THE SHIMMERING DOOR by Katharine--Ed. Kerr


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A veteran fantasy writer's (Freeze Frames, 1995, etc.) anthology of 32 contemporary, original, mostly American stories. Greek myth is well-represented, with tales such as Susan Shwartz's feminist ""Hunters,"" about Artemis' tragic love affair with a mortal, and Esther M. Friesner's amusing if overlong ""Tea,"" about a lustful male aerobics instructor on a cruise ship who finds himself in the middle of a parlor squabble between Circe, Medea, and Prospero. Many efforts here draw upon reserves of deep sorrow: M. John Harrison's ""Seven Guesses of the Heart,"" for example, concerns the inability of magic to comfort a grieving father, and Gregory Feeley's ""The Drowning Cell"" is a sad story about a girl connecting with a boy who, centuries ago, drowned in a debtors' prison. Alternatively, the boy may be only an imaginary playmate, but, in any case, experiencing his sadness enables the girl to free herself of her own troubles. ""I just can't believe in a world where everything is run by science,"" says the main character in Connie Hirsch's amusing romp, ""Wicked Cool,"" which might be a manifesto for fantasy writers; most of these pieces feature some sort of ""magick""--in Hirsch's case, not always the magick of the Old Religion, since her witches fly around contemporary Boston on broomsticks. Mark Kreighbaum's overtitled ""Looking in the Heart of Light, the Silence,"" however, convincingly evokes the allure of the black arts: Two practitioners play out a foreordained scenario on a gloomy winter night in Minneapolis, intoning a series of powerful spells. Magick becomes bittersweet in Karawynn Long's clever commentary on the abortion debate, ""Riddle in Nine Syllables,"" in which a high-school girl invokes a medieval spell to induce a miscarriage in her friend, only to find herself carrying the fetus. Not flawless, but nearly so.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: HarperPrism