|A review by Jeff Berkwits
On her nationally syndicated radio show, Sound & Spirit, award-winning fantasy novelist
Ellen Kushner routinely introduces listeners to melodies that are thematically and
compositionally meaningful. With this marvelous collection of 15 short stories, Kushner
and editorial cohorts Delia Sherman and Donald G. Keller
successfully attempt a similar literary feat. The
laugh-out-loud scenario described in "Acolytes" by Michael Kandel is certainly a
standout selection, as vomiting goblins, wailing banshees and a piano-playing vampire
turn a run-of-the-mill recital into a fairy-tale farce. Serious offerings like
the late John Brunner's jazz-imbued "The Drummer and the Skins" also masterfully portray
the sobering psychological effect of sound. While all of the creations are certainly
worthwhile, those that attempt to relate a character's reaction to the music rather
than the compositions themselves tend to be more successful, as the reader can readily
insert personally powerful harmonies into the yarns that offer ambiguous notational
descriptions. From opera, folk and hip-hop to shape-note singing and change ringing,
there is literally something for everyone in this book. The editors and authors deserve
a standing ovation for this 'suite' of musical literature... Hopefully there will be many
Copyright © 1997 by Jeff Berkwits
Jeff Berkwits publishes ASTERISM: The Journal of Science Fiction, Fantasy and
Space Music, and is also a contributor to publications such as Science
Fiction Weekly and Outré.
He has been a speculative fiction fan for most of his life and has fond
memories of reading The Hobbit aloud with his family around the dinner table.
Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and Donald G. Keller|
Ellen Kushner has written two novels, Swordspoint and
Thomas the Rhymer, which won both a World Fantasy
Award and a Mythopoeic Award for best novel of 1990.
Sound & Spirit at WGBH
Ellen Kushner Bibliography
SF Site Interview: Ellen Kushner
If any of Delia Sherman's work should be remembered, it should be for
The Porcelain Dove, a novel of intoxicating beauty. She has
contributed short fiction to such anthologies as Bending the Landscape
and Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears.
Donald G. Keller produces the contemporary music magazine, the still point.