Are you looking for stock fantasy complete with elves, wizards, swords of power and magic amulets? Sorry, that’s two websites down on your left. Stunningly beautiful heroines and rugged, he-man heroes fighting dark forces that threaten the world? Check out the paperback spinner rack at the end of aisle three. Shaka Mahdi (of Awake Chimera) may be graced with an ample chest but she is far from incredibly gorgeous. In fact, she isn’t even human, and proud of it. In fact, she isn’t, strictly speaking, even a “she”.
Now, Tristramacus, from whom the novel gets its name, has a physique like an oak tree, but he has a face like a hawk and a bad complexion. He is also stubborn, headstrong and prone to outbursts of ill-temper. Tristramacus is also shrewd and idealistic, the latter to a fault, at least according to Brinnalamaya. It was the source of countless heated disputes between them since she, as Prime Arbitor, necessarily had to settle conflicts with compromise and reason. He accused her of sacrificing justice for peace. Sometimes, he was probably right. Tristramacus values honor and truth above all things—although he can split hairs with surgical precision if he thinks the cause is good—and he has a habit of coming to the defense of innocents who cannot protect themselves. For that, Brinnalamaya could not help respecting him. And, in spite of herself, loving him.
So if you’re looking for Fantasy that goes somewhere a little different, I think I can take you there.
But don’t look for magic. Precious little of it; you might even be tempted to call it Science Fiction. No space ships, warp drive or post-apocalyptic dystopias (unless Ares counts). But the frontiers of science are a great place to push your head beneath the curtain and glimpse possible wonders. What makes those wonders meaningful is when you pull them back under the curtain and relate them to the world we know. With so much that is marvelous in the universe (only one?) old fashioned wand-waving, spell-muttering magic just doesn’t seem necessary.
Wait, I take that back. There’s Archimedes Nesselrode. Unquestionably magical, and romantic, with a liberal dash of humor, including a bishop which resides in a teapot and a large starfish the size of a footstool who meanders leisurely across the living room floor, much to the annoyance of the housekeeper. Archimedes Nesselrode is an artist who “makes things.” How he does it is anyone’s guess, and the secret is worth a fortune. But Vivian Mare, his devoted housekeeper, isn’t telling. She’s much too busy keeping up with the various and sundry creatures-in-residence, a task the formidable Ms. Mare is quite equal to, thank you very much. And what she discovers in moonlight is more precious than any fortune.
There, that should get you started. Look around, browse the stacks, er, pages, and let me know if you see something you like. It’s all quite harmless, at least, mostly. No TMI details of characters’ sex lives; no graphic descriptions of gore-ridden violence. No sharp-fanged dark prose that rips your guts out to leave them in a steaming heap on the floor. Just good stories about interesting characters to beguile the reader, suitable for young adults, but written for adults.