Is Virginia on Another Planet?
A Few Distractions

Deadlines Loom Large

Our editorial intern arrived this past week and we are working hard on our anthologies, trying to meet some looming deadlines. David said to me over dinner last night, "I need you not to blog for five days," because indeed, even with Carl's help, deadlines are looming large. I will try to do comment approvals at least once a day.

Before signing off for a few days, I wanted to recommend several more items in passing and note one CNN slip into newspaperese. First, the slip: In Banda Aceh, however, there were signs that life was returning to normal . . . They probably say that in the coverage of every disaster they report on, but isn't this a little premature? (Buildings are reappearing. Bloated bodies washing in on the surf are being restored to life and are returning to their jobs. And the peninsula is rising back to its fomer level. No. Unfortunately not.)

Special Cases: Natural Anomalies and Historical Monsters by Rosamond Purcell. I've mentioned her work a couple of times before (see Extinct Birds and Owls Head, Extinction and the First Grade, and Provenance & Recollection: a Meditation on Hoarding). As I've said before, Purcell is a museum photographer with a really nice prose style. What I especially like about the book is Purcell's respect for her human subjects' humanity though they are often museum specimens (for example two-headed babies pickled in formaldahyde). Here is the Booklist review:

Purcell must have felt challenged in selecting a fitting title for her unusual book, which, though based on an exhibition she curated, is much more than a catalog. Readers may feel challenged, too, by the striking illustrations, the detailed text, and the many direct and indirect questions that artist and historian Purcell raises, especially why and how people react to the sight of anomalies and monsters. A few of her particular subjects are well-known, but most aren't, for they were selected "from the dustiest corners of the furthest reaches of the oddest places." Their range runs from a seventeenth-century depiction of the bodies floating in Noah's flood to the graphic illustration from the fifteenth-century traveler Bernard de Mandeville's Voyages of a dog-headed man devouring a Crusader to the colorful Mary Sabina, the "Piebald Black Child," as eighteenth-century Europe called her. In all, a volume with diverse and peculiar appeal.

Another recommendation: "Growing Boys" by Robert Aickman, most recently reprinted in Aickman's collection The Wine-Dark Sea (1988). First of all, if you haven't got this book already, order it. Robert Aickman (1914-1981) was the great master of the Strange Story. The novella "Growing Boys," published in 1977, was reprinted by Terry Carr in his Year's Best Fantasy for that year. I've been thinking about that story a lot over the past few days. It is a tale of monstrous children. In the end, you realize you have been mislead by the narrative voice.

Anyway, back to work. Heigh ho, heigh ho!

UPDATE: I swore I was going to stay off line, but it seems to me that I should mention that Gary Farber informs me that longtime science fiction fan Anna Vargo has died.