Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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So many books, so little time

So, this post at tor.com caught my eye: Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2017—So Far

… mainly because I have read absolutely none of these. Gosh, so far behind and the year’s only half gone!

Not that I seriously try to read everything, or even everything highly recommended, or even everything highly recommended by people whose taste is similar to mine. Because honestly, who can keep up?

But if you glance through this post, I bet you will be able to pick out the single title that most stands out for me.

Want to try it?

I’ll wait here.

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Okay, did you click through? Here is the one I just have to try:

This one is described by Alexandra Pierce as an “alt-history story about America in the 19th century with added hippos. I mean, Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth is mostly about the hippos and the idea of riding and breeding hippos instead of horses. Also the lovely complicated relationships and the nefarious plots. But it’s mostly about the hippos.

Hah! No doubt that is ridiculous! And yet, what a wonderful idea! Nor is it quiiiite as impossible as it sounds: did you ever happen across this post at Wired: THE CRAZY, INGENIOUS PLAN TO BRING HIPPOPOTAMUS RANCHING TO AMERICA ?

Because apparently that was a thing. Did you know that was a thing?

IN THE EARLY years of the last century, the U.S. Congress considered a bold and ingenious plan that would simultaneously solve two pressing problems – a national meat shortage and a growing ecological crisis. The plan was this: hippopotamus ranching….Hippos imported from Africa and raised in the bayous of Louisiana, proponents argued, would provide a delicious new source of protein for a meat-hungry nation. In the process, the animals would gobble up the invasive water hyacinth that was killing fish and choking off waterways. It would be an epic win-win. A bill was introduced in Congress, and newspaper editorials extolled the culinary virtues of “lake cow bacon.”

… Jon Mooallem describes the hippo ranching scheme and the story of two fascinating men behind it: one a modest frontiersman and soldier of fortune, the other a self-aggrandizing con man. Both were spies. Each was sworn to kill the other. But the great cause of hippo ranching brought them together.

My goodness, you could not come up with a wilder or more delightful idea for fiction. Yet apparently this is more or less based on reality? It’s also the jumping off point for Gailey’s novel. Or, looking at Goodreads, maybe this is more a novella? It’s not about the actual historical people, apparently, which is almost too bad given the description above. But what a wonderful tidbit of alternate history to pick up!

River of Teeth is getting widely divergent reviews, but I’m definitely picking up a sample. Because, hippos!

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2 Comments So many books, so little time

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