cover image Travellers in Magic

Travellers in Magic

Lisa Goldstein. Tor Books, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85790-5

This volume gathers all of Goldstein's short fiction to date, 14 stories published between 1984 and 1994 plus one (``Split Light'') making its debut here. Ranging from science fiction (``Midnight News'') to myths and fairy tales seen through a modern lens (``Ever After,'' ``Rites of Spring'') to historical fantasies (``Infinite Riches,'' ``Split Light''), these tales are otherwise surprisingly unified: they're all told in Goldstein's plain, precise prose and simple but poetic imagery, and none venture off Earth, or even far from the everyday world. Goldstein (Summer King, Winter Fool) is more interested in parent-child relationships and her characters' struggles against self-imposed limitations than in genre spectacle. In ``Cassandra's Photographs,'' a man gets a peek at his future that first thrills, then dismays and finally frees him. In ``The Woman in the Painting,'' a shape-shifting alien becomes an artist's ideal model, mirroring how women often adapt themselves to other's expectations, losing themselves in the process. Goldstein is at her best in the stories that touch on themes of Jewish experience, such as the Holocaust: the touching ghost story ``Alfred,'' the vivid and effective ``A Traveller at Passover'' and, perhaps best of all, ``Breadcrumbs and Stones,'' which combines fairy tales and Holocaust memories in a tale of tragedy and hope. (Jan.)