Escape from Kathmanduby Kim Stanley Robinson
Living in the city of Kathmandu in the Kingdom of Nepal are dozens of American and British expatriates who are in love with the Himalayas. George Fergusson is one of them--he works as a trek guide for "Take You Higher, Ltd.", leading groups of tourists into the back country and occasionally assisting on serious climbs. George "Freds" Fredericks is another--a tall,
Living in the city of Kathmandu in the Kingdom of Nepal are dozens of American and British expatriates who are in love with the Himalayas. George Fergusson is one of them--he works as a trek guide for "Take You Higher, Ltd.", leading groups of tourists into the back country and occasionally assisting on serious climbs. George "Freds" Fredericks is another--a tall, easy-going American who converted to Buddhism while in college. He visited Nepal one year and never went home.
The adventures started when George and Freds got together over the capture of a Yeti--an abominable snowman--by a scientific expedition. The thought of such a wild and mysterious creature in captivity--in prison--was too much for them to bear. And in freeing the Yeti, a great partnership was born. George and Freds will go on to greater heights as they explore the mysteries of Nepal, from Shangri-La to Kathmandu's governmental bureaucracy, in Escape from Kathmandu by Kim Stanley Robinson.
- Tom Doherty Associates
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Usually I'm not much interested in other people's mail. I mean when you get right down to it, even my own mail doesn't do that much for me. Most of it's junk mail or bills, and even the real stuff is, like, official news from my sister-in-law, xeroxed for the whole clan, or at best an occasional letter from a climbing buddy that reads like a submission to the Alpine Journal for the Illiterate. Taking the trouble to read some stranger's version of this kind of stuff? You must be kidding.
But there was something about the dead mail at the Hotel Star in Kathmandu that drew me. Several times each day I would escape the dust and noise of Alice's Second City, cross the sunny paved courtyard of the Star, enter the lobby and get my key from one of the zoned-out Hindu clerksnice guys alland turn up the uneven stairs to go to my room. And there at the bottom of the stairs was a big wooden letter rack nailed to the wall, absolutely stuffed with mail. There must have been two hundred letters and postcards stuck up therethick packets, blue airmail pages, dog-eared postcards from Thailand or Peru, ordinary envelopes covered with complex addresses and purple postal marksall of them bent over the wooden retainer bars of the rack, all of them gray with dust. Above the rack a cloth print of Ganesh stared down with his sad elephant gaze, as if he represented all the correspondents who had mailed these letters, whose messages were never going to reach their destinations. It was dead mail at its deadest.
And after a while it got to me. I became curious. Ten times a day I passed this sad sight, which never changedno letters taken away, no new ones added. Such a lot of wasted effort! Once upon a time these names had taken off for Nepal, a long way away no matter where they were from. And back home some relative or friend or lover had taken the time to sit down and write a letter, which to me is like dropping a brick on your foot as far as entertainment is concerned. Heroic, really. "Dear George Fredericks!" they cried. "Where are you, how are you? Your sister-in-law had her baby, and I'm going back to school. When will you be home?" Signed, Faithful Friend, Thinking of You. But George had left for the Himal, or had checked into another hotel and never been to the Star, or was already off to Thailand, Peru, you name it; and the heartfelt effort to reach him was wasted.
One day I came into the hotel a little wasted myself, and noticed this letter to George Fredericks. Just glancing through them all, you know, out of curiosity. My name is George, alsoGeorge Fergusson. And this letter to George was the thickest letter-sized envelope there, all dusty and bent permanently across the middle. "George FredericksHotel StarThamel NeighborhoodKathmanduNEPAL." It had a trio of Nepali stamps on itthe King, Cho Oyo, the King againand the postmark date was illegible, as always.
Slowly, reluctantly, I shoved the letter back into the rack. I tried to satisfy my curiosity by reading a postcard from Koh Samui: "Hello! Do you remember me? I had to leave in December when I ran out of money. I'll be back next year. Hello to Franz and Badim BadurMichel."
No, no. I put the card back and hoisted myself upstairs. Postcards are all alike. Do you remember me? Exactly. But that letter to George, now. About half-an-inch thick! Maybe six or eight ouncessome sort of epic, for sure. And apparently written in Nepal, which naturally made it more interesting to me. I'd spent most of the previous several years in Nepal, you see, climbing and guiding treks and hanging out; and the rest of the world was beginning to seem pretty unreal. These days I felt the same sort of admiration for the ingenuity of the writers of The International Herald Tribune that I used to feel for the writers of The National Enquirer. "Jeez," I'd think as I scanned a Tribbie in front of a Thamel bookstore, and read of strange wars, unlikely summits, bizarre hijackings. "How do they think these things up?"
But an epic from Nepal, now. That was reality. And addressed to a "George F." Maybe they had misspelled the last name, eh? And anyway, it was clear by the way the letter was doubled over, and the envelope falling apart, that it had been stuck there for years. A dead loss to the world, if someone didn't save it and read it. All that agony of emotions, of brain cells, of finger muscles, all wasted. It was a damn shame.
So I took it.
Copyright © 1989 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Meet the Author
Kim Stanley Robinson was born in 1952. A native Californian, he is the author of the Nebula Award-winning Red Mars and several other highly regarded SF novels, including his acclaimed Three Californias trilogy.
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Perhaps one of the most beautifully written books I own. I've read it a thousand times, and will read it a thousand times more. Witty, smart, beautiful. If I could take only one book, this would be it.
There are many westerners living in Kathmandu, Nepal. One of the expatriates George Fergusson works as a guide. He receives a letter addressed to George F. After opening his mail, he realizes that the content is intended for the American George ¿Freds¿ Fredericks. Soon the two Georges team up to rescue a captured Yeti, sneak into Tibet to aid a llama, and find time to get into other adventures that highlight the stark, beautiful geography of Nepal and Tibet, and the people who reside in the Himalayas. This book is actually four related novellas that highlight the adventures and misadventures of the two Georges. The title tale and the second story ¿Mother Goddess of the World¿ are very exciting otherworldly action thriller with an emphasis on the heroes. The final two tales provide more adventures, but center on the natives and the geography. All four stories are well written, making for an insightful look at the countries at the top of the world. Harriet Klausner