Death’s Master (Flat Earth Book 2) by Tanith Lee is now an ebook. Wildean fantasia meets Arabian Nights

book_deaths_master_small

Death’s Master is finally an ebook, released by Immanion Press. It’s an epic fantasy told in the high style full of eroticism and horror, as well as beauty. Part runaway Wildean fantasia, part Arabian Nights, here’s what I said about the Flat Earth series as a whole:

The eroticism in the text [is] exploratory but tempered by a peculiar kind of innocence, helped in no small part by the jewel-like precision of the prose.  There [are] horrors in the stories, but there [is] also tenderness.  It is [Tanith] Lee’s special talent to mix both tenderness and terror.

MUSIC REVIEW: ‘Nights Bright Lights’ by Chloe March. For fans of David Sylvian, Colleen and Goldfrapp

All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
—“Sonnet 43,” Shakespeare

Ah, the Concept Album, that hoary idea that birthed such dubious masterpieces as Evita and “Mr. Roboto.” Chloe March’s third album loosely fits in this category. But you won’t find an overarching narrative theme. Instead, you’ll find a suite of songs that use image-patterns of night, winter, light, dark with a sub-theme of Orpheus and Eurydiche running through three compositions. And I use the term ‘composition’ deliberately, for these amalgamations of synthesized programs, with delicate colorings of piano, saxophone, zither and guitar are closer to the work of Erik Satie than they are to traditional pop music. March’s work most recalls David Sylvian’s classic album, Secrets of the Beehive, with its slow burning atmospherics that borrow from folk, classical, jazz and electronic ambient music. Her smoky velvet alto also shares Sylvian’s ruminative phrasing. The use of zithers (in this case, autoharp and psaltery) at times recalls the hermetic, textural compositions of acoustic-ambient artist Colleen. Nights Bright Days is like musical incense. Recommended for fans of Sylvian, Virginia Astley, and Goldfrapp (in the vein of Felt Mountain or Tales of Us).

Nights Bright Days

The erotic tone-poems in Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

Ancient, AncientAncient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story “MalKai’s Last Seduction” is an erotic tone poem that celebrates black queer love. The set up is deceptively simple. MalKai is a visiting alien who is gathering “human nectar”–a substance derived from orgasms. MalKai belongs to a race of moth-like beings, but is able to appear as human. His species communicates via movement, rather than words. MalKai meets Cori, a closeted black gay man, and seduces him.

Cori had no way of imagining a velvet people who spoke through balletic motions and muscle spasms, arced arms and bent necks. A nation that consisted of beings who were physically similar to humans but biologically distinct. A people who thrived on human nectar.

The bulk of the story is told through the alien’s eyes. But there is a point of view shift, when we understand the transcendence and healing that Cori feels through the encounter:

Cori’s entire life, it could be argued, was an attempt to avoid any event such as this one. For years, he discretely avoided eye contact with men who wore their privacy in public like an expensive coat of chinchilla.

Both creatures, human and alien, experience a hallicination-ridden orgasm that acts as an exorcism for Cori.

He couldn’t remember his closet…

He is freed by the sexual act. It is liberating. Salaam drenches the story in sensory overload, with sentences that sing.

Kiini Ibura Salaam finds the balance between visionary poetics and science fiction in this tale and others.

View all my reviews

Repost: Sign up for a Holiday Story/Card Hybrid by Craig Laurance Gidney by December 15th!

Dear Readers,

This year, I am sending out a Holiday Card that has a free holiday-themed story. I am sending this off via snail-mail. If you would like to be on the mailing list for this story/card hybrid, please send a message to clgidney@gmail.com with your postal address and the words: Holiday Story in the subject line by December 15 at the latest.

Mehitabel

Sign up for a Holiday Story/Card Hybrid by Craig Laurance Gidney by December 15th!

Dear Readers,

This year, I am sending out a Holiday Card that has a free holiday-themed story. I am sending this off via snail-mail. If you would like to be on the mailing list for this story/card hybrid, please send a message to clgidney@gmail.com with your postal address and the words: Holiday Story in the subject line by December 15 at the latest.

Mehitabel

 

My review of Von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA: depression is a glowing blue planet

{Below is the text of the spoken review}

I want to like the films of Lars Von Trier more than I do. I admire that he has a singular vision, and that he has the audacity to disturb his audience. His work is difficult and he explores the darkest reaches of the human experience. But there is always something about his work that irritates me, that stops me from fully embracing his work.

I saw MELANCHOLIA last night. It’s an intensely personal meditation on Depression and self destruction. Justine’s descent into a depression is beautifully realized, and I would tell anyone who doesn’t believe Depression is a genuine medical condition to look at the first part of the film. The actress Kirsten Dunst portrays Justine’s pain as physical (which Depression can be) as well as mental. Her face mimics joy, but she’s really a husk inside, a tangle of psychic scars. The second part of the movie, about the destruction of the earth, isn’t as strong. Firstly, because the narrative shifts its focus from Justine to her sister Claire. The scenes that show Justine’s reactions are more powerful. She seems to embrace the end of the world. There’s a scene where she bathes naked in the spectral blue glow of the planet Melancholia that is just gorgeous.

The second part of the movie also has all of the features that annoy me about Von Trier’s work. His characters act in ways that don’t make sense. When Kiefer Sutherland’s character kills himself, it comes out of left-field. This sudden out of character behavior is a hallmark of his films. In DANCER IN THE DARK, Selma murders a man—out of left field. In DOGVILLE, Nicole Kidman’s character goes from being unbelievably passive (getting raped by an entire village!!!!) to committing genocide. The writer in me sees that as lazy, if not bad writing. Mood whiplash is one thing. Character arc whiplash is another.

To me, MELANCHOLIA is half of a masterpiece. He should really hire a script doctor (me!) for his next outing.

large_melancholia_blu-ray_4