After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar (Ur-Bar #1)

By Joshua Palmatier

Rating: 3 stars

This is a bar stories collection, about a bar that travels from place to place, tended by the Mesopotamian hero Gilgamesh, made immortal but unable to leave his bar. I’m a sucker for bar stories, from Tales from the White Hart to Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. This was a fun collection, but, for me, didn’t match either of the others I mentioned. There are no recurring characters (the regulars of the bar) other than Gil himself, whose importance to the story varies wildly and those barflies often add a lot of flavour.

Also, for a bar that’s existed since Mesopotamian times, I thought the authors limited their scope. The first story told how Gil took over the bar, but the next jumps immediately to the Viking period, and we move forward in time from there. Nothing in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome or any of the other brilliant places for a tavern story, which is a shame.

Of the stories themselves, I enjoyed The Tale That Wagged the Dog about a man cursed by the Queen of Faerie into dog form and his selkie companion and what it means to be a man. Seanan McGuire’s The Alchemy of Alcohol is a nice little story about warring seasons and also includes a couple of cocktail recipes. It is, I think, the only story in the collection not to feature Gil at all, although he is mentioned. The Grand Tour by Juliet E. McKenna is a nice little story about a couple of arrogant upper class boys, on the verge of entry to Oxford, at the eve of the Great War, and what they’re taught while on a tour of Europe and get into a fight outside Gil’s bar.

The rest of the stories are a mixed bunch, some good and some bad. It’s a nice example of the bar story genre, but I’d rather spend my evening with the regulars of Callahan’s, the White Hart, or the Fountain.

Book details

ISBN: 9780756406592
Publisher: DAW
Year of publication: 2011

Powered by WordPress