And finally, after looking at various award winners over the past year and articles about authors’ debuts and the novels published in 1979, it has come time to close out this series of articles with a look at some of the non-award winning short fiction published in 1979.
By 1979, Philip José Farmer had published the first three novels in his Riverworld series as well as a novelette set in the same world, entitled “Riverworld.” When he reprinted the novelette in 1979 in his collection Riverworld and Other Stories, Farmer expanded the story from 12,000 to 33,750 words, effectively publishing a new story in the popular series about humanity’s afterlife on an infinite river.
John M. Ford has made the news recently as the rights to reprint his all too few works, plus an unfinished novel, have been disentangled. In 1979 he published six stories in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (his first sale was in 1976). These stories included “Mandalay,” which kicked off his Alternities, Inc. series of stories, as well as “The Adventure of the Solitary Engineer” and “The Sapphire as Big as the Marsport Hilton.”
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro introduced her vampire, the Count Saint-Germain, in 1978 in the novel Hotel Transylvania. In 1979, she published her first short story about him, “Seat Partner,” detailing his experiences on an airplane, a far cry from the historical settings of the novels he usually inhabits.
The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. Presented variously for “Short Fiction” and “Short Story,” this award was given out each year the Balrogs were presented.
Roger Zelazny’s “The Last Defender of Camelot” places an eternal Sir Lancelot in the modern era, dealing with such enemies as street muggers. Unsure of why he has a long life, he wanders the globe aimlessly, adapting to the new world while remembering the glory that was Camelot and searching for the Holy Grail. A (possibly) chance meeting with a fortune teller who turns out to be an equally long-lived Morgana LeFay informs him that he will never succeed in finding the Holy Grail, but instead the reason for his long life is that Merlin is about to awaken from his millennia long sleep and will need Lancelot to provide him with a guide to this future world.