• In celebration of the release of Jane Yolen’s THE EMERALD CIRCUS, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s magnificent tales.

    Sister Emily’s Lightship

    by Jane Yolen

    I dwell in Possibility. The pen scratched over the page, making graceful ellipses. She liked the look of the black on white as much as the words themselves. The words sang in her head far sweeter than they sang on the page. Once down, captured like a bird in a cage, the tunes seemed pedestrian, mere common rote. Still, it was as close as she would come to that Eternity, that Paradise that her mind and heart promised. I dwell in Possibility.

    She stood and stretched, then touched her temples where the poem still throbbed. She could feel it sitting there, beating its wings against her head like that captive bird. Oh, to let the bird out to sing for a moment in the room before she caged it again in the black bars of the page.

    Smoothing down the skirt of her white dress, she sat at the writing table once more, took up the pen, dipped it into the ink jar, and added a second line. A fairer House than … than what? Had she lost the word between standing and sitting? Words were not birds after all, but slippery as fish.

    Then suddenly, she felt it beating in her head. Prose! A fairer House than Prose She let the black ink stretch across the page with the long dash that lent the last word that wonderful fall of tone. She preferred punctuating with the dash to the hard point, as brutal as a bullet. I dwell in Possibility.

    Cocking her head to one side, she considered the lines. They will do, she thought, as much praise as she ever allowed her own work, though she was generous to others. Then, straightening the paper and cleaning the nib of her pen, she tore up the false starts and deposited them in the basket.

    She could, of course, write anytime during the day if the lines came to mind. There was little enough that she had to do in the house. But she preferred night for her truest composition and perhaps that was why she was struggling so. Then those homey tasks will take me on, she told herself: supervising the gardening, baking Father’s daily bread. Her poetry must never be put in the same category.

    Standing, she smoothed down the white skirt again and tidied her hair—“like a chestnut burr,” she’d once written imprudently to a friend. It was ever so much more faded now.

    But pushing that thought aside, Emily went quickly out of the room as if leaving considerations of vanity behind. Besides the hothouse flowers, besides the bread, there was a cake to be made for tea. After Professor Seelye’s lecture there would be guests and her tea cakes were expected.

    For more info on THE EMERALD CIRCUS, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover design by Elizabeth Story

  • In celebration of the release of Jane Yolen’s THE EMERALD CIRCUS, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s magnificent tales.


    Lost Girls

    by Jane Yolen

    “It isn’t fair!” Darla complained to her mom for the third time during their bedtime reading. She meant it wasn’t fair that Wendy only did the housework in Neverland and that Peter Pan and the boys got to fight Captain Hook.

    “Well, I can’t change it,” Mom said in her even, lawyer voice. “That’s just the way it is in the book. Your argument is with Mr. Barrie, the author, and he’s long dead. Should I go on?”

    “Yes. No. I don’t know,” Darla said, coming down on both sides of the question, as she often did.

    Mom shrugged and closed the book, and that was the end of the night’s reading.

    Darla watched impassively as her mom got up and left the room, snapping off the bedside lamp as she went. When she closed the door there was just a rim of light from the hall showing around three sides of the door, making it look like something out of a science fiction movie. Darla pulled the covers up over her nose. Her breath made the space feel like a little oven.

    “Not fair at all,” Darla said to the dark, and she didn’t just mean the book. She wasn’t the least bit sleepy.

    But the house made its comfortable night-settling noises around her: the breathy whispers of the hot air through the vents, the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall, the sound of the maple branch scritch-scratching against the clapboard siding. They were a familiar lullaby, comforting and soothing. Darla didn’t mean to go to sleep, but she did.

    Either that or she stepped out of her bed and walked through the closed door into Neverland.

    Take your pick.

    It didn’t feel at all like a dream to Darla. The details were too exact. And she could smell things. She’d never smelled anything in a dream before. So Darla had no reason to believe that what happened to her next was anything but real.

    One minute she had gotten up out of bed, heading for the bathroom, and the very next she was sliding down the trunk of a very large, smooth tree. The trunk was unlike any of the maples in her yard, being a kind of yellowish color. It felt almost slippery under her hands and smelled like bananas gone slightly bad. Her nightgown made a sound like whooosh as she slid along.

    When she landed on the ground, she tripped over a large root and stubbed her toe.

    “Ow!” she said.

    “Shhh!” cautioned someone near her.

    She looked up and saw two boys in matching ragged cutoffs and T-shirts staring at her. “Shhh! yourselves,” she said, wondering at the same time who they were.

    But it hadn’t been those boys who spoke. A third boy, behind her, tapped her on the shoulder and whispered, “If you aren’t quiet, He will find us.”

    She turned, ready to ask who He was. But the boy, dressed in green tights and a green shirt and a rather silly green hat, and smelling like fresh lavender, held a finger up to his lips. They were perfect lips, like a movie star’s. Darla knew him at once.

    “Peter,” she whispered. “Peter Pan.”

    He swept the hat off and gave her a deep bow. “Wendy,” he countered.

    “Well, Darla, actually,” she said.

    “Wendy Darla,” he said. “Give us a thimble.”

    For more info on THE EMERALD CIRCUS, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover design by Elizabeth Story

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    Tachyon wants to make your holidays easier, so here’s how we’re doing it:

    From now until Wednesday, December 13

    • 10% off on all orders of $25 or more (use the coupon code HAPPY10)
    • Free Media Mail shipping on all orders for U.S. customers

    Our entire award-winning catalog is on sale.  Here are some suggestions for your holiday shopping list:

    • The perfect gift for any fantasy lover (and most of our copies are signed): Fiction by Peter S. Beagle
    • The artsy in-law, who is notoriously difficult to shop for: Bruce Sterling’s PIRATE UTOPIA (with original illustrations by John Coulthart)
    • A crime fiction lover that’s always looking for something a little different: Joe R. Lansdale’s thrillers and mysteries

    10% off only applies to orders of $25.00 or more

    Sale ends Wednesday, December 13, at 11:59PM PST.

    Free shipping via USPS Media Mail within the United States (except Alaska and Hawaii). No minimum purchase required.

    Please email for other shipping options

  • The emphatic praise for Peter S. Beagle’s recommend THE OVERNEATH continues.


    On the B&N SCI-FI & FANTASY BLOG, Ceridwen Christensen praises the collection.

    More than anything else—his unfailingly beautiful prose, his ability to weave threads of emotional truth into stories of the fantastic, his knack for writing stories that land with a soft touch and leave the impact of a hammer blow—Peter S. Beagle’s long literary career has been defined by unicorns.

    There’s the protagonist of his most famous work, The Last Unicorn (called Lady Amalthea when in human guise), who is perhaps the most famous unicorn of all. Just last year, he published IN CALABRIA, a slender, wistful novel about the appearance of unicorns in a small Italian town. It inverts many of The Last Unicorn‘s themes, and serves as an interesting late-career mirror to a book that is now nearly 50 years old. The author seems to be in the process of the mythological well he drew from so often in those early days. The well is deep and clear, and its waters fortifying.

    His new short story collection, THE OVERNEATH, includes three stories about unicorns, two of them hardly of the beautiful, immortal Western sort. “My Son Heydari and the Karkadann” is a grousing, exasperated story told by a father about his foolish boy, who once nursed a karkadann, a bestial Persian unicorn, back to health. “The Story of Kao Yu” follows a traveling judge living under the Emperor Yao, and his unspoken and largely inexplicable relationship with a chi-lin, an almost dragon-like Chinese unicorn, who occasionally appears to render judgement in Kao’s court. This is unicorn as a sort of social superego, and Kao’s relationship with a comely thief throws the judge’s relationship with the law into disequilibrium.


    Unicorns aren’t the only creatures you’ll find in this book, which takes its name from an inter-dimensional plane in “The Way It Works Out and All,” a metafictional story about a fellow fantasy writer, the late Avram Davidson, who reveals he can travel through the (somewhat unreliable) otherland of the Overneath to anywhere on the planet. “Trinity County, CA: You’ll Want to Come Again and We’ll Be Glad to See You!” follows a group of do-gooders trying to rescue exotic pets—pets that turn out to be dragons. The aching “Music, When Soft Voices Die” is a steampunk-y story about a medical student who builds a radio of sorts, tuned into the unknown, in Victorian England.

    THE OVERNEATH is a lovely collection that, like its namesake, manages to be everywhere at once. Aliens, dragons, unicorns, supernatural fish tanks, cursed queens, and matriculating magicians: all find their place in Beagle’s sweet grimoire.

    Ian White at STARBURST awards the book 10/10 stars.

    Peter S. Beagle is a remarkable writer. Almost half a century after the release of the book that made him famous – The Last Unicorn – and now in his 78th year, he continues to produce exceptional work and The Overneath, an enchanting collection of short stories which - fans won’t be surprised to hear – also includes one or two new tales about unicorns, will only consolidate his legend even further. This anthology is a triumph.

    In a collection where every tale is as good as the one that preceded it, it’s hard to choose favourites but there are three that, from a personal point-of-view, really stand out from the rest of the pack: ‘Underbridge’, about the real-life (well, kind of) Fremont Bridge Troll is a fantastic story about a University professor in crisis who becomes obsessed by the concrete Troll that is a local landmark (with unexpected results)… ‘Kaskia’, about an unhappily married man who begins messaging an alien on an unusual new laptop… and ‘Music, When Soft Voices Die’ which has a gentle steampunk sensibility wrapped around a central theme that hits you like a sledgehammer.

    Maybe that’s what is so compelling about Beagle’s prose. He takes the extraordinary, makes it real, makes us care, and then swerves us into entirely unexpected territory. His storytelling is like the weaving of a spell – elegant, hypnotic and deeply exciting – but there’s an edge to it, a dangerousness, and an acute wisdom about the risks taken by the human heart. Absolutely breathtaking.


    Photo: Rina Weisman

    For READ WELL, Suncerae Smith enjoys the volume.

    he author of THE LAST UNICORN presents a series of lyrical short stories, containing many new and previously uncollected works. Easily nine-tenths of this book consists of 5-star stories that will hold you fast and infuse your imagination. With a well-known wizard, three flavors of unicorns, fire-breathing cannibal dragons, a troll, and judges and scholars and queens and beggars, these tales are diverse in tone and subject matter, but all are pure enchantment!

    The beginning of each short story includes brief commentary from the author, which not only provides insights into the story it proceeds, but are so genuine that they seem to give a glimpse into the humble mind of the author, who claims that his stories decide not only when to write themselves, but also what happens, as if he has no part in the matter.

    Recommended for all fans of fantasy that’s full of wonder and charm and magic!

    LOCUS (NOVEMBER 2017, ISSUE 682) delivers a pair of reviews for THE OVERNEATH.

    by Gary K. Wolfe:

    Peter S. Beagle’s late career has been something of a marvel, shifting between deeply resonant and apparently autobiographical fictions like ‘‘The Rabbi’s Hobby’’ and ‘‘The Rock in the Park’’ (both in his earlier Tachyon collection SLEIGHT OF HAND) with occasional revisits to the greatest-hits territory of THE LAST UNICORN or THE INNKEEPER’S SONG. His new collection, THE OVERNEATH, tends toward the latter, with two more Schmendrick stories (‘‘The Green-Eyed Boy’’ and ‘‘Schmendrick Alone’’, to go with earlier stories like ‘‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon’’), three tales that deal with different varieties of unicorns (Chinese in ‘‘The Story of Kao Yu’’, Persian in ‘‘My Son Heydari and the Karkadann,’’ North American in ‘‘Olfert Dapper’s Day’’, in which an exiled quack Dutch physician thinks he sees one in 17th-century Maine), and one story set in the world of The Innkeeper’s Song (‘‘Great-Grandmother in the Cellar’’). For the most part, Beagle is less visible in these tales than in many of his more recent ones, although there is a rather touching tribute to his old friend Avram Davidson in ‘‘The Way It Works Out and All’’, in which Davidson’s famously mercurial and far-reaching mind is translated into actual geography, as Davidson sends postcards from places he could not possibly have been, having discovered a kind of subreality called the ‘‘overneath.’’

    While Avram Davidson is the only acknowledged literary influence here (and a central character in ‘‘The Way it Works Out and All’’), there’s more than a touch of Sturgeon in ‘‘Kaskia’’, in which the lonely grocery clerk of the title meets, through his mysterious new computer, an equally lonely figure named Kaskia, whose role is similar to that of the alien in Sturgeon’s ‘‘A Saucer of Loneliness’’. And the one steampunk story, which quickly abandons its Victorian pseudoscience rationale (something called ‘‘etheric telegraphy’’) in favor of the folk wisdom of Turkish hodja, has at its center a ramshackle invention, intended to enable instant international communication, which instead somehow picks up the voices of people apparently long dead. As steampunk it’s completely ersatz, but Beagle’s evocation of those random lost voices is one of the most haunting evocations of his capacity for giving voices to the unheard.

    by Faren Miller:

    Crows and magpies – and a certain breed of writer – share a lively, wide-ranging curiosity that’s linked to a fascination with things: trinkets for birds, bits of fact and fancy for humans. Dar Oakley works his stuff into nests. In ‘‘Underbridge’’ (Beagle’s story about a wandering, untenured professor and a massive statue known as the Troll), when a scholar meets a guy who feeds a Troll raw meat, ‘‘an old Norse poem suddenly came to him, the earliest reference his magpie mind could dredge up.’’

    ‘‘The Way It Works Out and All’’ gives THE OVERNEATH its title, when Beagle imagines old friend and mentor Avram Davidson walking out of the men’s room in Grand Central Station and into the Overneath: a place that’s also a state of mind, and a way to leap around within (or between) worlds. This alternate-Avram describes it as ‘‘the sub-basement of reality – all those pipes and valves and tunnels and couplings, sewers and tubes… the everything other than everything.’’ There’s room enough for comedy and horror, beauty, wonderment and more.

    For more info on THE OVERNEATH, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover design by Elizabeth Story

    For more info about IN CALABRIA, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover design by Elizabeth Story

  • In celebration of the release of Jane Yolen’s THE EMERALD CIRCUS, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s magnificent tales.


    Evian Steel 

    by Jane Yolen

    The room in the smithy was lit only by the flickering of the fire as Mother Hesta pumped the bellows with her foot. A big woman, whose right arm was more muscular than her left, Hesta seemed comfortable with tools rather than with words. The air from the bellows blew up a sudden large flame that had a bright blue heart.

    “See, there. There. When the flames be as long as an arrow and the heart of the arrowhead be blue, thrust the blade in,” she said, speaking to the new apprentice.

    Elaine shifted from one foot to another, rubbing the upper part of her right arm where the brand of Eve still itched. Then she twisted one of her braids up and into her mouth, sucking on the end while she watched, but saying nothing.

    “You’ll see me do this again and again, girl,” the forge mistress said. “But it be a year afore I let you try it on your own. For now, you must watch and listen and learn. Fire and water and air make Evian steel, fire and water and air. They be three of the four majorities. And one last thing—though I’ll not tell you that yet, for that be our dearest secret. But harken: what be made by the Daughters of Eve strikes true. All men know this and that be why they come here, crost the waters, for our blades. They come, hating it that they must, but knowing only at our forge on this holy isle can they buy this steel. It be the steel that cuts through evil, that strikes the heart of what it seeks.”

    The girl nodded and her attention blew upon the small fire of words.

    “It matters not, child, that we make a short single edge, or what the old Romies called a glagy-us. It matters not we make a long blade or a double edge. If it be Evian steel, it strikes true.” She brought the side of her hand down in a swift movement which made the girl blink twice, but otherwise she did not move, the braid still in her mouth.

    Mother Hesta turned her back on the child and returned to work, the longest lecture done. Her muscles under the short-sleeved tunic bunched and flattened. Sweat ran over her arms like an exotic chain of water beads as she hammered steadily on the sword, flattening, shaping, beating out the swellings and bulges that only her eye could see, only her fingers could find. The right arm beat, the left arm, with its fine traceries of scars, held.

    After a while, the girl’s eyes began to blink with weariness and with the constant probings of the irritating smoke. She dropped the braid and it lay against her linen shirt limply, leaving a slight wet stain. She rubbed both eyes with her hands but she was careful not to complain.

    Mother Hesta did not seem to notice, but she let the fire die down a bit and laid the partially finished sword on the stone firewall. Wiping her grimed hands on her leather apron, she turned to the girl.

    “I’m fair famished, I am. Let’s go out to garden where Mother Sonda’s set us a meal.”

    For more info on THE EMERALD CIRCUS, visit the Tachyon page.

    Cover design by Elizabeth Story

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