Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Title: The Phoenix and The Mirror
Author: Avram Davidson

Turns out Vergil wasn't a poet; he was a powerful and respected sorcerer. He gets blackmailed into making a "virgin speculum" when a conniving power-hungry woman seduces him and literally steals his mojo. I'm not effing kidding. His "essence of manhood" is somehow snatched away from him, and he has to make a magic mirror to get it back.

Which brings us to the ridiculously funny alchemy theories. Each time you look in a mirror, you sully it a bit with your glance, and they will eventually cloud from overuse. If you look in a virgin mirror, it will show you the location of your heart's truest desire, but it has to be really virgin. This is when they still made mirrors of bronze, so they have to track down virgin copper ore, virgin tin ore, (do you know how hard it is to find a virgin ore? I'm not even sure they, though they might claim otherwise) and the purest water possible for quenching (Vergil's buddy gets this by starving a white goat in a box for days, then feeding it moss from a specific hillside and collecting its urine). Reading about their processes is very entertaining, especially because most of the metallurgy and actual manufacturing processes involved are real, and accurately portrayed. Then they haggle over which astrological signs to emboss in the border for greatest accuracy, and I started giggling again.

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posted by reyn at 5:19 PM


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