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Golden Reflections
Fred Saberhagen, edited by Joan Spicci Saberhagen and Robert E. Vardeman
Baen, 467 pages

Golden Reflections
Fred Saberhagen
Fred Saberhagen was born in Chicago, IL in 1930. He served early in the US Air Force, followed by working as a civilian electronics technician. Some of his first writings were several articles on the topics of science and technology for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Berserker was published in 1967, beginning his best known SF series and it has been optioned to New Line Cinema. Until his death in 2007, he lived in Albuquerque, NM.

Fred Saberhagen Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

Edited by Joan Spicci Saberhagen and Robert E. Vardeman, Golden Reflections is a compilation of several stories from some of the best-known fantasy and SF writers around. The reader can look forward to two bonuses, as the first half contains Fred Saberhagen's novel, Mask of the Sun, and later seven original stories by contributors: David Webber, Harry Turtledove, Walter Jon Williams, John Maddox Roberts, Jane Lindskold, Daniel Abraham and Dean Wesley Smith.

The stories in Golden Reflections are set in Fred Saberhagen's alternative universe where there is a device called the Mask, where the wearer can see into the future if he places it over his face. Many races compete to take it from each other. The Aztecs and Incas will wage war for it and in the stories, many find the Mask, soldiers, poor men, rich men, and Kings. Mexico, Germany and Egypt provide the setting for them, and the stories do not disappoint.

Each story is of a decent length, and has an afterward to it where the writer explains his inspiration for penning the tale. Most have met Fred Saberhagen, while some were inspired by the famous author to write their story based on his alternate universe and their love of it. The afterwords entertain, as they are stories themselves in a roundabout way on how the authors came to read Saberhagen's writings and what he was like when they did meet him.

My personal favourites in this novel are these two stories.

"The Fate Line," by Walter Jon Williams is set in The Valley of the Kings back in Egypt where poor boy, Perseus steals in order to buy his next meal. Staying where a tomb was being excavated, he waits out of the way, just remaining observant until the opportunity arises to rob the tomb. He hopes to con the excavators into thinking he has some association with their job to uncover what is in the tomb, and somehow help them. Perseus is a kid who lives on the edge of society, but it isn't his own fault, being the son of a dancing girl who died when she had given birth to him, and of a father who had been King Ptolemy. Despite his unfortunate circumstances, he manages to con others into thinking he is important to the excavation, and finds a tomb full of gold artefacts; one in particular takes his eye, a golden mask that looks as perfect as when it was placed on his face thousands of years ago. His discovery would make one man aware of what the future holds, but he wants it for himself, not someone else, and the consequences of his decision cause yet another problem.

"Wax, Clay, Gold," by Daniel Abraham has four soldiers who know what they must do, with multiple universes, time travel and precognition the norm, they are sure to encounter many strange things on their way. In the meantime, Tochtli is a slave helping at an Aztec workshop where objects are made and sold, and are covered in silver, and gold. An important man comes to the workshop wanting Mauizoh and Tochtli to fashion a golden mask to fit another mask on top of the one he has brought with him. It is a tall order, yet there is the catch -- none of them are allowed to wear the mask when they are done making it -- or they will die! As it is set between time periods, this story is interesting as it uses skilful ways of not confusing the readers, and proves to be a compelling read.

Golden Reflections is a shared collection of both Fred Saberhagen's work, and stories that are inspired by him. This book is a must read for those into SF and fantasy novels where readers are able to be transported to another world, either past or future.

Copyright © 2011 Sandra Scholes

Sandra is still reading Neil Gaiman's witticisms on Twitter, and enjoying it. When she isn't, she writes for LoveVampires, Active Anime, The Chronicles and LoveRomancePassion.

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