Posted in Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 31 ~ “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” by Tad Williams

Card picked: Three of Hearts

From: David Copperfield’s Beyond Imagination

Review: For the first half of the year, I was a little disappointed that these David Copperfield edited anthologies didn’t have more stories with magician characters in them. It seemed that it was pretty much the “luck” of the draw. The last few stories have been enjoyably full of illusionists.

In Tad Williams’ “The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of,” Dalton Pinnard (aka Pinardo the Magnificent) is called upon to help the daughter of a deceased colleague. The story is told in a semi-hard-boiled style (soft-boiled?) with a touch of parody. You see, Charlie Helton died while practicing the Basket and Sabers trick. You know the one. A magician or his assistant scrunches into a wicker basket barely big enough to hold a person, then the magician (or his assistant) sticks sabers through the basket. After the sabers are pulled out, the magician (or his assistant) emerges unharmed. Only Charlie died while practicing this trick, alone, in a locked room. Was it murder? The reader says, “Of course!” The characters mainly ridiculously debate whether it was an accident or suicide. And somehow, this works giving what would be a fairly average locked room mystery a silly edge.

The magicians of this story are rather blue-collar. No big-time Las Vegas stages for them. Pinardo has been working birthday parties. Other magician’s questioned about Charlie’s “accident” are working nightclubs and children’s wards at hospitals. If you believe his stories, only Charlie Helton seems to have had a career, but that too might just be an illusion.

About the Author: Tad Williams is a fantasy author best known for his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. Though a mere three books, I’ve only read 1.5 of them, not due to the quality of the writing, but because I’m crap at reading series. In fact, Tad Williams is one of the few writers I’ve read where I’ve stopped after a paragraph and marveled at the beauty of the writing. “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” went down easy, but isn’t quite at that level.

Is This Your Card?

Though not a video of the saber & basket trick, it is somewhat apropos considering the parody nature of the story.