Mark Reads ‘Games Wizards Play’: Chapter 11, Part I

In the first part of the eleventh chapter of Games Wizards Play, Nita, Kit and Dairine deal with the results. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

I was first invited to The Losers’ Party in 2013 by George R.R. Martin himself. I was incredibly nervous that year, as I’d never attended a Worldcon before. I met George at the reception prior to the Hugo Awards Ceremony, and my friend introduced me as someone who had never been to a Hugos ceremony. He said the nicest thing to me then: that even if I didn’t win, no one could take away the experience of getting to be in that room. It did wonders for my nerves, and hours later, when I didn’t win in the Fan Writer category, he tapped me on the shoulder. “Congratulations, loser,” he said, and he handed me a black badge ribbon.

It read: HUGO LOSER.

That was the first time I got to attend one of the infamous Hugo Losers’ parties. That year—and correct me if I’m wrong!—I believe it was in a hotel room in a nearby hotel? I can’t remember where the party was in London in 2014, but in 2015 and 2016, the parties were INCREDIBLE and BEAUTIFUL LOCATIONS. (And holy shit, the food….) The point being: Duane says that Losers’ Party for the Invitations is “not…a party for the losers, as it happened, but one in their honor: a general celebration of what had happened that day, and a place for those who’d attended the Invitational to relax and let off steam.” That’s pretty much what Losers’ Parties are like, y’all. The Hugos can be damn nerve-wracking, and having a space to actually eat some food, get a drink, and just wind down after such a stress-inducing environment is a real treat. Plus, you feel special! The party isn’t open to everyone, and I can’t even count how many friends I’ve made at them.

So I love that this has been incorporated into the world of the Young Wizards books, and that it appears here as a chance for Duane to delve even deeper into the emotional complications of the Cull’s results. It’s impressive that there’s practically no joy here aside from Penn’s, which… well, it’s complicated, of course. He might be overjoyed by making it to the next round, but Nita still can’t muster up any excitement. Aside from a very brief appearance at the opening of chapter eleven, Penn isn’t here in the text. He’s off celebrating! Which he should be doing, but the awkward possibilities of the future are undeniably a part of this, too. That goes for Nita and Dairine, and it was not more obvious than when Lissa bailed on Nita to give Dairine space. Both of these sisters are so uncertain of their mentees, but for entirely different reasons!

Admittedly, because of my natural bias in favor of Mehrnaz, I’m more invested in what’s happening to her, but that’s not a criticism of this story. I JUST WANT TO PROTECT HER FOREVER AND EVER!!! At the same time, I recognize what a strange and fulfilling place we’re at within this story. It would have been so much easier for Duane to write a story about these two young wizards facing momentary roadblocks and overcoming them. However, I’m much more interested in this complex fabric of emotions. What if a victory is almost Pyrrhic in nature? What if Mehrnaz’s success is at her own expense? What if Penn’s success is at Nita’s expense? How do you deal with something like that?

I’m glad that the Callahan sisters have one another through this. I don’t feel like they’ve ever been closer, you know? Plus, I feel like they’re going to need this closeness. I haven’t even addressed their difficult conversation about Roshaun, who still haunts Dairine’s heart on a daily basis. Even that was a challenging moment, one that got a little uncomfortable at one point. But Dairine’s openly talking about him now, and I think that’s progress. It’s better than keep it all to herself, right?


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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