Subterranean Conundrums

Every now and then, when it comes to buying stuff indulging in collectorial practices, the imaginary line I draw in the imaginary sand is smudged by an imaginary eraser. As a result of which the aforementioned line becomes the kind that would give Cecil Radcliffe a severe case of the runs, followed by the chills.

Case in point: offerings from Subterranean Press. I have whittled down my purchases to the barest necessary, but my resolve was tested earlier this month, when it was announced that Joe Hill’s latest collection of short stories, Full Throttle, would have a SubPress limited/signed release. Seeing as how my waffling over NOS4A2 did my blood pressure no good in the past, I knew I would go for it. But it took about a week of gritting my teeth and wringing my hands before I actually ventured to lay down $175 for the pleasure of owning a copy of the book, sight unseen, numbered and signed by Messrs Hill and McKean, he of Sandman renown. But the limiteds of 20th Century Ghosts and Heart-Shaped Box are biblionicorns of the kind that make hearts and wallets bleed, and I would rather not take a chance with a Hill book.

It also did not hurt that the Suntup Press limited edition of Hill’s Horns just came to Papa about 2 weeks ago, after a wait of about half a year. I confess to owning the PS Publishing signed/limited edition that came out in 2010, but Suntup’s version was too hard to pass on. The line in the sand that I drew for signed limited editions was that I would only buy one if the original author was among the signers, and Horns met the criteria, while Haunting of Hill House and Rosemary’s Baby did not. Not that I did not have severe crises of conscience, but the line held. It did not however hold for Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, one of my favorite works by the man. Suntup’s edition, not out yet, but sold out in pre-orders, has an introduction and an autograph by Joyce Carol Oates. McCarthy is notorious for not signing his books, specifically The Road, which he has apparently signed a few copies for his son alone.

What really rubbed the line this week was the announcement that Tamsyn Muir’s first book Gideon The Ninth would have a limited release via Subterranean, and copies would go on sale on Tuesday morning. Now here was the situation:

  • The only thing I knew about the book was the phrase “lesbian necromancers in space”
  • It wasn’t out yet, so I could not read it
  • Reviews had come in from a coterie of distinguished authors, including Warren Ellis, VE Schwab, Charles Stross, Robin Sloan, and Max Gladstone (whose This is How You Lose the Time War is what I am reading Right. Now)
  • I happened to get to the Tor website, which had a preview of the first chapter of the book. And by the time I got to the phrase “stupendous work of a titty nature”, I was sold.

Or rather, I was coerced into depositing 85$ for the pleasure of owning a copy of the book signed by the writer herself, courtesy of SubPress.

Which should make me feel terrible vis a vis the Great and Terrible Sullying of the line that guides my buying habits, but you know what?

The book fucking sold out in two days. Had I waited a day more to buy it, I would have been gnashing my teeth by now and breathing slow and deep trying to keep calm.

To make up for this psychological distress, here’s a bunch of pictures of the magnificent Joe Hill book from Suntup Press.


Things I did in Bangalore this weekend

  • Conducted Infinite Rampage, the KQA quiz on comics, comix and graphic novels. Which was the reason I was in Bangalore in the first place.
  • Somehow managed to be placed second in the Open quiz that followed.
  • Managed to spend my eight-month-old Premier book coupons on worthy Items-on-Wish-list. Bought six volumes of Spirou, that I had promised to buy when I saw them in Walden a couple of weeks ago. Also bought ( and finished reading yesterday ) Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief by Stephen Alter, an informal look at the Bollywood machine. It’s actually more of a making-of-Omkara, but alternate chapters are dedicated to various aspects of Bollywood, and I must say that Alter manages to be pretty informative without dissolving into film-journalistic cliche. And now I want to watch Omkara all over again.
  • Found a new edition of The Mammoth Book of Vampires, ed. Stephen Jones. I had bought the older edition of this book at Guwahati, a long long time ago and after much soul-searching – what to do, finances were tight at that time. But the last story in that collection, Kim Newman’s novella Red Reign made up for it all. This was the novella, incidentally, that spawned the Anno Dracula trilogy, possibly my favourite Vampire series of all time. It’s written in the same fan-fictioney, shared-universey vein as Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold-Newton novels and Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – an alternate history of real and fictional characters revolving around a new society of vampires and humans. The new edition of tMBoF has Newman’s Andy Warhol’s Dracula, which is a sequel of sorts to the third book in the series, and which was only released as a limited edition book-format before, muhuhahahaha. Am really, really glad I picked this up.
  • Seriously disappointed by the graphic novel collection at Blossom and Bookworm. Most peeved at the fact that they are not stocking newer volumes of Negima and Genshiken, two Del Rey Manga titles I’ve been following closely. There are tonnes of DC/Marvel TPBs, but nothing substantial that I wanted. Pah!
  • Ganked Borrowed the third book in the Watch series, Twilight Watch from madhav. Why, why, why isn’t it available anywhere I look? Gah!

On the Pile

Blossom has copies of both Apollo’s Song and Ode to Kirihito, two Osamu Tezuka classics being reprinted by Vertical books, with snazzy cover designs by Chip Kidd and a very very readable English translation. I had bought Kirihito when I was in the US, and was just about to order Apollo’s Song, when a friend called up to inform me about its availability in Bangalore. He also went to the trouble of buying it for me and sending it through someone who was travelling to Hyderabad, and as a result – new Tezuka book for me to read. Yes! 541 pages of Tezuka goodness! Though I honestly hope that people aren’t buying this book for their kids – its dipped in mature themes, I see loads of cartoon nudity as I flip through the book, and the opening sequence is bizarre look at human reproduction.

The next Tezuka offering by Vertical is another 600+ tome called MW, available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s due for release in the US in November. Am I getting it? You betcha!

The other item on the pile is an Indo-Russian production which I bought because (a) I remember being totally floored by the movie when I saw it as a kid and (b) It was available for half-price at a Planet M sale. Bless you, Indian DVD companies, for understanding the necessity of price cuts in your offerings. I bought and watched Raghu Romeo on the same day and would have also bought Benegal’s Junoon, but I got into an argument with the salesman. The MRP had been slashed from 350 Rs to 199 Rs, and then there was a 50% discount. The salesman had put the discount on the original price, not the revised MRP, and no amount of cajoling would make him budge. The hell with it, I will just buy Junoon some other time.

About Ali Baba Aur Chalis Chor – I remember very vividly the innovative design of the “Open sesame” cave, which showed a waterfall flowing in reverse and the cave opening in the cliff. When I watched the opening sequence again today morning, it was surprising how well the scene still holds up today in terms of SFX. Does not look cheesy. The other thing I noticed was the proliferation of Russian actors – and except for the well-known Indian artistes, everybody else seems to speaking in Russian, with the Hindi lines dubbed on. So it was a bilingual production! Most of the production crew was also two-fold, one Indian cameraman and a Russian one, two directors, two production designers – I am keeping an eye out for the other Indo-Russian fantasy film I know of – Ajooba, which I remember was a turkey the first time I saw it, but I don’t mind seeing it again. The scene where Sonam ( playing an Arabian princess ) puts a miniaturized Rishi Kapoor in her blouse deserves an award in itself. Did I just type that? Yes, I just typed that.

Amazing. The complete movie is online on youtube.