I respect Richard Abbott's fair-minded, insightful reviews. He has recently published a string of posts on steampunk books, and he's lucidly imparted his thoughts on each one. The Skater and the Saint is (sort of) the next in line, and he gave it 5 stars.
As they say in Borschland, Ergut!
The Borschland Hockey Chronicles are sort of steampunk-y. As Richard says in his review, "[T]he book drifts somewhere out of phase between fantasy, science-fiction and steampunk..." I consider it steampunk lite. Richard goes on to say that the Chronicles demand to be read on their own merits.
This is true. I don't think I have the gene for writing genre fiction, though I respect those who can. My imagination is too all over the place for me to write to a series of expectations. At the same time, I wouldn't call the Chronicles "literary." There's too much goof in them for that.
My friend Bob Mustin probably got close to the truth when he called the Chronicles "postmodern fantasy."
Postmodernism is sometimes thought of as a movement that tried to argue that everything is meaningless, but in its best form, it takes the conventional and stands it on its head, bringing out new possibilities and meanings.
I see the conventions of genres-- the magic sword in fantasy, the sexy man who can be improved in romance-- and I want to do something original with them, knock them about, change people's expectations.
So in Skater in a Strange Land, the romance is between a nerd hockey player and a nerd poetess. There are no dandelion fairies floating in front of a soft-focus lens. But the hero and heroine do have a waltz together.
In The Skater and the Saint, there's no magic sword. But there's a weird branch-like thing that blooms every 300 years and is shaped like and can be used as a hockey stick.
The third book, still in the planning stages, promises to be more science-fiction-y. Hopefully plausible and well-researched stuff. And full of a kind of goof, too.
Speaking of expectations, I wasn't expecting Richard to like this one better than the first. He liked it because it delved into Borschic culture and religion more deeply than the first; I thought that might be a hindrance to some readers. And it may just be.
But the one wonderful thing I've discovered since publishing these two novels is that every reader comes to every book with a unique set of eyes, and fixes on different things in those books. If a book is packed full enough-- of plot, character, world, turn of phrase-- then each reader can appreciate something different, and like the book regardless of their particular eyes. It sounds trite, but I think it's true.
Anyway, go read the review if you'd like, and check out Richard's newest, Scenes from a Life, a view into the everyday world of ancient Egypt.