“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” — Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg—four-time Hugo Award-winner, five-time winner of the Nebula Award, SFWA Grand Master, SF Hall of Fame honoree—is the author of nearly five hundred short stories, nearly one hundred-and-fifty novels, and is the editor of in the neighborhood of one hundred anthologies. Among his most famous works are Lord Valentine’s Castle, Dying Inside, Nightwings, and The World Inside. Learn more at www.majipoor.com.

For most people, learning magic is no easy feat. It’s not really the sort of thing you can just puzzle out for yourself in your spare time. I mean, what are the chances that anyone’s going to accidentally stumble across just the right incantation or just right quantity of eye of newt? Sure, you might be one of the lucky ones who gets invited to some sort of amazing wizard academy, but most practitioners of the arts are just going to have to suck it up and apprentice themselves to some crotchety old coot.

Being a sorcerer’s apprentice typically involves a lot of scut work—sweeping floors, emptying chamber pots, polishing beakers. And the most frustrating thing is, you’ve probably learned just enough magic to get an enchanted broom to do the job for you, but not enough to actually make it stop.

Our next story points out that while fiction would have us believe that most wizarding masters are ancient graybeards, some aspiring magicians may in fact find themselves apprenticed to attractive female wizards. However, for an amorous young man, this can be a mixed blessing. This story also points out that the ways of the heart can be as tricky, mysterious, and potent as any other form of enchantment.