Review of THE ENCHANTER COMPLETED by Harry Turtledove, ed.
A TRIBUTE ANTHOLOGY FOR L. SPRAGUE DE CAMP
Baen, April 2005
The late L. Sprague de Camp was a formidable figure in mid-20th century science fiction. Two of his works (at least) have become classics in the field, THE INCOMPLETE/COMPLEAT ENCHANTER and LEST DARKNESS FALL. Both have withstood the test of time and can be read today with as much enjoyment as when they were first written. Under the editorship of alternate history master Harry Turtledove (who credits LEST DARKNESS FALL for his own interest in history and alternate history), a number of authors create short stories inspired by (and in some cases using characters from) de Camp's own work. Who woudn't want to see how the future unfolds, for example, after Padway fights off the Byzantine invasion of Italy but must now confront the Franks, more Byzantines, and Lombards?
Turtledove assembles a number of top names in contemporary science fiction and fantasy (including Judith Tarr, David Drake, S. M. Stirling, Frederick Pohl and Lawrence Watt-Evans (to name only a few of my personal favorites)) and lets them go to work following their own muse. Thus, while the title relates to the Compleat Enchanter, the stories actually follow many of de Camp's worlds.
I found the quality of the writing to be high, but the stories themselves were mostly only adequate. Fans of de Camp, like myself, will enjoy seeing some of our favorite characters (including the author and his wife) in new situations. Those who haven't read much of de Camp's work are likely to find these stories flat. For the most part, they read like something a talented author dashed off in an afternoon as a favor for a friend...which I suspect is exactly what these stories were.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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