Monday, October 4, 2010



I have a gift for you today.  I've just posted a Halloween story online.  It's a good old-fashioned, Bradburyesque tale presented in a format that may well be unique.

Unique how, you wonder?  I'm glad you asked.

I wrote October Leaves last fall, a word at a time, on autumn leaves.  I photographed the leaves where I found them -- in parks and cemeteries and city streets --  and then left them where they lay, possibly to be found by puzzled passers-by.  To indicate paragraph breaks, I used photos of gravestones from historic Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Now I've posted the photos, in order, on Flickr.  You can go there and read the entire story for free.

October Leaves can be found at:

Or just click here.

And for those of us who have a restless urge to buy books . . .

October Leaves is also available as a physical book.  You can go to Blurb Books ( and run a search on "Michael Swanwick."  Or you can go straight to the book by clicking here.  Be sure to check out the preview first.

Above:  The cover photo for the book.  It's the only picture where the words are spelled out a letter at a time.


Unknown said...

Loved this. Fabulous concept.
Thank you.

Joe Stillman said...

Loved it. Bought it.


Cloudhurler said...

Allo Mr. Swanwick,

I wanted to both thank you for "In the Tradition . . ." -- as it introduced me to many worthwhile titles and helped me to critically frame them -- and to ask if you are familiar with the novels of Paul Hazel? Perhaps I am over assessing his worth, but it seems that he is the most glaring omission from the essay. Also, I am curious if you have considered any more guide-like essays; perhaps interstitial fiction such as _A Voyage to Arcturus_ and _The Green Child_? Thank you.


Bruce said...

Beautiful, melancholy story...loved the motif. Serendipitiously, Oct. 4 is a birthday I shared with my twin brother.

Michael Swanwick said...

Thank you everyone, Joe especially.

I'm afraid I have no immediate plans for more essays like "In the Tradition..." But I can strongly recommend Michael Moorcock's Wizardry & Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy, David Pringle's Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987 and Stephen Jones and Kim Newman's Horror: 100 Best Books and Horror: Another 100 Best Books.

These are all lucid and intelligent books and mercifully free of academic jargon. The Jones and Newman books are mentioned because there's a great deal of overlap between horror and fantasy. I contributed an essay to the second volume, on Robert F. Jones's Blood Sport. I'll bet it never even occurred to him that he'd written a horror novel.

Michael Swanwick said...

And I will confess that I haven't yet gotten around to reading Paul Hazel. I am told by those who know his books that it is indeed a glaring omission.

Someday soon, surely!

Cloudhurler said...

Allo again Mr. Swanwick,

Ah, a shame that no more literature essay guides are planned at present. Thank you, though, for the recommendations; in fact, I have read all of those you have cited and some additional titles -- Moorcock and Cawthorne's best fantasy volume is especially good. A shame that Douglas A. Anderson's _The 100 Best Writers of Fantasy & Horror_ was canceled by Cold Spring Press.

Knowing your love of Greer Gilman's work -- and thank you for the introduction to her work sixteen years ago -- I would recommend William H. Gass' novella "Emma Enters a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop's" and, somewhat more obliquely, Richard A. Lupoff's _Sword of the Demon_.

A sample of the Gass can be found here: