Clockwork Lives Graphic Novel

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Well, in perusing Cygnus X1’s website just now, I found even more information about Rush.  Stuff that had totally eluded me.  Cygnus, what would we do without you???  Thank you!

Kevin J. Anderson has just announced that CLOCKWORK LIVES will be a graphic novel soon.  How very cool.

Here’s the Cygnus X1 link: http://news.cygnus-x1.net/2017/04/clockwork-lives-graphic-novel-coming.html

And, here’s the direct link to KJA’s website: http://kjablog.com/clockwork-lives-graphic-novel/

Rush’s 2112 at 40: The Super Deluxe Edition

Rush, 2112 (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition).  2CDs, 1DVD, 3LPs, 1 vinyl single, starman turntable mat, three collector buttons, June 1976 handbill, June 1976 ticket stuff, starman sticker, LP-sized photos of the three members of Rush, LP-sized liner notes by Rob Bowman, code for digital download, cd-booklet and liner notes, vinyl single adaptor, and starman sketch.  http://www.rush.com/2112-40th/

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So much stuff, I can barely contain my emotions!

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Is there a greater anthem of individualism and anti-conformity in all rock history than Rush’s 2112?  No folk song of the 1950s or protest song of the 1960s comes close to matching Rush’s power of words and music.  Even more than “Bohemian Rhapsody,” 2112 makes us want to bang our heads and raise our fists.  Sorry, Garth.

Continue reading “Rush’s 2112 at 40: The Super Deluxe Edition”

Ending at the Top: RUSH, TIME STAND STILL, Part I

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2016, available now.

A two-part review of Rush, TIME STAND STILL (2016).

Between May and August, 2015, Rush performed to jam-packed audiences in cities across the United States and Canada.  Rush captured this tour with its own 2015 release, R40 LIVE, a three cd/1-bluray set.  This tour attracted an immense and diverse crowd.  Generations of men in the same family (grandfather, father, and sons) sat together, women attended in larger than usual numbers, and my two oldest kids (Nathaniel and Gretchen) drove with me nearly 10 hours to see the band perform R40 in Lincoln.  That magical show will always remain one of the greatest of my life.  Not just because I was seeing Rush for the umpteenth time, but because I got to share the band with my children for the first time.  They’ve grown up with Rush—listening to the music and watching their concerts over and over again; indeed, all six of my kids can readily name the members of the band, the songs, and the albums—but they’d never experienced the joy of an actual concert.  It was, to be sure, a glorious spectacle.

When I looked out the bedroom window the other day to see Nathaniel shoveling snow and head banging, I could tell he was head banging to 2112.  Every few moments the shovel came up and served as an Alex Lifeson air guitar.  Needless to write, it took a bit for him to complete the driveway.  Regardless, I’m deeply proud that my children recognize the greatness of the three Canadian artists, even older than their dad!

Continue reading “Ending at the Top: RUSH, TIME STAND STILL, Part I”

2112: The Uncompromising Integrity of Neil Peart’s Individualism

Happy Fortieth Anniversary, 2112!

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The fourth studio album by Rush, 2112 (1976).

While Caress of Steel ended on an organic, open and free-spirited note, their fourth album, 2112, began with discordant and spacey computer noises and swatches of sound.  The contrast in mood and sound could not have been greater.  2112 even inverted the structure of Caress, placing the epic side-long track on side one of the album, with the shorter songs on side two.

Again, it’s worth remembering that if they were going to end, they were going to do so on their own terms.  If Rush was going “down the tubes,” they were going to go down with a serious statement and a very, very loud thud.  No whimper.  Only a bang.  “We talked about how we would rather go down fighting rather than try to make the kind of record they wanted us to make,” Lee remembers.  “We made 2112 figuring everyone would hate it, but we were going to go out in a blaze of glory.”[i]  Alex feels the same.  “2112 is all about fighting the man,” he states.  “Fortunately for us, that became a marker. That was also the first time that we really started to sound like ourselves.”[ii]  It is hard to judge whether or not this anti-authoritarian streak in Rush came from the group as a whole or from each of the three individuals who made up the band.  Perhaps the distinction is a false or a super-fine one.

Continue reading “2112: The Uncompromising Integrity of Neil Peart’s Individualism”

The Trilogy Complete: Kevin J. Anderson’s ETERNITY’S MIND

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Out today, and available from Amazon.

I wish I had a review ready, but I just received the book today!  So, sadly, no review yet.  Just a notice.  This, however, is the conclusion to Anderson’s brilliant, Saga of Shadows trilogy.

For those of you who don’t know, Anderson is not only one of Neil Peart’s closest friends, but he’s also the co-author of Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives with Peart.  Much to celebrate in the prog world.

What else to write about Kevin?  I mentioned he’s brilliant, but did I mention he also writes lyrics for Roswell Six, is a great guy, has an equally great wife, and has been nominated for the Hugo?

To order Anderson’s’s latest, please go here: https://www.amazon.com/Eternitys-Mind-Kevin-J-Anderson/dp/0765333015/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473789535&sr=8-1&keywords=eternity%27s+mind

It’s a Far Cry: The Genius of Rush, Snakes, and Arrows

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Snakes and Arrows, 2007.

Snakes and Arrows, Rush’s 18th studio album, came out on May 1, 2007.  It was the last Rush album to be distributed by Atlantic, but the first to be produced by Nick Raskulinecz.  Snake and Arrows was profoundly progressive, but it was also one of Rush’s blues-iest album, almost certainly influenced by their EP, Feedback, a 30th anniversary tribute to the bands the three members loved in the 1960s.  And yet, even the blues on the album is mischievous, an inversion or twisting of blues, propelling the flow into more classical progressive directions.

The album also sees the return of Peart, the cultural critic and observer.  The first track, “Far Cry,” begins with the harrowing “Pariah dogs and wandering madmen,” a commentary about the evil in society and those who would sell their own souls and become evil to destroy the other evil.  Each, tellingly, is a fundamentalist, “speaking in tongues.”  The track begins, musically, with a psychedelic blues feel.  This was not the world we thought we would inherit, Peart laments.

It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit

It’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it

You can almost feel the current flowing

You can almost see the circuits blowing

Even when we feel we might actually make something right, the world spins and we find ourselves rolled over.

Continue reading “It’s a Far Cry: The Genius of Rush, Snakes, and Arrows”

2113: Peartian Imaginings

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ECW, 2016.

When it comes to edifying entertainment, three things top my personal list of favorites: listening to Rush and other progressive rock; reading the works of Kevin J. Anderson; and delving deeply into the nuances and permutations of various science-fiction mythologies.

But, greedily, I must ask: what if I can have all three at once?

What if science-fiction mastermind Kevin J. Anderson created massive worlds—exploring every great idea and every nook and cranny of an imagined universe—set to the vast sound and lyricscapes of Rush and Neil Peart?

clockwork livesGloriously, Anderson has done just this, authoring and co-authoring a number of short stories, novels, and graphic novels set in the Rush universe.  There’s nothing Anderson has written that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend with great enthusiasm, but he is at his absolute best when working with Neil Peart and with the worlds imagined by Rush as a band.  His Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives certainly represent some of the very best fantasies I have ever read, and I have read quite a few!  As I’ve noted in other reviews, Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives are each complex and compelling Chestertonian and Tolkienian faery tales.

Now, through the excellent and rather perfectionist Canadian press, ECW, Anderson and John McFetridge have edited a wide-ranging collection of stories, 2113, each tale inspired by a various Rush song.  Sometimes the influence is direct and obvious, but, just as often, the influence is indirect and sideways.  Anderson and McFetridge have clearly encouraged a range of expression.  If a theme emerges, it is, naturally, the story of the individual human person, endowed with integrity and will, fighting against the conformism of governments, societies, and corporations.

[Without giving too much away, let me note that Anderson brilliantly connects the world of 2112 to the world of Clockwork Angels in the final paragraph of his own rather Walter-Miller-esque short story, “2113.”]

While most of the tales are new, two come from that time before time, before Peart had joined Rush: Fritz Leiber’s 1967 “Gonna Roll the Bones,” and Richard Foster’s 1973 “A Nice Morning Drive.”  It is not only wise, but handy to have these tales included in this collection.

An “advanced reading copy” arrived at Progarchy HQ yesterday afternoon, and yours truly has been gloriously devouring it.  It is a satisfying, humbling, and inspiring book.

But, then. . . what else would I expect.  Rush?  Science fiction?  Short stories?  Alternate universes?  Neil Peart?  ECW?  Kevin J. Anderson?  Well, of course, it’s perfect.  You definitely need to add this thing of perfection to your own collection.

2113 comes out officially on April 12, 2016, and can be ordered from ECW and from Amazon.

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Bradley J. Birzer is editor of progarchy.com and author of Neil Peart: Cultural (RE)Percussions (2015).