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Review: “The Last Unicorn (1968)” by Peter S. Beagle (5 Stars)

Magical prose that flows in lyrical quality and somber notes in deft creation of a profound myth that is familiar and yet completely unique. Hope and regret and joy and sadness–a complete and wondrous tale!

The Last Unicorn is a quest story. With all the dire implications that its title bears the protagonist is indeed the last unicorn left in the world. She lives in joyful ignorance of this fact until cruel riddles from the sibyl whisperings of a magical creature hint at her true plight. She is alone.

So begins a journey out of the safety of the immortal world of the Unicorn and into the wider world of men and all the wicked and good that comes with that. The story has an air of a sort of coming of age tale mixed in with a winking nod at the classic hero’s journey. An unusual balance is achieved in the prose that intermixes whimsy and humor with a subtle sort of sadness. There is a strong voice throughout that manages this equilibrium with all the craft mastery of a mad genius.

Humor is a hard thing to write. To do it well is very rare. I would not label this book as a work of comedy similar to the efforts of other humorists in the fantasy or science fiction genre. Yet, whimsy is there and it works well to counter balance the more serious contexts that are being worked through with the over-arching plot. There are high stakes playing out. Folks risks themselves for worthy causes. The darkness threatens to dispel hope (as it so often does), and, of course, the characters must carry on and dutifully fulfill their fates.

The author’s writing is airy and light which makes for a fast read, but it maintains a certain weight to it throughout the book. There is also a lyrical quality to the voice and some actual bits of verse. I’m not usually a huge fan of song lyrics intermixed with prose, but they are done here well enough. This musical aspect sometimes compliments the dialog in an almost metered voice. The characters occasionally repeat themselves as if their words were pairing couplets at the end of a sonnet. That being said, there is none of it that is overwrought or reaching. Everything flows through to the end and is well paced in both rhythm, rhyme, meaning, and context.

The main characters in this story are all extremely memorable, however brief their appearance they are cast out onto the plot with grandiose colors and vivacious display leaping to life as they fret about with each of their own individual conflicts and concerns. The author cleverly weaves them into the protagonist’s mission. Whether they seek to thwart or aid, they are all a delight.

I was not surprised that this book has been turned into an animated feature, it reads very much like one. The whole while I read I could imagine the scenes being enacted and the songs being song. To an extent, most books do that, however this one had the feel of animation. I can’t remember if I saw the film years ago, but if I did I can’t quite recall it. The words themselves have a particular quality of levity that is different than the usual fare. Still, I was drawn into this story all the same and did not feel that these qualities undercut any of my empathy for the characters or their desires and needs and struggles.

The ending of the novel is also unique and very satisfying. It completes with the same air of familiarity as the characters and subject matter, but also something different. Things wrap up as they ought, yet with the right hints of joyful sadness that should come when there is a price paid to fight for what is right. A lesson of sacrifices and real consequences akin to old world faery tales. This harkening back to myths and legends is what makes the story feel familiar and the author’s playful use of language fits like a glove (or rather a chainmail gauntlet). In contrast, he also moves the narrative into untapped crevices and neglected niches of these classic genres managing to gain a unique and authentic hold of the monomyth.

It’s all done with a fresh and playful air and profound sincerity which has insured this story its place as an utter classic of the genre. The author has bespoke the dreams and aspirations of generations before and those yet to come creating a modern fairy tale enjoyable for all ages.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).

Episode Link: https://nodeodorantinouterspace.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/review-the-last-unicorn-peter-s-beagle

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2019 in Book Reviews

 

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First TV Appearance and FREE Day

I’m having a couple FREE days on Amazon for “The One Who Turned Them On” to celebrate my television debut (on 12/10/13 and 12/11/13).

My wonderful author friend, Lydia Ponczak, who hosts “News & Views” in Oak Forest, Illinois (USA) allowed me to come on her community television show and talk about my writings and new book. It was a great experience and I am very grateful to them for making it so. The show broadcasts to local community stations (Comcast channels 19 and 4; AT&T U-verse channel 99; Wowway channel 6) this evening, but you can watch it online here. Check it out: http://vimeo.com/80665740#t=1895s

“The One Who Turned Them On (The Energy Scavengers II)” get it here: http://www.amazon.com/One-Turned-Them-Energy-Scavengers-ebook/dp/B00GWQLUI2

Story Synopsis: On a planet exclusively populated by alien robots, machines struggle to find purpose after abandonment by their creators. Kairos, the highly intelligent and massive weather-machine, monitors the world with cold academic curiosity atop of the great canyon system. He cares only for storms and other significant meteorological events. While below, common worker-bots scavenge daily to find scraps of power that will allow them to subsist in this increasingly savage environment. The Body, a growing robot-collective, is slowly taking over the canyons and oppressing all those that resist its will. Viewing any free power source as a threat, The Body, moves to enlist Kairos in its quest to destroy a mythic, sky-deity who has been benevolently restoring power to injured and disabled machines. Only Ophis, an insignificant and crippled worker-bot, stands in the path of this nefarious task. Will Kairos look beyond his own self-interests, or will he too kow-tow to the collective?

Series Overview: This is the second installment in a robot-themed series which tells the story exclusively through the eyes of machines. The works are interconnected but can stand on their own.

 
 

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Official Trailer and Book Release on Amazon

Official book trailer for my new science fiction short story: “The One Who Turned Them On (The Energy Scavengers II). Written by: Ryan Sean O’Reilly. Story available exclusively for Kindle at Amazon.com on 11/26/13: http://www.amazon.com/The-Turned-Them-Energy-Scavengers-ebook/dp/B00GWQLUI2/

Story Synopsis: “On a planet exclusively populated by alien robots, machines struggle to find purpose after abandonment by their creators. Kairos, the highly intelligent and massive weather-machine, monitors the world with cold academic curiosity atop of the great canyon system. He cares only for storms and other significant meteorological events. While below, common worker-bots scavenge daily to find scraps of power that will allow them to subsist in this increasingly savage environment. The Body, a growing robot-collective, is slowly taking over the canyons and oppressing all those that resist its will. Viewing any free power source as a threat, The Body, moves to enlist Kairos in its quest to destroy a mythic, sky-deity who has been benevolently restoring power to injured and disabled machines. Only Ophis, an insignificant and crippled worker-bot, stands in the path of this nefarious task. Will Kairos look beyond his own self-interests, or will he too kow-tow to the collective?”

Series Overview: This is the second installment in my robot-themed series, which tells the story exclusively through the eyes of machines. The works are interconnected but can stand on their own. As of this writing, the first story “The Energy Scavengers” was free and available for download at major online retailers: Amazon.com, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.com.

More info at: www.RyanSeanOReilly.com

Video work and editing by: Craig Knit (Out of Whack Productions)
Cover art and drawings by: Daniel Gracey (G2 Comics)
Music by: John Doyle (I Decline)

As an aside I’d also like to give praise and thanks to those helping me with my promotional efforts: William O’Reilly, Linda O’Reilly, and Heather Mehl. Also, many thanks to Tony Andros for always keeping an ear out for me in the world of Public Libraries. And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my professional and speedy editor Tammy Salyer. Thanks!

So, fingers crossed for a successful release tomorrow!

 
 

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CURIOUS ANOMALIES in Top 15 FREE Scifi Short Stories today !

“Curious Anomalies” has skyrocketed to #11 in Amazon’s Top FREE Science Fiction Short Stories (check out the screen shot). The story is free today and can be obtained here: http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Anomalies-ebook/dp/B009N6SW0M  (killer bats, killer bees, a mad geneticist, a South-American druglord, and alien conspiracies….what more could you want !)

Top 15 Free Scifi Short Stories

Top 15 Free Scifi Short Stories

On Amazon’s UK website “Curious Anomalies” is ranked at #22 in Free Fiction Short Stories. In other news my previous story “The Energy Scavengers” continues to display in the Top 100 Free Scifi Short Stories coming in today at #41. Thanks to everyone for the downloads and happy reading in the New Year!

 

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Curious Anomalies – Finished Cover Art

The cover art for “Curious Anomalies” is finished so check it out:

Curious Anomalies – Cover Artwork

“Curious Anomalies” a novelette of speculative fiction My story is set to come out on Amazon.com on October 9, 2012. Synopsis: “Rick Silvano, an anxious young geneticist, has gotten himself entangled with a violent, South American, drug-lord named Diego Peres. Rick’s talents have been enlisted by Peres to create genetically enhanced watchdogs, by combining common moustache bats with Africanized honeybees. Everything has gone smoothly for the last three years until now, the night before Peres is due to inspect his investment. Clive Pinkerman, who hosts a late-night, radio conspiracy show, announces on-air that he is going to break into the genetic laboratory to uncover a massive alien conspiracy he believes is housed there. Suddenly, Rick must juggle his time between stopping Clive, and making sure the experiment works so that the temperamental Peres will not be displeased.”- Artwork done by: Daniel Gracey

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Curious Anomalies

 

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“The Energy Scavengers” FREE on Amazon 8/1/12 (final free day)

 My science fiction short story will be free one last time on Amazon.

Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Energy-Scavengers-ebook/dp/B00811WWLK

Synopsis: “When mankind reaches far out into the universe to find other life forms it may first find machines. A string of planets on the outer edges of the Milky Way contain the mechanical workers of an ancient alien civilization. Calvin an exploratory rover coupled with Nutshell his landing ship, are sent to discover what it is that all these machines are still doing–now that they’ve been abandoned by their owners. First contact comes not by hand of man, but by metal of machine.”

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My story in top 100 FREE fiction short stories on Amazon.com

My science fiction story “The Energy Scavengers” is currently listed in the Top 100 FREE Fiction Short Stories on Amazon.com. Check it out below! Download the story free today at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Energy-Scavengers-ebook/dp/B00811WWLK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338858617&sr=8-1

Best Sellers - Top 100 FREE Short Stories (73) on 6-27-12

The Energy Scavengers
Top 100 FREE Fiction Short Stories on Amazon.com

 
 

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