A Hard-boiled Private Eye Who Becomes a Wizard’s Henchman: A Wizard’s Henchman by Matthew Hughes

A Hard-boiled Private Eye Who Becomes a Wizard’s Henchman: A Wizard’s Henchman by Matthew Hughes


I’ve posted the first chapter of A Wizard’s Henchman for a free read.

For quite a few years now, I’ve been imagining a far-future civilization called the Ten Thousand Worlds, which occupies an arm of the galaxy known as The Spray. The time I’ve been writing about is just before the universe suddenly and arbitrarily shifts from a basis of rational cause-and-effect to a new regime based on magic. When that happens, technological civilization will collapse and the age of The Dying Earth will dawn, with its grim thaumaturges, haunted ruins, and louche decadence.

Whether they live on grand old, long-settled worlds or strange little planets in odd corners, virtually none of The Spray’s multitude of inhabitants knows that disaster impends. A handful do, and they are preparing for the great change.

Until now, I’ve written only about the handful and I’ve always taken the overarching story just to the point where the cataclysm is about to break upon the Ten Thousand Worlds. In A Wizard’s Henchman, for the first time, I go all the way.

Asimov's Science Fiction, February 2013
Asimov’s Science Fiction, February 2013

So the story starts out as hardboiled space opera and transmutes into dark fantasy, from a universe of intelligent space ships to a realm of dragons and demons.

I’ll be interested to see how it’s received.

I’ve also sold another novelette to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It’s called “The Prognosticant” and carries on the life and times of my new serial character, Baldemar, a young wizard’s henchman. It’s my thirtieth sale to F&SF.

And I’ve turned in “Thunderstone,” a space-opera/science-fantasy mix to Nick Gevers, who is editing Extrasolar, an invitation-only antho I was invited to submit to on a last-minute basis when somebody else didn’t deliver a story. It features Erm Kaslo, a far-future Sam Spade, and the protagonist of A Wizard’s Henchmen. Nick has accepted the story. The antho will be out next year.

I invented Kaslo some years ago for a story called “And Then Some,” that ran in Asimov’s and then again in Lightspeed magazine, where it became the beginning of a serialized novel called The Kaslo Chronicles. After it ran, I tidied up the narrative and sold it to PS Publishing, which has released it in limited editions and ebook format, retitled as A Wizard’s Henchman (click the wraparound cover above for a bigger version).

I’m telling you all this because I see I have set things up for possible confusion. Erm Kaslo is a hard-boiled, Sam-Spade-type private eye who becomes a wizard’s henchman when the universe switches from science to magic, and we make the transition from a Jack Vancean Gaean Reach kind of civilization to the decadence of The Dying Earth.

Baldemar is a wizard’s henchman on an Old Earth that is already well into the Dying Earth era. They have nothing in common except the henchman thing.

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I’ve been a fan of Matthew Hughes’s work for years. No writer channels Jack Vance better than Matthew Hughes. I hope to be reading and reviewing A WIZARD’S HENCHMAN soon!

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