A novella. Introduction: Chris Roberson. Cover Art: Dominic Harman.
Philip José Farmer is one of the greatest writers of adventure fiction ever; and in The City Beyond Play, he has produced a tale of wryly humorous derring-do reminiscent of his famous masterpieces, the Riverworld saga and the World of Tiers sequence.
Completed by Danny Adams, City is rather like an updated version of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; with the Middle Ages moved to the future, and the interloper upon the medieval scene a brilliant roboticist on the run for murder.
When Wilson Gore arrives in the Barony of Scadia, all he really knows is that the place is an enclave devoted to the recreation of the Middle Ages as they should have been – a refuge for hardcore individualists and historical costume enthusiasts, whom the crowded utopia of the twenty-second century is glad to see the back of.
Soon dubbed ”Will Son of Gore”, Gore finds himself at odds with arrogant knights, a Wicked Duke, mad forest outlaws, pernickety Byzantine bureaucrats, a witch, cybernetic dragons, enigmatic women of the court and the wilds, and a social system in which anyone can rise to the top – or, just as likely, leave his bones mouldering by the roadside.
All is not well in the land of Scadia, as Gore discovers after fixing his lustful gaze on the beautiful Lady Melisounde – competing for her hand, he ends up fighting the best and most treacherous warriors in the land, one of whom, the Knight of the Red Gauntlet, is far more, and far less, than he seems...
SF with a delightful anachronistic twist, The City Beyond Play is superb rollicking entertainment, echoing simultaneously The Tempest and The Compleat Enchanter. If you've ever wondered what you'd do if dropped alone into the High Middle Ages, The City Beyond Play is the perfect survival manual.