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Stories 36-39

All four of these are from the June 2007 issue of Realms of Fantasy, the focus of which seemed to be "urban or modern fantasy."  This issue also included the Charles deLint story I reviewed a few weeks back.  A quick search of the magazine's site, http://www.rofmagazine.com/ , shows me that they don't keep the fiction online (since it's primarily a fiction magazine, I suppose, unlike The New Yorker), but they do offer free short fiction or novel excerpts over there, the current one being a George MacDonald piece that I'll have to read in the next day or two.

Afghan Buddha Payback by David Pinault focuses on two treasure hunters in modern day Afghanistan (reference is made to Talib-controlled areas and US forces) searching for  particular Ghandaharan Buddhist artifacts who end up enlisting the aid of a mystical "finder" who claims to have a Buddhist Djinn in a glass jar.  There's a nice, if slightly predictable, turn at the end.  I can easily see the two main American characters spinning off into their own series of stories after this.

The Hotel Astarte by M.K. Hobson has an odd start.  It puts a mythological spin on the events of the fall of 1929 in the United States.  The King of the Midwest wants to break the power of the Emperor of the East, and enlisted the aid of the Prince of the Midwest and an undead warlock to get the job done.  It is an interesting take on the beginning of a dark period in US History.

Pennsylvania Dragon by Stephen Chambers starts out ordinarily enough -- a small declining Pennsylvania town has to pay dues to a local named "The Chicken Man," a sort of extortion racket.  But there's more to the Chicken Man's boss than most of the locals realize, and one young local decides that enough is finally enough.  The story feels a little rushed and disjointed in spots, but overall works.  Could probably have been a bit longer.

From The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss is actually an excerpt from his novel, which was about to be released at the time this issue hit the stands.  It was included as a small "tip-in" promotional insert.  It's intriguing enough that I would like to pick up the novel eventually.  The main character is a young man who is part of a well-respected traveling troupe of performers, and the excerpt tells how me met the man who will become his mentor.

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