Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends

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Macmillan, Nov 28, 2006 - Fiction - 320 pages
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* Where did Sinbad Sail?
* Who Fired the Phoenix?
* The Boy Who Cried Werewolf
* The Great Rough Beast
* Postscript on Prester John
* The Secret of Hyperborea
* What Gave All Those Mammoths Cold Feet?

And many more--fictional? authoritative? fantastic? deadpan?--investigations into the real, the true...and the things that should be true

PREFACE BY PETER S. BEAGLE
ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE BARR

"Although the wombat is real and the dragon is not, nobody knows what a wombat looks like and everyone knows what a dragon looks like."

Not a novel, not a book of short stories, Adventures in Unhistory is a book of the fantastic--a compendium of magisterial examinations of Mermaids, Mandrakes, and Mammoths; Dragons, Werewolves, and Unicorns; the Phoenix and the Roc; about places such as Sicily, Siberia, and the Moon; about heroic, sinister, and legendary persons such as Sindbad, and Aleister Crowley, and Prester John; and--revealed at last--the Secret of Hyperborea.

The facts are here, the foundations behind rumors, legends, and the imaginations of generations of tale-spinners. But far from being dry recitals, these meditations, or lectures, or deadpan prose performances are as lively, as crazily inventive, as witty as the best fiction of the author, a writer praised by Gardner Dozois as "one of the great short story writers of our times."

Who, on the subject of Dragons, could write coldly, dispassionately, guided only by logic? Certainly not Avram Davidson. Certain facts, these facts, deserve more than recitation; they deserve flourish, verve, gusto, style--the late, great Avram Davidson's unique voice. That prose which, in the words of Peter S. Beagle's Preface to this volume, "cries out to be read aloud."


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Have I seriously not written a review for this? It's a supremely fun picaresque journey into the origins of legends, written by someone who deeply loved them. This could actually the best thing Avram Davidson ever wrote. Read full review

Contents

SINDBAD SAIL?
WHO FIRED THE PHOENIX?
AN ABUNDANCE OF DRAGONS
WHO MAKES THE MANDRAKES?
THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF
THE GREAT ROUGH BEAST
THE THEFT OF THE MULBERRY TREE
THE SPOOR OF THE UNICORN
WHAT GAVE ALL THOSE MAMMOTHS COLD FEET?
BIRD THOU WERT BUT ART NO MORE
THE PREVALENCE OF MERMAIDS
NOTES
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Avram Davidson was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1923. After spending some time at New York University, he served in the Marines from 1942 till 1946--and again saw action during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. For two years in the early 1960s, Davidson edited The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He earned awards and accolades throughout his life for his SF writing, including the Hugo Award, the Edgar Award, the Ellery Queen Award, and three World Fantasy Awards. Davidson died in 1993.

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