Monday, November 9, 2015

Two More

The Third Magic (1988) by Welwyn Wilton Katz is a young adult fantasy by a Canadian author that re-imagines and redirects the familiar Arthurian story. It begins on the world of Nwm, where the First Magic of water and circles is worked by the women Sisters, and the Second Magic of fire and iron worked by the men of the Line. Morrigan (Rigan) and her twin brother Arddu live in Nwm, but they are separated when Rigan is missioned to Earth’s past to take part in the struggle with M’rlendd (Merlin) to raise Arthur.  Meanwhile in the twentieth century, young Morgan Lefevre, who is visiting Tintagel with her Canadian television-producer father, and who has some visions from the past, is spirited away to Nwm, where she is befriended by Arddu. Gradually they learn the complex plot which the Sisters are attempting to bring about, and make their own plans to alter its fulfillment. The main plot is fairly straightforward, but the implications of their actions get complicated, and as a whole the story is an ambitious one that is not entirely effectively realized.  Yet it is nonetheless an intriguing and worthwhile book. 

Embracing the Dark (1991), edited by Eric Garber, is a collection of eleven tales of horror and alternative sexuality. In the introduction, Garber notes that with few exceptions most horror writers “seem overwhelmingly misogynous, antisex, and homo-hostile.” This collection is intended to provide stories counter that trend, and in that aim it succeeds.  However, one wishes that the results made for better stories.  The best ones are among the five reprints:  “Cheriton” by Peter Robins, from his 1977 collection Undo Your Raincoats and Laugh!; and a new translation from the German of an 1885 story “Manor” by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, an early proponent of the gay movement.  A few original stories (those by Nina Kiriki Hoffman and Jewelle Gomez) are reasonably well-done, if unambitious, but some of the others are disappointing—“Blood Relations” by Jeffrey N. McMahan is simply-written  and clich├ęd; “The Strawberry Man” by Jon Peyton Cooke is simply stupid. A mixed collection overall.   

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