July 20, 2015
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The Siren and the Sword

by Cecilia Tan

The first in Tan’s series on Magic University – a hidden faculty at Harvard for the study of magic. Tan, a Readercon regular, writes erotica, and the central conceit of the series is David Mamet’s essay on his experience of college: “Sex Camp.” In Tan’s world, magicians generally have a very specific talent, a special proclivity that they discover in looking for their college major. Some are soothsayers, some healers, some conjurors. Kyle Wadsworth, though he doesn’t know it when he arrives for his Harvard interview, is very good at sex.

One thing that surprised me is the clean simplicity and charm of the sex scenes. Romance writers have developed a ghastly stylization of language to signal romantic intensity: one sure sign is the switch from talking about “his strength” to writing about “the strength of him.” Tan avoids this, and gets college twin-bed sex right while (for the most part) sparing my maiden blushes.