Thursday, February 21, 2019

Birthday Review: Stories of David D. Levine

Today is David D. Levine's birthday. Here's a selection of my reviews for his work from Locus -- alas, there are fewer such in recent years, as David has been seduced by the lure of the novel -- and quite successfully so, with his popular series beginning with Arabella of Mars.

Locus, April 2002

The slow boat from Brighton finally brought me the final 2001 issue of Interzone.  It is an outstanding issue, too, without a single poor story.  David D. Levine's "Nucleon" is the winner of the 2001 James White Award, and it's a fine, sweet, story of an unusual junkyard – a nice variation on the traditional "curiosity shop" tale.

Locus, January 2003

Beyond the Last Star, edited by Sherwood Smith, concerns what might lie "beyond" the end of the universe. ... My other favorite was David D. Levine's "Written on the Wind", about an alien linguist working on translating a mysterious message discovered in the cosmic background radiation. The nature of this message is predictable enough, but Levine manages to make the revelation moving and sense-of-wonder inspiring even though we know what's coming.

Locus, June 2003

Best of all in the June F&SF is promising new writer David D. Levine's "The Tale of the Golden Eagle", about a brain encased in a spaceship which becomes a derelict, and the man who discovers and frees this brain far in the future.

Locus, September 2003

Imagination Fully Dilated: Science Fiction is an anthology of stories written around art by Alan Clark. The fine new writer David Levine offers "Legacy", an affecting (if slightly contrived) story of sacrifice on a scientific mission to a supernova.

Locus, November 2003

Hitting the Skids in Pixeltown is a collection of stories by generally new writers. Regarded as a showcase of new writers, it's impressive, and I'll certainly look to see more work from these folks. I enjoyed most of it ... I particularly liked "Ukaliq and the Great Hunt", by David D. Levine, which cleverly recasts American Indian-style legends to tell a story that turns out to be straight SF.

Locus, June 2004

Tops in the June Realms of Fantasy is David D. Levine's "Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely", a story set inside a comic strip, in which the title character becomes convinced he is fictional. There are plenty of cute touches, but the story turns oddly and effectively darker as no other character believes Charlie.

Locus, October 2004

The Summer Talebones, a generally good issue, closes strongly with David D. Levine's "Where is the Line", in which a somewhat bitter unemployed man encounters a mysterious neighbor and learns something from her via massage. It's involving and subtly erotic, and the main character rings true, though the resolution may be just a bit pat and moralistic in some ways.

Locus, April 2007

David D. Levine’s “Titanium Mike Saves the Day” (F&SF, April) tells of the history of a Paul Bunyan like space-based tall tale character, backwards through a few generations to the story’s origin. It’s perhaps a bit hokey – but successfully so.

Locus, February 2009

Realms of Fantasy’s February issue has a nice humorous story by David D. Levine, “Joy is the Serious Business of Heaven”, in which Umiel, an angel and a desk jockey (against her will) deals with such frustrations as a clueless boss,  the implementation of ISO 999, and the fact that her ideas for counteracting the Competition seem to be ignored.

Locus, April 2010

The May Analog includes a nice David Levine story, “Teaching the Pig to Sing”, told from the point of view of a future royal – genetically enhanced to be a natural ruler. He has been kidnapped by revolutionaries – a group who wants a return to democracy – and over a couple of days he finds himself unable to convincingly argue against their views. But neither do they convince him. And his people are still looking – what will happen when they find him? Levine’s resolution is a bit unexpected, and adds an edge and some poignancy to the story.

Locus, August 2011

The 100th issue of Realms of Fantasy, for June, is an extra long one, with some pretty good stuff. I particularly liked David D. Levine’s “The Tides of the Heart” – pure Urban Fantasy, in which a plumber with a specialty in magical problems runs into a special one: an undine trapped in the pipes of an historical old house marked for demolition. The plumber’s solution to the problem is personal as well as magical, and the intermixing of the two works perfectly.

Locus, January 2013

The November 15 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies includes a very nice David D. Levine story, “Liaisons Galantes: A Scientific Romance”. The conceit behind the story is that people who are truly in love manifest doglike creatures called “galanteries”. It's set in Paris, among a group of artists. Zephine is a struggling young writer, hopelessly obsessed with the group's charismatic leader, Darius. Then she meets another man, and they hit it off and become lovers – but to their concern, no galanteries appear. Are they really in love? And what does it mean that Zephine is suddenly inspired, and writing a promising play that attracts Darius' interest? The resolution becomes what we expect – not tritely, but such that we are led in the right direction so that everything seems just right. A quite enjoyable piece.

Locus, January 2014

There is a steampunkish cast to some of the better stories in Old Mars. For example, David D. Levine's “The Wreck of the Martian Adventure” features Captain Kidd recruited by the King to sail a ship to Mars – I have to admit I something of a sucker for space sailing stories. The concept is pretty much the story here, but withal it's very well done.

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