"A place that you can put your arms around"
The country of British Hidalgo exists on no map known to contemporary
geographers, yet this tiny Central American country is richly evoked in
the writings of Avram Davidson. The seven stories featuring Jack Limekiller
are rooted in Davidson's two-month visit to British Honduras in 1965-1966,
when the question of independence was a burning issue in the colony. Davidson
also drew upon his experiences during a prolonged period of residency circa
1968-1969. (See Hugh Leddy's memoir in The
Nutmeg Point District Mail Vol.IV, No.4-5). Not long after Davidson's
visits, British Honduras became the independent country of Belize.
In 1966, Davidson completed a nonfiction travelogue,
in the Trees (still unpublished), that would later serve him as a textual
source for the creation of the fictional British colony, its physical and
human geography, and its history (Map of British
Honduras in the 1960s [53K]). Three excerpts
from Dragons in the Trees were published in The
New York Review of Science Fiction (June 2000).
In the Limekiller stories, Davidson retraced
much of his Dragons in the Trees itinerary and transmuted his earlier
observations into a work unique in modern fantasy. These six "canonical"
Jack Limekiller stories are collected in ¡Limekiller!, edited by Grania Davis and Henry Wessells (Old Earth Books, 2003) :
Also of interest is a story Davidson wrote using a pseudonym (but published bearing his name in Adam Magazine in 1968), "The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber" This story features a rather stereotypical macho
adventurer figure who bears the name Jack Limekiller; the description of
this "proto-Limekiller" is nearly word for word that of Alex Brant, White
Hunter, who is Limekiller's loathly opposite in "A Far Countrie," a story
Davidson wrote and published more than a quarter century later.
"Bloody Man" (Fantastic Magazine, Aug. 1976).
"Manatee Gal, Ain't You Coming Out Tonight" (Magazine of Fantasy &
Science Fiction, Apr. 1977).
"A Good Night's Sleep" (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,
"There Beneath the Silky-Tree and Whelmed in Deeper Gulphs Than Me" (Other
Worlds 2, Ed. Roy Torgeson. New York: Zebra, 1980).
"Limekiller at Large" (Asimov's, June 1990).
"A Far Countrie" (Asimov's, Nov. 1993).
Henry Wessells has published an essay looking at the connections between Dragons in the Trees and the Limekiller series entitled "'A place that you can put your arms around' : Avram Davidson's Jack Limekiller Stories" (Foundation 69, Spring 1997, pp.44-60).
The large-scale Map
of British Hidalgo [66K] attempts to locate some of the place-names
of these stories.
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