UP THE RAINBOW: The Complete short fiction of Susan Casper ed. by Gardner Dozois. Fantastic Books (www.FantasticBooks.biz), 2017, 451 pp., $34.99. ISBN 13: 978-1-5154-1027-0.
UP THE RAINBOW is a very gorgeous single-author collection from the unfortunately late Susan Casper, and the SF field has lost a Talent. Fortunately her husband, Gardner, was able to collect her fiction and nonfiction into this massive and very worthwhile volume, reminding us all that Susan could certainly shine.
The collection includes her fiction, which ranges all over the spectrum, from horror to speculative fiction to fantasy and science fiction, and her travel blogs. I enjoyed them all. Even the blogs were surprisingly good.
I picked several favorites:
“Spring-Fingered Jack.” A strange and disturbing take on the “Jack the Ripper” tale, except this time from a game in a video arcade.
“The Cleaning Lady.” In this, a professional house cleaner takes her job far too compulsively.
“Shadowman.” This gruesome tale of abduction in a park is about how hellish vengeance can be.
“The Clowns.” David Shore is a witness to soldiers of death and destruction in the form of sinister-behaving clowns, invisible to everyone but himself. No one but David can see them work their evil and he believes they will kill him next.
“Up the Rainbow.” This collection title story gives us Gale Osterman, granddaughter of the famous Dorothy, the girl from Kansas who accidentally arrived in Oz. Gale finds herself in Oz, but an Oz in which not the Wizard, but Ozma rules -- and perhaps she rules a little too strongly. The ruler of Oz allows virtually no freedom of expression, or the right to gather or the right to petition for wrongs. Gale uses her influence and the reputation of her grandmother, and forms bonds with the denizens of Oz to protest and march against Ozma.
There are plenty of travel blogs, garnered from online sites that no longer exist, rescued from the hard copies fortunately kept in Susan’s files. I loved the ones from Bermuda, Barbados and German/Prague/Vienna. Susan had a gift of precision, articulate and pointed, about how the trip progressed, with details of her experiences. It is easy to tell that Susan loved shopping and it was obvious she adored jewelry, and she let us know what she purchased.
This collection is proof that Susan remains an uncelebrated, underappreciated Tall Talent.