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Graham Masterton

The picture taken at the Krakow Book Fair in 2011

Graham Masterton

Basilisk

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‘Zauber was convinced from what he had read in De Monstrorum that the monks had actually succeeded in recreating several mythical beasts. They had also created some new ones of their own, such as a child with the tentacles of a squid instead of arms and a woman with a horse’s legs, like a centaur. He said it was essential that we try to repeat their experiments, using modern technology, because there was no reason why different species should not intermingle, to make the best of all of our attributes. In the final analysis, he said, we are all God’s creatures. Men should be able to swim like dolphins. Women should be able to give birth to dogs.
‘Maybe Zauber was not completely serious about his ideas. Maybe he was simply trying to be provocative. But he was German, and his suggestions brought back too strongly the medical research at Belsen and Auschwitz. And, of course, he upset the Roman Catholic bishops.’
‘Sure. I can understand that. I got enough flak from the church myself. What happened to Zauber after that?’
‘He stayed in Kraków for a year or two. I know, because I used to see him almost every week sitting alone at the Nostalgia restaurant on Karmelicka Street, eating his lunch. Always the same, potato dumplings with mushrooms, and a glass of white wine.
‘I saw one article about him, in the Dziennik Polski newspaper. He said that he had turned from medieval mythology to medieval archeology. He was exploring the cultural history of Kraków by digging down through the many layers of buildings which had been built on top of buildings, churches on top of churches, cellars on top of cellars.
‘That must have been eight or ten years ago. After that, I never saw him again, and there was nothing about his archeology in the papers. Until you call me tonight, my friend, I never thought about Christian Zauber once.’
‘Rafał, I really need to find him. I’ll explain why when I get to Kraków.’
‘You are coming to Kraków? For real? This would be excellent! I will take you to my favorite restaurant and fill you with bigos!’
‘I look forward to it, whatever bigos is.’
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Graham Masterton

(1946-) – a British writer considered a master of horror literature. Became famous thanks to his début novel Manitou (1975). It tells the story of an Indian shaman born again in the 20th century to take vengeance for the wrongs dealt to his people. The winner of all the awards that a horror author can collect. In Poland, he is especially famous for two of his novels: The Chosen Child, with the plot set in Warsaw’s sewers rampaged by a bloodthirsty beast, and Basilisk, whose title monster hides in the corners of the old city of Krakow. (ms)
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