Friday, December 30, 2011

The Other by Matthew Hughes

I could pretend that I was trying to spare you folks getting the same spiel from me too often...but you wouldn't believe that, would you? So I don't really have an excuse for why I didn't review Matt Hughes's newest far-future SF novel, The Other -- which was published by Underland Press in early November as a very reasonably-priced trade paperback -- soon after I read it in mid-September.

Look, Matt Hughes is one of the most entertaining writers in the SF/fantasy field, now or ever -- his writing is reminiscent of Jack Vance at his lightest, P.G. Wodehouse at his least cow-creamer-focused, and Arthur Conan Doyle at his most frivolous. This is not my opinion; it's a fact. See my reviews of his previous novels The Damned Busters, Hespira, Template, The Spiral Labyrinth, or Majestrum for more details -- or, better yet, just pick up one of his books, start reading a bit, and see if you can stop. I'll bet that you can't.

(Wait a minute! You can read the beginning of this very novel, as I am reminded by an e-mail from the author way back in October, on his website. So you don't need to go anywhere, or do anything but click that link, to be exposed to the full glory that is Matt Hughes.)

If you actually want to know something about this novel, well, let's see what I can remember of the details, these three months later. Luff Imbry is a rich and successful con man on the Earth of the far future -- it's not quite Vance's Dying Earth, but Hughes's Earth is definitely on a restricted diet from its physician and watching its level of exertion closely to stay on this side of health -- whom we met previously in Hughes's novel Black Brillion, and he is kidnapped and abandoned on a far-away world. Even worse, Fulda -- the planet in question -- is not only low-tech, and almost completely cut off from the greater interstellar Spray of humanity, but is home only to a fanatical sect devoted to perfecting the human form -- that is, to remaining absolutely identical with each other. The corpulent and unique Imbry could no more hide among them than he could stand behind a grain of sand, and so his troubles begin.

On the other hand, Imbry is intelligent, clever, and entirely able to take advantage of every last opportunity that comes his way -- and, better yet, he has Matt Hughes on his side. The Other is a sparkling, wonderfully amusing novel, full of great dialogue, odd situations, and quirky characters; it's a lovely, masterful souffle of a book, and I can think of no reason why any reader wouldn't love it.


Matt Hughes said...


Somebody must be listening to you. The Other has just been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Congratulations, Matt! It's well-deserved.

And the rest of you, this is your sign to go out and buy and/or read a Matt Hughes book today.

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