The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gloomy Seahorse

Many years ago I told myself that if I ever started my own publishing company it would be called Gloomy Seahorse Press. Not for any particular reason, you understand, but simply because I liked the name. However, I never had enough capital to fund the business... But with the growing popularity of ebooks it now seems to me there's an opportunity to realise my ambition in a slightly different manner. And so I have launched Gloomy Seahorse Press as a whimsical and imaginary imprint. How many books it will ever produce is open to question: I have absolutely no idea.

All I can say at this stage is that the first title is ready to be downloaded and read by anyone who owns a Kindle or one of those other newfangled digital book reading devices... And that first title is The Tellmenow Isitsöornot, a collection of exactly 100 of my stories, most of them from the early days of my writing career and many of them unpublished before now. Think of this book as a minor Decameron... And at the low price of $4.99, it works out as less than 5 cents per story (that's 3 pence in British money).

If you wish to buy it, simply click on this link... You'll be helping me out a lot if you do (but if you don't buy one, that's fine too, of course!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seaberry, Eat Berry!

A fortnight ago, Adele and I were sitting in The Dolphin in the village of Llanrhidian after one of our monumental bicycle rides; there was a pile of books on the windowsill and I browsed through them; one of them turned out to be a superb hardback volume called Wild Food by one of my gurus, Ray Mears. In these harsh economic times, with the price of shop food soaring to ludicrous levels, the art of foraging for one's meals is once again becoming an essential skill.

I am a fruit lover and I particularly love berries, but I'd known nothing at all about the 'seaberry' before leafing through Mears' book. A few days ago we chanced upon some bushes laden with fruit. They aren't easy to pick: the sea-buckthorn shrubs on which they grow are armed with vicious thorns. Supposedly the flavour is too bitter to be deemed enjoyable unless the raw berries are treated, but this turned out not to be the case. I found them delicious! Like an incredibly intense blast of orange, passion fruit and lemon: sweet on the tip of the tongue, sour at the back. There is bitterness too, but nothing unpalatable.

It turns out that seaberries are packed with vitamins, including levels of Vitamin C fifteen times higher than that of oranges! Indeed, they are considered among the most nutritious fruits on the planet. I became an instant convert. However, I would ask potential harvesters among you to remember that they are a vital winter food source for several species of bird and to take only sparingly.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Reviews That Come Back to Haunt

Once upon a time I did a lot of reviewing. I reviewed books and magazines for various publications. I always guessed that at least one review I wrote would come back as a ghost and haunt me. And it has finally happened. Fortunately it's a good ghost and a fairly nice haunting...

This is a picture of Quantum, an excellent example of popular science writing by Manjit Kumar. I picked it off the library shelves recently and found it informative, clear and engaging. In other words, I recommend it! Kumar's bio at the beginning of the book explains that he was the founding editor of Prometheus, a journal that covered both the arts and sciences; and he goes on to remark that this publication was once praised by a reviewer as "perhaps the finest magazine I've ever read." My first thought was: high praise indeed! But can the opinion of that anonymous reviewer be trusted?

Then a corner at the back of my mind began to itch. The quote seemed vaguely familiar. I wondered if I had read that review somewhere. Then in a flash it occurred to me that I was the reviewer in question! I even recalled where I had reviewed Prometheus: in an issue of a 90s magazine called The Zene. I went through boxes of old stuff without much hope; but to my surprise I found the relevant issue and review. Yes, I did say that about Kumar's journal. And yes, I did mean it.