Generalized ineptitude/updatitudinal

Fri 29 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Friday afternoon and the tree limbs are scraping against the window. How did they get here, to the 54th floor? We send one of the temp typographers over to open the window and he is never seen again. Did he run out to get more ink, or did the trees take him? The light is yellow, burning, and our secret HQ’s engines aren’t responding. We have done our Scotty imitation but so far we are stuck. And the tree branches are scraping, scraping.

Kelly Link and Shelley Jackson read tonight at Amherst Books in Amherst, MA, and next Sunday at KGB Bar in NYC. They read last night at Newtonville Books with Kelley Kerney (who read from her funny and dark first novel Born Again). Newtonville has a great reading series: Books and Brews. Smart peeps who know readings always go better with drinkies. Newtonville Books is also the spiritual home of a smart mag, Post Road, of which we are often enjoying.
LCRW 19 is becoming an item. The fun thing about this: it is the ten year anniversary issue. You will know because everything will be repeated 10 times. Times. Times. (Etc.) Table of contents, type of chocolate, still to be fully determined. Yes, we are pushing it. No, reviewers can’t get it yet. No one can.

Exciting LCRW news will be released to the tubes at some point. Until then go phone the White House and see if Mr. Stupid will explain his latest abuse of the constitution.

Incessantly listening to Thom Yorke. (There’s a site for his new CD, but it’s filled with flash and pdfs, so, really, what’s the point. That’s not browsing, that’s work.)

Good books and mags have been flooding in for this year’s Year’s Best. Now we are officially buried. Yay!

[Update] Good news about the 2006 edition: our editor reports the paperback edition just went back to press.
Big developers with no taste want to knock down Las Manitas restaurant in Austin, TX. How dumb is this? Does Marriott really want to close down a childcare facility and lose the best breakfast place for blocks around? Not a smart pr move. (Thanks for breaking our hearts, Robert.)

Git ye to an apple farm and pick.

Ellen Kushner signed book

Mon 25 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Ellen Kushner, The Privilege of the SwordWe kidnapped Ellen Kushner, whished her away to one of our secret locations in a sunny place, made her juice*, and asked her politely to sign some of her lovely swashbuckler The Privilege of the Sword. And, you know, she did. So, if you want a signed copy, now’s your chance! WordPress love: cut’n’pasted button below:

PS We have lots of other signed books, here.

* A lie. We made apple juice today and when we looked for Ellen, she was not to be found.

eye popping art

Sun 24 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Do you have hungry eyes? Would they like to partake of a feast? Charles Vess illustrated the upcoming Susanna Clarke collection, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and provides samples and comments. (Yes, these are the DVD extras and no you don’t have to pay for them.) At his blog, n’est pa? Charles, one of the loveliest people around, has also been blogging about giving Clare Danes art and so on. What fun.

Also, at some point last week someone pointed (sorry, no attribution) to the photos from the film adaption of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. You must go look at those pictures. Satrapi’s simple lines are genius (calling the MacArthurs!—although with the way her books are doing maybe she’s doing fine these days). More good news there: in October she has another slim volume out,
Chicken with Plums, about an uncle who died after his wife broke his favorite musical intstrument.

Text Edit, energy, stickers.

Tue 19 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

For anyone fed up with how slow Word can be, Jed Berry pointed us to this handy text editor: a modified version of TextEdit. Get the Ogre Kit extras too, set the preferences, and off we go.

Futurismic points to good energy news:

Since 2000, global wind energy generation has more than tripled; solar cell production has risen six-fold; production of fuel ethanol from crops have more than doubled; and biodiesel production has expanded nearly four-fold. Annual global investment in “new” renewable energy has risen almost six-fold since 1995, with cumulative investment over this period nearly $180 billion.

Cafe Press updates (very irregular):

Catch up time

Mon 18 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Thoughtful and excellent review of Skinny Dipping:

“An impressive and darkly humorous debut collection—well worth every baby sacrificed in the making.” — Diagram

Calendar: Kelly is on the west coast this week and Ellen Kushner reads at KGB in NYC on Wednesday.

Exciting travel news: Kelly will be going to Italy in December to take part in the Turin Rome World Book Capital Program. She’ll be reading or doing events in Turin, Milan, and Rome. This is in between two other events, the small/indie press Book Fair in New York City on Dec 1/2 (that’s 1st & 2nd, not 0.5) and something else, but there’s enough time, a week or so, to go see some Old Stuff. Constantine’s finger, here we come!

This is due to the fantastic job Donzelli has done with Stranger Things Happen. We received some PDF pages of an Italian mag article on Kelly and the book—the piece had some great art in it so at some point we hope to get them on here. In the meantime, a little Italian blog love.

From our newsletter thing: Aunt Gwenda’s been handing out pithy advice for a while now. Aren’t you in need? Send us your question to [email protected] (include your address and with luck we’ll send you the ish of LCRW your question appears in). That could be LCRW 19, which will be the 10th anniversary issue. Perhaps the last if we think too deeply about that. But Zine World just said this about #17, so maybe we will keep going: “This treasury of fiction is a feast of mystery, novelty, and desire.” Send Aunty G. a Q!

Clarion move FAQ.

We’d love to hear from any teachers or professors or whomever using Small Beer books in classrooms or any kind of teaching use. We want to send some catalogs out to other people who could be doing the same thing so maybe you can help us use the right language?

This Corrosion

Mon 18 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

2 AM videos: Ok Go. Best use of exercise machines, best choreography. (Thanks Meghan!).

Then there are so many crowd (and regular) videos on YouTube that 2 can easily become 4 (AM). Thanks to everyone who ever sneaked a decent video camera into a concert. Watching a lot of bands whose videos never made it onto Top of the Pops, Old Grey Whistle Test, and whatever other few places to see them there were in a non-MTV land or digging into the past of bands only later learned to love.

Sisters of Mercy. An appropriate slight case of overbombing: Dominion (any excuse to play around in the desert), 1959, Lucretia, My Reflection (begin with the bass), Still in Hollywood, Concrete Blonde. (So young! So much fun. Still a great video. Still don’t know all the words, sorry Gwenda.) Have to check out Catfish Scar, Johnette’s new band. (in its year of release it has to be danced to at least once per week), Possession, Heartland—this tape does indeed contain “a portion of Jolene“. Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

Few others: Still in Hollywood, Concrete Blonde. (So young! So much fun. Still a great video. Still don’t know all the words, sorry Gwenda.) Have to check out Catfish Scar, Johnette’s new band.

Tinariwen! Hipsway.
Also this:

  Tiptree radio drama; “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” — Max Schmid guest host

Thanks to Jim Freund for the link—which will be live for 10 more days or so.

Some other time: more embarrassing bands, more embarrassing hair cuts.

Good stuff, cheap

Wed 13 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Ok, so some of it is great stuff, so sue us for the emotional distress of reading that Gene Wolfe’s books are good, not great. We believe you. We sympathize. We’d like to talk about it over tea, though, and think that mediation is appropriate here, instead of legal action.

Anyway, lookee here: 2006 Clarion SF eBay Auction Sept. 10 – Oct. 8. See the stuff or get straight to the bidding. Q? A. Chocolaty subscription to LCRW and naming rights to character in a Jim Kelly or Kelly Link story available. Huh. Must go bid!
All proceeds directly benefit the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UCSD.

UCSD? Yup. Clarion East just became Where in the World is Carmen San Deigo.

Our mole (we have links everywhere) tells us the Foundation (a scary group of powerful backroom figures or an all volunteer board, you decide) spent a year talking to schools around the country and UCSD was the most enthusiastic and put together the best long-term package. Bummer to leave Michigan: it was hot, the food was college food, but everyone worked hard and the workshop was successful. Hope San Diego has a botanical garden near the dorms.
Clarion’s survival, being there for writers, is what all the Clarion workshops are about. Clarion West in Seattle is an amazing thing. Clarion South, the Australian edition, is every two years to best fit their needs. Clarion East becoming SD (or whatever) is pretty shocking but, like the move Clarion took from Pennsylvania to New Orleans(!) then to Michigan, it has to go where it must. 2007 instructors are: Gregory Frost Mary Anne Mohanraj, Jeff VanderMeer, Cory Doctorow, Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman.

James Tiptree. Jr.’s letter to Carol Emshwiller

Mon 11 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Recently we got the chance (you know, dark alleys, anonymous meetings in bars, dead letter boxes, the usual routine) to buy a letter to Carol Emshwiller from James Tiptree. Jr., aka Alice Sheldon (whose bio, by Julie Phillips, is burning up the book charts). Carol never replied but she kept writing and now has quite a few books out, including The Mount, Report to the Men’s Club, and Carmen Dog.

It’s a fantastic letter: over-the-top, enthusiastic, coffee-stained—although whose that is and when it happened is unknown.

We forged some ownership papers and caravaned it safely out of the country to our cold storage facility in the Arctic where it’s got a whole ice-cavern of its own.

But that didn’t seem quite right, so we’ve put up a low-resolution scan. This is how it starts:

24 May 75

Dear Carol Emshwiller:

May a stranger make known how much your book, JOY IN OUR CAUSE has been enjoyed? Weak word, meant to include admired, goggled at, occasionally genuflected to, been rivetted in entrancement by, and, not least, suffered suicidal inferiority-convictions from.

Read on

Local girl makes good

Sat 9 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Thunderstorms. Lightning. The captain put the Small Beer HQ into dive mode and made it under the Connecticut River before we were hit. Phew.

Our local paper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette (which just became a morning paper after being an afternoon paper for about 450 years) did a feature on a certain (now-)local writer. Fantastic. Someone stopped Kelly at the grocery store and said, “I just read about you in the paper!” The editor also gave Kelly a chance to recommend some recent books, so, inveterate bookseller that she still wishes she were, she quickly rattled off half-a-dozen favorites:

  • Half Life by Shelley Jackson
    Recommended to anyone who loved Geek Love’‘ or ever suffered from a bad case of sibling rivalry.Feed by M. T. Anderson
    A young adult novel set in the near future which ought to appeal to adult readers of George Saunders.”Archer’s Goon” by Diana Wynne Jones
    Another young adult novel by a writer I wish everyone would read. Funnier than J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but just as magical. And shorter!

    20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
    A fantastic collection of short stories put out by a small British press. Hard to find, but well worth tracking down. (I usually start with

    Liquor by Poppy Brite
    The first book in an addictive mystery series about two chefs who start their own restaurant. Recommended to fans of Anthony Bourdain and Jeffrey Steingarten.

    James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips
    A page-turner of a biography about a writer whose life was much, much stranger than most works of fiction could ever be.

    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    A coming-of-age novel about a young writer growing up in a falling-down castle. Recommended to anyone who has ever wanted to write.

There’s also a sidebar on Small Beer Press just in case you don’t know why we are here. We don’t. We get lost wondering about what’s on the other side of infinity and what happens when you go left through a red turn light, and how they make those see-through internet tubes they use for the wireless signal.

In other news, Hem have a new CD out. Get pianodelic.

Edge of Darkness

Thu 7 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Mid-1980s, the ‘star wars’ defense, the women’s camp outside Greenham Common, Northern Ireland a quagmire, Joanne WhalleyJoe Don Baker, the late Bob Peck, slippery backroom government wallahs hand-in-hand with the industries they’re meant to regulate, the miners strike, Bloody Thatcher, ghosts…. All of this was put together in Edge of Darkness (Imdb) a thoughtful, deep BBC thriller that 20 years later still stands as one of the best series ever made.
Thanks to a certain plugged-in zinester for reminding me to go see if it was available yet. It’s now available in the UK and at some point should be released in the US.

Small Beer Readings Calendar

Wed 6 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Just embedded a new Google Calendar on our events page. Here’s a direct link. You can subscribe to the calendar—which means it adds our calendar to yours. We’ve set up a bunch of these calendars so that we can look at a glance at what fruit we’re supposed to be picking, wo the Scottish football team is playing, where the moon is (says “in the sky” every day), and so on. Very handy.

We’ll probably just flip all the Readings links on the site to the calendar page and maybe someday make different calendars for each author (or, maybe they will make their own!). Although that sounds like work, especially since the G.Calendar page has a search function.

So far we’ve only added a Federal holidays calendar, since they keep creeping up on us unexpectedly: banks and bakeries close and we have no idea why…. Will go looking at what is else is public—or feel free to point us toward interesting ones.

Reasons to be mostly cheerful!

Tue 5 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It’s publication day for the paperback edition of Kelly Link’s second collection, Magic for Beginners. We should have pix to post from out there in Bookland, but as yet they cling to the phone and won’t let go. Babies! We will snap their little bonds and free their souls onto the internet. Soon, yet.

This is (maybe?) Kelly’s first book not published by Small Beer Press—it’s from Harcourt!—and although she is not here and cannot be directly quoted the minions have decided that She is Pleased with not only the book, but also the awesome tour (which should be updated soon to include Prairie Lights and some other places), the cover remix, and, in fact and let it be said with whole hearts, Everything.

Another pub date (the happiest of dates, those pub dates?): Changeling by Delia Sherman! This is Delia’s first young adult book and it clangs along at a great pace around New York City (mais oui, you see, it was where she grew up!). Great fun, great.
Soon to come: pictures of Ellen Kushner’s beautiful hardcover (get them here), anthologies, news about next year (which, mavens that you are, you mostly know already), updates on all the things we have yet to do (workwise, sweetie, workwise), and a rain of live frogs lifted from our pond and delivered to you, dear reader.

A reason not to be cheerful about convention going.

Alan’s coming from another dimension again.

Still looking forward to the future

Sun 3 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Gotta give H.E.(TM) his props for getting the word out that the world it is a-changing. By pulling what women have to face in private up onto the stage at the Hugo Awards, he gave the whole world a chance to consider what is and isn’t appropriate behavior in public and private.

For the price of public censure from those running the awards, H.E. (TM) has pried open a fantastic can of worms long needing opened.

This discussion has often previously run aground because each incident (aka “an anecdote” as how could the incident be proven to those who were not there?) was in private. Now, with everyone able to watch, a wide-ranging discussion is possible. Will this lead to adults behaving as John Klima hopes? Perhaps. At least interesting discussions, and — shock, horror — old dogs learning new tricks.

And David Moles shining like a star.

Questions abound on and off the net (Colleen, Christopher, etc.) and then there’s the beginnings of a better world, 2 conversations: Derryl Murphy on what SFWA can do for the community and the individual and the Bellwether discussion group.

What else is going on?

Fri 1 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Alex Wilson recorded “The Girl Detective” — available free.
The Village Voice dumbs itself down some more by firing good people.

Theodora Goss pointed us toward a couple of fascinating artists among them Robert ParkeHarrison and Connie Toebe.

We have a pretty hardcover and we’re maybe going to start sending it out and post pictures and make pretty piles of them and hold them and call them George. Or The Privilege of the Sword.

We’ve been signing contracts and making covers for next year’s books. Wooee! Whatta week. More surprising news on that end sometime soon.

We haven’t been reading LCRW submissions very fast. Sorry about that.

One of our fantastic interns just left, bye Lauren! We miss you. Come back and work for free any time! (Evil R Us.)

In other news: it’s not about Harlan Ellison, it’s the culture. Harlan can get as head-explodey as he wants and his apologists can do what they feel they must, and in the meantime how about a new simple rule: keep your hands to yourself.

Unless you ask or are asked. Or, act like an adult and treat others as you would be treated? How simple can the formulation be? Anyone who can write it in less than 6 words wins something silly.

The Privilege of the Sword

Fri 1 Sep 2006 - Filed under: Books| Posted by: Gavin

A witty, wicked coming-of-age story of a girl who loses all her privileges except one… The Privilege of the Sword. <

Ellen Kushner

  • Locus Award Winner
  • Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award Winner
  • Greenman Review Best Adult Novel
  • Lambda Literary Awards Nominee
  • Spectrum Award Nominee
  • Cybil Award Nominee
  • Tiptree Honor List
  • Nebula Award finalist

Our limited edition hardcover of Ellen Kushner’s novel complements Bantam’s simultaneous trade paperback edition.The Privilege of the Sword is a novel of love, betrayal, scandal, and secrets. Set between Kushner’s previous novel, Swordspoint, and her collaboration with Delia Sherman, The Fall of the Kings, Privilege is a marvelous tale crackling with energy, wit, and wonders.

In a labyrinthine city full of intrigue, secrets, and scoundrels, in the Riverside district where society’s rules only loosely apply, Katherine, the niece of Alec Campion, Duke Tremontaine, dreams of a life of ladylike privilege. But — Katherine’s uncle is not called the Mad Duke for nothing. Her dreams crash down to earth when she discovers that her uncle wants an entirely different life for her.

The Mad Duke wants to turn her into something unique, something the city has never seen before: a woman who can fight her own battles, a swordswoman.

However, even the Mad Duke doesn’t realize what giving that power to a young girl will mean.


Small pow’r the word has,
And can afford us
Not half so much privilege as
The sword does.
— Anon., “The Dominion of the Sword” (1658)

If the old fantastical Duke of dark corners had been at home, he had lived…. The Duke yet would have dark deeds darkly answered.
— Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, IV.iii; III.ii

All the same, he had no manners then, and he has no manners now, and he never will have any manners.
— Rudyard Kipling, “How the Rhinoceros Got his Skin”

“What a gruesome way to treat one’s niece [!]”
— James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks


* “This novel introduces a fearless and resourceful heroine with a true heart and a keen-edged blade. Spiced with humor and spot-on period detail, this coming-of-age tale belongs in most fantasy and YA collections.”
Library Journal (Starred Review)

Click cover for larger image.

Advance Readers say:

“Unholy fun, and wholly fun . . . an elegant riposte, dazzlingly executed.”
–Gregory Maguire, Wicked

“Splendid — a swashbuckler for women! Katherine is everything I love in a female hero: Impudent, lively, idealistic, fierce, and in over her head.”
–Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice

“One of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever read: it’s witty and wonderful, with characters that will provoke, charm and delight.”
— Holly Black (Tithe)

“A magical mixture of Dumas and Georgette Heyer. The dialogue dazzles and so does the swordplay.”
— Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners)

The Privilege of the Sword

Chapter One

No one sends for a niece they’ve never seen before just to annoy her family and ruin her life. That, at least, is what I thought. This was before I had ever been to the city. I had never been in a duel, or held a sword myself. I had never kissed anyone, or had anyone try to kill me, or worn a velvet cloak. I had certainly never met my Uncle the Mad Duke. Once I met him, much was explained.

* * *

Chapter Two

“You have no use for girls. You told me so yourself.”

In a fine room in the Mad Duke Tremontaine’s house on the Hill, a fat and messy young woman sprawled on a velvet chaise-longue, one hand buried in a bowl of summer strawberries. Across the room, the Mad Duke examined the back of his chimneypiece for cracks. “Utter incompetents,” he grumbled. “They wouldn’t know wood-bore from a tick on their dog’s ass.”

She stuck to the subject. “Neither would girls.”

“I do have no use for girls. Not that way; not with ones I’m related to, anyway.” He popped out of the fireplace to leer briefly, but getting no response went back and continued, “You should be grateful. Or, as the only respectable female of my acquaintance, you are the one I would have to impose upon to escort my niece to dances and things when she gets here.”

The homely woman, whose name was Flavia, but whom everyone thought of as That Ugly Girl of the Duke’s, put a large berry in her mouth, wiped her fingers on the velvet of the chaise, and talked around it. “What crap. Any titled lady whose husband owes you money would be delighted to take your niece in hand, if only to show you how it’s done properly and try to instill some gratitude in you.” She licked juice off her lips. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you: why do you talk so much, when half of what you say is utter crap?”

“To keep you on your toes,” he answered promptly. “How would you like it if everything I said suddenly started making sense? It would only confuse you.”

The Riverside Series:

The Fall of the KingsSwordspointAlthough The Privilege of the Sword stands by itself as a self-contained novel, it is also the third book in what has become known as “The Riverside Series.” The titles thus far are:

  • Swordspoint
  • The Privilege of the Sword (set ca. 20 years later)
  • The Fall of the Kings (with Delia Sherman; set ca. 40 years after Privilege, 60 after Swordspoint)

Ellen has a chronology and a little more info the books here.

On the web:


  • Cover images © Corbis: Detail Showing Hand on Ornate Sword Hilt from “Portrait of Charles IX of France” by Francois Clouet.
  • Download cover for print.
  • Download author photo for print.Author photo credit: Michael Benveniste/MCFI

Extraordinary praise for Ellen Kushner’s previous books:

“At once traditional and bold…Richly imagined scenes of Faerie, elegant and incongruous as the films of Cocteau.” — Locus

“Immensely appealing, intelligent, and great fun.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Gives every indication of having been conceived and executed in joy and delight.” — Rachel Manija Brown, Green Man Review

“A tour-de-force.” — Terri Windling

“A virtual treat for all the senses … for those who like their fantasy soaked in intrigue, history and romance … One of the bawdiest and most intellectually stimulating novels of the year!” — Bookpage

“Kushner and Sherman return to the sophisticated urban world of Kushner’s Swordspoint 60 years later, as the city is overset by research into the past that unearths dangerous old magic and political unrest. A powerful fantasy that rises above the crowd with a vivid setting, complex characters, and elegant prose.” — Locus Notable Book

“A high-fantasy novel of rare quality, in which the richly detailed world building leaps out and seizes the reader…Literate, absorbing, and with bite to it, the book shows that Kushner and Sherman together are quite up to the standards of either on her own.” — Booklist

“This dynamic tale of the twin powers of love and scholarship offers a glimpse into the connection between learning and politics while portraying the lives of individuals poised on the border of myth and reality…a sensual and evocative tale that should appeal to fans of Tanith Lee and Storm Constantine. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal

“Layered and complex … mature, adventurous, witty and deep… the book’s biggest strength is in the complex understanding that Kushner and Sherman show for human relations on both a small and large scale. They’re not afraid to let their characters make real, human mistakes, and not afraid to show the results of both good and bad decisions … It’s clear from the tale of wonder, pain and hope between the covers that magic is alive in our world too.” — Lambda Book Report

The Fall of the Kings“By avoiding cliched settings and plot so deftly, the authors tap into fantasy’s genuine source of drama, its ability to haunt, appall, transform.” — Locus

“The complex interplay of the characters is a delight in itself, and the authors have accomplished the most difficult task in fantasy — they have created a world of magic that feels authentic. Here’s a fantasy novel that won’t insult your intelligence, and which almost demands re-reading to catch all the nuances you miss the first time.” — Science Fiction Chronicle

“Embraces the age-old struggle between scholars and mystics … to bridge the gulf that separates history from mystery … The interactions between the characters echo the works of Dorothy Dunnett…St. Cloud, Campion, and the rest of the cast walk through the pages of this novel with style and wit, larger than life — and full of life.” — Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

“Here’s one for fantasy lovers who are tired of quests and faux medievalism…elegant…Kushner and Sherman create a multi-layered urban fantasy world, full of quirky characters and perceptively drawn settings…the plot is worthy of the characters in its convolution and sophistication. In short, a book for readers who enjoy subtlety and craftsmanship along with a full quota of magic and adventure.” — Asimov’s

“A collaboration evocative of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, Kushner and Sherman deliver their “comedy of academic manners” with panache.” — Romantic Times

The Fall of the Kings is a glorious re-envisioning of magic and academia — more precisely, of the magic of academia…a rare treasure, a seamless collaboration. The two authors have created a shared fantasy that is enhanced by the styles and ideas of both, without being overwhlemed by either.” — The New York Review of Science Fiction

“A definite winner…political subterfuge mixed with strong mythic overtones.” — Mythprint

“This book is stunning. It has all of the rich fantastic tapestry of Swordspoint, and more depth, more wonder and truth and humanity; and, of course, lots of parties and handsome men and costumes and scheming and cutting remarks and intimate little dinners and lots and lots of sex. If Oscar Wilde were writing high fantasy, he’d want to write The Fall of the Kings.” — Sarah Smith

“Gorgeous prose and a galloping story, with a wickedly funny appreciation for academic knifefights, and a deep understanding of a true scholar’s passion for his subject.” — Mary Doria Russell

“A charmed, witty romp through an alternate history’s history, full of appealing characters and enough mystery to keep me turning pages … A very intelligent novel, skillfully written by two writers from whom I’ve come to expect the best.” — Patricia McKillip

“Considering the splendid talents of Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman when writing under their individual by-lines, it’s really no surprise that The Fall of the Kings is the treat it is. Engaging characters, with their sharp dialogue and complex relationships, and a wonderfully-realized setting combine here for one of my favourite books this year — and so far it’s already been a very good year.” — Charles de Lint

“Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman combine their talents to fine effect in The Fall of the Kings, pulling off the considerable trick of making elegant prose seem effortless. The characters are as vivid, complex and varied as the milieu in which they operate, and the contrast inherent in the reemergence of a deep-rooted, archetypal magic into an elaborately mannered society is piquant and compelling. I hope further collaborations are in store!” — Jacqueline Carey

“I tore into The Fall of the Kings with the enthusiasm of an emigrant allowed to make a sudden, unexpected trip home. Not the least of its considerable rewards is the admirably compacted density of that particular space-time invention, the other world. Kushner and Sherman don’t spin fables or knit fancies: they are world-forgers, working in a language of iron and air.” — Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Lost

“Thank goodness for the flu, or I never would’ve had the time to properly luxuriate in this deliciously rapturous book! Sherman and Kushner are painters of great subtlety and sophistication, giving us a rich fantasy world where swordsmen and lady pirates seem every bit as believable as scholars. Sacred sexuality, drawing room politics, and mystical secrets all walk right into our hearts in the form of unforgettable characters. I enjoyed every page, every line, of this book.” — Cecilia Tan

The Fall of the Kings tells a rich, intricate story, in which politics, passion, scholarship and magic are intriguingly entwined. It’s a triumphant return to a captivating country. I hope it receives the attention it merits.” — Elizabeth A. Lynn

“A delicious read, rich in character and dialogue; dark, sexy, and wickedly funny by turns. I loved it. You’ll love it too.” — Terri Windling

“This is how fantasy should be written. Kushner and Sherman write with grace, style, wit, and a delicious attention to detail. The Fall of the Kings is that rare thing these days; a novel that sweeps you in and lets you live the story with the characters.” — Lynn Flewelling

“This is a richly imagined tale in which attractive characters, realistically enmeshed in social, political, and personal concerns, must deal with the resurgence of ancient wizardry and royal divine right into a more rationalistic and modern political system…A sparkling job! Further adventures are eagerly awaited.” — Suzy M. Charnas

“I loved Swordspoint and its world. From Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, I expected brilliance and wit. I found it. I expected style and substance, and I found those too. I also found truth, love, hearts of fire, hearts of gold, and even a few hearts of substances less noble but even more interesting. The Fall of the Kings makes Swordspoint and its world even deeper and richer. I had astronomically high expectations for this book. It surpassed them all. Thanks for letting me share the joy that is this book.” — Caroline Stevermer

The Fall of the Kings evokes a sumptuous (not wholly unfamiliar) world whose inhabitants, willing or not, must play out a blend of animal ritual and inky passion…Rife with suspense and hilarity, Kushner and Sherman’s magnificent pasquinade of kingship and scholarship should enchant anyone who has ever aspired to either.” — Elizabeth E. Wein

“What a wonderful book, beautifully written with marvellously magical moments. Reading it felt like seeing a stained glass window or a tapestry come to life, aself-contained story but clearly part of a larger history. It makes me feel very positive about what it’s possible to achieve within the fantasy genre.” — Jo Walton

“Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman are the true heirs of Dorothy Dunnett. Their characters are as likely to wield words as daggers, and The Fall of the Kings is as crammed with incident, intrigues both amorous and academic, swordfights and politics and magic, as any reader could hope for.” — Kelly Link

“A brilliant book, evocatively written.” — Sarah Ash

“The best-written fantasy novel of the year … This is a book of witty dialogue, prose as precise as a blow to the heart and as glittering as the sword that dealt it, gorgeous young men and women to suit any taste, hot and elegant sex to suit any sexual persuasion, magic with a true aura of numinous danger, thrilling fights, thrilling scholarly debates, old books, swashbuckling aunts, exquisite clothing, ancient rituals, hot chocolate, female pirates, erotic paintings, expensive jewelery, political intrigue, taverns, ghosts, true love, true kings, and a convincing demonstration of the importance of first sources in historical research..” — Green Man Review

“Elegantly written, rich with conversations, peopled with confused, misled, and sincere protagonists, this novel provides a rare experience of a richly conceived and incessantly surprising world. Every detail, from the holiday observations to the make of a man’s boots, seems exactly true, and completely believable. No small book could contain such rich complexity. This book is big enough to live in, and its readers will be glad to take it as their residence.” — Laurie J. Marks, SFRevu

“This is what Dickens or Eliot might have written, if they had written fantasy. Indeed, its connections seem strongest with the father of historical fiction, Sir Walter Scott … Go out now and buy The Fall of the Kings. Put it on your nightstand next to Swordspoint. When it’s been raining all day and you are bored beyond endurance, pick it up and enter a world as complicated as our own, and considerably more colorful. Just remember to take plenty of chocolate.” —

“The characters, fully developed and complex creations, are prisoners of their place in society, which makes them all the more interesting when they step out of their station in life. The Fall of the Kings is an experience not to be missed.” — The Best Reviews

“‘What is this book about?’ The Fall of the Kings is open to too many answers. Ultimately, it is about itself, about its richness and complexity, its passages of uncomfortable intensity and dream-laden mythic potency, its juxtapositions of substance and triviality, and about the resolution of where our arbitrary but rational reality meets the coherent and unreasonable legacy of the past. The reality in this case is that this is one of those very rare novels, especially in the fantasy genre, that is not only substantial, but unique. Tour de force? Most certainly.” —

“One of the top fantasies of the year.” — Emerald City

“This brilliant “sequel” to Kushner’s Swordspoint lays out a tale of passion burning too brightly amidst the political intrigues of academia and hidden history.” — Lambda


“Witty, sharp-eyed, full of interesting people and fascinating conversations… a delight.” — Newsday

“Swordspoint begins with a single drop of blood on a field of new-fallen snow, an image that burned itself forever into my mind the first time I encountered it. I can close my eyes and see it still. It’s a terrific opening, and unforgettable opening…and the book just gets better from there. It is long time past time that Swordspoint was back in print.” — George R.R. Martin

“Charming, exciting, and ironically provocative, rather as though Georgette Heyer had turned her hand to fantasy.” — Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn

“A scintillating gem … witty, wicked, fascinating, beautifully written, and unique.” — Joan D. Vinge, author of The Snow Queen

“An elegant, talented, and vastly enjoyable novel.” — Samuel R. Delany

“A many-faceted pleasure. It manages to evoke both the witty Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and the fog-shrouded, dangerous streets of fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar. At the same time there is a cutting edge to the plotting and characterization that marks Ellen Kushner as a writer with a distinctive voice of her own.” — Guy Gavriel Kay

“[Kushner] draws you through the story with such lucid, powerful writing that you come to trust her completely — and she doesn’t let you down … It’s the kind of trust that only a special kind of writer earns: the writer who has so fully realized the story’s world and characters, who has such perfect command of language and structure that the story never falters. Watch this woman — she’s going to be one of the great ones.” — Orson Scott Card

“A glorious thing, the book we might have had if Noel Coward had written a vehicle for Errol Flynn. It’s wicked and visual and witty, and it pulls you in like the doorman of a Bourbon Street bar.” — Gene Wolfe

“Ellen Kushner writes like an angel … pellucid, poetically structured prose [and] a gathering sense of tragic reality. I have not in some time read a better writer.” — Algis Budrys in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

“For all those lovers of Dumas, Baroness Orczy and Dorothy Dunnett … [with] Dickensian characters and ready wit … If you have even an ounce of interest in the interplay of sharp swords, and sharper tongues, then Swordspoint is for you.” — Charles de Lint

“[Kushner] draws you through the story with such lucid, powerful writing that you come to trust her completely — and she doesn’t let you down … It’s the kind of trust that only a special kind of writer earns: the writer who has so fully realized the story’s world and characters, who has such perfect command of language and structure that the story never falters. Watch this woman — she’s going to be one of the great ones.” — Orson Scott Card in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

“Intelligent, humorous and dramatic, with a fine, malicious feeling for the operation of gossip in a closed society.” — Publishers Weekly

“A bravura performance, a delight from start to finish.” — Locus

“A tale as witty, beguiling and ingenious as a collaboration between Jane Austen and John M. Harrison … a well-nigh faultless first novel.” — Interzone

“Kushner stirs her disparate elements well, persuasively drawing readers into this distinctive fantasy world.” — Booklist

“Sensuous … told with mannered style, this witty fairy tale for grown ups satisfies all the requirements for a grand escape.” — The Boston Herald

“Brilliantly written, exciting and a delight to read. [An] absorbing genre-bender … It should certainly appeal to lovers of intelligent fantasy … Her writing is clear, fluid and beautiful, with wonderful dialogue… Swordspoint is both moving and witty, a rare combination … I didn’t want it to end.” — Aboriginal SF

“Colourful, exciting, and packed with action.” — The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

“What Swordspoint does is to take up themes essential to the literature of outsiders: the deceptiveness of appearances, the anguish and bravado of alienation, and, perhaps most important, the challenges that face anyone who crosses borders, geographical, cultural, or economic … Swordspoint is a tour de force, as riddled with feints and parries as a duel … rich with nuance and subtle shifts … Ellen Kushner ably delivers what her first chapter promises: a world deceptively familiar yet deeply unlike our own. Readers who listen carefully, who resist the temptation to impose their values on these vividly realized characters, will be amply rewarded.” — Wavelengths

“An unforgettable book … [with] memorable characters, and levels of meaning lurking just beneath a seemingly simple storyline.” — FolkTales

“A brilliant adult fairytale set in a fantasy Renaissance-like world. A fascinating story of political intrigue and the romance between a swordsman-for-hire and his lover, a young scholar. An excellent read.” — Lambda

Thomas the RhymerTHOMAS THE RHYMER

“Nobody is writing more elegant and gorgeous English these days than Ellen Kushner. Her books ought to be given to writing classes as texts on how the English language can be made so pure and cold and clear that you long to drink it down … Is there anything this writer can’t do well?” — Orson Scott Card in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

“What a perfectly splendid story, splendidly told, with great style and orginality. A bow of deep appreciation to Ms. Kushner, and my gratitude!” — Anne McCaffrey

“A book to introduce those who know nothing of the ballads to their rich and deep content…and intrigue those already familiar with them.” — Maddy Prior, lead singer for Steeleye Span

“Lyrically written and humanly moving. Ellen Kushner’s treatment of the True Thomas legend is worthy to rank with those of Kipling and Cabell.” — Poul Anderson

“Lovingly crafted, beautifully wrought — a jewel of a book. Ellen Kushner is one of the best of the new fantasy writers.” — Judith Tarr

“An earthy, witty, even mildly erotic book, as convincing in its depiction of faerie passion and prejudice as in its descriptions of the narrowly focused life of the Middle Ages.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A happy blend of discreet scholarship and literary style … Kushner creates a lavish microcosm where riddles and runes and magical transformations govern.” — Publishers Weekly

“Studded with adulterous noblemen, promiscuous courtiers and sensuous love scenes, the old fairy tale takes in a ribald contemporary feel under Kushner’s pen, which paradoxically is truer to the story’s original pre-Victorian bawdiness.” — The Boston Herald

“Elegant and cozy. Witty and wise. Innocent and sensuous and, at times, downright sexy. Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer does it all.” — Jane Yolen

“What might seem all quaint, all harps, houppelandes, elf mounds and aristocracy, takes on a very human immediacy in Kushner’s skilled treatment…Richly imagined scenes if Faerie, elegant and incongruous as the films of Cocteau. Kushner’s elves seek out humankind with a near-vampire hunger and a bittersweet desire. Bu the end of Thomas the Rhymer we understand the attraction mortals hold for them.” — Locus

“Thomas the Rhymer is the real thing. It belongs on the same shelf with Lord Dunsany, James Branch Cabell, James Stephens, E.R. Eddison, Ursula K. Le Guin, and the rest.” — Aboriginal Science Fiction

“If you were afraid that Kushner’s first novel, Swordspoint, was a flash in the pan, you can stop worrying. Thomas the Rhymer . . . stopped me in my tracks. Few books are this good! If you read fantasy at all, don’t miss this one; Kushner is setting up to be one of the most important fantasists alive!” — Locus

“Her Thomas takes on the life which the old ballads so often deny him and . . . really touches the heart.” — Andre Norton

“Evocative, stirring, filled with life and color . . . lets us live for a while in those magical countries we’ve never seen but that we always knew must exist somwhere.” — Lisa Goldstein

“A charming book, full of wit, imagination, the spikey sweetness of young love and the polished grain of old . . . more please!” — Suzy McKee Charnas

“Splendid . . . touching and tender . . . there is great technical skill in the way Kushner recreates the lyrical atmosphere of a folk tale … ” — Interzone

“Relaxed and flowing, poetry counterpointing wit . . . It has a phantasmagorical quality . . . the enchantment is underpinned with tension and urgency . . . a tour de force . . . will surely endear itself to any who love old ballads, whiffs of faerie, and fine fantasy.” — New York Review of Science Fiction

“[This] inspired fantasy . . . rings true and deep as tales told for generations [and] reveals unexpected worlds and times, and the far reaches of the human heart. Ellen Kushner knows what it’s like to be a human in Elfland, and Elf-touched in Middle-Earth, and by the end of this novel, her readers do too.” — Susanna J. Sturgis, The Martha’s Vineyard Times

“Ellen Kushner has discovered a new and poetic way to retell the old tale. The book reads with the story-telling power of the old ballad.” — The Times (London)