Title: Spellcaster 2.0
Author: Jonathan Maberry
In: An Apple for the Creature (Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Magic, Technology
Dates read: 17th April 2019
Format: Short story
Publisher: Ace Books
5th sentence, 74th page: Anthem suddenly stopped biting her thumb and they both looked at the bead of blood that welled from where she’d bitten too deeply.
A group of academic anthropologists are working on a database of spells to make the perfect summoning spell. But when you play with magic, things can go very awry at the drop of a hat… and they’re about to find out that you just don’t mess with magic.
I understand the pressure and stress of trying to get a ridiculously ambitious project done in a much shorter amount of time than desirable. After all, like the characters in this short story, I too am a PhD student. The fact that this tale of the pressures of being a postgrad student intertwines with murder, mayhem and magic just made me connect all the quicker with the characters and the storyline.
One of the questions I often asked myself when doing my anthropology degree (especially in my honours year) was what right do we have to stick our noses into other peoples’ cultures? Maberry highlights this beautifully with the use of technology and people’s beliefs in the mythos. By taking something that is often a vibrant part of people’s cultures (the summoning of other beings, or demons) and making it so clinical with the use of computers, the way in which we approach things that appear antiquated is really bought into light. We might not have much of a right to stick our noses into other people’s religions, but we definitely shouldn’t be treated it with such nonchalant disregard. Or at least, that’s the way this story takes such an issue…
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