Originally in : Subterranean, and still online.
This appeared in a special Alexander Irvine issue of Subterranean 18 months ago – click the link above to read it.
I do like a good post-apocalyptic story, and this is a good post-apocalyptic story. It tells the story of Varner, and old man spending his life seeking out any old books left after the Seventh Fall. We find out why there aren’t many books left, and why owning them can be injurious to your health, and we find out about his path to becoming a travelling story-teller as he reflects on his youth, when the Seventh Fall contributed to the end of his childhood. There’s some good imagery in the book, and the characters who Varner reflects on during his journey are skillfully sketched. The beauty of the story is in the intelligent way Irvine uses Varner’s additional quest to find a full version of Hamlet, and his childhood acting in Shakespearean plays. It’s an effective story, and this soppy old sod was quite affected by the ending.