In The Last of His Kind and Other Stories I’ve collected together pieces that have appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and several anthologies from Rogue Blades Entertainment. It begins with my first sale, ‘The Wyrd of War.’
Whether it is war against the fantastic forces of Hell itself, or an inner war to define the worth of a man, ‘The Last of His Kind and Other Stories’ presents seven stories of dark fantasy and sword & sorcery that test our very expectations of the fantasy tale. From honorable heroes facing otherworldly dangers, to hard men living by a personal code, the characters in these stories navigate fantastic landscapes of violence, madness, war, and fate.
The Wyrd of War
Shadow of the Demonspawn Emperor
Above the Dark Wood
The Killer’s Face
The Last of His Kind
The Tale of Gerroth the Damned
By Hellish Means
People tend to always have something to say about the ending of ‘The Last of His Kind,’ but I’ve always felt it was inevitable myself. But then, I would, wouldn’t I? I’ve got a lot of fondness for that story, which I wrote for a themed anthology which rejected it. Sold it to another market, which folded, but not before they paid me for it. Then it ended up in good hands at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, where it was nominated for the very short-lived Harper’s Pen Award (originally called the Ham-Sized Fist Award!), which it lost to a Black Gate tale from the perennially-awesome John C. Hocking, with whom I had the pleasure of working on a semi-aborted book project a few years ago.
Having finally made up my mind as to what form my first collections would take (big or small, fat or thin, frail or stout… you get the idea) I spent the last few weeks going through my short stories with a jeweler’s glass and pair of tweezers to make sure every comma was true and every em-dash beautiful. Needless to say this caused an excess of swearing and drinking on my part but, in the end, the process also birthed five ‘mini-collections’ of around thirty thousand words or so (or ninety pages, if you’re into pages).
So, since I will absolutely never, ever be saying this again I thought I’d say it now — I just published five books.
Only a few months ago Iain Banks found out he had terminal cancer, and announced it on his site — and today he died. He was an amazing and imaginative writer and, though he died much too young at the age of 59, his tremendous body of work lives as a testament to his drive and vision.
Here is a short video in which Banks takes us on a tour of his office. He describes himself as ‘water-fueled,’ playing against the boozy rep of certain scribblers, but for my part I think today’s news calls for something a bit stronger and a lot more Scottish than that.
So I see it’s basically been six months since I updated this blog, at least by the way I reckon time (November basically being December, and December meaning the year is over, so it’s essentially January of 2013 right now and I’m only just getting over a terrible hangover from New Year’s Eve, even though I swore I wouldn’t do that to myself again this year) and I figured I should put something up here for the google bots to fondle.
Of course, I can never talk about all the secret CIA assassin stuff I fill my days with (not without having to contract a hit on myself, mind you), but I did get a treat in the mail today I thought I’d mention. The esteemed Wolfe scholar Michael Andre-Driussi has recently completed another of his wonderful companion books to the worlds of Gene Wolfe, and this time it’s a biggie on par with the irreplaceable Lexicon Urthus. Gate of Horn, Book of Silk is a companion to the Long Sun/Short Sun cycle and, even after just a light flip through, I can tell this is another must-have for Wolfe aficionados.
But this isn’t a review, or even a plug, more of a promise for a proper review sometime in the future, most likely at Black Gate. Thinking along those lines though makes me realize just how long it’s been since I read these fantastic series — over ten years since a reread of New Sun and even longer for Long and Short. Hell, I don’t think I’ve read Short Sun since it was originally released, and I actually read them as they came out.
So I guess I have twelve books to reread on top of everything else — which means maybe it’ll be another six months (my time) before I have anything to say here.
Dossouye: The Dancers of Mulukau will feel a bit like new territory for fans of Charles R. Saunders. Unchanged, of course, is the terrific action and imagination of Saunders, and the fidelity to character and setting — indeed everything there is to love about Saunders’ Imaro and Dossouye stories is evident in this latest offering. But The Dancers of Mulukau is Saunders’ first full-length sword & sorcery offering of recent years that is not based wholly or in part on existing material, and represents the Saunders of today, not of decades ago. After the various ups and downs of Saunders’ publishing career, it feels good to at last come to a place in which this author’s classic works are now safely preserved and easily available. Now he is able to move forward into as yet uncharted territory to tell new stories and develop new themes, reminding us once again why he must be counted among the giants of the field of heroic fantasy adventure fiction.
Dossouye herself is in new territory at the start of The Dancers of Mulukau. The story of how Dossouye, formidable warrior woman of the Abomey, came to leave her people and wander the land is told in the first book, a picaresque fix-up novel based on classic novellas penned by Saunders in the 70s and 80s, with additional unpublished material and a new story added for the book’s release in 2008. I won’t trouble to repeat much of what I said about Dossouye in my original review of that book, but readers can be assured that all of the hallmarks of those foundational stories have returned and are enlarged upon in The Dancers of Mulukau.
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