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The Horns of Elfland
edited by Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and Donald G. Keller
Roc Books, 347 pages

A review by Jeff Berkwits

On her nationally syndicated radio show, Sound & Spirit, award-winning fantasy novelist Ellen Kushner routinely introduces listeners to melodies that are thematically and compositionally meaningful. With this marvelous collection of 15 short stories, Kushner and editorial cohorts Delia Sherman and Donald G. Keller successfully attempt a similar literary feat. The laugh-out-loud scenario described in "Acolytes" by Michael Kandel is certainly a standout selection, as vomiting goblins, wailing banshees and a piano-playing vampire turn a run-of-the-mill recital into a fairy-tale farce. Serious offerings like the late John Brunner's jazz-imbued "The Drummer and the Skins" also masterfully portray the sobering psychological effect of sound. While all of the creations are certainly worthwhile, those that attempt to relate a character's reaction to the music rather than the compositions themselves tend to be more successful, as the reader can readily insert personally powerful harmonies into the yarns that offer ambiguous notational descriptions. From opera, folk and hip-hop to shape-note singing and change ringing, there is literally something for everyone in this book. The editors and authors deserve a standing ovation for this 'suite' of musical literature... Hopefully there will be many encore editions.

Copyright © 1997 by Jeff Berkwits

Jeff Berkwits publishes ASTERISM: The Journal of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Space Music, and is also a contributor to publications such as Science Fiction Weekly and Outré. He has been a speculative fiction fan for most of his life and has fond memories of reading The Hobbit aloud with his family around the dinner table.

The Horns of Elfland
Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and Donald G. Keller
Ellen Kushner has written two novels, Swordspoint and Thomas the Rhymer, which won both a World Fantasy Award and a Mythopoeic Award for best novel of 1990.

Sound & Spirit at WGBH
Ellen Kushner Bibliography
SF Site Interview: Ellen Kushner

If any of Delia Sherman's work should be remembered, it should be for The Porcelain Dove, a novel of intoxicating beauty. She has contributed short fiction to such anthologies as Bending the Landscape and Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears.

Donald G. Keller produces the contemporary music magazine, the still point.

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