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Galveston by Sean Stewart

Galveston (2000)

by Sean Stewart

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3531048,403 (3.82)34
Galveston had been baptized twice. Once by water in the fall of 1900 and again by magic during Mardi Gras, 2004. The Island of Galveston would forever be divided - between the real city and a city locked in a constant Carnival, an endless Mardi Gras.
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» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
It took awhile to get going for me, and I found the poker metaphor heavy-handed (about half the references to playing your hand could have been edited out and I still would have felt like, ok, I get it), but I'm very glad I read it. It's the novel version of my beloved [b:A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster|6444492|A Paradise Built in Hell The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster|Rebecca Solnit|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347471802s/6444492.jpg|6634525], in which a post-apocalyptic world mostly sucks it up and imperfectly bands together to make the most functional community they can manage, in the way that people tend to do.

A 100-year-old ghost talks to one of the main characters, who is eaten by bitterness at all the civilization humanity had lost:

"'We didn't have penicillin when I was a girl either,' Miss Bettie said. 'Very few people ever have, Mr. Cane. You seem to find it so unfair.... Civilization isn't what happens in the absence of barbarity, Mr. Cane. It's what we struggle to build in the midst of it.'"

I'm not sure that's meant to be hopeful, but I found it so. ( )
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
This one is set in the same world-premise as Stewart's Resurrection Man and The Night Watch. Magic swept into the world like a hurricane in 2004 and humans in Galveston have been trying to ward it off for nearly a generation as the remnants of civilization crumble. The fantasy was darker than I've been in the mood for, but the narrative was extremely compelling - it wouldn't let me go. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
In 2004, waves of magic engulf the world and pull it into madness. In Galveston, Texas, two women hold back the flood of magic. With the help of the Mardi Gras Krewes and Momus, a trickster god, Jane and Odessa quarantine the magic into a never-ending carnival; anyone who demonstrates magic is killed or sent there. A generation later, Jane is dying and her only child, Sloane, bargains with Momus so she won't have to watch her mother die. But of course, there is a loophole--and Sloane is caught up in it.

This is an intense book. Classism and privilege are hugely important. Cut off from the outside world, Galveston is on the verge of slipping into the dark ages. I felt drained after I read this, and spent the next two or three days in a terrible mood. If it were less emotionally damaging, I would easily rate this as 4 stars--as it is, I'm still sick when I think of some scenes. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This may be Sean Stewart's best novel, though it is not my favourite. Here we see Stewart displaying full mastery of his prose, his characterization, and his depiction of a fully realized magical world. Be warned though, neither the characters, nor the world presented, are always pleasant to behold.

We follow the story of Josh Cane, a young man with a chip on his shoulder due to the constrained circumstances of his life that are the result of his father's loss of a pivotal game of poker. Add to this the fact that Josh lives in a world after the occurence of a magical apocalypse wherein everyone has to work hard to survive, not only due to their physical circumstances, but also due to the perilous proximity of the magical Otherworld, and you have the makings of a pretty downbeat story. Stewart himself has described this book as: "...your Basic "Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Everything, Girl becomes her Own Evil Twin, Boy Is Framed For Murder and Sent Along With Sidekick To Be Eaten By Cannibals, and Things Get Worse When The Weather Turns Bad" story." That about sums it up.

Of course there's more to the novel than a simple encapsulation, even one given by the author, can provide. First of all we have, once again, Stewart's excellent characters: Our main character Josh is by turns repulsive and worthy of pity; a man who had expected a life of much greater comfort than the one he ended up with and who is unable to let go of the bitterness he feels as a result of his circumstances. The only person who seems able to stand Josh is his best friend Ham Mather, the gentle giant who loyally accompanies Josh in his exile that is brought about by Josh's infatuation with the third of our heroes: Sloane Gardner, the heir-apparent to both the political and magical leaders of Galveston whose desire to escape from her responsibilities leads to disaster. Standing in the background of the story like a looming spectre is the distorted and eternal carnival otherworld presided over by Momus, a godlike trickster who will give blessings to mortals courageous, or foolhardy, enough to pay the price. As always, be careful what you wish for.

As noted, Josh's story goes from bad to worse and his circumstances, both physical and personal, can become hard to stomach. You think George R. R. Martin can put his characters through the ringer? He could pick up a few tips from Sean Stewart here. There are also no easy resolutions. Stewart always avoids the easy answer or pat conclusion. Our characters do get resolutions of sorts, and they certainly grow and change as people, but nothing is exactly as one might have expected and nothing follows the standard Hollywood paradigm for such things. This is all to the good I say and for all its difficulty, you'd be hard pressed to find a better told story than the one you'll find in _Galveston_.

I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point for Stewart: go to _Resurrection Man_, or _The Night Watch_ for that. Both take place in the same world deluged by magic, though at different points in its history. They are a bit more friendly to their protagonists, though they never quite let them off the hook either. No matter where you start though, you're in for a real treat with Sean Stewart. He's truly an excellent writer of great talent. ( )
  dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
The basic premise of the story is interesting, particularly if read as an allegorical tale: the attempts to suppress the magic of Mardi Gras are the attempts made by society and individuals to repress what we don't understand and what we see as primitive, and therefore negative, cultural and social urges in our collective subconsciousness. The use of magic is seen as ambivalent: both useful and dangerous, and its possibilities are explored in detail here. The twisting of the world we know into an alternate magical reality with its dark forces and bright exterior is well portrayed.
  johnylitnin | Mar 15, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
In my opinion, this book had a lot of potential and I was really excited to read a fictional piece about Mardi Gras, but there wasn't nearly enough mythology, and it was frankly a huge disappointment.

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sean Stewartprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stablin, VictorCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Poker is a man's game," Josh's daddy used to say, "because it isn't fair."
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