Not keeping up appearances

Of us, and how we do things at present.

Druid Life

One of the consequences of doing anything well, is that it tends to look effortless. If you’re doing something professionally, it is of course desirable to look as good as you can while doing it. Success is attractive. Relaxed capability is attractive. You want people looking at the elegant swan you’ve put into the world, not all the frantic paddling below the surface required to keep it there.

The problem with this – and I see it a lot – is that a significant number of people will assume it is indeed, effortless for you to do what you do. If they can’t see how much time and effort went into getting you to the point whereby it is indeed easy, they’ll use words like ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ and maybe ‘lucky’. This can have consequences. It can leave other people assuming that they should be that good for no effort…

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Black Box – a review

The Black Box is a thing you will want to get into… (so to speak)

Druid Life

Black Box is a science fiction novel from Kevan Manwaring. It is a text poised to be unleashed upon the world and I think it’s exactly the kind of story we need right now. Set against the backdrop of a dying Earth, the story manages to both square up to the disaster we are unleashing upon ourselves, while refusing to give up all hope. It is, in every possible way, a journey into utter darkness. As the story leads us to gaze into the abyss, it reminds us how brightly small lights can show at such times.

This is a very hard book to review without spoilers. Not least because the plot revolves around some serious uncertainties about what is real and what isn’t. Kevan handles this with absolute style, requiring you to read the story, aware that multiple explanations may exist. The story calls upon the reader to navigate…

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The Life and Times of Angel Evans

Hello! As most of our blogging focus is on Hopeless, Maine this year (and that happens over here) I thought I’d spend some time over here bringing attention to some of the amazing things and creators we have found in our travels.

This time, I’d like to tell you about Meredith Debonnaire. If she does not become one of the major voices for her generation in fantasy, I will be very surprised. Seriously. Her story, The Life and Times of Angel Evans has a novel’s worth of unspeakably cool ideas in it and a VOICE. Dear gods, what a voice! In terms of density and originality of ideas, it compares favorably with China Miéville. There is also a novel’s worth of suggested story here. There is deft invocation of atmosphere and a complex believable character in an impossible situation. The emotional weight is utterly convincing (for reasons) and is offset by wild offbeat humor. Five out of five stars. Highly recommended.  If you need more after finishing Angel Evans (and you will) She also has a blog in which you will find Tales from Tantamount, which is bloody genius.


Go forth.


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The Princess in the Mound – a review

A new household favorite book!

Druid Life

I first encountered Linda Raedisch through her folklore-orientated non-fiction work. So when this novel came to my attention, I was keen to read it. It isn’t a big book – 98 pages of not especially dense text, but my Gods! So much happens.

I was really excited by the way this book has been written. The subtitle is ‘A Visitor’s Guide to Alvenholm Castle’ and that is the form the book takes. We begin with a note on the artist in residence, an overview of the castle and its upkeep fund, then short sections on history, architecture and haunting. Then we step into the entry hall and make our way around the rooms and gardens.

As the guide book takes us from room to room, a story unfolds. It is not a straightforward story, and various versions of it and glimpses into it are offered as we go along. The…

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Tales from Tantamount: January of the Year of the Sad Plastic Bag, part one

Tantamount is one of the best things in the world-ever.

Meredith Debonnaire

Being a continuing found record of the town of Tantamount. May contain newspaper headlines and humour in bad taste. Trigger warning for mention of suicide (remarkably brief).

Headlines in Tantamount, January 1st
The Tantamount Herald
Surprise triumph of Heathens over Anglo-Saxon forces in History Battle: all time losses! Story on p2
Auspicious end to the year with ascendance of local choir, photos on p12
Oakshade Primary shock at first year in Battle: headteacher statement here!
The Tantamount Life
Journalist spots big cat on towpath – cat was wearing a cravat and bowler. Are cats no longer fashionable? p9

RE:RE: Chef required
TO: laurallovelace@hotmail.tan
FROM: management@pinprickcafe.tan

Dear Laura Lovelace,

Following your email and perusal of your references, as well as some intense stargazing, we would like to invite you for an interview at Pinprick Cafe. Please bring any totems that you feel are appropriate, as well as your past life…

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Tales From Tantamount: December of the Year of the Abandoned Shopping Trolley

Tantamount is amazing, and clearly some sort of sister town to Hopeless, Maine.

Meredith Debonnaire

This post is a story! A strange story, but a story! The first installment of Tales From Tantamount. Don’t worry, I will still do book reviews as well. Enjoy the weirdness. I’d recommend readers be 13ish and up – there’s going to be the occasional swear and some “mature themes”.

Tales from Tantamount

Being a found record of the town of Tantamount, starting in December of the year of the Abandoned Shopping Trolley and continuing into the Year of the Sad Plastic Bag.

TANTAMOUNT, adj: equivalent in seriousness to. Italian ‘tanto montare’= ‘amount to much’

noun: a small, strange town somewhere near the Severn, known to move about.

Welcome to Tantamount!

Population: undefined/nebulous.

Visitors to Tantamount are required to attend the orientation classes held at the Tourist Information Centre. Failure to attend these classes will be punished by Carrion. Tantamount takes no responsibility for injury, loss of life…

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In which we are associated with the Skelton Crew

Hello people! (and others)
This is going to be longish-apologies.
When we started Hopeless, Maine, more than ten years ago, we decided that if it took off (and there was much daydreaming about this. We haven’t got to the “riches” end of the spectrum, but this was definitely a “rags”time for me) We decided that there would be no mass produced tat associated with the story. (Sal would be cross) We thought maybe we could invite crafters and other makers to make things and mention where the things came from, sort of a thing. Moving ahead in time to last year, I spotted a company who was making *very* cool lovely things in limited editions around some comics I very much admire (Hellboy, BPRD, Locke and Key etc.) These are the sort of things that would be kept and treasured (and not end up in landfills) So, I sent a rather cheeky message to them on Twitter saying that I was pretty tight with the people who make Hopeless, Maine if they were at all interested. They were! (Squee) and I had to admit that it was me. Better still (if such a thing can be imagined) they are based in MAINE as it turns out. This is the start of what we hope will be a long collaboration, as they are unspeakably cool. The first strange fruits of this relationship are now real and out there in the world. Enamel pins with Drury and a Spoonwalker tentacle over a Hopeless, Maine town sign. “Yes” you say, “But do they glow in the dark?” you ask with uncanny intuition. Yes! Yes, they bloody do! (The twelve year old me is pretty much beside himself at this point)

The name of the company is Skelton Crew Studios (Perfect, yes?) and you will probably love everything they make. You might be especially interested in this pin set.

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