Monday, November 15, 2010

Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files
One thing that irritates me is when an author repackages previous works and the publisher markets them very slickly as new. I've only been bitten a couple of times, because I've read so much SF that I nearly always have to read a bit of a "new" book out at the store to make sure that I haven't read it before. I managed to avoid buying the repackaged Vorkosigan adventures like Young Miles; Miles, Microbes and Mayhem, etc. With Side Jobs, I only got burned a little bit. I very seldom buy theme anthologies, as it seems to me they often package one or two good stories by recognized authors with a bunch of drivel by newbies or second-raters. I recently picked up a copy of Mean Streets, which contained The Warrior - a story that appears again in this collection by Butcher. So, all but one of a dozen or so were new to me.

If you're a big Dresden fan, you'll probably do the same thing I did (and at least one other fan I know), which is to read the last story in the book first. It's called Aftermath, and it's told from Karrin Murphy's point of view, taking place in the hours after Harry's disappearance/death? at the conclusion of Changes. While it reveals nothing new about Harry's fate (oops, spoiler, sorta), it does teach us some new things about Karrin and Harry's other friends.

The stories are varied, in length and theme. Some are whimsical, light numbers, and others are darker and more revealing. Even Butcher's very first Dresden story, never before published, and which he decries as being unpolished and amateurish, is worth reading. In these "out-takes" we learn a lot more about Billy and his werewolves, Karrin Murphy, Harry's brother Thomas, and his apprentice, Molly.

McAnnally and his beer are featured in a couple of the stories. In one, a grendelkin makes off with a keg of beer from a brewers' competition, as well as a sacrificial virgin. We get to know Gard, Marcone's Valkyrie, quite a bit better in this tale. In the other, worshipers of forgotten gods add a little extra magical kick to a few cases of Mac's, and try to get a little Bacchanalian revel going at a Bulls game. Harry manages to save the fair maiden and kick some dragon-ish tail - just another day's work.

If you've been following these stories about Harry from other editors' releases, you might not want to spend the money on this one. But if you haven't paid for the anthologies, then this is a good bit of Dresden apocrypha for your collection.

1 comment:

Straylights said...

I love the Dresden files. One of my most favorite series! I haven't read any of Butcher's short stories about Dresden though, but after Changes I feel a desperate need to read SOMETHING about what happens afterwards! I mean wth! I don't want to buy the whole stupid hardcover for one short story but every time I go to Barnes and Noble this book is NEVER there. The universe is conspiring against me I think.