by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Golden Gryphon


284pp/$24.95/May 2001

Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon
Cover by Tom Canty

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Golden Gryphon Press has made a name for itself over the past few years publishing a variety of under appreciated science fiction authors, ranging from relative newcomers, such as R. García y Robertson, to award winners, notably Michael Bishop.  Kristine Kathryn Rusch may be the most commercially successful author Golden Gryphon has yet published.  Her early stories led to a stint as the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and she has published several of her own novels in various genres as well as novels set in the Star Trek universe.

Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon begins with a brief foreword by Rusch's friend, and sometime writing partner, Kevin J. Anderson, who will have his own collection from Golden Gryphon later this year.  Anderson writes of his own introduction to Rusch and her early history in the field.  His foreword is followed by Rusch's own introduction.  Rusch wisely ignores the stories which will follow this introduction, which can speak for themselves, and instead focuses on her career, notably her two major decisions:  to edit Fantasy and Science Fiction and the resign as the editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

However, the meat of the book is the selection of eleven stories which span Rusch's career to this point.  "Skin Deep," Rusch's first published short story, opens the collection, providing a baseline for the stories which follow.  Not only can the reader track Rusch's growth as an author, but the variety of stories make Rusch's various interests extremely clear.  Stories range from the story of lunar adoptee "Echea" to the nineteenth century "The Gallery of His Dreams," about the historical photographer Matthew Brady.

No matter how overwhelming the basic ideas Rusch plays with in her story, she always manages to include a strong human focus, with people who react believably to their circumstances, each demonstrating their own personality and needs.  The urban Steffie of "Coolhunting" could not be placed in Wisconsinite collegiate Brooke Delacroix of "Millennium Babes."  Both women are products of their environments and would react differently to the situations Rusch has placed each of them in were their situations somehow reversed.  This is a welcome change from the science fiction and fantasy which incorporates interchangeably bland and featureless characters.

All of the stories in Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon demonstrate Rusch's skill as a story-teller and an author.  Despite the rainy-day feel of the title, the stories Rusch has elected to include are not pieces of fairy frippery.  Instead, she examines relationships, between people, between people and technology and between people and nature.  Her worlds may not always be bright and shiny, but she manages to avoid falling into pessimism, even when dealing with the dystopic world portrayed in "Echea."

Stories for an Enchanted Afternoon is a good introduction to Rusch's work for those who may only know her as the one-time editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  For those who are already familiar with her stories and novels, this collection is a chance to reacquaint yourself with a variety of her writings, some of which may be new, and remind yourself why she was awarded the Campbell Award at the start of her writing career and has managed to live up to that promise.

Skin Deep   Echea
Coolhunting   Going Native
Millennium Babes   Harvest
Strange Creatures   Monuments to the Dead
Spirit Guides   Burial Detail
The Gallery of His Dreams    

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