Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Dragon Griaule, the vast immobile creature, sleeping or presumed dead, around whose bulk has grown cities, has been familiar to readers of Lucius Shepard since "The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule" first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in December 1984. Shepard has returned occasionally over the last twenty-five years to regale us with more stories of Griaule's influence on the lives of the people who live on his body, or in the cities nearby. The Taborin Scale, published in an elegant edition by Subterranean Press, is the latest entry in the growing series. This novella concerns the numismatist George Taborin, who by means of a scale from Griaule finds himself and a prostitute, Sylvia, transported to what appears to be an earlier time when Griaule was young. Griaule is herding people to no apparent purpose. Taborin rescues a young girl called Peony from abuse, and with Sylvia the three form an odd kind of family. Shepard excels at depicting unusual people in even more unusual circumstances, and his prose is as elegant and shimmering as ever, casting its own spell over the reader just as Griaule's presence works its influence over Shepard's characters. The Taborin Scale is yet another example of one of the best modern fantasists at the height of his powers.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Ernest Bramah's immortal Chinese storyteller Kai Lung has been a great favourite of the literary cognoscenti for over a century. The beautifully mannered prose and humorous incident has won over devotees such as Hilaire Belloc, critic Sir John Squire - and Lord Peter Wimsey, who is found quoting Kai Lung with approval in several of Dorothy L Sayers' detective books. Now four completely unknown new Kai Lung stories have been found and published in a new title, Kai Lung Raises His Voice (Durrant Publishing). Academic and enthusiast William Charlton (co-author of the first Arthur Machen biography)found them among Bramah's papers at Austin, Texas, and quickly realised what a prize they were. They date from the Edwardian period when Bramah's writing was at his best. "They confirm my belief," he says, "that Bramah is one of the really great humourists of our language". The collection also includes six other Kai Lung stories from Punch in the 1940s, previously only available in a limited edition, and one more from a 1924 anthology. Details from www.durrantpublishing.co.uk. Anyone who already admires the Kai Lung stories will be delighted by these new additions to the canon; anyone who doesn't know them has a great treat awaiting. Mark V