The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Magic has a price. But someone else will pay. Every time a spell is cast, a bit of bramble sprouts, sending up tangling vines, bloody thorns, and threatening a poisonous sleep. It sprouts in tilled fields and in neighbors' roof beams, thrusts up from between street cobbles, and bursts forth from sacks of powdered spice. A bit of magic, and bramble follows. A little at first, and then more--until whole cities are dragged down under tangling vines and empires lie dead, ruins choked by bramble forest. Monuments to people who loved magic too much.

In paired novellas, award-winning authors Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi explore a shared world where magic is forbidden and its use is rewarded with the axe. A world of glittering memories and a desperate present, where everyone uses a little magic, and someone else always pays the price.

In the beleageured city of Khaim, a lone alchemist seeks a solution to a deadly threat. The bramble, a plant that feeds upon magic, now presses upon Khaim, nourished by the furtive spellcasting of its inhabitants and
threatening to strangle the city under poisonous vines. Driven by desperation and genius, the alchemist constructs a device that transcends magic, unlocking the mysteries of bramble s essential nature. But the power of his newly-built balanthast is even greater than he dreamed. Where he sought to save a city
and its people, the balanthast has the potential to save the world entire--if it doesn t destroy him and his family first.

About Paolo Bacigalupi

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Paolo Bacigalupi won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for his debut novel, The Windup Girl, which was published in 2009. His short story collection Pump Six and Other Stories was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and his young adult novel Ship Breaker won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and was finalist for the National Book Award. His work has also appeared in High Country News,, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
Published June 9, 2014 by Windup Stories, Inc.. 96 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Jeoz is a destitute alchemist living in Khaim, a city literally being strangled to death by bramble, a "wormy malevolence" that expands its thorny vines every time someone uses magic.

Nov 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Alchemist

SF Site

Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi ISFDB Bibliography SF Site Review: The Windup Girl SF Site Review: The Windup Girl SF Site Review: Pump Six and Other Stories If Scheherezade, Sleeping Beauty, and a committee of Middle Eastern and possibly Russian supernatural creatures had got together to t...

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Fantasy Literature

(It turns out that had I been familiar with Katherine Kellgren, who read Buckell’s story, I would have been even more excited about this one!) In this shared world, the use of magic causes the growth of bramble, a fast-growing, pervasive, and deadly plant that has taken over cities, making them ...

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If he's caught, he'll be executed by Khaim's "Jolly Mayor," who is dealing with magic users by killing them - unless, of course, they work for the Mayor's office on special city projects like building a bridge.

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Alchemist

Grasping For The Wind

My review of the 2010 Nebula-nominated novella The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi can be found on this page at Sacramento Book Review or at San Francisco Book Review.

Mar 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Alchemist

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