Flesh and Fire
Laura Anne Gilman
Simon & Schuster Adult (496 pp, $9.99, September 2010 (originally October 2009))
Reviewed by E.E. Knight
Laura Anne Gilman is a fantasy author I not only read, but teach. The reason is simple: when I’m giving a class in the writing of science fiction and fantasy, I rarely know what to say about magic. I point the students toward authors who handle it better than I ever could, and try to explain why I think it works for an audience in those books.
Maybe I’m just reading the wrong fantasists, but I find only a few authors whose use of magic interests and pleases me. One of those is Gilman. In her urban fantasy Retrievers series, her heroine used something called “Current” – more or less the ability to manipulate electricity to get it to win items and influence people. But it was a quirky power and her heroine could accidentally get into difficulty if she wasn’t very careful with how she used it (blowing out airport x-ray scanners and such). Creative, intriguing, and just plausible enough for me to suspend disbelief, something that rarely happens when the hero just fires off a few latinesque magic words and points his finger.