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The Art of Arrow Cutting
Stephen Dedman
Tor Books, 285 pages

The

Stephen Dedman
is almost making enough to write full-time (maybe next year, he says). He's worked at various jobs including actor, experimental subject, editorial assistant for Australian Physicist and manager of a SF bookshop. He lives near Perth, Australia with his wife and a concertina file bulging with rejection slips.

Stephen Dedman Home Page
Dedman Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Stephen Dedman's first novel, The Art of Arrow Cutting, relates the story of Michelangelo Magistrale, or Mage, who suddenly finds his life in danger after he helps a pretty blonde student, Amanda Sharmon, with bus fare. Up to that time, Mage has only been an itinerant photographer with an eye for the ladies.

For much of the novel, Mage has no clue why he is being pursued, although he is fortunate in the new-found friendship of Charles Takumo, a Japanese-American stuntman who claims descent from Charles Manson and has a deep interest in Japanese mythology and culture. Eventually the two companions discover the talisman Mage has been entrusted with and try to keep Mage from trouble when he is accused of murdering Amanda.

Dedman's book is enjoyable and fast-moving with likable heroes. The villain is just mysterious enough, and nearly as likable as Mage and Takumo. Dedman pulls this off by making his henchmen suitably dislikable.

There is a slight paradox between Dedman's ability to describe interiors in a realistic, almost cinematic, manner and his inability to differentiate his cities. Dedman's Calgary, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are all indistinguishable and could as easily have been Regina, Tulsa and Atlantic City. In a similar way, Dedman's description of life and institutions seems to be vaguely wrong, although there is nothing specific enough to point to. Possibly, these minor weaknesses are caused by Dedman's residence in Australia. In any event, it is not intrusive enough to affect the enjoyment of the book.

Finally, Dedman uses a lot of Japanese terms in The Art of Arrow Cutting. He wisely includes these terms in a separate glossary at the end of the novel. This allows the reader to quickly refer to the glossary in order to remember, for instance, that yadomejutsu means the art of arrow cutting.

Copyright © 1997 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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