This story is fantastic. I just ate up the opening with it's sly introduction to the fantastical. Mindworms, thaumaturgists, "The folks out east are serious Buddhists so their karmic buffers were usually strong."
And it just keeps getting better. The throwaway paragraph about the paladins and vampires and anticoagulants inflated and enhanced the story the way most writers only wish their superfluous asides could do.
Danny Cobb makes his entrance halfway through and has no problem stealing the show. If only the story had managed to end gracefully. It's such as shame too because the ending is right there, but it's got too many words piled around it.
"Dan must have thrown it somehow as she made her charge."
No. We don't need that sentence. How much better to go straight from "A pen had stuck deep into her left nostril, all the way into her brain" straight to "The pen was green"?
And then: "Dan Cobb never was much of one for following the rules."
Beautiful. End it there. Nothing that comes after tops this moment. Especially not the cutesy little tennis postscript.
The Two Danny Cobbs
I love this story so much, but I don't think I get it. It's masterfully written but I got to the end full of questions, and not the right questions.
What did Wesley's father do and for whom? And what did it have to do with the real Danny Cobb? Did Wesley's dad's boss set him up to impersonate the real Danny Cobb? Or was it just a coincidental namespace collision?
And what made Wesley special? His father wasn't the real Danny Cobb, so how did he get his powers?
I'm going to try reading the story again, because I suspect the answers are in there. But, if they are, I missed them the first time through.
I can forgive all that though, for a line like: "Joe?" You'd say, the old moniker suddenly dusty and stale in your mouth. "He doesn't look like a Joe."
What are you doing here, Danny Cobb?
I love the Jay and Ty Cobb bit, the way that it foreshadows Danny Cobb in a manner that wouldn't be possible if he weren't a predefined archetype.
Unfortunately, there doesn't really seem to be enough of a story. It's difficult to connect the characterization that comes before the bomb to what comes after. The crisis doesn't follow from what we had learned previous.
And Danny's intervention is robbed of it's potency. We don't really know that the protagonist's life is in danger until Danny has already saved her. And what IS he doing there? None of the characters know but, as a reader, I feel cheated if I still don't know at the end of the story.
Despite being such a small field, I think this may be the strongest overall collection of stories we've seen in any WFC. My vote is going to Danny Cobb and the Spines of Usury, but all three stories are excellent.
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