The Gollancz Gateway ebooks are one of the best things that happened to imaginative fiction in the last decade – the idea of making a huge back-catalog of out of print classics is simply wonderful.
Granted, the yellow covers are a bit off-putting, and often the price tag is a bit high, but the quality of the books is extraordinary.
To celebrate the completion of yet another chunk of my work in this overworked, rather disconcerning beginning of the year 2015, I got me The Adventures of Doctor Eszterhazy – to replace an old battered paperback called The Investigations of Doctor Eszterhazy, which I bought in London in 1992 and was lost somewhere (or more likely, “borrowed” and never returned).
Davidson’s Eszterhazy stories mix Ruritanian novel and Sherlockian pastiche with elements of fantasy and uchronia, to produce some of the strangest, funniest, more intricately woven stories ever put to paper.
Or to any other support, really.
The Gene Wolfe introduction is equally witty and opinionated, and nails it when it explains that Davidson is the sort of writer we return to because of his prose and his fireworks-like narrative, a writer we respect, and envy, and despair we’ll ever be able to emulate.
In his depiction of the nostalgic (but pretty wild) kingdom of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania, Davidson builds atmosphere by an accumulation of details, names, strange depictions.
The end result is exhilarating.
It will be nice spending a few hours in Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania, in the next few nights.
Like going back to a place we visited long ago, and still cherish.