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Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Golden Gryphon Books, 284 pages

Thomas Canty
Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch was born in June 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: Alien Influences

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Kristine Kathryn Rusch first made her appearance with the story "Skin Deep" in the January 1988 issue of Amazing Stories. This story was the start of a short fiction career that eventually led to a Campbell Award for best new author and a position as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Even as Rusch focused on her editing tasks, she still continued to write high quality fiction which was published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. After several years editing, Rusch decided it was time to return to her roots, publishing fiction of all lengths. In Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon, Rusch has selected eleven of her stories spanning her career so far to provide an introduction to her style and ideas.

Rusch's stories do not fall into a single sub-genre of science fiction. She shows that she is equally comfortable in writing in an historical setting, as demonstrated by "The Gallery of His Dreams," about Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, or adoption in a futuristic dystopia in the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated "Echea." It is impossible to pigeon-hole Rusch, because no two stories have the same feel, even when they deal with the same issues.

Another strength in Rusch's stories is that the specific characters are very important for the story to be successful. Brooke Delacroix from "Millennium Babes" would react completely differently than Steffie in "Coolhunting" in just about any specific situation. All too often, SF authors focus on the ideas to the exclusion of strong and independent characterizations. Rather than allow herself to use cliché characters, Rusch tailors her characters for the stories in which they appear.

One of the things which Rusch is short on in her stories is action. This is issue- and thought-based speculative fiction rather than adventure stories. In some cases, Rusch doesn't put quite enough activity in the stories and the reader becomes acutely aware of the slow pace. In most cases, however, Rusch's tales move at an appropriate speed for the story and ideas she wishes to present.

Because of the range of the stories and the period of time over which they were published, Rusch's growth as an author is eminently noticeable in Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon. Although the stories are not presented in chronological order, it is easy to tell which tales are early examples of her work and which came later when she has become more able to handle a multitude of complex themes. This is not to say that the earlier stories are less enjoyable, just that the later ones are more adroitly handled.

The title of the collection, Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon, conjures images of a lazy day with a cup of tea in a pastoral setting. The stories, themselves, do not support this image. They are realistic, without falling into the realm of grittiness. The ideas Rusch includes are more complex than those which might be appropriate for a lazy afternoon when escapism is more sought than challenge.

Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon is a strong collection of stories by an author who has written fiction of all lengths, but whose reputation is primarily as a short fiction author and editor. For those who are primarily acquainted with Rusch through her editing of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, this collection will demonstrate the writing ability which initially got her noticed within the genre.

Copyright © 2001 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver was a Hugo nominee for Best Fan Writer in 2000. He has sold three anthologies to DAW Books. Active in con fandom, Steven was programming director for Chicon 2000 and is vice-chairing Windycon XXVIII. He is a contributor to Tangent, SF Site and other on-line and print zines. More of his reviews, etc. can be read at his website:

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