Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Song of Fire, by Rachel Pollack

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Modern Fantasy Adventure; Jack Shade) In our world, only Travelers are aware of the supernatural world that exists all around us. Jack Shade is a sort of private investigator for Travelers, and in this story he takes a case for a Djinn, whose people are being starved to death. (14,158 words; Time: 47m)

This story makes reference to previous Jack Shade stories (there are lots of them), but there’s no real need to read any of them first. If you like this story and want to read more about Jack, all of the previous ones have been collected into “The Fissure King: A Novel in Five Stories

"Song of Fire," by (edited by Gardner Dozois), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.642 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: I like Jack Shade. He’s a combination of Paladin from “Have Gun—Will Travel”  and Phillip Marlowe, Raymond Marlowe’s famous “noir” private eye  but for clients affected by the supernatural. And, of course, he has his own tragic backstory.

In this story (as in most of the ones I’ve read), he has to do quite a bit of hunting and researching, consulting old friends and calling in debts, before he figures out what needs to be done. And, of course, when he learns what’s required of him, he doesn’t shy from it, regardless of the danger.

It’s a formula that works, and it does not disappoint here either.

Con: The treasure hunt for clues doesn’t seem to require very much effort from him; he makes a few calls, visits a place or two, and finally contacts a supernatural to order everything he needs for the big climax. Not quite a linear plot, but not far from it either.

A separate problem is that too much text was wasted talking about previous episodes.

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Rachel Pollack Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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