The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus

Subterranean. Apr. 2020. 200p. ISBN 9781596069367. $40. SF
In a vastly changed, posttechnological future, con artists Darger (a London native) and Surplus (an elegant anthropomorphic dog hailing from the Demesne of Western Vermont) crisscross Europe with a detour to New Orleans, running elaborate fraudulent schemes for their own profit that rarely go as planned. The pair brave fires, double-crosses, mutant royal brains, artificial gods, a sentient malevolent hotel in the form of a massive dragon, and zombie mobs as they attempt to fill their pockets en route to their ultimate destination of Moscow. This short collection of five stories and four microfiction vignettes goes by too quickly. It’s light fare that nevertheless demonstrates masterly worldbuilding, painting a vivid picture of the Victorian-industrial high-tech/low-tech Postutopian world.
VERDICT Readers who appreciate Scott Lynch’s rapid-fire wit in the “Gentleman Bastards” books may appreciate this pair of skilled but unlucky con men, and readers of V.E. Schwab’s “Darker Shade of Magic” series might find affinity for this familiar but bizarre fantasy world.
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