Artists And Models: Aaron Allston’s Galatea In 2D
Aaron Allston is probably best known as the author of a series of Star Wars novels. Gamers will also remember him as the former editor of The Space Gamer magazine as well as a prolific writer for titles such as Champions, Car Wars, and Basic D&D.
In 1993 he wrote a delightful little gem of a novel called Galatea In 2D for Baen Books. Sadly, it seems to be out of print, although used copies are available. I’d call this novel Magical Realism rather than Fantasy. The main character is a struggling freelance artist named Roger Simmons who discovers that he has the ability to bring his drawings to life, to “pull out” characters from the flat page into the real world.
Unfortunately he quickly realizes that another artist, Kevin Matthews, also has this ability and that Matthews intends to keep it for himself by killing Simmons. What follows is a fast paced wizard’s duel as Simmons struggles to learn how to use his power to counter the threats that Matthews throws at him.
Allston’s world is very well constructed, both the fantastic and the realistic elements. The rules governing the “pulling out” are consistent and serve to limit the power of both combatants. Strategy is far more important in the duel that brute strength.
The more mundane aspects of Simmons’ world are also well constructed and believable. Allston is clearly writing what he knows and the threadbare world of a freelance SF/F artist is shown with a realism that is tempered with compassion.
This novel is about the magic of art, and the relationships between artists and their work, their peers, and their audience. While the characters in the book are graphic artists, the passion that the characters feel will be familiar to poets and filmmakers and musicians.
All in all, it’s a very thoughtful work, with humor, drama, and a satisfying ending. Highly recommended, if you can find it.
Misha Burnett is the author of Catskinner’s Book, Cannibal Hearts, The Worms Of Heaven, and Gingerbread Wolves, modern fantasy novels collectively known as The Book Of Lost Doors.