Vocabulary: Writhen Shine Edition

blackleg: in labor, a scab; in cards, a cheat; in zoology and botany, a bacterial or fungal disease
fettle: condition; or, to finish a cast piece or repair a furnace by removing extra material
espalier: a shrub or tree grown flat against a wall, or the framework used to do so
caducity: the quality of frailness or elderliness, or being transitory or perishable
poll evil: a condition among horses in which the back of the head swells
revetment: angled fortification to absorb the force from a body of water
marcescent: withering but not yet dropping (e.g. leaves in early fall)
withes: supple twigs or rope made from such; also spelled withies
electrolier: a chandelier with electric lights rather than candles
dottle: the plug of ash and tobacco left in a pipe after smoking
hod-me-dod: a snail, or a girl’s curls. In Norfolk, a hedgehog.
carlin: in Scotland, an old woman; also, a pug
cairngorm: a smoky yellow or dark quartz
enfeoff: to grant someone a feudal estate
fulgurant: like lightning, flashy or dazzling
writhen: twisted, wound, or cortorted
swot: scholar or studious person
yegg: a burglar or safecracker

https://coldewey.cc/2020/04/vocabulary-writhen-shine-edition/ »

The Gygerkarte, or Gyger Map (and detail), made in 1667 by Hans Conrad Gyger and one of the first ever to represent a landscape in this intricate and accurate fashion.

https://coldewey.cc/2020/04/4126/ »

The Gone World (Tom Sweterlitsch); Recursion (Blake Crouch); The Light Brigade (Kameron Hurley)

I’ve found that when it comes to science fiction, I have a soft spot for time travel. Although the concept is, of course, fundamentally hokey, I enjoy a clever take on it that subverts your expectations about what the causes or consequences of it could be. These three novels, all released in the last two years, achieve that with varying levels of success — but still have tying up every loose end, which really is the duty undertaken by a novelist undertaking an intricately plotted mind-bender.

I read them in the order listed, and of the three, I think The Gone World is the best of them, with Recursion a close second, and The Light Brigade trailer rather far behind them. I’ll try to avoid major spoilers, but part of the trouble of each is its ending, so I must speak in general terms about that.

Continue reading ☞
https://coldewey.cc/2020/04/the-gone-world-tom-sweterlitsch-recursion-blake-crouch-the-light-brigade-kameron-hurley/ »

Goldmund – “Grass Rides”
Famous Places

Goldmund’s melancholy, barely-there compositions make excellent background music, but occasionally one emerges with a clarity of theme that demands attention. This one reminds me of Hauschka’s “Paige and Jane.” (bandcamp)

Vocabulary: Patternity Tectht Edition

talapoins: small African monkey with olive fur and webbed hands; or in Thailand, a monk
santon: a certain type of Muslim monk or hermit, sometimes regarded as akin to a saint
calcine: to heat a metal and achieve reduction or drying, often leaving a residue, calx
wenny neck: having or resembling a fatty cyst (wen); or, an overcrowded large city
antimacassar: protective covering for the top or back of upholstered furniture
parterre: patterned flower garden; or rear, ground-level seats in a theater
brickbat: piece of brick used as a weapon; or, a blunt criticism or remark
macadamize: to pave using broken stone (macadam) and asphalt or tar
palempore: Indian bed covering or cloth, often with a flower pattern
aigrets: ornament made of or resembling a plume (i.e. of an egret)
tamarisk: shrub with small leaves and light pink flowers
serail: women’s living quarters in old Islamic society
tecthtrevan: mobile throne reserved for royalty
rede: advice or interpretation (or to provide it)
apricate: to sunbathe or expose to sunlight
giaour: derogatory term for a non-Muslim
mulct: to obtain by fraud; or, a small fine
sea fencibles: defensive naval units
tarradiddle: a trivial falsehood
dwimmer: illusion or magic

https://coldewey.cc/2019/12/vocabulary-patternity-tectht-edition/ »

The Night Land (William Hope Hodgson, 1912)

The Night Land is an astonishingly original, imaginative, and bizarre piece of fiction — one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read. And yet, so powerful are its idiosyncrasies that I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

Hodgson was among the progenitors of what was called for some time “Weird fiction,” an ur-genre which translated to modern parlance comprises horror, science fiction, fantasy, and others not common at the time, though with serious literary pretensions, to differentiate it from the lurid and numerous stories and novellas appearing in pulp magazines.

He is best known today for a few of his stories of nautical horror (“The Voice in the Dark” and “The Derelict” for instance) and the genre-flouting The House on the Borderlands, whose divagations in deep time and space place it in a lonely hinterland halfway between supernatural horror and a long-form narrative of a DMT episode.

The Night Lands inhabits a similarly unusual conceptual Venn diagram: A three-way combination of historical epic, hard sci-fi, and travel diary. The final product is more than the sum of its parts, and deserves to be numbered among the founding documents of science fiction — yet Hodgson’s styling and narrative choices are so frustrating that I sometimes wished I could imitate the protagonist and project my own soul forward in time so as to escape his unceasing exposition.

The book begins with a framing story of the protagonist, who remains nameless throughout the hundreds of pages. He is a strong young man of the 17th century who falls in love with a woman who, he finds, experiences eerily similar dreams of a strange world where it is always night. Soon the narrator finds himself in that world, laboriously explaining the apparent coexistence of his soul and mind in both worlds with the passion of one describing a religious experience.

Continue reading ☞
https://coldewey.cc/2019/11/the-night-land-william-hope-hodgson-1912/ »

I now rambled about in great uneasiness from the coffee-house to the promenade, from thence to the museum, from the museum to the tavern, from the tavern to the exhibition of wild beasts, and at last to the playhouse, but I could nowhere find tranquillity.

Lawrence Flammenberg, The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest

https://coldewey.cc/2019/11/4036/ »

Angel Olsen – “Lark”
All Mirrors

One of the best album openers I’ve heard in some time, “Lark” puts Olsen’s almost Parton-esque crooning in juxtaposition with orchestral strains, backed by pulse-like percussion that promises a heart attack and delivers one about a minute in. (artist website)

https://coldewey.cc/2019/11/angel-olsen-lark/ »

A soothing demonstration of fluid dynamics from Cambridge (link)

https://coldewey.cc/2019/11/4022/ »

We don’t need other worlds. We need mirrors.

Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

https://coldewey.cc/2019/09/3980/ »

Vocabulary: Byrny Bro Edition

aludel: bulbous glass vessel open at both ends used to collect condensates
roundelay: poem with a regularly repeated phrase; also, a circular dance
athanor: steady-temperature heating element for chemistry or alchemy
fazart: hermaphroditic fowl; also, a weakling or coward (also faisard)
meacock: a meek, effeminate, or henpecked man (meek + peacock)
smaragd: emerald (from lat. smaragdus, to flash or shoot lightning)
brail: small ropes used to haul in a sail, or a small net for fishing
byrny: chain mail shirt covering the upper arms to below waist
misprision: failure of office, especially in preventing treason
cymophane: a translucent yellow gem in the beryl family
thripping: snapping one’s fingers (onomatopoeic)
gramercy: exclamation of thanks or emotion
haskardly: coarse, unpolished, or vulgar
carcanet: decorative women’s circlet
stour: turmoil, conflict, or dust cloud
matrass: long-necked glass flask
greengage: a type of green plum
mediamnis: canal or dyke (lat.)
supervivid: surviving (arch.)
footling: trifling or silly
sithence: since (arch.)
colubrine: snakelike
cupshotten: drunk

https://coldewey.cc/2019/08/vocabulary-byrny-bro-edition/ »

Vocabulary: Picul of Pulque Edition

cotter: part used to fix two other parts together or otherwise prevent their motion
sprue: channel in a mold through which molten metal flows; or, a tropical disease
wickiup: a simple (often Native American) hut or shelter made of mats or brush
skiffle: jazz or rock-derived music using improvised instruments; or, a light rain
replevin: recovery of goods unlawfully taken (security deposit often required)
malversation: improper professional behavior, esp. in public office
manciple: steward of provisions for a monastery, college, or court
sizar: a student at Cambridge or Trinity receiving an allowance
spancel: the act of or knotted rope used in hobbling an animal
yamen: in imperial China, the office or residence of an official
fard: facial cosmetics, esp. white, or the act of applying them
pulque: lightly alcoholic fermented drink made from agave
pampooties: rawhide slippers worn in the Aran islands
scrog: short or naturally stunted trees or undergrowth
thrapple: the windpipe, or to throttle (it, presumably)
catty: a Chinese weight measure of about 680g/1.5lb
archimandrite: head of one or several monasteries
corposant: St. Elmo’s Fire (lit. ‘holy body’)
diffide: to distrust or act distrustfully
picul: 100 catties

https://coldewey.cc/2018/09/vocabulary-picul-of-pulque-edition/ »

There is little else to do but write this clear explanation of everything that has happened to me since the misfortune of birth. He that has fared better, and without deceiving himself, let him utter his jackass cry.

Robert Aickman, The Fetch
https://coldewey.cc/2018/09/there-is-little-else-to-do-but-write-this-clear/ »

 

Anenon – “Mansana”
Tongue

A lonely, quietly wild wind solo metamorphosizes into something more layered and yet also more delicate. When I’m not paying attention and this track comes on, it always arrests my attention halfway through and I can never remember how the transformation took place, or when. (bandcamp)

https://coldewey.cc/2018/05/anenon-mansana-tongue-a-lonely-quietly-wild/ »

Vocabulary: Weel Talk Edition

quiddity: the essence of or a distinctive feature of something, or a trifling legal issue
emprise: an endeavor or exploit, or the qualities that drive one to them
squail: to throw something awkwardly, esp. weighted sticks at animals
malanders: blisters or crusty eruptions on a horse’s neck or knee
madstone: a stone believed to have antivenomous properties
quintain: a target set up for knights to tilt at, or the sport itself
keelpin: a small peg on cargo that locks it in place in the hold
gastine: a wasteland or desert, or the pillaging of something
erysipelas: a skin infection also known as “St Anthony’s fire”
pritchel: a punch or shaping tool used in metalworking
plethoric: overabundant, in blood or just in general
turves: plural of turf; units or blocks of peat
glede: archaic name for the red kite, a bird
opiparous: sumptuous or luxurious
snite: to blow or wipe one’s nose
eyot: an island, variant of ait
colophony: rosin or resin
weel: a deep pool
ratchel: gravel

https://coldewey.cc/2018/04/vocabulary-weel-talk-edition/ »

For art is like a living organism — better dead than dying.

Samuel Butler, Erewhon
https://coldewey.cc/2017/12/for-art-is-like-a-living-organism-better-dead/ »