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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – Shelfies (#2)

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – Shelfies (#2)

If you saw this post, you know that I found a kinda cool group over on Reddit. And it wasn’t LotR_on_Prime – yeesh. R/bookshelf is a subreddit where people post their shelfies. With over 2,000 books on 90-ish shelves/cubes, that appealed to me!

I started with my Jack Higgins shelf, and then my Clive Cussler one. I’ve done a couple fantasy shelves, but mostly I’ve been sharing pics of my over-500 Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle books. And I’ve been adding a comment, talking about some of those pictured. Its’ been neat.

Here’s a second set of Holmes shelfies.

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Cinema of Swords Book Announcement!

Cinema of Swords Book Announcement!

Cinema of Swords by Lawrence Ellsworth (Applause, June 15, 2023)

Hellooooo, Black Gate! If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen my circa-weekly Cinema of Swords articles about swordplay adventure films, but this week we’re here to talk about the full Cinema of Swords volume coming your way this summer, 2023, from Applause Books. This happy event is thanks in large measure to your support and that of Black Gate’s esteemed editor John O’Neill, so thank you! For an author, every new book is an anxious roll of the dice, and it’s a thrill and a relief when your work actually makes it to publication.

So, what will you find in Cinema of Swords? The book’s mouthful of a subtitle is “A Popular Guide to Movies about Knights, Pirates, Samurai, and Vikings (And Barbarians, Musketeers, Gladiators, and Outlaw Heroes) from the Silent Era through The Princess Bride.” Fully illustrated, it compiles 400+ informative short reviews of live-action movies and TV shows on those subjects up through the ‘80s, where I stopped because that’s all I could fit into one volume. I included only films and shows that an interested person can find on streaming services or disc without paying a fortune, so long out-of-print or otherwise unavailable titles didn’t make the cut.

Reviews are listed alphabetically, but in addition to a straight title index, the book includes genre indexes so you can easily find films related to a specific interest. Conveniently, that also provides a way to give you a fuller taste of the book’s contents. Let’s see what we’ve got.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Parson’s Son

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Parson’s Son

I have been fortunate enough to contribute original stories to five volumes of the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories series. The brainchild of my Solar Pons buddy, David Marcum, there have been THIRTY-SIX volumes so far, and that will be over forty by the end of the year. The stories are all authentic Holmes pastiches, emulating Doyle’s writings. No modern-age fan fiction nonsense (like, say, the road BBC Sherlock went down).

The contributors donate their royalties, which goes to Undershaw, a school for special needs kids, which is in one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s former homes. Over $100,000 has been raised so far. It’s just a terrific project in multiple ways.

Some of my favorite writers have participated, including Denis O. Smith, Hugh Ashton, John Hall, Will Thomas, and more. I’ve also discovered some new Holmes writers I didn’t know about, like Mark Mower, Mike Hogan, and Tim Symonds.

Plotting is my Achilles heel, but I’m working on getting back in the series with some new stories. Arthur Conan Doyle looked into several true crimes – often to try and thwart a miscarriage of justice. The case of George Edalji is probably the best-known. Not too long ago, a fictionalized account, Arthur and George, was made into a TV miniseries.

For MX, I took that case and had Sherlock Holmes investigate it as it occurred. “The Adventure of the Parson’s Son” appeared in third volume of this series, and was part of the initial three-part release. If you’d like to read a Doyle-styled Holmes story by yours truly, keep on going.

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Bob at the Movies: ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ & ‘Glass Onion: Knives Out’

Bob at the Movies: ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ & ‘Glass Onion: Knives Out’

So, I’ve gotten back into reading Sherlock Holmes again, after being away from Baker Street for a couple years. And I’m still posting shelfies over at that subreddit. One, depicting a bookshelf collapse disaster from a couple summers ago, got over 36,000 views! But today, we’re gonna look at couple mystery movies I watched over the weekend.

THE PALE BLUE EYE

The Pale Blue Eye is based on a book by Louis Bayard. Christian Bale is a world-weary detective, who is brought in to investigate the death of a cadet at West Point. He is aided by a young Edgar Allen Poe, who was there in 1830-1831. So, we’ll put the movie in 1830.

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The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator:Hellboy by Mike Mignola and Sundry Hands

The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator:Hellboy by Mike Mignola and Sundry Hands

Seed of Destruction, Issue 1 — the first Hellboy comic

The kinds of stories I wanted to do I had in mind before I created Hellboy. It’s not like I created Hellboy and said, ‘Hey, now what does this guy do?’ I knew the kinds of stories I wanted to do, but just needed a main guy.

Mike Mignola, “The Genesis of Hellboy”. Back Issue! (21)

A half-demon paranormal investigator fighting Nazis is how my friend Evan Dorkin described Mike Mignola’s Hellboy to me nearly twenty years ago. He had been reading the books in preparation to write a story for the Hellboy Weird Tales book. He thought I’d really like Mignola’s work, and gave me the first couple of issues. At that point, for all sorts of reasons, I was pretty much through with comics. Hellboy turned out to be like nothing else I’d read. Now, having just finished reading all four new omnibuses, Seed of Destruction, Strange Places, The Wild Hunt, and Hellboy in Hell, along with two additional short story collections (that’s almost 2,400 pages of supernatural awesomeness), I can safely state that this is my favorite comic and, more importantly, a significant and serious work of weird fiction.

In 1991, Mike Mignola sketched a monster to which he added the name Hellboy because he said it made him laugh. A few years later, he used Hellboy as the jumping-off point for a creator-owned comic to be published by Dark Horse. Initially, he toyed with the idea of something like the old Challengers of the Unknown, a team of paranormal investigators created by Jack Kirby (and maybe Joe Simon or maybe Dave Wood). Eventually, he rejected that in favor of focusing just on Hellboy. After a few preview appearances, Hellboy debuted in his own comic mini-series, Seed of Destruction, in 1994.

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Don’t Panic! We’ve got Douglas Adams Covered Here at Black Gate

Don’t Panic! We’ve got Douglas Adams Covered Here at Black Gate

As you saw last week, I’ve been posting shelfies in a Bookshelf subreddit, with comments about some of the books. It’s been fun! Over the weekend, I posted my Douglas Adams shelfie. I re-read the first three books last Fall, and still loved them. Books four and five are good, though I find four a bit jarring, and I don’t always do the latter ones – which was the case this time.

And around then, I listened yet again to the BRILLIANT BBC radio play for the first Dirk Gently book. I love diving into Adams every once in a while.

My all-time favorite author, John D. MacDonald was a brilliant societal commentator. Adams and Terry Pratchett (I’ve written about him several times. Here’s one post) are right up there with him; but they used humor. And I think that makes their books re-readable over and over.

I’m a fan of the books and the radio plays (you can see in my shelfie, I’ve got a book of those). I often listen to audiobooks while working, and I’ve often put on a Hitchhiker’s book and let it accompany me through the day. I thought that Eoin Coifer’s authorized continuation was okay. It captured the tone well enough, but it felt really long, and moved along kinda slowly. I preferred reading the audiobook to reading the novel, but it was good enough. Haven’t revisited that one yet.

Starship Titanic is briefly mentioned in Life, the Universe, and Everything. It was the subject of a video game (which I played, of course), and there was a lightweight book based on the game, written by Monty Python’s Terry Jones. It’s fine. I think Jones himself reads the audiobook, which I’ve listened to.

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Into the Woods: War on Rome: Book I, Arminius, Bane of Eagles by Adrian Cole

Into the Woods: War on Rome: Book I, Arminius, Bane of Eagles by Adrian Cole

Donar wanted to read the depth of my anger, to plumb my sorrow at the loss of Thusnelda. I shared these things with him. What I do next, Argedestes, I do with pain like a banner above me. It is given to me. It is given to me to be the hammer of Rome.

Arminius, Bane of Eagles (2021) is the first volume of Adrian Cole’s new sword & sorcery alternate history trilogy set against the struggle between the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes. The book begins as a slow burn, becoming an absolute raging inferno with the slaughter of three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Wald in 9 AD.

From the opening pages, Cole lets the reader know an alternate world is at hand with an extract from a letter between a Roman senator and his nephew. It describes the accidental death of 14-year-old Claudius and the funeral oration made by Horace which essayed a world where the boy might have lived and even become emperor. Of course, in our world, Claudius didn’t die in his youth, and at the age of 50 was made emperor by proclamation of the Praetorian Guard. Clearly, something strange is already afoot.

The first prelude is followed by another, this one set on the druids’ holy island, Ynys Mon. There, amidst a great gathering of British tribesmen and druids, a prophecy is pronounced: the gods of the free peoples of the North, both Celtic and German, will soon be in a war against those of Rome. In the North, a mighty warrior and leader called Sigimund will be born. In Rome, an equally powerful man will be born, a son of the imperial household, he will be known “as Germanicus, after his father, who will so name himself for the blood he will shed in the eastern lands.”

Bane of Eagles follows Sigimund, prince of the Cherusci people, son of Segimer, and better known to history as Arminius. In his youth, he and his brother Sigfrud are sent to Rome to train as soldiers and learn devotion to Rome. The Roman dream is that they will return to their people, loyal and trustworthy, and help bring the Germans, like the Gauls before them, under the eagles of Rome. While Sigfrud, called Flauvus (Blondie) by the Romans, will remain forever loyal to Rome, just as he did in the real world, Sigimund will remain loyal to the Cherusci.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – Holmes Shelfies (#1)

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – Holmes Shelfies (#1)

So…I found a kinda cool group over on Reddit. And it wasn’t LotR_on_Prime – yeesh. R/bookshelf is a subreddit where people post their shelfies. With over 2,000 books on 90-ish shelves/cubes, that appealed to me!

I started with my Jack Higgins shelf, and then my Clive Cussler one. I’ve done a couple fantasy shelves, but mostly I’ve been sharing pics of my over-500 Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle books. And I’ve been adding a comment, talking about some of those pictured. Its’ been neat.

So, I thought for this week’s entry, I’d bring back The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes again, and share the shelfies and comments. So far, anyways.

Holmes Shelfie #1

Titan Books has two lines of Holmes pastiches. The colorful ones on the left, are traditional stories in the Doyle style. They were originally reissues of hard-to-find volumes by folks like Philip Jose Farmer, Fred Saberhagen, Manly Wade Wellman, and David Stuart Davies (my editor at Sherlock Magazine). Then they started adding new novels by Davies and a few other authors.

The other line, with the covers like the ones on the right, are all new novels, and horror-ish / steampunk / gothic. Not traditional Doyle. They continued this line through the Pandemic. If you want some horror-ish Holmes, this is a good place to go. I like James Lovegrove quite a bit. And I think Caravan Scott was pretty good.

I have 38 of the Titan books, I think. Here’s a review I wrote of a couple of the early ones from George Mann.

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What I’m Watching: December, 2022

What I’m Watching: December, 2022

Last week, I spent 5,000 words talking about Dark Winds and the Tony Hillerman series it is adapted from. I even watched it twice – as I said, it’s a good series: just not good Hillerman. Recommended.

I continue to look forward to Tulsa King every Sunday. That may be the best show out there right now. I talked about that in the November post.

I did a series of posts on The Rings of Power – it was a ‘meh’ series. Better than The Shanarra Chronicles, not as good as The Wheel of Time. For over a half-billion dollars, it should have been better than fan fiction.

First half of season six of The Rookie was fine: though the new boot is easily the worst character in the history of the show. Season one of the spin-off show, The Rookie: Feds, was okay.

My son and I are watching Lethal Weapon: I’m not totally crazy about Damon Wayans in the role, but he and Clayne Crawford work well together. I think Crawford is the key to the show. I know there was a cast change after season two, so I’m leery. But overall, it’s a fun buddy cop show.

Moving on.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Dark Winds – Good Show, Bad Hillerman

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Dark Winds – Good Show, Bad Hillerman

So, I wrote a three-part series, covering about 5,000 words, on Tony Hillerman and his Navajo Tribal Police series. I said this at the end of the third one: “Somewhere down the line, there will be a post about the four movies (and several failed attempts at such) made from these books.”

Back in July of 2021, I wrote this essay, optimistically excited about AMC’s upcoming series based on Hillerman’s books.

The six-episode series aired back in June, but I just got around to watching it. So, this seems like a good time to write a fourth-installment in my Hillerman series, talking about Dark Winds.

If you want to know more about Hillerman and the books, click on the link above. You can find all three essays. I’m a HUUUUGE fan of his books.

I am not a fan of the continuation novels written by his daughter, Anne.

Dark Winds is set in the seventies, on the reservation in Four Corners country. That’s where Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee police procedurals take place. Joe Leaphorn is the boss of this Navajo Tribal Police sub-station. Bernie Manuelito is his number two. Jim Chee is a young officer newly assigned there. These are the three main characters in the books,and in the series.

THE STORY

Season One’s story is based on Listening Woman; the third book in the series. They use enough of the basics to recognize the source material – though they definitely change things up a fair amount. And Hillerman didn’t create Chee until book four. Or Bernie until book six. But it makes sense to have all three in the series: it all works. Listening Woman is a good novel, and I think, the best of the first three. So, a good choice to start the series with. They also worked in elements from book four, People of Darkness, which is one of my favorites. Nice!

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