Synopses & Reviews
Boro Harkless has devoted his life to the service of the Archonite Bureau of Security, the force tasked with keeping the peace among and within the city-states of Old Earth. An idealist driven by the memory of his heroic father, he comes to the city of Sherit, seeking the notorious Luff Imbry.
Luff Imbry has devoted his life to the enjoyment of wealth. A gourmet, a charmer, and an ever-so-stylish fop, he has come to the city of Sherit to pursue a new fortune. Not, mind you, his own, for Luff is also a mountebank, swindler, and forger of the first water.
Tossed together by circumstance, they form an uneasy truce when they discover a common goal: capturing the grandest con-man of them all, Horselan Gebbling. Gebbling, who made off with Imbry's previous fortune, is posing as Father Olwyn, Sacerdotal Eminence of the Assembly of Tangible Unity, and has chosen as his prey the victims of the first new disease in millennia, the invariably fatal ailment known as the lassitude.
Dangled in front of the victims is the fabled relic of past glories, the gemstone called black brillion. About black brillion, learned men agree on only two things: it can do anything, and it doesn't exist. But Gebbling boasts of having it, and its effects on the lassitude are nothing short of magical.
Riding a landship across the unnatural prairie known as the Swept, Boro and Luff get caught up in an ever-growing tangle of mysteries. Nonsense chants lead to miracle cures. Guests end up crushed beneath the ship's giant wheels. The crew have secrets of their own.
The dangers are not merely physical. On the ship is a noönaut, an explorer of the Commons, the dream realm which contains the memories and emotions of hundreds of thousands of years of human existence. Something in the Commons is calling to Boro to claim him for its own.
What lurks beneath the Swept? What hides within the Commons, eager to come out? And exactly what game is Gebbing playing?
Filled with dollops of drollery and an ancient evil, Black Brillion is a science fantasy caper that grows into a metaphysical exploration of the human psyche. Matt Hughes has crossed Jack Vance with Carl Jung to come up with a bold new novel of life on an Earth grown older by millions of years.
This is the third novel in the Archonate series, following Fools Errant and Fool Me Twice.
"Hughes's at times confusing third SF novel set in the Archonate universe (after 2001's Fool Me Twice) takes yet another young man, Baro Harkless of the Bureau of Security, through adventures that question his morals and then his physical worldview. Baro's initial success at getting confidence-man Luff Imbry arrested results in their being partnered to pursue bigger game, the seemingly pious Father Olwyn (aka Horselan Gebbling). This uncomfortable team joins Gebbling's land-sailing expedition, financed by his rich daughter, Trig Helvic, who has the lassitude, a fatal, incurable disease. Baro and Imbry masquerade as lassitude victim and caretaker to travel with other victims across a barren, human-alien, postwar landscape, the Swept, in search of Black Brillion, the promised cure. Instead, they find the Swept's many dangerous secrets, including an alternate world, the Common, accessible to a few and then only through intense mind-control. In order to 'get his man,' Baro must learn his way through the Common, rethink his childhood, his vocation, his morality and the Archonate. Dominated by stereotypical and archetypal heroes and villains and tortuous plot twists, this book incorporates Baro's personal maturation into a near-apocalyptic scenario for humankind. The story requires leaps of reasoning, but entertains with its scope and irony." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Praise for Black Brillion
Despite the risks of working in the shadows of accomplished authors like Smith, Vance and Wolfe, Hughes has managed to produce compelling and very readable novels...Hughes mixes his science and fantasy well and manages well in the difficult balancing act required to create believable stories mixing the two genres. The novel's unexpected denouement satisfyingly melds the science fiction and fantasy elements of the story...It seems likely that Hughes will create more stories in Archonate series, and I look forward to reading more tales set in Old Earth. Fans of Jack Vance will not be disappointed by this incursion of Matthew Hughes into Vance's science-fantasy territory.--Science Fiction Weekly
"Hughes serves up equal measures of wit, intrigue, and seat-of-the-pants action and even dabbles a little in Jungian psychology when Harkless discovers a talent for plumbing humanity's collective unconscious. Irresistibly good reading."--Booklist
"A witty pastiche drawing on Jack Vance's 'Dying Earth', mixes humor, philosophy, and a criminal investigation."--Locus
"On this old Earth, 'Black Brillion' is nothing less than a miraculous novel."--The Agony Colum
"Fans of Jack Vance will not be disappointed by this incursion of Matthew Hughes into Vance's science-fantasy territory." Science Fiction Weekly
"Hughes serves up equal measures of wit, intrigue, and seat-of-the-pants action...Irresistibly good reading." Booklist
"A witty pastiche drawing on Jack Vance's 'Dying Earth', mixes humor, philosophy, and a criminal investigation." Locus
"On this old Earth, 'Black Brillion' is nothing less than a miraculous novel." The Agony Column
About the Author
lives in Courtenay, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. This is his third novel.