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Five for the Winter Holidays
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing, 81 KB

Five for the Winter Holidays
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch was born in 1960. She is married to author Dean Wesley Smith and they live in Oregon. Her books include Star Wars: The New Rebellion, The White Mists of Power (1991), Traitors (1994), Sins of the Blood (1995), Rings of Tautee (with Dean Wesley Smith), The Devil's Churn (1996), Alien Influences (1997) and the Fey Series (The Sacrifice (1996), The Changling (1996), The Rival (1997), The Resistance (1998) and Victory (1998)).

Kristine Kathryn Rusch Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Santa and Other Criminals
SF Site Review: City of Ruins
SF Site Review: Extremes
SF Site Review: The Disappeared
SF Site Review: The Disappeared
SF Site Review: Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon
SF Site Review: Alien Influences

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

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Kristine Kathryn Rusch's second collection of holiday stories is called simply Five for the Winter Holidays. This one isn't just about Christmas -- it treats Thanksgiving and New Year's as well -- but several also capture some of that old-time holiday spirit.

The collection opens with a Thanksgiving mystery, "Pudgygate," where young men are bragging about their most embarrassing moments. Reuben claims his tale rivals them all. He manages to serve his secret love (Princess Diana), steal a kiss, and capture a criminal -- thanks to a turkey-crazed cat named Pudge.

In "Loop" Amelia has lost her boyfriend, Tyler, who experimented with time. She takes his time machine to visit herself and Tyler during their first Christmas, but they see her as a ghost. She vanishes and reappears in another time: visiting herself in the present just before using the time machine. Again she vanishes and is thrust into some alternate future where she had married Tyler and had had grandchildren. Then the cycle repeats. With each "loop" she starts to lose more sensation in her limbs. Moreover, each loop shrinks. Frustrated, she tries to communicate her predicament silently to her observers until she can no longer move. This one packs an emotional punch, reminiscent in ways of Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol."

On a starship headed far away from Earth during Christmas, "Boz" is the only living human on the ship. It's how he'd rather be -- alone. But then he hears Christmas music that the ship does not hear. He receives a gift he didn't expect and tries to give another in return. This originally appeared in Scifi.com

Reoccurring characters, Winston and his familiar, Ruby, appear in "Disaster Relief" about when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Winston, a minor mage, does mail-order spells in the back of his store. His familiar guilt-trips him into doing something more than impersonally sending money to the Red Cross: he invites his fellow mages from New Orleans to camp in his home. This story deals with the difficulty people have in wanting to help but not wanting to step out of their comfort to do so.

The Hugo-winning "Millennium Babies," which first appeared in Asimov's, closes this collection. Professor Brooke Cross had been born solely to compete in the race to have the first child born in the new millennium. Media-star Professor Franke is performing a study of such Millennium babies, shirking the idea that those born in the same year behave similarly. Rather, the study asks what causes success and failure. Because of the pain of her mother's expectations, Brooke Cross initially rejects participating but later gives in. Trouble comes when Cross's mother learns of the study. The Millennium babies gather for a hotel convention to discuss how the babies had won or failed. Some of them succeeded by measuring up to expectations but others succeeded despite those who didn't believe in them.

Whether these capture the Christmas spirit, they all have something to offer: mystery, horror, suspense, fantasy, science fiction, diversion, emotion and thought.

Copyright © 2011 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.


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