Beneath Ceaseless Skies #108, November 15, 2012
Reviewed by Cyd Athens
In this issue, Beneath Ceaseless Skies presents a pair of stories about the magic of relationships.
“Liaisons Galantes: A Scientific Romance” by David D. Levine concerns itself with the manifestation of true love called a galanterie. Zéphine, the hero, suffers from writers block until she begins an affair with Henri. The two delight in each other and although they profess their love either using the familiar tu, rather than the formal vous, they are disappointed when their galanteries for each other never appear. This causes Zéphine, whose writing is now flowing in the form of a play, considerable consternation. Henri’s response is to investigate options with Dr. Gavreau, a scientist who claims to be able to cure galanterie-related conditions. Meanwhile Darius, another member of the group with which Zéphine and Henri socialize, offers to produce and direct her new play. This confounds the issue until the trio, Zéphine, Henri, and Darius decide to accept Gavreau’s help.
The title warns that French is used here. Not only French language, but also French culture and sensibilities are represented. The heart of the story, the magical galanterie isn’t fully explained until one is well into the tale. Those not familiar with the French language, or who cannot appreciate French culture, may find the story a bit of a challenging read.
Jamie Lackey’s protagonist, Felicia, is a magician’s assistant who has been at the game long enough to have learned not only a few tricks of her own, but also a little bit of the deep magic. Her boss, The Fabulous Frederick, has become a drunkard. When she’s assisting Freddy, as she calls him, at a performance at a dilapidated theater and one of the children throws popcorn at her head, Felicia has had enough. She loses her temper, comes too close to destroying the theater with fireballs she summons, and quits.
“Seeking The Great Ramundo” is about Felicia’s search for Ramundo’s copy of The Magician’s Manual, into which it is said that he forced his soul. She believes this tome will help her accomplish her dream of becoming a great magician and gain her acceptance into The Brotherhood of Magicians, a fraternity that believes a woman’s place is as an assistant. Period. Along the way, Felicia meets Jeffry, who is forced by circumstance to join her on her quest. When Felicia finally comes face to face with Ramundo, she must decide what she is willing to do to get what she wants. This fun romp is short and sweet.
Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45ø 29 30.65 N, 122ø 35 30.91 W.