The last time I saw Howard Waldrop was in Seattle in July of 1997. I was in town with Marianne and some other friends, buying huge bags of cherries, strolling along the waterfront, checking out the Pike Street Markets and generally enjoying the place. Howard had come down from Oso, abandoning the fishing for a weekend, for a convention we were all attending. Somewhere in there I made a run across town in a cab to Lucius Shepard’s place to get some books signed, and I distinctly recall going to a party and John Berry and Eileen Gunn’s place, which I think Chip Delaney was supposed to attend.
Anyhow, I saw Howard a couple times, he read a great story, I gave him a framed copy of the cover of the collection of his that I’d published, and then the curtains of time closed on that period in my life. Between then and about a month ago I did stuff that I’ve talked about here before, and Howard moved home to Austin, published a bunch of stories and a couple books, and the world was ok. Happily, in assembling my two year’s bests for CHARLES and Liza at Locus Press gave me reason to get in touch with Howard again, so I called him in Austin and we had a good long chat. As it turned out, he wouldn’t be going to LA for WorldCon and I wouldn’t be going to Austin for World Fantasy, but he was writing a Robert E. Howard story and life was fine.
I pretty much figured that would, except for occasionally updating my unofficial Waldrop bibliography, take me out of Howard’s orbit for a couple years, or at least until the Saratoga World Fantasy next year. I was pretty happy, therefore, to get an email from Mike Walsh last week saying that he was working on one of the coolest projects ever: a best of Howard Waldrop. I’ve known Mike for maybe five years or so. We cross paths at World Con or World Fantasy each year, share a passion for good books generally and for the work of Howard Waldrop specifically, and have talked about working on a book together for years now. (For those of you who don’t know, Mike is the proprietor of Old Earth Books, and earned a permanent place in heaven for publishing Avram Davidson’s Limekiller!. ) When Mike said he was going to do a Waldrop best of, and that Howard had agreed, I was delighted. As is known, I love Howard’s work, and have long felt that he would be well served by a single volume best of, a Howard Waldrop Reader, if you will: a book that collected his best and most accessible stories in a single book, spanning his entire career. While ElectricStory had done a cool book a few years ago, Dream Factories and Radio Pictures, as an e-book and Wheatland did it as a print book a year or two back, no-one has yet done a book quite like this. And Mike said he was going to do it!
I was pretty excited and, over the past week or so, I’ve seen the details firm up and now it looks like it’s a fact. In November of this year Mike Walsh will publish Howard Waldrop’s Flying Saucer Rock and Roll… and Other Swell Stories: Selected Short Fiction 1980 – 2006. I’ve seen the table of contents for the book, and it’s a corker. More on this one when I can, but keep an eye out for it. It’s bound to be swell!