Cover
Cover for Unfettered II taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Magic Beans by Django Wexler is the eleventh story in the Unfettered II AnthologyA young man meets his girlfriend for what he thinks is a romantic interlude at her workplace. The intimate night turns comically nightmarish when that intimacy is combined with, you guessed it, the percolation of magic beans. The combination causes the small coffee shop to travel through time and space. The man and his friends are left with nothing to do but see what it would take to travel back home. CONTENT WARNING: The downside to anthologies is sometimes that you come across a story you wouldn’t read. While this is far from the most lewd story I’ve ever read (I’d imagine this story has an R rating as opposed to an X or NC-17), it turns sex into a joke-filled plot device. There is a message at the end that intends to build on the concept of sex as special, but I have a different viewpoint even beyond that.  That doesn’t mean that I’m unable to analyze the story. 

Character:  The characters here are an interesting blend. This is essentially a coming of age story about a group of young adults trying to figure out where their lives are going. They’re proactive, but not remotely competent. There is a lot to be amused about in how earnestly but foolishly they try to get back home. This is the charm of the story. active, which is always a plus. I can’t say I really bonded with them, but they held my attention. 

Exposition: Told from a first-person perspective, you need to just be ready for the standard amount of exposition. With this perspective, there really isn’t any getting around a certain amount of it, but it’s no more than necessary. I didn’t notice it really, which is a good sign.

Worldbuilding: I’d say this was well done in that the author very clearly winked at the reader and said, “If you’re five pages in, and you’re still reading, you’re not really interested in the suspension of disbelief.”  The tale as a whole is built more on the concepts listed above, and the ridiculous plot mechanics are just a vehicle to move the story forward. It’s not a well defined world with clear rules and interesting facets. It’s a bit of nonsense that isn’t trying to be more than it is.

Django-1-225x300
Image of Mr. Wexler taken from his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Dialogue: This was very well done. The characters had unique voices that revealed their character. It might be the second best aspect of the story. There was plenty of wit and characterization. 

Description: Once more I must stress the content warning. The use of sex as a plot device means I read about things I’d rather not read. It’s not nearly as descriptive and graphic as other stories I’ve read in the past, but I, personally, don’t need to be reading about it. Had there been simple “fades to black,” which 90% of the story actually does, I’d probably have less of a problem with it. That 10% was still 10% too much for yours truly. 

Overall: Wexler is obviously a talented writer. This story has charm, humor, drama, and meaning all rolled into a very concise format, but the content of the story is too contrary to my morals and belief system to recommend. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

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