A collection of original fantasy tales includes contributions by such popular authors as Neil Gaiman, Peter S. Beagle, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, Greg Bear, Eric Lustbader, Kevin J. Anderson, Robert Silverberg, and Katherine Dunn, among others.
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Second in a fantasy series compiled by master illusionist Copperfield and freelancer Berliner, following the better David Copperfield's Tales of the Impossible (1995). Few of the tales here are up to the level of the pump primer of that earlier volume. Tops in this collection is Robert Silverberg's ``Crossing to the Empire,'' a story in which the master is so in control of his material that the book's other authors seem hopelessly unoriginal. Silverberg's story imagines that a section of the Byzantine empire, frozen in time, occasionally reappears on the edge of Chicago and stays there for about 50 hours. Chicago border-crossers hop over for some quick trading, offering Swiss army knives, compasses, and cans of Coke for precious stones and jewelry. Several pieces are about magicians, and depend heavily on the idea that some magic tricks turn out to involve real magic. The best of these is Edward Bryant's ``Disillusion,'' possessing a smart enough spin on the idea to lift the tale far above the overfamiliarity of its elements. Tad Williams contributes an amusing Hammett parody, ``The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of,'' in which a sixth-rate Bogey/Spade joins with the daughter of a famous dead magician to recover his lost manuscript. Copperfield's own kickoff story, ``Eagle,'' is ingenious but paper-thin. Eric Lustbader, who provided a strong, moving story for the earlier volume, sets his vulgarometer at a much higher level in ``16 mins.,'' a not particularly impressive tale that turns on Andy Warhol's motto that everybody gets his 15 minutes of fame. But Neil Gaiman's nostalgic ``The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories,'' about a British screenwriter in Hollywood, shouldn't be missed. Also on hand, among others, are Peter S. Beagle, Anne McCaffrey, and Greg Bear. Worthy for its best stories. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
There's a modicum of magic to be found in this second anthology (after Tales of the Impossible) from master prestidigitator Copperfield and Berliner. The stories are mostly second-rate entries from first-rate authors, and sweet if unsubstantial pieces from others. The best avoid any reliance on hocus-pocus, focusing instead on the magic of the human condition. Katharine Dunn's "The Allies" is a slight but nicely written tale of adolescent angst, family dysfunction and otherworldly craziness. Robyn Carr's "Natasha's Bedroom" is a softly sentimental fantasy about a widowed painter's relationship with her art. Karen Joy Fowler's "The Queen of Hearts and Swords," about racism and perception in San Francisco in the middle of the 19th century, lacks the sharp focus of Fowler's finest work but still intrigues. Enjoyable if predictable, Peter S. Beagle's "The Magician of Karakosk" recounts the predicaments of a sorcerer entrapped by his own prodigious skills. In Greg Bear's "The Fall of the House of Escher," the author takes a conjurer into a future so far-flung that all substance seems mirage. Seeing what humanity has become, the magician "pitied them. They had lived lives of illusion without wonder...." By contrast, this anthology about the wonder of illusion, though it may lack heft, presents enough razzle with sufficient dazzle to win not pity but modest praise.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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