Saturday night…

It’s December. It’s raining outside on a Saturday night, two weeks shy of Christmas. Robert Sheckley just died, and the list of things that I have done lately is so much shorter than the list of things that I have to do, that I’m almost too embarrassed to mention it. Had a lovely chat with Simon, who is coming to Brisbane (aren’t you?) I think, if Sean is up for it, we’ll induct him into the International Society of the Little Pink Drink, expanding the membership in time for a full meeting of the Society in Saratoga. Tomorrow I’ll talk to CHARLES (who, on his occasional appearance here always appears in CAPS), which will be good.

In the meantime, I’m reading Sharyn November’s Firebirds Rising. It’s her second anthology, a follow on from the very fine Firebirds from a couple years back. I’ve not reached the end of the book yet (through no fault of the book’s), but have been struck by a string of very strong stories that sit close to the middle of the book. The best story in the book so far, and the best I’ve read so far that will be published in 2006, is Ellen Klages’ remarkable and lovely story “In the House of the Seven Librarians”. It’s the story of a library that is closed when a new building is opened on the other side of town, and how seven librarians move into the abandoned, but still functional building. As they settle into it, getting supplies and so on, a young baby is mysteriously left as payment for an overdue book fee. The story of how these women raise the child, the person the child becomes and such is utterly charming, without being sentimental at all. It is the kind of story that is done so well that it stands completely alone, but part of you secretly hopes it’s the prologue to an even more wonderful novel. Diana Wynne Jones’ “I’ll Give You My Word” is not quite as wonderful as Ellen Klages’s story, but it’s good. Jethro has a brother, Jeremy, who has some kind of language problem, answering questions with strange, complicated, seemingly irrelevant responses. Of course, they’re nothing of the kind, and Jeremy’s vocabulary proves very hand indeed. And then there’s Kelly Link’s “The Wizards of Perfil”, a story about a young woman sold into servitude by her mother and taken across country to serve one of the enigmatic wizards who live in tall stony towers in the marshes of Perfil, and are assisted only by young children. The wizards refuse to become involved in what’s happening in the country around them, but that may not be something that they can keep up in the face of the armies moving around them. There are other good stories in the book by the likes of Tamora Pierce, Sharon Shinn, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman, but these three are worth the price of admission to this book by themselves. In fact, I’ve got a rather battered looking galley (I’ve carried it literally half way round the world) and will almost definitely buy a copy of the book when it comes out in a couple months. At the moment, it’s a very strong contender for best fantasy anthology of the year. Check it out.
And now, back to work on Sophie’s book. She’s four, and she likes to write books with me. It’s sweet.

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