Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dreamwish Beasts, Snarks and Unicorns

Here are a couple more of my latest readings. One is fiction and one is a history. Both are interesting and will be excellent additions to your library.

DREAMWISH BEASTS AND SNARKS, Mike Resnick, Golden Gryphon, $24.95, 278 pages, ISBN: 9781930846609, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Mike Resnick is one of those authors that can come up with some seemingly common ideas and give them a small tweak or a big twist to turn it on its ear and make an uncommonly good story. This volume is filled with some of those and I’m sure ther is plenty here for all to enjoy.

He starts out with “Hunting the Snark” based on the Lewis Carroll poem and shows that even the best prepared hunter really isn’t when he faces the unknown. “Stalking the Unicorn with Gun and Camera” warns of the many mistakes that can be made. “Stalking the Vampire” is in much the same vein as the “Unicorn” entry. Teddy Roosevelt enters the picture as one of the “Two Hunters in Manhattan”. “Bwana” is a story of the Kirinyaga and of the arrogant hunter. “The Soul Eater” is another tale of trying to hunt something that has never been seen, the Dreamwish Beast, with the story told from both points of view.

Entertaining and delightful are a couple of words that can be used to describe Resnik and his writing. This volume gives you a good sample in case you’ve never read him before.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF UNICORNS, Chris Lavers, William Morrow, $26.99, ISBN: 9780060874148, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Unicorns have fascinated mankind for thousands of years. Legends have come down in oral history, pictograms, and tapestries as well as written about in the Bible. There is even an Irish legend that says they were too busy frolicking in the meadow to make it to the Ark on time. Others say their disappearance is due to the number of maidens required to catch them is in deep decline. I’ve got over a dozen representations of them over my computer, so I know that I still believe.

Lavers goes above and beyond in his research. He gathers material from the Greeks, the Mesopotamians, The Bible, Arabic and Hindu texts to document his research. He includes drawings and pictures to show his diligence in his search.

Examples of one horned creatures include the rhinoceros, the Arabian oryx, the narwhale, the okapi and other one horned creatures have been thought to have been unicorns, but as times and people have changed so has the evolution of the unicorn.

Lavers has written a serious tome about a creature of mythic proportions. His background in natural history makes him a natural to have researched this book. Definitely recommended for all unicorn lovers.

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