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The wizard of West 34th street by Mike Resnick

What if... The main global question that is constantly posed by science fiction literature. The world famous American writer Mike Resnik puts one of this what-ifs in his latest story “The wizard of West 34th street” published in the December issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine. Resnik's works have been translated into several languages including Russian. In Russia some of his stories were published in ESLI magazine. A record 36 nominations for the prestigious Hugo Awards have gone to his works, and Mike has won 5 Hugos.

In “The wizard of West 34th street” the author takes us to West 34th street of New York where miracles occur from time to time. What can you do if you're in big trouble and/or need money? Obviously, you should see the wizard! Everyone consults him, even the cops. The main hero, Jake, and his friend Milton, who needs some money, go to the only known wizard in NY.

He doesn't wear a pointed hat and a robe with all signs of the Zodiac. He dresses like an ordinary man, maybe a little worse. But he's a wizard. One look at Milton, and the solution is ready: buy some stock at X hours, sell it at Y hours, and get the profit, including the wizard's fee. Many people like Milton go to the wiz with their problems, but Jake is skeptical and doesn't need anything. But soon he changes his mind after the wizard warned him about the fire in the restaurant where Jake had wanted to eat. So they became friends: the only wizard on West 34th and the only man who doesn't ask him for anything.

Mike Resnik depicts the wizard's power and its reverse side. The wizard can get any sum of money that he wants. But he doesn't need it. He could live in any luxurious house that he would choose. But he only needs some place for sleeping. Because of his gift he's just a tool for everyone except Jake and hasn't had any friend for years. How does it feel that almost everything is predetermined? Or how to never be surprised? Yes, he can still help people, but at the same time he has to see a lot of suffering. Jake says to the wiz: “What must it be like?” Really, what? And why on earth might anyone want to become a wizard on their own free will??.. If you're interested, read about this in “The wizard of West 34th street”.

Alexey Solomatin 


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