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The Sorcerer

20 Jul

There are few figures in history that are at once as mysterious, nefarious and intriguing as Dr John Dee, mathematician and astrologer to two Tudor Queens of England. Educated at the University of Cambridge, Dee travelled the continent before becoming astrologer to the queen, ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor. Shortly thereafter, however, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for being a sorcerer. This lifelong reputation as a magician was procured partly by the stage effects that he introduced into a performance of the Peace of Aristophanes while he was at Cambridge and partly by his erudition and practice of both crystallomancy and astrology. Although he was a profoundly learned scholar and hermeticist, as a sorcerer he is mainly today thought to have been a sham. In his time, however, among the many who consulted him on matters metaphysical included Sir Philip Sidney and various princes of Poland and Bohemia. He enjoyed the favour of Elizabeth I, gave instructions and advice to pilots and navigators who were exploring the New World and gave lessons to the Virgin Queen in the mystical interpretation of his writings. Most interestingly, he devoted much time and effort in the last thirty years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind. About ten years after his death, several manuscripts, mainly records of Dee’s angelic communications, were discovered in the house and gardens where he had lived. Could it be that Dr Dee was no mere sham after all?

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Kristine Kathryn Rusch

2 Dec

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning author who has written fiction in many genres – including science fiction, horror, romance and mystery as well as what she is best known for, fantasy. As if that weren’t enough, she has also found time to edit a number of genre magazines. With all of this on her plate, it constantly surprises me to see that she is able to produce original, inventive and thought-provoking short stories and novels. Take one of her most famous efforts, Hitler’s Angel, which tells the story of Annie, a young American student in the 1970s investigating the death of Hitler’s niece Geli Raubal, who was famously found dead of a gunshot wound in 1931. Although at the time Geli’s death was ruled suicide, the suspicion of murder has always remained and Annie finds and interviews the retired detective in Munich who led the original investigation in the 1930s. Slowly but surely, in a tale often told in flashback by the detective, layer upon layer of mystery surrounding Geli’s death is lifted and the horrifying truth is revealed. I’ve often thought that Hitler’s Angel might make a terrific film, not least because of Rusch’s startling ability to create pictures with her prose and this is a common feature of much of her writing. Continue reading

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