Websites and facebook pages to browse for galleries of Fantasy Art

Hi, and thanks for visiting The Green Castle

As a complement to the list-style posts about publishers and authors of Speculative Fiction, I am doing this new one about the wealth of virtual galleries of Fantasy Art that show up on websites, blogs and facebook pages. These resources can give some extra colour and interest value to the range of things you enjoy displaying and sharing through various social onlne media and might also lead to discovering new favourite artist/s and image/s. A fair few of my own facebook friends have welcomed various Fantasy Art images that I’ve been sharing on a “just for fun” basis over the past year or so that I have been actively searching for examples of art in specfic and the art for its own sake.

Overall, though, the main aim of this post, and any future similar ones, is to simply provide  a list of titles and urls of websites/blogs/facebook pages – with as many live/’hot’ links as possible – that I have personally discovered either through my own browsing or from recommendations, and then found that I enjoyed re-visiting those virtual galleries. There are also a small number of websites, such as Australian Fantasy Art Enclave and the facebook fan club for Frank Frazetta’s art, that I discovered while compiling this list. This first list will have some cross-over into Dark Fantasy and Goth-style images, as well as lighter styles and traditional Epic Fantasy content.

I won’t be doing comments for any of the galleries, but leave it to you, the blog reader, to visit as many as you like and get your own impressions. Please feel free to leave me a comment on this blog, about any galleries or images that you really enjoy, as well as any extra galleries found by, say, clicking on links or ‘other recommended pages’.

So, the first list is:

Brooke Gillette

Fantasy Art Addiction

Leigh’s Fantasy Page

Fantasy & Gothic forever

Gothic N Anime Fantasy Lovers

Gothic & Fantasy Art

Fantasy Art

Geneva’s Collection with Juliette Juillerat & Daryl Nicole

Kingdom of Fantasy

Gothic Fantasy Art

Australian Fantasy Art Enclave

The “Frank Frazetta” Fan Club

Happy browsing! 🙂

Some Speculative Fiction publishers’ websites and/or blogs for browsing

Evening, all. 🙂

This will be a list-style post, including ‘hot’/live links, about various publishers’ websites and blogs (and in one case, a facebook page) that l’ve enjoyed browsing as part of my increasing interest in and enjoyment of Speculative Fiction over the past several years. Some of the publishers may also be distributors for other specfic publishers.

I’ll do an extra list fairly soon; and the same applies for specfic authors’ websites and blogs.  There won’t be any particular ‘order of favourites’ within each list, as the ones I’ll include – starting with some I can easily think of “off the top of my head” or get an example of publication/s from my own bookshelves – are already among those I keep re-browsing.  Plus, there are simply so many I haven’t even discovered yet.

So, here are some to ‘whet the appetite’ [ :)]:

Harper Collins’ Voyager Online (Australia)

Tor.com (US)

Gollancz (UK)

Gollancz Australia (Australian subsidiary)

Del Rey & Spectra (US)

Hippocampus Press (US)

Arkham House (US)

Clan Destine Press (Australia)

EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy/Tesseract(Canada)

Ticonderoga Publications (Australia)

MirrorDanse Books (Australia)

P’rea Press (Australia)

Twelfth Planet Press (Australia)

Happy website/blog browsing! 🙂

A few thoughts on the ‘Galaxy Quest’ movie

Note: some parts of this post may contain spoilers.

Hi 🙂

In this post I’m going to offer a few personal thoughts on the ‘Galaxy Quest’ movie (1999) that proved to be a highly successful  spoof on various features of Science Fiction films and series on TV.  So, this post is not really a review or even an attempt at a comprehensive summary, but more like a very short memoir.

Although I missed seeing the film’s initial cinema release, I’ve enjoyed re-watching it a fair few times over several years and it was that very quality of  standing up so well to each re-watching that led me to think about the story and characters a bit more than if it was just another comedy.

The performers and their roles:  I really appreciate the variety of classy long-established performers who clearly not only ‘bought into’ the script’s story and what it could offer, but also manage to complement each other’s roles.  Both key cast and supporting characters help each other achieve the overall effects the story needed to sustain its comedy and deliver the jokes. 

Sigourney Weaver does a great job of playing to the humour in the double role of Lt Tawny Madison, the ‘token on-board beauty’ among the crew, and the same character in post-series years who shows up to ‘do her duty to the fans’ at the annual conventions and does corny ads too. The movie leaves it to the watcher to remember the sheer variety of serious and comic roles she has played over many years.  Alan ‘Professor Snape’ Rickman brings his brilliant trademark sneer and neat timing to his twin performance as of Dr Lazarus, the prickly and aloof Chief Scientist and his actor alter-ego, Alexander Dane.  Both of Rickman’s characters hold hostile aliens, his spaceship crew’s captain and his own share of post-fame fans on Earth in equal disdain. 🙂 Tim Allen, maybe best known for family sitcoms and his string of ‘Santa Clause’ movies, turns out to be the biggest surprise for me out of all the key cast. He shines in his job of delivering the sheer wacky style of his double role as Commander Peter ‘Quincy’ Taggart’ of the spaceship named NSEA Protector and as the post-series actor, Jason Naismith, who let the fame and earnings go to his head, making him deeply popular with the rest of the actors and restless fans.  

Sam ‘Moon’ Rockwell makes the most of  a supporting role as “that guy who got killed off early in the series” and Tony ‘Monk’ Shalhoub, as the easily-over-looked-by-other-crew character, makes his own surprisingly big contributions to the mission’s success and even “gets his girl”. She isn’t exactly an Earth Girl, but, then, at the start of the mission, he didn’t feel he fitted in anywhere on his home planet anyway. 🙂

Non-crew supporting character include: a group of very likeable geeky teenage friends who are at the convention as keen fans and get drawn into the mission and the two main groups of aliens the crew meets -the friendly and tragically misguided ones who visit Earth to seek the crew’s help on a potentially fatal rescue mission and the extremely evil, dangerous and hostile ones bent on destroying any and all opposition. In this aspect, too, the story keeps playing mischievously with various cliches and stock images of SF movies and TV series (and, of course, connections between them) through many generations of audiences and what they’ve been watching. 🙂      

What does the story offer? Among many possible answers and even just suggestions that I can offer, these ones stand out for me every time: a clever and good-natured look at Science Fiction story-telling, on big and small screen; the reward/s for suspending disbelief in order to really “get into” a story; charming short scenes about deep and unlikely friendships forming in dangerous places and times; battles of Good vs Evil can produce comedy and moments of insight as well as fear and hatred. 

The ‘Galaxy Quest’ movie can, on each re-watching, simply offer the same great light-as-stardust comedy and some very funny pop-culture references as the last time you saw it…but if you want to look deeper every so often, there is more to see and think about. For me, writing this blog post is a proof of that. 🙂

Settings:  deep space; various locations on board the Protector;  a SF convention in a very earth-bound city(probably meant to be LA) dedicated  to the TV series and its fans; a harsh planet that includes a Rock Monster and some very small fanged characters that hunt in packs but also turned on each other; the suburban household of one of the key ‘fan boys’ in the story…and the house of the dissolute captain of the Quest crew. 🙂

The mix of Earth and Space settings is very well used as a substantial part of the story-telling, by providing both a decent range of scenarios to establish places of action and also to highlight the differences (that keep breaking down, with more humorous consequences for Quest crew and aliens alike) between Real Life on Earth and the strange and funny suspended-disbelief world of the old series on TV, without ‘getting in the way’ of what the characters need to do. 

Hmm, I think I’ll need to watch the movie again very soon, after writing down those thoughts. 🙂

****

Dear Readers: if you’ve enjoyed the movie too and have your own take on it that you feel like writing about, and/or would like to respond to my post, please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks. 🙂

Link for fyi/interest: I think the movie’s main entry on the International Movie Database (IMDb) site has a bit to offer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0177789/?ref_=sr_1

Fantastic verses: some collections of Speculative Poems

Hello again. 🙂

While I was having fun browsing various dealer tables and stalls at Worldcon in Chicago last year (Chicon7), I discovered some fine and intriguing collections  of poems among all the anthologies, novels and books about Speculative Fiction. I ended up buying four different collection of poems: two solo collections and two anthologies. I’ll give a brief overview of each book and, for the first three, a short note about the respective poets. The anthology has its own list of biographical notes and there are too many individual poets to reasonably cover in this post. Each book title will also show publisher/s and year of first or publication of  most recent/current edition.

Robot: poetry by Jason Christie (Edge, 2006&2007):  a collection of Science Fiction poems focussed on various features of robots, the possible nature of robot existence and troubled relations between robots and humans. This collection is full of intriguing and sometimes disturbing ideas and scenarios about what robots mean, have meant and could later mean to people and ‘each other’. For me, the overall feel of the poems is a bit closer to the darker stories of Ray Bradbury than to Asimov’s cheery confidence in the Laws of Robotics. Christie’s robots seem to have little patience for being held strictly accountable.

Robot is published by published by a Canadian firm: Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing, based in Calgary. Within the past decade, Jason Christie has been making a name for himself as an avant-garde Canadian poet.

The Animal Bridegroom, by Sandra Kasturi (Tightrope Books, 2007): Strongly inspired by myths, Northern-European folklore and many dark dreams at night, American-Canadian Sandra Kasturi’s first poetry collection offers some bizarre and beguiling tales in a variety of verse forms. There isn’t a single ‘title poem’ poem, as such, but from my reading the title was inspired by various themes that run through the collection. The poems are gathered in four sections, each with its own set of tales and imagery:  ‘Into the Woods’, then ‘Lying with Wolves’, on to ‘Spells and Enchantments’ and finally ‘The Unbinding’ of Spirits’.

Two of the stand-out poems for me are ‘Estonian Witches’ (p.22) in the first section and ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’s Wife’s Therapist is Happy'(p.64; after I heard the poet read this at one of the panel sessions I attended, I was ‘sold’ on getting a copy to take home) in the third section. For me, both these poems show a sly humour in the way Kasturi  presents her ideas and in how she plays with traditions and stereotypes about Witches and the mythology that has built up around Mary Shelley’s novel. I’ll also mention ‘The Birch Tree’ (p.20), for its sparse, clean and beautiful imagery.

The author note at the end includes: an impressive resume of awards and creative projects in a variety of media, founding member of a poetry workshop group, does work as an editor and publisher (Kelp Queen Press, based in Toronto) in addition to being a poet with a mix of Estonian and Sri Lankan family backgrounds.

Ancient Tales, Grand Deaths and Past Lives: a collection of speculative verse by Colleen Anderson (Kelp Queen Press, 2001): this collection ventures into and in between Fantasy and Science Fiction worlds in the poet’s exploration of  various human concerns in the contexts of mythical or non-Earth settings and various eras. This isn’t a comforting collection, by any stretch, but it does offer plenty of concepts and images well worth re-visiting and musing over with other readers as well as on your own.

As in Kasturi’s own collection described above, Anderson very effectively uses a variety of verse lengths and patterns to tell her stories and challenge readers’ sensitivities.  The moods I came across range from pensiveness to revulsion, with a fair bit of sombre reflection and regret along the way.    

The biographical note at the end of book includes: writing plays, doing Performance Poetry, workshop presenter at Clarion West, raising ‘slime creatures’, bookshop buyer and being the pet human for a cat called Figment.

The Stars As Seen from this Particular Angle of Night: an anthology of speculative verse, edited by Sandra Kasturi (Red Deer Press/Bakka, 2003):  at the stall where I found this book in the gigantic Dealers’ Room at Worldcon, this anthology quickly stood out as one that had a huge and fascinating  range of topics and poets, making it an ideal choice as a kind of survey of Canadian speculative poems. The Editor’s Foreward and a different poet’s Introduction give some interesting context for how the collection  was assembled, who is represented in it and why it can be considered a significant addition to Speculative poetry, especially (but not exclusively, as shown in the biographical notes at the end) written by Canadian poets.

A very brief look through the subjects of various poems written in an interesting variety of tones and using many different rhythms: imaginary cities; poetry likened to black holes; a personal look at the Shahrazad character as supreme and dangerous story-teller; a geometrical analogy applied to a troubled marriage; naming a starship; invisible geese and magicians’ tricks; spectral ships; android sex show; a witch meditates on her imminent burning.  Poem lengths range from a very short eight lines for Carolyn Clink’s super-compressed epic in ‘Stars’ (p.43) to several pages for Jason Taniguchi’s expansive prose-poem set, ‘The Genre in Brief (100-words stories)'(pp.81-86).  

I highly recommend all these books of Speculative Poems. 🙂

Re-opening The Green Castle!

Hello! 🙂

I have decided to re-open and substantially re-model The Green Castle blog, after nearly a year and a half of not doing anything with it. It will still be a blog focussed on my major interest in Speculative Fiction in various forms and sub-genres, as well as related topics such as specfic conventions and Fantasy Art, but this time I’ll leave out the Resident Nobleman narrator character and simply write and reply as myself.

Recent reading and re-reading about blogging, plus some great experiences at Chicon7/Worldcon in Chicago last year and some more general thinking about new writing projects for 2013 all led me to start thinking about personal blogging again and what it could offer. This afternoon, when I signed back into WordPress for the first time since about Halloween of 2011, and re-read the ‘About’ page for this blog in its earlier version, the description seemed to cover a fair bit of promising territory. Re-starting and re-modelling The Green Castle blog, plus learning/re-learning to use various WordPress features and tools (including some that have been created since late 2011), ended up being more appealing than making a new blog just for the sake of it being new but not really very different.  Hmm, that’s not unlike a new lot of residents occupying a pre-existing castle, now I think of it… 🙂

Initially, I’m looking at posting at least 2-3 times a week and covering a range of categories in that time, without trying to do a daily blog. This blog is, as per last time, is a solo creative project for the main part and I’m still keeping a full-time job – so there will be various very real off-line limits to the speed of its growth and expanse. 🙂 That said, I will be experimenting with various ways to ‘spread the word’ about the blog, get in some guest bloggers from time to time and see what can be done about connecting to other forms of Social Online Media if that seems to match the spirit and purpose of various posts or, for that matter, the general focus of the blog. Also, if I do a post about a particular business such as a favourite book-shop/publisher/author’s page/home page for a convention, then I’ll certainly include link/s for it or them and any additional information that might seem useful. That will be pretty much the extent of advertising on this blog.

So, with all that said: I’m really happy about this new blogging project and look forward to meeting people with an interest in/love of the huge range of  ideas, stories, people and activities included in the ‘multiverse’ of Speculative Fiction. 

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

Yours in Speculative Fiction,

Tim

Happy Halloween/Samhain and related reading

Greetings from The Green Castle!

This is just a very short (and late) post, to wish all who mark the day in some way/s a Happy Halloween/Samhain for 2011! 🙂

There are many different individual and collective/community customs and activities relating to this day – and especially the night part! – and also, from what I gather, a long history for the roots of the tradition. Regrettably, I didn’t leave myself enough time to compile a list of the customs and where they are most often observed.

Halloween-related reading is one way to enjoy making a personal connection with the history. On that note, Halloween reading for me today: one short story – ‘The Old Traditions are best’ set in Padstow, Cornwall, in present day, and 2nd one in progress – ‘The Oram County Whoosit’, set mainly in West Virginia of 1920s but also with flashbacks to Klondike Gold Rush of late 1890s, from an anthology: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (Robinson, 2009), ed. Steven Jones, Volume 20. Bought it at Conflux 5 or 6. Both stories have been entertaining.

Other Halloween reading could include: Edgar Poe’s classic stories; Bram Stoker’s Dracula, various anthologies of ghost stories and stories by individual writers; H P Lovecraft’s fiction and poems; the Midnight Echo magazine produced by Australian Horror Writers’ Association – Issue 6 is due out next month; Horror/Dark Fantasy stories and poems found on various websites and blogs.

I hope you enjoy any selections/s you make. 🙂

I look forward to your company again soon. 🙂

Regards from The Resident Nobleman and castle staff

New feature: “a chat in The Throne Room with…”

Warm Greetings from The Green Castle! 🙂

One of the new things I want to do on the revived blog ‘The Green Castle’ is to start an informal interview-by-email series, using the working title of “a chat in The Throne Room with…[insert name]”. The basic idea is to invite writers, illustrators, editors, costume makers, folklore specialists, book designers, librarians, awards judges, publishers, film-makers (and more later), to ‘talk’ about various personal experiences in/with and views on speculative fiction, perhaps favourite projects and how/when they first ‘got into it’. 🙂 Venturing some forecasts and/or inspired guesses about the future/s of speculative fiction is also good. But please, only use virtual chicken gizzards, troll hairs, sparrow feet, vultures’ beaks etc. if doing the whole reading-signs business as aprt of any forecasting.

In the longer term, this interview series will hopefully provide both an ongoing content feature as so many other interview series do in both print and online forums and publications, and also build up a kind of informal oral history of activities and people in various parts of the vast range of Speculative Fiction worlds.

The Green Castle’s roomy, secure and well-appointed Throne Room will be made available to provide an atmosphere of sorts, or at least a fitting kind of  ‘backdrop’ effect, and keep a not-too-serious thematic connection between the present-world people and blogging world, with that of the castle and its characters. 🙂 Naturally, respectable catering and accommodation services will be provided, as well as transport assistance if needed – to and from the castle and nearest large town.

Live audiences will certainly be given entrance to the Throne Room for the interviews while they are in progress. Indeed, the visitors coming for their chat in the Throne Room are gently but clearly advised to even expect live audiences at some time. They, in turn, are welcome to attend other chats. In castles in general, what happens in throne rooms tends to excite strong interest in times of war or peace. The Green Castle is no exception in this. 🙂

My staff and I look forward to welcoming the first visitors for the chats in the Throne Room, to begin this new feature of castle life.

Keep well and travel in peace, good folk!

The Resident Nobleman