The most complex programs in existence are used for consumer analysis. They’re everywhere, watching and analyzing every aspect of our lives. The amount of data gathered on any one of us is mind-boggling.
Care to have a pint of our new All Hallows Eve Ale? It’s quite good. I’ll get Finch to draw you a pint. I’ve been getting stellar comments about it from those who’ve had a few. Or a few too many. Bjorn, our Brewmaster, always seems to enjoy creating new Autumn libations more than those he does for the other seasons. And he’s hinting that he’ll be doing an authentic Octoberfest beer very soon but he’s kept everything a secret from even me.
In the meantime, I’m writing up this edition as Iain, your usual host, is running through the tunes that Red Robin will be playing later this evening in the Sanctuary as he’s the caller. Two violinists, one smallpiper plus a mountain dulcimer player — all from Ashville, North Carolina — and it should be quite tasty to dance to.
Cat says for some time he’s been looking forward to a full length novel in P. Djèlí Clark’s Dead Djinn series set in an early 1900s alternative Cairo where magic has returned to the world. It’s now here in A Master of Djinn, which Cat enjoyed on audio. ‘Now let me be clear that this is a pulp story with a heroine who has her own sidekick and truly deliciously evil antagonists. The story starts fast, gets faster and never slows down.’
Drawing Down The Moon: The Art of Charles Vess is is an exhibition catalogue for a show that should’ve been for someone who’s illustrated such works as Seven Wild Sisters and The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a favourite of mine. Let’s have Charles explain why I believe this: ‘All you need to do is flip through the book to realize that when it comes to traditional fairy, folk tale and fantasy art, there are few artists who do it better than Vess.’
Gary found Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light, to be quite a page-turner. ‘I think of myself as … not exactly a pacifist, but pacifist adjacent. It’s hard to square that with how much I enjoy good military SFF. My experience with it goes back to early Heinlein like Starship Troopers, through Niven-Pournelle and Joe Haldeman, and now you can add Linda Nagata to that list.’
With the new TV series adapted from William Gibson’s The Peripheral beginning Oct. 21 on Amazon Prime, we thought we’d re-run Gary’s review of the 2014 book. ‘Once again, a William Gibson book seems ripped from today’s headlines, extrapolated forward a bare few years. I like The Peripheral as much as I’ve liked any of Gibson’s books. Probably better. It takes place in a very real-seeming world, among real-seeming people.’
And while we’re at it, here’s his review of the sequel, Agency. ‘It’s the second book in yet another trilogy by Gibson, the septuaginarian North American who since the 1980s has made a career of writing plausible tomorrows by looking hard at today. This one picks up sometime after the action in The Peripheral. The gist of these tales, as it continues to emerge in Agency, is that the world’s political, social, and climate upheavals that we see happening around us today culminated in a catastrophe they now call the Jackpot (in one of these timelines), which led to the extinction of three-quarters of the world’s human population and at least that much of its other animal life.
Leona gives an incisive review of Black Is the Colour of My True-love’s Heart, an Ellis Peters novel: ‘Originally published in 1967, this is a book of music, of silence, of words; it has love, hate, and all their analogues. Myths and facts combine to wrap the storyline in a heavy cloak of authenticity. This is a story of high passion and cool deliberation; it dances through the morals and minds of another age and gives the reader a wide window into the world of folk music and ballad-singers.’
Ben Aaronovitch‘s The Furthest Station (Rivers of London #5.5) is a cool story says Lis: ‘ The London Underground has ghosts. Well, the London Underground always has ghosts, but usually they’re gentle, sad creatures. Lately there’s been an outbreak of more aggressive ghosts. Groping, shoving, insults that are racist and/or misogynistic–offensive and provocative. Victims of the assault report them, but have completely forgotten them by the time Transport Police get back to them to follow up.
Joseph Campbell’s Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth got reviewed by her: ‘This book is a collection of his lectures and writings on the Arthurian adventures and Grail Quests of the Middle Ages, specifically the “Matter of Britain” stories of the 12th and 13th centuries. These are the stories, or the basis of the stories, of Arthur’s court and its knights and ladies that we are most familiar with, and have nothing to do with the probable historical Arthur figure of the late 5th/early 6th centuries who may have led the Celtic Britons in resistance against the invading Saxons. If the historical Arthur existed, Arthur would have most likely been a nickname or title, not his name.’
Denise got a kick out of the contemporary horror film Jeepers Creepers. ‘Controversial filmmaker Victor Salva acts as writer and director for this film, and proves himself a capable storyteller. This film grabs your attention in the first few minutes and doesn’t let it go. It is a fast-paced 90 minutes with few unessential bits. As I watched the ending credits roll, I wished it had been a little longer; the bits of exposition as well as the glimpses of The Creeper’s lair hint at a larger mythology that I would like to have learned more about. As it stands, it’s a well-paced thrill ride that goes by so quickly you don’t have time to think about wanting more until you realize it’s over.’
The late and much missed Kage Baker, a woman who loved all things culinary such as the Two Fat Ladies series, once upon a time taught the bakers in our kitchen to make a most excellent soul cake according to what she says is a traditional Scots recipe. Let’s listen in as she tells them how she makes these nibblies…
Richard was a little disappointed with Brian Azzarello & Victor Santos’s Filthy Rich modern noir comic Filthy Rich. ‘Considering the way in which the Vertigo imprint helped revolutionize American comics, one would hope that the lead title for Vertigo Crime would offer some of that same freshness. Instead, it’s just solid work. Victor Santos’ strong artwork helps — the tone of period film is evoked perfectly, with square-jawed men and seductively rounded women — but the ultimate effect is a strong take on a timeworn formula, rather than something new.’
Cat turned in a wide-ranging interview with Nick Burbridge of McDermott’s Two Hours. ‘I first encountered his band when reading George Berger’s 1998 book Dance Before the Storm: The Official Story of the Levellers, which had this lovely bit about his band: “All the Levellers are keen to cite McDermott’s Two Hours as their original inspiration. A Brighton band, they were the natural fusion of the anger of Crass and the Irish-driven music of the Pogues.”
David wrote up an omnibus review and remembrance of Canadian folk and blues musician Jackie Washington. ‘He was born in 1919, and the family has lived in Hamilton forever. Jackie worked as a porter on the railroad; he worked at American Can for a time, bottling soda pop; and his whole life he has been a musician. A quick glance through the quasi-autobiography More Than a Blues Singer [compiled from interviews by poet James Strecker] shows a connection from Jackie to some of the greatest names in 20th century jazz and blues.’
Gary enthusiastically reviews Slash, a new album of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and American old time tunes by American guitarist Alex Sturbaum and a host of guest musicians on fiddle and a few other likely instruments. ‘I’m just gobsmacked at how much wonderful music there is on this album. Maybe my reaction is partly due to the fact that I haven’t been to a contradance since late 2019, and I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever get to go dancing again. But if you’re a contradancer or just enjoy energetic, rhythmic fiddle music out of these traditions, you owe it to yourself to check out Slash.’
Gary was pleased with the ‘Arabian fuzz’ emanating from Al-Qasar’s Who Are We? ‘What do you get when you combine a French-American electric guitar whiz-kid, a Moroccan singer and percussionist, a versatile rhythm section, and guest singers and players from the top ranks of World music and punk rock? Probably something like Al-Qasar, whose first full-length album Who Are We? raises the flag of Middle Eastern psychedelic rock with a decidedly political focus.’
Lory checked out a set of holiday music from an established musician and his daughter, Craig and Kara Markley’s Once Upon a Winter Moon. ‘There’s nothing wildly original here, but the arrangements are well-crafted and pleasant to listen to. The two original instrumentals, “Lady With the Silver Thread” (by Craig) and “Tinuviel” (by Kara) are cut from the same cloth, fitting in seamlessly with the more traditional melodies.’
Robert brings us a review of something that has nothing to do with witches: ‘Well, another cutie from Folkmanis came across my desk — or maybe I should say, “swam” across my desk: it’s their Baby Sea Otter hand puppet, and it’s a real cutie.’
So I’m going to finish off this Edition with a live recording of the Dead doing ‘The Music Never Stopped’ which appropriately was recorded near Summer Solstice, the nineteenth of June, forty two years ago in Passaic, New Jersey. Blues for Allah, their eighth studio album, which had been released in September of 1975, included this song.