Okay, titling a blog post that is roughly analogous to interrupting a conversation to say, "Check out this piece of lint I found in my pocket," but please, bear with me.
There are some magnificent and free entertainments out there, ladies and gentlebugs, as I'm sure you all know. But I'd like to draw the attention of whoever may be reading this blog to the existence of a few of them.
One is Mr. Micah Martin's wonderful Godhead of the Immortal Moth King. I believe I mentioned it a while back, but I'd like to talk about it at somewhat greater length here for a moment. Specifically, I would like to point out the wonderful setting Martin has created here, which combines a distinctly Middle Eastern setting with unusually interesting rules-based magic. While not as uncommon as they used to be, non-European settings for epic fantasy are still rare, and Martin's is well realized -- I can feel the heat when I read the street scenes, and it's not too much of a stretch to say that the smells can be experienced, too. The magic is also well-handled -- since it is, so far, a power not native to the people who wield it, it makes sense that it should be somewhat jarring to the wielders (see the chapters narrated by the "Crow Witch" for further details). Of course, this is leaving out the characters, who are, as I mentioned, a fascinating bunch, ranging in social status and political affiliation about as broadly as they possibly could. Although the story is just now entering its second round of viewpoints, the characters are already distinct, and the narrative voices are appropriately varied. (Also, we already have an official winner for best non-heterosexual relationship/character in fantasy. Not telling who, though -- read it yourself.) Very well done, Mr. Martin, and I can't wait to see more. Reader, begin here, and know that the every-few-days updating schedule will still seem too infrequent.
Also available for free is an EP by a band called Alpha Stasis called Escape the Machine Planet. Now, I must give a general warning: I'm a big fan of EPs. I love listening to LPs too, don't get me wrong, but there's something very nice about EPs. They're like good short stories or novelli. They can also be a great way to explore a concept without being overwhelming. Well, Escape the Machine Planet is both a masterpiece of brevity -- three tracks, adding up to just a little over fifteen minutes -- and an epic piece of storytelling (the title kind of says it all). From the bright, spacey lead-in of "They Don't Know" to the well-controlled, well-mixed outro of "Most Powerful Android," the coherence of sound preserved by the band is excellent. The guitarwork is strong and simple without ever seeming dumb, and the beat is not lost in the production. The vocals, although they initially seem a little disengaged, end up working well with the musical style and the lyrical substance. (Also, it reminded me of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series, which is a very, very good thing.) In Escape the Machine Planet, Alpha Stasis have found a way to balance the spaciness demanded by the subject matter with songs that are surprisingly tight, given their length. Also, they've giving it away. Why don't you have it yet?
Also, all you Salinger fans should check out Andrew Louth's piece on the Philokalia and The Way of the Pilgrim over at The Fortnightly Review. It's long, and a bit technical in places, but well worth reading if you want to understand just what Franny thinks she's up to in Franny and Zooey, or if you simply want to gain further knowledge of the Philokalia, its compilation and its importance.
Anyway, that's about it for the moment. There are many more awesome things out there, but those are the ones that are sticking in my head for the moment. And remember -- they're all free!