The soldier came knocking upon the queen’s door
He said, “I am not fighting for you any more”
And the queen knew she’d seen his face someplace before
And slowly she let him inside
Suzanne Vega’s ‘The Queen and the Soldier’
Here in this quite remote Scottish Estate where the nearest town’s a good fifty km away, the group of thirty or so souls here year round forms a community that’s at its most cohesive when the weather turns decidedly cold and oftimes unfavourable to travel. This ‘hunkering down’ is a gradual process that starts in early Autumn and doesn’t really end ’til after lamb season in April as it’s hard to be a good host when you’re covered with blood, shit and other stuff that’s unpleasant in general.
Pumpkins are versatile food here, so you can help us harvest them now that our first light frost has passed; likewise apples and potatoes need harvesting and proper processing for the uses they’ll be put to. Gus, our Head Gardener, uses the entire staff who must be properly picky at what they’ll be doing.
All work and no play makes Gutmansdottir an unhappy girl indeed, so there are contadances pretty much weekly here. Tonight a visiting band, The Black Eyed Susans, are playing. But first, let’s see what’s in this Green Man edition…
Geographies, both those in the mundane world and the imaginary ones as well, have something within them that fascinates readers. Cat starts us off with a look at Stefan Ekman’s Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings: ‘Now we have a really detailed look at the role of fantasy maps and the settings they help create in fantasy literature. (Though weirdly enough, Here Be Dragons has only three such maps in it suggesting the author either had trouble getting permission to use more such maps or the use of them was deemed too costly.) It is not the usual collection of edited articles but appears an actual cohesive look at this fascinating subject.’
Craig has a look at three mystery novels by the venerable Ray Bradbury, as collected in an omnibus. See for yourself why Craig says, Where Everything Ends is a trio of fine detective novels (together with the short story that provided the starting point) from Bradbury in his inimitable style. He plays with the conventions, but since he so obviously loves the genre, this is easily forgiven — embraced, even — because the end results are, simply put, fine additions to the canon. This series is also dear to fans because it is likely the closest thing to an autobiography we will receive from this man who has brought so much joy to so many people for so many years.
So how about a major reading experience – whether or not you’re watching the current Tolkien adaptation on TV. Let me offer you The History of Middle Earth which is the extensive background Tolkien wrote for The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. I suggest you get comfortable before reading Liz’s look at it as it is a very detail essay on this massive work: ‘The History of Middle-Earth offers an unprecedented opportunity to examine a great writer’s creative development over a period of 60 years. At his death, J.R.R. Tolkien left a huge body of unfinished and often unorganized writings on the mythology and history of Middle-earth. In The History of Middle Earth (HoME), his son, Christopher, has sought to organize this huge collection of drafts, revisions and reworkings into an organized and intelligible whole.’
We have A.A. Milne’s The Red House Mystery, a classic English manor house novel that gets a looked by Lory: ‘The story is not really a “whodunit” — the “who” is pretty clear from the outset — the question is “how” and, even more, “why” he did it, and Milne keeps us guessing until the end. The plausibility of the solution is not one that would hold up to heavy scrutiny, but the pleasure lies not in the verisimilitude of the puzzle but in the ingenuity of its construction and unravelling, and the witty repartee among the characters.’
Reynard reviewed Mark Cunningham’s Horslips: Tall Tales, The Official Biography: ‘Horslips were, and in many ways still are, the Irish equivalent of Steeleye Span and, to a lesser extent, Fairport Convention, as they blend English and Irish traditional material and a rock and roll sensibility into what was the first Irish folk rock group.’ Did they get ft hey deserved? Oh yes
Speaking of imaginary geographies, it’s appropriate that Ryhope Wood, the setting of Robert Holdstock’s series of the same name gets a book of scholarly papers largely devoted to it. Richard looks at Donald E. Morese and Kalman Matolcsy’s The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction: ‘The myth-infested landscape of Robert Holdstock’s Ryhope Wood would seem to be fertile ground, not only for walking legends and “mythagos”, but also for literary criticism. After all, in the sequence Holdstock tackles not the structures of mythic fiction – dark lords, questing heroes, magical macguffins and so forth – but rather the concept of myth itself, and how the same core stories have echoed down through the millennia, amplified and distorted and reflected by centuries of human experience. The books start in a critical space, with scientist-protagonists attempting to unravel the nature of the wood and all it contains and it only dives deeper from there, familiarizing characters and readers alike with the tropes and concepts of discussion of myth.’
And what about geographies that are not imaginary? Robert has some thoughts on a book that may very well throw the distinction between real and imaginary out the window, namely, Denis Wood and John Fels’ The Natures of Maps: ‘You may wonder why the pages of Green Man Review, a ‘zine devoted to the roots of arts and culture, which purview most often results in insightful and intelligent studies of music, speculative fiction, and film, should play host to a discussion of a book on maps. Well, the subtitle of The Natures of Maps may give you a hint: the book is about “Cartographic Constructions of the Natural World.”‘
Steven has a look at a novel in a long running mystery series: ‘Tony Hillerman’s Hunting Badger was inspired by a real 1998 case that resulted in the murder of a police officer. The author refers to the case repeatedly but doesn’t offer any clues to its solution. Instead, he uses it as the springboard for a story that plays on Navajo history and mythology, with the “Badger” of the title turning out to be both a legendary Ute warrior and his son, the former having been thought of as a witch by mystified Navajos and the latter perhaps taking advantage of his father’s tricks following a murderous raid on a casino.’
has his own look at Middle-Earth, with The Great Tales Never End, a wonderful book of tributes to the late Christopher Tolkien. Next he looks at some classic detective fiction with Ed Lacy’s Room To Swing.
Warner says that Mindy Quigley’s Six Feet Deep Dish is ‘a paperback original on a clearly tasty theme’. While he is at it he looks at the latest Cambridge Bookshop Mystery, A Treacherous Tale.
span style=”font-weight: 400;”>He also talks about what is ‘in some respects a textbook legacy sequel” when discussing Will Do Magic for Small Change. Finally Warner checks out a collection by Ray Bradbury he describes as “a glorious collection of short stories by one of the masters of the form released by the Library of America.’
Gary reviews a new film currently making the round of festivals, Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi’s Roots Of Fire. ‘Anyone who enjoys Francophone Louisiana roots music and music documentaries in general will love Roots of Fire. The film focuses in particular on the young musicians who are bringing Cajun music into the 21st century, honoring their past and their forbears while moving the music forward and making it their own.’
We asked a goodly number of folks we encounter here this question: ”Is it a bowl of your mother’s fish chowder? Or a warm doughnut dusted with powdered sugar? Comfort food is as individual as each of us. We here at Sleeping Hedgehog (the in-house newsletter of our Estate) are interested in your story!’ Jennifer, a Winter Queen who’s responsible for the best Winter Solstice story ever, gives her answer here.
Robert delved into a superhero character that was new to him. ‘One has come to expect tight, absorbing writing from Alexander Irvine, and one is not disappointed in the Daredevil installment of the Marvel Noir series. Daredevil is not one of those superheroes who’s been very much on my radar, so I had the added attraction of a new character without, in my mind, any history to muck things up.
Kelly was highly impressed with Music of Russian Princesses: From the Court of Catherine the Great, by a group called Talisman: ‘Formed in 2000 by soprano Anne Harley and guitarist Oleg Timofeyev (who is noted for his expertise in the Russian guitar tradition), Talisman is dedicated to the performance and promotion of music from Russia’s little-known Baroque and Classical era, roughly 1750-1850.’
Kelly also had nothing but praise for Vladimir Horowitz’s Horowitz Live and Unedited: The Historic 1965 Carnegie Hall Return Concert: ‘Horowitz was known in life as “the Last Romantic,” and hearing his playing here, it’s not hard to see why. For all Horowitz’s amazing technique – there are no pianists today who have such command of the instrument as he did – he was celebrated all the more for the expressiveness of his playing. He had absolute control over the tone of the piano, and could make it sing better than any pianist I, personally, have ever heard.’
Mike admitted the Brazilian jazz on Morelenbaum2 / Sakamoto’s A Day in New York was out of his wheelhouse, but in spite of its being well received almost universally, he wasn’t having it. ‘OK, here it is: This is a CD of piano bar smarm Jazz. You know, “The Girl from Ipanema” type of thing. I confess that my opinion of this type of music cannot be adequately represented by anything original on my part.’
Robert was very pleased with an album containing two works by Morton Feldman, Rothko Chapel and Why Patterns? ‘These are two remarkable works by one of America’s most noteworthy composers. They are ethereal, energetic, thoughtful, and yet possessed of a kind of earthy reality. Their intellectual underpinnings, which are formidable, become invisible, and one is simply left with an event that is out of the ordinary. Hearing them is an engaging and enlightening experience, and one I can heartily recommend.’
He also found a lot to like on Trio Mediaeval’s Messe de Tournai, Words of the Angel. ‘One is struck in this recording by the clarity and transparency of their voices in singing music that was originally intended to be sung by men … The fact that the voices are soprano and alto rather than tenor and baritone really makes little difference here – there is the same otherworldly feeling to the music that one hears in chants rendered by male choirs, although there is an ethereal quality to some sections that I’m not sure male voices could challenge.’
So I’m going to give you as our What Not the late Kage Baker reading one of her own works, that being her Empress of Mars novella. It was supposed to be included on a CD in the limited edition version of the story that was going to be published by Nightshade Books but that never happened, so she gave us permission to publish it digitally. So find a quiet place to listen and settle in to hear a most excellent sf story told by a master storyteller!
Kathleen, her sister and a damn fine writer as well, notes that ‘she was an old-fashioned storyteller. She loved adding dimensions, and felt that all her stories should be either copiously illustrated or read out to an audience.’
If you’re truly fortunate, you’ll encounter a song that truly makes your heart ache for the raw emotion that it contains. For me, it was the song I heard sung by Suzanne Vega in some club down London way oh so many years ago: ‘The Queen and the Soldier’ which is breathtakingly mythic in scope and so damn personal that it hurts. All I know about the provence of this song is that it was performed in London on the twenty fourth of October, thirty one years ago.