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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street, East Providence, RI 02914

 LAST UPDATE  2/14/20

The Compleat Traveler in Black by John Brunner, Bluejay, 1986

Five stories about the entity who is responsible for bringing order to chaos, told somewhat similarly to Jack Vance’s Dying Earth stories. “Imprint of Chaos” introduces the character, who teaches a city to rely on logic and their own minds rather than appeal to the gods. “Break the Doors of Hell” tells the story of a city that decided to forego order and hard work in favor of magic, and the doom that came to it. “The Wager Lost by Winning” involves the fate of a city whose rulers believe in a constant game of chance. “The Things That Are Gods” was the last written but not the last in the series.  “Dread Empire” brings the series to its end with the traveler having achieved his goal. Brunner wrote very little fantasy other than this. 2/14/20

Blind Voices by Tom Reamy, Berkley, 1978

The first and only novel by Tom Reamy was in part an homage to Circus of Dr. Lao (it even has a character named Finney) and Something Wicked This Way Comes. A carnival/freak show comes to a small town but several of the exhibits are real because the owner can manipulate matter on the molecular level and has been spawning monsters. A crisis brews when one of his proteges falls in love with a local girl and another commits murder, eventually leading to a psychic battle. Reamy supposedly had intended to revise this before submitting it but died first. I can’t imagine that he would have significantly improved such a great story. There is an attempt to rationalize this as science fiction but it's clearly a fantasy at heart. 1/21/20

San Diego Lightfoot Sue and Other Stories by Tom Reamy, Ace, 1983

I believe that, with one exception, this collects all of the short fiction by Reamy, who died tragically after only three years of writing. There is an unpublished story from The Last Dangerous Visions which may yet appear. Reamy was a highly regarded fanzine fan who made an immediate and striking effect on fantasy fiction. He was nominated for multiple awards and the title story from this collection, along with "Twilla", are certainly classics of the genre. Not that the other stories should be considered minor. His work frequently had a dark side - evil genies, malevolent children, etc., but he also displayed an impressive understanding of human personalities. I had not read this for years and it was long overdue. 1/17/20

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