June 15, 2006

The Gist Hunter & Other Stories by Matthew Hughes

surreal escheresque cityscapePicked this up to read from the pool for the Endeavour Award.

The stories are in three sections. The first section focuses on a character with the unlikely name of Henghis Hapthorn. Hapthorn is a discriminator, which is basically a private investigator. He is the self-proclaimed (and apparently otherwise acclaimed) best discriminator there is. Not sure why he had to be the best for the stories to work. Maybe just to account for the character's planet-sized ego. Each story poses a puzzle which Hapthorn solves with the sometimes help of his homebuilt computer and his buddy the demon from another dimension.

The second section follows Guth Bandar. Bandar is an aspiring no÷naut, a navigator of the cultural subconcious which exists as an array of interconnected alternate realities each representing a historical Event, an archetypical Situation, or a basic setting or Landscape. These stories show how Bandar gets into (and out of) various tricky situations (of both capitalizations) in his quest to master the no÷naut's trade.

The final section consists of a near handful of stand alone stories.

Most of the stories in the book appeared previously in some form (all but one of the Hapthorn stories, for example, appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). They all have a rather pleasing mix of fantasy and sf qualities (except the final story which is straight fiction and possibly my favorite of the bunch). Most of the stories were a bit over-written for my taste. A bit too much hooptedoodle, though it was executed well enough that it tended to fade into the background somewhat. Anyway, decent stories, but not really my thing.

Posted by jeffy at June 15, 2006 10:02 PM
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