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Story Time Mickey Huyck Review by
Michael T. Huyck Jr.
NIGHTSCAPES: Tales of the Ominous and Magical
by Darrell Schweitzer
Wildside Press
HC $35.99
ISBN: 1-58715-060-3

The subtitle probably captures this work's content better than the main, as it best describes the blend inside. At first blush NIGHTSCAPES implied (to me, anyway) shadowy pictures and plots gone gloomy. There's some of that ilk here, but not much. It's a mixture.

The art fits the title, that much is true. Van Hollander's work, for lack of a better comparison, reminds me of Fredrik King's. Or perhaps an angular Picasso with less hallucinogenic influence. But I'm no art critic. Don't know a damn thing about it, really. I pay attention to words. So let's go to the word purse, eh? Let's cut it and see what coins fall out?

A total of seventeen stories; some being coppers, some silvers, and some gold. About what you'd expect to find in any man's possession.

At the bottom end I'd have to hold forth this handful of coinage embossed with King Arthur's profile. Maybe a third of these stories are woven with knights and/or tunic-wrapped peasants and/or magicians, and the majority of these stories aren't worth your time. Specifically, I'd avoid the last two - "Told By Moonlight" and "Time Enough for Lunacy." They're directionless prose with interjections of philosophy and post-Shakespearean dialogue conniptions. As I slogged through those referenced I often found myself searching for diversion. Buzzing flies worked.

'Nuff said.

Schweitzer improves markedly when he finds escape from that nasty Arthurian fixation. The first story in the collection, "A Servant of Satan," properly digs around in demonology in a concrete and rather Poe-esque manner. "Caliban's Revenge" borrows liberally from Shakespeare and Goethe (with respects to Willy following.) Both of these are examples of better-than-adequate story.

When Schweitzer's on…he's on. You have to give him credit. In "Smart Guy" he's managed to mix the Mafia, demons, microtechnology, and pizza. And it's very nicely mixed, thank you. In the too-short "Adam" a homunculi gets his groove on and in "Kvetchula" the Jewish-American Princess paradigm (once aptly explored by none other than Frank Zappa) grows fangs.

I'd like to sum up by calling this collection a mixed bag of nuts, but that'd be mixing my metaphors. Nope. I'll stick with the purse. Here we have the coins you drop in that Styrofoam cup at the cash register and we have coins that you'll bend over and pick up to pocket. And everything in-between. So, while I'd recommend that you buy NIGHTSCAPES, that recommendation is tempered. Buy it when your "to-read" pile is waning and you don't know where to go.

The coinage here will buy three BookWyrms.


This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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