Matthew Hughes: the Archonate

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Nice review of “The Vindicator”

Jeff Fahnestalk has given “The Vindicator,” my final Raffalon story to appear in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a warm review on the Amazing Stories site.  He says:  “I don’t want to rave too much about this story, but to me, it appears to partake of the flavour of both Jack Vance’s and Fritz Leiber’s fantasy… in that, our protagonist isn’t one of the “best of the best.”

That’s a fact.  Raff is a competent thief, but he often encounters just a little bad luck.  I can certainly sympathize with that, and I suspect the same is true for a lot of my readers.  The first time I read, The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, I thought, “You got that right, Rabbie.”

It was kind of Steve to mention the Raffalon collection I’ll be bringing out in mid-2017.  It will actually contain a new Raffalon story, exclusive to the collection, as well as the unlucky thief’s original outing:  “The Inn of the Seven Blessings,” so far seen only by the multitudes who purchased the George R.R. Martin/Gardner Dozois co-edited cross-genre anthology, ROGUES.


I’m working toward my Patreon launch, sometime in January.  Today I intend to shoot the introductory video.  I’m also developing an email mailing list for subscribers who want to receive my upcoming monthly newsletter.  The newsletter may replace these webpage/Facebook postings (haven’t decided yet).

If you’d like to be on the list, please send me an email.

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Interview with F&SF

I’ve done an interview with Stephen Mazur for the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction blog.  It’s about Raffalon the thief and the novelette “The Vindicator” now running in the current issue of F&SF.

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Here’s a review of my Guth Bandar novel, The Commons, which was published by Robert J. Sawyer’s imprint with Fitzhenry & Whiteside back in 2007.   The reviewer is Gareth D. Jones and he is writing in the most recent edition of SF Crowsnest, which is a nice place to be seen if you’re selling sf in the UK.

He says:  Matthew Hughes’ writing is highly enjoyable, full of wonderfully-described characters who use rarefied vocabulary that had me turning to the dictionary on a regular basis. The dialogue between characters is always entertaining, as is the selection of facial expressions and extravagant gestures that they like to use.

The Commons was a “fix-up novel,” the industry term for a book-length work of fiction stitched together out of short stories, usually after the stories have appeared in mass-market magazines.  It’s a way of getting paid twice for the same writing, which authors appreciate, since the pennies-per-word rates and book advances offered these days are pretty skimpy.

All of its component stories originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which has been very good to me over the past dozen years.  The last two chapters of The Commons comprise “The Helper and His Hero,” a two-parter novella that was shortlisted for a Nebula Award.   The entire sequence of stories follows the travails of Guth Bandar, a would be-scholar at the Institute for Historical Inquiry on a far-future Old Earth.  The Institute has long since mapped and studied humanity’s collective unconscious – the Commons – and nothing new has been learned about it for millennia.

Until Guth comes along and begins to suspect that the collective unconscious, our species’s dreamtime, is becoming conscious.  And it has a job for him to do.

I wrote the Bandar stories to fill in the gaps in Black Brillion, my 2004 Tor novel in which Guth was a key character.  I had expected BB to run about 95,000 words or more, but Tor told me to hold it to under 80k and said 75k would be even better.   So I was left with a lot of the background on the waking of the collective unconscious that never made it into the story and decided to write the stories as companion pieces to Black Brillion.  I am grateful to Rob Sawyer for bringing them out as a fix-up.

Copies of The Commons might be hard to find these days.  You can read the whole Bandar saga in The Compleat Guth Bandar, the original stories as they appeared in F&SF before I “fixed” them “up.”


I’m moving ahead with the Patreon project, building a landing page and coming up with interesting rewards for patrons who are kind enough to pledge me a dollar or two a month.  This week I’m going to shoot a pitch video and send it to a friend in Holland with whom I worked on putting together YouTube videos promoting Jack Vance’s Spatterlight Press.  He’ll give it some production-value pizzazz.

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OLD GROWTH — a Sid Rafferty Mystery

Here’s one for those who like my crime-writing side, especially those who have enjoyed my semi-autobiographical mystery, Downshift:  I’m self-publishing the sequel, Old Growth, in ebook formats and as a POD paperback.  You can buy it from my webstore or through Amazon and other online vendors.

If you like brick-and-mortar bookstores (and who here doesn’t?), you can get your friendly neighborhood bookseller to order in a copy for you.  There’s even an audio book version, narrated by the excellent Bob Gonzalez, who narrated the audio version of Downshift.

Old Growth is set on Vancouver Island during the mid-1990s, when dope-growing was a burgeoning new industry and environmental activists were swarming in from all over the world to protest logging of old-growth forests in the Carmanah Valley and Clayoquot Sound.  It’s a little less autobiographical than Downshift, but it deals with events I was tangentially involved in as a freelance speechwriter working for forest companies and politicians.

Here’s the blurb:

Freelance speechwriter Sid Rafferty signs on to help a neophyte candidate run for election as an alderman in Cumberland, once a booming coal-mining town on Vancouver Island that’s now shrunk down to an out-of-the-way little village. But first another writing job makes Sid a witness to a violent death the Mounties are calling murder, then a pair of marijuana-growing brothers want to know what he’s doing poking around near their grow-op.

An old colleague from his newspaper offers Sid a job spying on environmental activists, but he finds working undercover is no picnic. And he’s about to find out that in Cumby, old currents run as dark and deep as the abandoned mine shafts. Dig down too far and the past can reach up with a deadly grip.

You can read the first chapter here.



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“Fishface and the Leg”

One for the completists: the first story I ever sold was “Fishface and the Leg,” and it appeared in the supplement to a weekly farmers’ newspaper out of Saskatchewan called The Western Producer. It’s never been seen again until now, when it shows up in the Table of Contents of Pulp Literature’s Issue number 13. Because it’s a crime story, it will have the byline “by Matt Hughes.”

In the same issue is “The Devil You Don’t,” a little time-travel yarn that ran in Asimov’s several years ago. The byline on that one is “Matthew Hughes.”


I’ve started writing hardboiled space-opera short stories featuring Erm Kaslo, a “confidential operative” whose investigations take him to many of the Ten Thousand Worlds. I did the first one, a novelette called “Thunderstones,” for editor Nick Gevers who was putting together an anthology called Extrasolar for PS Publishing and needed to fill a gap. Now I’ve placed a second story, “The Bicolor Spiral,” with Lightspeed Magazine and have started a third.

Erm Kaslo, you may remember, is the protagonist of A Wizard’s Henchman, now out in limited editions and ebook formats from PS Publishing. In the novel, he undergoes a transition from confidential operative to the position in the eponymous title after the universe suddenly shifts its operating basis from rationalism to magic. I plan to do more with Kaslo in the post-change environment – probably another novel – but the short stories will be prequels, covering the years before the big change when he was a Sam Spade of the far future.


I’m recovering the rights to The Other, the Luff Imbry novel that would have had a sequel to complete the story begun in the first book, but the publisher changed owners and the numbers were not good enough. This authoring game is all about the numbers.

I may try crowdfunding the second Imbry book through Kickstarter or GoFundMe. I have to look into the ins and outs. I have pretty much decided to try Patreon, however, which offers readers an opportunity to fund their preferred authors and artists by pledging a dollar or two every month. I’ll wait until after the holiday, though, since December is not a good time launch new ventures.

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