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2011 Stories 13 - 17

More from THE WAY OF THE WIZARD, edited by John Joseph Adams

13. The Magician and the Maid and Other Stories by Christie Yant  This isn't the first story I've read in which a fictional character is pulled out of his/her own world into one that is unfamiliar and then must find their way home. It is one of the few of that ilk I've read that feels like a genuine story rather than a wink-wink-nudge-nudge "look at the silly fictional character trying to adjust to the real world" game. I felt for the main character, Audra, as she struggles with whether she's doing the right thing or not, and the mystery of Miles intrigued me. Well done.

14. Winter Solstice by Mike Resnick  I find it hard to imagine being satisfied with any anthology about wizards that does not include a story about some version of Merlin. Mike Resnick's take on the character builds off of T.H. White's comment that Merlin "lives backwards." I've always envisioned that as meaning a somewhat normal life-span, but Resnick extends it over centuries and tries to explore what it would be like. The introductory note tells us the story is meant to be about the ravages of Alzheimer's, and as such it is a very affecting story.  I could not help but feel pity, and a bit of sorrow, for this Merlin -- a man who is not the greatest mage of his time but rather a poor soul trying to do his best with what memory and time he has left. I suspect this story might be hard for people who have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's. Then again, it might also be therapeutic.

15. The Trader and the Slave by Cinda Williams Chima  As with most of the stories herein that are part of on-going series, I have to say I'm not familiar with Chima's Heir Chronicles. The introductory notes state that this story started out as a deleted chapter of one of the books. I'll admit -- it stands alone so well that I would not have known it was originally something else. I mean, you can tell that it is part of a series, but it feels like one of those stories that doesn't necessarily give a lot away to the casual peruser. Chima includes enough detail to get a sense of her fictional world's structure and still tells a tight little story about a very tense stand-off between a customer, a trader, and the trader's slave.  It did make me want to know more about the characters, which is typically part of the point of stories like this.

16. Cerile and the Journeyer by Adam-Troy Castro A very wistful and ultimately sad tale of what happens when the need to have a wish or goal overwhelms the need to have that wish or goal fulfilled. I can't say much more than that without spoiling the story. But I can say this about the story's structure: Castro's use of repetition, especially near the story's start, gives the entire piece a fairy-tale feeling that almost makes you feel like you've heard the story before.

17. Counting the Shapes by Yoon Ha Lee I'm math-phobic, so despite editor Adams' admonitions not to let that affect my reaction to a story about a math-magician I couldn't help but think I'd end up not liking this story. I liked it more than I thought because ultimately, for all the main character's talk about being stuck using math-magic instead of something showier like astrology ... the story's not really about the magic. It's about war, and prophecy, and how history repeats itself and how sometimes we can try too hard to find patterns that may not actually be there, and it's also about mother-child relationships and abandonment and betrayal and trust. Which is all a very vague way of saying that math is the last thing this story is about. I can't say I was intrigued enough to want to see more stories with these characters where the math-magic really does matter ... but I enjoyed the story well enough as a stand-alone piece with a strong point to be made.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
I used to read a fair amount of sci-fi and fantasy, but I almost never do anymore. Your reviews of this anthology are making me think that I should dip my toe back in. Thanks!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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