Is there any editor ever whom I've loved so much as Jim Turner? I can't think of one. Of an afternoon, I'd be minding my own business, working, when the phone would ring. A brisk, no nonsense voice would say"Listen, Swanwick, I don't have time for any of your nonsense. I just want an answer to my question and then I'll hang up."
"Hello, Jim. It's good to hear from you," I'd say, knowing that if I played my cards right I could keep him on the line for hours. Mind you, there are vanishingly few people I'd care to talk to on the phone for hours. Jim was one of them. "Have you read the new Lucius Shepard story?" I'd ask in faux innocence.
"No! What?? Is it any good?" Jim would ask in a fit of paranoid worry that maybe somehow -- and this would the worst possible thing in the world for him because he loved Shepard's fiction above all others -- Lucius had lost it.
Which of course Lucius most emphatically had not. But by then I had my hooks in him and bang! there would go the afternoon.
One day Jim called me. "Listen, Swanwick, I have no time for your nonsense. I just want to know if --"
"Hello, Jim. It's good to hear from you. I just wrote a zombie story."
"Yeahyeahyeah. What I wanted to ask you was --"
"It's a really good zombie story, Jim."
"Yeahyeahyeah. I'm sure it is. Anyway --"
"Aren't you going to ask me what its title is, Jim?"
An exasperated pause Then, "All right, Swanwick. What is its title?"
"I called it 'The Dead.'"
There ensued a very, very long pause, more expressive than the ten best pauses you've ever heard in your life. Then, in a tone that went beyond exasperation, Jim said, "You cannot give the title of the single.most famous story in the English language to a . . . zombie story!"
"Well, it's a really good zombie story," I replied mildly.
And all of that is prologue to . . .
You can now hear "The Dead" -- my story, not James Joyce's -- at The Drabblecast. Just click here.
And as always . . .
I'm on the road again! This weekend I'll be at the Nebula Awards. And on Monday I fly off to Ekaterinburg where I'll be a guest at Aelita, Russia's oldest science fiction convention. If I'm unable to update this blog as frequently as usual next week . . . well, there's the reason why.
Above: "His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."