The Austin Chronicle

Gift Guide 2015: Fiction by Austin Authors

An arcane tapestry of alternate cowboy history and steampunk sci-fi in a multitextured graphic package

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, December 11, 2015, Arts

In which Zachary Thomas Dodson, co-founder of Featherproof Books, has created for his own debut novel a double narrative exploring both a swath of alternate cowboy history and a postapocalyptically steampunk American future unlike any other. The author, possessed of sufficient skill to wreak complex and compelling graphic designs upon his dystopian adventure, further renders the book into a multitextured object that defies translation to, say, Kindles and other such devices so redolent of our own cis-present environs. You want a taste of epic Western machinations filtered through epistles and transcripts and stories-within-stories? You want an arcane tapestry of weird fantasy enhanced by transgenerational mysteries and their possible solutions? You want a character-rich and treacherous journey through the ancient Republic of Texas with a reluctant, heartsick emissary from the Museum of Flying, and with his beleaguered blood relative hundreds of years in the mechanically surveilled future? Then you want to experience this thickly threaded wonderment that Doubleday's had the good sense to publish, citizen – you really, really do. (And afterward, while you're waiting for the next salvo of Dodsonaria to strike, you could do worse than seeking out the Featherproof back catalog, seeing what the artist who soared these Bats thinks is worth presenting of others' writing.)

Bats of the Republic

by Zachary Thomas Dodson
Doubleday, 448 pp., $27.95

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