Saturday, January 11, 2020

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats is an interesting and insightful parable about our differences, unity, self determination, loyalties, and what we owe to society. Due out 31st Jan 2020 from Subterranean Press, it's 128 pages and will be available in a limited edition hardcover and audio formats.

The novella form has always struck me as a weird hybrid between a novel and short story. It's sort of the literary equivalent of a 5km race, too long for a sprint, too short for a marathon. It's also said to be the most difficult track and field event since the athletes have to run *fast* but also ration enough energy to finish the race without crashing.

Author James Patrick Kelly has won several of speculative fiction/fandoms most prestigious awards and is a master of the form.  This book kept me a little off balance in the beginning. I was drawn into the narrative almost unwillingly while I was trying to figure out what was going on and find some equilibrium with the characters' directions and how the system of which they were a part was set up, how it was failing, and even what I was hoping would be the resolution. The cover art by Jon Foster is beautifully nostalgic and retro-1950 F&SF/Amazing style (complete with 4-fin rocket).

There's a fair bit of dreamlike description involved. The main character (a clone of an important historical leader) is negotiating his place in the failing order of things when he's presented with a choice, be part of the future or maintain the status quo as long as possible even though it's crumbling and destined to failure soon.

It might be wish fulfillment and a hope for our flawed and dying (real) world, but whatever the author's true intention with the story, it's very very well written, engaging, and powerful. I enjoyed it very much. Five stars. I hope the author revisits this world.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.   

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