The genre of magical realism or magic realism is generally incorporated under the umbrella designation of fantasy, but it differs from contemporary fantasy or urban fantasy (the nearest cousins) in that the fantastic elements are not explained of made much of, but presented in a “realistic” fashion as part of the world experienced by the characters and perfectly ordinary within that context.
To be honest, I didn’t know what magical realism was until I began reading X0 (that’s X to the power of zero) by Sherrie Cronin. Here’s a passage from the book that won’t give much away, but will serve to illustrate how the fantastic elements are seamlessly meshed with the realism of the narrative:
“Because giving birth is followed by the mind-numbing exhaustion that comes with raising a newborn, it is understandable that for the next several weeks Lola gave no thought to the odd little experience with the noises in her belly. In fact, by the time she finally remembered it, she wasn’t even sure it had really happened.
“Raising a child is hard work too, and it does get harder when there are more children, no matter what anyone says. And over time, there were more. Holding a job where a boss tries to milk all the energy he can from one does not exactly create a situation conducive to much reflective thought. Ask almost anyone with a job about that situation. And let’s face it, being a decent and caring spouse takes time and energy, particularly when time and energy are in short supply. Hell, sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning and managing a bit of occasional compassion along with basic hygiene and on-time bill paying can pretty much fill up one’s time and one’s head. So, clearly Lola did not spend time thinking or wondering about hearing anyone else’s thoughts in her brain. She was busy. In fact, for the next two decades she was usually very, very busy and often very tired as well. And, there was never a real reason for it to come up. Not, that is, until twenty-three years later, when the memory would come storming back and demand to be recognized.”
About the Book:
Somewhere between fanciful places and the world one knows is the universe of x0, where an ancient organization prefers to stay hidden while seven billion people lead normal lives and seven hundred or so do not. This latter group includes Lola, a Texan geophysicist who doesn’t believe in nonsense, and Somadina, a young Nigerian who thinks her abilities are perfectly normal. These women have at least two important things in common, and they are about to learn how that will forge a powerful link.
When Somadina’s sister becomes a captive, the young Igbo woman draws upon her telepathic abilities to find an ally. Across an ocean, an unexpected lay-off and a near fatal accident combine to reintroduce into Lola’s mind a rather disturbing phenomenon. Lola disregards it. Medicates it. Analyzes it. Sips more wine on her porch. However, the changes taking place inside her will not be ignored.
Once Somadina accepts that her sister has become a strategic pawn in a much larger and more dangerous game, she knows that she must do anything to get the attention of this kindred, uncooperative lady. x0 reluctantly emerges from the shadows, because somebody really needs to intervene. Both women are far more powerful than they realize, and to make matters worse, a fringe fanatic may be on the verge of altering a nation’s future.
About the Series:
x0 (that’s x to the power of zero) is the first book in a collection of novels in the genre called “magical realism.” The second book, y1, happens almost concurrently and tells the story of Lola’s oldest child’s adventures as he becomes ever more adept at altering his shape. It will be available online in a few months. See the author’s website at www.tothepowerofzero.org for more information.
About the Author:
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics. She published her first and only science fiction short story in the November 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to please calm down. He explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well paying. The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.
Apparently, she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. “It’s about time,” were his exact words.
Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie’s head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She has been wide awake ever since, and writing away.