I have more than once called Matthew Hughes a national treasure, and regular Hughes fans won’t need me to urge them to pick up the latest collection set in the Archonate/Spray universe. Hughes is the Canadian/21st century Jack Vance, the oddly optimistic cynic, the seriously funny creator of a brilliantly original universe. This is the latest in the series which posits that the universe periodically swings between the fundamental principles of cause & effect and sympathetic association (magic). The book’s protagonist is Erm Kaslo, a top level confidential agent who suddenly finds that none of his skills are relevant when cause and effect no longer apply. As technology fails, civilization crashes, and powerful thaumaturges rise from the ashes, Kaslo falls in with one particular wizard as his henchman. If you are a fan of the Archonate or the adventures of Henghis Hapthorn, the collection of Erm Kaslo will be right up your alley.
I offer, however, two mild cautions: First. readers unfamiliar with the Archonate should start with another in the series, as the Kaslo stories are really the ultimate climax to everything else that has happened so far; better not to know how things end until you’ve read how they begin. But by all means, go find Fools Errant and enter the marvelous universe of the Acrhonate.
Regular Hughes fans may find that—as a collection of shorts/serialized novel (in Lightspeed magazine)—there is a certain amount of repetition as ‘chapters’ recap events in earlier ‘chapters’ because these were originally published separately. The repetition is only mildly distracting, however, and should not significantly detract from readers’ enjoyment.
Any time Hughes puts pen to paper is a reason to celebrate, and the Adventures of Erm Kaslo do not disappoint.