Swords and Dark Magic is coming…

Over at SF Signal John DeNardo has posted the second and third parts of his three-part Mind Meld where a whole bunch of editors discuss what they do when they compile anthologies. It ran way over length I suspect (which is kinda ironic), but it is interesting and well worth reading. Today my good friend and collaborator Lou Anders and I got to enjoy, for a fleeting moment, one of the more rewarding moments that anthologists get to experience: today we delivered a new book.

It’s probably  two years since Lou and I first discussed editing a definitive swords and sorcery anthology.  Separately we’d both been following the arrival of an exciting new generation of swords and sorcery writers on the scene. Steven Erikson had broken new ground with his epic Malazan series, and had been followed by many, many others: writers like Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Richard Morgan, K.J. Parker, and James Enge.  Lou was introducing Abercrombie’s work to the US at Pyr and I was consumed by the idea that there was a big book to be done, an equivalent to The New Space Opera that I’d just finished with Gardner Dozois, which would feature new work by the hot new writers, some vital writers who’d been around for a long time, and one or two left field selections.

I’m pretty sure discussions took place at World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs in 2007.  We went home, emailed back and forth, and then put together a proposal that caught the attention of Diana Gill at HarperEos. She could see, I think, the potential in the idea and gave us the green light to go ahead (I’ll always be grateful to her for that).  Lou and I then dove into the ‘new swords and sorcery project’, drawing up lists of people who ‘must’ be in the book, people who’d be exciting, and people who’d just be surprising.  Some writers weren’t available because of scheduling or because they were consumed by enormous novel writing projects, but a gratifying number saw the potential in the book too and wanted to be involved.

Over the past year stories have drifted in, slowly, and sometimes a little late.  Writers have had to drop out, while some have come on board happily and unexpectedly. The book then changed titles.  The original title, Conquering Swords, was a placeholder. A few months ago, in discussion with Diana, Lou and I proposed Swords and Dark Magic (an intended nod of the head to the late, great Fritz Leiber – oh how we’d love to have Fafhrd and the Mouser in this book!), and we knew that it was just right for the book we were doing.  And over the last month we’ve had exciting discussions about artists (Harper have been incredible about this and I am genuinely excited to see what’ll happen) and have had confirmation that Subterranean Press will do a limited edition of the book.  It even has a publication date. July 2010.

So today we delivered the manuscript of Swords and Dark Magic to Diana.  Our job is not over. Not by a long shot. But this is a pretty special moment. Oh, and yes, the excitement reminds and Lou and I might just have been seen in a bar in Montreal muttering things quietly to ourselves about second volumes and not being done yet.  We’ll have to see.