Pratt and de Camp: Land of Unreason
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Premium 0. Yet, it also seems to drift without urgency or pacing, the protagonist is oddly disinterested in the whole adventure and events just seem to happen haphazardly. The big finale with the cryptic prophecy coming to pass feels like a rushed ending from a different story altogether.
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Working from the same premise as this one a rational modern man coping with life in realms of fantasy , those stories benefitted from starring a hero who had a spunky personality and the cleverness to use his civilized logic to good effect when dealing with beings of myth and fable. Shea was not an iron-thewed fighting man, but he was able to think and observe more clearly than the people and gods he met, and this gave him a surprising edge.
And he was also determined to return back to his friends and career in the real world.
He just drifts with one situation after another, barely figuring out ways to cope and not showing much initiative. Barber does develop a sixth sense which tells him when someone is lying, but this isn't as much help as one might think and doesn't come through in a crucial moment. It also confuses the situation that Fairyland is experiencing a series of random Changes, where spells go wrong and things reshape without warning; this makes it hard for him and the reader to get mental bearings.
Barber was an American diplomat working for the State Department. Once he gets past the royal court of Oberon and Titania, the different realms of Fairyland turn out to be exaggerated versions of s countries, which gives de Camp and Pratt a chance to indulge in some slightly heavyhanded social criticism. The leeches are Communists, a leprechaun cobbler makes an IRA speech, the kobolds seem to be German and so forth. Much of this takes place in a pond where Barber has been transmogrified into a frog.
De Camp and Pratt evidently had been impressed with T. The anachronistic modern dialects and slogans popping up is jarring in both works, but White had such a rich style he was able to get away with it better although I still had misgivings even with him. There are also a few racist remarks which I really didn't expect from these two writers, as when a vole has the same subhuman resemblance to his old girlfriend "that an ape often has to a mick", or the leeches "have the same maddening resemblance that Chinese have for each other.
As the story begins, Fred Barber is in England, convalescing after receiving a head injury in a German bombing, and later on he idly wonders if all this Fairyland stuff is mere hallucination and he is actually tied down in a sanitarium somewhere. Like the rest of his former life including a failed romance with a sarcastic woman named Kaja , not much is done with this thought. Barber doesn't seem particularly determined to return to his unhappy former life but he doesn't really plunge into this new existence either.
That encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history, and magic realism. Land of Unreason was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown Worlds in October Revised and expanded, it was first published in book form by Henry Holt and Company in The elf was drunk to begin with Barber, a seasoned diplomat, believed only what he saw - but what he was seeing was unbelievable: elves, fairies, sprites, goblins, all matter-of-factly living in a world of spells, curses, and assorted magics.
It was like something out of a children's story - until Barber's quest for a way back to the "real" world of the 20th century unleashed forces of ancient evil that had been lying in wait for him for a long, long time.
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