Shifter: Galen Sword

Yeah, kinda like that…only not.

Latest book: “Shifter,” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Some of you Trek types might recognize this pair as two of those folks who get paid for writing published fan fic. This is an original fiction piece by them, part of a series of books sub-titled “The Chronicles of Galen Sword.” Galen Sword is a rich ne’er-do-well @sshole who one fine day wraps his sportscar around a telephone poll and almost dies, save for a mysterious man who comes to him in the hospital and restores his body to health with a glowy “blue power.”

After years of investigation (making very little progress) into the paranormal, Galen discovers with the help of his rather motely team of assembled cohorts that the mystery man was his younger brother, and that he is in fact not from Earth, but another place called “The First World” (Earth is “The Second World”) which sounds something like another dimension. At any rate, this First World place is the source of all manner of creatures who have traveled to Earth and subsequently ended up as legends in human lore (vampires, werewolves, etc.) They travel freely from their world to ours, and exist below the radar/hiding in plain sight while among us. The “shifters” of the title are a race of were-creatures who go from animal form to human form, and are the first race of the First World Galen meets in his quest to find out about his mysterious healing experience.

Galen himself isn’t a were-creature, but part of another Clan of the First World, one that has been virtually wiped out by its enemies save for a few people–Galen, who was banished as a child because he was too human, his brother, whose story we never really get, and a traitor who sold them out to their enemies. Not only that, but Galen was heir to the leadership of his clan (butofcourse) and he has a destiny to help bring them back from near extinction. This doesn’t happen in book 1. Mostly what happens is Galen sees to it that the Shifters, who destroyed his own clan, are themselves massacred at the hands of one of their other enemies.


I may try to track down more books in this series, although the SF library doesn’t have any of them, just to see what becomes of ol’ Galen (why oh why do I read obscure pulp fiction novels I found on the bottom shelf of a basement rack in a used bookstore!?). The book has a quite a few elements that aren’t to my taste, but it deals in themes that I find myself drawn to over and over again and would love to have in my own fiction (should I either (a) finish a novel, or (b) start a new one in the first place).

These themes include the hidden supernatural world existing within our own world, the banished/escaped/relocated native of that supernatural world (or his/her half-breed children) living on our contemporary Earth, often not knowing about their supernatural origins, but discovering them during the course of the novel, or, alternatively, an ordinary human character of invitation stumbling upon a hidden supernatural world on our contemporary Earth, which we then discover right along side him/her. In the case of the native who discovers their real heritage, the journey of the novel is then an exploration of personal identity, how they deal with (or don’t, or learn to deal with) discovering they are not what they thought they were at all. Often the book ends with them having to play the champion/messiah of either their own people or human beings in some kind of supernatural struggle.

You can see where I get my fondness for the stories of Harry Potter, Buffy Summers, Connor Reilly, Luke Skywalker, Duncan McLeod (or more to the point, Richie Ryan), the Clarke family (“Taken”), etc. I have been drawn to this type of story since I saw the movie Escape to Witch Mountain back in the Neolithic Era.

I just wish I could start getting some character and plot bunnies for a story of my *own* with these themes.

“A Wizard of Earthsea”, Ursula Le Guin
“Proven Guilty”, Jim Butcher
“Dreamchild”, Hilary Hemingway and Jeffry P. Lindsay
“Guilty Pleasures”, Laurell K. Hamilton
“The War for the Oaks,” Emma Bull
“Shifter,” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

21 thoughts on “Shifter: Galen Sword

  1. Probably didn’t sell well, then?
    Not to worry. Now that I think about it, nearly every book and film I own deals with these themes in one fashion or another. More where that came from, probably going back to ancient classical myths.

  2. Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. But now I’m wondering how Escape From Witch Mountain affect *me* because I love the same types of stories. It was one of my favorite movies growing up too. I am kind of outlining a story that won’t leave my head.
    A woman is punished with the knowledge of the supernatural when she ignores a crime committed in her apartment building. The victim’s father, a semi-bad witch, curses her, saying that she will be revealed to the supernatural world and vice versa, and be unable to protect herself from it. She freaks until she’s contacted by some other supernaturals who decide to use her to advance their own agenda, which is fighting supernatural bad guys, in a small fashion. (They find her through her on-line diary, which is locked but hacked by the group while looking for supernatual occurrences.)
    The father’s curse has unintended consequences, though, giving this ordinary woman a lot of supernatural power as a by-product. (He’s angry and his spell is clumsy.) So she has to fight off the supernatual creatures coming after her and try to adapt to what happened to her and reverse it, or try to destroy the spell or the spell-caster. Whom, of course, she grows to rather like, to the consternation of one her new supernatural friends who likes her.
    That’s it so far. I want lots of humor, a little romance of the unrequited sort, and lots of spooky atmosphere. So far, all I have is some ideas that won’t go away. The name is Weirdworld (from a feminist theory book I read) although that might be changed, thanks to Marvel Comis’s Weird World, which I found out about later.

  3. Dang. I’m more worried about it sounding too much like a Charlaine Harris book or “Sunshine.” Well, I doubt I’ll actually write it, so it doesn’t matter. That’s the not-fun part anyway, lol.

  4. An another writer first novel Eric Nylunds “Pawn’s Dream”. Do I think, that it fits very well into your first theme.
    quote the people at Book-A-Minute SF/Fantasy:

    Roland Pritchard: “My life stinks, but I have my dreams to escape.”
    Eugene Rhodes: “Your dreams are real.”
    Roland Pritchard: “Cool.” (learns MAGIC and POLITICS and DIPLOMACY)

    One of his newer novels namely “Dry water”, fits strangely very well into yours second theme IMO.

  5. I’m in the midst of a pretty neat YA novel by China Mieville, “Un Lun Dun.” It’s about two young girls finding out about a shadowy other London, where all the thrown away bits and ghosts of the real London end up. It’s pretty indebted to Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere,” which is stated right up front, but it seems to be doing something quite interesting with the whole “Chosen One” theme. I’m only halfway through but I’m really enjoying it. You might like it.

  6. book recommendation
    You might like “The Scent of Shadows: The First Sign of the Zodiac” by Vicki Pettersson. This is the first book of a new series (came out in Feb. 2007; second book is due out in March or April 2007). I just started reading it — I’m about 1/4 through — but I like it so far. It seems to deal with the themes you like.

  7. Un Lun Dun’s out? Most go get it.
    I’d be interested if the YA thing leads Mieville to get over his extremely bizarre mystical-Marxist objection to happy endings (there can be no happy ending except the Revolution, and for a writer living under Capitalism to imagine a successful Revolution is as blasphemous as for a medieval Christian in a fallen state to try to imagine Heaven).

  8. I’m drawn to stories about alienation–sometimes overt like a misplaced person in a setting unfamiliar to them, sometimes psychological– and orphans. I keep writing or liking orphans. There’s more than that, but that’s something I keep noticing.

  9. There’s a lot of alienation in many of the stories I’m drawn to. My stories of late tend to be about groups of misfits or a single misfit keeping to themselves among ordinary folks, trying to hold onto their own identities or trying to discover their identity in a world where they don’t belong.

  10. But it makes you wonder where it comes from inside yourself–why you’re drawn to those kinds of stories.

  11. It does.
    My answer is fairly easy but probably not the entire story. I was raised by my maternal grandparents. My grandmother made it very clear to me that I was supposed to make up for my mother’s mistakes (including my own birth). I was loved but I was never good enough. I was too smart in some ways, too naive in others and, when I was older, far too rebellious inside even though I followed “all the rules” on the outside.

  12. The Revolution will indeed be glorious! Though you can’t say Mieville doesn’t set you up for the unhappy ending.
    I think the YA is a good choice for him since it’s requiring him to rein in the splatter punk impulses. There’s way less mutilation. I get a kick out of his politics, so many fantasy books are about restoring order or balance or what have you. It’s always been a personal beef with me that in a lot of books we get characters from modern settings who once they’re in the Other realm are all into the divine right of kings. No one even mentions the possibility of a constitutional monarchy.

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