Tuesday, June 24, 2014

[Rogues] Michael Swanwick: "Tawny Petticoats"

Wow, this is a weird story. Or rather, the story in itself is not something you haven't seen or read before (scams and double-scams), but the setting is quite unusual, somewhat reminiscent of settings like ShadowRun (only instead of Elves and Dwarves in a cyberpunkish setting, we have "antropomorphized" characters, that is, former animals turned humanoid). In this setting, miniature mastodons, a zombie workforce (though not undead), a lead character that is half-dog, half-human, whores and con men all find a place, which is quite impressive considering the short format of the story. It has some droll humor, some surprisingly entertaining banter between characters and a somewhat confusing and/or convoluted story about a scam that, in the end, I didn't quite grasp but it didn't really matter because the entertainment in this particular little tale lies more in the discovery of this strange America (the story takes place in a future New Orleans, yet is so strange that it is more a fantasy than science fiction, although I suppose there could come a time when humans are indeed able to inject intelligence and awareness into animals, who knows). Of the stories I've read so far, I think this one is the most creative and challenging, but at the same time it didn't engage me emotionally like some of the other stories have done. It made me interested and curious to see this strange world unfold, while the plot and the characters were there to fill me in, rather than take me on an emotional journey. But that's fine. It shows some of the variety already presented in this third Martin/Dozois collaboration, and that should be appreciated. If there's one common factor running through the stories so far, it's that they all in some form or other have some explicit material, be it foul language, graphic descriptions, women in degrading situations etc. I guess that's par for the course for the editor/author who brought us fat pink masts, Myrish swamps and Ramsay Bolton's perversions.

Meanwhile, Martin's blog is back to normal, with more cinema posts and, if you thought Wild Cards wasn't bad enough already, a German so-called book trailer for that series no one visiting the blogs really wants to read about (except maybe the four commentators). In Game of Thrones news, there's the rumor that Tom Wlaschiha will return to play Jaqen H'ghar in season five. My guess is they morph his role into the Kindly Man's. But it's still only a rumor, so all bets are off. It would be a typical decision for the show though, and the actor did a great job as H'ghar, so I don't mind this - even though it's yet another drastic departure from the source material.

Not that much news, then. I still have The Rogue Prince to read, though. Looks like I'm saving it for last, just like I did with Dangerous Women.

1 comment:

  1. Swanwick is a fantastic writer. If you liked the characters of Surplus and Darger, you should read their prior adventures, which start in the story collection The Dog Said Bow-Wow and continue in the novel Dancing with Bears. They are weirdly wonderful. However, my favorite book of his is The Iron Dragon's Daughter, a novel set in a fantasy alternate Victorian Britain, with dragons instead of battleships and factories with elf overseers opressing a workforce of kobolds and dwarves. It's one of my favorite books ever.