Past Magic

by Ian R. MacLeod
Release date: 2006
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history, short stories

One of the finest SF and fantasy short fiction writers in Britain today, Ian R. MacLeod has won or been shortlisted for Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, British SF, Tiptree, John W. Campbell and Sidewise Awards for his deeply felt, marvelously atmospheric, and highly ingenious stories. Like an inspired fusion of Ray Bradbury and Brian Aldiss, he captures brilliantly the intersection of future possibility and the extremes of human emotion. Now, PS Publishing presents Past Magic, MacLeod's third collection, and his strongest yet.

The tales gathered here range from slyly rendered time travel to Lovecraftian horror, from alternate histories of theocratic ascendancy and alienated celebrities to a vision of an astronaut lost between universes, from vivid speculative social realism to a meditation on the place of realist art in a world dominated by effortless virtual reality.

In the title story, the Isle of Man is a last opulent refuge from the onslaught of climate change, and its miracle-working scientists have resurrected a little girl lost at sea; in "Two Sleepers", a housewife finds herself transplanted from a drab suburban existence into a slightly but crucially altered domestic idyll; in "The Bonny Boy" – a lost chapter from MacLeod's remarkable neo-Victorian fantasy novel The House of Storms, appearing here for the first time – the staff of a home for abandoned children confront their own prejudices in unforgettable ways.

And in the closing story, "Nina-With-The-Sky-In-Her-Hair", a mysterious tailor contrives clothes out of a heavenly fabric of cerulean blue, driving subtle wedges between a holidaying millionaire and his trophy wife...

Past Magic is a cornucopia of splendid prose, bravura description, and profound human insight, undoubtedly one of the best collections to appear in 2006.


  • Introduction by Jack Dann
  • Foreword-Thrasis
  • Past Magic
  • Snodgrass
  • Living in Sin
  • Nevermore
  • The Golden Keeper
  • Returning
  • Two Sleepers
  • Home Time
  • Well-Loved
  • The Bonny Boy
  • Nina-With-The-Sky-In-Her-Hair
updated 2010-09-07

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