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Aug02 Contents
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Columns:
Editorial License
US Books
UK Books
Can Books
Comics
DVD

Events/Cons:
CanVention 22 and the Aurora Awards
If It's Tuesday, this must be TOR

Feature Interview:
Ken Macleod

Feature Review: Cosmonaut Keep by Ken Macleod

BBook Reviews
The Alchemists Door
by Lisa Goldstein
Alternate Generals II
ed by Harry Turtledove
Argonaut by Stanley Schmidt
Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks
The Iron Grail by John Woodstock
The Sacred Pool by L. Warren Douglas
The Sky So Big And Black by John Barnes
Spaceland by Rudy Rucker
Straw Men by
Michael Marshall Smith
Sisters of the Raven by Barbara Hambly
To Trade The Stars by Julie E. Czerneda
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Graphic Novel:
Murder Mysteries. Original short story and radio play by Neil Gaiman. Graphic story script and art by P. Craig Russell
Zine: The Journal of Pulse Pounding Narratives

SFMedia:
Film:
Austin Powers: GoldMember

Metropolis (2002) Restoration
& Metropolis Essay
PowerPuff Girls
Reign of Fire
Signs
Simone

 

Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks
Tor Hardcover: ISBN 0312878877 May 2002
Review by Victoria McManus
336 pages List price $25.95  Purchase this book at Amazon.com

Laurie J. Marks' last novel, Dancing Jack, was published in 1993. Her new novel, Fire Logic, makes me wish her readers hadn't had to wait so long.

Fire Logic does what a fantasy novel is supposed to do, and does it stupendously. Marks' leisurely yet relentless prose sends the reader to another world, without resorting to worldbuilding crutches like unpronounceable names or vast chunks of history told in italics. The novel depends on character, and its battles are subtle, weaving paths between need and desire, between want and necessity. Even the magic is subtle, except at a few crucial moments. But the sense of wonder she creates is real.

The land of Shaftal has been taken over by the Sainnites, a people who seem to have no magic and no desire for any, rather like the British who colonized the Indian subcontinent. Complicating the conflict are the "border peoples," variants of the standard human who now live in isolated pockets but seem to be very strong in the elemental magic that is the essence of Shaftali power.

The first small section of the book follows one character, the fire elemental Zanja, through a period of fifteen years. She is in training to be a diplomat between her own border tribe and the people of Shaftal, an outsider viewpoint that, later, will prove to be vital to Shaftal's survival. Zanja's journey begins when the Shaftali G'deon, or leading Earth Witch, dies, leaving their governing body in ruins; the Sainnites subsequently give up petty incursions for actual invasion. After many years of warfare, Zanja is left alone in a Sainnite prison, injured almost beyond healing in both body and mind. Strangely enough, the real story begins here, with what might have been an ending.

The Shaftali do not bow meekly to their oppressors. Mabin, their last living Councilor, writes a book on warfare and continues to direct the country from hiding. One of the last remaining Earth Witches battles her addiction to the deadly Sainnite drug Smoke. The Paladin caste become guerrilla warriors, resisting in whatever way they can. Having been rescued from prison by a woman named Karis, Zanja joins Emil Paladin's group and takes part in one of the largest strikes against the Sainnites. Gradually, it becomes clear that she is, as one character puts it, a "hinge of history." Her relationships and her choices might allow for Shaftal's survival. When she leaves the Paladin group, it is to work towards peace with a much smaller group that will nonetheless have a more far-reaching effect.

It's blissful to become wholly invested in Marks' characters, from Zanja na'Tarwein to Emil Paladin to Medric the seer. Like the fire elementals who are three of the book's major characters, the reader is expected to make a picture from disparate pieces of information; such is Marks' skill that small plot resolutions sink into the mind like sudden realization, like intuition. It's beautiful work, yet exciting and intriguing to read. I am eager to find out if there will be sequels. There are, after all, three more elements.

Anything else? Oh. Yes, of course. Stop reading this review and go! Buy!

Victoria McManus lives in Philadelphia, where she writes genre fiction with mad abandon. Her latest story, “Rite of Passage,” appears in "The Official Collector's Guide to Mage Knight, Volume 2,” due out at GenCon 2002. She also serves as a reviewer for www.ZENtertainment.com.