Book Cover
Title A Wizard's Henchman
Series Archonate Universe
Author Matthew Hughes
Cover Art ---
Publisher Lightspeed Magazine
First Printing Lightspeed Magazine
Category ---
Warnings None

Main Characters

Erm Kaslo, Diomedo Obron

Main Elements Science fiction, wizards
Website Archonate

Erm Kaslo is at the top of his game: a hardboiled confidential operative in the ultra-high-tech civilization of The Ten Thousand Worlds that spans the entire galactic arm known as The Spray. But the universe is about to arbitrarily change its fundamental operating premise from science to magic. Technology will cease to function and all of Kaslo’s hard-won skills and abilities will be useless.

As the change nears, a handful of would-be wizards are jockeying for position in the coming race for supremacy, squabbling over the few ancient books and paraphernalia that survive from the long-forgotten age when magic last ruled the cosmos. Kaslo goes to work for Diomedo Obron, a wealthy dilettante with more money than common sense who hopes to emerge as a powerful thaumaturge.

But there’s worse to come: an ancient evil has been biding its time for millennia, waiting for the age of science to end. Now, its moment finally arrived, it reaches out from another plane to strike with deadly force. And only Kaslo can stop it—if he can live long enough.

I was reading an issue of Lightspeed Magazine for another story but it included one of the middle installments of the Kaslo Chronicles. Intrigued, I went back and read the entire collection from the start.

At first you assume this is science fiction, because it is, people travel in spaceships, buildings are impossibly thin and tall due to the newest in technology, and Erm Kaslo is a well trained operative running successful mission after mission...that is until the underlying basis of the universe flips, something that happens every few thousand years and suddenly science as we know it is replaced by an associative kind of concept, where things are controlled by will alone, and a few fancy words and diagrams drawn. Yes, basically magic. So is this book fantasy now? Well yes, and or no, depending if you assume magic is just an alternate set of scientific rules (though they aren't really rules...with enough will you can sort of do anything)

And unlike the old world, you need to have an inherent talent. Kaslo finds himself tone-deaf in this new world, most of his old skills are useless, and he's can't even understand what the previously laughable Obron talks about, let alone cast the spells. But he's still an well trained operative and being a body guard and planning defensive action is something he can still do, so he gets hired on as, well, the wizard's henchman.

I found myself enjoying this way more than I thought I should. The concept comes from Jack Vance's Dying Earth (which I will be reading shortly) but you don't need to have read it to follow along. The whole idea where what was once a spaceship with an AI system is now a...well, won't spoil that one, and how there is a total reversal of who is in power (it's no longer logic but emotion that rules now), and instead of having a main character that is someone who is now the "special snowflake" in this new world, we've got one who is nearly useless. The only thing he's got is an unwillingness to give up.

I highly recommend heading over to the Lightspeed website and reading this, it's free after all! I' now very interesting in reading more from Matthew Hughes, Kaslo is just the tip of his universe, with many other characters finding themselves stranded in this strange (yes, very, very strange!) new world.

Posted: January 2017


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