“Mommy Issues of the Dead” — T. A. Pratt

T.A. Pratt (also known as Tim Pratt) is the Hugo Award-winning author of several novels featuring the sorcerer Marla Mason: Blood Engines, Poison Sleep, Dead Reign, and Spell Games. Additionally, two Marla Mason novels, Bone Shop and Broken Mirrors are available as online serials on Pratt’s website, timpratt.org. Another novel, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, is a standalone, “cowpunk” fantasy. Pratt is also the author of many short stories, which have appeared in such venues as Subterranean, Realms of Fantasy, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons, and reprinted in Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best SF, and The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. His short work has been collected in Little Gods and Hart & Boot & Other Stories.

Our next tale concerns Pratt’s above-mentioned series character Marla Mason, the tough, no-nonsense sorcerer who presides over the fictional city of Felport. (Each city needs a wizard to keep it safe, and the wizards of each city are constantly vying for the top spot.) In this universe, every sort of magic you’ve ever heard of (and many you haven’t) is real—sympathetic magic, necromancy, pyromancy, etc. (Not to mention—memorably—“pornomancy.”)

When it comes to magic, Marla is a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, which makes her supremely adaptable but also means she’s often outclassed in the magic department—forcing her to scrape by with guile and a little help from her ultra-powerful cloak, which can turn her into an unstoppable killing machine (but it grows in power with each use and is always angling to overthrow her mind and take over her body).

Marla has already had to deal with an Aztec god, a woman whose dreams become reality, and an army of zombies. This next story is another action-packed tale in which Marla, early in her career, faces off against several colorful foes.