Not So Much, Said the Cat

Michael Swanwick

“Half Neil Gaiman, half Kelly Link, wonderfully unique.”
Book Riot  

In this much-anticipated new collection, Michael Swanwick (The Dog Said Bow-Wow) takes a feline turn—prowling the pages with grace, precision, and utter impertinence. The master of short science fiction takes us on whirlwind journeys across planets, time, and space, where magic and science co-exist in endless possibilities. Swanwick’s spectacular offerings are intimate in their telling, galactic in their scope, and delightfully-sesquipedalian in their verbiage.


Not So Much, Said the Cat

by Michael Swanwick

ISBN: 9781616962289

Published: August 2016

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital Books

A Washington Post Best New Science Fiction Pick

In this much-anticipated new collection, Michael Swanwick (The Dog Said Bow-Wow) takes a feline turn with grace, precision, and utter impertinence. The master of short science fiction takes us on whirlwind journeys across planets, time, and space, where magic and science co-exist in endless possibilities. Swanwick’s spectacular offerings are intimate in their telling, galactic in their scope, and delightfully-sesquipedalian in their verbiage.

In Not So Much, Said the Cat you’ll find time travelers from the Mesozoic partying ’til the end of time, and a calculus problem that rocks the ages. A supernatural horse-guardian journeys with a confused but semi-repentant troll. A savvy teenage girl wagers against the Devil, and is promptly set upon by the most unsuitable of suitors.

And of course, you’ll meet Beelzebub the cat, whose subtle influence may not be entirely benign.

Praise for Not So Much, Said the Cat

A Kirkus Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2016
An io9 15 Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Arriving This August
A Washington Post Best New Science Fiction Pick (August 2016)
A Book Riot Wonderful Book of 2016
A Barnes & Noble Blog Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Collections and Anthologies of 2016
2016 Locus Recommended Reading List


[STARRED REVIEW] “Another collection of speculative fiction from Swanwick (Chasing the Phoenix, 2015, etc.), one of a handful of writers whose short pieces are as impressive as their novels. Versatility, craftsmanship, a dollop of weird, and a delightfully askew sense of humor are key to the 17 pieces here, all of which appeared between 2008 and 2014, together with an introduction that illuminates the contents without revealing too much. Certain themes, of course, are authorial favorites, such as time travel, aliens, and artificial intelligence. There’s a man who, having suffered a crushing loss, finds solace after accidental contact with a time traveler; a group of time travelers hunkered down at the end of the Cretaceous period—where, oddly, nobody’s interested in the dinosaurs; and a scientist who finds a partner worthy of her genius. We also get a fascinating glimpse (which feels like a novel fragment) of a far future populated by humans and centipedelike aliens, narrated by the intelligent space suit of a woman who’s dead as the story begins; and another future where human lives resemble those in fairy tales while advanced, hidden AIs battle for supremacy. Elsewhere, in a literary-games vein, the characters in a fairy tale discuss whether they prefer to remain in books, and immortal, or enter history; there’s a famous Gene Wolfe story stripped down, turned inside out, and rebuilt to perfection; and, in a marvelous conceit, the writer Alexander Pushkin appears as he may have been—in an alternative universe. To round out the collection, we meet a dutiful young woman who, entering hell to challenge the devil to return her father, discovers that things are not as she assumed; Darger and Surplus, those good-hearted rogues with a propensity to shoot themselves in the foot, make an appearance, as does “The House of Dreams,” an entry from Swanwick’s splendid Mongolian Wizard e-book series. Tales that, through their extraordinary clarity of thought and expression, showcase precisely why this multiaward-winning author is held in such high regard.”

“Michael Swanwick shows his extraordinary range in Not So Much, Said the Cat (Tachyon) . . . Swanwick’s stories are wistful and weird, at times tragic yet still hopeful as the mythic and scientific intertwine.”
Washington Post

“Swanwick excels at satisfying conclusions that cause readers to take pause and consider the actions of the characters. Thoughtful, witty, and, at times, disturbing, this collection will appeal to those who enjoy short fiction, no matter the genre.”

“An entertaining read from beginning to end, with plenty of tales to amuse, making for a great collection of short stories. Besides, who wouldn’t want to spend some time with a sly seductive circus performer, some con artists and a robotic scarecrow with a conscience, and all without leaving the comfort of your sofa!”

“[Swanwick’s] writing is flawless and creative, his characters incredibly well-developed for short stories, and the descriptive nature of his text can make you feel as if you’re living in these other worlds right along with the characters.”
Times Union

“Ultimately, I think what strikes me most forcefully about Swanwick’s fiction, aside from his fresh yet historically resonant conceits, is its elegance and economy. Per the definition of the perfect short story, not a word is extraneous or wasted, not one element of plot inessential.”
—Paul Di Filippo, Locus

“You think you’re getting the kind of hors d’oeuvre many short stories deliver. But settle down, you’re in for a full gourmet meal that makes you feel as if you’ve just enjoyed a novel and lost a friend when you’ve finished it.”
Strange Alliances

“This collection of short stories by five time Hugo award winning author Michael Swanwick is simply a delight to read . . . It’s a rare glimpse into how short stories should be constructed, and I guarantee, they’ll leave you thinking well after each story is done.”
Open Book Society

“Half Neil Gaiman, half Kelly Link, wonderfully unique.”
Book Riot

“Swanwick can move between genres so effortlessly and so competently that there’s no need for limitations.”
Green Man Review

“OK—it’s official. Michael Swanwick is a god. He makes worlds that work, every tick and tock of them. He makes people who cry, sweat, puke, fall in love, die in conceivable ways. He’s smart and crafty, passionate and wily. Both trickster and life-giver. He creates and uncreates. And yes, he brings Light. If I don’t exactly worship him, I read every story of his I can get my hands on. So thanks, Tachyon for bringing me more stories—some old favorites, some I hadn’t read before. Because gods need their readers, and God knows, I need more Swanwick.”
—Jane Yolen, author of Briar Rose

“I would effuse about the excellence of the stories within this collection—Michael Swanwick’s eleventh such—for they are by turns shocking, delightful, puckish, innovative, and electric. . . . However, I am too busy plotting how to steal the devil’s stone (given to him by a Siberian shaman) that Michael keeps by his typewriter in order to unlock his writing power, all without disturbing his cat.”
—Fran Wilde,  author of Updraft and Cloudbound

 “This is standard Swanwick, where the reader’s feet never quite touch the ground. Brilliant.”
—Jack McDevitt, author of The Engines of God

“Michael Swanwick is one of our most reliably entertaining and provocative writers.”
—Greg Bear, author of Darwin’s Radio

“Is there any SF writer, living or dead or cryonically suspended, who rivals Michael Swanwick for sheer virtuosity? I think not. From the hard-sf poignancy of ‘The Woman Who Shook the World Tree’ to the Borgesian high jinks of ‘The Man in Gray,’ from the beguiling folk fantasy of ‘The Dala Horse’ to the post-cyberpunk intensity of ‘Libertarian Russia,’ from the Bulgakov-inflected phantasmagoria of ‘Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown’ to the psychological realism (and biological surrealism) of ‘Passage of Earth’—I could go on—Not So Much, Said the Cat reveals an author who is a Jack-of-all-genres and their master as well.”
—James Morrow author of Galápagos Regained 

“Speculative fiction is such a deep, wide ocean, that no matter how much one explores, one will always find something more. Michael Swanwick’s new anthology, Not So Much, Said the Cat is a beautiful, brilliant pearl.”
The Reading Desk

 “A perfect marriage of classic stories and bleeding edge tech, from godlike continental AIs to the abolishment of time, clever discourse on libertarianism and zero-sum economics in a mirroring tale of humanity and alien bugs, fairy tales and one of the best futuristic con-games I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming.”
—Brad K. Horner

“I fell head-over-heels in love with this collection of stories.”
Lipstick and Libraries

“A whirlwind of stories that take you across the world, through different pockets of time, and into a sample of the lives being lived, Not So Much, Said the Cat is an excellent compilation. Swanwick’s latest book is a delight to read, both entertaining and insightful.”
Pooled Ink

“True to form, Swanwick’s collection is eclectic, charming, and moving.”

“This magnificent collection is essential reading material to those who love quality and originality. The stories contained within its covers are simply marvellous and offer plenty of entertainment, excellent prose, memorable scenes and thought-provoking moments to readers.”

“Swanwick writes clear, elegant prose that is a joy to read, and excels at creating lifelike characters. Each story is a complete work of art.”

“Speculative fiction is such a deep, wide ocean, that no matter how much one explores, one will always find something more. Michael Swanwick’s new anthology, Not So Much, Said the Cat is a beautiful, brilliant pearl.”
The Reading Desk

“This collection proves that Swanwick is a name that should be mentioned every time people speak of Gaiman, Link, Shepard, Martin or Harlan Ellison. And Not So Much, Said the Cat is a collection that should be in every home.”
On Books and Writing

“A very strong and entertaining collection of Swanwick’s more recent stories.”

“Each story is exquisite, the perfect density of plot, carefully crafted, beautifully executed.”

“If you read The Phantom Tollbooth as a child then Not So Much, Said the Cat is probably something you would be interested in!”
Daily Toast

“Any collection by the inventive and mischievous Michael Swanwick is a treasure, and Not So Much Said the Cat is a special treat…”
Locus, Year in Review

“Swanwick’s latest story collection shows off the author’s impressively wide range.”
Asimov’s SF

“[Swanwick]  is a short story writer on the order of Theodore Sturgeon, Shirley Jackson, and Roger Zelazny. . . enticing and delighting and horrifying all at once.
New York Review of Science Fiction

“The newest collection of Michael Swanwick’s work is a brilliant compilation of science fiction and fantasy.”
Foundation 126, University of Liverpool

“Michael Swanwick once again proves that he is a master of short fiction.”
Literary Debauchery

“Speculative fiction is such a deep, wide ocean, that no matter how much one explores, one will always find something more. Michael Swanwick’s new anthology, Not So Much, Said the Cat is a beautiful, brilliant pearl.”
The Reading Desk

About the Author

Michael Swanwick is one of the most acclaimed science-fiction and fantasy short-story writers of his generation, having received an unprecedented five Hugo Awards in six years. He is also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon and World Fantasy awards. Swanwick’s novels include The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, a New York Times Notable Book, and the Nebula Award–winning Stations of the Tide. His short fiction has appeared in many venues, including OMNI, Penthouse, Amazing, Asimov’s Science Fiction, New Dimensions, and Full Spectrum, and his work has been translated into more than ten languages. Swanwick is currently at work on a third novel set in Industrialized Faerie. He lives in Pennsylvania.

Praise for Michael Swanwick

“Swanwick’s wildly imaginative and beautifully written short stories have been, for several years, one of the primary joys of the field.”
Washington Post Book World

“One of contemporary sf’s greatest short-story writers.”

“One of the most powerful and consistently inventive short story writers of his generation.”
—Gardner Dozois, editor of the Year’s Best Science Fiction series

“An amazingly assured writer, seemingly incapable of writing a sentence that isn’t interesting in itself, in addition to the way it moves the sentence forward.”
New York Review of Science Fiction

“Michael Swanwick is darkly magnificent.”
—Jack McDevitt, author of The Engines of God

“Swanwick’s prose takes no prisoners.”
Time Out Chicago

Praise for the collection The Dog Said Bow-Wow

“By turns funny, clever, mysterious, and possessing hidden depths, the stories in Swanwick’s latest collection demonstrate he’s at the top of his game. Delightful, thoughtful work, sure to please his readers.”
—Jeff VanderMeer, author of Annihilation

Starred Review “In addition to their individual quality, the 16 stories in this rollicking collection amply demonstrate Hugo-winner Swanwick’s impressive versatility . . . intriguing characters and lovingly told stories.”
Publishers Weekly

“Witty, smart, challenging, marveling in off-beat invention and beautifully written….”
SF Site, Featured Review

“…surpassingly brilliant . . . storytelling of the highest order.”

Praise for The Dragons of Babel

Starred Review “Modern fantasy at its fines . . . Swanwick introduces us to a wide range of marvelous conceits, fascinating digressions and sparkling characters … should hold great appeal for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys or China Mieville’s novels.”
Publishers Weekly

Starred Review “In his long-awaited sequel to the convention-shattering Iron Dragon’s Daughter, Swanwick continues to turn traditional ideas of Faerie life upside down while remaining true to ancient Celtic Faerie lore . . . masterfully written.”
Library Journal

Praise for Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures

“[M]iniaturized, tightly compressed fictions that are alternately startling, funny and mysterious, and often possess the resonance of especially vivid dreams. . . . [a] whimsical, wonderfully eccentric collection.”
Washington Post Book World

“Felicities, surprises, bon-mots, witticisms, epiphanies, goodies of every description.”
Fantastic Metropolis

Praise for Dancing with Bears

Dancing With Bears is an amazing, entertaining dip into a distinctively imagined future.”
—Jay Lake, author of Mainspring

“Swanwick has a light touch, and therefore manages to pull off something unlikely: a buddy comedy set in post-apocalyptic Russia. . . .”

“Michael Swanwick’s Dancing With Bears is what Dostoyevsky would have written, if he’d ever attempted a post-apocalyptic steampunk-esque comedy of manners-slash-heist-story. . . .”
—Green Man Review

Visit the Michael Swanwick website.

Table of Contents
Introduction by Michael Swanwick

Steadfast Castle
The Man in Grey
The Dala Horse
The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree
Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown
3 A.M. in the Mesozoic Bar
Passage of Earth
From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled . . .
For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone of Loneliness and I’ll Not Be Back Again
Libertarian Russia
The Scarecrow’s Boy
The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin
Goblin Lake
Pushkin the American
An Empty House with Many Doors
Tawny Petticoats
The House of Dreams

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