Periodically I get missives, some imperial and others imploring, from editors of anthologies in which I have a story, telling me to get out the drums and flog the living bejabbers out of the book. This morning, it was Gardner Dozois, informing me that Rogues, which he co-edited with George R. R. Martin, hits the stands today and desperately needs my help.
Yeah, right. Here, to give you a little context, is the table of contents:
Joe Abercrombie “Tough Times All Over”
Gillian Flynn “What Do You Do?”
Matthew Hughes “The Inn of the Seven Blessings”
Joe R. Lansdale “Bent Twig”
Michael Swanwick “Tawny Petticoats”
David Ball “Provenance”
Carrie Vaughn “The Roaring Twenties”
Scott Lynch “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane”
Bradley Denton “Bad Brass”
Cherie Priest “Heavy Metal”
Daniel Abraham “The Meaning of Love”
Paul Cornell “A Better Way to Die”
Steven Saylor “Ill Seen in Tyre”
Garth Nix “A Cargo of Ivories”
Walter Jon Williams “Diamonds From Tequila”
Phyllis Eisenstein “The Caravan to Nowhere”
Lisa Tuttle “The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives”
Neil Gaiman “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back”
Connie Willis “Now Showing”
Patrick Rothfuss “The Lightning Tree”
George R. R. Martin “The Rogue Prince, or, the King’s Brother”
And this is the point where I'm expected to rave about how Rogues is that extremely rare beast, an anthology containing science fiction, mystery, historical fiction, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, crime stories, and mainstream, all chosen simply because they're extremely good stories. And that my own "Tawny Petticoats," skips ahead to a point in the peregrinations of arch-conmen Darger and Surplus wherein they discover the dubious pleasures of Postutopian New Orleans. Then maybe ladle a few bucketloads of adjectives over the whole magisterial enterprise.
But did you notice the last item on the list? That, my friends, is not only a new story by George, but one set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. This puppy is going to sell itself. It doesn't need any help from me.
But because these guys are friends, and because I want all my editors to know that I am a cooperative fellow, I have just gone through the motions.
And speaking of George . . .
“The Rogue Prince, or, the King’s Brother” was not originally on the table of contents. The book was sold without any requirement that George contribute a story. He wrote the story as a gift to his fans.
Also because he's a writer, and this is the sort of thing real writers can't help but do.