cover image Operation Luna

Operation Luna

Poul Anderson. Tor Books, $22.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86706-5

She's a witch who runs a small but prestigious consulting agency. He's a werewolf who makes his living as an engineer. Similarities to Nick and Nora Charles are, perhaps, not entirely accidental. Anderson's humorous stories about Ginny and Steve Matuchek, set in an alternate contemporary America where most technology is based on magic, first began appearing in the 1950s and were novelized as Operation Chaos in 1971. In his latest novel (after Starfarers), Anderson continues the saga in a tale that features light-hearted cloak-and-dagger suspense, ingenious adaptations of magic to the routine of daily life, and an attempt to send magically endowed spacecraft, including a souped-up broomstick, to the moon under the auspices of NASA (the National Astral Spellcraft Administration). Anderson deals playfully with a number of different magical and religious traditions, centering on Zuni, Chinese and Norse lore. He also introduces a variety of eccentric human and supernatural characters--including Bob Shining Knife, a skilled FBI agent who conducts his investigations in full Apache regalia; Fjalar, a dwarf who is supernaturally skilled at forging both iron and passports; a magical sword named Fotherwick-Botts that won't stop running off at the mouth; and Alger Sneep, an agent of the IRS (Inquisition for Revenue Securement), who attempts to derail the Matucheks' moon flight by quite literally putting them through the audit from hell. The humor can be arch at times, and Anderson's tendency toward thinly veiled libertarian political satire won't work for all readers, but in general this is an enjoyable tale by a veteran writer who knows exactly what he's doing. (Aug.)