Fantasy fiction has a long and honourable history of parodying its own traditions and, in The Flying Sorcerers
, Peter Haining has collected a wide range of comic fiction from the genres of fantasy, horror, and sf. The 24 stories span the century, from P.G. Wodehouse's hilarious "A Slice of Life", about the inventor Wilfred Mulliner and the dastardly baronet Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere, through the likes of C S Lewis, Kurt Vonnegut Jr and Mervyn Peake to stories by more recent favourites such as Roald Dahl and, of course, Terry Pratchett, whose story "Turntables of the Night", featuring DEATH, opens the collection.
The stories range from Michael Moorcock's hilarious spoof of heroic fantasy, "The Stone Thing", to more considered twists on conventional themes, as in Angela Carter's story of a reluctant vampire, "The Lady of the House of Love". Arthur C. Clarke even manages to find humour in the end of the world, with the closing story: "No Morning After".
Haining introduces each story with a brief but informative biography of its writer so, if you like the stories here, you will be able to find more by the same authors. This makes the collection an excellent introduction to the wide range of comic fantasy and sf writing produced this century. -- Elizabeth Sourbut
* Including a story by Terry Pratchett, a second collection of comic fantasy tales from the
editor of WIZARDS OF ODD.