Friday, February 26, 2021

Tolkien Scholars Write Fantasy: a Follow-up

 Four years ago, I posted a column titled Tolkien Scholars Write Fantasy! It covers just what the title suggests, Tolkien scholars who also have published fantasies. This is a follow-up, updating the original post with newer books and editions that I happen to know about. As with the previous post, I'm keeping the arrangement alphabetically by the last name of the author.  (And as with the old post, readers are welcome to add further authors/titles in the comments.)

Sue Bridgwater 

Sue Bridgwater's The Dry Well did indeed come out as announced for 2017.

Jessica Burke and Anthony Burdge 

In 2020, the duo's Myth Ink Books released their new book of Lovecraftian horror, Eldritch Tides

Matthew Dickerson

The third volume of Matthew Dickerson's fantasy trilogy, The Daegmon War, came out in 2017 under the title Illengond.

Verlyn Flieger

Verlyn Flieger has published a volume collecting her two  short pieces reworking Arthurian materials, "Avilion" and "The Bargain", under the title Arthurian Voices (2020).  It has an enthusiastic preface by the late Richard C. West.  

John William Houghton 

The first two of John William Houghton's related novels (in The Thaumatruge of Annandale series), Rough Magicke and Like a Noise in Dreams, have come out in Kindle format in 2020, followed by a new third volume, The Advent of the Yule Queen in 2021.


Michael Livingston

Michael Livingston's most recent books have been non-fiction, but he had two works of fiction published since my last survey. Both are Kindle-only, The first was a short work, At the End of Babel (2015), and then a prequel to his historical fantasy series, The Shards of Heaven, titled The Temples of the Ark: A Tale of Alexander the Great (2016).  

Edward S. Louis (actually E.L. Risden)

Edward S. Louis has published a number of things, only some of them fantastical in nature.  First is a ghost story, Wiskalo Chookalo: The Haunting of Uppsala, Wisconsin (2018).  More recent titles include The Quantum Detectives (2020), set in a future London, and a baseball novel, White Shoes (2021).

John Rosegrant

John Rosegrant published the fourth  and fifth books in his series, respectively Marrowland (2018) and Makeless Made (2018). 

Martin Simonson 

Volume one (Golgrim's Keys) of the  trilogy The Scarecrow and the Storms has been retitled and reissued as The Wind in the Wild Lands (2019), part one of The Faceless Keeper saga, with illustrations by Anke Eissman. The second volume was due to be republished in November as The Broken Light of Summer, but covid-19 has interfered.  I do hope that the third volume (so far unpublished) will make it out this time. Distribution of volume one hasn't made it to the US, but I give a link to the page here

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Few Random Notes

A few months ago I saw an interview with novelist John Crowley, in which he observed of his most recent book, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (2017):

My most recent book was sent in MS to some twenty editors; some were entirely uninterested, but a small number thought the book was great. But because the publisher didn’t see profits from such an oddity it was refused, until at length one editor with a private label within a big house took it. 

The full interview is here;  but my takeaway from this comment is how sad it is that a major talent like Crowley would be welcomed by so few publishing houses. It fits right in with the sad situations of other writers I admire and regularly read.  Jonathan Carroll published his newest novel in Polish translation in January 2019, and in Italian in late 2020.  It is titled Mr. Breakfast, but I've seen no evidence that any English-language publisher has bought it or that any such publication in English is planned.  Patricia McKillip's most recent novel, Kingfisher, came out in 2016.  Nothing since. Though she has slowed down in publishing, I wonder if there is there another factor. I used to enjoy Michael Cadnum's adult horror novels (e.g. Ghostlight), but he turned away from adult novels about twenty-five years ago to write children's novels, and many of them are pretty good, and pretty interesting. But his last book from a trade publisher was nearly a decade ago, Seize the Storm (2012), though he self-published a few disappointing collections in 2018.  Why has he stopped?  Market concerns?  All of this is depressing for mid-list writers, as well as for readers. 

On the J.R.R. Tolkien front, a few months ago I was by chance connected with the nephew of a man who photographed Tolkien late in life. Photographer Athar Chaudhry had come to England via Pakistan and Kenya. Known as "Mac" he was a press photographer from the 1960s through the 2000s. (His brother Azhar was also a photographer on the staff of the Daily Nation in Kenya, and took portraits as well, of Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren, and Bollywood stars.) "Mac" worked mainly in sports photography, but did portraits of Tolkien and Roald Dahl in the early 1970s when he worked for the Oxford Mail. I learned of one fine photograph he took of Tolkien from Humphrey Carpenter, who thought it was one of the best Tolkien photographs from late in his life. It appeared in the Oxford Mail on 22 March 1972. We editors of Tolkien Studies arranged for a part of the photograph to appear on the cover of Tolkien Studies Volume II (2005).

An alternate photograph, clearly from the same shoot, has also appeared on the web. 

If anyone knows of the Roald Dahl photograph, or where it appeared, I'd be grateful for the details. 

Also on the Tolkien front, Mary Fairburn (b. 1933), the artist who submitted her drawings to Tolkien in 1968--drawings approved by Tolkien, and finally published in the 2015 Tolkien Calendar, has published her autobiography, Borne on the Wind: Memoirs of an Artist (2020). Details and some interesting photographs appear at the publisher's website here, along with contact details for ordering copies. 

Thanks to Zanne Chaudhry for information on his uncle, and to Paul Tankard for the news on Mary Fairburn.