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Welcome to Raritania, a darkly, dangerously beautiful Art Deco city of clocktowers in a world slightly parallel to ours. This novel of mystery, romance, and dark imagination is a DarkSF tour de force by John Argo. You'll revel in a Art Deco world slightly out of time and out of joint (as PKD might say), barely two hours' drive on a 1930s parkway whose entrances and exits lie hidden and lost among the forests and neon signs of another world. Abandoned by circa 1995, forgotten, and rediscovered in 2015, this is the novel that lent its name to Clocktower Books (motto: "Exciting Reading for Avid Readers, Online Since 1996").

John Argo's Raritania City lies in a parallel reality, a trifle askew from our own. It is usually night time (wreathed in fog, neon, and jazzy music). Raritania is a two-hour drive from the Empire or Gotham City (New York) in your time stream. Just take your open roadster whizzing along a dusky, autumn parkway amid whirling leaves and a faint aura of big band jazz. You'll see our City of Clocktowers on the horizon in no time (literally).

You may notice a few temporal ambiguities, amid considerable whimsy like a 1930ish diner called Aerodynamic Donuts since 1936. There's a horrible murder in which a lady is thrown into the giant, gleaming brown gears inside a clocktower. But there's a romantic love story (with an evil stepfather out to kill the beautiful chick, for a change, and handsome Jeff Maxxon out to rescue her). No such tale would be complete without a mission in parallel time streams to assassinate Adolf Hitler before he can do much harm. However, as we know, that happened in a parallel world, and didn't turn out so well in ours.

Don’t be alarmed--all is well that ends well. Jeff and Lexa overcome all obstacles to find true love, and we enjoy (as the neon sign outside a famous Raritania corner diner reads): "Aerodynamic Donuts Since 1936!"

Whatever happens, keep your eye on tall, handsome Dr. Jeff Maxxon, who arrives in Raritania to leave behind the ruins of his old life and to start anew. He becomes the shining knight to save lovely Alexa Whiston. He also discovers a prototype VW of solid brass, parked on a time track behind Art Deco stained glass, and capable of traversing a veritable metro network of railways sprawling across time and space (also known as the Temporale in other John Argo stories).

Take the drive to Raritania--a quaint, sunny stretch in an open roadster from the Empire City to the Clocktower City on an autumn highway swirling with leaves and dreams. These include the dreams we leave behind, and the phantoms we rush toward amid streamlined geometries--not to mention the rushed moments in which we live and love. With every passing moment, we rush from one abandoned, dying world through a brief flash of sunlight (the present), into a nebulous existence just in the process of being born. Or are we driving under a series of Art Deco bridges, each uniquely designed?

The title of this fugue, =Streamliners=, is taken from the final phases of the Art Deco movement. By the mid-1930s, as fascists and commies seized control across Europe, a world exhausted by the blood bath that ended the sumptuous Art Nouveau age was still awash in dreams and images. Among these arose the streamliner (or streamlining) vogue dedicated to speed, youth, and fresh ideas--cars, planes, boats, trains, even toasters and radios--anything that could be made to seem as if it were moving fast and escaping ordinary daily reality. Theirs (the world of the streamliners era) was a world about to perish, like that of the 1890s with its sinuous music and Art Nouveau. Like the New Art, the Decorative Arts (Arts Decoratifs, or Art Deco), but forever established its memory in the form of unique imagery. Its artifacts include the most gorgeous skyscrapers of New York City, as well as the clocktowers of Raritania just two hours away on a leafy, swirling highway in a slightly parallel world--where John Argo takes you in this novel of mystery, adventure, and DarkSF.

No sooner has our handsome, romantic Dr. Jeff Maxxon arrived among the bold gray skyscrapers and ornamented clocktowers--of a city in which time takes on a special meaning--than he is thrust into a murder investigation and meets the beautiful young woman of his dreams--Lexa Whiston, granddaughter of the ruthless zillionaire whose grim goals and ideas will leave us speechless.

Here is a brief taste of the clocktower city as Jeff Maxxon stands by his backyard pool, bronzed and muscular, thinking of the woman he loves--who has vanished, and he is about to race on streamliners through time and space to find her: "…As he stood by the pool, his gaze drifted toward the distant skyline of Raritania City. The clock towers stood like silent, hooded figures. Against that backdrop he had a disconcerting view of a face looking at him from what looked like underwater. It was a probing face, with pale skin, dark hair, and haunting eyes the color of blue stained glass: Lexa. It was not a supernatural vision, not a hallucination. It was a memory of that parting look she had given him as she'd left the museum yesterday…"

This is the early 1990s SF novel by John Argo, forgotten and unpublished in another dimension until 2015. The novel, with its city of clocktowers, lent its name to the Internet pioneer publishing house launched in April 1996 by John T. Cullen and Brian Callahan of San Diego. Clocktower Fiction, soon renamed Clocktower Books, in 2016 celebrates its 20th anniversary as a publisher of digital books. At its inception in 1996, e-books were still only a streamlined dream in a future of mixed optimism, adventure, and danger. The Clocktower Books motto remains: "Exciting Books for Avid Readers, Online since 1996."

And of course, in Raritania, the main motto will forever be: "Aerodynamic Donuts since 1936!"


available now - Streamliners a DarkSF novel by John Argo - Clocktower Books 2015


Print Edition: Order from any bookstore or major online retailer—e.g., Amazon.

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