They’ve Seen Him Out Dressed In My Clothes

Johnny Cash sings the best song about Original Sin I've ever heard: "The Beast in Me"."...the beast in me/That everybody knows/They've seen him out dressed in my clothes..."Yes, I rather suspect they have.The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars Restless by day And by night rants and rages at the stars God help the beast in meThe beast in me Has had to learn to live with pain And how to shelter from the rain And in the twinkling of an eye Might have to be … [Read more...]

Ngaio Marsh: Vintage Murder


Ngaio Marsh’s first novel, A Man Lay Dead, is a competent, entertaining mystery, and already quite distinct in tone from the work of Marsh’s contemporaries; yet, as I noted last week, it’s still lacking that which makes Marsh’s novels so special.  By Vintage Murder, the fifth “Roderick Alleyn” novel*, Marsh has quite hit her stride and her skill is in full force.I chose this one because it is the first in which Inspector Alleyn is shorn of his regular support, and in particular of his “Watson … [Read more...]

Ngaio Marsh: A Man Lay Dead


Ngaio Marsh (pronounced "NYE-oh") is one of my favorite mystery authors; and she’s striking because she’s so quietly different than her contemporaries from the 1930’s.  Her sleuth, Chief-Inspector Roderick Alleyn of New Scotland Yard, is a gentleman like Lord Peter Wimsey; but he’s neither as whimsical nor as damaged as Lord Peter (we gather that Alleyn had some formative experiences in the Great War that led him to leave the Foreign Office for the CID, but they don’t come into the foreground), a … [Read more...]

A Tour of Tim Powers: On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides

After the disappointment of Dinner at Deviant’s Palace I waited with muted anticipation for Tim Power’s next book; perhaps The Anubis Gates had been a fluke.  And then, two long years later, came On Stranger Tides, a book about pirates in the Caribbean that inspired the Monkey Island series of point-and-click adventure games as well as (much later) the fourth of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies.Like The Anubis Gates, On Stranger Tides riffs on actual historical figures and concerns wh … [Read more...]

A Tour of Tim Powers: Dinner at Deviant’s Palace


This week we continue our tour of Tim Powers' works with his fifth novel, Dinner at Deviant's Palace. Like his second novel, Epitaph in Rust, Dinner at Deviant's Palace takes place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, but a much more fully realized Los Angeles than in the earlier work.Greg Rivas is a well-known musician in this future L.A., the originator and best known performer of a style of music called "pelican gunning" (a "pelican" is a lute-like instrument). And though this is less … [Read more...]

C.S. Lewis: The Space Trilogy


A couple of weeks ago, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry posted about his first encounter with C.S. Lewis’ “Space Trilogy”: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.  He devoured them, and I’ll take the liberty of abbreviating his comments thusly:Out of the Silent Planet is excellent science fiction, and his favorite of the three.Perelandra is a poorly disguised bit of religious propaganda.That Hideous Strength is really weird, and really good, but it isn’t science fictio … [Read more...]

A Tour of Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates

This is the edition I have.

This week I continue my tour of Tim Powers with his first big hit, The Anubis Gates.I first read The Anubis Gates either in college or shortly after. A friend of mine kept telling me about this awesome novel he'd read, and telling me to read it; but his descriptions of it were rather unclear, and the cover didn't help: two Anubis statues on plinths, with a glowing entry way between them, and the blurb, "Backward in time to solve an ancient mystery...and create some new ones." Oh, and I … [Read more...]

Review: Between Silk and Cyanide


I’m taking a break from the Tim Powers tour this week to review a book recommended to me by Leah Libresco a couple of weeks ago.  I’d just finished Tim Powers’ Declare, a supernatural spy thriller, and Leah posted about a book about real spies: Leo Marks’ Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945.  It seemed like a natural segue, and I grabbed it on Kindle.And then I opened it up—and was enchanted.  Leo Marks is an excellent story-teller, with a dry, self-deprecating wit; and he’ … [Read more...]

A Tour of Tim Powers: The Drawing of the Dark


The third book in Tim Power's body of niftiness is distinctly better than his first two, though he's clearly still maturing as an author. It makes the decisive move: from the future to the historical past, and in particular to the secret history behind the history we know, a field Powers has been mining in various ways ever since.The Drawing of the Dark takes place in the 1520's, and concerns one Brian Duffy, an Irish mercenary and fencing instructor. After a long and successful career (a … [Read more...]