Tim's Reviews > Contes hybrides

Contes hybrides by Lionel Davoust
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really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, français, own, short-stories-novellas, signed-dedicated, reviewed

Lionel Davoust has rapidly become one of my favourite French authors, or at least a French author who occupies some places in my book collection, as you can see here (because of Goodreads' way of ordering, anthologies are not shown).

In his latest publication, Contes hybrides (Hybrid tales), Les Éditions Mille Cent Quinze (1115) chose three previously published stories, each having a length of about 40 pages:

1) Le Sang du large (2010) (previously published in Contes de villes et de fusées)
2) Point de sauvegarde (2011)
3) Bienvenue à Magicland (2015) (previously published in Trolls et Licornes - Anthologie des Imaginales 2015)


1) Le Sang du large (2010)
The first story, Le Sang du large, tells the tale of a writer, Paul Whittemore, who seeks to realise the imaginary. Does the imaginary exist? If I can think and write about it, then surely reality must follow? There has to be more to life than what man goes through day in, day out. The writer's spouse has left him, because of his fascination with the imaginary. And so, our writer seeks a way out of his misery.

(view spoiler)

A beautiful tale about the relationship between the imaginary and reality. Who needs whom? Does one need more than the other? Does one need the other to validate one's own existence or the other way around? Or do both keep each other alive, as a sort of yin and yang?

2) Point de sauvegarde (2011)
In this little SF-ish story, three American cyber-soldiers (more android than human) are sent out on a mission, somewhere in South America (the time of the Incas, Aztecs, ...) between Maraä and Barcelos in Brazil. They are to reconquer a secret place, said to be currently occupied by the local rebels. They are in direct contact with the mother-ship for data, instructions, aid, and so on. The mission is not without danger, however, so they must be vigilant at all times. Each of the three has his own speciality and his own personality; they need each other to successfully accomplish the mission. Each of these soldiers were given a new chance at life, after they committed vile crimes (like taking out your father for having raped your sister, and while you're at it, the rest of the family for having kept silent about it all).

(view spoiler)

A short-story to demonstrate how vile war is. No one wins, there are only losers. The biggest one being the soldiers themselves, as they are subjected to all the misery, rules, and so on. Without technological aid, they are lost. The more technology, the less human instincts and skills are of use and thus the more they become defunct. Ergo, the more you become a puppet of the system, which also counts for other professions, as many experience day in, day out.

3) Bienvenue à Magicland (2015)
This is the story of an animal caretaker, a troll, in a zoo of fantastic creatures: Magicland. One species is unicorns. Unicorns are his favourite animal and one day he hopes to be promoted to performer, to assist the animals in their performances for the public. He does have one problem, though: He can't stand the people's (including kids's) ignorance and often idiotic questions about the animals and especially the unicorns. People also don't read the explanatory panels that are placed nearby.

"Can we hug them?"
"Oh, look at those crazy horses!" (never, ever, call unicorns horses! Or face the wrath of Garam, the caretaker. They resemble horses, but are of a totally different species.)
"Do you feed them every day?"

As he hasn't found a way to properly and politely deal with these kinds of questions and comments, he has regular appointments with a psychiatrist, who takes notes as Garam puts forward his case and concerns. His role is to make Garam reflect on his behaviour and seek his own answers to change course a little bit and enjoy his profession and life more.

(view spoiler)

This story was divided into four parts: the four seasons. That's how we follow Garam the caretaker and his view on the world, on the people who daily visit Magicland to admire its animals. And ask sometimes idiotic questions, out of sheer ignorance or maybe just they don't know any better. Ultimately, they too make sure that Magicland continues to exist, that Garam and co. have a job. It's a circle.

Of course, reality and fiction are two different kinds of settings. Life can become dangerous or unpleasant when the two get mixed up and you lose your calm. That doesn't mean you can't have ideals in life. One needs ideals, goals, passions, ... a drive that keeps your life and vitality going.


'Contes hybrides', three stories that describe how fiction can influence or be involved in daily life. Three stories that also convey how important fiction (or the imaginary) is in real life. Which takes the upper hand? How does one influence the other? What are the consequences? Does that make us less or more human?

Once again, Lionel Davoust scores; three times, even. Short-stories are a domain in which he excels, although his latest series (Les Dieux Sauvages, to count five books when done) is also very successful, judging by the various reviews.
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Reading Progress

August 26, 2019 – Shelved
August 26, 2019 – Shelved as: wishlist
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: français
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: own
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: short-stories-novellas
September 19, 2019 – Shelved as: signed-dedicated
November 25, 2019 – Started Reading
November 28, 2019 –
page 61
42.36% "1st story of three: 4/5, about a writer trying to prove the existence of the imaginary, to prove there is more to life. A mermaid arises from the nearby ocean, sings her song every x days (especially on dark days). His wife has left him, because of his writing. He thinks he's dreaming, but the mermaid's real. So real even, she does not grant his wish ("take me with you"), rather does the opposite."
November 28, 2019 –
page 97
67.36% "2nd story: in short, cyber-soldiers being used and abused for vile goals. A bit comparable to Ender's Game. 4/5"
November 30, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed
November 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

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