eldritchhobbit: (Pretender/Wondering)
My most recent StarShipSofa "Looking Back on Genre History" segment, which discusses H.P. Lovecraft's non-fiction essay "In Defense of Dagon," is now available in the latest episode of the podcast. You can download it or listen to it here. This is the first part of a two-part special; in the second half, I'll be discussing Lovecraft's non-fiction essays "Supernatural Horror in Literature," "Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction," and "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction." If you listen, I hope you enjoy. (A full list of my past podcast segments, with links, is available here.)

So, there's been a whopper of a controversy very interesting discussion about young adult fiction lately...

In other news, I failed to post a couple of days ago on the anniversary of the Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders in Locust Grove. (For my past posts on this topic, see here.) There are, however, a couple of new developments...

In happier news, the Smart Pop Books anthology Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the P.C. and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series is now available! It includes my essay “Reimagining ‘Magic City’: How the Casts Mythologize Tulsa.”

Cover for Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the PC and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series (2011)

In parting, a couple of thoughts with reference to the Gurdon/Young Adult Fiction controversy...

"Their [children's] books like their clothes should allow for growth, and their books at any rate should encourage it." - J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories"

"I think it possible that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable." - C.S. Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing for Children"
eldritchhobbit: (Fringe)
The cover art has been released for the Smart Pop Books anthology Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the P.C. and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series. The book is scheduled for June 2011 release and includes my essay “Reimagining ‘Magic City’: How the Casts Mythologize Tulsa.”

Cover for Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the PC and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series (2011)

And speaking of Smart Pop Books, I've just agreed to write an essay for their forthcoming collection on Fringe about the debt the series owes to the fictional investigators in early science fiction literature and the works of H.P. Lovecraft, in particular. It should be great fun!

In other news...

This seems like an appropriate quote for the day:

Dr. Walter Bishop: When the Victoria, the last surviving ship, return to its harbor of departure after the first circumnavigation of the earth, only 18 of the original 237 men were on board.

Small Child: What happened to them?

Dr. Walter Bishop: They all died, young lady. Horrible and most likely painful deaths. You see, when you open new doors, there is a price to pay. Now imagine... tonight, you look under your bed, and, lo and behold, you find a monster! And you're immediately eaten. Now, if you hadn't looked for the monster, you wouldn't have found it and you'd still be happy in your bed, instead of being slowly digested in the stomach sack of the creature. But, with any luck, your sister or your brothers might have heard your screams, and your endeavor will serve as a valuable lesson to them.

- from "What Lies Below," Fringe
eldritchhobbit: (Halloween)
I'm sure you've heard of the "werewolves of London." But what about the vampyres of Tulsa?

The mother-daughter author team of P.C. and Kristin Cast set their best-selling House of Night series in an alternate-universe version of my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA -- a version of Tulsa that has, among other interesting inhabitants, vampyres (that's the Casts' spelling). As a matter of fact, I'm currently writing an essay about the ways in which the authors reimagine the most Gothic sites in Tulsa (for a forthcoming Smart Pop Books collection about the House of Night novels, entitled Nyx in the House of Night: Folklore, Religion, and Myth in the PC and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series).

Many of the places described in the novels truly exist (including Street Cats, a non-profit rescue for felines, Utica Square, the Starbucks there, St. Joseph Monastery, and the school attended by protagonist Zoey Redbird -- and yours truly -- South Intermediate High School).

House of Night books Pictures, Images and Photos

Whether or not you've read the House of Night novels, I thought you might enjoy a quick tour of some of the most interesting "real life" places in Tulsa that feature in the series, several of which are reputed to be haunted.

  • Cascia Hall, a Catholic college preparatory school, has changed hands in their novels, and it's now the House of Night academy for vampyre fledglings.

    cascia hall Pictures, Images and Photos

  • The gorgeous art deco Union Depot, now the Tulsa Jazz Hall of Fame, figures prominently in the novels.

  • A pivotal scene later in the series takes place in the park at Gilcrease Museum, and the infamous Gilcrease Mansion (on the museum grounds) serves as a hideout for a key character.

  • One of my favorite places in Tulsa, Philbrook Museum of Art, is the setting for some of the series' most significant action, along with Philbrook's elaborate gardens.

    Just take a look: can't you imagine vampyres hanging out here?

  • Last but most definitely not least are the famous Tulsa tunnels running underneath the city's downtown and connecting many of its most prominent buildings. Originally built to move freight, the tunnels became popular with the more security-conscious of the wealthy businessmen after the 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Rumor has it these tunnels also moved alcohol during Prohibition -- supplying the oil needed to fuel the oil tycoons, as it were. In the Casts' novels, the tunnels become the territory of a new breed of so-called "red vampyres." Click here to see a photo set of the tunnels and the buildings they connect. Click here to read more about the tunnels.

    Philtower Underground Tunnel

Text of the Day: Beyond its Tulsa setting, the House of Night series is also known for its incorporation of pagan, Wiccan, and Catholic traditions, Manichean thought, and especially Cherokee mythology, the latter of which explains the presence of Raven Mockers as characters. It seemed fitting to quote today from the classic Myths of the Cherokees by James Mooney (1861-1921) for more information about the terrifying Raven Mockers.

Of all the Cherokee wizards or witches the most dreaded is the Raven Mocker (Kâ'lanû Ahkyeli'skï), the one that robs the dying man of life. They are of either sex and there is no sure way to know one, though they usually look withered and old, because they have added so many lives to their own.

At night, when some one is sick or dying in the settlement, the Raven Mocker goes to the place to take the life. He flies through the air in fiery shape, with arms outstretched like wings, and sparks trailing behind, and a rushing sound like the noise of a strong wind. Every little while as he flies he makes a cry like the cry of a raven when it "dives" in the air--not like the common raven cry--and those who hear are afraid, because they know that some man's life will soon go out.

Read James Mooney's complete description of the Raven Mockers here.
eldritchhobbit: (SF/Planets and interplanetary travel)
ReConStruction, The 10th Occasional North American Science Fiction Convention was a success!

In the attempt not to write a novel-length report, I am limiting myself to the highest of the high points:

In Which Much SF Goodness Ensues

  • I was happy to be able to attend The Golden Duck Awards (for Science Fiction Literature for Children), which has a long and distinguished history. This year Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire became the first novel to win after its predecessor in a series (The Hunger Games) also had won. It received the Hal Clement Young Adult Award. The complete list of Golden Duck winners is here.

  • Gardner Dozois crashed our panel on young adult novels and was delightful. I'm especially pleased I had the opportunity to chat a good while with fellow-panelist Jana Oliver (a.k.a. [livejournal.com profile] crazywritergirl) about the House of Night novels and Tulsa, the phenomenon of adult readers enjoying young adult novels, and her forthcoming young adult dark fantasy series Demon Trappers and its carefully-researched relationship to/setting in Atlanta. The cover art for the first novel looks beautiful; you can see the U.K. version here.

  • Schedule-wise, I always seemed to be zigging when podcast pioneer Mur Lafferty was zagging, so we didn't have the chance to talk a great deal at any one time, but it was a great treat to be on the same panel with her about 21st-century fandom, and I look forward to our paths crossing again soon. She's one cool lady.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed meeting author [livejournal.com profile] matthewsrotundo and attending his reading of "The Woman Who Hated Halloween." Now I'm even more in the mood for October, if that's possible.

  • After hearing her stories, I'm convinced Mary Robinette Kowal should write her next novel about her bionic centenarian grandmother. I'd read it.

  • Our panel on regional fandom was a hoot, and now I'm doubly excited about being a guest at next year's StellarCon.

  • My solo presentation about young adult dystopian fiction was absurdly well attended, and afterward the conversation spilled out into the hallway and continued for a while longer. I was most pleased by the great discussion that followed. Thanks, everyone!

  • Last but definitely not least, several StarShipSofa listeners introduced themselves to me, talked about the podcast, and expressed support for its chances in this year's Hugos. This made my day -- my whole con, in fact.

In Which My "Must Read" List Grows

Here are some of the titles I added, thanks to NASFiC:
  • Bull Spec, which is a new hard-copy magazine of speculative fiction -- roughly, science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, and a few other bits around the edges -- published quarterly from Durham, North Carolina. It's off to an impressive start.

  • Redstone Science Fiction, which is a new online magazine of speculative fiction that publishes quality stories from across the science fiction spectrum, from post-cyberpunk to new space opera. The most recent issue has a story from Gray Rinehart, so I know it must be good.

  • I was already interested Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve before the con, but now I'm even more enthusiastic. I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the author, William H. Patterson, Jr., and also attend a reception in honor of the book, at which he shared additional insights on Heinlein, his relationships, and his use of satire -- as well as a sneak peek at the rare pictures included in the volume. This will hit bookstores in a week, so there's not long to wait.

  • The Last Man Anthology, a forthcoming collection of stories inspired by one of my very favorite novels, Mary Shelley's The Last Man. It will be available in October.

  • Journal of a UFO Investigator: A Novel by David Halperin, due out in February 2011, which promises to be a fascinating read.

In non-genre news, while in Raleigh I also had a wonderful dinner and chat with two fabulous ladies, [livejournal.com profile] estellye and [livejournal.com profile] ashesngolddust. Here's hoping there's an opportunity for a repeat soon.

"Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today- but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept about which resolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. "
- Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Holdstock, ed., 1978
eldritchhobbit: (Star Wars/Pre-Raphaelite)
After a night of glorious thunderstorms, the world is grey and rainy. My favorite kind of day! This afternoon we're going to see the Lenoir-Rhyne University Playmakers' production of Antigone. I'm quite looking forward to it. You can never go wrong with Sophocles.

* As I have mentioned before, I read the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast - a series that is set in an alternate-universe version of my hometown and my former high school, and which features (along with a substantial number of vampyres) cameos by real people I actually know. There's something to be said for the innovative way in which the series incorporates Cherokee culture and mythology, as well. The next book in the series (Burned) is due out on Tuesday, and I'm pleased to see that Book Chick City is devoting an entire week of posts to the series, including reviews of the novels, interviews with the authors, and other interesting information.

* Speaking of Cherokee culture, I was thrilled to learn that one of my very favorite actors, Wes Studi, was recently recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the White Sands International Film Festival.

* Here's a useful list of upcoming independent and under-the-radar SF films.

Last but not least, for your weekend amusement, here's the "Ewok Celebration Song" as performed by the barbershop quartet Crackerjack Junction. You'll never think of "Yub Nub" the same way again:

"I go to wed the lord of the dark waters."
– Antigone in Antigone by Sophocles (translated by Robert Fagles)
eldritchhobbit: (Halloween)

Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] jinjifore and [livejournal.com profile] edroxy. May you both have a wonderful day and a terrific year to come!

* Thanks to everyone who took part in my poll on your favorite zombie movies. At the time of this posting, the results are as follows:
First Place: a tie between Night of the Living Dead (the original) and Shaun of the Dead
Second Place: 28 Days Later

* Today I have some vampire-related links to share:
-- From Vampire Compendium: "Top Ten Vampire Websites"
-- From Revolution Science Fiction: "Top 6.66 Vampires"
-- The articles from past issues of The Journal of Dracula Studies are archived here for easy access. No subscription is necessary. Read essays about Dracula in everything from fiction and history to film and comics.
-- The Transylvania Society of Dracula (Canadian Chapter) is a non-profit, historical-cultural organization is open to those in Canada and the USA. The group promotes contacts between scholars and interested readers from Romania and the West.

Today is the debut of Tempted, the sixth and latest book in the House of Night series of teen vampire novels by P.C. and Kristin Cast.

I mention this for several reasons:
* The books are set in an alternate-universe version of my hometown (Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA), and the landmarks, descriptions, and town history are quite true to life.
* The series begins in, and often refers to, my former high school, and some of my former teachers are even mentioned and/or given cameo appearances.
* Yes, these things make reading the series rather fascinating for me, not to mention somewhat surreal. And yes, I laugh at every joke made at the expense of perennial rival Union High School (and especially its football team). Some things you just don't outgrow.
* To my way of thinking, there really needs to be a good critical article written contrasting how the Casts incorporate Cherokee mythology into their House of Night books with how Stephenie Meyer includes the Quileute in her Twilight series. The difference is quite striking.

At any rate, you can read more about the House of Night series here, or go here to see some of the ubiquitous book trailers for the novels.

Spooky Text of the Day: Appropriately enough, today's spine-tingler is "Authenticated Vampire Story" (1909) by Franz Hartmann.

On June 10, 1909, there appeared in a prominent Vienna paper (the Neues Wiener Journal) a notice (which I herewith enclose) saying that the castle of B— had been burned by the populace, because there was a great mortality among the peasant children, and it was generally believed that this was due to the invasion of a vampire, supposed to be the last Count B—, who died and acquired that reputation. The castle was situated in a wild and desolate part of the Carpathian Mountains and was formerly a fortification against the Turks. It was not inhabited owing to its being believed to be in the possession of ghosts, only a wing of it was used as a dwelling for the caretaker and his wife.

Read the complete story here.
eldritchhobbit: (Books and coffee)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] thewordoffred, and happy early birthday to [livejournal.com profile] distaff_exile and [livejournal.com profile] emerdavid! May you each have a wonderful day and a fantastic year to come.

And I have some news of the weird and not-so-weird...

* From NewScientist: "'Vampire' Discovered in Mass Grave": "A skeleton exhumed from a grave in Venice is being claimed as the first known example of the 'vampires' widely referred to in contemporary documents."

* Speaking of vampire news, I think I may have to break down and read The House of Night series; I've just discovered that the books are set in my old high school, feature some of my favorite places in my hometown, and even include cameo appearances by real teachers I had in class. This certainly piques my curiosity. I do feel a bit cheated, though: if there were vampires roaming the halls when I was there, I never noticed. And considering the fact I had a Brontë novel glued under my arm for my entire high school experience (and occasionally some Poe, as well), you'd at least think they would've known they could say hello. I even wore black to prom, for heaven's sake - with an "updo" exposing my neck! Ah, well.

* The March issue of Journey to the Sea, the online magazine devoted to myth, is now available, and it includes interesting articles on Doris Lessing, Aesop, and "Mythos and Logos: Two Ways of Explaining the World."

"Springtime is the land awakening.
The March winds are the morning yawn."
- Lewis Grizzard, Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You


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