Steven R. Boyett
Way back in The Before Time, the Long-Long Ago (i.e., the mid-1980s), there was a writer named Steven R. Boyett who wrote two popular, well-respected paperback originals, The Architect of Sleep and Ariel. Ariel was a stand-alone about a boy and his unicorn wandering across an America transformed overnight from a world ruled by technology to one ruled by magic. The Architect of Sleep imagined a world where raccoons evolved as the planet’s sentient species and ended right in the middle of the story, and pissed-off readers have been waiting almost a quarter-century for the projected sequel, The Geography of Dreams, to appear.
Then Boyett became disgusted by publishing and went off to do other things (like become a DJ). Now, some three decades later, he’s returned to writing and has finally written a sequel.
Fred, the son of the protagonist of Ariel, is an aspiring magician living with his father in a small community on the Southern Californian coast. His mother died long ago, he’s working as an apprentice to local brujo while spending his leisure time working on developing a programmatic approach to magic with his friend Yan, and has no idea that he’s named after his father’s sword. As time goes on, it becomes apparent that Yan not only wishes to understand everything possible about casting, but actually wants to reverse “the change,” no matter how many people (or magical creatures) that might kill. To do that he needs a unicorn horn, which he just happens to have taken off Ariel’s mate…
All in all, this is a more somber book than the original (which certainly had its own somber moments), but still a very good one. Boyett offers an afterword, but doesn’t mention there he’s retconned the universe since the original publication of Ariel, as in Elegy Beach, “the change” happened right about now rather than in 1983, as this book mentions iPods, the Internet, etc. (I suspect these were revised for the republication of Ariel, but I’ve only read the original.) The narrative voice is very similar to the Zelazny-esque “first person smartass” of the original, and the story is interesting and well-told (albeit a bit more traditional of a quest fantasy, complete with the gathering of plot coupon quest companions, than the original).
Also, Boyett coins the phrase “Generation Eloi,” which is too good not to steal.
If you liked Ariel (and most people, myself included, did), then you’ll probably like Elegy Beach. If you haven’t read Ariel, well, you should probably read that anyway.
Also, Boyett has put up a fairly extensive site on the novel that may be of interest.
And as for The Geography of Dreams, well, here’s Boyett’s explanation from 1998. I wouldn’t hold your breath…
(Note: I have copies of both Ariel and Elegy beach available over on the Lame Excuse Books page.)