While I was at the World Fantasy Convention last November, I kept being irresistibly sucked into the Dealers Room. Seriously, the place was like a giant supermarket for fantasy fans. There were thousands of new and used books on display from dozens of vendors — books piled high on tables, books crammed into bookshelves, books being pressed into your hands by enthusiastic sellers.
When I came home I moped around for a few days, and then mocked up some HTML pages with dozens of thumbnail jpegs of books so I could pretend I was still at the convention. I waved a crisp twenty dollar bill in front of my computer screen and said things like, “I’ll take the new Moorcock collection, my good man.” I even haggled over the price of The Treasury of the Fantastic. Truly, it felt like I was there.
That wore off after a few months, but I still have all the jpegs. So I thought I’d share them with you, so you too could feel what it was like to wander the crowded aisles of the Dealers Room and gawk at beautiful new releases you never knew existed, and pretend to haggle over a copy of Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard. You’re welcome.
Today I’ve replicated the Tachyon booth, which was staffed by the friendly folks of Tachyon Publications, out of San Francisco. Tachyon is one of my favorite small presses — not only do they produce very attractive and collectible books, but they showcase some of the best writers in the business. They have an affinity for short story collections, and they’ve produced some of the best anthologies for heroic fantasy fans in the past few years, including the comprehensive The Sword & Sorcery Anthology and the mammoth Epic.
I came home with a number of books from the Tachyon table this year, but not nearly as many as I wanted. Three that got away were the mammoth 720-page The Treasury of the Fantastic, edited by David Sandner and Tachyon publisher Jacob Weisman, the latest novel by National Book Award-winner Lisa Goldstein, The Uncertain Places, and The Best of Michael Moorcock, which collects a generous sample of short fiction by one of the finest fantasists alive today. Here’s the blurb on the back of the Moorcock collection:
From the legendary author of the Elric saga, a Science Fiction Grand Master, a platinum album–receiving rock star, and the controversial editor of the new wave’s New Worlds, this definitive collection captures the incomparable short fiction of one of science fiction and literature’s most important contemporary writers.
These exceptional stories range effortlessly from the genre tales that continue to define fantasy to the author’s critically acclaimed mainstream works. Classic offerings include the Nebula Award–winning novella “Behold the Man,” which introduces a time traveler and unlikely messiah that H.G. Wells never imagined; “The Visible Men,” a recent tale of the ambiguous and androgynous secret agent Jerry Cornelius; the trilogy “My Experiences in the Third World War,” where a Russian agent in an alternate Cambodia is powerless to prevent an inevitable march toward nuclear disaster; and “A Portrait in Ivory,” a Melibone story of troubled anti-hero Elric and his soul-stealing sword, Stormbringer.
Newer work handpicked by the expert editing team includes one previously unpublished story and three uncollected stories. With his finest stories finally collected in one volume, this book is a long-overdue tribute to an extraordinarily gifted, versatile, and much-beloved author.
I still kick myself for not getting it. It’s always the books that get away that you regret the most.
Tachyon has reprinted many fantasy classics over the years, including Tim Powers 1989 novel The Stress of Her Regard, which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. A tale of ancient vampires whose origins date back to Greek mythology, and with characters that include the Romantic poets Byron and Shelley, The Stress of Her Regard is a secret history novel, and the Tachyon edition is newly revised by the author.
Nancy Kress’s Yesterday’s Kin was nominated for a Nebula Award yesterday — one of two novellas published by Tachyon last year to be so honored. I can’t really do the description justice, so I’ll just include the whole thing:
Aliens have landed in New York. After several months of no explanations, they finally reveal the reason for their arrival.
The news is not good.
Geneticist Marianne Jenner is having a career breakthrough, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Her children Elizabeth and Ryan constantly bicker, agreeing only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Her youngest, Noah, is addicted to a drug that keeps temporarily changing his identity. The Jenner family could not be further apart. But between the four of them, the course of human history will be forever altered.
Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent a disaster — and not everyone is willing to wait.
I wrote about Kate Elliott’s long-awaited first short story collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott back in November. It contains stories published over two decades, including many that are long out of print, four essays appearing for the first time, and a brand new Crossroads story.
One of my favorite anthologies of the last few years was Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 30th Anniversary Anthology, edited by Sheila Williams, which collects some of the finest stories published in the last three decades in my favorite SF magazine. It’s now out of print, but well worth tracking down if you can find a copy.
One book that didn’t get away was I was in the dealer’s room this year was Peter Watts’ Beyond the Rift, a new collection of short stories by one of the most acclaimed young voices in science fiction.
Skillfully combining complex science with finely executed prose, these edgy, award-winning tales explore the always-shifting border between the known and the alien.
The beauty and peril of technology and the passion and penalties of conviction merge in stories that are by turns dark, satiric, bold, and introspective. A seemingly humanized monster from John Carpenter’s The Thing reveals the true villains in an Antarctic showdown. An artificial intelligence shields a biologically-enhanced prodigy from her overwhelmed parents. A deep-sea diver discovers that her true nature lies not within the confines of her mission but in the depths of her psyche. A court psychologist analyzes a psychotic graduate student who has learned to reprogram reality itself. A father tries to hold his broken family together in the wake of an ongoing assault by sentient rainstorms.
Gorgeously saturnine and exceptionally powerful, these collected fictions are both intensely thought-provoking and impossible to forget.
Joe R. Lansdale’s anthology Crucified Dreams, described as a collection of Urban Horror, contains 19 short stories, many of them modern horror classics — including Stephen King’s “Quitters, Inc,” Harlan Ellison’s “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” Octavia Butler’s “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” David Morrell’s “Front Man,” Norman Partridge’s “The Mojave Two-Step,” Joe Haldeman’s “The Monster,” and many others.
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever is one of the most important science fiction collections of the 20th Century, by one of the most brilliant SF writers of all time, James Tiptree, Jr. There’s been a great deal written about Tiptree (whose real name was Alice B. Sheldon) over the last ten years, but in that time virtually all of her collections have remained out of print — except this one, a comprehensive survey of her best work. If you don’t own a copy already, you need to rectify that ASAP.
Michael J. Sullivan’s fantasy novels include the five volumes of The Riyria Chronicles (Theft of Swords and its sequels). His latest novel is Hollow World, published in April of last year.
Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but faced with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. Ellis could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began… but only if he can survive Hollow World.
I’ve know Rick Klaw since my days as editor of SF Site, where his regular column Geeks with Books was one of our most popular features. Rick’s writing was insightful and often hilarious, and he collected his SF Site columns in his book Geek Confidential, before turning to fiction and editing. One of his most recent projects is The Apes of Wrath, an anthology of seventeen fantasies featuring apes.
Michael Swanwick has produced no less than ten collections, starting with Gravity’s Angels, published in 1991 by Arkham House. His first collection for Tachyon was Tales of Old Earth (2000), followed by Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures (2003), Michael Swanwick’s Field Guide to the Mesozoic Megafauna (2004), and The Dog Said Bow-Wow (2007). If you’re new to Swanwick, I highly recommend The Dog Said Bow-Wow, which contains a range of SF and fantasy, including three Hugo Award–winning stories and an original novelette of swashbuckling adventure, “The Skysailor’s Tale.”
Great literature has never been this much fun before. The reigning master of short fiction reinvents science fiction and fantasy in a dazzling new collection unlike anything you’ve ever read. Time-traveling dinosaurs wreak havoc on a placid Vermont town. An ogre is murdered in a locked room in Faerie. An uncanny bordello proves as dangerous as it is alluring. Language is stolen from the builders of Babel. Those strangely loveable Post-Utopian scoundrels and con men Darger and Surplus swindle their way through London, Paris, and Arcadia.
When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.
Shai is given an impossible task: to create — to Forge — a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal counselor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.
Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape…
Tachyon seems to have no difficulty getting their novellas on award ballots. They’re beautifully packaged, too, which never hurts.
Tad Williams is known primarily for his epic fantasy, including the five-volume Shadowmarch series, and his more recent The Dirty Streets of Heaven. It’s great to see him finally get his first short story collection, The Very Best of Tad Williams, a fat 430-page volume published last May.
We’ve discussed The Sword & Sorcery Anthology several times here at Black Gate — it’s perhaps the most comprehensive survey of S&S published in the last few decades. It was edited by David C. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman, who did a fine job selecting classic sword & sorcery from Robert E. Howard, George R.R. Martin, Fritz Leiber, C.L. Moore, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Karl Edward Wagner, Poul Anderson, David Drake, and many others.
Speaking of comprehensive anthologies, I’d be remiss not to mention The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2, edited by Gordon van Gelder. I bought the first volume back in 2009, and was tremendously impressed. The second volume contains fiction by Charles de Lint, Stephen King, Jane Yolen, Paolo Bacigalupi, Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, Ken Lio, Robert Silverberg, and many others.
If I could recommend only one recent Tacyhon anthology, I think it would have to be John Joseph Adams’ monumental Epic: Legends of Fantasy, published in October 2012, and nominated for the World Fantasy Award the following year. Clocking in at over 600 pages, and filled with adventure fantasy from the best modern practitioners — including Patrick Rothfuss, George R. R. Martin, Tad Williams, Michael Moorcock, Mary Robinette Kowal, and N. K. Jemisin — it’s a feast for every fan of the genre. Check out the complete table of contents here, and our prior coverage here.
What John Joseph Adams did for adventure fantasy, Peter S Beagle and Joe R Lansdale did for urban fantasy in the 2011 volume The Urban Fantasy Anthology. It contains stories by Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, Kelley Armstrong, Carrie Vaughn, Suzy McKee Charnas, Thomas M. Disch, Susan Palwick, Tim Powers, and many others.
Avram Davidson was not really known for horror — but that changed after The Boss in the Wall was published in May 1998. Based on a dream Davidson had, and co-written with his wife, it was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novella. Amazon reports it as out of print, but copies are currently listed in the Tachyon online catalog — grab them while you can.
I mentioned above that two recent Taychon publications had just received Nebula nods — the other one was Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine, the tale of a support group for people who have survived horror-movie traumas. It was one of the first books I purchased after walking into the Dealers Room, and the first one I wrote about when I returned.
Peter Beagle has done several acclaimed projects with Taychon over the years. His first anthology was The Secret History of Fantasy, a strong collection of overlooked fantasy that appeared in 2010.
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.
Beagle has published a number of highly acclaimed short stories over the last decade, and Tachyon has produced no less than three collections, The Line Between (2006), We Never Talk about My Brother (2009) and Sleight of Hand (2011). I brought Sleight of Hand home with me from the convention, and I’ve slowly been savoring it. It is packed with delights — including a brand-new tale of Schmendrick the Magacian, set before The Last Unicorn.
I’ve showcased six publishers who displayed their products at the World Fantasy Convention and Worldcon so far:
Twenty Years of Smart Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Tachyon Publications Catalog
Bringing Neglected Classics Back Into Print: The Horror Catalog of Valancourt Books
The Best Pulp Horror and Weird Tales: The Fantasy Catalog of Hippocampus Press
Embrace the Odd: The Fantasy Catalog of ChiZine Publications
The Recent Best: The Fantasy Catalog of Prime Books
The Wonders of Fairwood Press
Jacob Weisman and his team at Tachyon are one of the most consistently excellent fantasy publishers on the market. Their upcoming titles include books by Nalo Hopkinson, Peter V. Brett, Kelley Armstrong and Alastair Reynolds. They richly deserve your support. See their complete catalog and order copies at their website.