DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES showcases Patricia A. McKillip’s gorgeous prose

For the LIBRARY JOURNAL, Kristi Chadwick praises Patricia A. McKillip’s DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES.

A young couple trade odd stories in a bathroom as something rages outside. An artist calls upon his muse, who answers him through an unfinished painting. A musical band of witches takes on a dark force during their bar performance. The seven ethereal tales (including three new ones), collected here touch on people’s dreams and desires. Also featured is McKillip’s 2002 essay on writing high fantasy and Peter S. Beagle’s afterword, “Dear Pat,” an appreciation of McKillip’s work. VERDICT McKillip (Wonders of the Invisible World) once more enchants with this volume, which fantasy readers will devour as they are transported into ­multiple ­realities.

In 7 Essential New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Story Collections on the B&N SCI-FI & FANTASY BLOG, Sam Reader recommends the collection.

McKillip writing style ranks with the most beautiful and lyrical in
fantasy or elsewhere. In her long and celebrated career as a
fantasist, she has written some of classics of the genre—THE
FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, The Riddle Master series, and
IN SHADOW. This recent collection records some of her best shorter work,
including stories about an artist and his peculiar muse, an odd
storytelling session during a massive storm, haunted houses, and
mermaids. McKillip excels at layering sensory details into her work,
but beyond that, her prose is just gorgeous to behold, with each word
embellishing an ever richer tapestry before your eyes. Even if you’re
a long-time fan, DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES delves into
never-before-seen territory; it’s a chance to rediscover the work
of a master, all over again.

At her THE INFERIOR 4 blog, Lisa Goldstein further praises McKillip and her new book.

The new Patricia McKillip collection, DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES, is out. The blurb I wrote for it says, “You are about to encounter mysteries, monsters, jewels, songs, witches, a treasure chest of story.  Here are magic worlds, places of enchantment, and a wonderful, lyrical voice to guide you through them.”

Here’s something else I thought of since since I wrote that, though this is more about her overall career than a specific book.  There are a lot of people writing fantasy these days, but very few who can create myths, who can reach deep into the place where great stories come from.  McKillip is one of them.  If you like writers who speak the language of fantasy, I recommend this book (or any of her books, really) highly.

Patricia A. McKillip at Westercon 64 in the Fairmont San Jose Hotel on Saturday 2 July 2011 (Stephen Gold/Wikimedia Commons)

Patricia Mckillip produced the original essay “Unexpected Fires, Meddlesome Cats, and Other Cooking Disasters” for Tor.com.

I’ve been asked if I cook as well as I write about cooking.

It’s a fair question: I’ve been cooking almost as long as I’ve been writing. Writing was something I fell into, much like Alice down the rabbit-hole, when I was fourteen. I sat down one day to write myself a story instead of reading one, and thirty-two pages later—pencil and lined paper tablet—I finished my tale andrealized that my predictable world had expanded wildly, enormously, with endlessly diverging and intriguing paths running every which way into an unknown I suddenly knew existed. Having ended one story, (which is locked away, guarded by dragons and evil-eyed basilisks, and will never see the light of day if I have anything to say about it), I wanted to start all over again on another.

When or why I decided I needed to inflict culinary disasters on my long-suffering family and others I don’t remember.

My most vivid cooking memory, even after so many years, is setting my brother on fire with my Cherries Jubilee.


I think it was the amount of flour and honey involved in the recipe that I should have noticed some time before we sang Happy Birthday and I tried to cut the cake. It was like taking a knife-or a tooth- to a brick. There was no eating that birthday cake; it was meant for greater things, or would have been if I had been a better decorator. My sister decided she wanted to keep it anyway; it was her birthday and her gingerbread house. So she gave it a home on top of the chest of drawers in her bedroom. There it stayed for weeks, or maybe months, drooping slightly, loosing a cookie now and then, until one of the cats knocked it onto the floor and it was finally thrown away.

Cats and cakes combine in other memories, as when I made a chocolate cake (entirely edible) for my parents’ wedding anniversary. I frosted it with chocolate, and filched a jar of my father’s maraschino cherries he liked in his Manhattans. I cut the cherries in half and placed them decoratively all over the frosting on the top and sides of the cake. I left it on the table to be admired and went to do other important things. When I came back I saw the cat on the table gently picking the cherry halves off the cake and munching them down. I did the lightning thing with my hair and the thundery thing with my voice and the cat vanished. I contemplated the problem for a moment. Nobody else was around. I halved more cherries, stuck them on the empty spots on the chocolate, and everyone ate cake with enthusiasm, blissful in their ignorance.

For more info on DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by Thomas Canty