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The Beast in the Cave

My grandfather's grandfather, Charles Waters, founded the International Bible Reading Association. There's a monument to him in Camberwell Old Cemetery, just down the hill from the Horniman Museum and Gardens in South London. Obviously the 'fluence has skipped a generation. I was poking around on the web and found his obituary from the Adelaide Advertiser, Jan 1910). In this there is a lengthy quote from a letter he wrote describing a visit to a cave in America:
"During my visit to America a few months ago I went with some friends to see a wonderful cave in which we walked continuously for four or five hours and then did not see one half of it. On our way out we had to pass through a place very fairly described as the 'corkscrew.' By some great power the rocks had been rent apart, leaving just space enough for one person to pass through and up in a zigzag course. My companions, who had a lamp, had failed to notice that I was not close behind, and I was left in the 'corkscrew' in total darkness, with nothing to show whether the next step was to the right or left or straight on. and my call for 'light' was unheard. Then came the terrible thought -What if I should be left in this fearful place with no light, no guide, and the way unknown? I might wander farther and farther away or take a wrong step and fall into some deep pit such as we had seen."
Very much shades of Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave, and quite possibly in the same place, Mammoth Cave, which we also visited a few years back. The old entrance to this is described thus: "Climbing up through Cork Screw requires endurance, patience, and skill equal to that of climbing a treacherous mountain. "

These are taken from here. Bold if I've read SF(7) or Fantasy(5). I'm clearly not keeping up with my reading.
1 Scalzi, John : Old Man's War (2005)
2 Stephenson, Neal : Anathem (2008)
3 Bacigalupi, Paolo : The Windup Girl (2009)
4 Wilson, Robert Charles : Spin (2005)
5 Watts, Peter : Blindsight (2006)
6 Morgan, Richard : Altered Carbon (2002)
7 Collins, Suzanne : The Hunger Games (2008)
8 Gibson, William : Pattern Recognition (2003)
9 Mieville, China : The City & the City (2009)
10 Stross, Charles : Accelerando (2005)
11 Mitchell, David : Cloud Atlas (2004)

12 McDonald, Ian : River of Gods (2004)
13 McCarthy, Cormac : The Road (2006)
14 Harrison, M. John : Light (2002)

15* Willis, Connie : Black Out/All Clear (2010)
15* Chabon, Michael : The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007)

1 Gaiman, Neil : American Gods (2001)
2 Clarke, Susanna : Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004)
3 Rothfuss, Patrick : The Name of the Wind (2007)
4 Mieville, China : The Scar (2002)
5 Martin, George R. R. : A Feast for Crows (2005)
6 Rowling, J. K. : Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)
7 Bujold, Lois McMaster : The Curse of Chalion (2001)
8 Mieville, China : The City & the City (2009)
9 Fforde, Jasper : The Eyre Affair (2001)

10* Bujold, Lois McMaster : Paladin of Souls (2003)
10* Pratchett, Terry : Night Watch (2002)
12 Gaiman, Neil : Coraline (2002)
13 Wolfe, Gene : The Wizard Knight (2004)
14 Pratchett, Terry : Going Postal (2004)
15* Gaiman, Neil : The Graveyard Book (2008)
15* Lynch, Scott : The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006)

Top 50 20th Century SF novels from Locus

 As before, taken from thes ratings. Bold(47) if I've read them, italics(0) if I've only seen the film (or TV show). Turns out I'm bigger on SF.

1 Herbert, Frank : Dune (1965)   
2 Card, Orson Scott : Ender's Game (1985)   
3 Asimov, Isaac : The Foundation Trilogy (1953)   
4 Simmons, Dan : Hyperion (1989)   
5 Le Guin, Ursula K. : The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)   
6 Adams, Douglas : The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)   
7 Orwell, George : Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)   
8 Gibson, William : Neuromancer (1984)   
9 Bester, Alfred : The Stars My Destination (1957)   
10 Bradbury, Ray : Fahrenheit 451 (1953)  

the rest ...Collapse )
Obviously some recent films may have something to do with the ratings. Bold(35) if I've read them, italics(3) if I've only seen the film (or TV show).

1 Tolkien, J. R. R. : The Lord of the Rings (1955)
2 Martin, George R. R. : A Game of Thrones (1996)
3 Tolkien, J. R. R. : The Hobbit (1937)
4 Le Guin, Ursula K. : A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)

the rest ...Collapse )
I picked up four books from the great Hurley Books in St Austell. I talked to the bookseller by phone which made me feel like a character in a 50s novel. The four books, or pamphlets really, around 60 pages each, were in published in the early 1930s in the New Knowledge Series. The series includes five books (as far as I can ascertain) and I have the four of them that were written by T.F.G. Dexter Ph.D. BSc BA. He was a Cornishman (I'm assuming) and his doctoral thesis was in archaeology concerning Perranzabuloe and St Piran's Oratory and Monastery in Cornwall.

The four books are:
  1. Civilization[sic] in Britain, 2000 B.C.
  2. The Pagan Origin of Fairs
  3. The Sacred Stone
  4. Fire Worship in Britain

At the front of each is the synopsis of the series which present's Dexter's thesis on the settlement of Britain and which bears repeating in it's entirety:

Synopsis of the series.Collapse )

Parcel passed back

We took off a few too many layers and it was difficult to make it coherent. I wrote the start and the end and Simon did the middle. Can you spot the joins?

SmokeCollapse )

Another parcel

I decided to change my piece for Monday. This one's more kind of noir.

SmokeCollapse )

Pass the parcel

More creative writing. This week were playing a variant of exquisite corpse. We're to write the start of something for someone else to continue and another to finish. We've also been looking at 'last-lap' stories which start as the bullet hits the brain, or the wave starts to break, or realisation to dawn, then backfiling, or maybe not, to finish off what's left to tell.

Armour"s SlaveCollapse )

It soon come

Creative writing has started up again. This week's homework was to write a piece in a style not one's own describing the journey to class, a nod to Queneau's Exercises de Style.

Mine was inspired by this.

It soon comeCollapse )

The weird questionnaire

Linked from Jeff Vandermeer.

Éric Poindron’s Étrange (*) Questionnaire

(*) Bizarre, extraordinary, singular, surprising. Le Robert Dictionary

1 – Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.
In the Insect House, Matilda was reattaching the legs to the ants.

2 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

3 – Look at your watch. What time is it?

4 – How do you explain this — or these — discrepancy(ies) in time?
That's what clocks are for.

5 – Do you believe in meteorological predictions?
I accept their likelihood.

6 – Do you believe in astrological predictions?

7 – Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?

8 – What do you think of the sky and stars by night?

9 – What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?

10 – What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?

11 – What would you have “seen” if you’d been blind?
I don't know.

12 – What would you want to see if you were blind?
The sun.

13 – Are you afraid?
Only of dentists.

14 – What of?
The metal things they put in your mouth.
15 – What is the last weird film you’ve seen?

16 – Whom are you afraid of?
No one in particular.

17 – Have you ever been lost?
Yes. When I was a kid I got lost in a supermarket, so I went to the Police Station.

18 – Do you believe in ghosts?

19 – What is a ghost?
Dead spirits.

20 – At this very moment, what sound(s) can you here, apart from the computer?
The Might Boosh and Paula going to bed.

21 – What is the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard – for example, “the night was like the cry of a wolf”?
A fog horn, close up behind me at a football match.

22 – Have you done something weird today or in the last few days?
I played a computer game and pretended to be a man in diamond armour.

23 – Have you ever been to confession?
No. I was never confirmed.

24 – You’re at confession, so confess the unspeakable.

25 –Without cheating: what is a “cabinet of curiosities”?
A collection of interesting things. Ein Wunderkammer, of things that fascinated the owner.

26 –Do you believe in redemption?

27 – Have you dreamed tonight?

28 – Do you remember your dreams?
Not very often

29 – What was your last dream?
I don't know

30 – What does fog make you think of?

31 – Do you believe in animals that don’t exist?

32 – What do you see on the walls of the room where you are?
A painting by my dead step-father of the countryside in SW France. There's a rabbit, a dog, a horse and a deer, cows a goat and a farmer.

33 – If you became a magician, what would be the first thing you’d do?

34 – What is a madman?
Someone who doesn't fit in, often in an unhappy way.

35 – Are you mad?
I'm not unhappy.

36 – Do you believe in the existence of secret societies?

37 – What was the last weird book you read?
Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier

38 – Would you like to live in a castle?
A bit draughty but plenty of space for books.

39 – Have you seen something weird today?
An invocation to Master of the Great White Lodge

40 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever seen?
The Falls by Peter Greenaway

41 – Would you like to live in an abandoned train station?
My Mum lives in one. It was quite nice.

42 – Can you see the future?
To a certain extent. It's what maths is for.

43 – Have you considered living abroad?
I have lived abroad, but not through choice.

44 – Where?

45 – Why?
That's where my parents went

46 – What is the weirdest film you’ve ever owned?
The Falls by Peter Greenaway

47 – Would you liked to have lived in a vicarage?
My first residence was a vicarage.

48 – What is the weirdest book you’ve ever read?
That one about the oil conspiracy and sand. [This one:
Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials by Reza Negarestani]

49 – Which do you like better, globes or hourglasses?

50 – Which do you like better, antique magnifying glasses or bladed weapons?
Magnifying glasses

51 – What, in all likelihood, lies in the depths of Loch Ness?
Dirty water.

52 – Do you like taxidermied animals?
Not particularly.

53 – Do you like walking in the rain?

54 – What goes on in tunnels?
Births and rebirths.

55 – What do you look at when you look away from this questionnaire?
The painting on the wall.

56 – What does this famous line inspire in you: “And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.”?
Loss of hope.

57 – Without cheating: where is that famous line from?
I thought it was from something Gothic, Dracula maybe.

58 – Do you like walking in graveyards or the woods by night?

58 – Write the last line of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.
In the house, the Queen was reattaching Matilda's legs.

59 – Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

60 – Look at your watch. What time is it?