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Magic Time: Ghostlands

Magic Time: Ghostlands

3.6 3
by Marc Scott Zicree

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In an altered America where machines no longer work and magic holds sway, former lawyer-turned-visionary leader Cal Griffin guides his small band on a quest toward the Source of the Change -- following a trail he hopes will reunite him with his abducted sister, Christina, transformed into one of the powerful, enigmatic beings called "flares." Armed with little more


In an altered America where machines no longer work and magic holds sway, former lawyer-turned-visionary leader Cal Griffin guides his small band on a quest toward the Source of the Change -- following a trail he hopes will reunite him with his abducted sister, Christina, transformed into one of the powerful, enigmatic beings called "flares." Armed with little more than compassion and a determination to heal the world, Cal, the warrior Colleen Brooks, Russian physician Doc Lysenko, and bipolar street wizard Herman "Goldie" Goldman encounter old foes and new friends in a landscape of unimaginable beauties and magnificent horrors -- forced to confront the frightful secrets of an emissary from a dread region and to trust in a brilliant triumvirate of grad students who could get things running again ... at a terrible cost—as the final moves in humankind's ultimate nightmare are played out in the depths of the Ghostlands.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Magic Time: Ghostlands, the third and concluding volume of Marc Scott Zicree's Magic Time trilogy, is a post-apocalyptic epic comparable to Stephen King's The Stand. It follows visionary Cal Griffin and his misfit band of followers as they travel across a much-transformed America where machinery no longer runs and the surviving populace are slowly being mutated into nightmarish "post-humans" with terrifying powers.

On a quixotic mission to find his abducted sister and somehow defeat the mysterious Source, a secret government project that inexplicably stopped all technology and for all practical purposes destroyed modern civilization, Griffin is joined on his quest by a group of unlikely protagonists. Colleen Brooks, a mechanic turned warrior; expatriate Russian doctor Viktor Lysenko; bipolar mystic Herman Goldman; and federal agent Larry Shango. All want to defeat the Source for their own personal reasons; but will this army of outcasts be able to destroy a godlike entity that grows stronger by the hour?

With masterful characterization, nonstop action, and a fascinating plot that seamlessly intertwines science fiction, fantasy, and horror, Zicree's Magic Time trilogy (Magic Time, coauthored by Barbara Hambly, and Magic Time: Angelfire, coauthored by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff) should definitely be high up on the reading lists of anyone who is a fan of post-apocalyptic classics like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer and Robert R. McCammon's Swan Song. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
SF screenwriter Zicree (The Twilight Zone Companion) teams with Philip K. Dick Award-winner Wilson (The Chronoliths) for the rousing, if overly long, conclusion to his Magic Times fantasy trilogy. Since the Change, which nudged the universe into another dimension thanks to a U.S. government agency's snafu, unpredictable magic has replaced modern technology worldwide. Former New York lawyer Cal Griffin leads a courageous band out West in search of his sister, Tina, while another stalwart member of the group, Herman Goldman, looks forlornly for his lost sweetheart, Magritte. The saga's lawyer-dragon villain, Ely Stern, whose iridescent scales are gaudier than ever, provides the biggest plot surprise. As Cal and company attempt to destroy the evil that caused the Change, the authors effortlessly move the action from New York to Chicago and the old West, where buffalo still roam, a few guns still fire and simulacra of Indians and Calamity Janes lend a helping hand. Some readers may find the heroes' repetitive adventures tiresome, but most will applaud the upbeat message about humanity's survival, if without cell phones or TV. Agent, Chris Lotts at Ralph M. Vicinanza. (Dec. 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When the reign of technology ended, and magic resurfaced, Cal Griffin found his life forever changed. Searching for his sister-who has been transformed into a fairylike, winged creature and taken away by the monstrous being, once human, who caused the world's change-Griffin gathers like-minded companions and treks across America to find her. The conclusion to Zicree's modern fantasy that began with Magic Time (co-written with Barbara Hambly) and continued in Magic Time: Angelfire (co-written with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff) draws the forces of light and darkness into a final confrontation that decides, once and for all, the fate of the world and the future happiness of a family. An apocalyptic fantasy that will appeal to fans of Stephen King's The Stand, it also belongs in libraries that own the preceding volumes. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Last entry in Zicree's post-apocalypse Magic Time trilogy (Angelfire, 2003, etc.) about world technology giving way to magic. A government experiment called the Source goes wrong and sucks up all electrical energy on the planet. Worse happens to people: their leading characteristics inflate and take them over. Former lawyer Cal Griffen's young sister Christina ("Tina"), a ballerina, transparent and as beautiful as a soap bubble, has disappeared. He knows she's somewhere out west, where the Storm has swept her. Following the Call to go south, he leaves Manhattan to find and save Tina, but first he must take a weird team that has fallen in with him (including a Tina-like flare of Angelfire) to Chicago to face minions of the Source. Dark, violent cities pass by, with trees like blown glass, where Magic shakes the very earth. Character flaws in Cal's band turn to strengths. In its westward quest after Chicago, the band enters Ghostlands. As was said in Angelfire, "We make our own ghosts, and then give them permission to haunt us." Under Mount Rushmore, through charms, the group summons up visions of Manhattan, where Cal finds his sister Tina back in human form and brings her back with him. Meanwhile, each member of the band meets aspects of his character formed in childhood and faces ghosts of memory. The power of Tina's aura becomes their safe place as storms strike. Massive herds of flayed and bleeding buffalo rise up threateningly. Ely Stern, Cal's crusty old boss in Manhattan, turns into a monstrous but benevolent fire-breathing dragon whose sole impulse is to protect Tina. They're joined by shadow warriors who ride ghost horses and fire arrows of vapor as they enter Rushmore itself tobattle that abominable gash in existence, the Lovecraftian Source. Not hugely original, but fantasy fans will eat it up. Agent: Chris Lotts/Ralph M. Vicinanza, Ltd.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Magic Time Series , #3
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Magic Time

By Wilson, Robert Charles


ISBN: 0061050709

Chapter One

East of Storm Lake, Iowa

"All right, I admit it. Radio Goldman is stone-cold dead."

Herman Goldman stood like an iron spike driven into the rutted blacktop that had once been Route 169 heading north to Blue Earth -- technically still was, Cal Griffin reflected, although no car had driven it in the nearly half year since the Change. No car could have, since cars ran nowhere on the face of the earth as far as anyone knew, as any of them had heard.

Horses, though, were a hot commodity again; and Cal and his friends had been hard-pressed to retain Sooner, Koshka and their other steeds from the depredations of roving smash-and-grab gangs that had lain in wait at numerous rest stops and Kodak moments along the way. "Horse thief" was no longer a quaint term out of a Western -- it was a job description.

And we've got the scars to prove it.

You can't go through life without making enemies, his father had told him when Cal was barely four. That was just before Dad's first abandonment of the family, cutting out for the territories, the apogee and perigees of a roving life that had made enemies of his own family.

Now I'm the rootless one, Cal thought, and his collection of scars both physical and emotional, formed the road map of his travels.

"Maybe you need new batteries," Colleen said, jolting Cal from his reverie.

Goldieglowered at her, stuck out his tongue. There were no radios, of course, and batteries didn't do shit. They were both speaking metaphorically, baiting each other as they tended to do when most frustrated. When it grew too barbed, veering into real venom, Cal would step in as he always did, smoothing their rough edges, reminding them of what held them together, of what bound them on this road. He was their moderator, their governing influence, and he knew well why they thought of him as their leader, despite how reluctant he had once been to accept that role.

Goldie tilted his head quizzically, as if listening for a distant, staticky station, and Cal realized that "radio" wasn't just a metaphorical term, after all. Goldie had been their crystal set even before the Change, catching the twisted music and voices on the winds of the Source, coaxing and wheedling and beguiling them on the daunting path that had begun that sweltering day in Manhattan when Cal had saved Goldie from being pulverized by a truck on Fifth Avenue -- and Goldie had tried (unsuccessfully, of course) to warn him of the coming Storm.

Since Chicago, Goldie had led them by fits and starts through the blasted terrain of western Illinois and Wisconsin, past Rockford and Beloit, skirting the horror of Madison, where cholera and a newborn smallpox raged. In general, the most populous areas were hardest hit, and best avoided.

On the outskirts of Sauk City, by the banks of the Wisconsin, Goldie had found a cliff face with a faded petroglyph that he'd been able to coax into opening a portal that emptied onto the Effigy Mounds in Iowa. It had been murder getting the horses throughthey grew frenzied at the prickling feeling of being transported-but it had saved several hundred miles of rough traveling.

They had continued west, drawn by the elusive call of the Source. Until now.

Goldie shook his head. "Nada. K-Source is not on the air which certainly does not mean it's not still out there, doing it's nasty best."

"Great," Colleen enthused. "So we're stuck in this beauty spot."

The afternoon light had turned long, the shadow of a bleached FOOD GAS LODGING sign stretching out toward the horizon, browned prairie grasses tossing in the frigid wind. Route 169 opened ahead like a mottled black ribbon, and despite the signage, there was no food, no gas, no lodging anywhere in sight.

"Patience, Colleen," Doc advised from atop Koshka, looking every bit the brooding Russian horseman in his fleece-lined greatcoat. "I won't try to tell you it's a virtue, but it will save wear and tear on the stomach lining."

Goldie remounted his steed, took the reins from Cal, who was straddling Sooner. Goldie's horse had originally been called Jayhawk, but he'd taken to calling it Later. He'd wanted Colleen to rechristen her horse Further, but she had so far resisted the idea, merely commenting on an increase in Goldie's annoyance factor.

Not that it was inappropriate, actually. According to Goldie, this was the name Ken Kesey had painted on the psychedelic bus the Merry Pranksters had driven across America back in 1965. Cal dimly recalled reading the Tom Wolfe book on the subject, years ago. The irony was explicit. Kesey and friends had seen themselves as divine madmen embedded in a staid, magicless reality. And we're the opposite, Cal thought. Reality has gone mad; we cling to sanity. Such sanity as we make for ourselves.

Colleen pressed her heels to her gelding's flanks and the four of them moved ahead at a brisk trot. She turned to Cal. "How 'bout you, Cal? Anything off your map trick?"

Cal reached back and pulled a Triple-A map booklet from his saddlebag to open it across the pommel of his saddle. He had unearthed it in the looted ruins of a convenience store outside Osage. On their passage from Boone's Gap to Enid's Preserve and beyond, he had gained a fitful ability to read a map in a new and frequently useful way, to sense the changed terrain ahead, discern some of its tweaked geography.

But that skill had utterly deserted him since their showdown with Primal. And now, looking at the creased paper with its tangle of red and blue lines like arteries and veins of a body, he knew he had no special clue as to what lay before them. Only that Tina, if miraculously still alive, was somewhere due west of them, and that they had to keep moving ... Continues...

Excerpted from Magic Time by Wilson, Robert Charles Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author

Marc Scott Zicree has created classic episodes of "Star Trek-The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine," "Babylon Five," "Sliders" and many more. He has appeared as a media expert on hundreds of radio and TV shows and is the author of the bestselling Twilight Zone Companion. He lives in West Hollywood with his wonderful wife, vile little dog, and affable big dog.

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Magic Time: Ghostlands 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
The experiment Source devastated nature by destroying electric energy and changing people by enhancing their key traits into a caricature like magical essence. Many have died including those who have trusted weary former attorney Cal Griffen; he feels he failed them all in the end though none would fault him. Still he has no time to mourn as his evanescent younger sister Christina the ballerina vanished to wherever the storm floated her like a bubble.--- His quest to find Tina took him from New York to Chicago where Magritte, one of the people Cal feels he failed died. The journey for Cal and his pilgrims continue westward through deadly cities where the Source holds sway with magic that threaten to destroy the earth. Cal¿s band of brothers, sisters, and other essences enter the dangerous Ghostlands reaching Mount Rushmore, pivotal foci of the Source. The troupe faces their worst magically enhanced customized nightmarish fears in this last stand to save human existence on this plane; to succeed against the overwhelming powers of the enemy, they need Tina on their side and not part of the Source.--- Fantasy fans will devour the final Magic Time tale that is a terrific confrontation between the remnants of metamorphosis humanity vs. the offspring Source. Interestingly the theme is not a simplistic good vs. evil scenario, but instead is more along the lines of the Frankenstein warning. The story line is action-packed from the first pyre to the final fire, but never neglects the key characters as their characteristics remain critical to the entertaining story line. MAGIC TIME GHOSTLANDS can stand alone, but is further enhanced with reading the previous two novels, MAGIC TIME and MAGIC TIME ANGELFIRE.--- Harriet Klausner