I picked up Of Whimies and Noubles by Matthew
Art forger and corpulent master criminal Luff Imbry travels from Old Earth down The Spray to the skinflint world of New Gargano to trade some of his counterfeit confections for a pouchful of the fabulous gems called noubles. But Imbry is not the only one with duplicity in mind, and soon the fat man finds himself imprisoned on a nameless world where the only question is whether he’ll dwindle to a lifeless husk before or after he goes irretrievably insane.
Noubles are the rarest and most sought-after gems in the spiral arm and go for an astounding price, so when Luff Imbry receives seven for a recent forgery transaction he’s more than happy. However, it turns out that the man he dealt with is the Judge on New Gargano, a man who orders him detained and sent to a prison planet where Imbry discovers the truth and source behind these valuable gems.
This novella is simply great, there is no other way to describe it. Luff Imbry is an interesting character with much at his disposal, and plenty of intelligence to go with it. The prison planet he is sent to is the core of this story though, with the discovery of land-based whimsies – wormholes that allow interstellar travel – and the noubles that they contain. It’s thoroughly interesting and the plot clips along at a fair pace. Hughes’ world- and universe-building are also done very well considering the short page count.
I’ve not read anything by Matthew Hughes before, though that is soon to change. I now know that he’s written a fair few Luff Imbry stories, and this one appears to be, chronologically, the last. I don’t think that matters in the slightest, and I’d heartily recommend this to anyone who wants a quick, entertaining, and intelligent read. This is sci-fi the way it’s supposed to be done.