Orson Scott Card has the distinction of having swept both the Hugo and Nebula awards in two consecutive years with his amazing novels Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. For a body of work that ranges from science fiction to nonfiction to plays, Card has been recognized as an author who provides vivid, colorful glimpses between the world we know and worlds we can only imagine.
The residents of Baldwin Hills, a middle-class African-American L.A. neighborhood, get caught up in a battle between the king and the queen of the fairies in this wonderful urban fantasy from Card (Seventh Son). Mack Street, who was abandoned as an infant, grows up to be a sweet but strange but sweet boy. No one could imagine how he is connected to "Bag Man," who lives in an invisible house at the opening to Fairyland and can temporarily force anyone to happily do his bidding, or to a darkly mysterious "motorcycle riding hoochie mama," who seduces men with a touch and has big plans for Baldwin Hills. Not even Cecil "Ceese" Tucker, who found Mack in a shopping bag, can believe that the neighbors' most secret desires are flowing into Mack's dreams, occasionally dripping out and becoming true in a horrifically twisted fashion. When a young swimmer who wishes she were a fish is found drowning in her father's waterbed, magic is never suspected. But once everyone knows the truth, what will they do about it The ways that the mundane and fantastic intersect are completely believable, and the characters crackle with personality and attitude. Crisp, clean writing creates a vivid sense of place and plugs readers into a story they won't want to see end. Agent, Barbara Bova. 8-city author tour. (June 28) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 27, 2005
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Excerpt from Magic Street by Ben Stroud
The old man was walking along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, gripping a fistful of plastic grocery bags. His salt-and-pepper hair was filthy and hanging in that sagging parody of a Rastafarian hairdo that most homeless men seem to get, white or black. He wore a once-khaki jacket stained with oil and dirt and grass and faded with sunlight. His hands were covered with gardening gloves.
Dr. Byron Williams passed him in his vintage Town Car and then stopped at the light, waiting to turn left to go up the steep road from the PCH to Ocean Avenue. A motorcycle to the left of him gunned its engine. Byron looked at the cyclist, a woman dressed all in black leather, her face completely hidden inside a black plastic helmet. The blank faceplate turned toward him, regarded him for a long moment, then turned to the front again.
Byron shuddered, though he didn't know why. He looked the other way, to the right, across the lanes of fast-moving cars that were speeding up to get on the 10 and head east into Los Angeles. Normally Byron would be among them, heading home to Baldwin Hills from his day of classes and meetings at Pepperdine.
But tonight he had promised Nadine that he'd bring home dinner from I Cugini. That's the kind of thing you had to do when you married a black woman who thought she was Italian. Could have been worse. Could have married a black woman who thought she was a redneck. Then they'd have to vacation in Daytona every year and listen to country music and eat possum and potato-chip-and-mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread.
Or he could be married to a biker like the woman still revving her engine in the other left-turn lane. He could just imagine getting dragged into biker bars, where, as an African-American professor of literature specializing in the romantic poets, he would naturally fit right in. He tried to imagine himself taking on a half-dozen drunken bikers with chains and pipes. Of course, if he were with that biker woman, he wouldn't have to fight them. She looked like she could take them on herself and winýa big, strong woman who wouldn't put up with nonsense from anybody.
That was a lot to know about a woman without seeing her face, but her body, her posture, her choice of costume and bike, and above all that challenging roar from her bikeýthe message was clear. Don't get in front of me, buddy, cause I'm coming through.