The wizard nodded. “Your fate will be the same of all who came before you. You will die in battle or by poison. Or you will die an old man, bitter in the knowledge that your scions will grow weak.” Lurgan smiled a wicked smile. “You speak truth.”
Several years ago I reached the nadir of my fantasy and science fiction short story reading. Every month getting through Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, and a few other magazines I subscribed to became a chore getting to the point where I let my subscriptions expire. I admitted to myself that modern mainstream SFF just wasn’t for me.
I wanted action, adventure, magic, and mystery. I wanted heroes and heroines squaring off against dark sorcerers and vile witches through dangerous jungles and ancient steeps. Instead, the mainstream magazines gave me postmodern deconstruction, lit-fic light with a hint of magic and a whole lot of existential whining, a constant regurgitated Neil Gaiman pastiche wrapped in smug literary pretension.
Luckily I came across Cirsova magazine, at that time in its first year, and in the first issue I came across a novella by Schuyler Hernstrom, and it was exactly what I was looking for. Hernstrom’s story had nomadic tribesmen, eyeless wizards, sentient insect-men, decadent gladiatorial combat, ancient spaceships, artificial intelligence, and nuclear mutants, wrapped up in an action-packed adventure. I instantly became a fan of Hernstrom and continued to pick up every issue of Cirsova that carried one of his stories and also picked up his first short story collection Thune’s Vision.
- The Gift of the Ob-Men
- The Tragedy of Thurn (previously unpublished)
- Images of the Goddess
- The Space Witch
- The First American
- The Law of Wolves
- Mortu and Kyrus in the White City
- The Star-God’s Grave
The Eye of Sounnu is an outstanding collection, from prehistoric cavemen fighting grotesque lizard-man aliens to space wizards controlling crystal ships with their magic, every story delivers. Hernstrom writes like a savage clone abomination of Robert Howard and Jack Vance. Barbarians, reptilians, shamans, witches, walking dead, and all sorts of dark gonzo madness fill the pages of this collection. Eye of Sounnu is the Fantasy version of an underground death metal LP that you can only pick up at an invite-only exclusive show held in some cave in the middle of a dark wood.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, read it, and share it with everyone you know that loves fantasy and science fiction, the scene needs more amazing work like this, a fantasy that is truly unique and fantastic.
Pick up The Eye of Sounnu, Thune’s Vision, and support independent magazines like Cirsova by picking up their latest issue. You can also join in on the Short Story Book Club where we are discussing Mortu and Kyrus in the White City.