Mike’s Prattle


So little time…

Posted by Mike on March 14, 2007

Incredibly busy of late, too busy to really get any chance to read or think or whatever. Trades, nephews, friends, the works. I wanted to talk a little about Elizabeth Hand’s book(s) Bibliomancy and Saffron & Brimstone, although I’m weeks from having finishing them both. Some fantastic writing though, just beautiful evocative prose and a sense of the intersection between myth/legend/imagination and the real world. It’s the kind of fantastic stuff I like the best these days, where the fantasy elements are light and background or somewhat ambiguous so the concentration is on character.

I read Bibliomancy first, from the story of the woman who can turns her victims into butterflies and who sets out on something of a subtle plan of revenge after she moves to London after being raped. It’s hard to describe how great Hand is with colors, the colors of the butterflies just shine with radiance, it’s as if you can see each unique species as they’re discussed.

My favorite story in Bibiomancy has to be the one about the Chip Crockett’s Christmas Special, a story about a divorced man with a severely autistic child who allows a famous musician friend, well past his prime, to move in with him. The Christmas Special is related to the fact that this musician, an obvious analog for Joey Ramone, is obsessed by this old television show, lost over time, with only small clips remaining who begins insisting a Christmas special will air again at some point. It’s basically a tale of redemption to some extent and all the various threads work to a wonderful ending.

Saffron & Brimstone is the US version of Bibliomancy, it’s not as pretty a book, it’s missing Chip Crockett (which can be found at scifiction anyway iirc), but it adds three (or six depending on how you count) new stories. The most resonant of these is the four part meta-story at the end of the book that deals with Greek myth in various different ways. The one about the woman living on the island off Maine that experiences a somewhat apocalyptic scenario offstage really got to me, the end paragraph in particular was awfully mystery tradition. Absolutely fabulous stuff.

I also finished Michael Swanwick’s Tales of Old Earth a while back. I’d read maybe four or five stories from it already when I used to subscribe to Asimov’s in the 90s, but it was a treat to read the rest. Swanwick deals out concepts like it’s as easy as taking a walk and there are just so many shorts here with great ideas and powerful endings. Not having the book in front of me makes it tough to remember any in particular, but there were few stinkers in it.

Right now I’m concentrating on three books. The first the Pritzker edition of the Zohar, first volume. Like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside than the outside. Coming from the standpoint of a hermetic qabalist, I’m finding a lot of riches in the more traditional side, and there’s so much in these books it’s hard to know where to start. But I can imagine this is where so much of the concept of the qlippoth and the alt side of the tree comes from originally.

The other two books are Jack McDevitt’s Deepsix, a sequel to the Engines of God and similar in some ways, archaeologists trying to salvage relics where they shouldn’t be. Engines was great, this one, well I think I’m not all that much in the mood for SF lately, as I don’t think it’s quite so good so far, but still enjoyable as a romp. The other is Bradley Denton’s “The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians” which is a brilliant little collection (and something of a partner to “The Conflagration Artist), I’ve got one story, about a young Mark Twain, to read before I talk about it, but the title story is a doozy.

Other than that, trying to keep up with too many TV shows. Watching Battlestar take a huge nosedive of late to the point where I’m starting to get disgusted with it, ever since they left New Caprica I’ve been irritated with the story lines. Maybe they wanted us to get irritated before they killed off youknowwho so it wouldn’t seem as bad.

In fact one of these days I have to do a TV update as I think Friday Night Lights has probably gone to the head of the pack….


2 Responses to “So little time…”

  1. Mike B said

    Mike, I was going to write you about the last 6 or so BSG episodes and the subject of the email would have been “Battlestaaaaaargh!” So obviously you’ve read my mind again. The writing has been predictable tv plotlines with too much resolution. The only exception is the one where Kira “died” only of course we know she didn’t. Have last week’s on DVR and will watch it soon.

  2. Mike said

    I happened to take a look at the spoilers for the last two episodes today. I haven’t watched last night’s ep yet, the last few eps haven’t been worth staying up that late on a Sunday night for. Honestly, from what I’ve read, there’s 3 big shocks. One everyone is expecting, another that’s about as obvious as you’d expect on a show like this, the last is totally confusing. If they stick to Sunday nights next year, I’m waiting for the DVDs 🙂

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