Once again, “Greeves and the Evening Star” scores with a reviewer of Old Venus. This time, it’s Cat Fitzpatrick at the UK’s Fantasy Book Review site, who says:
“There are many strong stories here, with Matthew Hughes’ Greeves and the Evening Star being a personal favourite of mine, a superb Wodehouse-style comedy where the English toff [Bartie Gloster] is highly aggrieved to find himself kidnapped by a friend and taken to Venus. His highly capable valet ends up having to rescue the incompetent aristocrats from the attentions of a murderous alien Siren, but only after a decent breakfast of kippers, naturally.”
Once again, my P.G. Wodehouse pastiche, “Greeves and the Evening Star,” gets singled out for special mention in a review of Old Venus, the retro-sf antho co-edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. This time it’s by Cesar R. Bustamante, Jr., (gotta love those hand-me-down American names), the book blogger for the New York Daily News.
He says, “There’s quite a bit of comedy especially in Matthew Hughes’s story about a peculiar man falling for a giant Venusian newt (I’m not judging). ”
People do like the Wodehouse style, although I have a feeling that Mr. Bustamante doesn’t recognize a Jeeves and Bertie story at first glance.
The fellow I’m housesitting for in central Brittany has come home for a few days to tend to some business locally, so my wife and I are off to see St Malo (whence came Jacques Cartier, founder of Quebec City), and Mont St. Michel.
I’ve turned in “Epiphanies,” a new Luff Imbry novella (24,000 words), to PS Publishing. It will go into an omnibus of the previous three novellas to be published in two limited editions sometime this year.
Imbry started out as a supporting character in Black Brillion (Tor, 2004), where he was a high-stakes forger and confidence man forcibly inducted into the Archonate Bureau of Scrutiny and assigned to work with Baro Harkless, a strange but brilliant young scroot. I actually killed him off in the first draft, but my editor, David G. Hartwell, counseled me against it.
Later on, when PS editor Nick Gevers asked me for a story, I decided to revive Luff and produced “The Farouche Assemblage. ” More stories followed, in Interzone and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and then the three PS limited edition novellas.
“Epiphanies” brings Imbry’s career to the point at which he encounters Baro Harkless in Black Brillion.
A first time for me: getting singled out for special mention in a Wall Street Journal review. Tom Shippey says good things about Old Venus, including:
“Much of the collection is just good fun, especially Matt Hughes’s Jeeves-and-Wooster parody, “Greeves and the Evening Star.” Wodehouse fans will recall the prominence of newts in the Wooster world, but not human-sized female ones with fangs, sexy voices and highly unromantic intentions.”
In the March issue of Locus Magazine, Gardner Dozois has reviewed “Prisoner of Pandarius,” the Raffalon story in In the January/February Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, saying, “Matthew Hughes offers us another highly entertaining adventure of Raffalon the Thief, Prisoner of Pandarius. The major influence on Hughes is clearly Jack Vance, and these Raffalon tales are about as close as you’re going to get these days to one of Vance’s stories of the misadventures of Cugel the Clever, now that Vance is gone. However, unlike Cugel , who was nowhere near as clever as he believed himself to be, Raffalon actually is clever and is a highly competent thief – but is consistently dogged by terrible luck, which continues to hamper him here as he struggles to pull off a complicated and dangerous heist.”
I saw the review on the Jack Vance Message Board, a good meeting place for Vance Fans. It was posted by my old friend and Official First Fan, Mike Berro. Here’s what I posted in reply:
Some of my best stories are never reviewed by Gardner, because they appear in anthologies that he’s co-edited with George Martin — including the original Raffalon tale, “The Inn of the Seven Blessings,” which I wrote when Gardner asked me to send something to him for the big cross-genre antho, Rogues. That first story showed Raff near the end of his career, starving in a forest after being unable even to lift a chicken from a farmer’s coop. He’s very down on his luck (Gardner’s right: he’s smart but unlucky — much like me).
After the story was accepted for the antho, I decided Raffalon was too good a character to drop, so I started writing adventures from when he was in his prime. I’ve since sold six more, including the one Gardner’s reviewing, to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I figure to do another couple, which will give me enough for a collection, then I’ll self-publish them as an ebook and POD paperback.