March 20th, 2014

tardis

March Books 11) Mad Dogs and Englishmen, by Paul Magrs

Second paragraph of the third chapter:

Great age ought to have meant being greater and wiser than ever. It should have been about becoming the one to lead others on a wonderful quest.
This was hilarious. A group of Cambridge academics calling themselves the Smudgelings listen to each others' writings, including the annoying Cleavis (who lives with his younger brother) and Reg Tyler, author of that great classic The True History of Planets, with its epic tales of "elves and trolls running about the place with nothing on their hairy feet." But the Doctor gets involved via a visit to a planet ruled by dogs; sinister forces have intervened with Professor Tyler and his book is now about poodles instead, as are the trilogy of blockbuster movies based on them. It then turns out that Noël Coward and an old acquaintance of the Doctor's are involved with it all. If you are not in a mood to take things too seriously, this is great fun.

earthsea

March Books 12) Unearthed, eds. John J. Johnston and Jared Shurin

Second paragraph from the third story:
“Seeds of some unknown Egyptian plant,” replied Forsyth, with a sudden shadow on his dark face, as he looked down at the three scarlet grains lying in the white hand lifted to him. [from "Lost in a Pyramid", by Louisa May Alcott]
Well, who'd have thought that the author of Little Women was writing mummy stories in her spare time, eh? I got this because the opening essay has been nominated in the Best Non-Fiction category for the BSFA Awards, but more on that in due course. This is an anthology of mummy stories from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; basically once you've read one mummy story you've read them all. The two standouts here are Edgar Allan Poe's "Some Words With a Mummy", which punctures the pride of his own contemporaries, and "The Unseen Man's Story" by Julian Hawthorne (son of Nathaniel) which I felt added a little more conviction to the standard tropes. On the other hand the two stories by Arthur Conan Doyle are entirely in the same style as his Sherlock Holmes work without being nearly as good, and Charles Bump's "The Vanished Mummy" is a tale of a modern student prank. On Steve Mollmann's recommendation, I hope some day to read The Mummy!: A Tale of the Twenty-second Century by Jane Webb (later Jane Loudon), which kicked the whole sub-genre off back in 1827.