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Wondrous Beginnings
      Magical Beginnings
edited by Steven H Silver and Martin H. Greenberg
DAW Books, 309 pages
      DAW Books, 343 pages

Wondrous Beginnings
Magical Beginnings
Steven H Silver
Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

Steven H Silver Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Oh my, what a cornucopia.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Charles de Lint, Michelle West, Anne McCaffrey, Arthur C. Clarke, Gene Wolfe, Lois McMaster Bujold, Catherine Asaro, and more. A bunch of award-winners, a plethora of household names, a pantheon of literary gods which any beginner writer is lighting secret candles to in some private act of adoration -- 'When I grow up, I want to be...'

In many of the actual stories chosen for publication in both Wondrous Beginnings and Magical Beginnings, the eventual shape of the mature author's work can be dimly discerned, like something sketched out in pencil and rubbed out many times until only a blur remains -- but for someone just starting out there is much to recognise in these stories, the kind of thing that a beginner, any beginner, does, and there is a shimmer of great and glowing hope there. Even someone like Arthur C. Clarke, esteemed elder statesman, or Anne McCaffrey, wildly successful author whose books adorn bookstore shelves on every continent, had to step over some line in the sand somewhere, write a first word, write a first story, get a first cheque. Everything else follows from that.

And they all started somewhere, of course, which is what would make these particular anthologies particularly irresistible to those just starting out n the writing game themselves -- but also to the more seasoned readers and writers, the connoisseurs of any one given writer's work or the writers with a few published stories under their own belts. Introduced by the authors themselves or by people closely associated with the authors, the stories behind the chosen stories are just as fascinating, if not more so, than the tales themselves. The newbies will be reading with stars in their eyes about the inspiration that strikes without warning, but also about the hard work, the persistence, the occasional dose of pure good luck, and the sheer faith, against all odds, in one's own work and abilities without which none of the writers in these anthologies would have got anywhere at all. The old hands will be reading these intros and nodding, remembering. These anthologies are, at once, a Pandora's Box of authorial fears and hopes and a remembrance album of things gone by.

I love the idea.

There are, however, some things that don't time-travel well. At least one of the stories is awfully, awfully dated. I mean really awful. I know Murray Leinster's "The Runaway Skyscraper", for instance, was written a great many years ago in a different time and place, but a modern reader (who doesn't have the benefit of time-travel and/or hindsight with perfect understanding) cringes at certain portrayals -- let me just say that I am really glad that, in the intervening years, the pretty blonde secretary who throws up her hands delicately and screams at the ugly monster of an unlikely plot problem, and then leaves the solution entirely up to the big strong hero who of course knows everything, including how to deal with the noble savages, has become history.

I enjoyed this quick tour of writers' sources, finding out about the first stepping stones of authors whose works I've enjoyed and admired for years. Thanks for the time machine, guys.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.

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