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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes

The Spiral Labyrinth: A Tale of Henghis Hapthorn by Matthew Hughes. San Francisco: Night Shade Books, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-59780-091-4

This is the second time I've encountered the doughty Henghis Hapthorn, discriminator extraordinaire. I reviewed a collection of short stories by Hughes, several of which featured Hapthorn, back in July of 2007, not quite a year ago.

This tale is quite a bit more satisfactory reading than were those stories. The novel length format provides a more expansive space and time (both literally and figuratively) for the sometimes hapless Hapthorn to operate within, and for me, at least, this gave the character and his adventures more depth and play, making the reading more entertaining.

Hughes is another of those clever writers who has thought up a way to bridge the gap between science fiction and fantasy. This book is definitely written as science fiction, since initially we find ourselves in a far future milieu, in which hundreds, if not thousands of planets are settled, and starships traverse the interstellar byways.

But our intrepid adventurers find themselves unaccountably thrust into an even much farther and further future, in which some great shift in the cosmos has taken place (it being implied that similar shifts may have occurred in previous aeon's) where magic and will power are the dominant factors, having replaced the technology-based period of the past.

Hapthorn and his inimitable companions find themselves in a seemingly almost hopeless battle against an intelligent and symbiotic organism, a fungus which fills many caverns on a distant, desolate planetoid. Will they ever make it back to their own time, place and space? You'll have to read the book to find out. And it's well worth the journey. Recommended for all SciFi and/or fantasy fans.

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