Avram Davidson: reviews

The Phoenix and the Mirror by Avram Davidson

is a dark fantasy set in around the Mediterranean of the late Roman Empire as seen by the Middle Ages, with Vergil Magus the main character. It is very well-written, with excellent setting and story and fine characterization.

[longer review on weblog, 2002-2-4]

Joyleg by Ward Moore and Avram Davidson

I haven't read anything else by Ward Moore, but Avram Davidson is been one of my favorite writers for a couple of years. This is one of his best novels -- the collaboration was good for him.

The front cover painting is nice, but totally irrelevant. The back cover blurb is exaggerative, but doesn't give away too much of the plot. Indeed, there isn't much plot to give away. A female Republican representative and a male Democrat representative discover the file of a veteran of an unspecified war who has been receiving a pension of eleven dollars a month as far back as the current records show. The Hon. Lucinda Rose Habersham (R., Tenn.) decides it is a fraud to be exposed, someone using a long-dead veteran's name to leech off the pension fund. The Hon. Tully Weathercox (D., Tenn.) declares it is an insult to throw a measly eleven dollars a month to someone who has fought and bled to defend his country's freedom. They independently decide to leave during recess and search out Isachar Joyleg. They find him. The second half of the book is devoted to what happens when Joyleg's actual age is made public.

The novel's excellence comes mainly from its dialogue and characterization. If you're looking for a fast-moving adventure story, look elsewhere. If you like hilarious satire and Old Men of the Wandering Jew/"The Gnarly Man"/Lazarus Long type, make a diligent search for Joyleg.

First published in April, 1962, in Fantastic. Berkley edition October 1973, SBN 425-02442-3.

Masters of the Maze by Avram Davidson (Ace, 1965)

Good, maybe his best sf novel (though some of his fantasies and short stories are better). The Maze is a sort of network of holes in space and time, allowing one who knows how to navigate it to travel between planets and between different times. A number of Guardians are stationed around the Earth and throughout its history at various entrances to the Maze, preventing invasion. The story concerns a particular invasion attempt by some interesting hive aliens, the recruitment of a new Guardian, and how he foils the invasion attempt. The writing is very good, as usual for Davidson, the plotting fine, the characterization fair to excellent, the worldbuilding pretty good. (4/95)

Clash of Star-Kings by Avram Davidson

The gods of the Aztecs and of the Olmecs were aliens who have been gone awhile and have just returned. The descendants of the Aztecs and Olmecs are at odds with one another and with the Mexican government over something in which both groups of aliens are interested, and a couple of American writers living in the small town of Los Remedios get mixed up in the business as well.

The plot wasn't new when the book was written and it seems even more cliched now, but the writing is, as usual with Davidson, excellent, and the characterizations both of the Mexicans and Americans are good. I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys Davidson's style; it's good, though not his best.

%A Davidson, Avram
%T Clash of Star-Kings
%C New York
%I Ace
%D 1966
%G 0-441-11050-9
%K SF aliens mythology Mexico
%O Probably out of print.
%P 150

The Redward Edward Papers by Avram Davidson

An OK collection, with one excellent story I hadn't seen before ("The Lord of Central Park"). But most of the stories had been collected before in other collections, and the other new story (the title story) was long, disjointed and apparently pointless. Still excellent writing, but not at all what I had come to expect from Davidson, especially his short stories.

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