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Santa and Other Criminals
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing, 65 KB

Santa and Other Criminals
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch was born in 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: Five for the Winter Holidays
SF Site Review: City of Ruins
SF Site Review: Extremes
SF Site Review: The Disappeared
SF Site Review: The Disappeared
SF Site Review: Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon
SF Site Review: Alien Influences

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Not in the Christmas spirit yet? You might try Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Santa and Other Criminals.

The collection opens with a pair of mystery shorts, "Rehabilitation" and "Snow Angels," which are essentially psychological explorations of criminals who made their appearance on Christmas. In the first, Matt is a Mall Santa who stops young men from executing a jewelry heist. The police tongue-lash him for acting so boldly, but he had his reasons (see title). In the second, as the family wanders through the woods to fetch a Christmas tree, Bobberts has to save his little sister from a much larger man's predatory nature. Bobberts is partially successful, but the man grabs Bobberts instead.

"Doubting Thomas" mixes the mystery and speculative genres. As a child, Tommy Ulrick witnessed a group of Santas robbing a house via a sled. He got his folks to call the cops, but no one believed him until the robbers accomplished the deed and have long since vanished. When Tommy ages, he becomes a reporter and comes up with a clever way to find out where the Santa(s) is(are). Finally, Tommy hunts them down to their lair. Despite fighting against the spirit of Christmas (the only one in this collection -- Santa has been naughty), the story satisfies and pulls off one of the cleverest story gimmicks I've read in a while -- the kind that's been buried under your nose for years.

My favorite in this collection is probably, "Substitutions," a story that has potential to become a classic, assuming enough people read it and pass it around. For the past 150 years, Silas has sent people to their deaths. He'd made a pact back when his wife was dying to save her life, but as part of that pact, he could not see his wife again. Now he's more than a little jaded about life and death, sitting at a blackjack table in Vegas when another death transporter arrives -- a greenhorn who asks for Silas' help. I thought I knew where this one was headed and was pleasantly surprised.

The final tale, "Nutball Season," tells of a woman who has threatened to kill Santa Claus. This would have been shrugged off, but a man calling himself "Mr. Kringle" asks the narrator to stop her. The reason why she wants to kill Santa is that he allowed her little brother to fall off the roof, waiting for Santa to come. This story, which originally appeared in Ellen Datlow's late-lamented, conjures the Christmas spirit and was a fine note on which to end the collection.

Copyright © 2011 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.

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