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Galveston: The Eternal Carnival

18 Sep

It feels odd to be saying that a book which, not so long ago, won the World Fantasy Award is little known, but unfortunately that seems to be the case with Sean Stewart’s Galveston (I was amazed to see that Amazon does not even have a review of this book on its UK website!).

Galveston is a real town in Texas, described in the book as a ‘thin ribbon of sand’ not far from the Gulf of Mexico. Due to its position it has always been vulnerable to the elements and in 1900 it was hit by a Katrina-sized hurricane which basically obliterated everything in its path, leaving no structures standing and one-sixth of the population dead. Galveston the book imagines a time in the near future when the town is drowned not by water but by magic, when reason and rationality are washed away to be replaced by gods, ghosts and monsters in a bizarre and deadly Mardi Gras. This cataclysm, called the Flood, basically splits Galveston in two, with one half of the town trying to carry on their lives as normal while the other half is trapped in an endless carnival ruled by the malevolent entity known as Momus, who is part clown and part devil – a sort of psychotic version of the Greek god of mockery from whom he takes his name. Life away from Momus is not much better since the ‘free’ half of Galveston is overrun by dangerous and unpredictable ‘Krewes’ (basically gangs, but run by criminals who love dressing up in carnival gear). Eventually someone decides to take on both Momus and the Krewes and that’s when the fun really begins! Continue reading

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A Walk in the Woods

15 Sep

This is a strange one.

There aren’t many works of fiction like Mythago Wood, and that’s a shame because there have been very few times that I’ve been so utterly immersed in a book that I’ve read it in virtually one sitting, which is what happened to me the first time I picked up this novel by Robert Holdstock. Mythago Wood is set in and around a primeval tract of woodland known as Ryhope Wood, which to outward appearances is simply a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in rural Hertfordshire. Needless to say, however, there is much more to Ryhope Wood than this, and in the course of the novel the impossible secret that it is hiding is slowly revealed – it is a place lost to time where familiar mythic archetypes such as  King Arthur, Robin Hood and Herne the Hunter come alive in twisted and terrifying ways. The story involves the estranged members of the Huxley family and their experiences with the forest and its enigmatic inhabitants, the ‘myth imagos’ (images of myth) or mythagos for short. Continue reading

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