Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Fire Opal Mechanism, by Fran Wilde

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Dark Fantasy Time Travel; The Jewel Series) When the Pressmen come to shut down the last university, Ania escapes with a magic jewel, long thought lost, that may hold the key to freeing the people from the Pressmen. (35,560 words; Time: 1h:58m)

Although this is set in the Jewel Universe, the connection between stories is so loose that it doesn't matter what order you read them in. See related articles on

"The Fire Opal Mechanism," by (edited by Lee Harris), published on by .

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

Review: 2019.341 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: We have three different story threads in this tale. Ania wants to find the Archivist and save the university library’s greatest treasures. Jorit is just looking for safety, and Xachar is actually trying to move up in the world. At a deeper level, though, Ania needs to come out of her shell and achieve her full potential, and Jorit needs to stop mourning her brother and start to live again. Xachar really just needs to grow up.

But they all want to stop the Pressmen before they destroy all the books in the world.

The Jewel Universe itself entertains us, and it’s fun learning more about it.

Finally, there’s plenty of tension as the characters move toward the final showdown between the power of the opal and the power of the “emerald.”

Con: The ending seems a bit too pat. All the ink from the emerald goes back to restore all the lost books? There’s no ultimate loss from all this? No price paid?

Some details suggest that the past really can be changed, which seems to contradict the repeated theme that you cannot do that.

The envelope story detracts from the novella as a whole. It doesn’t even end.

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Fran Wilde Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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