Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Charles De Lint & Me

Through the years I have had two authors whose work I was totally enamored with.  One I outgrew in my twenties, Piers Anthony, the other I still follow today, Charles de Lint.  Usually in the Pop Culture and Me retrospectives I got through what years things happened.  I do not remember exact dates I will try to get it as close to the period.  Warning: folks this may be spoiler heavy depending on your definition.  I personally do not get upset about spoilers, it is the journey that matters not the destination.  It all started in 1994 Moonheart.  I had found its sequel Spiritwalk, but would not read it till I got the first book.  I finally found a new edition in 94.  Its idea that magic is still here in the modern era if we just know where to look spoke volumes to me.  At the time I was discovering my spiritual path in paganism and shamanism. Many of the themes Mr. de Lint wrote about were what I truly believed on a spiritual level. 

During this time I had also discovered Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale Series.  It was a series of Fairy Tale re-imaginings.  Each book was a different author.  When I got to Charles de Lint’s Jack the Giant Killer I could not find it, however there was a new release that collected Jack the Giant Killer with its sequel novella Drink Down the Moon.  His ideas that to most the magical is seen as mundane and only the lucky few can see the true magic beneath all things clearly resonated with me.

Later I discovered a collection of his Newford Stories called Dreams Underfoot.  I have been known to buy spare copies of this to give to friends.  It was my introduction to de Lint’s invented city of Newford.  One where Americans thinks it is Canadian and Canadians think it is American.  That is because Mr. de Lint, a Canadian, took attributes from both cultures in his city and still to this day has never said where it is exists.  That only increases the otherworldly quality of the setting.  It exists neither here nor there and in both all at the same time.  This collection introduced me to Jilly Coppercorn, a recurring character and the concept of the children of the secret.  In De Lint’s work the children of the secret are those who have suffered abuse, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or a combination of all the above as children.  As someone who fits the bill this spoke to me and my experiences. 

I continued to read his works; the short story collections were wonderful.  I read Yarrow, Greenmantle, Svaha, and Memory and Dream.  Then I got to another favorite, Trader.  With my recent experiences, I need to re-read it. Trader is about a luthier, guitar maker, in his middle years.  He has become too stagnant in his life and other than his work he has not created connections to other people and the community at large.  In comes in a young man who is in serious trouble and finds a way to switch bodies.  The story is about creating connection with people and that without them we are rudderless and adrift.  With me losing so much of myself in my old relationship I can see what the Author meant even more now, than before.  That is the reason I probably should revisit this novel. 

I later read another favorite Someplace to be Flying.  It follows the First Nations/ Native American myths of the First Tribes or Animal People.  It follows a feud between the Corvids (Crows, Ravens, Jays, Rooks and Etc.) and the Canids (Wolf, Dog, Coyote and Fox).  It weaves Native American Myths with modern sensibilities.  It also handles how some people do not feel they fit in and how they find their “tribe.”  Many of Charles de Lint’s books cover the theme of how our relationships define us.  Sometimes they do for the better and sometimes they do for the worse.  I enjoy authors whose works deal with relationships and how they affect us, inspire us, and impact us.  I continued to read more of his books including two traditional fantasy novels Harper of the Grey Rose and Into the Green.  Later I read Little County, Mulengro and Forests of the Heart.

Then I started Spirit in the Wires.  This book took me almost 5 years to read.  Part of the reason it took so long was the deterioration of my relationship with my ex, Barbara.  This book I had to take breathers, because the subject matter was so heavy I needed time to digest it.  The story centers on the idea of what is reality and who is real.  Two main characters came into existence not in the typical way.  One was born from a Spirit that existed on the internet.  The other was a shadow, the parts of a person that are cast off who became real in the Dream Lands/ Otherworld/ Spiritworld.  These people came to our consentual reality and exist in it.  Does that make them less real?  These are the kinds of themes that play in this novel. 

The next two novels were related books they cover the character of Jilly Coppercorn.  They are Onion Girl and Widdershins.  I read one and listened to one on audio book.  I read Spirit in the Wires between them, but I am putting them together because of the common main character. Onion Girl covers how Jilly’s past comes back to bite her in the ass.  She deals with her family and her tragic history.  Mr. de Lint furthers his concept of the children of the secret and covers much of the implied history of Jilly.  Through many short stories we know she had been abused, homeless, a prostitute and a drug addict. She cleaned up her act and became an artist and a community leader. Onion Girl deals with her healing some of her connections.  Widdershins goes on with its theme of healing scars that keep us from being with our soul mate.  Jilly and her friends are very compelling characters, they remind me of my friends and acquaintances in the Portland Geek creative community.  I have been reading a series of short stories de Lint has released for the Kindle I am by no means caught up to all his books.  His sense of wonder and melding the mythologies from Celtic lore and Native American Lore is fascinating.   He is able to ground magic in the real and make the mundane world seem magical.  This is My Not So Humble Opinion. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Podcasty Goodness

So here I thought I was done with writing up various podcasts.  Then I remembered all the podcasts I loved that were either in long hiatus or finite, meaning there was a limited amount of episodes.  There are also some here that were really new when I wrote the last podcast article.   There also are some good podcasts I enjoyed but did not have the time to stay on.  This batch is heavy with Podcast Novels, Podiobooks or Podcast Dramas.  These are all terms for the same thing, these works can be single narrator, be it the author or a hired gun, or a partial to full cast audio/ Podcast/ podio drama.  As said previously many of the Podcast Authors have released their works as e-books on Amazon or Smashwords.  Whether or not, you listen to the audio format of their works; I would suggest get the e-books too.  Many of these podcasters have been doing it for years.  Remember podcasting is so diverse you will eventually find something you like.  Just about most of the Podcast novels are not kid safe either in Audio format or their e-books versions either.


Fantastic Disaster

Robert Wagner, Portland’s own Podcast Guru, is back.  He just cannot stay away from podcasting.  This new show is weekly and clocks in between a half hour to an hour.  It is Robert’s musing based on current event or things that he notices in his own life.  He includes a few musical interludes in this new format.  Robert does not suffer fools lightly, so some of his observations can be highly charged with his pinpoint acerbic wit.  The show is extremely thought provoking and entertaining.

UPDATE:  Sadly Fantastic Disaster only lasted 6 episodes and six weeks.  The site is shut down and none of the shows are available at this time.


The Metamor City Podcast/ The Raven and the Writing Desk

Chris Lester is the author behind this feed.  It is a collection of short stories, novellas, and novels set in his world Metamor City.  Imagine a fantasy setting allowed to progress to the 21st Century and that is what you have with Metamor City.  It is Urban Fantasy with elements of Cyberpunk and Steampunk.  The various works go from single reader narration to full cast audio dramas.  Of the podcast novelists out there Chris Lester is one of my favorites.  Here is a warning the feed does have gaps between works.  This is due to the Author writing, then working to get the show produced.  There is a large amount archived so it will take a while to get through.  On May 10th 2015, after a long hiatus Chris Lester returned to the Metamor City Podcast feed with a new Podcast called the Raven and the Writing Desk.  Now instead of a full cast audio drama, Chris is narrating his works, talking about the writing process and progress, and things somewhere in between.


Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty like Scott Sigler is a Podcasting and Podcast Novel Juggernaut.  Her Podcasts include, I Should Be Writing, Angry robot Podcast, Escape Pod, Geek Fu Action Grip, Princess Scientist’s Book Club, and Pseudopod.  As a Podcast Novelist her works are The Shambling Guide to New York City, The Afterlife Series, Playing for Keeps, Marco and the Red Granny, and The Takeover.  Most of her work is available on Podiobooks.com.  She has a very wry sense of humor and that shows in her work.  In her Afterlife series she destroys the universe and rebuilds it multiple times.  As one of the Podcast pioneers with Tee Morris and Scott Sigler, she is one to watch and read.  Her archive is available through subscription.  Check her work out and if you like it buy it, I have.


Movie BS with Bayer & Snider

Movie BS with Bayer and Snider is a Movie reviewing podcast with two Portland area Movie Critics, Eric D. Snider and Jeff Bayer.  Even though the reviews themselves are fairly serious, the host do not take themselves too serious.  They give their audience a silly, fun and wonderful time.  They have various regular segments.  They do not care if they are silly they embrace it.  So I would suggest that you try their brand of Movie Tomfoolery.


Antithesis Progression/ Literary Abominations/ Down with Ten

J. Daniel Sawyer is another prolific podcast novelist.  He has podcasted many of his works and has non-fiction podcasts too.  His Feeds and shows are Antithesis Progression, Literary Abominations (which is his Uber Feed), Down with Ten, Sculpting God, The Polyschizmatic Reprobates Hour and many podcasted literary works.  I liken Mr. Sawyer like a 21st Century Rod Serling, I mean the writer part not the host.  His work looks at our condition and uses genre to heighten what needs to change and what is so great about us.  Half of his work is solo narration, the other half like Down from Ten is a full cast audio drama.


James Durham/ FETIDUS

James Durham is known for FETIDUS (The Foundation for the Ethical Treatment of the Innocently Damned, Undead and Supernatural) a podcast Audi Drama set in a post-apocalyptic Supernatural Thriller.  This is very Noir in tone.  It has an almost Horror-Noir feeling to this.  It is set in Washington DC in 2034.  James is working on the second season.  It is a very gritty setting as well as the first story line of the series.


Podiobooks.com

Podiobooks.com is a website whose founders include podcasters Evo Terra and Tee Morris.  There reason I support this site is that it hosts various Podcast novels.  These novels are either read by author or Narrator, or partial or full cast audio dramas.  All the books here are free, however donations to the authors are highly recommended by the site’s staff and me.  They also take public domain works and give them new narration as audio books too.  The site covers most genres and just about every audience.  Check this site out; it is definitely worth a listen.


Murder at Avedon Hill/ Tales of the Children/ SpecFicMedia/ P.G. Holyfield


P.G. Holyfield started with his fantasy murder mystery Murder at Avedon Hill.  The he continued with Tales of the Children an Anthology that covers the deities of the Murder at Avedon Hill Universe.  Two or so years ago he founded SpecFicMedia, which started with the Beyond the Wall Game of Thrones podcast.  He also is a host on the new panel show Consumption also on SpecFicMedia.   Holyfield’s fiction is very moody and atmospheric.  He was very capable of fusing Mystery with fantasy without either genre suffering any issues.  He is a wonderful host and worth the listen.  UPDATE:  With the Passing of P.G. Holyfield in 2014, SpecFic Media is the only feed still up.  Murder at Avedon Hill is still available at Podiobooks.


Patrick E. McLean

Patrick started with his The Seanachai podcast.  It was short stories, observations and humor.  He then did his How to Succeed in Evil Podcast novel and Unkillable podcast novel.  His work has many elements of humor in them.  His wry wit is clear in all his work.  Like many of the other Podcast novelist his work is available in e-book formats.   He is not kid friendly, but he is a whole lot of fun.


Michele Roger/ Dark Matter/ Something Wicked This Way Strums/ The Conservatory

Michele Roger is a Horror Podcast Novelist so far she has put out two novels, Dark Matter and The Conservatory; and a collection of short stories, Something Wicked This Way Strums.  She is also a professionally trained Harpist.  This comes out more in The Conservatory.  Some of her choices in direction are unconventional.  Her work has a sense of wonder as well as dread. 

UPDATE: This site and Michele's work are no longer up.  However her works are for sale on Amazon in Kindle format.  Some are also available in Dead tree.

Jared Axelrod

Jared Axelrod is a prolific Podcast writer and Podcaster.  He has been involved or podcasted the following: 365 Tomorrows, Fables of the Flying City, The Voice of Free Planet X, and Aliens You Will Meet.  Jared and his wife, J.R. Blackwell, are pinnacles of the podcast fiction community.  They have been known to frequent both Dragon-Con and Balti-Con.  He is a greater writer and performer; do not just take my word for it.

These are some of the more glaring omissions I left out.   I have listened to many more Podcast Authors.  With Podiobooks.com, you can find the ones you like.  That is what I did and It worked for me.  Is this the last write-up piece form me.  I cannot say; saying never seems to be a mistake I can avoid.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.