The Last Hot Time

John M. Ford, Author
John M. Ford, Author Tor Books $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-85545-1
Paperback - 205 pages - 978-0-312-87578-7
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Brilliant is as brilliant does, and Ford's first excursion into enigmatic, offbeat speculative fiction in seven years bids fair to win him yet another World Fantasy Award, as did The Dragon Waiting. In this mesmerizing near-future scenario, most of Earth's technologyDman's ""magic""Dhas been destroyed by the immortal Elves who once coexisted with primitive hominids, then vanished back into the parallel universe of Elfland. When the Elves return a generation after JFK's assassination, they witness, horrified, what man has become, and they strike out in panic, blasting most of Chicago. Young paramedic Danny Holman, heading toward Chicago's Elf-gang-ridden heart, saves the life of a young woman wounded severely in a drive-by shooting. The mysterious Mr. Patrise rewards Danny with a new identityD""Doc Hollownight""Dand a job as house medic to Patrise's web of underground nightclubs. Danny also gets involved in Patrise's clandestine operations against Whisper-Who-Dares, the loathsome Elf who fuels his insatiable lust for power by flaying humans alive, feeding off their unspeakable agonies. Whether human, minor Elf nobility (the Ellyon) or Highborn Urthas Elves, Ford's generous cast of characters continually surprises, intrigues and pulses with life, a tribute to his power as a storyteller. Haunting, puzzling, even unsettling and deliberately obscure, this improvisatory jazzlike riff of good and evil in the context of a most unusual growing-up story is bittersweet as first love and loss, a minor-key elegy for the death of youth and innocence. (Jan.)
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