We’ve covered so many classic paperbacks here at Black Gate, in so many sub-genres, that I sometimes forget that our original focus was Heroic Fantasy. We’ve kept true to that promise (more or less) here on the website, although as a matter of course we’ve broadened our focus as the years have gone by.
But it’s good to be reminded from time to time that it was heroic fantasy that lured many of us into this field. This week’s reminder came in the form of a slender 1983 Ace paperback I found titled Heroic Visions. It collects sword & sorcery tales by Jane Yolen, Alan Dean Foster, F.M. Busby, Robert Silverberg, Michael Bishop, Joanna Russ, Phyllis Ann Karr — and a brand new Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser novella by Fritz Leiber. It was followed by a sequel, Heroic Visions II, with new stories from Thomas Ligotti, Manly Wade Wellman, Keith Roberts, Ellen Kushner, Michael Bishop, Avram Davidson, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and many others. Both are fine collections featuring some of the top fantasy writers of the 80s.
Jessica Amanda Salmonson had won a World Fantasy Award in 1980, for editing Amazons! Heroic Visions placed 6th on the 1984 Locus Poll for Best Anthology. Here’s the text from the back of Heroic Visions.
Heroes and Heroines
Heroic fantasy. The oldest, some say the primal, literary form… In this unique collection, some of today’s top fantasy and science fiction authors turn their talents to the thousand-times-told, but never finished, story of human hope and triumph that has been the favorite of readers from the time to Beowulf to today!
And here’s the complete table of contents.
Introduction by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
“The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars” by Fritz Leiber
“Sister Light, Sister Dark” by Jane Yolen
“Tales Told to a Toymaker” by Phyllis Ann Karr
“Prophecy of the Dragon” by Charles E. Karpuk
“Before the Seas Came” by F. M. Busby
“Thunder Mother” by Alan Dean Foster
“Dancers in the Time-Flux” by Robert Silverberg
“Sword Blades and Poppy Seed” by Joanna Russ
“The Nun and the Demon” by Grania Davis
“Vovko” Gordon Derevanchuk
“The Monkey’s Bride” by Michael Bishop
Heroic Visions was published by Ace Books in March 1983. It is 214 pages, priced at $2.75. The cover artist is uncredited.
Heroic Visions II was published three years later. The TOC is just as impressive:
Masterpieces of Heroic Fantasy: An Introduction, by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
“The Inn at the World’s End” by Keith Roberts
“Voices” by Michael Bishop
“Lazarus” by Ellen Kushner
“La Strega” by Richard A. Russo
“Honor” by Jody Scott
“The Lingering Minstrel” by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
“The Head of Shemesh the Eshurian” by Avram Davidson
“The Lion of Elirhom’s Anger” by Michael Nicholas Richard
“Eammon’s Banshee” by Gillian Fitzgerald
“The Slaughter of the Gods” by Manly Wade Wellman
“Cohen the Clam-Killer” by Steven Bryan Bieler
“The Word-Woman of Dza” by Grania Davis
“Masquerade of a Dead Sword” by Thomas Ligotti
Heroic Visions II was published by Ace Books in July 1986. It is 221 pages, priced at $2.95. The cover artist is Stephen Hickman.
Sadly, it was the last in the series.
See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.