Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Simon Brown, Troy

Just posting a link here to a review in Strange Horizons of Simon Brown's collection of short stories inspired by the Trojan War, by Ben Peek. This is as much so that I remember it as anything else, as this sort of thing is, of course, important for my project on SF and the Classics.

Whenever I see something like this, I always think "Oh, I wish someone had asked me to review this book!", but such is life. And I suspect from the book's absence from Amazon.com that it's only been published in Australia. Some of the short stories, however, are on Brown's website (which hasn't been updated since 2003), and I shall catch up with those sometime.

I'll comment briefly on a short passage from the end of Peek's review:

Comic writer and artist Eric Shanower is brilliant at recreating the Iliad, in his series Age of Bronze, as a realistic historical drama without any element of the fantastic; fantasy author David Gemmell is set to release Troy: Shield of Thunder, the second book in his Trojan War reimagining later this year ...


Note how Peek talks of Gemmell being a 'fantasy author', rather than describing his version of Troy as fantasy. This is important, because, as I've noted, the first in the series has no more of the fantastic than Shanower's version.*

* By which I am not as impressed as some. The artwork is beautiful and meticulous, and the research behind it extremely thorough. But because Shanower is telling the story of the Trojan War, rather than using the War as a background against which to tell stories, as the Greeks did, and because he includes nearly every single incident recorded in any source, the narrative can be quite shapeless and dull. Also, he's nowhere near recreating the Iliad yet - as of the most recent part published the Greek army has yet to arrive outside the walls of Troy.

2 comments:

ben peek said...

hey tony

you can buy the book here http://www.bookworm.com.au/cgi-bin/bookmall/bookworm/returndetail.tam?&item.ctx=AA000303

if you're curious. it is, as you say, only released in australia, and is an independent release (as the majority of short speculative fiction is in the country). it's a bunch of other online bookstores too, should you want another.

as for shanower's AGE OF BRONZE, i do agree that it is a bit shapeless due to the sheer amount of information in it. but it might straighten out by the end, i suppose...

b.

Tony Keen said...

Damian Warman's promised me a copy if I'll write about it and Dan Simmons' Ilium/Olympos.

I think Shanower's decision to tell the whole story, something no Greek would have ever done, using the War as a background, means that the work will inevitably have a shapelessness about it.