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The Diamond Pit by Jack Dann
(Novella, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 2001; reprinted in Jubilee, a collection of Jack Dann stories, November 2001, HarperCollins, US$18.95, trade paperback, ISBN 0-7322-6719-6.)

Rating: "A" -- a lovely lost-world period piece, with 21st century sex.

I've always had a weakness for lost-world stories, and here's a fine one, set in 1920's Montana, of all places. The premise is as silly as any of these tales -- a zillionaire recluse has a fabulous castle built above his super-secret diamond mine, complete with ack-ack guns to shoot down nosy fliers -- which is just what happens to Our Hero. He wakes up in the Pit with a dozen other aviator-prisoners, orders up a pearl-white Steinway, gets tapped to help the Master's Beautiful Daughter prepare for her Carnegie Hall debut, and soon finds himself between smooth satin sheets with her...

Dedicated to F Scott "Diamond as Big as the Ritz" Fitzgerald, "The Diamond Pit" is written in a combination of period and modern prose (and sex) that shouldn't work, but does, and succeeds beautifully. The plot is as goofy as the premise (and the original), but it's great fun, and as well-written as anything Dann has done. Pulp, but good pulp. Highly recommended.

Links

  • Story available online at: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/fiction/jd01.htm
  • "The tale's utter improbability is a fair and observant measure of the evanescent Jazz Age..." -- Nick Gevers, SF Site
  • "Dann... clearly had a lot of fun with this story... One of his most entertaining and rewarding stories to date." -- Jonathan Strahan, in an Eidolon review of Jubilee.
  • "'The Diamond Pit' held my attention from the first shot of the anti-aircraft guns to that last game of mah-jongg...." -- CC Finlay, [Caution: **SPOILERS**]
  • "The Diamond Pit" has garnered an unusual amount of critical attention for a novella. I googled up several more short reviews (search title + author), and the story is on the Nebula short-list.


Review by Peter D Tillman; More of Peter D Tillman's reviews can be found at: SF Site and Amazon.com. Google "Peter D. Tillman" +review for many more!


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© Peter D Tillman 9 March 2002