Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"come on if you think you're hard enough."

a few days ago, anna sent me a link to this story by someone named john hawkins -- sorry, all i can think of is a cross between the boy from treasure island and ben from carnivale, i have no other context for this man and i don't really want one if this is his taste in movies -- who wrote "10 horror movies for conservatives to watch..."

i thought it was a joke. it is not.

my favorite bit? well, apart from the bit where he plumps for the recent movie adaptation of the mist because of the great ending -- gag me; the ending sucked; they should've gone with the short story ending -- my favorite bit has to be within the first couple of paragraphs:

Here's the problem: horror films aren't family friendly. They're gory, they're violent, and they're vulgar. Even setting that aside, there really aren't very many "conservative" movies overall and there are almost no truly "conservative" horror flicks.
this is just mindblowing. horror films aren't family friendly? say it ain't so, doc, say it ain't so! (i think my actual phrase when reading the article for the first time was a little...ahem...more vehement. but i'm trying to be family friendly. ;) )

gory? only when necessary, please, and make sure the blood looks real. violent? god, i hope so! vulgar? very often, yes. life is a vulgar sort of thing, sweetie; conservativity won't protect you from that, believe it or not. sooner or later that ol' violent, gory vulgarity is just going to break right through and then where will you be? well, searching for someone like me or one of my friends who knows the three best ways to kill a zombie, that's where.

and i realise that not everyone watches sleepy hollow or predator in order to relax after a hard day's whatever-it-is-you-do. that's fine. if you don't like it, don't watch it -- god knows there are enough movies out there that you should be able to find something that will tweak your particular interest! so if you find horror films innately objectionable -- why watch them? watch something else, for goodness' sake and leave the theatre to those of us who want to be here. personally, i can't deal with horror flicks in the style of the saw or hostel series -- so y'know what? i don't watch 'em. very easily solved problem!

the article is entirely worth reading just for hilarity value; the movies he picks are mostly 'ehh.' nothing non-hollywood; nothing non-mainstream; nothing that would really make you think in any meaningful way. it avoids -- with the possible exception of quarantine which i hear is a remake of a superior spanish film called rec which is currently sitting at position 6 in my netflix queue waiting for me to fall out of love with bones and the original the fog which i hear is awesome; i've only seen the remake which is funny -- all the great things horror and genre films in general have been doing over the past few years. which is a shame.

anna also found for me this post from a blog she reads called shakesville (which often makes me want to spit blood but also has some great pictures of cats) but whoever posted the comment on the hawkins piece did more detailed commentary than me while still keeping a close eye on the sheer 'what the fuck'-ery of the original piece.

as a random follow-up to something i posted awhile back, i noticed this review of freda warrington's elfland from the fantasy & sci-fi lovin' news & reviews blog. she has a much more positive take on the book than i did, so i thought i'd link it here for the sake of completeness.

coming later in the week: thoughts on unseen academicals, jonathan maberry's bad moon rising, layer cake, and (with any luck) iron man (yeah, yeah, yeah, i know i'm practically the last person on earth to see it.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

"who said anything about panicking? this is still just the culture shock!"

not a lot of time to put up something thoughtful today -- had a meeting with one of my professorial thesis pair yesterday and, in among a whole slew of other very nice and helpful comments, she dropped one bomb about a major restructuring of material that has me tizzying just a little right now. so i just emailed off a revised outline -- at this late date! -- to take into account my professor's excellent -- if daunting -- idea and am waiting to hear back. in the meantime, i have to do some last-minute "studying" for a test in my history of the book class which may or may not take place tomorrow, i'm not sure. we haven't had class for two weeks and our professor is not the best of electronic communicators. it's a good thing that my "term paper" for that class has a lower page limit of 7 and i'm writing about something silly -- the history of the necronomicon.

but just so i don't get out of practice with this whole blogging thing, i found this very funny set of photos someone took to answer the eternal question: "just what do stormtroopers do on their days off?" not target practice apparently although that might be helpful; "only imperial stormtroopers are so precise," my left foot. and some more thoughts on movies from cinematical.com, this time about what makes for a great villain. i'm not sure the "coffee cup" test works for a lot of my favorite villains -- i don't remember the predator eating anything ever -- but i like the general idea.

then there's this very awesome set of bookmarks from secondhand books from the age of uncertainty blog.

to end on another book-related note, here's arachne jericho's review from tor.com of the new terry pratchett, unseen academicals. im pleased that she seems to think it's lighter than his last few -- monstrous regiment, thud!, and company. thud! i only really got through because i love sam vimes; sort of the same way i got through night watch, except i thought that one was more successful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"that's someone else's blood!"

i do have thoughts to post about the neha meeting on saturday and anna's and my trip to vermont in general, but i want to wait to put them up until i get my roll of film developed and see if any of the photos i took are worth scanning and using as illustrations. over all, the trip was very pleasant and the conference most enjoyable. no sign of anyone letting ego/professional disappointment win over common sense/politeness.

coming home the other day, i took advantage of a somewhat delayed t-ride to finish david wellington's 99 coffins, the (unavoidable) sequel to 13 bullets. i say "unavoidable" more as a commentary on the apparent impossibility of anyone writing genre fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, dark fantasy, steampunk, etc.) to write a single book. standalones are verboten apparently. who knew? some series aren't so series-like, admittedly: china mieville's books (apart from king rat, un lun dun, and the city & the city) share a common world and mention many of the same landmarks -- new crobuzon and its geographic environs -- but often aren't continuous in the same way that, say, george r.r. martin's or terry goodkind's are. not all series are evil, of course; there are lots i like, but i also have to say i've grown to value an author who writes a good book and is satisfied to leave it alone. borrow characters if you must; re-use place if you have to; but don't just "continue the story so brilliantly begun in..." forever and ever and ever. when i was a kid i thought sequels were just the best thing ever; now i'm not so sure.

anyway, 99 coffins is a good sequel. :) wellington's writing has gotten steadily better since his debut with monster island which was a slightly awkward zombie thriller; good, solid writing but strangely...stiff at points -- still absolutely worth reading, though. 99 coffins is a steady step-up from 13 bullets -- the main character, laura caxton, is forced back into her vampire-hunter-role when, really, she'd rather be with her new girlfriend and her new job. this time, the entire town of gettysburg is in danger from the threatened revivification of 99 vampires, found buried in skeletal form in what had been thought to be a forgotten confederate powder store. not so much with the powder, it appears, but all sorts of vampire-y goodness!

it's interesting to consider wellington's vampires -- pale, cold, red-eyed, often pointy-eared, inhumanly strong, with a tendency to become next-to-bulletproof just after eating, and with lots and lots and lots of teeth -- with an article recently published in esquire by stephen marche which claims that the popularity of vampires in recent literature can be explained by sex: "Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men."

a ridiculous proposition, of course, on multiple levels -- and the article really just gets better from there -- but particularly funny if you've just finished reading coffins or, indeed, bullets. one of the climatic scenes in bullets (skip this sentence if you don't like spoilers) involves caxton's former lover, now vampire, coming to try and convince caxton to let herself be turned vampire so that they can be together as undead killers for all eternity. somehow, though, the pervasive stink of blood and rot, together with the rows of sharks-teeth, manage to put caxton off the idea. amazing, that. and while there is sex in wellington's books, i'd say you're pretty safe in thinking that anyone who thought one of his vampires was a good choice for a night-time cuddle would be better off in a padded room than walking the streets. sex is mostly dangerous in this particular world, as it is in many horror novels; one of the vampires in bullets, for example, has apparently fixated on caxton as a potential victim because she's gay and he has carried over an obsession with lesbians and lesbian sex from his human existence.

anyway -- read marche's article if you want a good snicker, but read 99 coffins 'cause it's really, really good. the pacing suffers a bit in the middle -- there's some time spent wandering around when you're not quite sure where you're going to end up -- but the last third is a spectacular action sequence and a great cliffhanger for the next book. caxton steps up as a worthy heroine and a fairly able vampire-hunter.

and as a last thought, this list from entertainment weekly, normally the provider of fairly entertaining lists, of the 20 all-time coolest heroes in pop culture. the only one which really gives me pause is mad max; i can't look at mel gibson anymore without wincing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

random items

as you read this, i will (most likely) be at a new england historical association session in burlington, vt. i'm not presenting at this conference so my ego is safe; i just get to sit back, relax, and enjoy what everyone else has to say. and then cross my fingers and hope that the restaurants i remember as being good are still good so that anna and i don't have to wander around too much looking for somewhere to eat!

this is, of course, assuming that we get there at all -- i keep getting weather update alerts (from my mother, mostly) telling me about all the horrible things that are due to happen in the next 24-36 hours.

anyway, there are a few things i've got starred on my greader list that i wanted to put up here in case anyone else found them interesting, too.

hillary clinton was in belfast this past week. i haven't had time to go looking for any irish coverage of her talks, but there is some coverage from the guardian here. i've never been wildly impressed by hillary clinton, honestly; if a clinton had to continue to be involved in the government on an international level, i would've voted for her husband, but no-one asked me. in this case, i think her talk -- at least the excerpts i've seen -- sounded more condescending than friendly or helpful: "okay, kids, if you all learn to play together real nice, we'll give you some candy!" in this case, the candy being international investment by american corporations in northern ireland. just in case you can't get your own banks to fail on time, let the americans show you how to do it!

as a sidelight, there was also a report this morning of another car bomb in belfast. i doubt it has anything to do with clinton's visit, but there it is.

also this week was an "anniversary" of an attempt by the ira to bomb the grand hotel in brighton 25 years ago -- at the time, a political conference was being held there. if i remember rightly, the actual aim of the bomb was to kill margaret thatcher. no comment but anyway, they missed thatcher, killed four other people. the article here discusses the odd relationship that has built up between the ira bomber, patrick magee, and the daughter of one of the men killed as well as loosely commenting on the aftermath of the bombing itself. what gets me is the last sentence or two:

After all Patrick Magee couldn't bring himself to say sorry for the suffering he caused either.

"Pat, I find that quite hard," said Berry. She emerges as the bigger person.

my only thought on reading this the first time -- and i've read it several times since and i think it will find a home in the conclusion to my thesis -- was, 'well, no, of course he won't apologise. what did you expect?' if you're waiting for a hearts-and-flowers-style apology from a still-living ira paramilitary, complete with bended knee and hand on heart, i'd suggest you're going to be waiting a long damned time.

and this i saw this morning and couldn't quite believe: apparently a judge in louisiana totally missed the odd supreme court case or two in his legal training, like, say, "loving v. virginina." small details!

on a less political note, apparently vampires and zombies also reflect a "sexual divide" in mainstream culture. (and, while we're at it, does anyone want to have a stab at explaining what "post-scifi" might mean?)well, damn. apparently i don't like 28 days later and resident evil after all -- i actually like twilight. who knew! and i haven't even read/seen it. i've tried to put together a more reasonable comment on this article but i just can't. it makes me boggle -- i probably would have put this guy's book on the list to read had i not read this first. but, y'know, i have david wellington's 99 coffins on hand and, really, anyone who wants to snog one of his vampires needs their head examining. (and don't forget wellington's ongoing 30 [free] stories in 30 days at dailylit.com!)

if you're looking for a reason to make a list, i found this via imdb.com: what movies have you "rolled the dice" to see?

for those of you waiting with bated breath for the appearance of this ebooks blog i keep talking about, paper not included will be starting up sometime in the next few weeks; we're busily trying to work out stylesheet and other such-like formal issues on the discussion board.

i got sucked in by the "new books" shelves at the coolidge corner library the other day, so instead of walking out with two books which had been the plan (robert w. chambers's the king in yellow and patrick messert's literature of the occult which is less exciting than it sounds), i walked out with four, including dark places and prospero lost which has gorgeous cover art -- as well as a highly complimentary blurb from kage baker. i'm also looking forward to finishing wellington's 99 coffins this weekend and to the arrival of jonathan maberry's bad moon rising at the library so i can finish that series. more 5-cent book reviews in a few weeks!

and, as a final note, i offer this video clip (only the first 8 minutes of a longer show, sadly) from a charity "children in need" concert -- you've always wanted to see david tennant work a crowd, haven't you?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day 2009 post

so this is my post in support of blog action day 2009.

i've spent some time over the past day or so flipping through the "suggested post topics" over on the blog action day site. quite honestly, i really don't know enough about many of them to put together some kind of coherent post that wouldn't simply be me skimming from about 25 other things that are better researched and written to put together something of my own that isn't half as good. while i realise this is essentially what much of humanities research is (the "skimming from other people" bit, not the "not being half as good" bit), i'm reluctant to do that much speed research and then pass it off as something deep and meaningful! honestly, i think the wires would show a bit.

so instead of doing that, i decided to do this instead.

i grew up in central maine -- where exactly isn't particularly important since no-one ever knows where my home town is anyway. if you know where augusta is and you know where bangor is (stephen king lives there? see, now you know where it is!), i lived somewhere in between. mainers love to talk about the weather. actually, i can enlarge that statement: new englanders love to talk about the weather. i've only ever lived in new england and california and californians didn't have the same deep and abiding desire to discuss the details of what was plainly going on outside their windows that new englanders do. i don't understand it; i just state it.

growing up, i heard lots of stories about "the snow we used to get when i was a kid...," "the nor'easters when i was in school---," and "...uphill both ways in a blizzard" and so on. neither of my parents were mainers -- my mom is from new england, but my father is from england -- so they had to be told all the horror stories of blizzards of way back when and ice storms of year such-and-such and floods of so-and-so. i remember a couple of the more recent ones: the flood of 1989, for example, and the ice storm of '98. (anyone can see the aftermath of the flood of '89 without bothering to come to maine, by the way; just watch the miniseries empire falls -- the restaurant outside of which paul newman is repairing his car has a sign on the wall which reads "i survived the flood of '89." it did, too, despite being perched on the riverbank well below flood level!)

that aside, i listened to the stories of the awful blizzards and snow and ice and cold of previous years with the general sort of "yeah, right" attitude these kind of stories usually attract. i only realised there might be something to them when i was in college, commuting regularly between southern vermont and central maine, and it seemed to me that snow was coming later and later. when i moved back to new england from california it seemed even more obvious. and there were fewer what you might call "serious" storms. and the pine trees were starting to show more yellow and brown than they used to. and spruce trees in my parent's woodlot weren't looking as perky as they used to. and the ski areas started making snow earlier and earlier -- and then making more and more of it as the season went on when there should have been more than enough regular fall and pack to keep the slopes going.

yes, we still get snow and plenty of it, even in boston. yes, weather patterns that bring lighter winters and heavier winters have been going for centuries. (students in a class i helped student-teach a year or so ago were really taken with the idea that there had been a "little ice age" in the 14th/15th century.) and, no, none of what i've adduced above is hard scientific data; i can only say it's what i've observed, but even i can recognize a trend when i see it. winter cold comes later; goes earlier; yes, it's sharp and chilly from the end of september through april -- but it's chilly not cold. perhaps what i've seen are only personal observations of freak years -- but there have been a lot of freak years lately. from what i've seen of projections of climate change, some of what is happening has already gone too far to be turned back; what happens from here, however, is up to us -- as the dominant species on the planet, it has been for a long time and we haven't done anything to control our own actions. it may be time to reconsider this as a way of doing things.

edit: i haven't had a chance to check out the action at the main blog action day page -- linked up there at the top -- but i can vouch for the quality of these two posts: the waki librarian and the future feminist librarian activist, a.k.a diana and anna, in that order. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

this can't be good

not the sort of thing i usually blog about but the guardian article covering why it has been gagged from reporting activities in parliament is quite funny from a kind of catch-22 perspective: i.e., not very funny at all really and i quote:

"Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found."
if a question is asked in the commons and nobody hears it, was it really asked?

the spectator has some good commentary on the whole issue over here and the guardian has some further coverage this morning. it seems that a question is being tabled in the commons about the question which can't be discussed. how's that going to go for a parliamentary debate?! are they going to have to refer to "Question X"? "The Question Which Must Not Be Named"?

edit: stephen fry is claiming victory via twittersphere but for whatever reason, the gag order is rescinded.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"are you whistling?" "....yes, yes, i am."

before i go get on with my reading for my last grad school paper (!!) i wanted to note down a few comments on the most recently released of the four doctor who specials which are meant to transition us from david tennant (2006-2009) to matt smith (2010-????).

for reasons which remain best known to the bbc and bbc america, the two specials which have been broadcast so far and released onto dvd have been released in america in the wrong order: planet of the dead first and the next doctor second when they were really broadcast the other way around. why? who knows. if anyone runs into russell t. davies, please ask him for me. oh, and if you do run into davies, i have a whole list of other questions, too, starting with "lets discuss owen harper for a minute...and toshiko sato."

anna and i watched planet of the dead a few months ago when i got the dvd.

it's quite good -- a very ballsy temporary companion named lady christina (unfortunate name from my point of view, but what can you do) and a nifty little pitch black-esque storyline. it was a little odd realising that the actress who played lady christina -- an aristocratic thief married to her all-black look even when in the middle of a desert -- is the same woman who played nimue in the new merlin with an entirely different take on things and far more lip gloss. planet of the dead ended with a very eye-catching teaser for what is really the third of the specials, waters of mars which looks very, very cool.

the next doctor, then, was a little anticlimatic if only because, having seen dead, we were prepared for something amping up from there and, instead, it was just a regular sort of christmas special, on a par with the runaway bride but without donna so clearly not as good. ;)

the story hinges on the existence of a second doctor -- a man the doctor runs into while discovering something mysterious lurking in the basements of london in 1851. this peculiar stranger has a companion, rosita, calls himself the doctor, and even has a "sonic screwdriver" -- sort of. as events continue, of course, it becomes clearly obvious that if this is some penultimate regeneration of the doctor, things are very badly wrong. my parents regarded the show as a waste of david morrissey's talent as "the doctor" -- i don't agree with this. i think morrissey plays a great part and is clearly having a hell of a time plunging around pretending to be the doctor and knocking about with tennant for an episode. to say nothing of the fact that his dead-sober approach to the part serves as an anchor for the show, balancing out tennant's tendency towards manicness and the villain's tendency to chew scenery.

and a word must be said for the villain -- mercy hartingan, played by devla kirwan. she was also assumpta fitzgerald way back in the day in the first season of ballykissangel if anyone remembers that. she plays a great part here and manages a truly phenomenal costume including parasol with considerable aplomb. i really wish that -- well -- that the end hadn't quite worked out the way it did so that we had a better chance of seeing ms. hartigan again. she was a great villain and might've worked really well to be help goose the "new" cybermen up a notch.

on the whole, though, the next doctor isn't the most brilliant who you'll ever see. it's a solid special -- there are some great one liners -- a lot of running -- there's a happy ending -- but it has strange weak spots. even david tennant seems less convinced than he normally is; perhaps this is just 'end of tenure' exhaustion. filming a regular season and then four of these back to back on top of his season as hamlet must have been paralyzing. part of the problem is the cybermen -- their recreation and reinstatement into the new series wasn't as successful as that of the daleks and their appearance here is kind of strange and not in entirely good ways.

but upcoming -- if you ignore how imdb has the episodes arranged -- should be this little piece of what looks like pure goodness:

and after that -- well, lets just say i accidentally glanced at the cast list for what should be the last special, end of time, and i am happy. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"your sick twisted smile..."

so before i forget -- or get plunged into the lunacy that is going to be columbus day weekend -- i wanted to put together my 2 cent review of jonathan maberry's dead man's song.

as sequels go, it was really -- sequel'y. there are about 100-175 pages in the middle that are just kind of...there. stuff sort of happens and characters say things and wander about and find different characters and say things to them, sometimes different things than what they said last time, and then wander back -- and that's kind of how it goes. it feels like a slog. but the last 100 pages make it totally worth it. i read the first volume, ghost road blues, relatively early in my trip to the dark side--er, i mean into the wonders of present-day horror fiction; i thought it was really good and apparently it won one of the better prizes for first novel (i no longer have the actual book in front of me and i can't be bothered to google it), so someone else thought it was good, too. the basic story is pretty simple: small town in pennsylvania with a tradition of being the halloween capitol of the east coast; history of spooks, ghosts, scares, whatnot; large tourist industry from same; also nasty incident in recent past (30 years) of genuine real-life murders of children and vagrants, now neatly swept under rug; enter present day villains -- mobsters running from new york -- and weird shit starts to happen.

now i realise that this is all somewhat a la stephen king's it and the murder cycle in derry, but i read blues before it so it didn't seem like a plot nick at the time. and maberry makes it work -- the original "black harvest" in the 1970s isn't really explained until the end of the second book which makes it a believably nebulous nasty that has post-traumatic fingers in a lot of the characters in the present day storyline. and most of the characters are really likeable: crow (can you see why i read the book?), terry wolfe, crow's girlfriend val, mike sweeney, and so forth. some secondary characters come out strongly in the second book which is nice; you're not just stuck with the same cast 24/7. the bad guys are good, too, with the uber-villain karl ruger (maberry may have watched diehard at a crucial moment) taking a big step up in villainry with a supernatural transformation in the second book. the remaining human villain henchmen are all rather stock figures: small town bigot, religious fanatic (i wish there was a positive religious figure to balance him out), freakazoid who gets his kicks off beating his wife and stepson, etc. you've seen them all before, but maberry makes them dance in interesting ways.

he does come out with the occasional clanger. in the middle of a fairly purple (and unnecessary) sex scene, the woman is suddenly described as having gorgeous "hide" as if she abruptly transmogrified into some kind of animal. and there's a rather painful moment of absolute sexism from crow -- who is otherwise one of my favorite characters -- when reflecting on, if he should have children and have a son or a daughter, he'd almost rather have a son because he could show him science-fiction movies and horror flicks and teach him martial arts and stuff and a daughter wouldn't be into that. er -- excuse me? yes, thank you, i thought you'd see the error there.

and, on that note, i'm leaving you with this charming little cartoon which i found by way of a good friend who posted one of the creator's other cartoons on twitter:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"hey, kids, who wants to buy some aspirin!"

so having caught the fall crud over the weekend and forced into a prone position from last thursday night through yesterday morning, i had a lot of time on my hands to read. when i could keep my eyes open -- which wasn't all the time!

so for lack of anything else to talk about right now -- other than ongoing job-search anxiety and the "arggggh!" feeling of neither of my professors having read through my thesis draft (now due in two months in final form and me with a bad wrist so the last-minute spates of typing are more than usually painful) yet -- i'd really rather talk about books. and you'd rather have me talk about books. believe me.

so i feel i probably didn't do proper justice to michael cox's sequel to the meaning of night, the glass of time by reading it friday morning when i was pretty damn out of it. but it kept me from thinking too much about how the room kept spinning if i sat still for long enough and, since sitting still was all i could do, this was pretty much all the time. so i enjoyed it on that level! and it was good -- i think. it mostly held my attention despite the fever and headache, so that speaks well for it.

it's one of those "kind of not quite really a sequel"-style things. there are some of the original characters from night but not all and the narrator character is -- to my memory -- new. it follows a kind of bleak house/woman in white/moonstone arc with the young heroine sent off by her trusty guardians to enact the "Great Quest" (they call it something different) in the mysterious country house full of the english aristocracy and their secrets. it also sounds rather like jean rhys' wide sargasso sea every now and then -- if you've read sea, you'll know what i mean when you get there. i've never had any time for sea, but the feeling doesn't totally derail the story here. so far, so familiar. i won't say that cox does anything brilliantly innovative with the plot or manages to transcend the familiar too far -- but he writes well and seems to warm to his subject as he goes on. the last death scene in the book, witnessed by our fearless heroine, is particularly good. as "sequel not quite sequels" go, i enjoyed domino men more but if cox writes a third book, i'll read it.

i picked up freda warrington's elfland at the coolidge corner library strictly on the basis of good cover blurbs by charles de lint and tanith lee, two writers i love. de lint couldn't've been nicer about the book if he had tried and while his reviews are often generous, they're usually pretty dependable and i thought, 'what the hell.' i ended up finishing it 'cause i started it and once you're 250 pages into a 460+ page book, even if you realise it's a total trainwreck, you sort of have to finish it. there's a kind of unhealthy relationship there and there was at least one character -- the bad boy with the leather jacket, what more can i say? -- i liked.

i can't say the writing was bad because it wasn't. i can't say she totally wrecked the tradition of fairy/fantasy writing because she didn't. i can't say she ignored everything ever written before her because she didn't. but it was like days of our lives -- with elves. or, in a more english analogy, joanna trollope -- with elves. oh, and a kind of nebulous big bad ice giant'y guy who may or may not be an elemental from the beginning of the world or the personal psychotic delusion of a local nutsoid elflord-type. it was disappointing at every turn when it could have been transcendent -- or at least funny. it never managed to get above a kind of new age'y/crystals in the moonlight/'80s michael praed robin hood vision of elves and magic. de lint, even at his worst, does ten times better than this. if nothing else, his characters are always growing and changing -- sometimes in ways that clearly surprise him and often in ways that shock the hell out of you. there was nothing in elfland as visceral as anything de lint put into memory & dream -- it was all kind of...fuzzy. and the characters were exactly the same at the beginning as they were at the end and even domestic/emotional abuse was excused in the name of "i take it all back now; really, i'm sorry." disappointing in any realm, mortal or aetherial.