Homunculus by James P. Blaylock
"Does the night seem uncommonly full of dead men and severed heads to you?"
Langdon St. Ives is a man of science and a member of the Royal Society. With the help of his dependable and discreet manservant, St. Ives prefers to spend his time secretly building a spaceship in his countryside silo. But currently he’s in London to help his friend Jack Owlesby recover a wooden box containing the huge emerald Jack’s father left him for an inheritance. Things get confusing when it’s discovered that there are several of these boxes that all look the same and all contain something somebody wants. Soon St. Ives, Jack, and a host of other friends and enemies become embroiled in a madcap adventure featuring a toymaker and his lovely daughter, a captain with a smokable peg leg, the scientists of the Royal Society, an evil millionaire, a dirigible steered by a skeleton, a tiny little man in a jar who... Read More
James P. Blaylock(1950- )
James P. Blaylock was born in California and received a masters degree in English from California State University. He is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Chapman University in California and the director of the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County High School of the Arts. He often collaborates with his friend Tim Powers.
Narbondo / Langdon St. Ives — (1984-2012) Steampunk. Each novel can stand alone.
Homunculus by James P. Blaylock
The Ebb Tide by James P. Blaylock
19th-century London. A quiet evening among more or less renowned gentleman, including the gifted scientist-explorer Langdon St. Ives, at their favorite tavern is interrupted by word that a map to a missing mysterious device has been found. In no time, as chronicled by St. Ives's cohort Jack Owlesby, the group sets off to claim the map and device, racing against the shadowy figure of St. Ives's nemesis, Ignacio Narbondo (now known as Dr. Frosticos).
The first new tale of St. Ives in nearly two decades, The Ebb Tide is a brisk steampunk yarn with a dash of Sherlock Holmes. (Steampunk is, of course, a play on cyberpunk; instead of computers, the focus is usually on airships or mechanical men.) The focus in The Ebb Tide is on underwater transports (and a strange underwater environment), which James Blaylock, as usual, describes with ... Read More
The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs by James P. Blaylock
Langdon St. Ives returns in The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs, James P. Blaylock’s latest Langdon St. Ives Adventure.
St. Ives is described as “the greatest, if largely unheralded, explorer and scientist in the Western World … piecing together a magnetic engine for a voyage to the moon.” Unfortunately, the premise of The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs is less ambitious than its protagonist. Although our heroes are explorers and scientists, they do little exploring here. In fact, they don’t even leave England. Worse, there is little mention of magnetic engines or steam engines, though an emerald’s power has a slight impact on the plot.
The adventure begins with an outbreak of madness at the Explorer’s Club, but don’t expect to see mad explorers. Instea... Read More
I don’t know why I read this all the way to the end; Ryan’s review, which says it isn’t at all entertaining, is right on the money. I was so disappointed. ~Terry Weyna
Zeuglodon: The True Adventures of Kathleen Perkins, Cryptozoologist by James P. Blaylock
Eleven year old Kathleen Perkins considers herself a scientist — a cryptozoologist, to be exact. She studies legendary animals. According to Kathleen, “legendary” just means that they don’t appear very often. (“You can hardly blame them.”)
Kathleen’s mother disappeared in a submersible while trying to find the entrance to Pellucidar, so Kathleen now lives with her orphaned cousins Perry and Brendan at her eccentric uncle’s house. Uncle Hedge, who runs a little seaside museum of strange objects, is a member of the Guild of St. George, a secret society of men and women who fight the plots of an evil genius named Dr. Hilario Frosticos. Kathleen and her cousins love Uncle Hedge but their neighbor Ms. Peckworthy, “a member of a very troublesome do-go... Read More
Ghost stories — (1994-1999) Each novel can stand alone. Publisher: Blaylock’s Night Relics is a chilling novel of unearthly emotional power, a ghost story that pushes beyond the classic form. It is the tale of a man haunted by the ghosts of the human heart — both real and imagined — where lost memories and lost loves whisper on the wind. It is a perfectly captured nightmare.
Winter Tides by James P. Blaylock
I was disappointed in Winter Tides, though it's probably not fair to blame James P. Blaylock for my disappointment. It's not his fault the cover copy doesn't accurately describe the novel's actual subject matter. It's also not his fault I'm a big enough ballad geek that when I see the words "Anne," "Elinor," "sisters," and "drowning" in the same sentence, I immediately think of "The Cruel Sister," a heartbreaking ballad of love and sisterly betrayal. Between the cover copy and a ballad reference that may or may not have been intentional, I led myself to expect a ghost story and a love story. Here's the cover copy, for what it's worth:
Fifteen years ago, on a deserted California beach, Dave Quinn swam out into the winter ocean to save two drowning girls — identical twin sisters. He was only able to save one. Now, years later, he meets Anne... Read More
Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
Steampunk is an anthology of, well, steampunk stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. If you hurry, you can still get to this first anthology before the second one, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, appears in mid November. Based on the quality of the stories in this collection, I heartily recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve been a bit bemused (or possibly amused) by all the people wearing odd Victorian costumes at SFF conventions nowadays, or if you have at best a vague idea of what steampunk exactly entails. If you’re one of those people who’s interested in, but not entirely sure about, the new hot subgenre du jour (like me, prior to reading Steampunk), this anthology is here to take you by the hand and give you a quick, entertaining education. And oh, it also contains some truly excel... Read More
Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon
I don't like dragons.
This is probably not the first sentence you'd expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.
There's nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They're just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don't read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time. To this day, I confess to having to suppress a mental groan whenever I encounter them.
For a long time, I actively avoided reading any fantasy novel with the word dragon in the title. Granted, I made several exceptions to this rule in the past, most notably The King's Dragon by Read More
Balumnia — (1982-1989) Humorous fantasy. Each novel can stand alone.
Holy Relics — (1988-2008) Each novel can stand alone. The Last Coin: Two thousand years after silver coins pass from the hands of Judas Iscariot, they continue to hold magical powers, changing the luck of those who posses them, and possibly even providing immortality. The Paper Grail: Curator Howard Barton goes to Mendocino, California, to get a 19th-century woodcut sketch for his museum back home. But other, rather strange, people want the sketch for their own dubious purposes. Now Howard’s caught in the middle of a secret war that somehow involves a piece of paper that is much more than it seems. All the Bells on Earth: This is a homey fantasy, almost excessively so. Doughnuts, family tensions, relatives who arrive in a Winnebago, Christmas decorations, business worries, Uncle Henry’s womanizing, and pyramid schemes wrap Walt Stebbins in layers of detail and distraction. Walt runs a small catalog business out of his garage, and he has no notion of a demonic presence in his town until a package is mistakenly delivered to him. The contents are not the inexpensive Chinese toys and novelties he deals in. The nasty-looking pickled bluebird of happiness (“Best thing come to you. Speak any wish.”) piques Walt’s interest, and he keeps it when he rewraps the box and passes it on to the addressee: the one person in the world Walt loathes, his former friend Robert Argyle. But Walt’s keeping back the bluebird of happiness is the best thing that could have happened to Argyle — and the worst thing that could happen to Walt. What price happiness? If you have to ask … Knights of the Cornerstone: Calvin Bryson has hidden himself away from the world, losing himself in his work and his collection of rare and quirky books. He never meant to let so much time go by without visiting his aunt and uncle in the tiny town of New Cyprus, California. When he gets there, he’ll discover the town’s strange secrets and a mysterious group dedicated to preserving and protecting holy relics – a modernday incarnation of the legendary Knights Templar.
13 Phantasms — (2000) Short stories. Publisher: The first short story collection from Philip K. Dick Award-winning author James Blaylock features sixteen thought-provoking forays into the fantastic — from a tale of alien influence on an ordinary neighborhood to the story of one man’s self-destructive obsession with a dragon.
In For A Penny — (2003) Short stories. Publisher: This mesmerising collection from World Fantasy Award-winner James P. Blaylock offers seven brilliant excursions into one of the most idiosyncratic imaginations of our time. Highlighted by the acclaimed novella, “The Trismegistus Club” – a brilliant riff on the antiquarian ghost story – In for a Penny goes from strength to strength, taking us deep into the heart of a quirky, deeply engaging fictional world that no one but Blaylock could have created.Other high points include “Home Before Dark,” which chronicles one man’s first few hours in the afterlife. Its thematic companion, “Small Houses,” recounts an aging widower’s last few hours on earth. Both stories constitute deeply felt, lovingly detailed farewells to the things and places of this world.In “The other Side,” a minor precognitive episode leads the hero to an obsessive fascination with the hidden mysteries of the universe. In “His Own Back Yard,” a story worthy of the great Jack Finney, a middle-aged man finds himself stranded in the haunted territory of his childhood. The blackly funny “War of the Worlds” uses a bowling ball and the imminent end of Life As We Know It to illuminate the fault lines in a modern marriage. Finally, in the wonderfully imagined title story, the single-minded pursuit of treasure – of something for nothing — leads Blaylock’s protagonist to a harrowing confrontation with his own worst self. Startling, funny, eccentric, and often unexpectedly moving, the Blaylockian worldview shines forth with undiminished vigor in this marvellous collection, which shows us ourselves — and the world around us – from a wholly unique perspective.
Metamorphosis — (2009) A story collection. Publisher: Metamorphosis: three stories, each one involving a man who discovers that he has come to dwell, for an hour or for a lifetime, in a house and in a mind not quite his own. Each one opens doors onto rooms of illusion, radiance, regret, and dark enchantment. Welcome to the stories of three young writers, stories written in collaboration with James P. Blaylock. Welcome to the borderland of illusion and reality. Three tales, written in collaboration by James P. Blaylock with students in a class by Tim Powers, with an introduction and illustrations by Tim, an afterword by Blaylock, and some necessary meddling by William Ashbless.
The Devils in the Details — (2003) Short stories. Publisher: Collects three original short stories, ”Through And Through” by Powers, ”The Devil In The Details” by Blaylock, and ”Fifty Cents” a collaboration by both authors together. Plus a foreword by Powers and an afterword ”Mexican Food” by Blaylock (this afterword comes in the form of a separate chapbook laid into the book).