Thursday, February 19, 2015


Holotypic Occlupanid § phylum Plasticae... keeps me muffins moist!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

POEM - Ogden Nash: "So That's Who I Remind Me Of"

When I consider men of golden talents,
I'm delighted, in my introverted way,
To discover, as I'm drawing up the balance,
How much we have in common, I and they.

Like Burns, I have a weakness for the bottle,
Like Shakespeare, little Latin and less Greek;
I bite my fingernails like Aristotle;
Like Thackeray, I have a snobbish streak.

I'm afflicted with the vanity of Byron,
I've inherited the spitefulness of Pope;
Like Petrarch, I'm a sucker for a siren,
Like Milton, I've a tendency to mope.

My spelling is suggestive of a Chaucer;
Like Johnson, well, I do not wish to die
(I also drink my coffee from the saucer);
And if Goldsmith was a parrot, so am I.

Like Villon, I have debits by the carload,
Like Swinburne, I'm afraid I need a nurse;
By my dicing is Christopher out-Marlowed,
And I dream as much as Coleridge, only worse.

In comparison with men of golden talents,
I am all a man of talent ought to be;
I resemble every genius in his vice, however heinous-
Yet I write so much like me.

- Ogden Nash

Saturday, April 05, 2014 Akethan's review of The Evolution of Reptilian Handbags and Ot...

"She's a window through which power flows..."

Overall, a very strong collection. When asked to review, the comparative influences to Gaiman and the like made me give it a chance. Now that I've finished the collection, I saw glimmers of other authors I love to read such as Charles De Lint and Michael Moorcock.

I didn't like each entry, but in combination, this work earns a 4-star rating. Some entries did add to the display of Lamaga's imagination at play - if they'd been stand-alones, they would have been skippable. The title tale in particular, "The Evolution of Reptilian Handbags." Stronger were tales like "What Kind Are You?" and "Waking the Dreamer" ("The snake did not deceive Eve -- Eve was the snake."). These wrapped up nicely, but did make me hope that there's a larger future in the worlds Lamaga has built here. "Mr. Happy the Sharpshooter" offers as neat a twist as any classic Twilight Zone. The brittle beauty which sublimes to stony strength was well-played in "Medusa" ("After you left I turned to stone..."; "...shedding this house...") and "Black Crater, White Snow" - which called mind Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". Distorted pasts meet wavering futures in "Purple House" - not one of my favorites here but good for evidence of Lamaga's breadth. I loved the "What the Dalai Lama Said" (" flats sliding over the industrial carpet like water bugs on a pond."). The weaving of the personal with the universal was direct and beautiful. A favorite passage captures love for a thing that repels or abrades, impossibly well: "I remember loving her in that moment (though never since), the way you love something that is completely alien yet perfect in itself, like a crocodile or an exploding star." The collection closer "Invisible Heist" similarly provides a sense of going out into the brightness, into whatever comes next with arms wide open.

But it was "The Seduction of Forgotten Things" that cinched this book for me. This story hit so many of my reading pleasure centers - the urban fairytale in perfect form: the sad taming of a wild thing, the decay that turns what was tame into a changeling, lost horizons, an inspection of what naming things, owning things does to the thing desired and the one claiming rights. Isabelle pushes and pushes her found friend, Alejandro, her wild thing: "All the yesterdays. Back and back. What did you do?" This exploration of "what's in a name" shows up in "What Kind Are You?" - but is better shown in this story. Think a darker "My Fair Lady" or perhaps the origin of "Beauty and the Beast".

There's good poetry in Lamaga's pen and I'll keep an eye out for future releases. Akethan's review of The Evolution of Reptilian Handbags and Ot...:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Akethan's review of Satyrday

"Keep a leash on your runaway tongue..." Meet the hero of this story: Deirdre - bravest of the ravens. She steers the course of this story and changes every character's path. I loved this book as a kid and in moving through my old boxes, gave it a re-reading. It's aged beautifully. Reading it now, I thought a lot of the "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" which I've loved as well, although that is a much more recent tale. From the outset with the Owl's ballsy kidnapping of the dreaming moon all the way through the terrifying muck of the endless swamps and dead forests - beautiful, succinct writing. I especially loved the play between the satyr, Matthew and both his charge, the human, Derin, and the silver fox/nymph, Vera. But it's the raven, Deirdre, whose determination, focus and sense of what will be lost if the Owl prevails that captures my heart. She never stops pressing for the freedom of each and every creature in the world. Again and again and again - she puts all others above herself. To quote the moon, "I have learned about humility and bravery. ... I have learned that there are creatures in this world who care about something other than themselves." Spellbinding.

Thursday, January 23, 2014 Akethan's review of Elidor

"His mane flowed like a river in the moon: the point of the horn drew fire from the stars. Roland shivered with the effort of looking. He wanted to fix every detail in his mind for ever, so that no matter what else happened there would always be this." It's been a number of years since I read Garner's books. I pulled them out and started into ELIDOR. Turns out - I didn't remember any details of this book in the series, so it truly was a new reading to me. Like so many of my favorite writers, Garner fits enough plot and character into 145 pages whereas many writers can't make a clean work in 500 pages. Written in the late '60's and my copy a reprint from the early '80's - it has a definite Narnia plot running - thin walls between our world and another that is being swallowed by darkness and needs the help of four siblings (David, Nicholas, Helen & Roland). A shift between the two worlds - a hunt for magical treasures is followed by a return to normal life at home and the slipping away of whether it ever happened at all. Similarities - but this story runs darker than Narnia. And the reminders of their adventure keep jabbing at these kids - bursts of static electricity, phantom silhouettes in the rose garden, some serious harassment of these folks front door and mail slot and even a handful plastic prizes: "Are you saying Malebron's sending us souvenirs from Hong Kong?") While the kids turn skeptic, Roland alone packs enough faith to keep the whole bunch on the right track and the story takes some clean, sharp turns - before clipping off abruptly. Geek notes: Had to go online and look-up a few things (dolmen - / and even found their old house address at 20 Fog Lane, Manchester: mappable). I'll be on into reading the next book in the series and see if it keeps me guessing, too. Akethan's review of Elidor

Saturday, January 18, 2014 Akethan's review of Killing With The Edge Of The Moon

I came across a short story by Attanasio in an '07 sci-fi/fantasy magazine - and really was taken with the amount of story and rich description he could pack in so few pages (he's a monster with description). In looking up other books, this is the first one I went to - liking the summary of magic, faerie, doors between worlds, and keen to meet the Black Dog. Attanasio's style holds true: these 150 pages hold more thoughtful writing and depth of detail than Twilight can manage in 550. Less is more. "For an instant, she seemed woven of light." The keen way Nedra is stitched together and contrasted with her waifish, initially disconnected granddaughter, Flannery arcs nicely as their relationship and understanding of each other grows through experience and exposure. Poor, hapless Chet's transformation from nerdling into young warrior: "All I wanted was to go to the spring dance with her -- and now we're already at death do us part." The line between our world and the Otherworld - distinct at times and blurrily overlapping at others, "in dreams, where the two worlds bleed together." The allure of the easy way - even if its self-destructive or outright false. Great, sharp details are called out for the dragon's lair: "The acetylene brilliance illuminated clotted arches and stalactite lofts of a gruesome cathedral." The story holds neatly together as a written work and (but for a swelling "ta da" moment in the last chapter) avoids made-for-the-big-screen sloppiness that a lot of current fantasy is fouled by. As "dogs love to fetch a good bone", I will fetch more works by Attanasio.