Witches: Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful

Somehow I let the publication date on this one slip by me. 

Prime Books, March 2012 ed. by Paula Guran

“Surrounded by the aura of magic, witches have captured our imaginations for millennia and fascinate us now more than ever. No longer confined to the image of a hexing old crone, witches can be kindly healers and protectors, tough modern urban heroines, holders of forbidden knowledge, sweetly domestic spellcasters, darkly domineering, sexy enchantresses, ancient sorceresses, modern Wiccans, empowered or persecuted, possessors of supernatural abilities that can be used for good or evil—or perhaps only perceived as such. Welcome to the world of witchery in many guises: wicked, wild, and wonderful. Includes two original, never-published stories.”

Content (alphabetically by author):
“The Cold Blacksmith” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Ground Whereon She Stands” by Lean Bobet
“The Witch’s Headstone” by Neil Gaiman
“Lessons with Miss Gray” by Theodora Goss
“The Only Way to Fly” by Nancy Holder
“Basement Magic” by Ellen Klages
“Nightside” by Mercedes Lackey
“April in Paris” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan
“Mirage and Magia” by Tanith Lee
“Poor Little Saturday” by Madeleine L’Engle
“Catskin” by Kelly Link
“Bloodlines” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
“The Way Wind” by Andre Norton
“Skin Deep” by Richard Parks
“Ill Met in Ulthar” by T.A. Pratt (original)
“Marlboros & Magic” by Linda Robertson (original)
“Walpurgis Afternoon” by Delia Sherman
“The World Is Cruel, My Daughter” by Cory Skerry
“The Robbery” by Cynthia Ward
“Afterward” by Don Webb
“Magic Carpets” by Leslie What
“Boris Chernevsky’s Hands” by Jane Yolen(less)

It’s Better Than That

Late last night I was watching a rather obscure Japanese movie (though filmed in Hong Kong in 2007)  called Dororo. It’s based on a manga series by Ozamu Tezuko (he of Astro Boy fame). Here’s the pitch/teaser: “A female warrior who was raised as a man joins a young samurai’s quest to recover 48 of his body parts from 48 demons and to avenge her parents death.”  There’s a longer version, but it’s still a variation on this basic premise, and as the movie played I realized that I had a problem with the way it was pitched. It’s not that the pitch was inaccurate—as a capsule summary it covers the basics of what they movie’s about fairly well. The premise is, of course, ridiculous. No one’s going to lose 48 body parts (some fairly important like, say, the heart) and still survive long enough to be discovered by just the right magic shaman who knows how to replace body parts. Even in a pure fantasy like this one it stretched credibility past the breaking point.

Regardless, I didn’t come here to review the movie, as such. I am here to make the point that, despite the nonsense premise, despite the rather gruesome imagery of the pitch, I liked the movie quite a bit. Which was when I realized that I had a problem with the movie’s pitch itself. It wasn’t that, as I said, it was inaccurate. No, I think it’s mostly that it managed to be both accurate and very misleading. Why? Because the movie was so much better than that. The hero’s plight manages to be both grotesque and sympathetic at the same time. The heroine in her own way is as much damaged as the hero, and yet is just as heroic, plus by turns poignant, amoral, and laugh out loud funny. The cgi is a bit lacking at times, but it captures the esthetic of the Japanese monster tradition beautifully—the group soul ghost baby is almost worth the price of admission itself. And yet the pitch, brief as it has to be, conveys absolutely none of this. Pitches tell you what a movie/story is about and simultaneously tell you almost nothing.

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Working Cover

I had one more project to finish before getting back to the sequel to Black Kath’s Daughter. The working (and likely final) title is The Ghost War, and I’m not too far from done, just a few line edits and minor corrections left. It’s a stand-alone, which most of my novel-length work is, the Laws of Power sequence being the only exception so far. I know a few people are actually waiting for the next novel in the series and I promise I’ll get it done. In the meantime, have a look at the eerily appropriate working cover for the new project.

 

Rediscovering My Inner Fanboy

I signed the contracts this morning, so I can go ahead and announce that “Skin Deep” from Eclipse 2 has sold to Witches: Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful, a (partly) reprint anthology from Prime Books due out next March. The editor is Paula Guran, and I’ll be sharing a ToC with Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, Tim Pratt, Margo Lanagan, Elizabeth Bear, Tanith Lee (see the link for the complete ToC) and that’s just for starters.

See, I’ll also be sharing a ToC with Andre Norton. Andre Norton was one of my very first influences; I actually discovered her before I read Bradbury or Heinlein, and my novel A Warrior of Dreams is dedicated to her, as well as Lord Dunsany and H.P. Lovecraft, for reasons that should be clear to anyone who reads it. Pardon the “squee!” but sharing a book with Andre Norton invokes my inner fanboy. We don’t see him that often, but nice to know he still lives here.