Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Asimov's at Thermopylae

Robert Silverberg, so the story goes, was once perusing the science fiction shelves at a bookstore when he saw a new title and thought, "Robert Silverberg has a new book out."

And a second later: "Wait a minute -- I'm Robert Silverberg!"

He'd written so many books, that he had absolutely no memory of one which had just been reissued.

I am far, far from that happy state, but this morning, Marianne was reading the latest issue of Asimov's when she looked up and said, "Or maybe that's just Michael..."

"Eh?" says I.

Then she showed me the following passage from Sheila Williams's editorial on the magazine's 400th issue:

Asimov's has primarily been a home for science fiction, but we've also published some fantasy and a smattering of those weird and indefinable stories. Perhaps it is those unclassifiable tales that led Michael Swanwick to make the obvious connection between our latest issue and the Battle of Thermopylae.

Michael says, "Ah, the four hundredth issue of Asimov's! It is on this hallowed text that we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the fabled three hundred -- the issue where a mere handful of Spartan writers turned aside the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of Xerxes' Persian army of conquest. Though faced with more than a million opponents, a small force of genre writers led by King Leonidas held the pass at Thermopylae. This action was just one of the most glorious literary events of all history. According to Herodotus, when a representative of the Persians boasted that their arrows would darken the sun, the Dieneces retorted, 'Then we shall write in the shade!'"

Or maybe that's just Michael being Michael.

And I swear to God, I have no memory of writing that. Though it sure does sound like me.

I have no idea what Sheila meant by that last remark, though.



HANNAH'S DAD said...

No relevance to the preceding article, but I just found the following and thought "Hmmm... where's a writer I can mention this to?"



Michael Swanwick said...

I was tempted to write a short-short using all of those elements. I could easily do it. But then I thought, "No, I'm writing too much flash fiction as it is."

Speaking of which, stay tuned for Monday's post!

HANNAH'S DAD said...

I've got to admit that "drunk time traveler" made me think specifically of you rather than [generic writer].

HANNAH'S DAD said...

oops - posted too early. Meant to continue with "but feel absolved of any requirement to commit an act of flash fiction".

Do read the guy's other cartoons though - he's got a neat touch.

kylecassidy said...

see that, ELVES are now writing for you! you can just SLEEP and they'll go merrily about publishing things with your name.