Ellen Klages – Portable Childhoods

I think the first time that I read a story of Ellen Klages‘s was when Gordon Van Gelder published her novelette “Basement Magic” a few years ago. It went on to win the Nebula Award, and I started to hunt out her older stories and look for new ones.

One of my favorite stories of Ellen’s, and one my favorite stories published last year, was “In the House of the Seven Librarians”. I read it sitting on a plane flying from Chicago to Oakland while listening to Sufjan Stevens Greetings from Illinoise. I remember clearly that it was bright and sunny outside and that Charles was already asleep. I’d been given a galley of Sharyn November‘s Firebirds Rising (one of the top three anthologies of the year), and was working my way through it. Ellen’s tale of a young girl raised by feral librarians was charming, delightful and heartwarming. I loved it so much I’m reprinting it (along with a Kelly Link story from the same book) in my Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year.

And then Sharyn sent me a copy of Ellen’s novel, The Green Glass Sea. It’s a smart, insightful story about a young girl growing up at Los Alamos in the 1940s. There’s a great review of the book by Gary Wolfe in Locus which sums up what I think pretty well. It’d easily sit in the top ten books I’ve read in 2006, and I think it stands a great chance of still being read in twenty years time.

Jacob Weisman’s Tachyon Publications, who get my pick for the most improved independent press of the last five years, are going to publish a collection of Ellen’s short fiction, Portable Childhoods in April of 2007. When I saw Ellen in Oakland in August she said there’d be at least one, if not two, original stories in the book. I can’t wait for it. Klages is one of our best short story writers, and the book promises to be a real highlight of 2007.