Best 1973 Adventures (9)
October 13, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1973 adventure novels. Happy 45th anniversary!
Alan Garner’s YA fantasy adventure Red Shift.
In what is perhaps his formally most ambitious work, here Garner — author of the classic children’s and YA fantasy novels The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960), The Moon of Gomrath (1963), Elidor (1965), and The Owl Service (1967) — depicts a present-day England overlaid by a disintegrating (Vietnam War-like) Roman Britain. In fact, we’re reading three intertwined love stories, only one of which is set in the present. Tom, an unhappy teenaager, lives in a caravan park in Rudheath with his parents; as he loses his grip on reality, the story’s protagonist becomes Macey, a soldier in Roman Britain who, when berserk, fights with an old stone axe. Macy and his fellow deserters kidnap a local tribe’s corn goddess; and eventually get their comeuppance. Thomas Rowley, meanwhile, finds Macey’s axe head in a burial mound during the English Civil War; when their town is attacked by Royalist troops, Rowley and his wife flee to a new home — where they embed the axe head in the chimney. In the present day, Tom and his girlfriend find the axe head — will it bring them good fortune? Or disaster? Themes, visual descriptions and lines of dialogue echo throughout the text.
Fun facts: Garner spent six years working on Red Shift, which he claimed was partially inspired by the Scottish legend of Tam Lin — where a boy kidnapped by fairies is rescued by his true love. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas was likely inspired by Red Shift; at any rate, Mitchell has called Garner one of his favorite fantasy authors.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.