Friday, June 14, 2013

The Phoenix and the Dragon

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It was a big moment for me when The Iron Dragon's Daughter was selected for the Fantasy Masterworks line.  Over the years the editors chose wisely and well and so created a literary community such as I had yearned to be numbered among since long before I published a word.  For one brief, glorious moment, I thought, "I made it!  I'm playing with the Big Kids now!"

And of course then a little voice in the back of my skull said, "Back to work, Swanwick."

Now the Fantasy Masterworks people have announced their next five books, scheduled to come out in October, in time for the World Fantasy Convention.  All worthy, all admirable, all books you should read.  But I want to draw your attention to two in particular.

Most of all I want you to admire The Phoenix and the Mirror because Avram Davidson was a literary genius who is today in danger of being forgotten.  In the Middle Ages, a body of legend arose around the error that the poet Virgil was a magician.  Avram built upon this fact the first volume of a trilogy he never completed., rich in alchemical lore and literary as all get-out.

Learned, brilliant, accomplished ... Dear God, this man could write!  So well that I have not words for it.  Honesty compels me to admit that TPatM was originally going to be the first volume of a series (Davidson started a lot of trilogies he couldn't complete), but it does conclude, and for those who love gorgeous prose, there's nothing to compare with it.   Please do consider buying this book, reading it, and becoming a better person for having done so.

The second book is The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard.  What is particularly notable here is that where most great fantasy works creep into greatness over the course of decades, Subterranean Press first published this volume last year.  It went immediately out of print (I snatched up my copy very fast), and now it's slated to a Fantasy Masterwork.  This may be a world speed record.  But, by God, the book deserves it.

You can see the press release (or net release or whatever it's called) here.

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6 comments:

Bruce Cohen said...

According to Wikipedia, the Virgil trilogy was completed. I know there was a second book, "Virgil in Averno"; I read it when it was published in the late 80s. The Wiki article says that the third volume, "The Scarlet Fig"' was edited posthumously by his ex-wife, Grania Davis, and published in 2005 by Rosé Press. I had not heard of it before today, and am now eager to find a copy. If there is justice and grace in the world, all three books will be reprinted.

HWW said...

Michael,

Great to learn that The Phoenix and the Mirror will be re-issued in the Masterworks series.
Your readers might wish to consult the Avram Davidson website (since 1995), http://avramdavidson.org , to learn about the other Vergil novels: Vergil in Averno (1987) and The Scarlet Fig; or, Slowly through a Land of Stone, edited by Grania Davis and Henry Wessells, with A Note on the Text by Henry Wessells and an Afterword by Grania Davis (London : The Rose Press, 2005)

HWW

Sandy said...

Dear Michael,
Oh, I wish the editors of this series would also include Davidson's Masters of the Maze, which concerns a system of doorways into other times, spaces, and realities. One of the many reasons I love it is it seems to take place north of NYC in the Catskills near where I grew up.

Sandy said...

Dear Michael,
Oh, I wish the editors of this series would also include Davidson's Masters of the Maze, which concerns a system of doorways into other times, spaces, and realities. One of the many reasons I love it is it seems to take place north of NYC in the Catskills near where I grew up.

Michael Swanwick said...

Sandy, I think another great volume would be a collection of Avram's short fantasy fiction.

Michael Swanwick said...

Sandy, I think another great volume would be a collection of Avram's short fantasy fiction.