Monday, January 14, 2013

Magic edited by Jonathan Oliver: reviewed

Magic edited by Jonathan Oliver. Solaris £7.99

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Magic is subtitled “an anthology of the esoteric and arcane” and that’s a pretty handy tag for this book. But first, I offer congratulations and thanks to Solaris for daring to publish original SF, fantasy and horror anthologies (House of Fear, Solaris Rising, etc) in the mainstream UK market. Publishers, with few exceptions, shy away from short stories to – in my view – the detriment of readers.

Magic includes fifteen short stories, all of them immensely enjoyable. Obviously there are some I prefer above the others – that’s the nature of the beast. One of my favourites is “Dumb Lucy” by Robert Shearman. This writer is a master of the off-the-wall fantasy and this is no exception. “Mailerdemon” by Sophie McDougall is another favourite. Here, a demon is exchanged via email, ostensibly to help the recipient deal with nightmares. “The Art of Escapology” by Alison Littlewood deals with more than a Houdini-like act. And so on. Other contributors include Audrey Niffenegger, Dan Abnett, Christopher Fowler, Storm Constantine, Gail Z Martin and Liz Williams…

I’m sure many of the book’s stories will be picked for the various “best of 2012” collections due this year, and that’s justly right. These fifteen stories are a treasure trove of magic. I’ll end on a simple question: why aren’t there more anthologies of this class?

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