The Literary Horizon: The High Crusade, The Gaslight Dogs

Guys, I miss fantasy. I think the last fantasy novel I read was The Magicians, and that was a deconstruction, so it barely counts. Fantasy and science fiction novels remain on hold at the library while historical fiction and nonfiction have set up housekeeping in my dorm room. (Joke’s on them–I have to move out in a few weeks!) So when Tor.com featured two fabulous fantasy novels recently, I knew it was no accident–it was my beloved genre crying out to me.

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

In the year of grace 1345, as Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville is gathering an army to join King Edward III in the war against France, a most astonishing event occurs: a huge silver ship descends through the sky and lands in a pasture beside the little village of Ansby in northeastern Lincolnshire. The Wersgorix, whose scouting ship it is, are quite expert at taking over planets, and having determined from orbit that this one was suitable, they initiate standard world-conquering procedure. Ah, but this time it’s no mere primitives the Wersgorix seek to enslave—they’ve launched their invasion against free Englishmen! In the end, only one alien is left alive—and Sir Roger’s grand vision is born. He intends for the creature to fly the ship first to France to aid his King, then on to the Holy Land to vanquish the infidel. Unfortunately, he has not allowed for the treachery of the alien pilot, who instead takes the craft to his home planet, where, he thinks, these upstart barbarians will have no choice but to surrender. But that knavish alien little understands the indomitable will and clever resourcefulness of Englishmen, no matter how great the odds against them. . .

via Amazon

Let’s just reiterate that–medieval English knights take over alien empire. Why, I do believe I’m hooked. Jo Walton (author of Tooth and Claw, yet another fantasy novel languishing on my reading list) wrote something lovely about it over at the Tor.com blog, praising how the medieval tech and how it interacts with futuristic tech is well-researched, but also that the futuristic tech is very 1960s. As a minor Trekkie, I know that all the funnest furturistic tech is very 1960s. The High Crusade is also turning fifty this year, which is just mindblowing to me.

Jo Walton’s write-up is a sort of review, I suppose–she especially points out that she loves the use of a clergyman as narrator, and that she adores Poul Anderson’s work in general. Due to its nature as a classic of science fiction (which makes me wonder what rock I’ve been hiding under all these years), there’s not a lot of book blogger reviews, although the reviews on Amazon are all glowing. I’m highly looking forward to this, especially since it’s being republished to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary!

The High Crusade was published in 1960, and was originally a serial in Astounding during the fall of that year.

The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee

At the edge of the known world, an ancient nomadic tribe faces a new enemy-an Empire fueled by technology and war.

A young spiritwalker of the Aniw and a captain in the Ciracusan army find themselves unexpectedly thrown together. The Aniw girl, taken prisoner from her people, must teach the reluctant soldier a forbidden talent – one that may turn the tide of the war and will surely forever brand him an outcast.

From the rippling curtains of light in an Arctic sky, to the gaslit cobbled streets of the city, war is coming to the frozen north. Two people have a choice that will decide the fates of nations – and may cast them into a darkness that threatens to bring destruction to both their peoples.

via Hatchette Book Group

Hey, you know what I’m constantly a little angry about? The casting for The Last Airbender, which could have afforded all sorts of wonderful opportunity and visibility for Inuit and Asian actors, but decided to totally disregard the respect of the source material. With that in mind, seeing the cover to The Gaslight Dogs made me smile.

Tor brought this to my attention with its glowing review, which especially praised balancing the novel between Sjenn and Jarrett (the spiritwalker and captain, respectively) and the handling of Sjenn adjusting to life in a wildly different culture. Because it was just published this month, I can’t really find any other reviews–it doesn’t have a single one on Amazon! But between Tor’s review and the premise, I’m at least giving this a shot.

The Gaslight Dogs was published on April 1, 2010.

4 thoughts on “The Literary Horizon: The High Crusade, The Gaslight Dogs

  1. Reading Kage Baker’s books has been like coming home to my first love, speculative fiction. The High Crusade sounds SO GREAT – I can’t wait to see what you think of it!

  2. I used to love high fantasy so much! It saddens me that I don’t really read it any more. Of course, nothing’s actually stopping me! lol

  3. The premise of The High Crusade makes me think of Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim which also involved alien interaction with humans from past eras. In Eifelheim, aliens crash-land near a German village about the time of the Black Death and the story is told from the perspective of the village priest. It’s really good though I’m sure much darker than The High Crusade, based on the description of it.

    Gaslight Dogs sounds really intriguing!

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