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Stalking the Unicorn
Mike Resnick
Pyr, 280 pages

Stalking the Unicorn
Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick sold his first book in 1962 and went on to sell more than 200 novels, 300 short stories and 2,000 articles, almost all of them under pseudonyms. He turned to SF with the sale of The Soul Eater, his first under his own name. Since 1989, Mike has won Hugo Awards (for Kirinyaga; The Manamouki; Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge; The 43 Antarean Dynasties; Travels With My Cats) and a Nebula Award (for Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge).

Mike Resnick Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Starship: Pirate
SF Site Review: Starship: Mutiny
SF Site Review: Dragon America
SF Site Review: Men Writing Science Fiction As Women, Women Writing Science Fiction As Men and New Voices in Science Fiction
SF Site Review: A Hunger in the Soul

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Tammy Moore

Stalking the Unicorn by Mike Resnick has been re-released through Pyr twenty years after its first publication. This is Urban Fantasy from the days when the genre was still defining itself; a whimsical mixture of fantasy and hard-boiled detective novel.

John Justin Mallory is a down-on-his-luck Private Investigator who is seeing the New Year in with a bottle of booze and a pocket full of regrets. The main one is Velma, the lush-bodied, loyal secretary who never was, but he has also been evicted from his apartment and been left to take the heat for a blackmailing scheme run by his ex-partner before he debunked with John Justin's wife. The knee-breakers are outside waiting for him and there's a sure loser waiting for him to bet on it at the track.

When the little green elf appears, John Justin accepts its presence with equanimity; he's more troubled by the delay in the arrival of the pink elephants, since they usually turn up together. Mürgenstürm's tale of woe -- death by dawn unless he finds the unicorn of the title -- doesn't completely convince John Justin that any of this is real, but a wad of cash and a timely save does persuade him to follow Mürgenstürm to the other Manhattan.

(They didn't get there by magic, of course. Their transit was based on completely scientific principles; just ask Mürgenstürm.)

In the other Manhattan, John Justin is thrown into the middle of a unicorn-napping plot that drags him from one side of the city to the other. He has to deal with over-sexed elves, cowardly mages, famed unicorn hunters and covetous cat-people -- and those are his allies. What started as a hunt for a stolen unicorn evolves into something far more dangerous, and John Justin only has until dawn to save two worlds. Luckily, if there's one thing John Justin Mallory knows it's how to deal with the underbelly of Manhattan, no matter which world it is in.

Stalking the Unicorn is an enjoyable and well-crafted novel; it's not a page-turner that will keep you up all night but is a deeply enjoyable read. Mike Resnick draws on plot elements familiar to any reader of the Black Mask magazine and Raymond Chandler to serve as the bare-bones of the novel: the stolen object that is more valuable than it first appears, poetic justice trumping law and order and the untrustworthy allies. These bones are then padded out with a generous layering of quirky, endearing fantasy.

Stalking the Unicorn is slightly dated in the sense that, to someone who has read a lot of fantasy, it's written in a style that isn't often used any more. However, there's a freshness and earnestness to the prose, a genuine sense that the author is enjoying the journey as much as the reader, that is hard to resist.

Finally, I have to compliment to cover artist. You should never judge a book by its cover but the art for both of the Fable of Tonight books (Stalking the Unicorn and Stalking the Vampire) are striking and visually attractive, harking back to the covers of old pulp fiction books.

Copyright © 2008 Tammy Moore

Tammy Moore is a speculative fiction writer based in Belfast. She writes reviews for Verbal Magazine, Crime Scene NI and Green Man Review. Her first book The Even -- written by Tammy Moore and illustrated by Stephanie Law -- is to be published by Morrigan Books September 2008.

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