Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fools Errant

posted by Todd T @ 7:26 PM

Right now I'm reading LADY INTO FOX by David Garnett - despite its being only 80 pages long, I keep going to bed at midnight and falling asleep within seconds, so I am not done reading it after three nights, through no fault of the book. It is very slow to develop incident for a novella. That can be good or not so good; I'll report back.

The book I finished most recently is Matt Hughes's Vance pastiche FOOLS ERRANT, the first of a trilogy or maybe more. Here are my notes for it:

An on-target Vance pastiche. Filidor is an aimless hedonist but also nephew to the Archon, and thus in line to become leader of all. His uncle’s agent takes him on a series of adventures all about the land, through which he learns much, including
...SPOILER snipped here - the text is down below...
(I guessed this early in the book, but no harm done). The adventures are Vancian and mostly quite enjoyable. Filidor at the start is very much Cugel, arrogant and imperceptive and impulsive. By the end he has grown. Fun and although not quite there with Vance and Shea, very close and in many ways spot on.




SPOILER: that the agent is the uncle/Archon


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Tim Walters said...

I thought Lady Into Fox was just right--any longer and it would have seemed that too little was happening. Now I want to read A Man In The Zoo, ideally in an equally attractive edition. Bring it, McSweeney's!

Is it that Vance inspires more pastiches than other writers, or that his style is so distinctive that they stand out more than, say, Tolkien clones? I'm betting on the latter.

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Todd T said...

I am the lucky owner of a copy of MAN IN THE ZOO. I can't tell when the edition I have was published. Possibly in the 20s when the book was first published, but it feels like a later edition. Have had it for a year or so but haven't read it yet.

Good point about Vance, though I think the pool or writers that inspire conscious pastiche, as opposed to influencing and rubbing off on admirers, is fairly small, so there are more Vance pastiches than, say, Spinrad pastiches. It's more than style, though. Shea and Hughes also write characters and plots that could be found in a Vance book. Somehow his whole deal fascinates writers.

I'm of mixed minds about all this. On the one hand, I feel like saying 'find your own thing and do that'. On the other, we're not likely to get many more Vance books, and the clones are pretty close, and enjoyable, so why not?


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