When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something's amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn't care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh's dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won't earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh's concern-no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.Marsh meant to turn down York's offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve-coupled with the terrible force of York's mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare...and mankind's most impossible dream.
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September 28, 2004
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Excerpt from Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
St. Louis, April 1857 Abner Marsh rapped the head of his hickory walking stick smartly on the hotel desk to get the clerk ' s attention. ' I ' m here to see a man named York, ' he said. ' Josh York, I believe he calls hisself. You got such a man here '
The clerk was an elderly man with spectacles. He jumped at the sound of the rap, then turned and spied Marsh and smiled. ' Why, it ' s Cap ' n Marsh, ' he said amiably. ' Ain ' t seen you for half a year, Cap ' n. Heard about your misfortune, though. Terrible, just terrible. I been here since ' 36 and I never seen no ice jam like that one. '
' Never you mind about that, ' Abner Marsh said, annoyed. He had anticipated such comments. The Planters ' House was a popular hostelry among steamboatmen. Marsh himself had dined there regularly before that cruel winter. But since the ice jam he ' d been staying away, and not only because of the prices. Much as he liked Planters ' House food, he was not eager for its brand of company: pilots and captains and mates, rivermen all, old friends and old rivals, and all of them knowing his misfortune. Abner Marsh wanted no man ' s pity. ' You just say where York ' s room is, ' he told the clerk peremptorily.
The clerk bobbed his head nervously. ' Mister York won ' t be in his room, Cap ' n. You ' ll find him in the dining room, taking his meal. '
' Now At this hour ' Marsh glanced at the ornate hotel clock, then loosed the brass buttons of his coat and pulled out his own gold pocket watch. ' Ten past midnight, ' he said, incredulous. ' You say he ' s eatin ' '
' Yes sir, that he is. He chooses his own times, Mister York, and he ' s not the sort you say no to, Cap ' n. '