Galveston Mass Market Paperback – Mar 29 2002
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I like what one of the other reviewers here said when he remarked that this book doesn't end, it just stops. Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2003 by frumiousb
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 morePublished on June 18 2002 by Kindle Customer
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 morePublished on June 13 2001 by Warren R. Printz, Jr.
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 morePublished on April 30 2001
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 morePublished on Jan. 23 2001
So magic has leaked out into the real world and must be held at bay by a few unlikely heroes: So what? Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2001 by Penner
_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 morePublished on Oct. 26 2000 by Richard R. Horton