Edwardian satire, Appalachian walks and fairy tales for adults

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday, April 5th: Tea Time with Saki

H.H. Munro, aka Saki (via Wikipedia)
H.H. Munro, aka Saki (via Wikipedia)

With Holmes having accepted an invitation to spend Easter with the Watsons, and Corwyn similarly engaged for the Easter weekend, Caledonia and Kayden invite us to take tea with them in the glorious company of Hector Hugh (H.H.) Munro, perhaps better known as Saki, the master of the short story satirising English Edwardian life, often in a mischievous and / or macabre manner.

Born in British Burma in 1870, Munro’s writing career started in journalism, working for a number of noted newspapers and periodicals, including the Westminster Gazette, the Daily Express and the Bystander, His first book was non-fiction, The Rise of the Russian Empire was published in 1900, and from 1902 through 1908, he served as foreign correspondent for the Morning Post.

his first novel was published under the pen name of Saki in 1913. In When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns, Munro imagined a world a few years into the future, where Britain had been defeated in a war with Germany, and is under the occupation of Kaiser Wilhelm’s (the William of the title)  victorious military. From this, Munro’s career as Saki took flight, and he became a master of the Edwardian short story, his style influenced by the likes of Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, whilst in turn influencing the likes of A. A. Milne, Noël Coward and P. G. Wodehouse.

Monday, April 6th

06:00: The Emerald Atlas

emerald atlasCata Charisma continues his reading of John Stephens’ The emerald Atlas, the first volume in his fantasy trilogy for young adults, The Books of Beginning.

Having been passed from pillar to post through orphanages, three siblings, Kate, Emma, and Michael, find themselves lodged at the home of one Dr. Stanislaus Pym. Kate, the eldest of the three is driven by a promise made by her mother, that if Kate protects her younger sister and brother, then their family will be one day reunited.

But in their explorations of Dr. Pym’s house the three of them find their way into the basement, where they come across a mysterious door and an equally mysterious emerald-covered booth, entirely without text. When an old photograph touches the blank pages of the book, however, the three are immediately transported to the time and place depicted in the photograph. Her they find themselves in a realm populated by witches, henchmen, giants, dwarves and more – and one Dr. Stanislaus Pym, a good deal younger than when they last saw him in his house…

19:00: Jack of Shadows

Gyro Muggins returns to Roger Zelazny’s 1971 novel which mixes science-fiction and fantasy, the title of which is an homage to Jack Vance.

jack-of-shadowsThe story takes place on a tidally locked planet – that is, one whose rotation about its axis precisely matches its orbit around its parent body, thus the same face is always presented to the parent body (just like our own Moon always presents the same face towards Earth). Given that the parent object in this case is the planet’s Sun, it means that one side of the planet exists in perpetual daylight – and is the seat of science; while the other lingers in perpetual night – and has become the seat of magic.

It is from the latter that the protagonist of the story – Shadowjack – comes. Even among his own kind, he is unusual, for the manner in which he draws upon his power; something which can, in the right circumstances make him exceptionally potent. However, when placed in either complete light or complete darkness, he is almost powerless. Jack’s only friend, Morningstar is doomed to what is effectively eternal punishment unless Jack can cross between the two realms of light and dark, combining his abilities with the power of science. Thus Jack must risk being lost in total light or total darkness in order to rescue Morningstar. And if he fails, who might rescue him?

Tuesday April 7th, 19:00: A Walk in the Woods

walk-in-woodsBy his own admission, Bill Bryson isn’t the world’s greatest adventurer. This being the case, you’d think he’d have serious misgivings about undertaking this particular “walk in the woods”, as he disarmingly calls it: taking the 3,500 kilometre (2,200 mile) Appalachian Trail – a journey which would take five months to complete.

Travelling with his good friend “Stephen Katz”, the book is both a humorous guide to the trail and a set of serious and insightful comments / discussion on the trail’s history as it winds its way from Georgia (where Bryson was living at the time the book was written in 1998), to Maine. These discussions cover a broad range of subject including the sociology, ecology, trees, plants, animals and people of the states through which the trail passes (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine).

Join Kayden Oconnell as he resumes retracing Bryson’s footsteps through the pages of this classic.

Wednesday April 8th, 19:00: Christie’s Detectives

Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents short stories featuring Agatha Christe’s beloved detectives: Parker Pyne, Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot.

Thursday April 9th, 19:00: Silver Birch, Blood Moon

silver birchShandon Loring dips into another anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  In Silver Birch, Blood Moon, they bring together 21 tales by some of today’s leading writers in a volume focused taking cherished tales of childhood and re-imagining them into sophisticated, seductive, fairy tales for adults. The stories gathered within the covers of this anthology include:

  • The tale of a jealous prince who plots the destruction of his hated brother’s wedding by inventing a “magic” suit of clothing visible only to the pure at heart
  • The story of a young girl’s strange fairy tale obsession which results in a brutal murder
  • The tragic tale of an embittered mother, who must care for her dying son as he is trapped within a thicket guarding a sleeping beauty
  • The revelation of what happens when a group of violent outcasts within a desolate industrial wasteland attempt to lay the myths of one Millennium to rest, only to give terrifying birth to those of the next.

Join Shandon Loring as he opens the pages of this latest collection from Datlow and Windling, and see if it is one of these stories or something else contained within the volume which falls under his gaze…

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for April / May is Habitat for Humanity, with a vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live – a safe and clean place to call home.

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