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2011 Stories 1 - 3

The first three stories of 2011 come from THE WAY OF THE WIZARD, edited by John Joseph Adams.

I actually read the first five stories in this book near the end of 2010, as listed in this post.  I wish I'd had time to do better commentary on them. All five stories were good; I particularly liked the Kirtley and Sherman stories.

And now, onward...

1. Life So Dear or Peace So Sweet by C.C. Finlay  I remember seeing Finlay's American Revolution with Magic trilogy (so far) on the bookshelves a while ago and thought it sort of looked interesting. This short story has convinced me to try the series. Finlay sets out just enough of his world in this story to intrigue without, I think, spoiling anything for those who have not read the novels yet (only those who have read the novels can tell me if there was something in there I shouldn't have known before reading the first book). We get a good sense of main characters Proctor and Deborah and a strong sense that while Magic may be a necessary tool for American and British forces, those who practice it are not much more accepted in Finlay's world than they were in the real world.  And the author manages to comment on romantic vs. obsessive/possessive love into the story as well. Nicely done.

2. Card Sharp by Rajan Khanna  I'm sure there must be other stories out there that deal with playing cards as a magical focus / tool / force to be reckoned with, but I don't think I've read them. Khanna's tale of 54-card decks (including the 2 Jokers) that burn off as you use each card, and the power they both offer and hold over the user, is pitch-perfect. A fully-realized magical "subculture" set in the time of riverboats and gambling barons surrounds a main character who is only slightly like Hamlet. I need to seek out more of Khanna's work.

3. So Deep That the Bottom Could Not Be Seen by Genevieve Valentine  What if Global Warming was not just a natural problem, but a supernatural problem? What if those closest to the problem, the wielders of natural magic, were a marginalized part of the magical community whose concerns were not taken seriously by their "incantatory" brethren?  Valentine's story deals more with politics than magic, but that's okay because the point it makes is important: even the weakest among us has the power to effect change.

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