Something Magic This Way Comes
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Sarah A. Hoyt (Editors)
Review by Andrew Brooks
DAW Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756404727
Date: 04 March 2008 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
We've got another DAW anthology coming out this month (see last month's review of Wizards, Inc.) and this one's all about the magic too.
While the previous release dealt primarily with what it would be like if magic ran rampant in the workplace, making the 9-to-5 a lot more interesting, Something Magic This Way Comes spreads faerie dust into the other facets of everyday, muggle existence. But this is definitely not Harry Potter and that's a good thing. A great thing. Something Magic This Way Comes contains 20 stories that remind us there was once a time when events in our lives weren't explained by the sterile voice of science, the monotonous drone of reason leeching every bit of wonder from the unknown.
The stories in this collection range from the strange and macabre to the ridiculous and humorous, and are all solid reads. There's enough variety here that you won't get the feeling you've read this or that story before, and only 30 pages earlier.
"The Star Cats" by Charles Edgar Quinn is a short that vaguely hints at a supposed origin of cats, setting the seeds of that amidst the death of space exploration. It left quite an impression on me, despite being one of the shortest works in the collection, and if I was on any sort of award-giving panel I'd nominate it for the last paragraph alone. On the first read-through I got a chuckle out of imagining all of those cats gathering, freaking out the neighbors, but on the second go the laugh was bittersweet. Very economical use of words by Quinn, and a story that I thought on long after I'd read it.
"The Lighthouse Surfer" by Daniel M. Hoyt is another gem that I decided to read twice. It's about three friends hanging out on a beach on the Oregon coast and the tsunami that affects each of them in a different way. I felt the tsunami a wonderful choice as a metaphor for life, and the way in which it harries us all in different directions. It's another award-worthy story.
"Tears of Gold" by Paul Criley can be added to that list as well. It's a beautiful story about a woman who's recently lost her husband, and the resentment she harbors for a world without death that sprang into being one week after his passing.
Two of the lighter stories I enjoyed were "Something Virtual This Way Comes" by Laura Resnick and "The Flood was Fixed" by Eric Flint. "Something Virtual This Way Comes" is about an electronic gremlin that falls in love with a human woman and what happens when she rejects its amorous advances. The lengths the gremlin goes to to win her over are hilarious. The technological terms Laura Resnick comes up with when the tech guy speaks are great, and ring true for those of us who have had that conversation. The ending felt too convenient, but that doesn't really detract from the story. And does she get rid of her electronic stalker? I won't ruin it. "The Flood was Fixed" is a funny short about a bet between God and Satan about whether people would still believe in God if he presented them with evidence that backs up the theory of evolution. The plan backfires and God has to keep redoing the Flood until it all works in his favor. Loved the Mark Twain reference and Noah's son's quest to fill the ark. Very funny stuff from an author whose other work I will now be seeking out.
Something Magic This Way Comes is one of the strongest science fiction/fantasy collections I've read in quite a while. If even one of the stories mentioned above piques your interest, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Greenberg and Hoyt have gathered together some mighty fine writers for this latest from DAW. Strongly recommended.