(i. to r.) Bill Crider, Joe Lansdale, Scott Cupp, William Browning Spencer on Telling Tall Tales
I’m somewhat tardy in getting this written, but I’ve been focusing on fiction writing this week. Last weekend I attended Armadillocon 39. It was something of a last minute decision. I had a choice, either go to Armadillocon or go to prison (cuz I was gonna go postal and kill somebody). As I have no aspirations to end up as some lifer’s wife, I chose the former rather than the latter.
The headliners (with one exception) weren’t a draw for me this year, although I did have a brief conversation with the GoH, Nisi Shawl. I found her to be a very nice lady, and I enjoyed my interaction with her. Otherwise I hung around with friends and went to some panels on writing. Continue reading →
First, Happy New Year, everyone. I hope it’s a good year for all of you, prosperous in many ways. I’d like to thank everyone who stops by and reads any of my posts, whether it’s at one of my blogs, a review at Amazing Stories, or a Ballantine Adult Fantasy post at Black Gate. I’ll add an additional thank you to those of you who leave comments, as the discussions are always rewarding. Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who sent me material for review, whether an author or a publisher.
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. My philosophy is if you need to make some changes in your life, do it when you see the need, not at some arbitrary date on the calendar. That being said, the disruption to routine that the holiday season brings with it provides a good incentive to reboot some aspects of your life as you try to reestablish a regular schedule..
So insert the standard things about losing weight/exercising more/getting more sleep/etc. here.
Now, as far as blogging, writing, and reading go, here’s what I hope to accomplish this year. Continue reading →
If John Bunyan had dropped acid while writing The Pilgrim’s Progress (or perhaps Dante writing The Inferno), then the result would likely have resembled this book. With a dash of John Myers Myers’ Silverlock thrown in and an echo of The Wizard of Oz in the final chapter.
The setting is in Holland during the time of all the religious wars between the Catholics and the Protestants, with the Spanish invading currently invading. Greta is an tavern keeper, about forty, whose husband left three years prior on a voyage to the New World, never to return and presumed lost. The first couple of pages are something of an infodump, but that’s all right because you need to know who these people are when they start dying. Which happens within a couple of pages.
Brueghel’s The Triumph of Death
The tavern is attacked by the dead, although these really aren’t zombies in the traditional sense. They’re skeletons and animated corpses. The handful of survivors end up fleeing the tavern, although not without a fight. Greta swings a mean sword. She swings a meaner skillet.
What follows is a nightmare scene out of Pieter Brueghel and Hieronymous Bosch. I mean literally; Hardy cites the two painters in his afterward.
I’m not familiar enough with the works of either of these two men to catch all the references to the various paintings. Some of them, though, weren’t hard to find. The scene by Bosch is one of those in the book. And yes, what it looks like is happening in the picture is what’s happening.
The story also becomes a wild trip not only through a devastated country side into the bowels of Hell itself, as envisioned by Hieronymous Bosch. Along the way Greta gains and loses a number of companions. My favorite was Christopher Marlowe, you can’t remember his own death and thinks he’s still alive. Hardy’s handling of him was especially well done.
There’s plenty of conflict here, with fights or battles in nearly every other chapter, including a war between the forces of Heaven and Hell. Crazy Greta is a fun book, but it’s not your typical fantasy. It’s different, and that’s a good thing.