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The Gist Hunter and Other Stories Hardcover – August 5, 2014
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
With three critically acclaimed novels, Hughes has made a name for himself as heir apparent to Jack Vance, for he exhibits a similar predilection for merging sly wit and sharply drawn characters in visions of a dying, far-future Earth. His stories often take place in a human-populated, interstellar dominion known as the Archonate, and all but four of the tales in his first collection of short stories are set in this politically charged realm. Six stories follow the adventures of Henghis Hapthorn, a brilliant "discriminator" for the Archonate Bureau of Security who in one outing investigates a sudden blight of ugliness that afflicts all adult males, including himself; another inquiry has him sorting through a long list of candidates for the murderer of a ruthless Old Earth magnate. Other stories feature Guth Bandar, the scholarly Jungian psychologist of Hughes' recent novel, Black Brillion (2004). Rounding out the book are four impressive non--Archonate tales that demonstrate Hughes' creative versatility. An engaging introduction to one of sf's most gifted rising stars. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Matthew Hugheshas lead a successful writing career first as a journalist, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian ministers of justice and environment, and as a freelance corporate andpolitical speechwriter in British Columbia. He resides in a small town on Vancouver Island, off Canada&s west coast.
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Though much is made of the appeal this will have to fans of Jack Vance's Dying Earth I will be honest. I did not like the Dying Earth stories. The only comparison I can see is that Hughes is writing in a time period immediately before Vance's end of the earth time period. Despite my dislike of the Dying Earth, I found these stories to be very good.
There are three different types of stories in the book, the stories about Hengis Hapthorn, the stories about Guth Bandar, and some miscellaneous stories.
The stories of Hengis Hapthorn, the self-professed foremost freelance discriminator of Earth show us the society of the world through the eyes of essentially a private investigator. Through these stories we see the world change from being ruled from science and logic to the rule of magic and sympathy which would usher in the age of the Dying Earth. These are all shorter works and of a more whimsical bent.
The stories of Guth Bandar show the "collective unconcious" of the universe. A realm where the archetypes of our dreams and history play in situations over and over. Base characters such as Hero, Fool, Helper, Wise Man, Evil Tyrant etc. and the tasks they perform. This is where we would go when we dream. Guth, a noonaut, can access it at will. These are longer tales of a more serious bent and I think better than the Hapthorn works.
Finally there are the stories with no connection to the era in which the previous stories took place. Here we have two very similar disturbing time travel stories, a Retief like story of interstellar diplomacy/trade which was quite good, and a more atmospheric/emotional piece about a boy and dreams of a bear during a tumultous adolescent move.
Highly recommended for those looking for something different.