Silverlock is not so much a lost book as one that is constantly being rediscovered. John Meyers Meyers wrote it back in 1949, so this is a fantasy untouched by JRR Tolkien’s genre-redefining work. But it’s been touched by everything else. Like Robinson Crusoe, Silverlock opens with a shipwreck. The wrecked ship is the Naglafar–named for the ship Loki has made of dead men’s nails in Norse mythology. Certainly an ill-omened ship, and A. Clarence Shandon is an ill-omened man. A cynical opportunist and fatalist (his opening line is: “If I had cared to live, I would have died.”), he is thoroughly “modern,” “rational,” and unlikable.
Instead of dying (which would have made for a short book), Shandon finds himself cast ashore Gulliver-style in an unknown land, the Commonwealth. It soon becomes apparent the “Commonwealth” is the Commonwealth of Letters–the realm of all of western literature. Here Shandon–dubbed Silverlock by his traveling companion–meets such characters as Circe, Robin Hood, Don Quixote, and many, many more, finds himself swept along on many an adventure, and in the process, becomes a much better man. Being a modern rationalist, Silverlock had no patience for fancy and fable growing up, so he recognizes none of the characters he meets.
Of course the reader does, and that is half the fun. The other half is the story itself–John Meyers Meyers knew how to write–and you’ll find yourself grinning till it hurts, chuckling over page after page, and reveling in Meyer’s prose and poetry. Did I mention he was a poet? My favorite Silverlock poem is Taliesin’s rendition of The Death of Bowie Gizzardsbane (an epic poem of the last stand at the Alamo, in the style of Beowulf).
Each generation rediscovers Silverlock; in my childhood it was found and lauded by Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle–three of science-fiction’s Great Masters. Today it is available on Amazon.com, in hardback, paperback, and finally on ebook. Now it’s our turn, so if you love stories and want to revisit the wellsprings of our common literary inheritance, come journey with Silverlock. You will be richer for it.