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Galveston [Mass Market Paperback]

Sean Stewart
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 29 2002
Sean Stewart's previous novel, Mockingbird, was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, and one of the Best Fantasy Novels of the Year by Locus. Now in his most stunning novel yet, one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy writers of our time takes readers to Galveston--an island uprooted, and uplifted, by magic...

Galveston had been baptized twice. Once by water in the fall of 1900. Again by magic during Mardi Gras, 2004. Creatures were born of survivors' joy and sufferers' pain: scorpions the size of dogs, the Crying Clown, the Widow who ate her victims. And the Island of Galveston would forever be divided--between the real city and a city locked in a sort of constant Carnival, an endless Mardi Gras...

Praise for the award-winning novels of Sean Stewart:

"Stewart writes about magic as if it were an everyday occurrence, with its own rules and reasons."-- New York Times Book Review

"A wonderfully vivid and unexpected blend of magic realism and finely-observed contemporary experience."-- William Gibson

"Stewart's prose is vivid and precise...startling and moving."-- Washington Post Book World

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

Novels from fantasist Sean Stewart resemble icebergs: four-fifths of their content is hidden, adding psychological mass that is felt, even if not seen. His seventh novel is his best yet.

Galveston, Texas, is an island already rich in history and eccentric characters when, during Mardi Gras in the year 2004, sudden magic floods the streets. The world is changed--divided between the real city, where technology and its products become unreliable and scarce, and the city doomed to endless carnival, where it is always 2004 and there are still such wonders as cigarettes, cold beer, and aspirin. Twenty years later, three major figures hold the city in precarious balance: Momus, the king of carnival and god of magic; Jane Gardner, ex-lawyer and unofficial mayor, fighting to maintain essential services in the real city; and Odessa, angel and arbiter. When Gardner develops Lou Gehrig's disease, her daughter, Sloane, strikes a desperate bargain with Momus, and the delicate balance is destroyed; cataclysmic change ensues.

Stewart is at his considerable best when he focuses on character. He is able to make metaphor concrete using symbols that, in lesser hands, might be considered simplistic and clichéd. The author is less sure, however, when he attempts to paint a grander canvas: the hurricane towards the end of the book is not strictly necessary, and it flings the novel around a curve that it was perhaps not meant to follow. Despite this, the book has much to offer, with tips on poker, herbal medicine, and island survival to augment the powerful themes of loyalty and luck gliding beneath the surface. --Luc Duplessis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The return of magic to the world at the dawn of the 21st century split the city of Galveston into two parallel worlds--a "normal" city of survivors and a perpetual Carnival town of magic-touched creatures. When Sloane Gardner discovers how to cross between the two Galvestons, she becomes a link between a father and son whose destinies hold the key to the survival of both worlds. Stewart's (Mockingbird) brand of magical realism combines psychological drama with otherworldly images to create a rich tapestry that lingers long after the end of the tale. For most fantasy or modern fiction collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I saw this book, I'd never heard of Sean Stewart. I was just wandering around an SF bookstore when I saw this with its various awards noted beneath. Tim Powers is awfully good competition for the mythopoeic award, and the World Fantasy Award usually picks something good, so I decided a paperback was well worth the risk. After approaching the beginning with more curiosity than comprehension, I found myself engrossed in this magic-ridden world, and the characters (more fleshed out than many real people seem to be!) kept my eyes locked on the pages. One warning: this book will depress ... you in a lot of parts, but that's part of what makes it so bleedin' good.
I read this book in an absolute frenzy, even a feverish one. However, as the last 40 pages came up, I began more and more to fear an unsatisfying ending. There were simply too many threads in the air to tie them up right. As those pages dwindled, a whirlwind of events bring things closer to satisfaction, but not enough to begin the stirrings of anger when 10 remained. By the last line, however, he had managed to bring the tale to an understandable close, if not a beautiful finale. I was mad enough that I tossed the book down in disgust, but captivated enough to run back through the pages for minute upon minute after I completed it. I still don't know whether it was the best way to go, but I know that the book as a whole was brilliant, it seriously deserved the WFA, and I just can't stop thinking about it. Please read it, but not if you're looking for the feel-good book of the year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and gritty magic-realism romp. July 16 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In a not-so-distant future, on the island of Galveston, Texas, civilization is slowly slipping away and decaying, and no amount of plaster can fix the crumbling marble walls. While the rich, high-class citiens enjoy drinking the last dregs of what life was before the Flood, all others are left to suffer, to live as best they can, as the medicine runs out and the civilization runs out and all the miracles, the nightmares, the horrifying shamanistic dreams and realities of magic run in.
I'm a great fan of Stewart and his previous works, having been lured into the fold, as it were, by Nobody's Son, and falling in love with his realistic, yet fantastical style of writing. From pure fantasy in Cloud's End and Nobody's Son, to sci fi futures in Passion Play and The Night Watch, to my favorites, these real worlds sick with magic, he's held my imagination and attention.
Galveston, stylistically, is one of the best he's ever written. I cringe as Josh and Ham are stranded on the peninsula, surviving heat and bugs and snake bites, and can almost feel the decaying artificial cool of Sloane's big mansion. The story, like most of his works, is very dense, and will take you a while to read, but is VERY worth it.
Galveston is my second favorite of Stewart's works, right underneath Ressurection Man, and I advise any fan of fantasy or magic-realism to pick it up. It's worth it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Galveston July 12 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is an immensely enjoyable fantasy novel.
The unpredictable, nonlinear plot kept catching me by surprise. And Stewart's style emphasizes the unpredictability all the more by having crucial, often tragic, events take place in an instant, with little or no warning that a turning-point has arrived. There is no such thing as foreshadowing in this book, or forewarning.
But by giving up foreshadowing--admittedly a powerful literary tool to sacrifice (I'm not sure Stephen King could ever do it!)--Stewart instead creates an odd realism. The reader is always in the moment with all the wonderful characters and their strange environs: various gods, angels, revellers, living dolls, apothecaries, ghosts, prawn men, cannibals,and human citydwellers spread out amongst two versions of Galveston...one all too real and steeped in disaster, and one a place of pent-up fantasy. Sloane and Josh, the two main characters, give the book its human side; most of the rest is intriguingly dangerous or magical, or both.
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5.0 out of 5 stars dark Southern fantasy March 15 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What I loved about this book was the fact that even though there's a certain Southern Gothic feel to this fantasy, it still didn't leave me feeling sad & depressed, like some of the other dark fantasy writers I've read. The story-line could use some fleshing out-- I did wonder, as other negative reviewers, what about the other places? What happened, for instance, to New Orleans-- if the magic of Mardis Gras hit Galveston, whoa nelly, New Orleans!!! But at the same time, I was drawn into this incredibly well-drawn, deeply satisfying narrative. I don't think it has anything to do with magic being always "dark" or "evil" as one reviewer seems to imply, but it is always dangeous-- the "be careful what you wish for" sort of warning that some folks forget about in the world of Unicorns and happy little fairies.
Based on this and several others I have read by him, Sean Stewart is one of those authors whose book I will buy just from seeing his name on the cover-- I don't even have to read the plot blurb, I know I will like it. You will too if you enjoy a complex look at magic realism with a Southern twist.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Characters . . . Good Plot April 10 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A fantasy vision of a not-so-future apocalypse with a cast I really cared about. Magic clings to everything in Galveston, almost like the humidity in the air. A Mardis Gras celebration opens the fooldgates of magic, both good and bad, and Galveston never recovered. For years the residents have held the line against these forces, occassionally losing one of their brethren to the allure of magic.
This is a story of class distinctions as much as a compelling fantasy. The main charaters Ham, Josh, Sloane and Ace - among others - are people you really want to see surmount the problems they face. It's not just the magic they must deal with. Perhaps the most malevelant forces at play are the old money Galveston residents, members of the Krews (Mardis Gras societies). Many of these folks want to keep things, and people just the way they are and will play dirty, very dirty, to keep the status quo.
This book has it all. Weird creatures, humor, heroes who get banished from Galveston Island only to be confronted with cannibals, and plot twists. The writing gives you a flavor of the land, the sky, the sea. You can almost smell it and taste it.
Other than some information which would have helped "flesh" this out . . . such as what happened to the rest of the world . . . this is quite fanatastic an imaginative. Sean Stewart has done a wonderful job.
Buy this book and enjoy it.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wind-up is better than the pitch.
I like what one of the other reviewers here said when he remarked that this book doesn't end, it just stops. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2003 by frumiousb
5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Gothic Fantasmagoria
I'll be brief...This book is a sublime experience for any fan of fine dark fantasy. This book is not, however, for the faint of heart. Read more
Published on June 18 2002 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Each snowflake is different....
Sean Stewart came to my attention with Nobody's Son, and the fresh, adult look that it offered at Fantasy (Hey, I just found a magic sword.... Read more
Published on June 13 2001 by Warren R. Printz, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Brilliant!
Stewart is one of the greats and this is his best book to date. Forget all those hobbit clones. Like Carroll, Gallagher, Mieville and a few others, he is bootstrapping his... Read more
Published on April 30 2001 by "jugadora"
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite gel
I've liked all of Sean Stewart's other books, but this one disappointed me. All the usual elements were there, but somehow they didn't fit together right. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars So what?
So magic has leaked out into the real world and must be held at bay by a few unlikely heroes: So what? Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2001 by Penner
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical, absorbing, honest
_Galveston_ is set in the same world as two of Sean Stewart's earlier novels, _Resurrection Man_ and _The Night Watch_, though all three books are set at different times, and... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2000 by Richard R. Horton
3.0 out of 5 stars great premise
After the Magic Flood of 2004, there are two Galvestons in Texas, one the "real" world, one the bizarre, twisted world of Mardi Gras. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2000 by Darjeeling
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