Matthew Hughes’ 9 Tales of Raffalon is a collection of short stories, all featuring professional thief Raffalon. Raffalon lives in a time and place not unlike Jack Vance’s Dying Earth . Magic is commonplace, as are ways for a man of flexible ethics to enrich himself. Or, as Raffalon so often discovers, ways to get himself into trouble.
British-born Canadian Matthew Hughes has lived in many places. One of them was Kitchener-Waterloo, which earns him a spot in A Year of Waterloo Region Speculative Fiction. Hughes writes in a wide range of genres, both non-fiction and fiction. To quote from his site, he has been employed as
a journalist, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and — from 1979 until a few years back — as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia.
also writes science fiction and fantasy, as well as mystery. He has
Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award and has been shortlisted for the Aurora, Nebula, Philip K. Dick, Endeavour, A. E. Van Vogt, and Derringer Awards.
Despite these accolades, Hughes is often overlooked. It’s inexplicable, although his tendency towards humour may explain some of it. Humorous F&SF, save of the broadest, least subtle sort, is generally not popular in North America. Perhaps this work, which is more apocalyptic than funny, will appeal to a broader range of readers.
2016’s A Wizard’s Henchman is the first volume in Matthew Hughes’ Kaslo Chronicles.
There are ten thousand inhabited worlds in the Spray and none of them are utopias. Problems abound. Erm Kaslo has made a very nice living for himself as an all-round troubleshooter for rich men who are able to pay well for services rendered. The rich and powerful don’t get that way by being ethical or trustworthy—but even the most ruthless learn that it’s never a good idea to disappoint Erm Kaslo.
I’ve reviewed Hughes here before and I will review him again in the future.
Although he is perhaps best known for his Vancian Archonate stories, those do not make up the entirety of his work. Devil or Angel & Other Stories collects sixteen of his non-Archonate stories , written deliberately in what the cover calls “old-style.” Which is to say that it would not come as a surprise to find that these stories had been published in such magazines of yore as Unknown, Galaxy, or even the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Except that they weren’t .
Black Brillion is one of those books I would never have thought to read if Science Fiction Book Club Senior Editor Andrew Wheeler hadn’t assigned it to me for review. I greatly enjoyed it, as did Andrew (if I am remembering correctly). Various other figures in the publishing industry loved it too, Alas, the readers, those bastards, ignored it.
It is a dismal fact that the set of the books I enjoy and the set of books that the great masses of SF readers favor do not have much overlap. [Imagine a Venn diagram where the circles do not overlap.] At times it seems like me as if me enthusing about a book is the kiss of death . Surely hundreds of thousands of strangers across the world don’t buy the books they do (or rather, don’t buy the books I like) purely to piss me off?