Regular readers may recall that I don’t get fantasy. Nonetheless, I do keep half an eye on the feed for Podcastle, just in case a story comes along that straddles the genre borders or otherwise grabs my attention.
Cup and Table by Tim Pratt was one such story. It caught my attention primarily for being a Holy Grail story, and turned out to be just such a genre-straddling stories – it has a dash of time travel, and with the addition of some spandex it could have been a superhero story – but at heart it’s the sort of urban fantasy that Joss Whedon made me a fan of all those years ago.
I liked the world, I liked the anti-heroes of the Table, and I think I liked what it said about God. But what sticks in my mind, apart from the ending, is the character of Carlsbad. Here is an entity made up of the collective evil of mankind. I’ve no idea how original that concept is in fantasy literature, and I don’t really care. It appeals to me. It appeals to me as an obvious parallel to so many things in the real world, like the porn industry, an entity whose existence depends on the collective lust of mankind. Same goes for drugs, weapons… ours is a world stalked by Carlsbad and many others like him. I guess that’s another idea to add to the story stew constantly bubbling away in my head…
Anyway: Cup and Table. If you’re prepared to accept that it’s a story entirely about bad guys, and has a bit of swearing in it, it’s definitely worth a listen. And, Tim, if you're reading, I could definitely stand to hear more from this world. ;)