Monday, October 31, 2016

The Rhythm Man, by James Beamon

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(Historical Fantasy) Horace was a celebrated blues player, but he failed to make the move to jazz. Now he's washed up, and desperate enough to sell his soul, if need be. (4,394 words; Time: 14m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended

"The Rhythm Man," by , appeared in issue 11-12|16, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The Rhythm Man is the devil, of course, and this is a standard "deal-with-the-devil" story. Charlie Pepper traded his wife for "new fingers" so we expect Horace will end up trading his father's life, and that adds a good bit of tension.

Horace pays his wine collection just to talk to the Rhythm Man, and the price he pays for the Rhythm Man's gift is that he forever gives up any ability to play jazz. So what did Horace really want? We know from the early parts of the story that he used to be a creator, and what he really wanted was to create again. This he does, even if the only audience will be his father and himself.

To a degree, the story seems to be a metaphor for how any creative person is slave to his/her muse, and how there is always a price.

Con: Some parts are unnecessarily confusing. For example, why does Horace have to meet the Rhythm Man on a train? (Because Pepper met him in an airplane?) How did he afford to reserve a compartment like that? Why did he have to stand, and what's with the parrot?

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