Wednesday, 24 November 2021

November Miscellany

A few things I would like to write about or draw attention to, none of which quite constitute a post all of their own. 


Sumption of Peakrill has a Kickstarter going for something called 'Mostly Harmless Meetings'. This is a series of social and possibly whimsical encounters derived from the English countryside, and may well be worth a look. For my part, I know from the tabletop that Sumption has an abiding interest in the land, based as he is in the wilds of Northumbria, and seems willing to apply that. I am of course a wretched southron, who can't tell parkin from lardy cake*, but I bring this to your attention all the same. 


Far from rural England, we look to L'Empire du Soleil Défunt, as reviewed here. It's about an apocalyptic Early Modern Japan, written by Aldo Pappacoda. It runs by the compact 2D+ system (a first for me). Take a look at the second para of that review - the devastation and high magic implied by it make the idea instantly fascinating

Further, while the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic are well-known sub-genres, there is something interesting about the period apocalyptic. My comments on Fallout aside, making the mechanisms of an apocalypse period-apt is an interesting approach. The notions of (say) aliens invading during the Second World War or a zombie plague bedevilling the Roman Empire are familiar enough, but this is somewhat new. I'm not sure if I can quite conjure something comparable. 

What if the Pilgrims on the Mayflower saw a sinful Britain sink below the waves as the Godly left for the New World? (If Robert Eggers made it, I'd watch it). How do the Varangian Guard in Micklegard react to Ragnarok? What if Hesiod's Men of Iron were succeeded or subverted by Men of Rust? 

Of course, the closer one gets to the present, the less supernatural and less comfortable such themes may be: thus, an early Victorian 'You fools, Malthus was right all along!' scenario. Still, the idea of the period apocalypse has potential. 


I recently acquired a copy of Max Beerbohms's Seven Men and Two Others. I knew of Beerbohm as a caricaturist and comic writer (see his parody of early twentieth century British authors, A Christmas Garland; parody is one way to learn the style and reputation of historical figures swiftly). So I anticipated the literary world and a spot of 1890s Bohemia - which I got. What I wasn't expecting was the supernatural elements, the games with reputation and memory, the occasional sense of peril and malevolence (how did Argallo die?!).

There is a form of comedy, and I'm not sure what to call it, that has in its centre a very genuine horror - something more supernatural than an unhappy marriage, I mean. (Actually, a theological-inflected setting in which an unhappy marriage was a supernatural curse would be interesting.) Anyway, Beerbohm's Seven Men (the two others were added later) has that, as well as a note of Borges. Give 'Enoch Soames' a read, and see what you think.


EDIT: An addition is the latest entry of the podcast Bad Books for Bad People, co-hosted by Guignol of Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque. This interesting, firstly in that they are discussing Peter Fehervari's Requiem Infernal - part of his Dark Coil sequence. Secondly, it is two people - speculative fiction fans - discussing Warhammer 40,000 somewhat from the outside (with apt musical choices).  Much appreciated, anyway. Kudos for introducing me to concept of the qareen.

*This may be a lie. Both cakes are however lovely. 

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