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Fool Me Twice
Matthew Hughes
Warner Aspect, 287 pages

Fool Me Twice
Matthew Hughes
Matthew Hughes was born in 1949 Liverpool, England, but moved to Canada when he was five. A life-long writer, he has worked as a journalist, a staff speechwriter in the federal government and, since 1979, a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia. He lives in a small town on Vancouver Island with his wife and 3 sons.

Matthew Hughes Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

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The back cover of Fool Me Twice compares Canadian writer Matthew Hughes to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, but I found his satirical wit far more reminiscent of Jonathan Swift.

Filidor Vesh is the foppish, self-indulgent nephew of the Archon, mysterious ruler of Old Earth. Although Filidor is officially the Archon's Apprentice (a post he attained at the end of the previous novel, Fools Errant) he neglects his duties and education in favour of riotous high living and the sort of parties that make frequent veiled appearances in the gossip column of the Olkney Implicator.

His carefree dissolution is brought to an abrupt end when a righteously outraged citizen pummels him to the ground and steals his official plaque and vigil. What begins as a straightforward pursuit to retrieve it becomes a desperate adventure when his majordomo plies him with Red Abandon and pushes him off the stern of a ship at sea.

As Filidor stumbles his way through absurd adventures, the pirates, vagabonds and gadabouts he meets are all happy to share their philosophical musings. Two cutpurse brothers, for example, chat as they divide up their ill-gained boodle:

"It is always a comfort when we have struck a small blow against the pernicious cult of private property," said one of them, holding up a glittering item of some kind. "Instead of hiding in some selfish own-it-all's pocket, this piece will soon be circulating again throughout the world, bringing delight to all who see it."

"As ever," returned his brother," you erect thin and reedy concepts whose only foundation is the thickness of your brain. The effect of our work is to take those things which were widely held, that is, by several attendees at tonight's performance, and happily concentrate them in our pockets. The gain is ours and it is private."

Readers who enjoy an apt word and elegant turn of phrase will have a lovely time with this witty book, which is dry and clever rather than hilarious. And considerably to my surprise, the cynical Hughes even provides a happy ending for his eminently fallible hero.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at http://www.donna-mcmahon.com/.


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