A mad jaunt through unwaveringly whimsical worlds: first of a new fantasy trilogy from multiple award winner Resnick (The Castle in Cassiopeia, 2017, etc.).
Much beloved for his short stories, Resnick may be the natural heir to pulp favorite Eric Frank Russell. Here, we know nothing about Eddie Raven and his girlfriend, Lisa, except that they enter a fortuneteller's shop in Manhattan. A gunman bursts in, shoots the owner, shoots Lisa—but then a mysterious character named Rofocale takes the bullet meant for Eddie. When more assassins arrive, Eddie escapes by occult means. He has no idea how. He opens his eyes, discovering that though he’s still Eddie, he's essentially become Rick of a certain eponymous bar in Casablanca! Eddie’s is not quite Rick's, though. Sam the piano player hates Martian music. Bogarti, a character with three arms and three eyes, hisses something about letters of transit just before Ilsa (Lisa's double) and Paul Brff show up. Eddie's policeman friend is named Peugeot, not Renault ("I have class, and I run on more than four cylinders"). What's going on? Well, Eddie can communicate telepathically with Rofocale, who seems to know but is preoccupied with trying not to be dead. What with Oz and Camelot still on the itinerary, Casablanca's just a temporary gig, so hold on to your hat; things will get more peculiar yet. With an analogue of Lisa in each world—oh, and somebody who wants to kill him—Eddie must make friends fast and co-opt others as allies. This promising opener keeps afloat, just about, with only a fragile dream-logic as narrative caulking. Whether it will stay on that level or evolve into something of real weight and substance remains to be seen.
Brisk, toothsome, diverting, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny: a yarn that eventually dispels some of the enveloping weirdness while leaving more questions than answers.