R

Following on from both my mate Padraig (who covered the letter ‘S’) and author Hal Duncan (who covered the letter ‘V’) I’m going to do ten words beginning with the letter ‘R’ – mostly because that’s what Hal bestowed upon me. I suggested ‘Z’ myself and got as far as Zany Zulu Zebras Zig-Zag before running out of steam, but Hal says I have to R, so here we go:

Rock: For my interest in geology and also in screaming guitars and my headbanging in a previous life at Madison’s Rock Club in Edinburgh. Party on.

Roll: the foodstuff but mostly the Roll more commonly associated with the above rock. “God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you, put it in the hearts of everyone…” So I’m told anyway

Requiem: For A Dream (Pi‘s Aranofsky directs the luscious Jennifer Connelly in a fascinating and disturbing film); also Requiem Mass, most especiall as in Mozart’s great work (even if it is likely he only fully wrote the opening pieces himself before dying, still one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever).

Roger: the homunculus, made by a medieval alchemist and discovered in Mike Mignola’s superb Hellboy series in a ruined Eastern European castle. Now a major member of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence) and starring in the BPRD spin-off series from Hellboy, good mate of Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien. Likes statues.

Robin: Batman’s sidekick who has moved from being a mere boy wonder and bit of light relief to a much more heavy duty young hero over the years (especially during the Batman War Games series which if you haven’t read Bats books for a while are well worth checking out). Also a cute little bird, a representative of which landed right on my window sill the other day (luckily the cats weren’t in the room or they have startled the poor thing by leaping at the (closed) window) and sat there looking gorgeous but alas flew off before I could get my camera out.

Rymer: as in James Malcolm Rymer, generally thought to be the author of one of the early popular vampire tales told via the ‘penny dreadfuls’, Varney the Vampyre or The Feast of Blood which ran in 109 installments from 1845 to 1847, causing many a young maiden to swoon (or that may have been the tight corsets).

Rhyme: poetry. Epic poetry from the Classical period to modern poetry from the incomparable Edwin Morgan. Prose tells us wonderful stories and describes all sorts of scenarios and characters to us; poetry can do this but mostly it plugs directly into our emotions, articulating something we can’t quite find the words for but understand on a deep level. At its best poetry is an alchemy of words. A world without rhyme and poetry would be a soulless world.

Ruthven: the main character of Dr John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). Polidori was the personal physician to my fellow Clan Gordon member Lord Byron and is thought to be based on the fragment of a vampiric poem Byron began on that stormy storytelling night at the Villa Diodati which also gave birth to Frankenstein. After falling out with Byron, Polidori created one of the first major vampire novels in English and set the model for the aristocratic vampire which would culminate in Dracula decades later and is thought to be based on Byron’s persona as a public revenge. When first published many assumed it had actually been written by Byron, which didn’t improve Polidori’s view of him. Tom Holland worked both Byron and Polidori into a quite excellent Gothic horror novel, The Vampyre back in the 90s.

Rice: a staple foodstuff of a large portion of the world population. Also Anne Rice; now before you all start laughing, yes, I don’t read her anymore (certainly won’t be reading the books she is writing for the Lord now) because her novels became increasingly repetitive and dreadfully overblown and in need of one of those editors she so famously attacked recently. But the original Interview With the Vampire, way back in the mid 70s, is still a superbly lush, erotic novel of vampirism and the cost of immortality. It may seem ordinary or even cliched today, but that is because it inspired and influenced so many later vampire works in much the way Stoker’s Dracula did back in 1897. And the tragic character of Claudia the child vampire is one that haunts readers long afterwards.

Revelation Space: Alastair Reynolds’ first big space opera published in the UK which introduced a major new SF writer who has gone on to be nominated repeatedly for awards such as the BSFA and Arthur C Clarke. Latest book is Pushing Ice.

Anyone else want a go? Who wants the letter ‘P’ then? Or if anyone wants to take up the ‘Z’ gauntlet go ahead.