Friday 13 November 2020

170 Years of Robert Louis Stevenson

Well, if you want to get technical, it isn't for a wee while yet. Mr Stevenson legally waived all rights to 13th of November as his birthday to a Ms Annie Ide:

Most of us -  especially when we are young-look forward to our birthday each year. Greeting cards arrive in the mail. There may be some exciting presents and perhaps a party with friends. It's a special day and it's fun to be the center of attention.

But suppose that special day happened to come on December 25, the biggest holiday of the entire year? Noone would even notice an ordinary birthday in the middle of Christmas.

Annie Ide of SI. Johnsbury had just such a birthday. Annie was born in 1876 and when she was fifteen her father went to the island of Samoa in the South Pacific.  There he met Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous author of Treasure Island. The two men became good friends.

One day Annie's father told his friend that because his daughter was born on December 25, she had never had a real birthday celebration. Stevenson offered to give his birthday to Annie so she could have a day all her own. He mailed her a document that said,

"I, Robert Louis Stevenson, ... have attained an age when, 0, we never mention it, and... have no further use for a birthday of any description... do hereby transfer to... (Miss) A.H.Ide, all and whole my rights and privileges in the thirteenth day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth the birthday of the said A(nnie) H.Ide, to have, hold, exercise and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiments, eating of rich meats and receipt of gifts, compliments and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors."

Well, while I'm sure Annie enjoyed every 13th of November of her life, it would be a most diminished world if only one person could claim a day for their birthday, wouldn't it? I have a post over at DMR books talking about three of Stevenson's most important works, and how they affected me personally.

Monday 7 September 2020

Pumzika Kwa Amani, Charles R. Saunders, Griot for Another World


I was just digesting the shocking news of Chadwick Boseman's death when I heard about Charles R. Saunders, Sword and Soul pioneer and lovely man, who has also passed away. Fellow Howard reader Ben Friberg's parting gift to me before my long absence from Cross Plains was a copy of Imaro: The Naama War, which I read as soon as I got home to Scotland. Fellow New-Pulp and black speculative fiction creators Milton Davis, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Gareth Miles, & Derrick Ferguson offered tributes, as well as Locus Magazine, Ron Fortier, Ryan Harvey,

Friday 7 August 2020

The Phantasmagoria Metallique: 100 Years of A. Merritt's "The Metal Monster"

Sphere and block and pyramid ran together, seemed to seethe. I had again that sense of a quicksilver melting. Up from them thrust a thick rectangular column. Eight feet in width and twenty feet high, it shaped itself. Out from its left side, from right side, sprang arms—fearful arms that grew and grew as globe and cube and angle raced up the column's side and clicked into place each upon, each after, the other. With magical quickness the arms lengthened.

Before us stood a monstrous shape; a geometric prodigy. A shining angled pillar that, though rigid, immobile, seemed to crouch, be instinct with living force striving to be unleashed.

Two great globes surmounted it—like the heads of some two-faced Janus of an alien world.

At the left and right the knobbed arms, now fully fifty feet in length, writhed, twisted, straightened; flexing themselves in grotesque imitation of a boxer. And at the end of each of the six arms the spheres were clustered thick, studded with the pyramids—again in gigantic, awful, parody of the spiked gloves of those ancient gladiators who fought for imperial Nero.

For an instant it stood here, preening, testing itself like an athlete—a chimera, amorphous yet weirdly symmetric—under the darkening sky, in the green of the hollow, the armored hosts frozen before it—

And then—it struck! 

 - "The Metal Monster," A. Merritt 

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of A. Merritt's "The Metal Monster," one of my very favourite weird tales and a truly remarkable work of science fiction.

Pal of the Blog Deuce Richardson very kindly hosts my exploration of just how rich and expansive the story's links to modern science fiction are.

For such a visual feast, there's remarkably little illustration out there for "The Metal Monster." Stephen Fabian's cover art for the 1976 Avon Books publication (pictured at the top of the post) is a bit closer to the modular, weird nature of the Monster, but there are some other interesting ones out there.

Thursday 11 June 2020

Robert E. Howard in Scots: Echoes from an Anvil

Echaes frae a Stiddie

Screivit by Rabert E. Howard 

I leave tae pegral makars

The tabor an the lute;

I sing in drums an tom-toms

The bleck bysmal bruit –

Ma vyse is o’ the people,

Thon etin wild an mout.

Wi’ bluid o’ aw the ages

His braken nails are bleck,

The hale waurld wechts an burdens

His birsie beastial back;

He shammles doon ivermair

A blin an fankelt track.

I bring nae sneithit diamants,

Nae gems frae Lunnon toun;

Nae culturt wheem or teevock

Ma rochle varses croun;

You find here nocht but pouer

That braks a ceety doun.

I spill nae wirds o’ beauty,

Cuinyies frae a siller purse,

Ma hauns are built o’ airn,

An airn is in ma varse.

I bring nae luve but fury,

Nae blissin but a curse.

Ma law-fung brou is slentit,

Ma een are burnin reid,

Wi’ fairce bleck primal veesions

That thunner in ma heid;

Ahint ma hert the rivers

An aw the jungles spreid.

I sclaved in starn-girt Babel

An lauboured at the wa’;

I watchit the birth o’ pavies

Aneath ma clourin mell –

An in a frenzied dawin

I saw her tours faw.

I toiled in Tuscan vinyairds,

I brak the beaten laim,

I streend agin the haimer

That drave the clourer haim;

I sweitit in the gaileys

That brak the road tae Roum.

Och, Khan an keeng an pharaoh!

In cauld an drouth an heat

I bled tae build yer glore,

An eemock aneath yer feet –

But aye ris a mornin

Whan bluid ran in the street.

The waurld upon ma shouders

Knee deep in muck an silt,

Ma haun aneath ma tatters

Still grips the hidden hilt –

Wha fed the auncient rivers

Wi’ bluid rebellions spilt?

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Jurassic Park and the End of Man's Dominion

In which I ponder the new title for the upcoming third Jurassic World film, and how it relates to Robert Burns.

Because that's the sort of Venn Diagram this blog is all about.