I'm having fun. One by one, at intervals to stretch it out, I'm reading stories in Jonathan Strahan's anthology, The Book of Dragons, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Recently, I read "Pox" by Ellen Klages, an author new to me. I loved it, and what a great pleasure to find that one of the delightful characters, Franny Travers, also appears in Klages' novella, Passing Strange.
Picturing a World
Look! the Holy Austin Rock Houses that may well have inspired the invention of hobbit holes. It would have been more delicious to stumble across them unexpectedly on a walking tour of England, but I'll settle for glimpses on the web. You can find out more here. And visit what looks like a nearby troll hole here. As for today, Happy Bilbo and Frodo Bagginses' Birthday!
Blog post alert: As soon as I saw Charles Vess's illustration for Joanne Harris's story, "The Barefoot Princess" at Myth and Moor, I ordered a copy of their book, Honeycomb (from a local independent bookstore, naturally). Then I poked around and come upon Honeycomb – An Interview with Charles Vess.
While I was chasing the Green Man in March, I bookmarked Facing sin: late medieval roof bosses in Ugborough church, Devon, a 2015 article by Dr. Susan Andrew. Going back to it, I found this image of an elegant lady with a devil draped over her head.
Just as appealing as Miereke Nelissen's animals are her illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—or more precisely for De tovenaar van Oz. Lisabeth Zwerger's version may have influenced Nelissen. Certainly Zwerger made clear that a modern sensibility can work wonders divorced from more traditional variations on W. W. Denslow's first-edition illustrations (see, for example, those of Scott Gustafson and Michael Hague and 25 more).
This drawing of a priest looking at an album of pictures appears in Framing the drawing. an article about Renaissance artists who drew frames around drawings they collected. I found the whole thing interesting—more ways to frame! —but what electrified me was this particular image. It's so suggestive for a character in a story. Look at the man's concentration, the delicate tension in his extended finger. Connoisseur, scholar, merchant, alchemist? He seems to be pointing to something on the upper edge of the page. Why? Pick up clues where you find them, I say, and let your imagination run.
I admit I don't understand all the technicalities explained in this YouTube, but whoa! is Time-Travel Rephotography ever fascinating (and more than a little scary). If it does nothing else for historical fiction writers, it should educate us in the ways older cameras distort people's faces so that, given an old photograph, we can try to imagine people from the past more sensitively. But like all doctored photograph, it is also a reminder of the ways we can be manipulated by computer programmers—although for speculative fiction writers, just think of the doors it opens!
Via Gurney Journey's Bringing Old Photos to Life, which discusses it and another app. from a color-specialist and animator's point of view.
Horrors! Steampunk facial recognition? Mannequin mind control? Bizarre external sensory systems? Pursuing Rachel powder a little further, I came across this Max Factor Beauty Calibrator at Cosmetics and skin: "Developed in 1932 it was supposed to measure how far a person's features differed from the 'ideal face.'" Surely, the time has come for it to inspire a sci-fi tale, preferably feminist revenge. Or, oh no, wait, historical fiction?????
In November, I bought the new 25th Anniversary edition of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights for its woodcut illustrations by Chris Wormell. The book was a Christmas present to myself, which I saved for reading after New Year's Day. I'm finding that it does indeed enhance the reading to turn the page to a spectacular illustration like the one shown here. (As it happens, Wormell's color palette is reflected in a fascinating post at Gurney Journey on Polar Stratospheric Clouds.)