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Birthday Reviews: Daniel Abraham’s “Pagliacci’s Divorce”

Birthday Reviews: Daniel Abraham’s “Pagliacci’s Divorce”

Cover by Kent Bash
Cover by Kent Bash

Daniel Abraham was born on November 14, 1969.

Daniel Abraham won the International Horror Guild Award for his story “Flat Diane” in 2005. The story was also nominated for a Nebula Award. His story “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” was nominated for the Hugo, World Fantasy, and Seiun Awards. Abraham has two additional Hugo nominations in collaboration with Ty Franck using the pseudonym James S.A. Corey for their novel Leviathan Wakes and for ther series The Expanse, which has been turned into a successful television series. Abraham has also published using the names M.L.N. Hanover and Daniel Hanover. In addition to his collaborations with Franck, he has collaborated with Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin, Susan Fry, Michaela Roessner, Sage Walker, and Walter Jon Williams.

“Pagliacci’s Divorce” was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by Gordon van Gelder in its December 2003 issue. The story has never been reprinted.

Although “Pagliacci’s Divorce” is built around a sting operation based on Pagliacci’s ability to help create fake phenotype cards of illicit purposes, it really focuses on the relationship between Pagliacci and his ex-wife, Carly, whose current husband, Damon Weiss, is the target of the sting. Law enforcement uses people like Pagliacci as informants in return for letting them continue to run their scams and in this case has found a connection to a larger fish.

Abraham builds a complex relationship between Pagliacci and Carly, which points out that a divorce, even when children are not involved, does not necessarily sever the couple or their relationship. Yes, Carly has married a new man, but she and Pagliacci still have a relationship that can be leveraged, even if she is unaware of the way she is being used. However, even as Pagliacci realizes that he has to permit law enforcement to use him to get to Carly’s husband, he also knows that there are ways he can subvert the process because of his own attachment to her, the same attachment they are so adamant to use.

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Voices in Fantasy Literature, Part III

Voices in Fantasy Literature, Part III

Sir_Hereward_and_Mister_Fitz_by_Garth_Nix_200_294This is the third installment in a series of posts highlighting fantasy short fiction (here are Part I and Part II).

Over the course of the last eight years, I’ve read or listened to a lot of short fiction and the variety out there is astonishing. And I love to try to introduce new readers to some of the stuff that impressed me. This week, the three stories I picked were by Garth Nix, Nancy Hightower, and Daniel Abraham.

“Hereward and Mr Fitz Go To War Again,” by Garth Nix, appeared originally in Jim Baen’s Universe,  then in Podcastle (where I heard it), and then in a collection by Subterranean Press (ebook available here). This is one of three Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz stories I heard and I absolutely fell in love with the weird swashbuckling world Nix created.

Hereward is a knight, artillerist, and swordsman, as able with gunpowder as with the blade. Fitz is an animated wooden puppet and dangerous sorcerer, whose sorcery is structured around sewing and knitting, with his accouterments being needles, thread, and sometimes a portable sewing desk. Their job is to enforce a treaty against rogue gods that is so old that some of the nations to the treaty no longer exist.

This is pure buddy picture story, a grand adventures against old gods. Loads of fun and the Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz stories are now available as an ebook, so no reason not to check it out.

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