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In Old Earth’s penultimate age, the corpulent master criminal Luff Imbry moves through the halfworld like a full-fleshed shark. Thief, forger, confidence man, and sometimes go-between, he maps out his illicit operations with exquisite care then carries them out with courage and panache. But, often, things don’t go as Luff planned, and he must call upon a talent for improvisation and a ruthless will to survive.
This collection brings together seven short stories and novelettes previously published in Postscripts, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and the anthology Forbidden Planets, plus two novellas formerly only available in limited editions. It offers Luff Imbry in all his moods and guises.
When professional duelist Conn Labro escapes indentured servitude as the star player of Horder's Emporium, he abandons the gaming world of Thrais and sets out on an interstellar journey filled with murder, deceit, and self-discovery.
His only friend on Thrais, discovered dead and tortured, left him enough money to buy himself out of his contract and a curious encrypted "bearer deed" to a mysterious property on the distant edge of the galactic Spray.
With the seductive, secretive showgirl Jenore Mordene at his side and a villainous pleasure cult dogging his every move, Labro sets out to learn the truth behind his bearer deed and more about his own past than he had ever dared bargain for.
Henghis Hapthorn is the foremost penetrator of mysteries and uncoverer of secrets in a decadent, far-future Old Earth, one age before Jack Vance's Dying Earth. A superb rationalist, he has long disdained the notion that the universe has an alternative organizing principle: magic. But now a new age is dawning, overturning the very foundations of Hapthorn's existence, and he must struggle to survive in a world where all the rules are changing.
Hapthorn is on the trail of an unknown killer who collects body parts from his victims. The search leads him off-planet, into the Ten Thousand Worlds of The Spray, then turns in an unexpected direction as the freelance discriminator learns that an ancient and evil power is plotting to reassert its dominion over Old Earth.
It was bad enough when Henghis Hapthorn, Old Earth's foremost discriminator and die-hard empiricist, had to accept that the cosmos was shortly to rewrite its basic operating system, replacing rational cause-and-effect with detestable magic.
Now he finds himself cast forward several centuries, stranded in a primitive world of contending wizards and hungry dragons, and without his magic-savvy alter ego.
Worse, some entity with a will powerful enough to bend space and time is searching for him through the Nine Planes, bellowing "Bring me Apthorn!" in a voice loud enough to frighten demons.
As magic begins to reassert its ancient dominion, Old Earth's foremost freelance discriminator, Henghis Hapthorn, and his intuition (now a separate person named Osk Rievor), are living apart, though they remain on good terms. But now there comes between them a woman of alluring mystery.
Who is Hespira? Does she truly want either of them? Or has she come to destroy them both?
Here are nine tales of Henghis Hapthorn, foremost freelance discriminator of Old Earth in the planet's penultimate age.
Included are the six stories that ran in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, leading up to the events that began the first Hapthorn novel, Majestrum, plus three more.
Wise, witty and just a little weird, Fools Errant wryly strolls the satirical path laid down by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Jack Vance, heralding the brilliant debut of a gifted new voice.
Foppish young Filidor Vesh wants only to dally among his shallow pastimes. But a simple errand for his uncle, the vaguely all-powerful Archon of those parts of Old Earth still populated by human beings, becomes a frenetic odyssey across a planet speckled with eccentric nations pursuing odd aims with intense determination.
Harried at every step by the irascible dwarf, Gaskarth, and frequently at the peril of wild beasts, enraged mobs and a particularly nasty thaumaturge, Filidor makes a reluctant progress toward a final encounter with an ancient and possibly world-ending evil.
In another sparkling and slightly askew adventure in the mode of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Jack Vance, Fools Errant's Filidor Vesh sashays once more through the penultimate age, finding that...
LOVE IS A MANY SPLINTERED THING
The dandified Archon's apprentice is literally bowled over by beautiful Emmlyn Podarke -- she knocks him flat and steals his credentials, daring him to pursue her to a remote and mostly forgotten corner of Old Earth. Now Filidor must cope with philosophical pirates, prophet-seeking aliens, light-fingered mummers, and a tiny, bothersome voice in his left ear. Meanwhile, the Archon may or may not have been kidnapped, and somebody's digging up a mysterious ancient artifact buried on the Podarke family farm.
About the e-Book Formats
You can purchase these electronic editions in several formats: mobi (for Kindles and some other readers), ePub (for iPads, Nooks and many other readers), and PDF, which is readable by almost anything else.
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- Excerpt from ‘To Hell and Back: The Damned Busters’
- Excerpt from ‘The Other’
- A Little Learning
- Excerpt from ‘Black Brillion’
- Excerpt from ‘Fool Me Twice’
- Excerpt from ‘Fools Errant’
- Excerpt from ‘Hespira’
- Excerpt from ‘Majestrum’
- Excerpt from ‘The Spiral Labyrinth’
- Excerpt from ‘Template’
- Excerpt from ‘To Hell and Back: Costume Not Included’
- Excerpt from ‘Downshift’
- Excerpt from ‘To Hell and Back: Hell to Pay’
- Excerpt from ‘Quartet and Triptych’
- Excerpt from ‘The Yellow Cabochon’
- On Writing
- About the Author