" In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again"

Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Brian Michael Stableford (25 July 1948 – 24 February 2024)


Logically as one gets older the writers and entertainers you enjoyed over the years begin to pass away. Since January I learned that two of my favourites, Brian Lumley and Brian Stableford had died. I will address Brian Lumley on my HPL site, actually I will make note of Brian Stableford's death there as well as he was not stranger to the mythos. 


I learned of both deaths on the excellent site; 

Adventures Fantastic


And I have decided to include the comment I left there here.

"I have really enjoyed Stableford’s book from his Ace doubles, his HPL/horror themed works, his many science fiction series and his non fiction on the history of the scientific romance in both English and French literature. I have even picked up a number of his French translations. I love the way he incorporated genre and literature characters in many of his works. His Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of Eternity was both engrossing and confusing. I felt the first book of his Morgan’s Fork trilogy really provided a glimpse of his writing process although I did not like the last two books in the series."

I do plan to read more Stableford and hopefully discuss my observations here.

discussed Stableford's "The Growth of the House of Usher" earlier, I also read a longer version of this story but I prefer the version found in Interzone.


Sunday, July 23, 2023

Science fiction and fantasy in my life.

 “I realized just how much time I spend consuming the past.”

from “Who Knows Where The Times Goes” at 4am

Auxiliary Memory

Things I want to remember – James Wallace Harris 


The idea for this post started germinating when I picked up copy of the 2nd Xanth book The Source of Magic while in Saskatoon last February. I had always loved the cover and I knew I had read the first 5 or six books in the interminable series, as well as some of his other series, before getting rid of all my Piers Anthony books except The Macroscope.

The purchase of that title plus my search for  A Spell for Chameleon started me thinking about the circumstances in which I began reading Anthony’s books.  In 1979 I came to Alberta for a summer Archaeology Field School in Elk Point, Alberta. The next year after graduation I was offered a summer job in Edmonton where I continued to live for the next 10 years. For several years one of my main sources of weekend entertainment was to go down to the Wee Book Inn on Whyte avenue to buy a bag of used books, mainly science fiction and fantasy. I would then walk down to Snoopy’s Fine Foods, a typical prairie dinner selling Chinese and western food where I would enjoy a cheese burger, fries and a coke while flipping thru my books.

My early science fiction reading started in elementary school and relied on the school and public library. This focused on my  big six authors, Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton and Christopher Wyndham who was taught in Ontario schools. I think know I think I also meet Clifford Simak and Robert Silverberg as well. But these were not my books, there were presented to me by librarians and dutifully returned. Now I not only had some pocket money and whole new selection of books, on annoying metal racks where you could only see the first of 3 of 4 books without flipping thru each stack. By the way The Wee Book in is still going.


I have spent several months thinking about the authors I meet there. I continued to look for my old favourites, but there were all these new writers, Frank Herbert, Piers Anthony, Gordon R. Dickson, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, Roger Zelazny, Jerry Pournelle, James Hogan, C.J Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradly, Nancy Springer, Tanith Lee. Two I had meet the previous summer in Elk Point, a colleague had lent me book two of Jack L. Chalker’s Well World Series and I had found the 2nd volume of Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master trilogy. on the spinny rack of the drugstore. At this point there was no internet so my reading was still at the hunter gather level, I rooted around found a shiny nut or berry, covers were quite important at least in introducing a new author. There are obvious gaps but that is how foraging works serendipity plays a large part. I was interested to note how many female writers appeared on this list 

Some other these authors I continued to keep and read and some I got rid. Some because I tired of the books, some because of the author’s actions. But is thinking about my reading then there are some authors I will revisit. One of the first will be Chalker's Well world series (I love most to the covers), the only Chalker title i had kept was the singleton The Web of the Chosen so in late June my wife and I spent a weekend visiting several used bookstores. I found beautiful copies of the last three volumes plus many SFBC editions I could not resist. I found the 2nd volume in The Next Page used book section and despaired of finding the 1st volume when I found it next to the Herman Hesse pile, I also got Hesse's Gertrud. I already had already decided on my summer reading at the cabin and I have an eye procedure in October so i may not get to this pile until this winter but I am looking forward to it. 

And the copy of A Spell for Chameleon? Well i got that at The Sentry Box , a wonderful Calgary game shop with a huge bookstore, because my wife and I have decided that at least part of our retirement should be spent painting little tiny figures and I wanted Ash Waste Nomads riding Dustmite Helamites because I may be growing old but I have decided not to grow up. 


A few members of my Frostgrave warband.

As to why I am back, I missed it and I want to recommend The Auxiliary Memory

post , “77 Things I Learned From Writing 1000 Blog Essays 


I certainly felt a number of his points applied to me.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

World Fantasy Award Winner Patricia A. McKillip Has Passed Away

I first encountered McKillip's work when I found Heir of Sea and Water, the second volume of the Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy in a drug store while attending an archaeological field school in Elk Point, Alberta. The Riddlemaster series now ranks right up there with Tolken's Hobbit/LOTR books for me, and McKillip the only fantasy writer whose works I always bought as soon as they came out.

My post on her novel Fool's Run appears here:


Other links



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

New Arrivals and a chatty post

In early Oct. we snuck off for a week long stay at the Sylvia Hotel in English Bay. This summer we had cancelled a trip to London for the second time and we wanted to do something. I have to say this is one of my favourite spots in the world. There is bay with mountains and cargo ships waiting to unload in front, Stanley Park and it's seawall to the right and Denman street with a huge selection of restaurants to the left. Also tons of people walk their dogs along the shore which makes for great viewing. I love it. Much of the rest of Vancouver is accessible by water taxi or foot and that means bookstores. The book covers span the entire spectrum from "what were they thinking" to pretty cool. 

The first store we visited was also a bindery. I got the Pangborn, (cover by Richard Powers)  and Helen was able to get a very interesting edition of Alice in Wonderland. Since the main thing we missed in London was the Alice exhibit at the V & A, this was only fair. 

The next was a small shop called The Paper Hound, which actually only had a couple of shelves of science fiction amid other wonderful holding, I got my first but probably not last Rupert Annual. Okay I bought the 2021 at our neighbourhood British Pantry the other day. Since I am indecisive and the book shop was central to several areas we planned to visit and since Helen is good natured enough to put up with a lot, we visited three times over the course our stay. We next visited a large used bookstore with mounds and towers of books everywhere and over priced PKD aces in glass cases. But I realized the internet may have spoiled this kind of chaos for me, plus their SF holding overall seemed insufficient for the size of the shop and uninteresting we bought nothing there.

The Paper Hound however while small was beautifully curated.  

A lovely understated cover by Daniel Schwartz.

The Lessing series is the kind of vast impenetrable British/European future history of human kind that haunts my shelves and TBR pile. Jacket Design by David Proust. 

I did not buy this very reasonably priced Shasta first edition until my third visit. I hate the cover of this man in what is obviously his Mom's housecoat so much. Looking at it again Mom must have been pretty tall. However as I lay awake in my bed at the Sylvia listening to the rain. (Immortalized in the Blue Rodeo song English Bay here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrhL5yAS2jI

I heard the rest of my Van Vogt collection remonstrating with me. It was after all family. Harold W. McCauley claimed credit for this, why?

God knows, I bought it for the cover by Harry Borman and a rather confused summary on the back. The summary claims SF roots, the cover seems more sword and sorcery.

This is a wonderful cover by Alan Brooks. 

This was interesting . I knew I had to buy A Ticket to Nowhere but left it where it was displayed on the shelf while I looked around, Helen then appeared with it and said you have to get this for your collection. She was right.

I have discussed the UK publisher Badger books several times, a great discussion and the first place I learned about them is at this link from the wonderful unsubscribed blog, sadly no longer updated.

Vega books in Clovis California seems to have reprinted some Badger books with the same covers. However the ISFDB does not indicate this was the case here. I see no other novels listed for Don Begher, but authors for both Badger and Vega often seemed to use house names. Helen and I both loved the juxtaposition of the strange craft and log cabin. The cover was unattributed.

Sayers is my favourite mystery writer and one of the few I still read. These also fall into the great cover category. The covers were unattributed?

A couple more vacation snaps. Happy Reading. 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Summer Reading

Just a quick post before we sneak off for a few days. I am alive, well and still reading science fiction. We all agreed it was hot and dry at the cabin this summer as this photo taken from the porch demonstrates. One take away from the reading I did this summer is how much I still enjoy the genre and how much it has to offer. It also indicted that thematically and chronologically I am all over the place. I thought I would just mention some of the most memorable works or authors I encountered. I do hope to revisit them in more detail in future posts but for now a quick overview. 

The Battle of Dorking by George Chesney, (1871).

Probably the most important and influential of early Future War stories, George T Chesney's anonymously published novella The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer (May 1871 Blackwood's Magazine1871 chap) 


I have been meaning to read this for years and when I did it was not quite what I expected. But I am very happy I read it and I now have a greater feel for it’s place in the genre.

The Misfortunes of John Bull by Camille Debang (1884) adapted by Brian Stableford. (French Science Fiction Series Book 149).

Brian Stableford has released translations or adaptions of a large number of French works, He has also produced the monumental The Plurality of Imaginary Worlds, The Evolution of French Roman Scientifique. Stableford seems to offer a fictional autobiography of his career including his translations in Sprits of the Vasty Deep the first book of the Morgan's Fork trilogy. I loved The Misfortunes of John Bull.

 Joachim Boaz mentioned this interview over on his site when discussing Stableford in the comments section.

"I respect his editorial work greatly. I know the wonderful Rachel at SF in Translation interviewed him about his French SF project: Check the interview out if you haven’t already! https://www.sfintranslation.com/?p=4408"

The full post is here. 


Brian Aldiss

I had a read “An Appearance of Life” by Brian Aldiss before we went to the cabin and I followed that up with “Full Sun” and “Old Hundredth” boy I will have to read more of his short stories and novels. This stretching of science fiction tropes into fantastic, over the top, almost fantasy far futures, is right up my alley. 

Ian R. MacLeod

I cannot remember what possessed me to add Everywhere (The Colllected Short Stories and Novella of Ian R. Macleod Book 1) and Nowhere (The Colllected Short Stories and Novella of Ian R. Macleod Book 2) to my kindle. I knew I had one of his collections at home and I thought I had read his award winning “The Summer Isles”. I proceeded to read “New Light on the Drake Equation” and “The Visitor from Taured” and when I got home a couple of weeks ago I read or reread “The Summer Isles” If you had described the plots of any of these works to me I would have told you I would not like them. No aliens, no space ships, near future rather than far future and “The Summer Isles” won the 1998 Sidewise Award for Best Short Form Alternate History. All were quite good and the resolution of “The Summer Isles” blew me away, if I finished it before I must have…, well I cannot even speculate, it was simply one of the best things I have read in quite some time. 

Elizabeth Bear is a writer I really like and so when I noticed she had a couple of new novels out I read Machine A White Space Novel (2020). This is actually the second white space novel and in the notes Bear admits it is a tribute to the Sector General novels of James White as well as some of the other writers she loved. I followed this up with the first white space novel Ancestral Night (2019). I hope to discuss them in more details later but I did like them. I had some quibbles but they were enjoyable reads overall. 

I also bought a few books. Peter Crowther is downsizing and PS Publishing is selling some of his books, records etc. I picked up a number of books including this anthology edited by August Derleth. Another thing that was reaffirmed for me this summer is that I still retain many of the interests I had as a child. This includes my interest in archaeology, anthology, paleontology, and ancient history so this book by Mike Resnick (cover by George Barr) from a favourite bookseller on ABE was an obvious choice, as were a few other paperbacks he had. I remain a sucker for cool cover art. 

Speaking of cool covers your can also check out my mythos blog and the Arkham House covers by Richard Taylor a Canadian artist who did cartoons for the New Yorker.


And my post on his covers is here.


The Plurality of Imaginary Worlds: cover by Timothee Rouxel

Breathmoss: jacket painting by Bob Eggleton, design by Lynne Condellone

The Outer Reaches; unattributed

Pan paperbacks: unattributed