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text 2018-04-10 19:42
Lists!
Horror: The 100 Best Books - Stephen Jones,Kim Newman
The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time - Martin Popoff
The Great Movies - Roger Ebert,Mary Corliss
Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads - David Morrell,Hank Wagner
Fantasy: The 100 Best Books - James Cawthorn,Michael Moorcock,James Cawthorne
Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels: an English-language selection, 1949-1984 - David Pringle

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a geek. Like many geeks, I love lists; reading them, making them, debating them or flat disagreeing with them, I love it all. As such, I have quite a few books that are, basically, "best of" lists. I love these because they point me at good stuff I haven't experienced yet.

It struck me that there are many different ways to compile such a book, each with it's own benefits and drawbacks. So, here are a few different ways of doing it, with examples.

 

1. Utterly Subjective, Single Author

 

Example: The Great Movies - Roger Ebert,Mary Corliss  The Great Movies - Roger Ebert,Mary Corliss  

 

This style is probably the simplest: You list your favorite examples of a thing and explain why. This is the style I employ on this blog, and the style Ebert employed in his Great Movies series.

 

Benefits: Ease of writing, pleasantness of experience, enthusiasm, easy to organize.

 

Drawbacks: No data to fall back on, personal exposure, not authoritative.

 

You don't have to watch, read, or listen to anything you don't want to, but people can attack you for your opinions (risky in the internet era). Still, it's a lot of fun to just gush about the stuff you love.

 

2. Attempted Objective, Single Author

 

Example: Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels: an English-language selection, 1949-1984 - David Pringle  Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels: an English-language selection, 1949-1984 - David Pringle  

 

Here, the author makes their best stab at an "official" list, compiling examples because of importance, influence, quality, or other criteria based on their own judgement.

 

Benefits: More comprehensive and authoritative, helpful creative/critical exercise.

 

Drawbacks: "Why this one and not...", exposure to works that one finds unpleasant, "important" works that don't hold up.

 

This kind of list is great for the author in two ways: They have to step outside of themselves, and it's a chance to dig into classics they haven't gotten around to (and any purchases are tax-deductible, because it's "research"). Still, they have to slog through some works they don't like, and will still be open to accusations of bias. Hell, they will be biased, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. This will also affect the passion in the writing. And they still don't have concrete data backing them up.

 

3. Subjective Take on Objective Data, Single Author

 

Example: The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time - Martin Popoff   The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time - Martin Popoff  

 

Gather data from various polls, interviews or other outside sources, compile a ranking, and then express your opinion of the various works, their placement, etc.

 

Benefits: Opportunities for snark, exposure to new works, not having to dredge your own brain.

 

Drawbacks: Frustration, works you may find awful/offensive, disappointment when some of your favorites are low on the list or absent altogether.

 

This one is just too much work for me, although it would be interesting to, say, watch and review every Best Picture winner, in order. Watching Crash again would be a chore, though.

 

4. Utterly subjective, Multi-Author

 

Horror: The 100 Best Books - Stephen Jones,Kim Newman   Horror: The 100 Best Books - Stephen Jones,Kim Newman  

 

Get a bunch of people to talk about their favorite works. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Benefits: Less writing, lots of discoveries, high enthusiasm.

 

Drawbacks: Logistical nightmare, missed deadlines, explaining the concept repeatedly.

 

Now I just need to find 100 people in the field who have enough time to write a piece, make sure there are no double-ups (two people picking the same subject), editing each piece, communicate with various agents/publishers, etc. If you prefer organizing to writing, not a bad choice, but keeping your ducks in a row can be a bear. Plus, there will be classics/"essentials" that no one picks, but you can blame your contributors for that.

 

5. Attempted Objective, Multi-Author

 

Fantasy: The 100 Best Books - James Cawthorn,Michael Moorcock,James Cawthorne   Fantasy: The 100 Best Books - James Cawthorn,Michael Moorcock,James Cawthorne  

 

You and a cohort come up with a list of classics, then divide and conquer.

 

Benefits: Lessened workload, interesting conversations, a united front.

 

Drawbacks: Arguments, resentment.

 

Doing an SF list but hate Heinlein? You can have your friend write that piece while you review that Ellison collection. Great, but what happens if one of you has a personal crisis? The other has to step up, leading to a potentially unbalanced workload. And the hashing out of the actual list can be both fun and frustrating, while dealing with each other's criticism of your writing styles just might suck. Just kidding, it'll be fine!

 

6. Subjective Takes on Objective Data, Multi-Author

 

Example: Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads - David Morrell,Hank Wagner   Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads - David Morrell,Hank Wagner  

 

Gather the pertinent data to compile a list, then get other people in the field to discuss their favorites from said list.

 

Benefits: Enthusiasm, less writing, hard data.

 

Drawbacks: Logistical issues, unpicked subjects.

 

Here, you have the same issues as #4, except you're backed up by data. But what if nobody really wants to write about something on the list? That falls to you, and can lead to some entries having all the verve of a high school book report.

 

 

Anyway, thanks for reading this list about books of lists.

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review 2016-10-01 16:53
"Głos z ciemności". Za to dość donośny.
Roman Kostrzewski. Głos z ciemności - Mateusz Żyła,Roman Kostrzewski

Pamiętam w latach 90. przypadkowo stałem się posiadaczem jednego numeru magazynu Brum, jakoś w okolicy wydania katowskiego Szyderczego zwierciadła. Na łamach gazety toczyła się dyskusja pod tytułem: Roman Kostrzewski - demon czy błazen? I powiem szczerze, że z dwojga opcji zawsze kojarzyłem go z tym drugim tytułem. Mimo ogromnej sympatii dla tego człowieka i całego zespołu Kat teksty wokalisty znacznie częściej mnie śmieszyły, niż skłaniały do zastanowienia czy bo ja wiem co tam się robi próbując interpretować poezję.

 

Po lekturze książki jeszcze bardziej utwierdziłem się w przekonaniu, że Roman Kostrzewski doskonale wie, co robi. I ten śmiech co poniektórych słuchaczy był zdaje się zamierzony. Poezje tego człowieka chyba mają jakąś specjalną umiejętność trafiania nawet do najbardziej opornych - a ja, uwierzcie mi, w kwestii szeroko rozumianej poezji jestem bardzo oporny. Najoporny wręcz.

 

Głos z ciemności to lektura na jedno popołudnie. Nie sposób jest się oderwać od specyficznego sposobu z jakim pan Kostrzewski opowiada o swoim życiu. Facet bez fałszywej skromności, ale i bez poczucia własnej mocy opowiada jak było i jak jest. Niejedną nierozwiązaną sprawę związaną z muzyką, karierą, Katem i różnego rodzaju konfliktami z gitarzystą Piotrem Luczykiem tu przedstawia, a robi to raczej obiektywnie, jakby nie uczestniczył w wydarzeniach, a oglądał je z boku. A gdy zaczyna opowiadać o inspiracjach i pozwala sobie na analizę własnej tekstowej twórczości to już całkiem można wsiąknąć.

 

Jednak nie tylko o muzyce i Kacie jest ta książka. Przede wszystkim jest o Kostrzewskim, jego dorastaniu w domu dziecka, rodzinie, szkole a także przynależności do Solidarności i efektach tejże - sporo było plotek na ten temat, słyszanych tu i ówdzie, teraz dowiedzieliśmy się jak było naprawdę.

 

No i wiadomo - jest także o satanizmie, rozumianym na sposób filozoficzny. Jest więc i o kościele, jako instytucji, o władzy, o pragnieniach, o życiu, rodzinie, potomkach, radościach, smutkach. Ale nie nachalnie - to punkt widzenia pewnego człowieka, i można się z nim nie zgadzać, a i tak nieźle się bawić przy lekturze, tak mi się wydaje. Dobra rzecz, dla fana raczej zakup obowiązkowy a dla reszty niezła ciekawostka.

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text 2016-02-13 20:18
The Doorman Advance Review




I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of Heavy Metal's upcoming release 'The Doorman' by Eliot Rahal, Daniel Kibblesmith and Kendall Goode. I'll start off by saying -- congratulations to Heavy Metal for picking up such an impressive looking and clever title. Secondly, the artwork by Kendall Goode strikes just the right note here -- reminding me a little of the Men in Black and Sam & Max cartoons of yesteryear. The concept is simple enough -- every populated planet has a DOOR. Those who operate the DOORS are called Porters -- and they are intergalactic doormen, who stand watch over their post with vigilance. But ... when an assassin shows up ... things get a little outrageous. 

Fans of FUTURAMA, HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, RICK & MORTY and DOCTOR WHO who adore this book -- which is filled with action, humor, and assorted comic gore. 

It's hitting comic shops on March 2nd! 



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text 2015-07-08 04:58
An Update on the Frozen World of C. Dean Andersson

(Reblogged from Illuminite Caliginosus)

 

My previous post was about one of my all-time favorite fantasy series- the Hel Trilogy- written by C. Dean Andersson under the pen name Asa Drake.  I was very happy to find out that Mr. Andersson has just released an omnibus edition of the trilogy called Bloodsong! Hel x3- newly revised and expanded with new chapters- as well as working on a new installment to the series: Valkyries of Hel. Terry Ervin interviewed him about everything he's been up to in recent years, which you can find here.

 

A review of the omnibus is at this site, and includes links to two anthologies which include crossover appearances by Bloodsong one of which is with, of all characters, Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion (not Elric).

 

Feel free to check out Andersson's webpage for more info on this, his other works and links to his previous blogs.

 

Bloodsong on Facebook

 

Hel x3 on Goodreads

 

Hel x3 on Amazon

 

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text 2015-07-08 04:52
Bloodsong & Freedom!- The Heavy Metal of Fantasy

(Repost from Illuminite Caliginosus)

 

Going through my bookshelves to see what I wanted to drop off at Goodwill, I came across what I can only classify as some old friends. Back in 1986 I was chillin' in the book section of the PX at the Naval Air Station in Millington TN, looking for something to read. Hadn't done Lord of the Rings yet, thought the Hobbit was slow and Interview with the Vampire was really fucking boring. Thankfully I stumbled across what was dubbed at the time as 'the Heavy Metal of Fantasy'.

 

 

Bloodsong and Freedom! Bloodsong and Freedom!

 

Written by C. Dean Andersson under the pen name Asa Drake, the trilogy chronicles the tale of a norse woman, Freyadis, whose entire village was slain by a warlord in the service of Nidhug, a mad sorcerer king devoted to the goddess Hel. At least until he started trying to usurp Hel's power.

 

At Hel's insistance, Freyadis spent her last moments praying to the death goddess, which helped her return to the world as a Hel-warrior, now named Bloodsong, to strike back at Nidhug and free her friends and loved ones, especially her daughter. You see, Freyadis was pregnant when she was killed and her daughter was actually born in Hel's domain, making her rather attuned to the magics of the Underworld.

 

Unbeknownst to Freyadis- now called Bloodsong- her firstborn toddler, Thorbjorn, who'd been killed in the raid, had been resurrected and matured by an evil Hel-witch (is there any other kind?) named Thokk to further the plans that Nidhug had disrupted. Now called Lokith, he's a Hel-witch in his own right and possesses vampiric tendencies. Thokk also seeks to corrupt Bloodsong's daughter, Guthrun, whose unusual birth could make her a very powerful Hel-witch as well.

 

The finale wraps up with Lokith's return to once again strike back at his mother and her allies in an attempt to secure Hel's power. This time Bloodsong receives a bit of divine assistance from a god who likes to keep an eye out.

 

Along the way Bloodsong assembles the usual band of allies, including a Freya-witch named Huld; Jalna the swordswoman; Tyrulf, a sellsword who used to work for Nidhug and a band of berserker/lycanthropes led by Ulfhild- baddest bitch of the bunch. Tack on some amazing cover art by the incomparable Boris Vallejo, and what else do ya need?

 

By no means is this any kind of introspective, angsty, soul-searching literature. It's a light, gory romp to amuse and engage your imagination- and damn if'n it don't! What also makes it work is the way Norse Mythology is so well incorporated into the tale; if you've any familiarity with the topic you've already recognized some of the names used. The depictions of frost giants, the dark despair of the Underworld, Bloodsong's trials with the shapeshifters, all come together to shape an icy world teetering on the verge of apocalypse. My copies of these are very lovingly well-worn for a reason.

 

It's times like these that I truly appreciate growing up when I did. :) While you can find pretty cheap copies of these on Amazon, a casual glance at eBay shows them going at a premium: one seller wanted $120 for a copy of one of these! The late 70s/80s was the Golden Age for Fantasy/Sci-Fi, a true renaissance. Batman, X-Men, Spiderman, Superman, Sword of Shannara, the Belgariad, the Avengers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Judge Dredd, D&D and other RPGs- it all started coming together right then. It was when geekdom became firmly established as a viable sub-culture and gave rise to everything considered cool and mainstream now. And I firmly believe that this series is one of the foundation stones that helped it along.

 

Amazon: Warrior Witch of Hel

 

Amazon: Death Riders of Hel

 

Amazon: Werebeasts of Hel

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