Sunday, 11 August 2013

Fantasy And Mystery

I said before that "Dead Phone" by Poul and Karen Anderson is both a detective story and a ghost story. I will now add that I think that it is primarily a ghost story.

The action of the story starts with a phone call from a dead man, although only the reader recognizes the nature of the call. The story climaxes with the realization that the murdered man's phone was dead at the time when the detective had received the call from him. The murder mystery element of the story is rushed and occurs between these two supernatural elements.

The detective, Yamamura, and certain police officers refer to their previous contacts. I take this to refer to at least one of the three detective novels featuring Yamamura. Normally, I would suggest that the story be republished as an epilogue to one of the novels, whichever seemed appropriate. However, the story's supernatural element puts it into a different category.

Anderson wrote many volumes set in the past and many more set in the future. Between Past and Future, I suggest that there is space for two "Present" boxed sets of Anderson volumes:

(i) the contemporary fantasy novel, The Devil's Game;
(ii) a collection of alternative reality and contemporary fantasy short stories, culminating with "Dead Phone."

(i)-(iii) the three Yamamura novels.

Thus, the detective would cross over from the Mystery volumes to one of the Fantasy volumes. Mystery and Fantasy, in turn, would come between the many volumes of heroic fantasy/historical fantasy/historical fiction/historical science fiction and the many more volumes of futuristic science fiction. Yamamura strangely provides a degree of unity or continuity between four of the intermediate volumes.

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