Rogues: #16-18

In the home stretch kiddies! Next post should be 19-21 and then I’ll have a wrap-up post after. And yes, the next post will contain both the Rothfuss AND the GRRM shorts. With Gaiman in this set, it’s clear they saved the biggest names for last 🙂

Title: The Caravan to Nowhere
Author: Phyllis Eisenstein
Genre: Travelogue

“Travelogue?” I can hear you saying it now, but I truly know no better name for what this story is. It is the story of a Minstrel named Alaric, who gets hired on to a caravan to help keep the company of men and pass along the time during the long desert nights that otherwise lead to petty quarrels, and the view of the trip through his eyes. There is a caravan master named Piros and his drug-addled son named Rudd.

Although there is a hint of the fantastic in it – Alaric can teleport at will – it isn’t really a fantasy. It’s actually a rather quiet and contemplative piece about the journey. It’s a story that shows that you don’t need much action to be engaging. For indeed, little happens during most of the story, and that’s okay. There’s something quietly compelling about Alaric and the way he watches the men around him.

It’s a nice change of pace from some of the “characters x go after object y” we’ve been seeing in some of the other fantasy tales. It’s a quiet piece, yet one of the most enjoyable pieces in the last few stories. Her shorts were collected into “Born to Exile” back in 1980. I want to check it out. And a short that makes me want to read the other works is a definite win.

Grade: A

Title: The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives
Author: Lisa Tuttle
Genre: Mystery

A mystery styled after the great Sherlock Homes, only Watson is female and neither are quite as clever as the inspiration – not that serves as any kind of detriment to the piece. The story is of a young woman whose step-sister seemingly died – only to spot her again nearly a month later alive and well (albeit veil clad). The truth of the scheme is definitely creepy and you can’t help but feel glad that she was spared from the fate presented to her.

This story is as much about how we greive and how we try to meet death. It never goes too deep or get too mournful, but it strikes a good balance that doesn’t make it feel over heavy. A nice little piece.

Grade: B

Title: How the Marquis Got His Coat Back
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy

Set in the London Below from <i>Neverwhere</i> (a book I haven’t read), this short is a little surreal story about a man by the name of Marquis Carabas and his attempts to get his coat back. There is some intrigue and a definite layer of surrealness about the whole affair. I adore Gaiman’s Sandman, but I’ve never quite been as much of a fan as his novels and this hasn’t quite changed my mind. I get that coat that is the subject of this tale is supposed to be quite amazing, but I never felt like it was enough of a device to truly support the story. Although,  I suppose you could argue that the plot isn’t as revelant here, that the point of the story is to take in the setting. And then it came to me that this would be better served as a graphic novel. The relatively simple plot would still come through, and the vividness of the world would truly come to life in color. Either way. Fans of his will adore this, I just liked it.

Grade: B

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