Bad Magic

January 21st, 2006

I’m sure that, somewhere, every book that’s worth reading has at least one funny story surrounding its creation. Given how funny this book is, I’m sure it actually has several, but I only know one of them. It seems that Stephan’s book wound up lost in Teresa’s slushpile or on it’s way out of it, and by the time she realized what a gem she had, Stephan had acquired new contact information…she had to call everyone with his last name in the Bay Area to find him. Thank goodness he’s not named Smith, because this is a really excellent book. It’s not enough that Zielinski taps deep into a rich vein of modern folklore and alternative mythology, but he does it using a format that’s familiar to the modern audience yet largely foriegn to genre fiction. What we have in Bad Magic is an ensemble comedy with action/drama sensibilities. It’s CSI for MIB, except swap magic and undead for the technology and aliens. It’s totally original, but echoes what’s fresh and exciting in genre developments in television and film…and it grabs and holds you right from the tagline on the cover: “There are some things people weren’t meant to know. Some people know those things anyway. Sucks to be them.” Your basic setup is like this: Magic exists. Zombies and monsters are all around you…you’ve just evolved a handy defense mechanism that lets you ignore them and move on as though something irrational and impossible never crossed your path…for you, it never did. There are a few, though, who can see those irrational beings and channel those impossible forces…and most of them use their abilities for their own personal benefit or in service to dark forces who grant them greater powers. These people (and other creatures) are in control of the world, and have been for a very, very long time. They are the Incumbents. The few who try to use their abilities for the good of the many and for the protection of the innocent are the Resistance. Except for their few strongholds (Seattle being foremost in North America), they must keep a low profile, recruiting where they can and learning what they can from each other as they try to hold their ground against the relentless powers of Darkness. Bad Magic is the story of one such cell in the San Francisco Bay Area, confronting (as you might expect) an ancient evil bent on upsetting the balance of power in their favor and to the detriment of everyone else. What’s really special about the story, though, is that while certain characters admittedly get more face time than others, and while some characters are clearly more powerful or capable than others…everyone is necessary. There’s not any single character you can point to as the “main character,” or a sequence of powerhouse characters, any one of whom could be designated as primary at a given time…it’s all about the team. How they interact, the conflicts that lead to their internicine struggles, and the strengths and drives that bring them back together again and again…this is a dynamic that is very seldom seen in the modern genre novel And did I mention that it’s tremendously funny? Zielinski’s got modern snark and snappy patter dialogue down, and his style is so contagious and compelling that it keeps you turning pages. I picked this book up, read a few pages in the store, got home, and essentially didn’t put it down again until I reached the end. This is probably the biggest problem with the book…it’s way too short. We need lots more material from Zielinski, and we need it soon. Highly recommended.

2 Responses to “Bad Magic”

  1. rita zielinski says:

    I agree we need more.

    his mother

  2. Skwid says:

    Yes, we do! Any word on that from an insider source?

    Thanks for stopping by!

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