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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of verisimilitude.

Even such fantasies as The Silver Stallion, and Domnei, and The High Place I put among the realistic books. What gives them their peculiar tartness is the very fidelity of their realism. Their gaudy heroes, in the last analysis, chase dragons precisely as stockbrokers play golf. Is Jurgen, even when before the great God Pan, superbly real? Then it is because he remains a Rotarian in the depths of that terrible grove. Is Manuel? Then it is because what he hopes and suffers and achieves in Poictesme is substantially identical with what Felix Kennaston hopes and suffers and achieves in Lichfield.

H.L. Mencken

—posted 136 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of covers.

And one of the things a lot of people miss about Yes, I think, is that it was just a covers band. And we started out just doing covers of lots of songs of the day, big Beatles songs, typically, Crosby and Stills, and I don’t know, Fifth Dimension, and even some West Side Story probably. And we learned to play those; we didn’t have a shared repertoire. A lot of the bands—like, say, Black Sabbath or something like that—came from the same street in Birmingham, or from Detroit, or somewhere. And we weren’t like that at all; we came from all different cultures and parts of the UK, so we didn’t share a common music culture, a kind of rhythm & blues-based thing. We needed to take something and then change it, and it was through changing things that we came to know ourselves.

Bill Bruford

—posted 144 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of what we know.

Any of the early steps in its spread could have been either accidental or deliberate, but I just have trouble getting interested in that. I mean, even suppose we were sure of every element of a conspiracy: that the lives of Africans and African Americans are worthless in the eyes of the United States; that gay men and drug users are held cheap where they aren’t actively hated; that the military deliberately researches ways to kill noncombatants whom it sees as enemies; that people in power look calmly on the likelihood of catastrophic environmental and population changes. Supposing we were ever so sure of all those things—what would we know then that we don’t already know?

Cindy Patton

—posted 152 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret the city will tell us.

The city will tell us
What it is we lack
It knows for a fact
What it is we lack
We’ve chosen to live here
We want things to be clear
The city will tell us
What it is we lack lack lack

Zuzanna Wronska

—posted 162 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the roses.

According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, the first rose bush in the Pacific Northwest was sent to Anna Marie Pittman in 1837 when she married Jason Lee, a missionary near Champoeg. Clippings from that bush were planted in Champoeg Park, Willamette University and the surrounding area when Oregon’s climate proved suitable for growing roses.

Georgina Pittock, wife to longtime publisher of The Oregonian, Henry Pittock, turned her love for roses into a social affair in 1889, and the Portland Rose Society was born.

In 1905, Portland held the Lewis and Clark Exposition, its only world’s fair, to attract people to the city and boost the regional economy. The organizers spent two years landscaping the 400-acre fairgrounds on the shores of Guild Lake, a once gleaming little lake that was turned into an industrial area soon after the fair.

To attract visitors to the exposition, the City of Portland planted around 10,000 bushes of the revered Madame Caroline Testout rose along Portland’s streets. The voluptuous Madame Caroline Testout rose is perhaps the most popular breed of hybrid tea rose, named after a nineteenth century French dressmaker in 1890.

Anna Bird

—posted 170 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of making faces.

When I spent a decade, like, shouting into a grave of eight asleep people in a black box theater where no one saw the plays, it was easier to fail or take risks. And now, where there’s almost like a score being kept, it feels a little scarier. And I feel like the things I love about being creative, and face-making—that can kind of shut down in my brain when I realize, “Oh, this is for a product.” For some reason, thinking in weird imagery and metaphors, it’s like a little cat toy for my brain to be like, “Think about oak trees and spaghetti!” Don’t think about magazines.

Betty Gilpin

—posted 178 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of embellishment.

Q: Are any of the tricks you pull off devised by yourself, or are they part of a continuum?

A: Both. It’s a cumulative art. You learn basic techniques, and then you embellish. Sometimes you invent a plot that’s original. Sometimes it’s the patter. Sometimes it’s the secret equipment or sleight that’s original. The more you know and the better grounded you are in the basic techniques, the more you’ll be able to branch out.

Ricky Jay

—posted 186 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of what’s required.

Michael Swanwick once talked about how, when he was writing The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, he found that one difference between fantasy and science fiction was that fantasy was often normative, and science fiction was often transcendent. (Forgive Michael, if I’ve mangled that.) Another way to say this is to say that the purpose of the quest, besides collecting enough plot coupons to get to the end of the book, is to right a tremendous wrong and bring order back into the world or kingdom. Sometimes, as it is in Tolkien, the order is a less glorious order—maybe you’ve got men in charge instead of elves with all the reduction in aesthetics that implies—you know, instead of palaces among the trees we’ve got Elvis paintings on black velvet.

In science fiction the point is often to shatter the existing order, to transcend it. People evolve and become something better, cooler, Slan. Or the AI is released into the system at large to evolve and change, thereby changing the world as we know it, as in Neuromancer. Dune does that, in a Christ-figure sort of way, with Paul Maud’Dib clearing the way for his son, the giant worm, who transcends human.

This is kind of dangerous ground, getting deep into the parlor game of what is the difference between SF and fantasy, but I thought it was really cool so I felt compelled to talk about it. You can start getting into sticky stuff. I think, under this rubric, Star Wars is space fantasy because it is overthrowing the emperor to re-establish the republic and the old order of the Jedi Knights.

But something required for the genre or genres, whether to reestablish order or transcend it, is the hero who changes everything.

Maureen F. McHugh

—posted 194 days ago

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It pleases me to announce revised editions of volumes one and two, and the first edition of volume three, are now available through Ingram to booksellers and libraries in most of the corners of the globe.

But what, you might ask, if one is not, oneself, a bookseller, or a library?

Bookshop.org IndieBound.org

Enter the American Booksellers Association, with IndieBound and Bookshop.org. —Bookshop is just the sort of dead-simple online bookstore you might already be familiar with, but: 10% of the list price of every book sold is placed in a pot that’s divvied every six months among ABA bookstores. —IndieBound allows you with a smidge more effort to funnel your purchase(s) directly through the local brick-and-mortar of your choice, to their benefit.

And at prices pretty much guaranteed to be less than those of a certain riverine monopolopsony.


—posted 203 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of what it’s about.

To tell a story on screen, you create a physical world that serves your purpose. But in Un Chien Andalou, the physical world is thicker, more resistant, more alive (and more dead). Instead of smoothly setting off the characters’ desires and fears, it becomes an opaque field of desire and terror in itself. The events that can happen in such a world are full of passion, comedy, horror; it’s just that they never get resolved and tidied up by narrative explanations. There are people in the film, but it is not “about” them—it is about us, our reactions, our disgust and perversity.

Jonathan Jones

—posted 255 days ago

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