The Secret History of Fantasy
by Peter S. Beagle, ed.
Available Format(s): Trade Paperback
Shhhh. The secret is out.
Fantasy is more than just sword-and-sorcery novels of epic adventures. Here are innovative tales where mythology, fairy tales, and archetypes are reimagined into a new style of storytelling.
Anthologist Peter S. Beagle knows fantasy. The author of the inventive fantasy novel The Last Unicorn and the introduction to The Lord of the Rings now introduces the gifted writers that returned to the classics and thoroughly redefined the genre: Gregory Maguire, Francesca Lia Block, Robert Holdstock, Patricia McKillip, and Steven Millhauser, and others who have lead the way to expanding imaginative frontiers.
From the depths of a dangerous English forest to the top of the Tower of Babel, on a caffeinated journey to the empire of ice cream, discover The Secret History of Fantasy.
Peter S. Beagle is the best-selling author of The Last Unicorn, which has sold a reported five million copies since its initial publication in 1968. His other novels include A Fine & Private Place, The Innkeeper’s Song, and Tamsin. His short fiction has been collected in four volumes by Tachyon Publications, including The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche, The Line Between, We Never Talk About My Brother, and Sleight of Hand. He has won the Hugo, Nebula, Mythopoeic, and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire awards and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Praise for Peter S. Beagle
“…One of my favorite writers.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet
“Peter S. Beagle illuminates with his own particular magic such commonplace matters as ghosts, unicorns, and werewolves. For years a loving readership has consulted him as an expert on those hearts’ reasons that reason does not know.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness
“The only contemporary to remind one of Tolkien.”
“Peter S. Beagle is (in no particular order) a wonderful writer, a fine human being, and a bandit prince out to steal readers’ hearts.”
—Tad Williams, author of Tailchaser’s Song
“It’s a fully rounded region, this other world of Peter Beagle’s imagination…an originality…that is wholly his own.”
“[Beagle] has been compared, not unreasonably, with Lewis Carroll and J. R. R. Tolkien, but he stands squarely—and triumphantly on his own feet.”
—The Saturday Review
“Not only does Peter Beagle make his fantasy worlds come vividly, beautifully alive; he does it for the people who enter them.”
—Poul Anderson, author of The High Crusade
“Peter S. Beagle is the magician we all apprenticed ourselves to. Before all the endless series and shared-world novels, Beagle was there to show us the amazing possibilities waiting in the worlds of fantasy, and he is still one of the masters by which the rest of the field is measured.”
—Lisa Goldstein, author of The Uncertain Places and The Red Magician
“Peter S. Beagle would be one of the century’s great writers in any arena he chose; we readers must feel blessed that Beagle picked fantasy as a homeland. Magic pumps like blood through the veins of his stories. Imparting passionately breathing, singing, laughing reality to the marvelous is his great gift to us all.”
—Edward Bryant, author of Cinnabar
Praise for Sleight of Hand
“Multiple Hugo and Nebula award–winning Beagle opens readers’ eyes to wonder with his latest collection of 13 short stories. Each piece bridges the rich intersection of fantasy and fairy tale, reality and possibility, exploring predestination, fate, and the power of love through characters that come to vivid, three-dimensional life within a few short pages. Beagle’s lyrical writing is set in a wide range of landscapes both familiar and fresh, with twists on Jack and the Beanstalk, monsters and dragons, a singing enchantress, ghostly photographs, and a modern werewolf tale. ‘The Bridge Partner’ is more noir than fantasy yet fits within the collection quite well, as does the deeply chilling, experimental, and dark ‘Dirae.’ ‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon’ features two lost children and an encounter with an early version of Schmendrick the Magician from his classic novel, The Last Unicorn. Each story is introduced with some background about its origin.”
“This bittersweet collection of 13 recent stories pays tribute to the complicated power of family ties. ‘Sleight of Hand’ lauds the good magic of parental love, while ‘What Tune the Enchantress Plays’ shows its dark side. ‘Children of the Shark God’ addresses children’s influence on parents, and in ‘La Lune T’Attend’ a grandfather protects his descendants from the family’s longtime enemy. Slighter but still entertaining are ‘Up the Down Beanstalk,’ the nostalgia-heavy ‘The Rabbi’s Hobby’ (Brighton Beach Memoirs with magic), and ‘Oakland Dragon Blues,’ whose title character deserves better than his pat ending. The surprise hit of the collection is ‘The Bridge Partner,’ psychological horror in the best Twilight Zone tradition. Fans of The Last Unicorn will also appreciate ‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon,’ a Schmendrick prequel in classic bittersweet Beagle style.”
—Washington Post Book World
“This 13-story anthology will entice even the most jaded reader to read long hours into the night…. Sleight of Hand will beguile and enchant.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Beagle still has the power to surprise…a new collection of stories by one of the all-time greats.”
“Sleight of Hand is a strong collection by an author whose skill has only improved with time…a must-have.”
“Few can match [Beagle] when it comes to a particular mix of the fantastic and the ordinary, with a tinge of nostalgia. As one character observes, the magic is in the telling, always.”
“After reading Sleight of Hand, I know exactly why Beagle has this mythic reputation as one of the best of the best in fantasy and science-fiction literary circles. The man is amazing. Nearly every story in this collection was like a spell.”
“Demonstrates yet again why [Beagle’s] perhaps the finest fantasy writer at short lengths working today.”
“…not only one of our greatest fantasists, but one of our greatest writers, a magic realist worthy of consideration with such writers as Marquez, Allende, and even Borges.”
—The American Culture
“Engaging and wide-ranging selection of fantasies…the perfect book.”
“There’s quiet power here, and delicate craftsmanship, and most of all, a genuine emotional response that few short story collections can generate.”
—Green Man Review
Praise for A Fine & Private Place
“One of literature’s most beautiful works about ghostly times and places…told with wit, charm, and a sense of individuality.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Both sepulchral and oddly appealing…[Beagle’s] ectoplasmic fable has a distinct mossy charm.”
“A Fine & Private Place is just as wonderful as I remembered it to be: beautifully written, the characters warmly drawn, the pages filled with conversations that run the gamut of the human condition…. [I]t’s a great book in a lovely affordable package.”
—Fantasy & Science Fiction
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A sweet, sad, and smart novel about life, death, and love…a book that has endured for a reason.”
—The Agony Column
“A wonderful work of literature…a gem of a novel.”
“Over a cold beverage and a hot bowl of chili, Peter Beagle recently told me how he came to write A Fine & Private Place. He was just 19 years old at the time, the length of time that Mr. Rebeck spent in that cemetery. He was working as a counselor at a boys’ summer camp. Once the campers were settled for the night there wasn’t much for the counselors to do. Those who had sweethearts at the girls’ camp across the lake would borrow canoes and paddle across to see them. Peter had no such luck, he told me, so he warmed up his rattly little portable typewriter, cracked open a ream of paper, and starting writing a book. We are all incredibly lucky that Peter had no girlfriend that summer.”
—Dick Lupoff, SF Site
“One of the great fantasy novels of all time.”
“An amazing read…. If fantastically developed characters trapped between love and death appeal to you, this is a nearly perfect book.”
Visit the Peter S. Beagle website.