Vintage Treasures: Fire Watch by Connie Willis

Vintage Treasures: Fire Watch by Connie Willis

Fire Watch Connie Willis-small Fire Watch Connie Willis-back-small

Fire Watch was the first collection from Connie Willis, and it had a huge impact on the field. It came in second for the Locus Award for Best Collection in 1986 (beating out George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers, Larry Niven’s Limits, and Viriconium Nights by M. John Harrison, and losing out only to Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew). Its publication announced the arrival of a major new talent.

Willis  published over half a dozen additional collections in the next 30+ years, including the Locus Award-winning Impossible Things (1994), the monumental 740-page The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories (2007), and the Locus Award-winning The Best of Connie Willis (2013), but I think it’s fair to say that this is probably still her most famous.

The copy above is the the one I found at Half Price Books last month, and not the first paperback edition. Fire Watch was published in hardcover by James Frenkel’s Bluejay Books in 1985; the first paperback edition appeared from Bantam a year later (see that one below).

[Click the images to embiggen.]

Fire Watch Connie Willis Bantam Spectra 1986-small

1985 edition; cover by Roger Bergendorff

Still, I’m very fond of my 1998 reprint, mostly because of the stompin’ John Jude Palencar cover, which is brilliant. The inside flap includes a list of the other 9 Connie Willis titles Bantam Spectra had in print by 1998; across from that were one-sentence teasers for seven of the dozen stories contained within.

Fire Watch Connie Willis inside cover-small

Inside flap, with story descriptions

This is a stellar collection of 12 tales, including the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning title story, “Fire Watch,” which features a time-traveling student and is set in the same milieu as her award-winning novels Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog.

It also contains another Nebula Award winner (“A Letter from the Clearys”), one story original to the collection (“All My Darling Daughters”), and multiple award nominees. I’m embarrassed to admit that, aside from some Christmas tales and some scattered short stories, I haven’t read much Connie Willis, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this one straight through.

Here’s the complete TOC, with annotations on the various awards and nominations ‘n such.

“Fire Watch” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 15, 1982) — Hugo and Nebula Award winner
“Service for the Burial of the Dead” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1982)
“Lost and Found” (Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, January 1982)
“All My Darling Daughters” (1985) – original
“The Father of the Bride” (Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, May 1982)
“A Letter from the Clearys” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1982) — Nebula Award winner
“And Come from Miles Around” (Galileo, September 1979)
“The Sidon in the Mirror” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1983) — Hugo and Nebula nominee
“Daisy, in the Sun” (Galileo, November 1979) — Hugo nominee
“Mail-Order Clone” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1982)
“Samaritan” (Galileo, July 1978)
“Blued Moon” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, January 1984) — Hugo and Locus Award nominee

Our previous coverage of Connie Willis includes:

Vintage Treasures: Lincoln’s Dreams
Connie Willis Declines to Be a 2015 Hugo Award Presenter

Fire Watch was published in paperback by Bantam Spectra in April 1998. It is 272 pages, priced at $7.50. The cover is by John Jude Palencar.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

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Rich Horton

“All My Darling Daughters” was set to appear in NEW DIMENSIONS, I believe, after Marta Randall took over the anthology from Robert Silverberg (I think they did one issue in collaboration), but the publisher killed the series before the book came out.

It’s an exceptional collection.

R.K. Robinson

I see it’s also available on ebook.

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