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10-24-03: Joel Lane Update

From The Earth Wire to The Blue Mask

Beyond state-of-the-art horror from 1994.

One of my favorite little books of the 1990's was Joel Lane's The Earth Wire. Lane edited 'Chills: The Magazine of the British Fantasy Society', among other pursuits, but this trade paperback, elegantly designed and written contained only his own so very dislocated work. But even before this was published, horror became a very bad word in the UK publishing world. It remains so to this very day.

But if you can scare up a copy, this collection demonstrates the best that the horror genre had to offer, which has little in common with super gory slasher shtick. These are imaginative stories of people hanging on to or falling off of the sharpest edges of life, well-written and rather on the intense side. But that was 1994, and many things have happened since then, none of them managing to include me seeing a new novel or collection by the talented Mr. Joel Lane.


Joel Lane's 2003 novel 'The Blue Mask' harkens to themes from Cecile Pineda's novel 'Face'.

...Cut to 2003, and Rick Kleffel rummaging through the used hardcovers at Logos books, looking for something by Joe R. Lansdale as a gift for a friend. No Lansdale in sight, but what do I find but the thankfully still writing Joel Lane, represented by this Serpent's Tail trade paperback original. Lane is still up to his old tricks, in this novel of a man disfigured by a random attack who must rebuild his life. It's a very nice package, and just the kind of thing we like to find whilst poking about our used bookstores.

10-20-03: Terry Jones asks Who Murdered Chaucer?, MIT Discovers Radiant Cool

Former Monty Python Member Turns Historical Sleuth

Terry Jones asks -- and attempts to answer -- Who Murdered Chaucer?

Serena Trowbridge is hard at work on a forthcoming column about the new British interest in Chaucer, and will be looking at Terry Jones forthcoming book about Chaucer's murder over 600 years ago. Methuen Publishing in the UK are releasing this book later this month, and Serena will have an article about it and 'The Clerkenwell Tales', Peter Ackroyd's latest novel. Chaucer was one of the great delights of my education long ago -- required reading that turns out to be a bawdy delight. It's not often that core English classes conscript the students to read fart jokes, but Chaucer serves up more than anyone since, even Mel Brooks. And what more can you ask from college life than world of humor based on bodily functions? At that tender age, nothing. But wait -- there's more. Soon enough, you get to live those jokes.

A Novel of a Theory of Consciousness

Dan Lloyd tops off his PhD with this novel about consciousness, written in the form of a hard-boiled mystery.

Fortean author extraordinaire Jay Lake is man to watch and a man to listen to. He just posted an article about this novel to the Fortean list and I had to pass it along to my readers. This MIT Press release pretends to be a hard boiled mystery but is really a treatise on consciousness. I don't think that you could ask for much more in postgraduate reading. The question arises: how readable is it? That's the mystery for readers, and one this reviewer hopes to unravel as soon as possible.