Gunn’s Magicians is a rational fantasy about sorcery set in a mid-20th century from which actual modern occultism is absent, much in the way that Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell concocts an alternative world of magic for Georgian England. Of course, Clarke takes her literary cues from Jane Austen, while Gunn’s seem to reflect Raymond Chandler by way of Who Shot Roger Rabbit?
To the credit of Gunn’s imagination, when he wrote the original version of this story in 1954, or even in 1972 when the fuller novel was published, occult magicians weren’t yet actually in the habit of meeting via hotel conventions. The whole story is a relatively cornball melodrama, but chapters 8 and 9 are each a sleeping dream of the protagonist about historical sorcery–one a Brocken Mountain sabbat, the other a French Black Mass–which have solid entertainment value. [via]