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What are you reading? — Page 53

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Stardust1138 said:

The Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III: 1999-2005 by Paul Duncan.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite awhile now. I’m really looking forward to its arrival to learn in-depth about my favourite era of the series more than what has ever been released before as it is told through various collaborators and detailed contents such as scripts and concept art, learning more about George’s Sequel plans than what has made it online, and of course hearing directly from him his philosophy and way of seeing life. I feel it’s going to be such an immersive and emotional experience. It will also be a great resource in my continued growth in telling stories of my own. I can’t wait!

Ooof! doubleofive has highlighted many of the mistakes this author’s claims on his Star Wars Visual Comparisons website, and I am told oojason and others also “pulled it apart” on the OT Discord for the number of mistakes and false claims. People who worked on the actual Prequel films and Special Editions have also corrected the author of the book online.

Will there be a second edition with many of the mistakes corrected soon? For Ç150 I would wait for a second version or ask the author or publisher if there is a corrected version planned. Mistakes happen, but I would have expected “a Star Wars historian” and author to have fact checked their work more thoroughly before release. Especially when asking Ç150 for their work.

I do hope you enjoy the book regardless of these problems, and Paul Duncan’s other mistaken online claims about Star Wars history.

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Samuels, Mark - Glyphotech And Other Macabre Processes

For those of us who missed the 2008 edition, Zagava has republished this in a limited edition, and affordable paperback. As many have read these stories, I will try to keep comments brief.
The title story, “Glyphotech,” seems to prophesy how deeply the defacto internet search engine might metastasize into the Big Brother observer / aide to everyday lives. There, as here, few notice the insidiousness of the coup. Most shrug, the few who object – those are the nails who stand up, aren’t they?
“Sentinels” is a brooding excursion into the depths of the London Underground. In this case, the abandoned stations, forgotten. Perhaps not entirely forgotten. As long as there are tracks, there are clients.
The writer of limited … what? … chapbooks, intends to devote an issue to the obscure author. The concept is as old as Lovecraft, as Poe, yet “Ghorla” is steeped in an uncomfortable atmosphere, and it yields a nasty surprise with the locks.
“The Cannibal Kings Of Horror” is a funny gem, mocking obsessive readers and scribbling hacks alike. One can see why this is unappreciated, however, since most Horror fans suffer the same limited sense of humor as your family dentist.
For this edition, two brief yarns appear to have been appended. One offers the fear of being superseded, replaced. The other suggests the futility of devotion.
Ramsey Campbell provides a lovely introduction, illuminating stories without thoughtlessly penning casual synopses.
Finally, Jonas has commissioned art for each work. Joseph Dawson’s black and white sketches act darkly foretell proceedings, like wicked appetizers.
For fans of Mr. Samuels, or of Zagava Press, Glyphotech is high quality.

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Walsh, O. Jamie - The Revenants

For those who have read Edita Bikker’s The Night Of Turns (also from Broodcomb), this collection makes an ideal companion, especially for those who wondered what “the settlements” were that Bikker left.
This reads like a newcomer’s guide. Meeting inhabitants, seeing and perhaps guessing how the society work. There are a variety of characters, several we drift back to repeatedly, others are chance encounters.
Bikker is referenced once in an unsent letter. There is an offhand comment about Potter’s Museum (Of Curiosities), which brought a smile, recalling a visit there decades earlier.
Each entry is brief, never more than two pages, and I would calculate there are 100+ in this generous collection.
This is a book to be read in small doses, not to wolf down, but to allow impression to steep into you.
At the fringe is a group of individuals who had ventured outside the settlements on a search-rescue expedition. When they returned, they were profoundly altered. Unable or unwilling to communicate, they live apart, and they live – perhaps – out of time. Locals call them the revenants.
Late events rise to a crescendo, although readers who long for meaning to be folded into mystery may be stymied. We are permitted so much, yet we remain observers, outsiders.
Several of the main actors have a hunger, a thirst for experiencing, or simply “seeing.” Experiences are often transactions. Something gained, another thing lost. The bartered exchange is frequently bitter, yet the longer one lives, the more one grasps that there is no going back, only looking back.

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Bukowski, Charles - Notes Of A Dirty Old Man

Rollicking collection of Bukowski essays from Open City and Los Angeles Free Press.
Women, crazy, drunken women, as well as stable types he is clearly unsuited for.
Politics of the day. What holds for 1968, holds today. Our choices are akin to eating cold shit or eating warm shit. To a soul, horrible, self-serving hallroom monitors.
Different locations: New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Texas. Doesn’t matter. People are the same, jobs are the same, outcomes are the same. It’s pointless. Los Angeles is preferred.
(Why you ask? My wife used to work for “social agencies” in Los Angeles back in the day. A common explanation for mass migration to the City Of Angels ran along the lines of, “Better to be hungry or homeless in a warm environment rather than a cold one.”)
Now and then, he’ll get lucky. With horses, with a girlfriend, with an apartment. Nothing lasts.
His humor, and to be honest, his humanity, tend to soften the edge off a bleak, despairing outlook.
Bukowski is the voice of the battered observer, still striving amidst a preordained fate.

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Wagner, Karl Edward - Little Ochre Book Of Occult Stories

One of the better “Little” book series to track down, and invariably reasonably priced.
A diverse sampler of Wagner that includes three stories, an essay, and scattered poems.
Also a poignant introduction by editor Stephen Jones, who has done much to keep the flame of Wagner burning. This intro is a letter to Karl, updating him on colleagues who have passed, recollections of conventions shared. Jones is not a mere fan, he knew the author. Both men respected each other.
“The Last Wolf” is a failing scribbler, not inferior, but reading tastes have changed, slimmed. Urged to write easier prose, more digestible, for simpler minds, he resists as he can.
“Undertow” is the longest work, and one of Wagner’s Kane stories. A grim, muscular sorcerer, Kane always reminds me of Conan with magic. The chronology is jumbled, making for a challenging read.
“Sticks” is one of his most famous stories, much anthologized, appropriated by film and television (Blair Witch, True Detective: S01). A riveting, page turner, indebted to HPL, and miles above the usual Cthulhu attempts.

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Gordon, Mel - Voluptuous Panic

Hedonists, decadents, sybarites, voyeurs. Dilettantes or turistas.
Titillating excursion into the corrosive beauty of Weimar Berlin.
From the aftermath of the Great War until Hitler becomes chancellor. 1919-1933.
This book organizes and catalogues all manner of sexual activities, proclivities, and shenanigans that flourished in nightclubs, brothels, same-sex haunts.
Don’t blame Germany. Sexual currency, depravity, recreation, is older than the pyramids. Thing is, this was the first time years of photographs, adverts, paintings, and memorabilia survive, along with diaries and memoirs from participants, authorities, onlookers.
And hundreds of photographs and illustrations are the lure for this book.
I bought this when it was first published, and a later edition is extended, with more photos and a chapter on Sex Magick (which is hardly exclusive to Berlin).
For future time travelers, there is a handy map indicating where the clubs are. The finest to the sleaziest, same-sex-only to tourists welcome.

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Weighell, Ron - King Satyr

If you are like me, sometimes you feel like a skin rash is imminent when reading overripe prose of Clark Ashton Smith, Ray Bradbury or Jonathan Gale. Such is the prologue of this novel, and I was fearful my flesh would rebel. Was the whole book going to be like this?
In a word, no. This is a masterful excursion – excursions – into various pasts. Chiefly the late 1960’s - 70’s, though it frequently harks back to the 1920’s or fin de siècle London.
Cyrus Burton, exposed to a fleeting summer Mystery, soon follows a path. To learn as much as he can about Alphonsus Gaunt, occult artist, in a certain sinister vogue at one point, subsequently fallen into disgraced obscurity.
Although the novel is structured along lines of the classic quest, it is jammed with historical references and studded with diversions. Who was Alphonsus Gaunt patterned after? Or Nicholas Hallam? Rosaleen Norton, was there such a person? Time and again, I paused reading to research.
“Be warned, Pagan,” said once, but implied throughout. This is a wander into the realm of satyrs, Pan, Dionysus, rites, worship. Of a world suppressed until forgotten, though, as murmured by Machen, it is merely shrouded by a flimsy veil.
Weighell’s grip on the reins is sure throughout, with casual reveals, previous seekers, and the perils of wisdom. King Satyr is a bittersweet, vibrant capstone, showing the writer at a creative peak.
This has only recently gone OP. As of this writing, copies remain available at honorable booksellers at reasonable prices.

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Watt, D. P. - An Emporium Of Automata

Watt’s first collection, originally published in a small printing, is a sumptuous buffet. The stories are gathered into three sections, which Daniel Corrick, in the Introduction, offers a sketchy roadmap.
The opener, “Dr. Erbach’s Emporium Of Automata,” sets the tone. The seaside pleasure fair of a simpler age, pre-internet, where favored diversions include a peculiar museum of mechanical curiosities. Luring those whose curiosity is matched by their innocence.
One hundred and ten years old, what an age to reach! The sweep of history, what a life! Or was it such a life? She seldom did anything, aside from the annual holiday. After all, she was only “The Butcher’s Daughter”.
“Room 89” should strike an dissonant chord with M. R. James devotees. Weatherby decides to spend a month in Ryde. Diverting enough burg, close enough to other sites, towns, should boredom prod investigation. The proprietress is efficient, and he makes a steady friend in Major Turnbull. The room is another matter altogether. And yet, Weatherby keeps to a parsimonious budget, so cheaply bought, dearly paid, as they say.
The second section, on surface, are mostly mundane observations of Roberta. An odd creature, intelligent, morose, manipulative, dismissive, holding fixed opinions that she may, or just as likely may not, elaborate upon. I have known, and continue to meet, others of this type. Best avoided, should you ask me. Not so the various male narrators who share a morbid fascination for Roberta.
The third section is more difficult to categorize (possibly why Mr. Corrick was so vague in his intro). Tales wander through theatre and puppets, the fog of Kafka permeates. Traumatized villages and dimly remembered czar … or was that commissar? Less straightforward, less traditional, these nudge the reader off-axis into so much loose sand, only to abandon the baffled traveler.

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Crawford, F Marion - Uncanny Tales

The definition of crusty stories. What one would listen to or share in bygone gentleman’s clubs. Leather armchairs, cigars, pipes, glass of port or whisky.
“The Dead Smile” circles two hopeful lovers. Waiting for knowledge, or enlightenment, to dispel an unspoken taint, so they may marry, burden eased.
Our narrator acquired the house, and a splendid one it is – aside from the teensy issue of “The Screaming Skull.” Nor, he feels, should it scream at him. It was only an offhand comment.
“Man Overboard” and “The Upper Berth” are both nautical adventures. Riggings, seaspray, heaving waves, as well as the odd ghost or two. One can always try to ignore.
To extend this collection, a few stories from Crawford’s sisters have been included. For me, the most memorable was “A Shadow On A Wave,” by Madame von Rabe. Neither a haunting, nor at first blush a supernatural spell, it is a memory of passion. A great Passion between an artist and half-glimpsed muse. Our artist is smitten with Venice, and the city is gloriously described. In affairs of the heart however, he is heedless of messages and consequences.

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I’m reading “Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End”

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Read The Bride Test and now I’m reading Star Wars Tales of The Bounty Hunters

I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.

Star Wars has 3 eras:The eras are 1977-1983(pre Expanded Universe), (1983-2014) expanded universe or (2014- now) Disney bought version. Each are valid.

Important voice tool:
https://originaltrilogy.com/post/id/1472151/action/topic#1472151

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Graves, Clotilde - A Vanished Hand

Melissa Edmundson has done a stellar job here, gathering Clotilde Graves’ supernatural tales into a choice collection. Indeed, this could easily fit into Richard Dalby’s “Mistresses Of The Macabre” series.
A diverse assortment, with little thematic repetition.
“How The Mistress Came Home” catches the young bride, arriving to the great house ahead of the carriage, throwing the staff into consternation. Funny, sad, funny again.
“A Spirit Elopement” is more cautionary, about summoned spectres who then tend to stick around. Warning, you mess with the unknown, chances are unknown consequences await.
Pining for your lost love, or lover? After the death of his love, Daymond never dated, never married. He remained steadfast to his memory. Yet in “A Vanished Hand” the ghost unexpectedly returns, with no understanding of time. Worse, Daymond’s recollections appear to be skewed.
“The Compleat Housewife” finds another new bride taking possession of the manor, and the fabled recipe book. The book, though, belongs to the unquiet ghost of the estate, who takes a surprising shine to the young girl, helping her with a legendary banquet. By turns funny, before darkening.
Straight up adventure follows in “The Mother Of Turquoise.” Men, camels and equipment journey deep into the desert, searching for the precious lode. Haggard on a small scale, rousing stuff.
Love makes promises, true love most of all. “Dark Dawn” charts one such declaration from Corporal Cane to his beloved Temperance, before he marches off to war.
Edmundson provides an illuminating introduction. And! there are two profiles at the end, with one being an observation of Graves’ alter ego, Richard Dehan.

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Grant, Charles L - The Dark Cry Of The Moon

Part of a trilogy of horrors visiting Grant’s favorite locale, Oxrun Station.
In this outing, wolves descend. Or rather, wolf. The breed that lopes about under the full moon.
With Grant, deaths are invariably offstage and understated. Ditto erotic gropings.
(The clutch of Splatter Kids had arrived at this time [Ketchum, Skipp, Laymon, Schow, et al] and Grant was considered old-fashioned.)
Characters fall into potential monsters, likely victims, heroes and wannabees.
Professionally done, elements feel formulaic.
The narrative races along making this a quick read.

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Various (Editor: Beech, Mark) - Bitter Distillations

Assorted decoctions, vile cordials, the sweet aperitif before the hand clutches for the throat.
“The Blissful Tinctures,” by Jonathan Wood, opens in a trench in the Great War. Patrick serves King and Country, nudged to enlist, it appears, by his parents, whose decadent habits flower in his absence.
Arguments and snide barbs are exchanged between the upper trays and the self-effacing lot. Between the crustless cucumber sandwiches, the perfectly crafted canapés, the expensive cold cuts, and the neglected fruits. Of course, there are stray human types in Rose Biggins’ “The Tartest Flavours,” but who would be interested in that lot? I mean, really!
They resembled angels. They possessed wings, though their bodies were supple and naked, unlike messengers of the Divine. The pair tended the garden, as well as the bees. Marla refers to them as “The Poison Girls.” Marla even accepts the jar of honey they leave her.
It was an open air museum, out in rural Tennessee. Actually it was closer to an homage, or open air art installation. (Think Himley Hall model village or Gwynedd, North Wales). Castoff bits and shards, repurposed, fashioned into a peaceful environment. Alas, “The Jeweled Necropolis” slowly boils to an intoxicating aroma, only to dissipate unexpectantly. I wonder if the writer is holding back for a novel?
The same cessation in “The Garden Of Dr. Montorio.” Characters grow, a mystery deepens, suspense tightens – then – quitting time. At least, a secondary character has the good grace to echo the reader’s frustration. Still, come on!
More satisfying, “Not To Be Taken,” by Kathleen Jennings, surveys the collector. Two collectors, actually. One hoards vintage poison bottles, vials, ampules, as well as the lethal contents. The other collects a more dangerous game. This is a dark remembrance of predators and potions, and how important it can be to make friends with the neighbors.

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Meade, L T - The Brotherhood Of The Seven Kings

Crackerjack of a yarn, first published in The Strand in 1898.
Norman Head, affluent man about town, relates youthful mistakes. Falling in love with a beautiful, diabolical female, Madame Koluchy, who also masterminds the sinister organization known as the Brotherhood Of Kings.
Published in monthly installments, this is an inventive series of deadly stratagems. Some thwarted, others chillingly carried out.
Blackmail, kidnappings, assassination, theft, murders.
Madame Koluchy, influential with social elites and prominent individuals, is entrusted by most, her terrible activities perceived by few.
The came before The Sorceress Of The Strand, and while there are similarities between the two malevolent females, and the serial structure, this is the grimmer work.
With both works, Sidney Padget provides numerous illustrations.
Holmes’ fans, rejoice! Those who relish late Victorian, Edwardian cliffhangers, this is easily found.

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Grant, Charles L - The Soft Whisper Of The Dead

Supposedly the first part of a trilogy, this actually reads like the sequel to The Dark Cry Of The Moon.
Chief Lucas Stockton is now an older man, while Ned, last seen as a boy in Dark Cry is now an adult.
In this outing, the undead arrive in Oxrun Station.
A pale, not seen by day, old friend of our heroine, and an elegant count.
Bodies are soon discovered, throats gashed or ripped out.
As before, R. J. Krupowicz provides highly stylized illustrations that serve better this time around.
Very quick read, that feels much like Salem’s Lot lite.
Enjoyable, if not essential horror reading.

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Phillips, Thomas - Sentimentality

Beneath all the social preening lurks banality and mediocrity. Such is worse, corrosive even, when the most limited of souls are regarded as “influencers,” major and minor.
Or are smug, petty bullies.
Fortunately, for the blissfully ignorant, there is Honorine. Librarian by day, murderer at night (I write librarian, yet Honorine’s duties suggest she is a page).
She whiles away her free time reading quality books, the literary genre, and viewing arthouse films. Isabelle Huppert is a favorite (as she is with me).

“…The library has been quiet of late. I worry about reading, the loss of reading, or its denigration at the hands of developmentally-arrested hordes whose attention to language is so crippled as to resemble the salted slug…But you can always count on the homeless to make an appearance. Perhaps there will come a time when they’re the only ones left who remember books while everyone else is so deep into constantly updating screens and sound bite expression, so hot-rodded with chips just under the skin for quick access to goods and services that they will have lost all sense of artfully-sculpted word collections…”

Hovering nearby is her husband. Ex-husband, actually. Well, if you want to be technical, dead husband. This is no ghost story, nor a supernatural one, so perhaps he is her better angel. Her outlook, bleak and jaded, could use tempering.

“… The dumbing down (of history), as it happens, has always been here, like weather patterns, craving things, and all-too-human power dynamics. All the points in history of this or that politician (even cave people had politicians) towing the line of fascist tendencies that obviously require citizens to severely limit the scope of what they absorb as truth…”

Sentimentality runs this course throughout. Meditations on social shortcomings, providing justification for messy liquidations.
This is a ferocious satire, so dark and so intelligent, one may miss the black laughter. In gallows humor, this echoes his In This Glass House. Both are delicious pleasures for misanthropes.

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Hall, Oakley - So Many Doors

From the Hard Case Crime press, this is not crime, not hardboiled, not even a mystery.
Jack Ward sits in his prison cell, ignoring the lawyer assigned to defend him.
“Yes, I killed her,” he confesses. “I’m not fighting, either. Just get it over with.”
The “her” in question is Vasilia Baird, who goes simply by V.
Their story, told from multiple points of view, is of a toxic relationship.
Jack and V push each other’s buttons, torment each other, flee, and then are drawn back.
This has the makings of a Noir, but underneath the dark trappings this is a melodrama.
Two adults who, for all their experiences, are little more than pouting teenagers.
What most of us grew out of by our early 20’s.
About midway, I began envisioning Douglas Sirk adapting this for Hollywood.
Possibly better than this disappointment.

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The Women Of Weird Tales - (Intro: Melanie Anderson)

Elsewhere, there is a thread regarding the challenge of reading the aesthetically dubious book. As a purely physical object, this particular title is lower rung.
First impressions, the pages are thin and crease easily. The gutters are tight.
Introductions and biographies are minimal, yet to the point. The exterior has that peculiar feel that I associate with items hailing from that P.O.D. factory, ICGtesting.
Finally, the cover art, designed by M S Corley, a decent cartoonist, is more suited to Highlights For Children, found in dentist’s waiting rooms for decades.

I was interested in this for the five Greye La Spina entries. In 2011, Arkham House, then being helmed by Robert Weinberg and George Vanderburgh as editors, issued the “last” physical flyer, announcing an upcoming Greye La Spina collection, The Gargoyle And Others. Arkham’s troubles were only worsening at this time, and the book never came out. So I hoped these five had been part of that anthology. In any event, they are among the best in this collection.
Pan, abandoning a war torn Old World for the New, finds a garden, with nymph, which he approves. In ”Great Pan Is Here,” the god warns to stuffy young owner not to challenge him, and to also hold tight to his lady love.
A matter of stitching is involved in “The Antimacassar.” Lucy travels into the countryside, searching for her mentor. Something is definitely amiss in the small house, where the widow keeps secrets and her daughter is kept locked up.
Everil Worrell is also allotted five entries, but these are lighter in tone, tinged with romance and the stray touch of SciFi. Eccentric inventor and visionary, Count Zolani, prepares to sent voyagers into the cosmos. He needs financial backing, of course, to rebuild the derelict mansion on the cliff know as “Vulture Crag.”
“The Rays Of The Moon” lingers on the grave robber, the young medical intern, who requires fresh corpses. Under the moonlight, he encounters the otherworldly.
Top name, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, is granted two stories, the more obscure being “The Web Of Silence,” a tongue in cheek satire of blackmail and epidemic.
Eli Colter, less know perhaps, has one yarn, “The Curse Of A Song,” which, stylistically, seems to hark back to the gaslit Victorian era.

The stories are hit and miss, though mostly enjoyable. The book itself … it is what it is.

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Grant, Charles L - The Long Night Of The Grave

Finale to Grant’s homage to golden age, Hollywood monsters.
We are now entering a more modern era. Motorcars are in evidence, and homes are being wired for electricity.
Less welcome, a mummy arrives in Oxrun Station, along with a faithful, handy priest.
A mounting corpse count doesn’t seem to disturb local police.
Character development is all but nonexistent here, which is fine since this echoes Universal characters, who were also one-note.
Of the trilogy, this outing worked best for me, though I will admit I found the mummy dull.
C’mon, best defense, a can of hairspray and a Zippo lighter.