Title: Wagers of Gold Mountain
Author: Steve Berman
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Mythology, Tricksters
Dates read: 5th March 2019
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: The hatchet man turned to Yuan.
Yuan just wants to help his brother survive, but a deal with a pair of tricksters could be his downfall… or his salvation.
I really wasn’t expecting a Trickster story with a Chinese spin on it when I started reading this story. I was kind of expecting another Native American / Coyote story. But I really liked the fact that there was a very different spin on the Trickster tale. For starters, it is based in California during the Gold Rush and features a time long gone.
The duality of an immigrant moving to a new country is reflected in the duality of the trickster which Yuan comes across. There is the Chinese inspired woman who is a little blood thirsty and kind of terrifying, and then the fat American trickster who is a lot more pompous and self-centred. They work as two sides of the same coin… the impact which the gold rush and movements of immigrants into California during the period.
Most Trickster tales I’ve read involve the trickster getting the better of the victim. Instead, the tables are flipped and he spends his time figuring out the trap that has been laid for him. And, eventually it is the victim of the deal who is able to gain the upper hand.