Book 2 of 4..
Wizards by multiple authors, Edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (May 1, 2007)
At 9:30 last night I completed book 2 of Carls RipII Challenge…
Once again I wondered if it really fit the Challenge. But then.. I had 18 short stores to read to find out!
Indeed a number of them fit the bill.. beginning with Neil Gaiman‘s The Witch’s Headstone, which all takes place in and around a graveyard. The main character is a young man named Bod, who goes against what he’s told and treads on unholy ground. There he meets the ghost (?) of a witch. Learning that witches don’t deserve headstones Bod decides differently and goes about trying to get a headstone for the witches grave.
I have to be up front here and tell you.. not only am I trying to read outside of my love of “fantasy”, but this book gave me a second challenge in that.. it was short stories. I have difficulty with short stories. Either I like them and get upset that they are so short and want to know more.. or.. I don’t like them, in which case… they can’t be short enough!
I found that this book had both.. (but one must take personal taste into consideration) a number of stories which couldn’t be short enough.. and a number of them I would have wanted to read more of.
It’s filled with stories, some by well known authors such as Gaiman and Orson Scott Card and others by authors I had not known before, such as Mary Rosemblum, and Elizabeth Hand.
Krage Baker wrote a story about someone who was pure evil marrying someone who was pure good.. and their offspring thereof! The marriage itself a force to contend with.
Elizabeth Hand wrote one that would certainly fall under the “creepy” category when she wrote “Winter’s Wife”. The story is told by Justin, a young boy who was a neighbor and friend to Winter. Winter was a man who “lived in a creep-looking old school bus in the middle of the woods, with smoke coming out of a chimney and huge piles of split logs around. In the fall he’d had deer and dead coyotes hanging from this big pole that looked like a gallows.. and blood in the snow.” (sound creepy enough?) But actually Winter is a pretty nice guy who seems to have a special thing when it came to trees and wood, and a love for 3 special trees called Kings Pines that were at least 300 yrs old.
Since creepy begets creepy, eventually Winter meets a woman on line, from Iceland, and goes to marry her and bring her back to his “bus”. Vala shares in her “weirdness” and adds much to this short story. Not the least of which is the ending.. which I will not give away here because it is a story you most likely will enjoy.. even if it is creepy!
One of the stories I enjoyed the most was one called “Color Vision” by Mary Rosenblum. It was fast paced and a lot happened in the short 24 pages. She captures kids and their dialogues so well you feel these kids are real! The story is about a young girl named Melanie and her friends Jeremy and Cris.
It seems when anyone talks Melanie see’s color. She’s told it’s a brain malfunction called synesthesia. Her friend Jeremy thinks this is cool. While in school one day a new principal arrives and when he comes to her class Melanie see’s the color silver and feels a wrongness about him, especially when he says he knows her mother who is long gone.
She runs from school with Jeremy following and takes him to meet her other friend Cris. When they first arrive where Cris lives Jeremy see’s an old rundown barn with a wall around it, but as he climbs an apple tree to see over the wall he see’s a castle!.. and the creepy stuff begins in earnest. The strange new principal is after all the First Born.. for their power.
This was so well written.. the story is great, the kids are so realistic it isn’t a challenge to see them in your mind… This is one of those short stories I wouldn’t have minded it being a bit longer.. you know.. like a full book!
Wizards ends with a story by Orson Scott Card called Stonefather. This was my first read of Mr Card’s and I will say it was a good one to end the book with. It was the longest of the short stories being 74 pages long.. but read as fast as one only 20 pages long! A definite good read.
All in all, if you like short stories, I can say that I found more good ones here than I expected to, so it’s a book I’d recommend. I can’t say it will make a short story reader of me, but it surely is a good way to read authors you’ve never read before so that you can get a feel for the writing they do.
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