Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Book of Magic, edited by Gardner Dozois

★★★★☆ A Magical Experience

(Fantasy) Gardner Dozois's last original anthology explores all types of magic in all sorts of settings. (175,649 words; Time: 9h:45m)

"The Book of Magic," edited by Gardner Dozois, published on by .

Review: 2018.636 (A Word for Authors)

The Whole World of Magic

The stated goal of the anthology is to cover the whole world of magic, and it definitely delivers. We have High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Alternate History Fantasy, Folktales, Modern Fantasy, and Fantasy Thrillers, and every one of them has a focus on magic and magic users.

In an anthology of this size (sixteen original stories), average would be to recommend three stories (4 or 5 stars) and to recommend against three stories (1 or 2 stars). We do recommend against three, but we recommend six, which is double the expected number, so this is a magical anthology indeed.

Outstanding Magic


The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable, by Matthew Hughes, introduces us to an evil magician who can't accept the fact that someone he never heard of before beat him in a competition. 

The Governor, by Tim Powers, tells the story of a secret family of wizards who live in Los Angeles, and what happens to them when their patriarch dies and everyone scrambles to try to take advantage before he can figure out how to resurrect himself.

The Staff in the Stone, by Garth Nix, features a very brave man trying to protect three villages from a magical risk only he can see, but it's not at all clear that he has the strength to survive it.

In The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril, by Scott Lynch, a very powerful wizard dies, and his house AI attempts to take his place.

Specially Recommended

The Wolf and the Manticore, by Greg van Eekhout, tells an unlikely love story set in a world where Northern and Southern California are separate kingdoms that fight each other with magic that's almost as bad as nuclear weapons. 

Bloom, by Kate Elliott, takes us to a fascinating alternate Europe where a traditional-minded middle-aged magician tries to help his house survive by recruiting young magicians with the help of a very nontraditional young woman.

A Bonus

We did not review, "A Night at the Tarn House," by George R.R. Martin, because it's a reprint of a 2009 story, but it's an excellent tale and would have easily been 4 stars if it were original to this volume.

The Magic Goes Away

Gardner Dozois might be best known for his annual Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies, or possibly for his tenure as editor of Asimov’s Magazine of Science Fiction, but he also produced excellent original anthologies, both by himself and with collaborators like George R.R. Martin. He passed away on May 27 of this year, so this volume will be his last. He will be sorely missed by everyone who loves short science fiction.

Other Reviews: Search Web,
Gardner Dozois Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

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