The Emperor of Bohemia

Words of Unwisdom From Cohee Tuckahoe

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Thought Elevator #11 Stalking the Whatchamacallit
As a brief review of the "A Fable of Tonight" series by Mike Resnick (with the latest book, "Stalking the Dragon", showing up this year) I'll say this: while I enjoyed "Stalking the Unicorn" and "Stalking the Vampire", I enjoy most books I read so that's hardly useful information, especially considering this humble illuminatus cannot list all the factors (many of them arbitrary) by which he pre-judges titles. So, to give at least some cursory depth to an analysis of these two books and by extension a generalized view of the series...

If you can judge a series that will soon consist of three books by the first two, the "A Fable of Tonight" books are patently formulaic, knowingly so. The repeated setup of the Detective John Justin Mallory stalking a creature through a modern fantasy version of Manhattan in the space of a single evening (well, all night to be precise) is not what bothered me, as it's basically the primary point of the series (lampooning the fantasy genre by pastiching hardboiled detective fiction). The repetive gags of merchant goblins selling useless items at odd hours of the night (even the specific dialogue of their demands that consumers consume their products as part of a social contract) are an example of the nigh verbatim tropes that show up in both books. Similarly, the world-weary protagonist speaks almost entirely in one-liners; though given the genre Mallory represents this might be considered a feature by some readers.

If there's one problem that might get some who would otherwise enjoy these books to drop them partway through, it's that a lot of the action is the continual bickering between Mallory and his sidekicks. Perpetual bickering is one thing, but perpetual bickering over who is supposed to wait and who is supposed to come at every new location and constant interuptions of the action, even counting (usually) witty dialogue as action), in such a manner is another thing entirely.


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