Well, here we are then.


Apparently I am the final guest blogger.  Show’s over.  We have had Aleister Crowley talk, bookshop talk, steampunk talk, Indian & Finnish & etc SF, ninjas & pirates & zombies, and painstaking and thorough analysis of why and exactly in what ways Twilight sucks. Now there’s only me.  My job, like the night’s last stand up comic or variety act, is to keep you vaguely diverted while the waitstaff come round and collect your money.  I don’t have to be entertaining, I just have to make it awkward for you to leave without paying.  Oh yes! None of you will leave without paying.  Those of you who have unwisely passed out at the bar will have your wallets rifled through by light-fingered waitresses with drug habits to support.  Afterwards someone will have to clean up all the mess. Which one of you was sick in the toilets? What’s this sticky residue here in the back?

Felix Gilman–Guest-blogging on Ecstatic Days Dec. 1-5

I’m very pleased to welcome Felix Gilman as the final guest blogger on Ecstatic Days.

Felix is the author of Thunderer, now available in paperback, and its sequel Gears of the City, forthcoming on December 30. He also has a very short piece in the New Weird anthology and a story in what is probably at the time this gets posted the current issue of Weird Tales. Originally from London, he now lives in New York, where he works as a lawyer.

I should warn everyone that Felix is a very serious man. Very serious. He has no sense of humor…

Mark, Signing Off

Many thanks to our host, Jeff, for allowing me to take over this week. He warned me it was a quiet week to blog, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to throw out some goodies and see who was looking for something to read during the quiet hours, so I thank all of you who dropped a comment during the week.

My novel, Lightbreaker, while not yet, should be dropping soon. I hear mid-December, but pre-ordering at Amazon certainly doesn’t hurt anything. To entice you further on the book, I’ll point you to the first two chapters which are posted at

And, as a further treat, there is “Wolves, In Darkness,” a free novella that takes place shortly before Lightbreaker that has just been posted to the CODEX site. Enjoy.

Thanks again, everyone.



Urban Fantasy Is All About Magic

So, the Grand Unifying Theory, aka What I’ve Been Thinking About This Week. It started as an effort to explain where Lightbreaker fits in the urban fantasy framework, and has become a bit broader (again, no one should be surprised to hear that phrase come from me). Essentially, urban fantasy is all about magic, and as such, is really all about Secret History.

Trying to define urban fantasy these days is a bit of a trick, especially with the marketing muscle behind paranormal romance. But I think it comes down to both magic and intent, which as Crowley would like to remind us, are the two key facets of being that every magus focuses on: what are the Secrets, and what do you intend to do with them. The traditional trappings of urban fantasy—the monsters that go bump in the night: werewolves, vampires, demons, et al—are no longer a metaphorical device to signify the Great Mystery. They have become entities unto themselves; they are no longer simply the Other, but have been bequeathed the status of Mysterious Stranger. If you need to draw a clear distinction between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, this is it: when the monsters become objects of attraction and are no longer the mechanics by which the extra-ordinary nature of existence is considered.
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The Potemkin Holiday Treat

I do realize there are about sixty thousand things vying for your attention today, not the least of which is “OMG! Which parade with giant floating animals do I watch?” I’m going to sneak out something else to grab your eyeballs with. The first section of [The Potemkin Mosaic], the book version (PDF here).

A bit of history. Farrago’s Wainscot debuted in 2007 as a quarterly journal of the weird, and went on to win a couple of online awards for being terrifically bright and shiny in its first year. Alongside the quarterly crop of literary madness was “The Oneiromantic Mosaic of Harry Potemkin,” a twelve-part serialized hypertext novel. Harry’s story, as expressed through a series of entries in a dream journal (and attending commentary and reference material known as “nodes”), is the continuing investigation into what he believes is psychic surgery on his memory by parties unknown. Harry, you see, is a black market oneirologist, a rogue student of psychopharmacology who utilizes drugs and dream therapies to cure patients of psychological hiccups that normal therapy couldn’t touch. Each month, more of the story would unfold and, as Harry discovers more of the damage and rerouting that has gone on in his head, the story presented to the audience changes, i.e., more hyperlinks are added to the existing framework. So, in January, the first dream had seven or so hyperlinks, but by December the number was quite larger.

It’s a bit of a nightmare, in more ways than one. And it turned out to be a larger project than we initially imagined (this shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all me, at this point). The whole thing is still available online (start here or here if you’d like further background). However, there is still more story to tell. Which leads to this:

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Every Man and Woman is a Star

Aleister Crowley gets a bad rap. As a fabulist, he’s got a boundless imagination that is like quicksilver and lightning in a bottle. Yeah, I know, that verges on nonsensical, but whatever it is, it must be in constant motion, right? Violating all sorts of scientific principles of time and space. His writings on magick are the same way: mercurial, playful, serious, and completely incomprehensible to those who don’t devoted a good portion of their lives to deciphering them. Is he insane, or is he laughing at us? That’s a good question, and one that taunts me a great deal.

Crowley is a nocturnal satyr who crouches on the end of your bed—not the footboard, the actual bed, so that you feel this odd weight on the mattress with you—and what wakes you up is this insistent tapping against the heel of your foot with his long fingernail. When you’re good and awake, he leaps off the bed, rips out all the plastic eyeballs from your childhood stuffed animals, grinds them into powder, snorts this line of your fractured childhood, defecates on the torn corpses, and then leaps out the window. “Follow me, Darling!” he cries, warbling like a night bird. “Follow me!”

And you jump out the window after him, praying to whatever tri-horned, insectoid-headed, Egyptian-knockoff of a deity that you can dream that you will grow wings before you hit the ground. He’s the opium smoker’s Peter Pan, and the joke he’s in on is that you can never be sure if he really knows the secret histories of the world or if he’s just smoked more poppy than you.
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O, Secret History

Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard was recently re-issued by Tachyon Press in an shiny new edition with a respectable cover. It wasn’t until I got home with this version–all the while wondering how in the hell I missed a book about the secret history of Bryon, Shelley, and Keats–that I realized I already owned this book. Have you seen the old cover?

Yeah, it’s no wonder I had never cracked it either, and it is a sad thing that I hadn’t because when this first came out, I was deep into the Romantics. Oh, I could quote more of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” than a young college graduate who hadn’t written a thesis on Byronic allegory should be allowed. Powers is very good at finding the cracks in history and filling them with all sorts of magical possibilities, and with The Stress of Her Regard, he manages to imbue the entire Romantic ethos with an archaic bloodthirstiness that is both Faustian and Lovecraftian. It’s the sort of synthesis that the best secret histories derive their continued existence from, because they make an unholy sort of sense.
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The Sharing of Books

I had meant to unpack the bags of books last night and get them sorted out, but they’re still on my desk, threatening to topple over. Hopefully they’ll stay that way for a few days. I *ahem* found a few things.¹ Powell’s can be dangerous. Let that be said as well.

The last time I visited Powell’s, back in July, was with Barth Anderson. He shared a great little ritual where we each picked out two books for the other. We tried to find things that were influential to us but that the other might not have, and as luck would have it, we both picked pretty well. The first two in the list below were the ones I chose for Barth, and the other three are there because they make up the remainder of my short list when I’m asked about five books that mean a great deal to me.

1. Bangkok 8, by John Burdett
2. White Jazz, by James Ellroy
3. Word Made Flesh, by Jack O’Connell
4. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
5. The Book of Lies, by Aleister Crowley
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The Confessional Introduction

Hello, my name is Mark and I am a raging bibliophile.

I do have a book coming out (Lightbreaker from Night Shade Books), but we’re in that weird intermediate state of non-existence. Here, let me explain (and I apologize up front if it may seem like I’m equating a book release to giving birth; they’re not the same thing, but it’s the closest equivalent that us guys can point to).

My son, Solomon, was our first child and he was really happy to stay inside his mother. We were overdue, and so were able to schedule a day where he would be induced. We went to the hospital at 6:00AM, proceeded to spend all day working up to labor, and at 9:00PM were given a choice: do the c-section in an hour, or do it in five hours when our baby doctor got out of a surgery she was scheduled to do at midnight. We opted for now, and this was the magic word that kicked off a huge flurry of activity. The room filled with eighteen hundred nurses who prepped and moved my wife in about five seconds, leaving me all by myself in this empty room. “Put these on,” the last one said, pointing to the scrubs on the bed. “We’ll come get you when we’re ready.” I changed, and waited. I looked out the window and noticed that it had started snowing, some time in the last twelve hours. White world. Cusp of midnight. Day before New Year’s Eve. All quiet. Nothing moving.

And I sat. And I waited. And there was nothing I could do. Absolutely nothing. Someone would come along eventually and collect me. And then I would be a dad. But, until then, I watched the snow fall.

It’s like that with Lightbreaker. Someone will be along eventually to tell me that it is out. Probably my mother, as she’s pretty excited about this. Not quite as excited as that other time when she became a grandmother, but similar.

So, while we’re waiting, let’s talk about other books, and bookstores.
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Mark Teppo–Guest-blogging on Ecstatic Days Nov. 24-28

I’m very happy to welcome Mark Teppo as this week’s guest blogger. Mark has an urban fantasy/occult noir series out now (The Codex of Souls–the first book, Lightbreaker, is out now, and the second will be out next year) and a pair of surreal, non-linear hypertext-driven books (The Potemkin Mosaic and Psychobabel) that are trying to redefine the reality of dreaming. Both are heavily contorted by his fascination with secret histories. He’s also a regular contributor to Farrago’s Wainscot, and has stories in Electric Velocipede and Strange Horizons.