Everyone ignores two important facts: one person’s crap is another person’s beloved book, and publishing has always produced books in great volume. ―
There’s a contradance going on just now, but my left knee, injured many decades ago, is acting out, so I decided to stay in the Pub and listen to the Neverending Session which has been playing a lot of hambos (think of them as a sort of a mazurka if you wish) this evening as I write up these notes. Gary Whitehouse as always did the music, graphic novel and film sections.
Speaking of the latter, we should welcome sone folk who are both great writers and all around nice to have around, Lis Milner, Warner Holme and Paul Weimer, who’ve been here for some months now. Welcome!
We’re doing nothing but works by Roger Zelazny this time so we’re leading with a review by April of his longest work: ‘Roger Zelazny’s Amber series spans three decades, ten volumes, several short stories, a RPG, graphic novels and even a recent revival attempt (John Betancourt’s Dawn of Amber series). Packed into those original books and stories is a wealth of characters, settings, items and plots — far too much minutiae for any but the most die-hard fan to remember. And that’s where Krulik’s The Complete Amber Sourcebook comes in. The Sourcebook is not for someone who has not read the entire series, as spoilers are literally everywhere. Krulik assumes an audience already familiar with the core set of books.’
She also has look at an unusual novel from a SF writer doing his only thriller: ‘Dead Man’s Brother is a delight to read — Roger Zelazny’s language and characters seem right at home in this genre — and regrettably over all too fast at less than 300 pages. If only more such jewels were left to unearth…’
Cat leads off a review in this way: ‘If you started listening to audiobooks over the past ten or so years, considered yourself to be extremely lucky as you’re living in a true Golden Age where narration, production, and ease of useless is extremely good. But long ago, none of that was something you could take as a given as it most decidedly wasn’t.’ Now read his review of Roger Zelazny’s Isle of Dead to see if this older audiobook transcended these limitations.
And he says ‘Roadmarks features a protagonist somebody is trying to kill as he moves along a time-travelling road. As one does. ‘Zelazny really didn’t do plots all that well, but he was gifted at developed unique characters and settings. So, like so many of his novels, this one’s true strengths lies in the unique nature of the setting, combined with the character development…’
The Ides of Octember: A Pictorial Biblography of Roger Zelazny is, Iain notes, ‘a bibliography which was prepared as part of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, a six volume undertaking, of which you’ll find the first volume, Threshold, reviewed here.’ Read his review on this bibliography which only diehard Zelazny fans or libraries with a strong sf emphasis should consider buying, so quite naturally we have a copy.
Let’s not give away what happening in the story Lis reviews A Night in the Lonesome October: ‘ Snuff is our narrator, here, and he’s a smart, interesting, likable dog. He’s the friend and partner of a man called Jack, and they are preparing for a major event. Jack has a very sharp knife, which he and Snuff use in gathering the necessary ingredients for the ancient and deadly ritual that will be performed on Halloween.’
Robert has a rather unusual book by him — well, unusual for Zelazny, at least — Damnation Alley: ‘One of the key elements of Zelazny’s work was his complete disregard for the boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and mainstream literature. Consider that, within a science fiction framework he frequently introduced mythological characters, not as mythic archetypes but as actual characters, and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable stylistically within the genre into more widely accepted literary conventions. And, having said that, I’m faced with Damnation Alley, a novel from early in his career (1969) that seems, on its surface, to undercut my points.’
While poking around in the back reaches of the Library, he also ran across an old favorite, Roger Zelazny’s collection The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories: ‘Although he published his first story in the early 1950s, Roger Zelazny didn’t really impact the science fiction scene until 1963. That’s when I remember reading “A Rose for Eccelsiastes” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (with their best cover ever illustrating Zelazny’s story). He followed it up the next year with the title story of this collection, which won him his first Nebula award. Zelazny and his contemporaries went on to become the American branch of science fiction’s New Wave, and pushed the envelope until it was altered beyond recognition.’
Lest we get too comfortable with all this summer sunshine, Asher reviewed the creepy Darkness Falls. ‘What I like so much about Darkness Falls, as well as Craven’s They, is that besides that light and deft touch, you can really feel with the film what it was like to be afraid as a child. Both films, especially this one, rely on suspension of jaded adult comfort with an ordinary good night’s sleep. That sense that the worst thing lurking in the shadows of suburbia is a conventional axe-wielding psychopath, escaped from the local asylum, is being challenged again.’
Gary loves cookies, so he was eager to try Trader Joe’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies. His verdict? ‘They’re tasty and definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. I don’t think they need to be as sugary as they are, but then I’m not the one making gazillions of dollars selling high-end snacks to the bougies, so what do I know?
Not exactly a graphic novel, but it’s filled with graphic art: David got his rave on about Paul Grushkin & Dennis King’s The Art of Modern Rock, detailing concert posters from the indie music explosion of the early 2000s. ‘There are 1,800 of these posters presented in The Art of Modern Rock. One thousand, eight hundred! And they are accompanied by photographs and brief biographies of many of the artists who created them. At first perusal I missed these photos altogether! It was the posters I was looking at. Page after page of beautiful, then bizarre, then disturbing, then funny, wait…funny and disturbing…images. Drawings, paintings, solarized photos, sometimes organized according to artist, sometimes by theme, the images were just so rich and plentiful that on my first time through I simply looked at them.’
Alistair dug into No. 1 Scottish, the first album by students on the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama’s own label. ‘However, put any notions out of your heads of school yearbooks, of end-of-year brag productions to convince proud parents that their investment is not being consumed in the Horseshoe Bar. This is a thoroughly professional release, standing proudly as a sampler of the best of Scottish traditional music as interpreted by some of Scotland’s most accomplished young performers.’
David reviewed a tribute disc to a Canadian folk singer that many people in the U.S. have probably never heard of. Here’s what he has to say about One Voice: A Tribute to Norm Hacking. ‘Norm Hacking is a big man with a big heart and a lot of friends. Many of them gathered in the last year to put together this collection of some of Hacking’s best songs, performed with affection and skill. Wayne Marshall, a guitarist and songwriter from Brantford, Ontario, produced this rich and varied collection.’
David also reviewed a four-disc set compiled for the 40th anniversry of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, drawing on performances during many years of the festival that began in 1962. ‘This box set is an extraordinary little box of treasures. Even the booklet is well-designed, filled with mementos and curios, and tons of information about the performers and the festival.’
Speaking of summer, Gary reviewed a couple of albums of surf music, Southern Culture on the Skids’ Mojo Box and Laika & The Cosmonauts’ Local Warming. ‘Whether that phrase makes you think of the smooth, polished, multi-guitar sound of The Ventures, the slashing rumble of Link Wray, the power-picking of Dick Dale or the danceable pop of ’60s beach blanket movies, you still probably have some idea of what to expect. These two January 2004 Yep Roc releases, one from a long-standing U.S. band, the other from Finland, of all places, showcase some of the different directions surf music has taken.’
Gary also reviews a new album of Catalán jazz, Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià’s ReTornar. ‘Inspired by their travels and cultural exchanges as musicians, these songs lean heavily on their Catalonian roots, but they’ve spliced on bits of Portuguese, Brazilian, Mexican, Cuban, Argentinian and Afro-Caribbean folk vtraditions and rhythms, all of it informed by their jazz sensibilities. They start with various folk songs of various provenance and genre and joyfully mix things up.’
‘Featuring some of the best-known names in the Asian Underground – Ananda Shankar, Joi, Asian Dub Foundation – and a number of lesser known acts, Rough Guide’s latest compilation dares to compete with what must be the essential guide to the scene, the legendary 1997 Talvin Singh Presents Anokha – The Soundz of the Asian Underground,’ Inigo said in reviewing the Rough Guide to Asian Underground. ‘By focusing on the output of friendly rival label Nation Records, compiler DJ Ritu chose to complement rather than compete, and this album serves to fill out the historical record of the emergence of one of the most interesting music scenes today.’
Jack wrote up an omnibus review of several CDs loosely defined as dance music: Flying Tomatoes’s Rags to Racenicas, Atomic City Rhythm Rascals’ Atomic City Rhythm Rascals, Birol Topaloglu’s Aravani, Mukka’s Skip Lizard, Pinewoods Band’s South by Southeast, and Stömp’s Machine Without Horses. ‘All of these CDs are very, very good – great for dancing and superb for just listening to! Hell, I may even discuss dance music from other regions! You’ll just have to read on to see what tickles my fancy.’
Our What Not this week is another treat from Folkmanis. Says Robert: ‘I seem to have another Folkmanis puppet lurking around, this one the Rat In a Tin Can. The Folkmanis website describes him as being ready for a playful picnic (note the napkin in one paw). However, it seemed to me that he might just as easily be a waiter in an upscale rat restaurant: his black-and-white pattern might almost be taken for formal wear.’
There are bands for which I’ve a deep liking for pretty much everything they done and so it is with Chicago’s ‘Saturday in the Park’ which I’ve heard playing off and on over the past forty years. It’s certainly an upbeat, feel good summer song much like ‘Love Shack’ by the B-52s. It was recorded forty years ago this August at the Park West in Chicago.
The studio version was released on Chicago V in 1972 and peaked on the Billboard charts at number three which is bloody impressive. It was lovely enough that I’ve never gotten tired of it. But I’ve prattled on enough about it, so here’s the song for you to have the pleasure of hearing performed live.