Sandman movie, but I’ll keep mum till more details are out.
The winner of the 2010 Tiptree Award, for sff that explores and challenges ideas of gender, has been announced! I also recognize lots of titles on the short- and longlists as books that I Really Should Be Reading…
Diana Wynne Jones has passed away at the age of 76. I had had no idea that she was ill. Apparently, at least as late as last summer she was still working on two books, which makes me think yet again how much I love authors as people, how much I admire their devotion to their creations and their readers.
While her books weren’t a big part of my childhood, apart from a brief love affair with The Dark Lord of Derkholm, I very much wish they had been – a later read of Howl’s Moving Castle had me cursing myself for not having read it when I was a bit younger. And regardless, I’ve always had a strong sense of her presence and influence in the worlds of fantasy and children’s literature, of her warmth and irreverence.
Part of what had me so shocked when Brian Jacques passed away was my longstanding impression that Redwall, as a world and as a series, could go on forever. For better or for worse, in the case of the series – to me the books began to seem unbearably repetitive somewhere around Taggerung. But regardless of the quality of the later books, and regardless of the criticisms of moral black-and-whiteness and so on, there was so much good in Redwall. And my impression always included my image of Jacques himself – the mousethief, loving, mischievous, honorable, stubbornly old-fashioned – as part of that good, that heartening sense of solidity, comradeship, and simple joy. I mean, come on, he was a bearded, twinkly-eyed former sailor. He started telling the Redwall stories to children at a school for the blind when he was working as a milkman. Repeat what I said above about loving authors as people.
Andy of Anagnorisis shares her remembrances of growing up with Redwall, and meeting Brian Jacques, in a beautiful memorial post here. And – eulalia!!!
This is perhaps a morbid thought, but all of this is making me want to hunt down the addresses of my most favorite children’s authors and send them letters to tell them how much they mean to me, while I still can.
…if you love the feeling of going into a library and coming out again with more books than you know you can read in the time available.
(I’ve been working hard on whittling down the ratio of unread to read books in my collection, but for the holidays I decided to indulge and sneak in a huge library trip, and it feels so good.)
Also, fun Nebula Awards interview with Cat Valente, wherein she provides all sorts of interesting tidbits about Fairyland.
Also also, may I squee about the fact that a week and a bit ago I got to see Valente read from her newest novel, The Habitation of the Blessed? (Unfortunately I forgot my camera, otherwise I’d have a few event photos, but I’m hideously backed up with any kind of blog-posting anyway and etc. etc.) As always, it looks to be tender, strange, and luscious; can’t wait to spend some quality time with my copy.
Catherynne M. Valente: bio and works reviewed