Inspired by medieval legends about the poet Vergil, who was revered not only as the author of the Aeneid but also as a powerful necromancer, Davidson embarked on his Vergil Magus series in the ’60s with the intriguing novel The Phoenix and the Mirror. In this sequel, Vergil answers a magical summons from Averno, both the wealthiest and the filthiest of cities. The magnates there are worried about the waning and shifting of the natural fires that have fueled their industries and fouled their air. The bare skeleton of plot is fleshed out with an eccentric, wide-ranging series of digressions, reminiscences, dreams and cabalistic glosses, all in a rich, baroque, rhetorical style.
Norman Spinrad’s 1972 alternate history, gives us both a metafictional what-if novel and a cutting satire of one of the 20th century’s most evil regimes . . . In 1919, a young Austrian artist by the name of Adolf Hitler immigrated to the United States to become an illustrator for the pulp magazines and, eventually, a Hugo Award-winning SF author. This volume contains his greatest work, Lord of the Swastika: an epic post-apocalyptic tale of genetic ‘trueman’ Feric Jagger and his quest to purify the bloodline of humanity by ruthlessly slaughtering races of the genetically impure – a quest Norman Spinrad expertly skewers through ironic imagery and over-the-top rhetoric. Spinrad hoped to expose some unpalatable truths about much of SF and Fantasy literature and its uncomfortable relationship with fascist ideologies – an aim that was not always apparent to neo-fascist readers. In order to make his aims clear to the hard-of-understanding, Spinrad added an imaginary critical analysis by a fictional literary scholar, Homer Whipple, of New York University.