Archive for June, 2011

Lanterns Over Poland

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

I’ve seen some other videos of lanterns be floated over Poland as part of their midsummer festival, but I thought this was just too cool looking not to post.

Lists of Top Crime Films

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Ever since the 70s Crime Film Festival I’ve been a bit on a crime film kick, having watched Get Carter, Mean Streets, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Casino and Scarface. Along the way I’ve found a few Best Crime Films lists that may be worthy of your attention:

  • Here’s a list of Top 25 Crime Films I can’t really quibble too much about, though I’d probably change the order on some.
  • Here’s the IMDB Top 5o Crime Films List, which is a bit more eclectic.
  • Here’s a Top 100 List broken out by sub-genre. Unfortunately, in addition to expanding the list to include things like Westerns, it also lets some dubious crap in. (Constantine and Rendition? Really?) And Ronin is a great car chase surrounded by a pretty mediocre thriller.
  • Lovecraft and Copyright

    Friday, June 24th, 2011

    While looking around for something else, I stumbled upon this this fairly extensive piece on the copyright status of H. P. Lovecraft’s work.

    The impression I always had is that all of Lovecraft’s works that weren’t already in the public domain passed into in 2007, 70 years after Lovecraft’s death, under the terms of the Berne convention. But the story of who owned what before that point is quite tangled indeed…

    Lawrence Person’s Library: Reference Books (Part 2: Oversized Books)

    Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

    And here’s the second part of my series on my reference library. The last installment dealt with the books I reach for most often. The reference works listed in this post share only size, being too big for most of my other shelves, which is why they’re filed here. Some of these (the Nevins, the first two Bleilers) get a lot of use, while others almost never get taken down (things that have been superseded by both the Internet and the two Clute encyclopedias).

    (Click to embiggen.)

    I’m not going to do a full run-down of publication dates, etc. for everything, but here’s a general overview of what’s here:

  • Harris-Fain, Darren, editor. British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers before World War I (Gale Dictionary of Literary Biography Volume 178). Eclectic selection, but a very solid work for the writers (about half the volume) who aren’t well-covered in other references.
  • Bleiler, Everett F. Science Fiction: The Early Years and Science Fiction: The Gernsback Years. Kent State University Press, 1990/1998. Absolutely essential for anyone with an interest in the early years of the field.
  • Bleiler, Everett F. Science Fiction Writers. First and second editions. Superseded by the two Clute Encyclopedias.
  • Smith, Curtis S., et. al. (editor) Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers. Ditto.
  • Vinson, James and D.L. Kirkpatrick, editors. Twentieth Century Western Writers. It was cheap. Like, $2 at a library sale cheap…
  • Tuck, Doanld H. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Two volumes. Another book set superseded by the two Clute Encyclopedias.
  • Nevins, Jess. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana. MonkeyBrain Books, 2005. Extremely useful work, but not quite worth the $2,000 some people are asking for online…
  • Bell, Joseph. Les Bibliotheques Howard Phillips Lovecraft (Volumes 1-8). Soft Books, 1984-1987. Weird, eight volume, stapled paper-wrappers collection of various H. P. Lovecraft-related bibliographic tidbits. Huge overlap with the Joshi bibliography and the catalog of the Grill-Berkin collection (both of which I have), but some odd and interesting information for the Lovecraft fanatic (of which there are many). I will probably do a separate post on my collection of Lovecraft reference works sometime in the indeterminate future…
  • Sidney-Fryer, Donald. Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography. Donald M. Grant, 1979. If this isn’t the most irritatingly organized single-author bibliography of all time, it’s not for want of trying…
  • Grant, Donald M. Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny. Donald M. Grant, 1983. Just picked this up, so it’s still in the shrinkwrap…
  • Day, Bradford M. Materials Toward a Bibliography of the Works of Talbot Mundy. Science-Fiction & Fantasy Publications, 1955. My copy was beat to hell when I got it, and it was regarded as not entirely accurate even when it was produced. A historical curiosity only.
  • Pringle, David. St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers. St. James Press, 1998. A lot less superseded than the SF & Fantasy works, but unless it’s something quite modern, I’ll generally reach for Bleiler’s The Guide to Supernatural Fiction instead.
  • Hall, Hal. Science Fiction Book Review Index, 1974-1979. Gale, 1981. If you need it (and you know who you are), you need it.
  • Spignesi,Stephen J. Shape Under the Sheet: The Complete Stephen King Encyclopedia. Popular Culture Ink., 1991. A mixture of the really useful and the completely worthless.
  • Wiater, Stanley, Christopher Golden and Hank Wagner. The Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of Stephen King. Cemetery Dance, 2001. Signed, slipcased edition. I don’t have too many King reference works, but I’ve got these two. (Plus Hank use to do a lot of reviews for me back in the Nova Express days.)
  • Hawk, Pat. Hawk’s Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Series & Sequels. Hawk’s Enterprises, 2001. Not perfect, but nothing else really covers so much information for this particular area.
  • Stableford, Brian. The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places. Simon & Schuster, 1999. A solid work, but I almost never find myself consulting it.
  • Turner, George R. (Bruce Gillespie, editor) SF Commentary 76: The Unrelenting Gaze: George Turner Non-Fiction: A Selection. A hefty selection of commentary, reviews, etc. from the dean of Australian SF writers. The full text is available online.
  • Wright, H. Stephen. Philip K. Dick: A Secondary Bibliography, 1960-1983. Just what it says. Bound pages. Not a particularly common work. Like Lovecraft, I plan on doing a future post on my Philip K. Dick reference works.
  • Shoaf, Eric C. Collecting William S. Burroughs in Print: A Checklist. Ratishna Books, 2000. Bought this off eBay back around 2001, and was initially disappointed that it was just bound pages, but this actually a really solid bibliography. For example, there’s an in-depth history of the Grove Press publication of Naked Lunch.
  • Bradbury, Ray. Futuria Fantasia. Graham, 2007. Hardback reproduction of four issues of an early fanzine Bradbury published. I’m guessing the green ink is designed to matched the original look of the fanzine, but man, it’s really hard on the eyes…
  • Collins, Paul, editor. The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy. Melbourne University Publishing, 1998. Felt compelled to pick this up after I published a very scathing John Clute review of it in Nova Express.
  • Science Fiction Bibliography, Volume 1, Number 1 (and only). Science Fiction Syndicate, 1935. A curiosity, being the first published science fiction bibliography on record (and published here in Austin, no less). Mainly reviews fanzine and magazines you’ve never heard of, condemning some as complete worthless. No author listed, but it was apparently a D. R. Welch, the first used SF book dealer in Austin. Picked up for $35 back when Currey was asking $100 for it. Mainly useful as something to pull out for guests and go “Look! The first published SF bibliography!” and watch them nod indulgently.
  • Sounds From True Stories: The Great Lost David Byrne Album

    Saturday, June 18th, 2011

    In the 1980s, two of my favorite albums were soundtracks David Byrne did as odd side projects: Music from The Knee Plays, Byrne’s linking music for the never-staged 9 1/2 hour Robert Wilson avant-garde musical spectacle the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down, which was also supposed to have music by Philip Glass and Gavin Bryers. (The Glass music was eventually released, and which I also recommend; as far as I know the Bryers pieces haven’t been), and Sounds From True Stories, the soundtrack of incidental music from his quirky film True Stories, which shares some themes with the Talking Heads album of the same name.

    And then both of them went out of print and, for the longest time, never came out on CD. This was deeply frustrating, because my old record player finally gave up the ghost, and besides The Forest and “Hanging Upside Down,” those two albums contain Byrne’s best solo work.

    Finally, a few years ago, Knee Plays came out, and is well worth picking up for tracks like “Winter” and “In the Future.” (I saw The Dirty Dozen Brass Band perform live accompaniment to a sort of mime show at the Bass Concert Hall way back in the dim mists of time.)

    But I still wait in vain for Sounds From True Stories to be released on CD or MP3.

    Fortunately, someone has put up all the tracks on YouTube (complete with LP pops and hisses). So here are all the tracks in order. Consider this a chance to enjoy a great, lost David Byrne album (and provide a kick in the butt for Byrne and whoever owns the Sire back catalog to stop dicking around and release it to CD or iTunes).

    The album contains a wild variety of styles, with Country and Western, Lounge Jazz and Tejano among them. if you don’t want to listen to all of them, try “Dinner Music,” “Mall Muzak,” and “Glass Operator.”

    January 2017 Update: The previous source of these has been kicked off YouTube, so I went out and found what replacements I could:

    The entire album:

    Road Song:

    Glass Operator:

    It’s a shame that “Dinner Music” and “Mall Muzak” no longer appear to be available anywhere except in that top video…

    The New and Perfect Man (Postscripts 24/25) is Out

    Thursday, June 16th, 2011

    Including my story “The Dog Parade.”

    Here’s the traycase the signed, limited edition comes in:

    And here’s the book itself nestled snugly inside that traycase:

    It was actually an unusually long journey for the anthology to be published, as one of the sets of signature sheets got lost in transit, which set back the publication timeline considerably.

    Contents of Postscripts #24/25: The New and Perfect Man, edited by Peter Crowther & Nick Gevers, are as follows:

  • THE NEW AND PERFECT MAN — Carol Emshwiller (cover story, illustrated by her husband, the late, great Ed Emshwiller)
  • FRIGHTENED ANGELS — Jeremy Adam Smith
  • TO SEE INFINITY BARE — Rudy Rucker & Paul Di Filippo
  • THE DOG PARADE — Lawrence Person
  • THE LAST HERETIC — Darrell Schweitzer
  • WHISPER — Richard Calder
  • THE PRIMATE SANCTUARY — Quentin S. Crisp
  • CALL ME — Bob Strother
  • SO LOVED — Matthew Hughes
  • EUPHORIA — Robert Reed
  • TRUE BLUE — Darrell Schweitzer
  • CHRIST THE PAINTER — Allen Ashley
  • YOUR GOLDEN HANDS — Andrew Hook
  • ASHES IN THE WATER — Joel Lane and Mat Joiner
  • CHILD OF EVIL STARS — Anne-Sylvie Homassel
  • DR. BLACK, THOUGHTS & PATENTS — Brendan Connell
  • THE ROOM BEYOND — Ramsey Campbell
  • THROWNNESS — Adam Roberts
  • IMAGO — Keith Brooke
  • Sold wherever fine SF anthologies are sold…

    Lawrence Person’s Library: Reference Books (Part 1)

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

    I haven’t posted much the last week because I’ve been busy doing this and that, and one of the things I’ve been busy with is a long-overdue cleanup of my office, including doing something about those Nova Express review copies cluttering it up. Now that I’ve finally finished moving books around, and gotten a new camera (a Kodak Slice) to replace the one that died, I thought I would put up some long-overdue pictures of the books in my office, starting with the reference shelf right next to my computer, which contains the reference works I tend to reach for most often.

    (Click to embiggen.)

    Going left to right (left being the side closest to the computer, and thus the books I reach for most often) are:

  • Currey, L.W. Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction. G. K. Hall, 1978. The bible of the field, and absolutely essential for any serious collector of science fiction first editions. Only goes up to 1978. For dates after 1983, you can use The Locus Online Database. Currey also sells a slightly updated CD-ROM version, which still only goes up to 1978. (Now if only someone would compile a book that covers 1979-1983…)
  • Chalker, Jack & Owings, Mark. The Science Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History. Mirage Press, 1991 (“Third Edition Revised and Enlarged”). If you’re a serious SF collector, you need this. The problem is, you can’t trust it. No other reference work offers the wealth and scope of knowledge of SF small press publishers that this one does. There’s a lot of good information in here. The print edition shown above had major errors and omissions, and a very odd organizational structure, not to mention several sneers and the constant sound of ax-grinding for SF figures the authors disagree with; the CD-ROM version is more accurate, but no longer up to date as both Chalker and Owings have died. What this book is best for is the chatty, informative histories of the various publishing houses listed here. (If nothing else, I can unstintingly recommend this book for anyone thinking of starting up their own small press, as it provides numerous examples of what not to do.) It’s also quite useful for uncovering titles and publishers you might not have known existed before. In summary: A valuable tool for those who possess enough experience in the field to know which parts to take with a grain of salt.
  • Clute, John, & Nichols, Peter. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. St. Martins, 1993 (first U.S. edition, offset from the same plates as the Orbit (UK) first). An absolutely essential general reference work.
  • Clute, John, & Grant, John. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. St. Martins, 1997 (first U.S. edition). Slightly more scattershot than the above, but still an essential guide.
  • Reginald, Robert. Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: Indexes to the Literature, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature:Contemporary Science Fiction Authors, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: 1975 to 1991. Gale Research, 1980, 1981, 1992. Not the first reference work I reach for, but contains a lot of information that has slipped through the cracks of other works.
  • Levack, Daniel. Amber Dreams: A Roger Zelazny Bibliography. Underwood Miller, 1983. The first of the single-author bibliographies.
  • Levack, Daniel. PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography. Underwood Miller, 1981. I have a copy of the trade paperback edition for sale over on the Lame Excuse Books page.
  • Hewett, Jerry. The Work of Jack Vance: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. Borgo Press/Underwood Miller, 1994. I know Jerry pretty well, and not only has he signed my copy, he crossed out “Borgo” and wrote in “Bozo” on the title page. I think he had some problems dealing with them…
  • Bleiler, Everett F. The Checklist of Science-Fiction and Supernatural Fiction. Firebell, 1978. Slightly updated edition of Bleiler’s classic Checklist of Fantastic Fiction (which I have on another shelf), and an absolutely essential reference work for older SF/F/H books.
  • Joshi, S. T. Sixty Years of Arkham House. Arkham House, 1999. Not 100% accurate, but essential none the less.
  • Bleiler, Everett. The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. Kent State University Press, 1993. Very good, and very solid, as a general reference work, but not really concerned with first edition points.
  • Locke, George. Spectrum of Fantasy I-III. Ferret Fantasy, 1980-2002. Perhaps the only SF dealer as knowledgeable as Currey. These are Locke’s descriptions of his own personal library of fantastic fiction. Quite enjoyable works, and George is a nice guy.
  • One guideline I’d offer aspiring SF/F/H book collectors is: Don’t skimp on the reference works. Some of these books can be expensive, but all it takes is one real find (or one expensive dud avoided) for a good reference work to pay for itself.

    More pictures of my reference library when I have the time…

    The Sun Wants to KILL YOU

    Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

    Some nice turns of phrase (pathetic fallacy division) from the inimitable James Lileks:

    At the center of every solar system, perhaps, there’s not a benevolent disc that paints the world with light and heat, but a raging devil shouting its hate wordlessly across the void….Every civilization that has ever, and will ever, exist in this galaxy or the millions of galaxies in the heavens, revolves around a suicide bomber.

    I just thought that was a nifty turn of phrase and, being in a part of Texas suffering from one of the worst droughts ever, it struck a certain chord…

    Starr Faithfull, Andrew J. Peters, and the Scandals of Yesterday

    Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

    Today we come up on the 80th anniversary of an unsolved death that marked a major scandal for a prominent political figure. The badly bruised body of beautiful 25-year old girl washed up on the beach at Long Island, her liver showing traces of Veronal (the first commercially available barbiturate). The body turned out to be one Starr Faithfull, a “good time girl” well known on the Boston social scene.

    That would be interesting enough. But it turned out that Starr Faithfull kept a diary, in which she described having an affair with a prominent political figure. The figure turned out to be Boston Mayor Andrew James Peters, who denied the affair, but who ended up paying $20,000 worth of hush money to Starr Faithfull’s father.

    John O’Hara would later use elements of the story in his novel BUtterfield 8, though set in New York rather than Boston, which lead to Elizabeth Taylor’s Academy Award winning performance in the movie of the same name.

    But the movie (I haven’t read the book) changes one very big detail: the first time she had sex with Peters, Starr Faithfull was eleven years old.

    As to whether she was murdered or not, that remains unresolved to this very day…

    Liberty County Mass Grave: “Never Mind”

    Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

    You know that 0-30 range for that mass grave? It turned out to be on the low end of that range. Namely zero.

    Can I say I’m psychic for thinking this was bunk?