Five Daleks and It

Do we detect a theme?

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for E. Nesbit’s novel Five Children and It, (and a direct reference to H. R. Millar‘s illustrations for it) one of those “be careful what you wish for” stories which was far more entertaining than didactic.

I am probably being unfair to late 19th/early 20th century children’s novels, because in my mind they are mostly very grim, with saintly children dying and melting the hearts of neighbouring curmudgeons. I’ve realised lately that while there is some truth to this, that seed was planted by sarcastic comments in the books of some of my favourite more recent writers. The older books I’ve read usually make the transgressions – while attended by awful consequences – look not-so-secretly like jolly good fun as well. By which you can deduce I had a hearty dose of E. Nesbit, L.M. Montgomery, Susan Coolidge and Ethel Turner, growing up. Not that the last two, at least, didn’t feature their share of tragedy, but at least everyone seemed to be having a good time up until that point.

And the best lessons were never that you couldn’t fly, but that you should take reasonable safety measures beforehand.

The Dalek and the Carpet

Another E. Nesbit Dalek for the Dalek Game! This one is for The Phoenix and the Carpet, which is… probably due for a reread, because I haven’t retained this one the way I have her short stories and other novels. It is one of the more fantastical, but I remember it as less enchanting than – say - The Enchanted Castle, which only has one magical conceit, or the Bastable books, which haven’t any magic at all, but might as well be Narnia, or Harry Potter (as a matter of fact, they get a direct reference in Narnia). Have I mentioned how I love it when non-fantasy novels are so fantastical that fantasy bookstores stock them? I will next time I talk about Eva Ibbotson.

In other news: My cover for Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn’t See is out! Also, I am busy making paper-cut images for my contribution to a fairytale art show (among other projects), of which more anon. The date-claimer details (for Brisbane folk) are:

Once Upon a Time – Reinterpreting the Fairy Tale

16th- 25th August 2013

The Art & Design Precinct, 10 Bailey St, West End, Brisbane

http://artdesignprecinct.wordpress.com/

http://thecreativeactivists.com.au/about-us/

Melisande, or Long and Short Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for E. Nesbit’s short fairytale of wishes and mathematics, “Melisande, or Long and Short Division”, which is available at several locations online (here’s one) but is best read with all her other wonderful tales of princesses and lift operators, kings and treacly sea-serpents, plagues of yellow houses and bell-people, and towns in libraries (in towns in libraries).

In other news: Oh look! A new Dalek drawing and more to come! Also, I’m taking part in a fairytale art exhibition in Brisbane in August, and the organisers are fundraising on Pozible, should you wish to obtain an art print or other rewards (and support the Make a Wish foundation).

The Dalek less travelled

Oh look a Dalek!

This instalment of the game is for a book by Stephen Fry (yes, that Stephen Fry): the readable, entertaining and beautifully validating explanatory/musing/instructional guide to poetic forms, The Ode Less Travelled. I love this book. It is very practical, far from dry, genuinely useful as a reference guide, a practical course, a lever for disengaging the angst from the rigour, and a handy-sized object for beating friends over the head with until they produce werewolf sestinas (Caitlene, I know where you live).

The drawing is also in honour of travelling at home, on two fronts: the one where you do all the things at home you like to do travelling (for me, that is sketching in cafes and writing in restaurant windows, so that works out well); and the one where you plan trips to very-likely-Dartmoor-after-World-Fantasy-this-November. So please feel free to let me know if you know the identity of the mysterious “iconic figure in Australian land law” who is connected with Dartmoor. That person is not the reason for going to Dartmoor, but I received a flyer for the 2nd Annual UK Property Case Law Tour today, and now I need to know!

Also, I just finished a new book cover and set of internal illustrations for an amazing collection of stories for an author whose last publication from the same press was illustrated by one of my heroes of illustration and I’m just going to faint quietly off the back of the chair now.

 

Daleks of the Road

This instalment of the Dalek Game is forMichael Chabon’s novel Gentlemen of the Road. You will note I have not even attempted to approximate a reference to Gary Gianni’s entirely perfect illustrations.

The novel as a whole (the words, the green and gold cover in which I bought it, Gianni’s wholehearted images) is a fascinating performance, utterly styled without being stylised. Chabon performs genres beautifully, like the best of Shyamalan. Not like a quick, accurate costume, but something like an old tableaux vivant, with all the details right and breathing poses held still for admiration and inspection or… something. They aren’t dead at all, or false – he does literary fiction, or science fiction, or noir or (as here) Rider Haggard adventure sincerely, lovingly and very delightedly aware of the story as story.

Now that I think about it, this is what bothered me about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Not that someone had the idea, at all – I love that Seth Grahame-Smith not only had the idea but did something about it. But P&P&Z felt to me, at the end, like an exercise in a title. It had the brain, but never quite got to the heart. Whereas, while Chabon’s big ideas might easily be presented as equally odd as any of Grahame-Smith’s essays in juxtaposition, I lose myself in the world of the story, in the whole book, the thing itself, and forget the author’s cleverness because of it.

Dalek of the Pigeons

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Megan Lindholm’s Wizard of the Pigeons, one of the earlier urban fantasy (in the older sense of that term) books which I read, not including that odd twilight world of children’s and YA novels which hadn’t been separated out by genre yet. I am not sure if this was the book that won me over to it – I do remember being charmed by it, and sad, and the shifting nature of the world peculiar to the sort of urban fantasy I like. I was already won over to Lindholm’s writing by reason of her also being Robin Hobb, whose Farseer books I bought purely on the basis of a John Howe cover, and even convinced my little sister (inveterate non-fiction and Grisham reader) to read.

In other news: The year is off to a promising, undead start with January’s calendar illustration, impressive temperatures, lots of coffee, watching The Mousetrap with my mother, testing centrifugal forces in a playground with my cousins, and a house thinly coated in chalk-and-ink dust.

I planted Daleks

This instalment of the Dalek Game is really for the Lifeline Bookfest, where I bought Richard St. Barbe Baker‘s autobiography, I Planted Trees. Several years ago. And haven’t read it yet.

I am certain it will be compelling and life-altering because most books I buy at the Lifeline Bookfest are (my criteria: pretty spine, not my genre, never heard of it and/or don’t read that subject; don’t even bother trying to fight for the Pratchett books, there is blood in the aisles there).

I am not allowed to go to the Bookfest again until I buy more bookcases and have more time to read things not-for-illustration. So you should all go. It’s amazing. Enormous exhibition halls full of old, beautiful, mouldering, dog-eared, out-of-print, rare, too-common, dusty, inscribed books. Money raised goes to support services including a crisis line and post-disaster support.

The next Brisbane Bookfest is from 19 to 28 January at the Convention Centre. Take a cut lunch and a backpack.

LIfeline Bookfest

Daleks at Play

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for An Almanac of Words at Play by Willard R. Espy which I must have acquired somewhere second-hand, perhaps at a Lifeline booksale. It is a collection of light poetry, word games, literary games, amusing letters – charming, esoteric, veering between the heavily educated and the extremely flippant.

I am not a very keen player of board games. I am, rather, fond of parlour games and word play, and this book has a place in my heart for introducing me to several and to the idea of more. We make up games over coffee or while driving (witness the Daleks), add to them, integrate them into dinner parties. The game I remember most from this book, at the moment, is a game of rhyming couplets, where you are given a famous line and have to add to it. Of everything in the book, I probably remember this because of the example:

“I’ll take you home again Kathleen,
That last martini turned you green.”

In other news: I have put up the last instalment of the American Sketchbook. I am in the throes of drawing a comic and designing (other people’s) wedding invitations, but after that more (non-Dalek) posts will arrive. And this beautifully written, beautifully printed book has arrived, and will get a post of its own soon!

The Name of the Dalek

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose (and of course for this BBC video). The Name of the Rose was the first Eco I read, after a very dim memory of a select few scenes of the movie viewed once in class. I fell in love with it, and although I don’t have the clearest memory of its individual parts now, I still have great affection for the sum of the novel, which bore me through several more of Eco’s works to discover the impossible, wrathful, byzantine takedown that is Foucault’s Pendulum. I have even attempted to read The Name of the Rose in German. Well, I have acquired it in German. In truth, the English was translated from Italian and a fair proportion of the words weren’t even in my dictionary, so the experience of reading it in German was (along with Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger, possibly the only time those books have been compared*) comparable to Vizzini’s seamanship :”Move that thing and – that other thing!”.

*Or not. Turns out there are connections.

In other news: Part 2 of the American Sketchbook is up: Illuxcon, New York and Colorado. The table of contents for the upcoming Fablecroft anthology One Small Step has been released, including stories by many wonderful authors and my “Ella and the Flame”. And I finished inking a largeish project last night, so rewarded myself by catching up on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is just fun (perfect, perfect Lydia).

A Dalek in Her Hand

And I’m back! Not with a World Fantasy Award – that was deservedly won by the very stylish John Coulthart, and contended by the enchanting Julie Dillon, the jaw-dropping Jon Foster and the darkly luminous John Picacio (whom I met!).

But I have returned with a sketchbook and Daleks!

This instalment of the Dalek Game is for Bess Streeter Aldrich’s A Lantern in Her Hand. I remember very little of this book, except that my mother read it out loud to my family, and by the end of the opening we were all in tears.

In other news: Midnight and Moonshine (with my cover) has been successfully launched! And you can get a copy signed by the authors until 8 December 2012.

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