Tea with the Black Dragon

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Tea with the Black Dragon
Cover of first edition (paperback)
AuthorR. A. MacAvoy
CountryUnited States
PublisherBantam Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
LC ClassCPB Box no. 2920 vol. 1
Followed byTwisting the Rope 

Tea with the Black Dragon is a 1983 fantasy novel by American writer R. A. MacAvoy. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1983, the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1984, and the Locus Award for best first novel in 1984; it also earned MacAvoy the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.[1] It also found a place in David Pringle's Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels (1988).

Plot introduction[edit]

Martha Macnamara is called west to San Francisco by a message from her daughter Elizabeth, a computer programmer. When she arrives, however, Elizabeth has disappeared. Mayland Long, an Asian gentleman who is skilled in both human and computer languages — and who may be a transformed 2,000-year-old Chinese dragon —aids Martha in her search for her daughter. As they search for clues to Elizabeth's disappearance, they discover hints that Elizabeth is involved in a dangerous crime.


David Langford has called it a "pleasant little novel" and "engaging", while qualifying it as "only just fantasy".[2] James Nicoll has cited it as an example of how perception of a book can be affected by historical context, noting that when he reread it in 2014, it was "still an often charming period piece, just not as charming" as it was when he originally read it in 1983; in particular, he emphasizes that it "isn't quite" an example of the "white savior" trope, but "this book can see ["white savior"] from where it is standing".[3] Similarly, Jo Walton —while praising MacAvoy's approach to the novel's central philosophical questions — states that she "remember(s) being excited by what seems to me today [in 2010] to be charming, but quite slight", and posits that "a great deal of the popularity and acclaim came from how lovely it is, and the rest of it came from how amazingly unusual it was in 1983 to have a fantasy novel using Chinese mythology and with a Chinese protagonist".[4]

Greg Costikyan reviewed Tea with the Black Dragon in Ares Magazine #16 and commented that "Tea with the Black Dragon is a book mystery lovers, computer people, and fantasy fans will all enjoy. In a way, it is a shame that Bantam's packaging is so oriented toward the fantasy market, as this is the kind of book that could do very well in the mainstream."[5]


  1. ^ 1984 Locus Awards Archived 2012-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ After the Battle, by David Langford; originally published in White Dwarf, November 1983; archived in The Complete Critical Assembly: The Collected White Dwarf (And Gm, and Gmi) Sf Review Columns
  3. ^ Same river, different shore, by James Nicoll, at James Nicoll Reviews; published October 14, 2014; retrieved June 16, 2017
  4. ^ The tea, the statue, the dragon and you: R.A. MacAvoy’s Tea With the Black Dragon, by Jo Walton; at Tor.com; published January 25, 2010; retrieved June 16, 2017
  5. ^ Costikyan, Greg (Winter 1983). "Books". Ares Magazine. TSR, Inc. (16): 53.

External links[edit]