Wednesday, April 17, 2013

People I know write things: Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

I know a lot of very nice, very talented people. Enough that I'm going to start highlighting when one of them goes and gets something published.

First up is Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, whom I know from Stonecoast, and who may have the best name of any genre writer ever. A new story of hers, The Siren, has just been posted over at Strange Horizons. You should follow this link now and read it.

It occurs to me as I write this that I should go back in time a bit and write about some other folks I know who've published books, actual, real books, in the recent past. Soon, my pet, soon...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Man, Myth and Magic

I originally wrote this post for Triptych, the web comic I created with Devon Devereaux. I liked it a lot and wanted to share it here just in case there are folks who aren't reading the comic. Though, I can't understand why you wouldn't be. Anyway, here's the post:

My first exposure to the occult came in the form of Richard Cavendish’s 24-volume Man, Myth and Magic. I still remember the shock I felt looking through those books for the first time. It was similar to the feeling I had the first time I looked at porn – though I knew it wasn’t technically illicit since my parents had it on a shelf I could easily access. It’s hard for me to imagine why those volumes were in the house. It must have been because of my mother. She had a passing interest in all things spiritual.Tarot decks were common in our house, and we had a Ouija board. So, I suppose that answers that.

I first discovered these books, collections of articles which appeared in Cavendish’s magazine of the same name, when I was six. I can still feel the cold concrete floor beneath me as I looked through the volumes. Every page seemed to bring an electric thrill as image after image flooded into my wee brain. At that age, of course, all I did was look at the pictures. Later I read the damned thing from beginning to end and would regularly re-read articles as I grew older. There were articles on demons, ritual scarification, witchcraft, cannibalism, and so much more. I encountered some 1,000 articles as I looked through those books. And I would only ever look at it in that room, I’d certainly never have taken it into the room where I slept. In those days, I was a true believer. Of everything. I’ve changed since then – nowadays I feel like I don’t believe in anything. I don’t know that I recommend either state.

There’s a feeling I’ve had a few times in my life as I experience a piece of art. I’ve tried to explain it at different times with varying degrees of success. Sometimes as I look at or read a piece of art, I feel something happening in my brain – I feel something inside me reconfiguring itself. Later in life, I began to feel that this was my body preparing itself to download new software. It was a physical manifestation of how art can change one’s perceptions. I’ve felt it looking at the art of Basil Wolverton, reading the Revelation of St. John, watching films like Altered States and Videodrome. And the first time I ever felt it was looking through those strange volumes of Man, Myth and Magic.

I think my parents sold those volumes when they moved from that house where I’d grown up. Even if they didn’t, that’s when I lost track of the books. In the years since then I’ve searched half-heartedly for them. I remember finding a complete set at least a decade ago. The bookstore was asking the ungodly sum of $200 and there was no Triptych.
way I could have afforded that at the time. I don’t even know if I’d want them again at this point. I’m sure that everything I found scary and thrilling and new about them would seem now, nearly 40 years on, creaky and silly. I think I’d rather keep my memories intact. Especially because those books have informed so much of what I have written and what I plan to write. They certainly inform everything I’m doing with