By Scott A. Cupp
This is the 209th in my series of Forgotten Books.
Recently, I attended my 39th ArmadilloCon. Coincidentally, this was ArmadilloCon 39. This show is the highlight of my convention-going year. Over the years, I have gotten to meet many fine newer writers. Past guests of Honor have included George Alec Effinger, Gardner Dozois, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Scott Lynch, and more. This year’s GOH was Nisi Shawl.
I got a lot of books signed at the convention. It is one of the main reasons I go. Another main reason is the panel “What Books You Should Have Read This Year.” My book-selling partner, the amazing Willie Siros, loves to tempt me with many of the items from the list. On this list for 2017 were such wonderful books as Tropic of Kansas by Chris Brown, The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden, and River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey. Brown and Drayden were local writers and at the convention this year so I got both of them signed. I am currently reading Tropic of Kansas and enjoying it a lot. But River of Teeth was the one I chose first. The subject matter is the same that inspired my friend Keith West’s story “The Assassination of President Broussard” from Tales of the Otherverse.
Both tales deal with the historical story of Robert Broussard, who wanted to help solve a meat crisis in America by raising hippopotami in Louisiana to be the new beef. But as it turns out. the hippos were not very docile and they developed a taste for human flesh.
West and Gailey both took this obscure incident and worked their magic on it. West created a memorable short story, Gailey gives us a fascinating novella published in book form by Tor.com.
In River of Teeth, we have a great cast of characters, led by Winslow Houndstooth, a former hippo farmer from Atlanta. He has a deal with the US government to take care of the rogue hippos trapped in an area called the Harriet. The Mississippi has been dammed up and the hippos are roaming at will. Houndstooth wants to blow the dam up and send the hippos out of the swamp. To do this, he assembles a team of odd professionals.
The crew includes his gold tusked hippo Ruby, whom he raised from birth. There is also Regina Archambault, or Archie, an accomplished con artist. The explosives experts are Hero, who is always referred to as “they” though no explanation is given for this. Cal Hotchkiss has the contacts in the Harriet and he used to work for Houndstooth on his hippo farm, up until the night the farm burned down and Cal disappeared. And then there is Adelia Reyes, perhaps the most dangerous woman in the USA.
Up against them is the Gate, which controls the dam and the access to the Mississippi, and Travers, who controls the Harriet and the riverboats— and who knows more about the destruction of Houndstooth’s ranch.
The novella is a fast, action-packed adventure with a sequel due out in September 2017. I liked this book a lot and would write more but my computer is sticking on the keys “e” and “w,” which would make that very difficult.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.