Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Magic Space Christmas

To continue my foray into weird holiday moods I picked up an old school short story collection called The Magic of Christmas edited by John Silbersack and Christopher Schelling which is a collection of seven short stories that are either holiday themed sci fi or fantasy.  It was an interesting little read, with each of the stories having a various success in getting me in the Christmas mood.  Since there are only seven stories, here they all are.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Star of Wonder by Julian May - A people who have lost their home planet to a super nova search for a new one.  Meanwhile the captain, burying his wife on an unsuitable planet gets to witness the supernova of his home planet leading the primitive people of this little world to a child in a manger...yep an alien observes the oldest Christmas story.  I liked this bittersweet story that gave a new perspective on the Christmas miracle.

The Ornament by Dennis L. McKiernan - A cherished acorn ornament is the symbol of a special Chrismtas story.  A young boy is befriended by what can only be called elves and to reward him for his help one Christmas Eve an acorn is carved with the story.  The boy grows up and has a family of his own, passing on the fantastic story before he is taken by his childhood friends to live with them in their magical realm.  This is a perfect and sweet tale to tell by the fire side, I loved it.

A Very Dickensy Christmas by Andre Norton - For this tale the author takes the style of a Dickens ghost story and gives us a bit of a modern twist.  A girl with no family is hired to play the part of a ghost girl for the benefit of a wealthy group interested in a Christmas at an old family house.  Little does she know that the boy she is playing oppisite of is no actor, but a true ghost of the old family.  The atmosphere in this book is perfect and in the exact style of Charles Dickens and feels like an extension of his famous works.  Definitely a good one.

What Are We Going to Do With Grandfather? by Christopher Stasheff - Set on an astroid a titled family worries what to do when the patriarch appears to go a bit batty.  Turns out the guy is finally free of his duties and his need to be so formal with his noble peers.  It ends with the more tender and eccentric part of the family embracing the story that Grandfather is trying to part of this story is the way he makes it snow on the astroid for a Christmas gift for his daughter in law.   I like the mix of sci fi and fantasy in this one, it is the exact type of story and setting I like to read.

I Sing of a Maiden by Judith Tarr - A researcher studying the Canterbury Cathedral finds that she and the spirit/ghost/being of Thomas Becket can cross into each others worlds.  To be honest I did not really get this story that much, but it was still cool in it's own almost wistful way.  The only real Christmas part was the season in which the story is set. On a complete side note, I very much love the song I Sing of a Maiden that the title of this story is based on.  

Tidings of Comfort and Joy by Gael Baudino - Possibly my least favorite story in the collection as again, besides the season this story had very little to do with the holidays.  The story is about a Wiccan and a Catholic priest who come together to help a mutual friend who has died move on to the next world.  Not really my style of story, but I'm sure there is an audience for it. 

Holiday by Richard Christian Matheson - This is a super short, yet very well written story about a man who encounters Santa while on vacation.  The man gets to here from Santa's point of view on a couple of topics that seem to bug non-believers.  The perfect grown up tale.
Overall the book was a bit uneven with the actual holidays only really making an appearance in a couple of the stories.  I was hoping for something a bit more festive oriented, but there were still some great gems.  I give it 6 out of 10 Christmas foxes and recommend it for anybody who wants something a bit different for their holiday reading.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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