THE VERY BEST OF TAD WILLIAMS demonstrates that he is a jack of all trades – and their master as well
[H]ere we have shorter offerings – sixteen stories and a hundred-and-twenty page screenplay called Sunshine. Only one story – ‘Omnitron, What Ho!’ – is original to this collection with the others first appearing in anthologies edited by the likes of Chris Golden, Jack Dann,
Gardener Dozois, Peter S. Beagle, George R.R. Martin, and even
The very first tale gets us into a light-hearted groove as ‘The Old Scale Game’ tells the story of a knight and dragon who are getting a bit old in the tooth and fang and come up with a scheme that benefits them both, much to the envy of other mythical creatures who are being hunted
to extinction. Similar scaly shenanigans are evident in ‘A Stark and Wormy Knight’ where an exasperated dragon mum has to recount the bedtime story of how Grand-Greatpap (there is some wonderfully intentional misuse of language throughout this story) managed to overcome the dogged Sir Libogan the Undeflectable.
The good humour isn’t maintained in all of the stories though. In ‘Not With A Whimper, Either’ online chat room banter turns into something more sinister that just might spell the end of the world, and in ‘The
Stranger’s Hands’ two foreigners are discovered in the forest – one of them has the power to make dreams come true, but possibly not exactly in a way the wisher intended, and such power inevitably attracts the attention of the greatest wizards in the land.
We are in Stephen King territory here with the dual timescale and the
close-knit group, but surely that can’t be a bad thing? What is bad are the events that unfold in ‘The Storm Door’; it reads like an old pulp hero tale smashing right up against a very modern horror
trope given a very original spin.
Throughout this collection Williams ably demonstrates that he is a jack of all trades – and their master as well. Damn him.
Read the rest of Hunter’s review in the latest issue of Interzone.
For more information on The Very Best of Tad Williams, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Kerem Beyit.
Design by Elizabeth Story