Monthly Archives: September 2003

Trixie Belden Is Back!

God bless Random House. In an act of remarkable corporate wisdom — nay, genius! — they are reissuing the Trixie Belden mysteries in glorious plastic hardback. At only $6.99 a pop. (Paperbacks aren’t $6.99 anymore!) With the original illustrations from the 1950’s, and beautiful brand new covers which perfectly evoke the period while nodding to romance pulps and magazine illustrations of the day.

(With people who don’t look 2D! But Trixie is strawberry blonde to redhaired, not mostly blonde with a couple pink reflections from her sweater! Honey’s the blonde…sigh. And where’re Trixie’s freckles? Oh, well, minor complaints…easy to fix on later covers, right?)

For those of you who never met Trixie and the rest of the BWG, she was a tomboy with freckles, brains and spunk who led her friends into mystery, intrigue and danger…and generally not by doing stupid stuff or twisting her ankle. Oh, no, she was a leader with initiative. The boys didn’t boss around the girls, Trixie’s boyfriend Jim liked her being a strong female character, and the characterizations and storylines were generally more realistic and complex than those in Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys.

The Trixie Belden Homepage is probably the oldest and most extensive page; it also includes a fair amount of fanfic. The Trixie Belden Library has lots of photos of the authors and old editions, as well as some nice themes and downloadables. Labyrinth has fanfic about Trixie and her friends as adults. From there you should be able to get to most of the online Trixie Belden world.

I’m only sad I didn’t realize sooner that this world was coming into being. I guessed I’ve missed Trixie more than I thought. (And they issued five more books back in the eighties? With Jody Lee covers? And I missed ’em? Sigh.)

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Great New Books

This week has been rather interesting for me, as I found out that _three_ books I’ve been awaiting for a long time have just come out! And there’s another on the way later this month.

1. Sunshine by Robin McKinley. She’s been on my must-read list for many years now. Anything she deigns to write, I will read and buy — that’s all I need to know, and she’s never made me regret that resolution yet. Her brand new book is not one of her typical fantasies (and it’s not rated G or even PG, just to warn you), but rather takes place in an alternate modern or near-future Earth which is populated by all manner of magic and monsters. Our protagonist bakes Cinnamon Rolls as Big as Your Head for a living, but that doesn’t mean she’s not going to have a run-in with vampires. C’mon. Just one bite. You’ll like it….

2. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold, another buy-on-sight writer for me. It’s a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, Bujold’s alternate Spain fantasy, but stands alone if you haven’t read Chalion. (Why haven’t you?) I’d say this is a hard PG-13, maybe a little more. Once again, Bujold asks what doing God’s will and being a saint really means, in a context which won’t scare off sf/f fans. The answers she gives are once again the hard truth of the matter.

3. Goddess of the Ice Realms by David Drake. Drake didn’t used to be a must-read for me, as he was a bit too depressing. Now he’s just satisfying dark and gritty and militarily realistic, which I can take. This book is the latest volume of the wonderfully pulpy fantasy series which started with Lord of the Isles, but this is as good a starting point as any. If you like good old world-saving, monster-killing, evil mage-destroying, weird place-wandering fantasy, you’ll love this.

The book that’s coming out later this month is also by him: The Far Side of the Stars, the latest installment of the Leary and Mundy Royal Cinnabar (spaceship) Navy adventures. Daniel Leary is a heroic, womanizing tactical genius with starships. Adele Mundy is a quiet, deadly shot who’s a genius with information retrieval (legal or no). And there is absolutely nothing between them. Uh huh. You just ask them. ‘Cause Daniel would never ever be interested in a permanent relationship, especially with a woman who’s not a bubblehead. Yup, Adele’s just his bestest buddy and he doesn’t think of her that way at all. (Not that I have anything against friendship, you understand. But this is pretty clearly pre-romance. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you’ll enjoy this plenty.) You can read/download the first volume for free from Baen; both the 1st and 2nd books will be on the CD that Baen’s binding into The Far Side of the Stars. They know books are crack; that’s why they give ’em out for free.

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Inklings vs. Crowley: Heaven’s War

Oh, c’mon, this isn’t exactly Yamato vs. Enterprise here. Tolkien coulda taken ‘im with both hands behind his back. And he’s the nice one.

I remember hearing vaguely about this before, but now Amy Welborn’s linked to it and everybody knows. Basically, there’s this graphic novel called Heaven’s War coming out in November (just in time for C.S. Lewis’ deathday and the Dr. Who anniversary!) in which three of the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, to be precise) try to stop Alistair Crowley from butting into the wars between two groups of angels (whom I’m guessing would be St. Michael the Snake Stomper and Co. vs. the usual gang from Hell — and again, it’s fairly obvious who’s going to win….). So either this is going to be cool, it’s going to suck, or it’s going to be like your average Charles Williams supernatural adventure and do both. The whole sacred geometry thing is just the kind of weird stuff Williams would’ve liked, of course.‘s reviewer says he read this puppy a long time back and liked it.

Read the five page preview at the artist’s webpage and decide for yourself whether it’s worth $12.95.

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“Elemental, querido Watson.”

I thought I was joking about seeing another ep in Spanish. But this Friday, we got “The Man with the Twisted Lip” in Spanish, too. This time the English track was turned up to the same volume as the Spanish one, however. Oh, joy.

I just wish I’d gotten up a few minutes earlier, so I could’ve taped it all instead of just two acts. Well, my sloth was its own punishment.

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“Claro, Lestrade.”

Some of you may be aware that I am slightly crazed in my dedication to the cartoon Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. I can therefore tell you that in its American premiere on Fox, an entire scene and a bit of the one before aired with no sound. (And there were other sound problems during other airings.) During its first syndicated run, one episode was run with the descriptions for the blind audible to all, and indeed overrunning the primary audio channel. But today…today was a red-letter day in the history of SH22 sound transmission. Because today the “DiC Kids Network” (unfortunate initials, what?) broadcast in Spanish.

Well, mostly. You could still hear English way back on one of the stereo channels (which made it even funnier) and the closed captions were still in English (with the usual CC spelling and word errors). Unfortunately, although the opening credits had the theme song in Spanish (“Sherlock Holmes en el Siglo Veintidos estaaaaa”), the voice acting credits were still the usual ones, so I don’t know who to praise there. But it was a great thing, and I not only taped it; I intend to turn it into an MP3 for my perpetual listening pleasure. I will almost certainly transfer the whole alternate version of “A Case of Identity” to DIVX as well, and include it as an “extra” on my personal DIVX CDs.

The remarkable thing was how well-cast the Spanish version was. Dubbing is highly controversial in the anime community. The translations are often dubious and the acting skills on English dubs vary wildly. Usually, there’s at least one person whose voice is just wrong. Of course, this can also be true of the writing and acting in the original. (I have to admit I’m still not overly fond of DiC’s original Watson voice, though the actor was good and grew on me.) But this production in Spanish was definitely an argument in favor of dubs.

I can say confidently that I liked all these voice actors. This Holmes had a deeper voice than Jason Stanford-Grey, interestingly, making him sound more like a standard “hero”. (But since Stanford-Grey is one of my all-time favorite Holmes actors, his portrayal wins out in my mind.) The Watson did also, which was nice, but it was the calm warmth and intelligence in his voice which made him wholly convincing — and instantly one of my all-time favorite Watsons! The Greyson was unexceptionable (I’ll say more after a rewatch). But the Lestrade. (Pronounced in the Spanish version to rhyme with “trade” not “God” as in the English one — which will tell you which movies each crew watched when young.) Oh, yes, it was obvious the voice actress was having just as much fun with her part as Akiko Morison did, while definitely performing it her own way. Also, all the Puerto Rican accents (“yo” pronounced as “jo”, which makes Lestrade a “Jardie”) really added something! Alas, their Deidre and Wiggins didn’t appear in this ep, and thus can’t be judged.

There’s a lot to be said about the translation. As far as I could follow it while getting ready for work, it seemed to be a very skillful one. Some of the jokes in English were lost, of course. When Holmes in the original deduced things about Lestrade’s new partner from the sound of his boots on the stair and Lestrade told Holmes he didn’t miss a step, the Spanish version merely had the good inspector tell Holmes he didn’t make mistakes. But the colloquial Spanish of the translation had its own nifty bits, as did the Spanish acting. In the original, Constable Abner Angel has a bit where he ingenuously offers up info and then hesitates about it. Cute, but not funny. In the Spanish version, when the actor rattles off the info at transwarp speed, then hesitates, it’s hilarious. (To me, anyway.) I also picked up a few new words, like “pareja” for “partner”. But mostly I was just language geeking. I like “Typical rookie stunt!” fine, but it was really neat to hear “Clasico novato!” instead.

All in all, it’s clear that I have been remiss about searching the Net for info about “Sherlock Holmes en el Siglo XXII”. I’ve now done so, but found nothing but TV listings. I guess it must not be available in Spanish on DVD or video. I’d love to see the pilot ep performed by different actors, and find out whether certain phrases have more resonance in Spanish or less. I should probably also go looking for the Quebecois dub, if there is one; I remember now that Cybersix was dubbed superbly into French. (Or so people who spoke French said….)

So…let’s not tell DiC they made a mistake. Maybe we’ll get the Spanish dubtrack tomorrow, too!

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Cabell Complains of a Lack of Technology Filk

Ballad of Plagiary
by James Branch Cabell, from The Certain Hour

“Freres et matres, vous qui cultivez”
— Paul Verville.

Hey, my masters, lords and brothers, ye that till the fields of rhyme,
Are ye deaf ye will not hearken to the clamor of your time?

Still ye blot and change and polish — vary, heighten and transpose —
Old sonorous metres marching grandly to their tranquil close.

Ye have toiled and ye have fretted; ye attain perfected speech:
Ye have nothing new to utter and but platitudes to preach.

And your rhymes are all of loving, as within the old days when
Love was lord of the ascendant in the horoscopes of men.

Still ye make of love the utmost end and scope of all your art;
And, more blind than he you write of, note not what a modest part

Loving now may claim in living, when we have scant time to spare,
Who are plundering the sea-depths, taking tribute of the air, —

Whilst the sun makes pictures for us; since to-day, for good or ill,
Earth and sky and sea are harnessed, and the lightnings work our will.

Hey, my masters, all these love-songs by dust-hidden mouths were sung
That ye mimic and re-echo with an artful-artless tongue, —

Sung by poets close to nature, free to touch her garments’ hem
Whom to-day ye know not truly; for ye only copy them.

Them ye copy — copy always, with your backs turned to the sun,
Caring not what man is doing, noting that which man has done.

We are talking over telephones, as Shakespeare could not talk;
We are riding out in motor-cars where Homer had to walk;

And pictures Dante labored on of mediaeval Hell
The nearest cinematograph paints quicker, and as well.

But ye copy, copy always; — and ye marvel when ye find
This new beauty, that new meaning, — while a model stands behind,

Waiting, young and fair as ever, till some singer turn and trace
Something of the deathless wonder of life lived in any place.

Hey, my masters, turn from piddling to the turmoil and the strife!
Cease from sonneting, my brothers; let us fashion songs from life.

Thus I wrote ere Percie passed me. . . . Then did I epitomize
All life’s beauty in one poem, and make haste to eulogize
Quite the fairest thing life boasts of, for I wrote of Percie’s eyes.

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Cabell Does Kipling!

James Branch Cabell is probably one of the more cynical authors ever to spring from American soil, and as a woman I find that “all women are one woman” thing realllllly annoying. (Just as annoying as “all men are like that”, actually.) But he was also funny and smart, and did write some really good stuff. (And he’s one of the great fantasy writers, too.) Here’s a piece I found today, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. He has quite a few works available online, so check ’em out.

Ballad of the Double-Soul

by James Branch Cabell, from The Certain Hour

“Les Dieux, qui trop aiment ses faceties cruelles”
— Paul Verville.

In the beginning the Gods made man,
and fashioned the sky and the sea,
And the earth’s fair face for man’s dwelling-place,
and this was the Gods’ decree:–

“Lo, We have given to man five wits:
he discerneth folly and sin;
He is swift to deride all the world outside,
and blind to the world within:

“So that man may make sport and amuse Us,
in battling for phrases or pelf,
Now that each may know what forebodeth woe
to his neighbor, and not to himself.”

Yet some have the Gods forgotten,
–or is it that subtler mirth
The Gods extort of a certain sort
of folk that cumber the earth?

For this is the song of the double-soul,
distortedly two in one,–
Of the wearied eyes that still behold
the fruit ere the seed be sown,
And derive affright for the nearing night
from the light of the noontide sun.

For one that with hope in the morning
set forth, and knew never a fear,
They have linked with another whom omens bother;
and he whispers in one’s ear.

And one is fain to be climbing
where only angels have trod,
But is fettered and tied to another’s side
who fears that it might look odd.

And one would worship a woman
whom all perfections dower,
But the other smiles at transparent wiles;
and he quotes from Schopenhauer.

Thus two by two we wrangle
and blunder about the earth,
And that body we share we may not spare;
but the Gods have need of mirth.

So this is the song of the double-soul,
distortedly two in one.–
Of the wearied eyes that still behold
the fruit ere the seed be sown,
And derive affright for the nearing night
from the light of the noontide sun.

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