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Christmas Magic Mass Market Paperback – November 15, 1994
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If you think that fantasy is all outer space or off-the-wall type stories, then this book is a good way to disprove that theory. There really is all kinds of variety present here: historical, mystery, even a touch of romance. And, yes, there are some outer space and off-the-wall, too. In all honesty, I think there really is something for everyone in this collection, which, I think, is the way it's supposed to be.
Anyway, I was very much enchanted with this book. My particular and forever favorite story is "The Nutcracker Coup" by Janet Kagan. No wonder it won the 1993 Hugo Award. It's a truly powerful indictment against prejudice wherever it is to be found, and the way such intolerance is turned back on the 'bad guys' is really choice! I wish she'd write more. My next fave was "The Bedlam Inn" by Madeleine Robins, because it could as easily have been in a Regency collection as this one. A perfect Christmas tale!
If you think that fantasy is all outer space or off-the-wall type stories, then this book is a good way to disprove that theory. There were really all kinds of variety present here: historical, mystery, even a touch of romance. "Death in the Christmas Hour" by James Powell is another winner in my book, as is Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "LaZelle Family Christmas". Well, but then, they must all be good stories, considering they're to be found in this highly regarded collection. I certainly read them all, but to be sure, some of them I did enjoy more than others. There was nothing in any of them to turn me off the idea of fantasy as a genre, that's for sure. I've happily recommended this book to many readers, and will continue to do so.
Don't expect every story to really be so magical. Many of them start out with an interesting premise, but then don't pay off. But the best ones include D. Westlake's "Nackles" about a boogey-man Santa; another tale in which animals speak (English ?) on Xmas Day; G. van Gelder's "Tenth Reindeer", James P. Hogan's "Merry Gravmas"; a tale by David Morrell which combines Santa with Old Man Time (from New Year's); a story of a little girl helping out as one of Santa's elves; and "The Santa Clause" (which has nothing to do with the movie).
The worst stories are the ones about family life. They're dull and boring and go nowhere. Nothing but baby-boomer neuroses. Even a story by Nieto could've been good; it started out fine, but the ending just wasn't satisfactory. As for the H. Ellison story--well, he's done less confusing material. Ignore the ones with the experimental writing.
Still, this collection can get you into the Xmas mood. It makes a nice stocking stuffer.