cover image The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderoˉz

The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderoˉz

Dan Simmons. Subterranean (, $35 (120p) ISBN 978-1-59606-541-3

This witty and wistful novella, first published in the Songs of the Dying Earth anthology of homages to Jack Vance’s Dying Earth works, leads a stately progress across the landscape of a far-future world, lit more by human avarice than by its bloated sun. Shrue the diabolist, in seclusion to avoid an uprising against magicians, learns that ancient magus Ulfänt Banderoz has died. This news sets Shrue on a journey to gain access to the Ultimate Library. Accompanied by female mercenary Myrmazons and chased by Elementals astride flying predatory pelgranes, Shrue has to navigate both his companions’ agendas and the traps that Banderoz has left. Taking a more plaintive and concerned tack than Vance’s evanescent and insouciant tone, Simmons (Drood) uses familiar characters and settings in ways that restore their original luster and sharp edges. Readers of quest fantasies may find it slow going, but those who linger on the aerial cruise will enjoy the ride. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (July)