Giant, beetle-like Aliens dubbed “Scarabs” destroy earth’s twelve most populous Cities in the autumn of 1951, fortifying the impact of their Invasion by use of superior Weapons and Technology to bring much of humanity into conditions of Slavery. As with the invaders from Mars in H G Wells‘s War of the Worlds (April-December 1897 Pearson’s; 1898), the Scarabs have been observing the planet for some time, and have scheduled their arrival to occur at precisely the point between planetary depletion from War and developments in Nuclear Energy. Nigel Kneale-scripted dramas such as TheQuatermass Experiment (18 July-22 August 1953 6 episodes) and Quatermass and the Pit (1968; vt Five Million Years to Earth) direct Starfall‘s comprehension of the thematic link between humanity’s predisposition to fascistic behaviour [see “Nigel Kneale and Fascism” under links below] and the suitability of planet earth as a target for the Colonization of Other Worlds:-
Concrete Cow 18 is this coming Saturday 17th March in Wolverton, near Milton Keynes. You should go if you’re at all interested in roleplaying games. I’m offering the following game in the morning session:-
The Bees of the Invisible
“We are the bees of the invisible. We madly gather the honey of the visible to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Five bookhounds and a dreamhound convene for an auction of unusual items at a Welsh country house.
It’s all been a bit of whirl since you did the scenery and the costumes for Ninette and Gavin, no time for anything; this job is immense. You know His Lordship is vexed at the overrun but you have to get every bit of it just right, for Caroline.
Nothing’s been right since the shell-shock. The sleepwalking is a bit of a worry, to be honest.
The sea is churning right there on the wall but they don’t see it: a Claudean sunset with pink clouds, fluted and pointed like the prow of boats. We live our real lives in the dream light, far from men – that’s what she says. People misunderstand you and the Lady Caroline. When she’s with you there is not one fragment of your true being, of your real personality, that does not participate unreservedly in the eternal celebration of sovereign night.
Investigator Name: Rex Whistler Drive: Muse of Fire Occupation: Artist Occupational benefits: Anagnorisis – you may spend your point of Mythos to trigger the denouement of the game; you have Medium as an Investigative Ability. Pillars of Sanity: Drive fast, die young; huntin’ and shootin’. Build Points: 2
Art: Engraving 1
Art History 4
Cthulhu Mythos 1
Dream Lore 1
Credit Rating 2
First Aid 5
You’re in contact with a number of spirits – gypsy-girl Bathsheba, mad centurion Quintus Flavius and the shieldmaiden Brünhilda. They’re terrible people but great fun at parties.
They’re all just overgrown boys with mummy-issues, really. They collect and collect and fetishize what they’ve got because mummy was romancing the accountant or whatever.
You might not be so attached to Quintus Flavius if he were flesh and blood. He’s a bit of a brute.
Investigator Name: The Divine Angela Drive: To the Magic Occupation: Occultist Occupational benefits: You know every occult collector at the auction; you may purchase Magic as an Investigative Ability from tomes. Pillars of Sanity: Theosophy; the imagined life. Build Points: 2
The authenticity is in the act, not the provenance. Every time you knock someone off, it’s a courtship – a long, drawn-out process of getting to know someone better than they know themselves. Mind you, the money doesn’t hurt.
Art historians are free-loading pissants.
A little side-bet on which book fetches the most wouldn’t go amiss – all the better if it involves your own work.
Investigator Name: Rick the Red Drive: Artistic Sensitivity Occupation: Forger Occupational benefits: You are “the last word” in four types of forged document. Pillars of Sanity: Art is immortality; a little flutter never hurt anyone; other people’s money. Build Points: 2
You’re going to take it all back – mostly via translation into Arabic, Xhosa and Igbo. Nothing illegal or clandestine. Unless it’s really necessary.
Investment is transitory. Schools, universities and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina project are what will make Africa great again.
They soon back off when you show them the blade.
Investigator Name: Tuesday Naledi Adisa Drive: Thirst for Knowledge Occupation: Catalogue Agent Occupational benefits: You may interact with bibliophiles at their Credit Rating. Pillars of Sanity: Bibliotheca Alexandrina; self-sufficiency. Build Points: 2
Your elder brother is the Bishop of Bangor and you’ve heard people in the village refer to you laughingly as “The Second Cumming”.
You have a personal relationship with God; you don’t hold with all that skirt-swishing and high-and-mighty stuff.
You’ve a lot of good stock you can’t shift and all this hullabaloo about “The Lost Library of Ynys Môn” is a great opportunity to unload some of it onto another bookseller.
Investigator Name: Alun Cumming Drive: Duty Occupation: Bookseller Occupational benefits: You operate with dual Credit Ratings, one for your shop and one for you; you may discover a “squiz” at the auction. Pillars of Sanity: All of human knowledge; kindness is a cure; God moves in mysterious ways. Build Points: 2
Library Use 6
Textual Analysis 4
Credit rating 3/4
Document Analysis 2
Electrical Repair 3
First Aid 5
Mechanical Repair 3
Sense Trouble 5
I’m fairly confident of being able to offer a game for Bookhounds of London at Concrete Cow on March 17th called The Bees of the Invisible.
Five bookhounds and a dreamhound will convene for an auction of unusual items at a Welsh country house.
Here is the catalogue of works for sale:
The Lost Library of Ynys Môn
Catalogue for the private auction of works from the Collection of Henry Cyril Paget,
5th Marquess of Anglesey.
2. The Parable of the Strange Fruit by the Reverend C A Johns.
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1887. 4to. Leather half-cloth, rubbed to extremities. Condition: Fair. Five of six hand-drawn plates remain, two of which have been re-glued; front hinge also re-glued. Closed slit to front external hinge. Fraying top and bottom of spine. Some underlining, particularly to rear parts of text.
Believed to be the only remaining copy in circulation of the Rev. C A Johns’ first-person account of rhubarb grown by the light of the full moon: he believed these to have been harvested by faeries. Johns later recanted and ordered all copies of his work destroyed.
3. The Bees of the Invisible by Mrs Eileen Donaghy.
Women’s Institute of Pembroke, Bangor, 1902. 8vo. Green cloth with gilt. Eight black and white engravings by the author. Condition: Very Good.
Each of Angelsey’s 28 cromlechs is adumbrated by Mrs Donaghy’s coruscating commentary concerning their use for “base and licentious acts” in pre-Christian times; pp56-84 concern the perils of drink.
4. Brytanici Imperii Limites by Dr John Dee.
Elias Ashmole, Oxford, 1677. 8vo. Black leather with decorative silver gilt, split at the spine and with singing patterns to the bottom right of the text block; front bottom right corner frayed. Condition: Good.
“The Limits of the British Empire”. The voyages of King Arthur and other legendary mariners, including Welsh prince Madoc, who crossed the Atlantic in in 1170 and met the winged fae-folk of Saguenay. Map missing from rear board.
5. The Secret Commonwealth; or an Essay on the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and for the most part) Invisible People heretofore going under the names of Fauns and Fairies, or the like, among the Low Country Scots as described by those who have second sight, 1691 by Robert Kirk.
Archibald, Constable and Co for Sir Walter Scott, Edinburgh, 1815. 8vo. Half-calf with marbled boards and gilt lettering to the spine; slightly rubbed. Condition: Very Good.
Folklore from traditional accounts in the Scottish Highlands; reports that the author was carried away to fairyland for revealing the secrets of the Good People remain unconfirmed.
6. The Last Testament of King Maeglwyn Gwynedd.
Palimpsest of paper and vellum materials, c.1188; rebound in calfskin, Bangor, 1837. 8vo. Condition: Fair.
Handwritten text in dark blue ink includes many crossings- and workings-out: appears to sign over the Isle of Ynys Môn and much of North Wales to the “King of the Birds”.
7. The Horoscope of Benvenuto Cellini by Consuela du Pre.
Theosophical Society, London, 1901. 8vo. Decorative blue leather boards bearing the embossed coat of arms of the famous goldsmith and sculptor. Condition: Very Good.
Mrs Du Pre follows the Roman astrologer Manilius in insisting that a child born while the Sun is in Scorpio has “a spirit which rejoices in plenteous bloodshed and in carnage more than in plunder”; pp101-110 detail a cure for gonorrhoea derived from Pliny the Elder.
8. Mona and the Moon by “Sister Dierdre”.
Women’s Institute of Pembroke, Bangor, 1907. 4to. Blue cloth with decorative gilt. Centrepiece intact. Condition: Good.
Tidal patterns and lunar cycles on “Hook’s Island” (an older name for the Isle of Angelsey); intended as a treatise for children, it includes seventeen hand-drawn illustrations by local artist Cerys Llewellyn and a full-colour frontispiece by the (as yet unidentified) “Monk of Ynys Môn”.
9. New Hyperborean Grammar (4vols).
Skara Brae Press, Kirkwall, 1877. Blue half-cloth with light blue decorative trim and decorative silver gilt. Large item(s).
Claims to be a partially-revised edition of a work first produced at Gardar monastery in Greenland at the end of the fourteenth century. Volumes 2-4 comprise indices and commentary.
10. Codex Hibernica by Alejandro Cacamatzin.
Date unknown, Skellig, rebound circa 1560. Folio. Text in Latin and Nahuatl with Aztec pictograms. Whale-skin with decorative insignia, bumped at the bottom right corner of front and back boards and turned at the bottom right outer edge of the text block.
How to perform the intricately-costumed butterfly-dance of Itzpapalotl, the “Obsidian Butterfly”, by an exiled Mexican priest. 64 full-colour illustrations by an unknown hand. Six black and white illustrations of clochán-type beehive cells with an appendix of twenty-one hand-drawn stone crosses and slabs. The favourite item of the 5th Marquess.
11. Knowledge of Angels by Katherine Dee.
Reginald Newbury, Shrewsbury, 1608. 8vo. Leather boards with unstitched signatures. Five colour plates, two pull-out diagrams and 14 black and white illustrations. Text in English, Hebrew and Adamic script.
Includes a phonetic incantation to call forth Uriel from ancient stone and a pull-out design for a “Table of Practice” based on her father’s tradition. A unique item.
12. Liber Experimentorum by Ramon Llull.
Bartholomäus Leonhard Schwendendörffer, Antwerp, 1664. 8vo. Calf with decorative gilt. Pagination awry. Condition: Very Good. Catalan, Arabic and Latin text with pictograms of unknown provenance.
Llull’s “Book of Experiments” combines logic and natural philosophy to record the spiritual effects of Majorcan flora on imprisoned infidels.