Inspired by medieval legends about the poet Vergil, who was revered not only as the author of the Aeneid but also as a powerful necromancer, Davidson embarked on his Vergil Magus series in the '60s with the intriguing novel The Phoenix and the Mirror. In this sequel, Vergil answers a magical summons from Averno, both the wealthiest and the filthiest of cities. The magnates there are worried about the waning and shifting of the natural fires that have fueled their industries and fouled their air. The bare skeleton of plot is fleshed out with an eccentric, wide-ranging series of digressions, reminiscences, dreams and cabalistic glosses, all in a rich, baroque, rhetorical style.
Avram Davidson (1923 - 1993)Avram Davidson was born in New York in 1923 and was active in SF fandom from his teens. He is remembered as a writer of fantasy fiction, science fiction and crime fiction, as well as many stories that defy easy categorisation. Among his SF and Fantasy awards are two Hugos, two World Fantasy Awards and a World Fantasy Life Achievement award; he also won a Queen's Award and an Edgar Award in the mystery genre. Although best known for his writing, Davidson also edited The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1962 to 1964. He died in 1993.