Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (10)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful space opera with Matthew Hughes's unique imprint
Matthew Hughes has been called the best kept secret in science fiction, but I say, why keep him secret? His novels of the "Archonate" in the "penultimate age of Old Earth" are riproaring fun, and, to the extent they are Jack Vance homage, they are absolutely the best of their kind.

Template, here published by PS Books, was actually written in 2003 but was not...
Published on April 9, 2009 by David Studhalter

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This is Hughes most disappointing publication to date. As with most of his work this gives the impression of being a pastiche of various themes from the work of Jack Vance. This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, there are no new Vance works so lovers of his output must take what they can get. Hughes generally does a respectable job of imitating Vance while never...
Published on July 6, 2011 by G. Skeggs


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful space opera with Matthew Hughes's unique imprint, April 9, 2009
By 
David Studhalter "Ionus" (North Hollywood, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Template (Hardcover)
Matthew Hughes has been called the best kept secret in science fiction, but I say, why keep him secret? His novels of the "Archonate" in the "penultimate age of Old Earth" are riproaring fun, and, to the extent they are Jack Vance homage, they are absolutely the best of their kind.

Template, here published by PS Books, was actually written in 2003 but was not published. Stupid publishers, because it's a great read.

It has some of the elements of Jack Vance's Star King and other space novels. A young man of exceptional ability and a dark, secret past, with mysterious and implacable enemies, in a galaxy of adventure. Also, Hughes has a somewhat similar sardonic wit and gift for atmospherics, esoterica, bits of philosophy, and a lovely way with unusual characterization and mordant dialog. This is entertainment, not Deep Thought, but it's very well crafted and holds interest throughout.

There's a game in the story called birl, which reminds a Vance fan of hussade (also mentioned in passing), and there are many other nods of homage to Vance (Amboy, the planet of Emphyrio, is briefly mentioned, and there are others for the fan to pull out). The romance element is not really surprising, but it's believable, and the resolution of the mysteries, and of the plot itself, are Vancian and satisfying.

Highly recommended, especially to those who love a good old fashioned space opera, or, even more, to those who cut their teeth on Jack Vance. As I said, it is especially reminiscent of the "Demon Princes" novels of Vance (The Star King, The Palace of Love, The Killing Machine, The Face, and The Book of Dreams, all featuring the character Kirth Gersen).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hughes's Best "Archonate" Tale Yet!, May 9, 2010
By 
Daddy Todd (Salt Lake City, UT, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Template (Hardcover)
I've been aware of Matthew Hughes for several years, and had picked up several of his books over the years, but didn't read any until a couple months back when I decided to try his short story collection "The Gist Hunter and Others".

Wow! I was completely blown away by how good it was. I quickly set about reading as many of Hughes's books as I could lay my hands on, and was uniformly impressed by each one.

But I have to say, the best of the bunch is "Template." It's simply stunning, one of the best science fantasies I've ever read.

I was originally planning on waiting until the paperback edition came out, but broke down and bought the limited hardcover and, unlike other limited hardcovers in my collection, I couldn't keep myself from actually READING this one. I'm glad I did, because it's brilliant. The hardcover came out a couple years ago, so it's not eligible, but if I was choosing the World Fantasy Award this year, "Template" would get it.

Other reviewers have compared Hughes to Jack Vance, and it's a fair comparison. If you like Vance, you'll like Hughes. If you've never read any Vance, don't let that stop you from giving Hughes a try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More work in a Vancean vein from Hughes brings us a new protagonist, October 30, 2010
By 
Jvstin "Paul Weimer" (Twin Cities, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Template - A Novel of the Archonate (Planet Stories) (Paperback)
Matthew Hughes is an under-appreciated writer. For years he has been toiling in a mainly Jack Vancean sort of vein, turning out stories and novels set in a world where science is just about to turn over to magic, but not quite yet. Old Earth, with a baroque and dizzying array of ancient cultures, is a rich field for Hughes to explore. On an even larger scale, Old Earth is itself but one planet in "The Spray", Hughes's answer to Jack Vance's Oikumene. A dizzying array of planets of even more diversity than Earth itself, Hughes' fiction allows the reader to experience a full and inexhaustible range of cultures, environments and characters. His prose brings these environments and characters to life, transporting the reader to areas both familiar and absolutely alien for all of their humanity.

In Template, Matthew Hughes starts us far away from Old Earth, on a backward part of the Spray. Conn Labro has been raised from an orphaned birth to be a gaming duelist. Indentured to a Gaming House, his life is mostly duels and fighting for his employer. When his one link to a life outside Horder's Gaming Emporium, a mysterious old man who is his only friend, is murdered, events sweep up Labro into an intrigue of double-dealing and an even more unusual inheritance that Labro never expected to be heir to. Along with a showgirl tied to his murdered friend, Labro makes a journey toward Old Earth, and beyond, to uncover the mystery of something even greater than a inheritance or his old friend's death.

His own origin.

Unlike many of the other stories Hughes has written in the Archonate, Template starts us far away from Old Earth, and Old Earth is only a waypoint (albeit a major one) in the rambling journey of the protagonist. Template appears to be Hughes' interpretation and riff on the themes and ideas of Jack Vance's Demon King novels. Labro is a lens that allows us to see a wide variety of worlds and characters. Labro's own provincial attitudes are the barometer by which other (and there are many in this book!) cultures are judged.

Admittedly, Jenore, the aforementioned showgirl, is more of a plot device than a completely fully formed character, and I didn't quite buy the romance between the characters.This is perhaps the weakest part of the book for me. Perhaps had the book been longer, this weakness might have been addressed.

Still, even given these weaknesses, the writing is strong and bright, and dense. It might be among the strongest writing that I have read from Matthew Hughes, perhaps because we get to see corners of the Spray from the eyes of characters who are new to Hughes, and thus have the contrast of being something different for him. Labro and Mordene are not his usual type of characters to explore and use as focal points. The structure of the plot almost follows Van Vogt's maxim that plot twists and plot advancement should occur at a breakneck pace. Combine that with a dizzying array A slim and slight volume, I devoured Template rapidly. Fans of Jack Vance, or Matthew Hughes' prior work, will appreciate Template.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish sci-fi, August 1, 2010
By 
John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Template (Hardcover)
Matthew Hughes gets a lot of praise as "Vancian" and that is probably not too far off the mark. Extravagant dialogue and detailed description, with plot bringing up the rear.

Template is a fun read, about a professional duelist from a mercantile society having to solve the riddle of himself and learn about human nature as he goes along. It is set in Hughes "Archonate", a future of thousands of worlds settled by human and alien alike.

The story is largely a study of human nature and human society - it asks the essential question, what does it mean to be human?

The story was well told and interesting, but there are holes in the plot and a deus ex machina at the end that made me wince a little. Its not difficult to forgive that, given what has come before.

The Paizo edition comes with a nice introduction, and is the first paperback release of Template (or Hughes at all, I think). If you like sci-fi, its a nice little read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Equals Jack Vance in 10 categories.. Exceeds Vance in 5., September 12, 2014
By 
Patrick Moore (Tucson, Arizona) - See all my reviews
Template, an "early" novel by Matthew Hughes, is obviously written to impress readers of Jack Vance. Around 2007 Vance had declared he was finished writing novels. No! Many of us feared we would be deprived of a certain quality, eff, that only Vance could supply. And suddenly Matthew Hughes...

Where Hughes' Fools Errant and Fool Me Twice squarely conquer Vance's Old Earth setting, characters, magic, arts, food, self-importance, irony, unexpected, unknown and surprising plot twists, Template mathces and exceeds Vance's twenty-ish novels set in our spiral arm of the milky way galaxy. The hero and his gal remind of Glawen Clattuck and Wayness Tamm, or the hero from the Demon Princes series and that girlfriend. Dozens of plot points, setting details, humorous subtleties, inventions, pastimes, villians, fighting arts, twisted religions, justified abhorrent behaviors, denials and the honing of the hero's philosophy or spirituality of life, remind us that the essence of Vance Novels, lives on.

With improvements!

Hughes does many things even better.. his relationships and dialogues with women are more realistic. His hand-to-hand combat has the feel of a slow-motion camera, we are super-present in every nuance. Hughes has a deep understanding of human philosophy and spirituality including Taoism (in this we should say he exceeds even Ursula K. LeGuin).

Not that Vance ever wrote a flawed novel. All were compelling with heroic noble and philosophically consistent heroes. Bt now that dear Vance has passed, that inexpressable quality continues.

I will go back and read all of Vance's novels a third time. I will also come back and read all of Hughes's again and again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a retro-clone of vance, August 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I love Vance's work and I admit that was the reason I first found my way to Hughes, but this book is actually a modern action/spy thriller disguised as science fiction. I've always loved that genre, but generally stay away because the politics espoused tend toward the... hmm, yeah. Anyway, this book lacks the political baggage that generally seems to come with the territory.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Far Future Sci-Fi Adventure, June 24, 2013
By 
Greg F (Newark, DE USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've read most of Matthew Hughes's novels and this is my favorite of all of those that I have read. Matthew Hughes writes in a style in homage to Jack Vance, so if you are a fan of Jack Vance, particularly his Demon Princes novels, you'll love this book. Though, this story does have Hughes' own unique style and ideas, which make it different from Mr. Vance's work but still enjoyable and fresh in its own right. Template has an engaging hero, fun story, and a plot twist at the end that you won't see coming. I definitely recommend this novel, and at $2.99, I'll probably buy this story for my iPad and read it again this summer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, June 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Matthew Hughes is a fantastic author on a par with Jack Vance! He's one of the most literate authors I've ever read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars I quite enjoyed this novel., May 12, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Matt has a way with words that sometimes gets in the way - I have to reference the dictionary - only to find that on occasion he has fooled me by making up words that seem real. That can hardly be a complaint in SF and may be an art. The various cultures built with the deadly sins at their core give pause for thought of a complex sort. And then there is enough character, action, and plot to cause sufficient engagement for a damned fine read. Give it a go, I say.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Space Opera Lives!, December 23, 2011
This review is from: Template - A Novel of the Archonate (Planet Stories) (Paperback)
Hughes has mastered the Space Opera genre pretty thoroughly. If you like stories with rocket ships and ray guns, sneering villains and flawed heroes, you'll probably like this novel. And if you're a fan of Jack Vance's trademark space opera such as the Tschai or Demon Princes novels, The Template is pretty much mandatory reading.

I have mixed feelings about Hughes's blatant imitation of Vance's unusual writing style. It's not a bad thing, as such, and he actually writes with more restraint than Vance (thank God!). On the other hand, Hughes's attempts to recreate Vance's ornate language sometimes misses the mark. Thus the weapon Our Hero wields is called an "epiniard", which is supposed to be a kind of sword, but its closest relative in real-world language is the French word for "spinach"! (I'm pretty sure Vance never invents words that way, though his sources are often extremely obscure.) And at one point a bad guy wields a "ferrous rod"; I think even Vance would hesitate to search for a fancy alternative to "metal".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Template - A Novel of the Archonate (Planet Stories)
Template - A Novel of the Archonate (Planet Stories) by Matt Hughes (Paperback - August 17, 2010)
$14.99 $13.03
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.