Saturday, May 23, 2009

Toy boy?

A couple of years ago, driving home from a garden centre, we stopped off at a craft centre -- which seemed to be place that sold everything from locally-produced crafts to items made in China! Among the stuff on sell was a half-metre tall Dracula -- and a cuddly one, at that. And at only £10 ... well, I had to buy it. The store had just one otherwise I might have bought more.

If the batteries aren't flat, the eyes flash red. And it speaks, too!

Revisiting Cthulhu

I like Photoshop. It can turn an ordinary photo of a piece of artwork into something quite creepy. The above was created earlier today using a number of filters, etc. But when I tried to duplicate it with another image, the result was nowhere as good. Perhaps I should write down each step along the way.

The original piece of artwork is a stoneware (pottery) statue of you-know-who, created by yours truly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cheadle's Cult of Cthulhu

There can not be any doubt about it. Although they attempt to remain secretive, they failed; the Cheadle branch of the Cult of Cthulhu is alive and well, as attested by the above photo. No doubt the works is building a nefarious non-euclidean contraption...

John Kessel saves my sanity and wins an award

OK, an exaggerated claim. Yes, Kessel did win an award (more on this below) but not because of services for me. I mentioned a few posts ago that post-World Fantasy Award judging, I found it hard to find stories and novels that captured my imagination, and that I was starting an awful lot of books but finishing few of them. Well, the other day I pulled from my 'to-be-read' book case John Kessel's collection, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence (Small Beer Press, $16.00). And wow! Fantasy fiction once again has hooked me.

The Baum Plan consists of 14 stories published over the years 1998 to 2008, including one original to this volume. The opener, the title story, tells of Sid and Dot, two not-very-good criminals. Sid, recently released from prison, teams up with Dot, again, and they head off to raid a house that, according to Dot, holds a fortune. The house itself doesn't. But a weird trip takes them to a surreal place where their dreams may be rewarded. Just the first paragraph was sufficient to engage me -- and from then on I was captured by Kessel's assured fiction. He writes with an elegance similar to that of Graham Joyce; it's straightforward, clear, sparkling, and unencumbered.

And so it progresses throughout the book. The last story in the collection is 'Pride and Prometheus'. It doesn't take an Einstein to guess which two literary greats meet in this gorgeously funny story of love and redemption. A suitably strange mix -- and a poignant tale.

And the award? I am delighted to report that 'Pride and Prometheus' won the Nebula Award for best novellete, recently announced. Other award winners include Ursula Le Guinn for Powers in the novel category. Find out more here. And if you want to learn more about John Kessel (you should), go here.