April 20, 2012 is the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death, so the culture pages and programs are filled with a lot of discussions of vampires in general and Dracula in particular – because most people have never heard of Stoker’s other works. Hence the Guardian offers a new review of Dracula and also republished the original review from 1897 (amusingly, the reviewer felt that ancient legendary creatures like vampires and werewolves were out of place in a modern nineteenth century setting). Spiegel Online offers its take on Dracula as well. The New York Times does not talk about Dracula today (there are collections of poems and personal essays and books on the Iraq war and on Dwight D. Eisenhauer to review after all), though they review the memoir of one of the more memorable actors to play Dracula, namely Frank Langella. Apparently, his sexual appetites dwarf that of Count Dracula and wander into Captain Jack Harkness territory, since Langella claims to have slept with pretty much every noteworthy person he ever met.
While on the subject of vampires, yesterday I blogged about the death of Jonathan Frid, who played Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows and was the precursor to all of the sympathetic and romantic vampires of today. One of the obituaries for Jonathan Frid included a great quote from an interview that actress Kathryn Leigh Scott, one of Frid’s Dark Shadows co-stars and Barnabas’ love interest in the show, had given last year. So I tried to hunt down the original interview for my PhD thesis. I still haven’t found the interview, but I came across this interview with Kathryn Leigh Scott, in which she talks about her experiences as a Playboy Bunny in the 1960s and a bit about Dark Shadows, too. Turns out that the shortlived Playboy Club TV series (which I blogged about here and here) was based on a memoir by Kathryn Leigh Scott of her time as a Playboy Bunny.
Moving away from Dracula and Dark Shadows into general urban fantasy and paranormal romance territory, Lynn Viehl offers a list of fifty overused paranormal romance and urban fantasy clichés at Paperback Writer.
Finally, I had to postpone the birthday lunch planned for today, because the urologist with whom my aunt had been trying to get an appointment for seven weeks deigned to appear today with one day’s notice. Apparently, this very busy gentleman harbours under the misapprehension that wheelchair bound ladies in their seventies have nothing else to do but wait endlessly for doctor appointments. So I’ll just post some birthday photos now:
As for the Deathstalker books, I came across Simon R. Green during my urban fantasy research. I did read The Man with the Golden Torc, but I originally dismissed the Nightside series with “Do I really have to read this? After all, it seems to be pretty much a Harry Dresden copycat and is therefore only of tangential interest.” Then I did pick up the first Nightside book after all, read it and enjoyed it a whole lot (and no, they’re not just Dresden copycats). So I did some research on Simon Green and found that he has been writing SF and fantasy for twenty years, even though I had never heard of him until I started researching the urban fantasy genre. What was more, some of those SF novels sounded like something right up my alley. So I bought the first book in the Deathstalker series and enjoyed it a whole lot – so much in fact that I immediately put the other four books of the series on my Amazon wishlist. So that’s why there are four Deathstalker novels among my birthday books along with the latest offerings by Seanan McGuire and Patricia Briggs.
As for how I managed to miss this series for so long, I think it’s largely due to the logistics of the book trade. In the days before Amazon, I was largely dependent on the English language SF and fantasy books sold at the one local bookstore that had a sizable selection of foreign language books, including a whole spinner rack of SFF paperbacks. However, that bookstore stocked only books from certain publishers. That’s why my collection of SFF books from the late 1980s to the early 2000s is heavily weighed towards books published by Del Rey, Ace, Tor, Grafton, Avon, Bantam, Corgi and Pan, because those were the publishers whose books were imported directly. You could get other books by special order, but you had to know that they existed first. Simon Green, however, was and still is published by Roc, a publisher whose books for some reason were never easy to find in Europe (ditto for Baen and DAW).
In other news, the shirt I’m wearing in those photos isn’t particularly flattering. But then, I had just come back from school and for school I prefer clothes that are not overly flattering, because some of our more hormone controlled boys stare enough at my boobs as it is.