I enjoy Tim Pratt's short fiction and "A Void Wrapped in a Smile" met my expectations. What I like about his stories are the way he mixes fresh ideas. Here he tells Joshua's story, a story of an unpopular boy who one day find himself so popular that people are willing to do anything for him. Of course, his newfound powers don't work on his family and that causes him some initial problems that result in his sister's death.
The story isn't only about his family, but more the limitations of absolute power. There is a shorter story in him learning the power he has and his interactions with his sister, but in the long run, there's a deeper story where he discovers he needs to let her free. This later story sets the stage for the final showdown necessary for his sister.
The story is set in Tim Pratt's Marla Mason universe. I haven't read any of the stories in this universe, until this short story, and this story has whet my appetite. I was impressed with the way Tim Pratt managed to handle the world in this story and the brief guest appearance of Marla. As a youngster when I read The Never-Ending Story, I remembered the frequent spurs of stories that would twist off into the ether before Michael Ende would warn you that it was another story and not the main one. This is one of those spurs worth reading.