cover image Academic Exercises

Academic Exercises

K.J. Parker. Subterranean (, $40 (536p) ISBN 978-1-59606-609-0

Parker (the Engineer trilogy) collects 10 stories and three essays to deliver all the cynicism, dry wit, and gray morality that fans have come to expect. The World Fantasy Award–winning “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” explores the tense relationship between a disillusioned music teacher and his brilliant but murderous student. Amoral scoundrels wreak havoc in “The Sun and I” and “Blue and Gold.” In “A Rich, Full Week” and “A Room With a View,” freelance wizards take jobs that seem simple, but turn out to be anything but. Impossible magic lies at the heart of “Amor Vincit Omnia” and “One Little Room an Everywhere,” while “Let Maps to Others” follows a misguided expedition to a lost city. “Illuminated” offers a magical battle of the sexes, and two friends trapped in horrible jobs trade letters as they try to survive in “Purple and Black.” Three essays (“On Sieges,” “Cutting Edge Technology,” and “Rich Men’s Skins”) interspersed through the collection explore different aspects of ancient military technology. This meaty compilation will please fans as well as readers who are now discovering this skilled author. (Aug.)