Tachyon tidbits featuring Patricia A. McKillip, Peter S. Beagle, Jacob Weisman, Michael Swanwick, and Caitlín R. Kiernan
The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.
THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD was the first book by Patricia A. McKillip that I ever read. Two things struck me about it: it was different than any other fantasy I had read to that point, most of which were in the high-minded, seriously heroic mode, but written in “realistic” prose; and it was funny. I didn’t know fantasy could be funny. This was not the almost-tongue-in-cheek of L. Sprague de Camp or of Gordon Dickson’s dragon books, nor the edgy satirical vision of Fritz Leiber, but the result of sharp, contemporary dialogue that betrayed a sympathy for slapstick that came out of nowhere and left you gasping — think of it as the Marx Brothers meet The Fellowship of the Ring.
This is another one of those magical creations by McKillip that ostensibly fits into the young-adult fantasy mold but holds great wealth for adult readers as well. The themes are those that underlie the body of McKillip’s work: love, honesty, and the difficult and confusing business of growing into maturity. In many ways, this one sets the tone for later works: the diction is elliptical; dialogue slides effortlessly between sharp, off-the-wall responses and direct, uninflected poetry; magic is an assumption, evident as much in the telling of events as in anything the characters do; and the characters themselves are deftly and subtly drawn. And, as is usually the case, McKillip manages to pack a huge amount of story into a fairly slim book.
One of the magical things about this one is that it reads like a fairy tale. I’ve only seen a couple of authors pull this kind of thing off, and McKillip is one of them. The story of Sybel, Coren and Tamlorn has much the same quality as the best renderings of folk and fairy tales recorded by the Grimms or created by Andersen, fleshed out into a novel with real, living characters who never lose that feeling of otherness while behaving like normal human beings. (The other who comes to mind is Steven Brust in Brokedown Palace, although his manipulations of the form are equally masterful, but more readily apparent.)
If you are familiar with McKillip, this is a good one to read (or reread — it’s on that list). It’s a great starting point for a magnetic and magical writer, and it’s a good way to bring her other works into sharp focus. It’s also a terrific book all by itself.
THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman is an anthology that collects together nineteen short stories from up and coming writers in the fantasy genre. The collection includes several award winners and whilst most of the stories have appeared in other collections there is an original addition. In this anthology Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman bring together a wide selection of talent, with a broad range of topics – there is something for everyone in this collection – to create a stunning collection that will just draw you in. A perfect way to find new writers in the fantasy genre.
THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY starts with two entries from the editors. The first is an introduction by Jacob Weisman and serves as a summary of the anthology and a bit about why he and Beagle selected the stories. The second is by Peter S, Beagle and he talks about what got him into the fantasy genre, how the genre is changed, and what it’s like to be a fantasy author. I thought this was an interesting and insightful piece and well worth a read. I think Beagle and Weisman did a good job and created an interesting and balanced collection of stories that cover a lot of different voices. It’s definitely one for fans of the fantasy genre to add to their collection.
The stories here are mixed SF and fantasy. I felt it tilted towards a fantasy feeling, but that’s in large part because the SF is mostly post-apocalyptic, either part of Swanwick’s “Darger and Surplus” series or similarly motivated, with mysterious superpowerful AIs serving as “gods” and “demons” and along the way proving Arthur C. Clarke’s famous dictum.
More important than genre – for me at least, and I hope for any self-respecting reader as well – is the question of how good the stories are. They’re very good: emotionally resonant, pointed and precise, carefully crafted for maximum impact. Swanwick is one of our best short-story writers, in genre or out of it, and this is yet another example of why.
I don’t read a lot of short fiction these days – I read a lot less of everything than I did, back when I read for a living – so I’m not in any position to say any of you need to read anything in particular. But Swanwick is vital and important and great; if you read SF/fantasy short fiction at all, he’s someone to know and keep track of.
Before the ink even dried on the contract, Caitlín R Kiernan on her POSTCARDS FROM THE RED ROOM blog made this announcement.
Also, I haven’t yet mentioned that Tachyon Publications will be doing a “very best of” collection of my short fiction (approximately 150,000 words), distilled from the two Subterranean Press “best of” volumes, Two Worlds and In Between and Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea. I’ll post more information when I have it. We’ve yet to settle on a Table of Contents.
For more info about THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Camille André
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
For more info on NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story