FORGOTTEN BOOK: The Other by Matthew Hughes, 2011
This is the 113th in my series of Forgotten Books.
I really like the work of Matthew Hughes, especially when he is in his channeling Jack Vance, PG Wodehouse, Cordwainer Smith, and others. And this is one of those books. I really liked his Henghis Hapthorn, like Hespira, The Spiral Labyrinth and Majestrum. This book features Luff Imbry, who was the hero of Black Brillium which I quite enjoyed and Quartet & Triptych which I read in one setting.
Matthew Hughes writes travel adventures on strange worlds with stranger cultures. This is exactly in that vein. Luff Imbry is a corpulent procurer of illicit things and a sometime forger of highly desired items. He is a master thief and forger. One day he receives a call from one of his middle men asking for a meet-up. The normally extremely cautious Luff looks and everything seems on the up and up. That is until he finds himself drugged, shackled and sent off into the vastness of the Sprawl.
He soon finds himself dumped on the planet Fulda with a small man named Tuchol who has something to do with the abduction. Imbry finds himself nearly naked on a desert world with high humidity with Tuchol. They are picked up by Taggar, who runs a traveling entertainment troupe. Soon they encounter the Ideals, a group of people who run the planet and all are of the same stock and appearance. They follow the teachings of Haldeyn, who decided that the problems of the world all stemmed from the deviations to the norm for his race. He studied statistical norms and found himself to be average in all areas, and declared this to be the Golden Mean. He found followers and they soon took over the world, removing the wealth from those in power and giving it to those more deserving, i.e. themselves. This went on for a while until the populace revolted and they were cast off of their world which is not even named, merely referred to as “the Pit”.
Now they control Fuldar and look down on anyone who is not an Ideal. These they refer to as Irregulars or, contemptuously, “oddy”. Tuchol is killed one evening and the local constabulary decide that Luff s the killer. Logic plays no part in his interrogation and he makes an enemy of the Provost Breeth.
There are conflicts throughout the book between Luff and Breeth, between law and order, law and religion, logic and idealism. When you look at it, the whole novel seems to be an indictment of Aryanism as practiced by the Nazis since that was there big racist schtick.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit and it really kept me occupied while I waited for me name to be called at the courthouse for jury duty. They called 500 or so names but mine was not one of them so I am done with my civic duty for a while.
You should check it and the other novels from Hughes out. This one is from Underland Press, a small press which has done some very good books over the last few years so it may not be in your bookstore but I am sure it is available from all the normal online places.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.