True Review
Current Issue Number 77 Vol.20  March 2011


SLEIGHT OF HAND, by Peter S. Beagle. Tachyon Publications (, 2010, 294 pp., $14.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-004-9

SLEIGHT OF HAND presents many of the hard-to-find Peter Beagle stories that have been published, and I was surprised at how many I missed.

Here is a good recount:

“Children of the Shark God.” Mirali, the woman of the island protected by the Shark God, falls in love with the sea deity and bears two wondrous twin children, a boy, Keawe, and a girl, Kokinja. It is Kokinja who struggles with her heritage, born of the sea deity who visited only once a year, and to her, an entity both distant and frightening. So one day Kokinja leaves the island to find her father. However, her brother, not seeing her return, voyages to rescue Kokinja. What they encounter is what draws out the heart of these sea tales (a perfect homage to Robert Louis Stevenson).

“The Best Worst Monster.” The creator’s monster is ugly and unpredictable – even threatening the famous Beppo the Beggar. Who is safe?

“The Rock in the Park.” The 1950s Bronx and Van Cortlandt Park is the setting for an adventure involving two boys and a lost family of centaurs, looking for a way south. The magic of one of the boys and his artistry help make it happen.

“The Rabbi’s Hobby.” A boy about to experience his bar mitzvah with instructions from his rabbi comes across a pulp magazine with the photo of a woman he develops a crush on. Who is she? She has no identification, no history, this from a professional photographer who never identifies her in any records. Yet her face appears again and again. Why is the woman’s identity kept a secret?

“Oakland Dragon Blues.” Officer Guerra of the Oakland Police Department has to help get rid of roadway obstruction caused by, of all things, a dragon. The dragon, seemingly uninjured yet depressed, explains to the officer his condition. The dragon was placed there by a writer who blatantly and deliberately lifted the pitiful creature from his home and brought him to the ugly realities of the present-day HUMAN world. Is there a way to return the lost dragon? This is an homage to the Ursula LeGuin Earthsea books.

“The Bridge Partner.” Bridge partner Mattie Whalen doesn’t like Olivia Korhonen, in fact is very suspicious of her. The suspicions increase to the point that when they play, Mattie keeps hearing Olivia tell her “I will kill you.” Is Mattie being merely paranoid or does Olivia REALLY have it in for her? If so, why?

“Dirae.” At the scene of every crime, the superhero appears – almost like a ghost, “unstuck” in time, to act as rescuer, redeemer, and guardian angel. What is the purpose of a superhero – a ghost superhero’s – life, and where do they ultimately end up?

“Vanishing.” A trip to a birth control clinic with his daughter turns into a trip through the Twilight Zone for one man who ends up on the Berlin Wall in the 1960s. There, he confronts a Russian solder and another visitor, this time from his own era. There must be something in common with all three of them stranded on the wall – but what? Perhaps it has everything to do with a woman, shot to death, during her escape from East Berlin.

Andrew M. Andrews

In This Issue

Soft Apocalpyse Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 Click on the Book Cover for Review Best Sci-Fi of the Year Oscar Wilde & Vampire Murders

Dawn to Dusk Brave New Worlds All Clear Zombie Autopsies Best of Kim Stanley Robinson

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet Griftopia Sleight of Hand Immaculate Deception Pump Six

Sympathy for the Devil Atlantis & Othe Places Darkness Holiday Nano Comes to Clifford

Game Changers Armageddon In Retrospect   The Fall of the House of Usher Realms of Fantasy

Next Time In True Review


FLAMING ZEPPELINS: The Adventures of Ned the Seal, by Joe R. Lansdale. Tachyon Publications (, 2010, 285 pp., $14.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-002-5

FLAMING ZEPPELINS is a combination of two short novels, ZEPPELINS WEST (Subterranean Press, 2001) and FLAMING LONDON (Subterranean, 2005). The love of westerns and pulp fiction, comic books and Texas weirdness, come into play. The best campy fiction in all of America? Probably.

Andrew M. Andrews


THE COLLECTED FANTASIES VOL. 5, THE LAST HIEROGLYPH, by Clark Ashton Smith, ed. by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger. Night Shade Books (, 2010, 370 pp., $39.99. ISBN 978-1-59780-032-7

THE COLLECTED FANTASIES is the last of five volumes to collect all of Smith’s tales. Included are works ranging from “The Dark Age” (April 1938) to “The Dart of Rasasfa” (July 1961).

Andrew M. Andrews