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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Overlooked Masterpiece Novella: The Crystal Cosmos by Rhys Hughes (Spotlight Review by Liviu Suciu)

From PS Publishing I am presenting The Crystal Cosmos by Rhys Hughes

The Crystal Cosmos is a novella clocking at about 80 pages but pulling the weight of a book triple its size; I would say that extended to about 150 pages it would have been a masterpiece, but even so it's a very, very good read.

It's partly wacky space opera, partly planet adventure and partly satire with a two threaded storyline that converges and intertwines delightfully.

In one thread on a strange Earth-like planet but with some notable differences that I leave to the reader to discover, the "natural philosophers" and official dogma have a view of the Universe sort of like the science one today - material, uncreated, chaotic, no gods, billions of stars, the Earth revolves around the Sun - and it takes young goat shepherd Daphnis, uneducated but with a sharp mind. to perform experiments that show that actually some objects fall faster than others, the Earth is flat and the Sun revolves in a fixed and rigid orbit...

The Ptolemaic model of the Solar System and more generally the clockwork universe theory actually holds, so God or gods *must* exist since after all who created and started it, but it is heresy to claim so and Daphnis may find himself on "death row" if his claims become widely known.

In the other thread in a Multiverse analogue of our Earth, Sappho Ritsos an operative of the official "Trust" that supervises faster than light travel using the "altwhere" "drive" and protects the rights of the "natives" and their planets, teams with highly manipulative famous prospector Cankar who claims he found a Solar System made of a diamond like substance and wants mining rights.

Dense and worth at least one re-read I liked this novella a lot, but I felt a bit cheated of a masterpiece since 80 pages are just not enough to do justice to the wealth of ideas introduced here.

Highly, highly recommended if you can get a hold of a copy.


Fabio Fernandes said...

Hughes had already sent it to me, along with two other novels I will review right after the Nebula/ACC/late PKD affair! :-)

Unknown said...

This sounds really good. I'm always up for a scifi adventure in an alternate universe.

Excellent review, I'll check it out!

Dottie :)

Liviu said...

Rhys Hughes has lots of cool stuff - the trouble is getting hold of it :)

The Mad Hatter said...

Sounds really good. I'll have to check it out.

Fabio Fernandes said...

Rhys Hughes is so crazy he wrote a story to be exclusively translated and published in Portuguese - A Sereia de Curitiba (alas, it was published only in Portugal; I couldn´t get a copy of it yet).

Rhys Hughes said...

Thanks for this review!

Unfortunately there are many typographical errors in this book and I'm glad they didn't spoil your enjoyment. If this book is ever reprinted in English, I'll correct those errors, of course!

This book was originally published in French and can be found in issue #4 of the French version of F&SF:
Fiction 4It's true that my books are often difficult to get hold of. Or they are expensive. One exception is a book I published last year called The Postmodern Mariner. It can be obtained directly from the publisher here:

The Postmodern MarinerI think it's my funniest book and one of my best!

Liviu said...

Thank you for your kind words; Fabio plans to review The Postmodern Mariner here and I will definitely look for it.

I have a bunch of books written by you or that contain some of your stories - Percolated Stars, Leviathan (2??) Album Zutique, New Infamy, Eyelidad are some that come to mind fast

Crystal Cosmos was a book I *wanted* for a long time, and when I started having the opportunity to get pdf arcs directly from PS, this, Babylon (Calder) and Omega (Evans) were the 3 titles I requested as the highest priority

Never noticed typos - but I tend to read quite a few e-arcs, even some not 100% finalized from authors/publishers, so I guess I tune them out automatically


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