MUSIC: Autumn’s Grey Solace, “Therium.” An Ethereal dreampop song suite.

Ever since 2011’s album Eifelian AGS has been composing abstract odes to long lost worlds. Eocene followed in 2018, and Therium is the latest addition to this thematic cluster. It doesn’t stray far from the formula of beautiful soprano wordless vocalizations (Erin Welton) over a shimmering tapestry of guitars, bass and drums (performed by Scott Ferrell). AGS is quite capable of making melodic structured pop songs—last year’s excellent XIII proved that. Therium sees the duo exploring post-rock soundscapes , like Sigur Rós—ambient music using traditional rock instruments. It’s best listened to as a song suite, but there are highlights. The halycon “Animalia” sounds like a lost track from Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand while the euphoric “Mammoth” and “Dire” have genuinely catchy hooks. Therium is the soundtrack for an imaginary film full of hypnotic imagery.

Happy Book Birthday to ‘The Nectar of Nightmares’

The book came together quickly, at the request of the editor Darin Bradley (who’s an author in his own right). It collects my most recent publishing credits. The book is dedicated to the memory of a friend of mine, Eric Mueller, who suddenly died in 2020. I am proud of this little book of stories.

Below, I’ll share some brief non-spoiler notes.

Beneath the Briar Patch

This is a retelling of an African-American folktale, and is injected with some Cosmic Horror

Myth and Moor

This gothic tale stars the Queen of gothic fiction, Miss Emily Brontë

Fur and Gold

This is a horror-touched queer retelling of a fairytale. (The title comes from a Bat for Lashes song).

Black-Winged Roses

Set in the Harlem Renaissance, this story exists in the same ‘universe’ as my previous stories ‘Zoe Coalrose’ and ‘Conjuring Shadows’. (The title comes from a Tori Amos song).

Underglaze

This Weird Fiction is inspired by my Aunt Evelyn’s collection of Flo-Blue (or Flown Blue) plates

Mirror-Bias

Flowers and mirrors feature in this queer horror tale. (Title courtesy of the late Tanith Lee).

Eidolon Realty, LLC

A flash piece inspired by the time I worked in the investment industry

(K)naiveity

Flash piece — Jack Vance meets Jean Genet

Sigilance

Secondary world queer horror fantasy

The Magus Club

Inspired by the queer playwright Joe Orton’s lone weird novel, Head to Toe

Spyder Threads

Cosmic horror meets drag couture

Desiccant

My vampire story with a trans heroine

Sacred She-Devil

Inspired by Umdanba mythology

The Nectar of Nightmares

An oneiric horror novelette

Muses — Patricia A. McKillip (February 29, 1948 – May 6, 2022) 

I love words. Beautiful language and prose is my jam. I can taste the quality of prose in a synaesethic kind of way. Some prose has a “clean” taste, like unsalted butter. And some prose is rich and luxurious, like a chocolate truffle. I fell in love with fantasy fiction because the language of myth and fairytale has a certain flavor that I find irresistible. It’s floral, like vanilla, and bitter like dark chocolate with a mouthfeel like clotted cream. 

And no-one captured that mythic flavor in prose more than Patricia A McKillip. I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld when I was a teenager and immediately wrote her fan letter, (which was returned as undeliverable). The elegiac tone she’d captured was singularly haunting. The prose sang, was almost like a spell cast. She kept writing in that mode for all of career in many books—The Alphabet of Thorn, Solstice Wood, The Book of Atrix Wolfe—and many others. Her words were—-are—-incantatory and numinous. They swim and float across the page. Sometimes dismissed as flowery or purple, her language is central to the dreamlike plots of her novels. There is a jewel-like precision to her craft that I think that some critics miss. A couple of critics (and a friend) referred to her work with fairy tales as being the lighter cousin to Tanith Lee’s word-drunk. But I think there’s a tone of deep time and profound sorrow that always played in the background of her writing. Her characters always seemed melancholic, even if they were clever or humorous.

I had the pleasure of meeting McKillip a decade or so ago in New York. She was in town for a book reading, and I went out to lunch with her, Ellen Datlow, Jane Yolen and her husband David Lunde. She was sweet and soft-spoken, and I felt that I was in the presence of quiet genius.  McKillip’s ethereal work is a deep influence (I’m ethereallad on Social Media partially inspired by her).  I find her influence in many contemporary fantasists. Her voice will be missed.

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