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Apprentice Fantastic
edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis
DAW Books, 319 pages

Apprentice Fantastic
Martin H. Greenberg
Martin H. Greenberg is the most prolific anthologist in publishing history. He has won the Milford Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction Editing and was Editor Guest of Honour at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention. He lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

ISFDB Bibliography: Martin H. Greenberg
Martin H. Greenberg anthologies - 1st of 4 pages
ISFDB Bibliography: Russell Davis

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

The conceit of Apprentice Fantastic is that each of the 13 stories are told about apprentices. As the stories are all fantasies, and as the most traditional fantastic trade to emphasize teaching is sorcery, most of the stories feature sorcerer's apprentices of one variety or another, though as Russell Davis takes care to hint in his introduction, none of them is a retelling of the famous story. In principal, this seems a sound theme around which to build a collection: coming of age stories should be plentiful, young heroes and heroines also plentiful, and we should have a ready-made excuse to learn the foundations of whatever magic systems are on display. I suppose all that remains true, but I have to say that the stories collected here are rather disappointing.

Among the more interesting pieces is the opening story, Michelle West's "The Augustine Painters." The central conceit here is quite interesting: certain people are artists with the ability to paint probable futures. This can be used for such purposes as avoiding accidents, or for more weighty business such as planning war strategies. I thought that idea nice, and I liked the heroine, a talented apprentice named Camille who must face a danger that may have consumed her friend and senior apprentice. But the story didn't quite cohere for me: it's a long story but I think it would have benefited from even greater length. It's followed by probably the best story in the book, Charles de Lint's "Sign Here", a story all in dialogue that takes a different look at the bargains possible when dealing with the devil for a soul. Esther Friesner's "Homework" is silly and feather-light but rather fun, about a dark lord and his bratty nephew, and the noble Prince Gallantine who must oppose them. David D. Levine has published only a few stories, but a couple have been good enough to put his name on my list of young writers to watch. His "Zauberschrift" is interesting but a bit over-long, and not quite convincing, as a former apprentice returns to the town of his youth to try to clean up a mess left by his old master.

Most of the remaining stories were unmemorable, at best. The occasional nice idea or engaging character was overwhelmed by clumsy writing, or faltering plot logic, or an excess of sentimentality. This does not rank as one of the stronger original anthologies of the year.

Copyright © 2003 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at

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