The Legend of Charlie Fish


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Tachyon Publications
Publish Date
5.08 X 8.02 X 0.54 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author

Josh Rountree has published more than sixty stories in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Realms of Fantasy, The Deadlands, Bourbon Penn, PseudoPod, PodCastle, Daily Science Fiction, and A Punk Rock Future. Several of his stories have received honorable mentions in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth and Twenty-First Annual Collections, as well as The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection. His latest short fiction collection is Fantastic Americana: Stories from Fairwood Press. Josh lives somewhere in the untamed wilds of Texas with his wife and children, and he tweets about books, records, and guitars at @josh_rountree.


"Rountree excels at creating new mythology and folktales that feel like they've always existed, and The Legend of Charlie Fish is no exception. A tense, exciting, and gorgeous read that will sweep you up immediately and not let go, lingering even after you turn the last page."
--A. C. Wise, author of Wendy, Darling

"A winsome tale of wondrous misfits and unlikely kinships, The Legend of Charlie Fish channels all the wit and melancholy of the great Charles Portis. Part adventure story, part lament, the whole is a triumph of voice and heart."
--Andy Davidson, author of The Hollow Kind

"A paean to turn of the 20th century Galveston, Tex., Rountree's romp of a debut novel (after the collection Fantastic Americana) combines a historical disaster with fantastical elements, including a creature who would fit right in, in the Black Lagoon. Floyd Betts meets orphaned siblings Nellie, a 12-year-old telepath, and Hank, a nine-year-old marksman, while in Old Cypress, Tex., for his father's funeral and decides to take them back with him to Abigail Elder's boarding house in Galveston. On the way, Floyd, Hank, and Nellie infuriate of a pair of circus charlatans calling themselves Professor Finn and Kentucky Jim by liberating the scoundrels' big score, a human-fish hybrid the children name Charlie Fish. Nellie's "whisper talk," or empathetic telepathy, allows her to communicate with Charlie, who longs to reunite with his fellow fish people. Meanwhile, both Professor Finn and Kentucky Jim and an incoming hurricane pose threats even after the makeshift family is welcomed at Abigail's. Despite a somewhat unfocused plot, which jumps around in both time and alternates between Floyd and Nellie's points of view, a sense of looming doom keeps tension high, and Rountree's talent for scene setting is on full display in lush descriptions of the Old West. This weird western should win Rountree plenty of fans."
--Publishers Weekly

"The monsters are human, the humans are monsters, and hope still lives in Pandora's Box. It is a tale of today in yesterday's clothes. Beautifully written."
--Del Howison, author of The Survival of Margaret Thomas

"Josh Rountree knows how to spin a yarn. Great storytelling ability bringing Charlie Fish to life so I could fall in love with him. More of his adventures would be awesome! Highly recommend this to people who enjoy magic, whimsy, characters to invest in, and an emotional journey."
--Mother Horror

"A fantastic novel about the power of family, be they blood, human or not. Of love and loyalty and strange talents. Of heat and violence and storms and a Fishman. A tight heart-filled tapestry of almost alternate history that hits all the notes I crave in weird fiction. I adored it."
--John Boden, author of Jedi Summer, Spungunion, and Snarl

"Author Josh Rountree knows the city of Galveston and its tragic history backwards and forwards. Recommended for those who enjoy a good 'weird western.'"
--Nancy A. Collins, author of Sunglasses After Dark

"As imaginative as it is delightfully surprising. From the very first pages, Galveston and the Great Storm come alive alongside a cast of unique and compelling characters. The lyrical prose and sense of foreboding as undeniable as the first gusts of a hurricane make for an utterly charming and haunting tale."
--KC Grifant, author of Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger

"A fantastic work of dark historical fiction, in the spirit of Lansdale, Gorman, Pronzini, and McMurtry."
--Brian Keene, author of the Rising series

"Rountree's debut novel serves as an ode to Texas storytellers such as Joe Lansdale and dark-fantasy spinners such as Guillermo del Toro. The story centers on a found family on their way to Galveston, TX. Along with taciturn carpenter Floyd Betts, there are two orphan children: Hank, whose mouth is as fast as his revolver, and Nellie, a girl with mind-reading powers. Nellie's powers let her communicate with Charlie Fish, a fish man who says little, loves smoking, and wants very badly to go back to his home in the ocean. Following this group are two scoundrels who want to capture and exhibit Charlie--and a hurricane that will destroy Galveston. Rountree offers some excellent descriptions, and his characters are as folksy and complex as any created by Larry McMurtry or Louis L'Amour. The seemingly rushed ending, however, might disappoint readers who have fallen in love with the world Rountree has imagined; it's a painful realization that their journey through his world is ending. VERDICT: Rountree's colorful palette brings together Western and fantasy elements to create a magical tale about the deep bonds forged by circumstance."
--Library Journal

"Set against the backdrop of the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, Rountree's latest weaves an unforgettable tale about survival, resilience, and the power of forged relationships. Perfect for Ben Galley and Joe R. Lansdale fans, The Legend of Charlie Fish is a quintessential example of a weird western."

"Rountree deftly casts his characters into dangerous waters and tells a lyrical, stormy tale of chosen family that is wonderfully hopeful, even amidst loss and hardship. I loved it."
--Patrick Swenson, author of Rain Music

"Odd, creepy, funny, The Black Lagoon meets the Six Gun universe. High up on the way-cool factor. You need this."
--Joe R. Lansdale, author of the Hap and Leonard series

"A Weird Western novel of singular power. Mixing equal parts of Elmore Leonard toughness and Joe R. Lansdale wit in a Charles Portis-shaped shaker, The Legend of Charlie Fish is an old fashioned cocktail readers will savor."
--C.S. Humble, author of The Massacre at Yellow Hill

"By recounting their past tales of loss and longing, Rountree effectively crafts deep characterizations for each of his cast members and makes you care for their plight, especially during the breathless final act as a colossal hurricane bears down on their Galveston locale. I was thoroughly taken with this story, Rountree's writing, and the unique island setting."
--The Speculative Shelf

"Equal parts touching and bizarre, The Legend of Charlie Fish is a weird western with heart, and is a completely delightful read from start to finish."
--David Liss, author of The Peculiarities

5/5 stars. "While I really appreciate the technical aspects and construction of the story, what I love most of all is how well it reads, how fast I care about the characters, and how the story sweeps me away. Highly recommended for my fellow Texans, but also for western and literary fantasy fans!"
--The Book on the High Shelf

4.5/5 stars "I inhaled this book. . . . The emotional content and build was spot-on."
--Book Reviews Forevermore

"Well-written, entertaining, and hugely original."
--Booklover's Boudoir

Praise for Josh Rountree

"Josh Rountree is that rarest of creatures, a natural born storyteller."
--Jaime Lee Moyer, author of Divine Heretic and Brightfall

"Rountree's writing came down on me like the Assyrian on the fold."
--Howard Waldrop, author of Night of the Cooters

"Despite the popularity of fantasy during the past twenty years or more, very few writers have done much with short fantasy fiction rather than novels, and Rountree is definitely one of the exceptions."
--Critical Mass

"Rountree demonstrates impressive range in his wild debut collection of 21 speculative shorts. Unusual juxtapositions create striking tales . . . The result is as inventive as it is eclectic.
--Publishers Weekly

"A corkscrewing roller coaster that stretches from sea to shining sea."
--Bradley Denton, author of Lunatics and Blackburn