John DeChancie:MagicNet

John DeChancie, from my reading so far, seems to be a highly uneven author. He seems to be at his best with off-the-wall humour; with this book he is attempting to demonstrate that he can do equally well with fantasy.

The book never really clicks, though. It starts with an interesting enough premise--computers being used to aid in magic--which, while not original, still has lots of unmined ideas. But DeChancie doesn't really mine them well.

The problem is that the book blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, and not in any consistent fashion that I could see. MagicNet, the computer-generated magical reality that arose from a simple Fidonet-style occult discussion network, has somehow become something perceptible without any computer linkage...but only to a few that are attuned to it, which, for no reason really explained, our narrator, Skye King, is. But sometimes MagicNet is merely a layer of perception laid over our own reality, and sometimes actions in MagicNet are not echoed in the real world.

Furthermore, the ending is highly unsatisfactory. Skye, his friend Grant (who was killed early in the book but, luckily, backed up on floppy), and their ally Jill, spend most of the book trying to get to Lloyd Merlin Jones, who had Grant killed and is trying to get rid of the others as well, so that they can reboot MagicNet, but at the end things get highly confusing.

I get the feeling that DeChancie is trying to pull off some subtle things here, but that they're just a wee bit beyond his ability at the moment. This book, in other words, was overly ambitious and falls a bit short of its goals.

%A DeChancie, John
%T MagicNet
%I Avon
%C New York
%D Copyright 1993
%G ISBN 0-688-12759-2
%P 234 pp.
%O Hardcover

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