A new reprint anthology from Prime Books and the wonderful Paula Guran is here.
As Paula says in her her Introduction to Magic City: Recent Spells, “Without reality, there was no magic. The real and the unreal coexisted and were mutually dependent. Without the natural, there could be no supernatural; no paranormal without the normal.”
I’ll be running a series of posts with the openings to each of the stories in this collection, a royal sampler if you will, something to give you a taste of the everyday magics contained therein.
You can order Magic City here.
Street Wizard • Simon R. Green
I believe in magic. It’s my job.
I’m a street wizard, work for London City Council. I don’t wear a pointy hat, I don’t live in a castle, and no one in my line of work has used a wand since tights went out of fashion. I’m paid the same money as a traffic warden, but I don’t even get a free uniform. I just get to clean up other people’s messes, and prevent trouble when I can. It’s a magical job, but someone’s got to do it.
Paranormal Romance • Christopher Barzak
This is a story about a witch. Not the kind you’re thinking of either. She didn’t have a long nose with a wart on it. She didn’t have green skin or long black hair. She didn’t wear a pointed hat or a cape, and she didn’t have a cat, a spider, a rat, or any of those animals that are usually hanging around witches. She didn’t live in a ramshackle house, a gingerbread house, a Victorian house, or a cave. And she didn’t have any sisters. This witch wasn’t the kind you read about in fairy tales and in plays by Shakespeare. This witch lived in a red brick bungalow that had been turned into an upstairs/downstairs apartment house on an old industrial street that had lost all of its industry in Cleveland, Ohio. The apartment house had two other people living in it: a young gay couple who were terribly in love with one another. The couple had a dog, an incredibly happy-faced Eskimo they’d named Snowman, but the witch never spoke to it, even though she could. She didn’t like dogs, but she did like the gay couple. She tried not to hold their pet against them.
Grand Central Park • Delia Sherman
When I was little, I used to wonder why the sidewalk trees had iron fences around them. Even a city kid could see they were pretty weedy looking trees. I wondered what they’d done to be caged up like that, and whether it might be dangerous to get too close to them.
So I was pretty little, okay? Second grade, maybe. It was one of the things my best friend and I used to talk about, like why it’s so hard to find a particular city on a map when you don’t already know where it is, and why the fourth graders thought Mrs. Lustenburger’s name was so hysterically funny.
My best friend’s name was (is) Galadriel, which isn’t even remotely her fault, and only her mother calls her that anyway. Everyone else calls her Elf.
Anyway. Trees. New York. Have I said I live in New York? I do. In Manhattan, on the West Side, a couple blocks from Central Park.
Spellcaster 2.0 • Jonathan Maberry
“You’re going to laugh at me.”
Trey LaSalle turned to her but said nothing. He wore very hip, very
expensive tortoiseshell glasses and he let them and his two hundred dollar
haircut do his talking for him. The girl withered.
“It’s . . . obvious?” she said awkwardly, posing it as a question.
“Let me guess. It’s going to be a famous magician, right? Which one, I wonder? Won’t be Merlin because even you’re not that obvious, and it won’t be Nostradamus because I doubt you could spell it.”
“I can spell,” she said, but there was no emphasis to it.
“Hmm. StGermaine? No? Dumbledore? Gandalf?”
Wallamelon • Nisi Shawl
“Baby, baby, baby! Baby, baby, baby!” Cousin Alphonse must have thought he looked like James Brown. He looked like what he was, just a little boy with a big peanut head, squirming around, kicking up dust in the driveway.
Oneida thought about threatening to tell on him for messing his pants up. Even Alphonse ought to know better. He had worn holes in both his knees, begging “Please, please, please” into the broken microphone he’d found in Mr. Early’s trash barrel. And she’d heard a loud rip the last time he did the splits, though nothing showed. Yet.
-30- • Caitlín R. Kiernan
It has too often occurred to you that there is no end to the incarnations that Hell may assume. Hell, or merely hell, or simply damnation. And that most of these incarnations are the product of your own doing, restraints, and limitations. You certainly do not need Dante Alighieri, Gustave Doré, Hieronymus Bosch, or Saint fucking Paul and his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians to paint the picture for you. You know it well enough without reference to the hells of others. You sit in the black chair in front of your desk, and it stares you in the face. Hell sits on that same desk, splashed across a glossy 17-inch LED screen framed in snow-white polycarbonate. Hell is the scant few inches between your eyes and that screen, the space between any given story’s climax and the fleeting moment of relief when you can finally type THE END and mean it. And know it’s true. Hell is the emptiness that prevents you from reaching the release that comes with those six letters. You have precious few wards against this Hell. Prayers are worse than useless. Barring intervention, solution will only come when it comes, when it’s good and ready, deadlines be damned (not unlike you).