Friday, April 15, 2016

FFB: Magical Beginnings -- Steven H. Silver and Martin H. Greenberg, editors

This is the third and final anthology in the series edited by Steven H. Silver and Martin H. Greenberg.  I've already commented on Wondrous Beginnings and Horrible Beginnings, and as with the other two, I bought this one for the introductions.  It presents the first publications by a group of fantasy writers, along with their introductions to each story, and I think we can all agree that this title works a lot better than the one for the horror anthology.

In this volume, all the introductions were written by the authors themselves.  There's an interesting sense of "if we'd known then what we know now" in reading them.  For example, Charles de Lint's effusive praise of Andrew Offut shows that de Lint knew a much different person from the one described by Offut's son in his recent memoir.  And several writers here owe their starts to Marion Zimmer Bradley, who also comes in for much praise.  Bradley is another who's been the subject of a bit of non-literary criticism lately.

Lisanne Norman wins the prize for longest intro here, and it's also the one with the most detail about the genesis of the story.  But all the intros are interesting.  Who doesn't like to know how writers got their start and the struggles they had with getting that first publication?  I'd read only a couple of the stories in this volume, but now I want to read them all.

Magical Beginnings 
ToC from Wikipedia:
"Introduction" (Steven H Silver)
"Introduction to 'People of the Crater'" (Andre Norton)
"The People of the Crater" (1947) (Andre Norton)
"Introduction to 'My Daughter's Name Is Sarah'" (Peter S. Beagle)
"My Daughter's Name Is Sarah" (1959) (Peter S. Beagle)
"Introduction to 'April in Paris'" (Ursula K. Le Guin)
"April in Paris" (1962) (Ursula K. Le Guin)
"To Light a Fire" (Susan Shwartz)
"The Fires of Her Vengeance" (1980) (Susan M. Shwartz)
"Introduction to 'The Fane of the Grey Rose'" (Charles de Lint)
"The Fane of the Grey Rose" (1979) (Charles de Lint)
"Introduction to 'Bones for Dulath'" (Megan Lindholm)
"Bones for Dulath" (1979) (Megan Lindholm)
"Introduction to 'The Unicorn Masque'" (Ellen Kushner)
"The Unicorn Masque" (1981) (Ellen Kushner)
"Introduction to 'The Stuff of Heroes'" (Esther Friesner)
"The Stuff of Heroes" (1982) (Esther Friesner)
"Introduction to 'The Ulfjarl's Stone'" (Mickey Zucker Reichert)
"The Ulfjarl's Stone" (1989) (Mickey Zucker Reichert)
"Introduction to 'Rending Dark'" (Emma Bull)
"The Rending Dark" (1984) (Emma Bull)
"Introduction to 'A Different Kind of Courage'" (Mercedes R. Lackey)
"A Different Kind of Courage" (1985) (Mercedes Lackey)
"Introduction to 'Third Time Lucky'" (Tanya Huff)
"Third Time Lucky" (1986) (Tanya Huff)
"On "Sing'" (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
"Sing" (1987) (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
"Introduction to 'Birthnight'" (Michelle West)
"Birthnight" (1992) (Michelle West)
"Introduction to 'The Jewel and the Demon'" (Lisanne Norman)
"The Jewel and the Demon" (1998) (Lisanne Norman)
"Introduction to 'The Raven's Quest'" (Fiona Patton)
"The Raven's Quest" (1998) (Fiona Patton)
"About the Authors"


George said...

I went out and bought all three of these anthologies! Like you, I love the introductions.

Bill Crider said...

Even if I never read any more of the stories, I've gotten my money's worth from these.

George said...

And these wonderful books are available online for a penny! Talk about bargains!

Bill Crider said...

You can't go wrong (but you do have to pay postage).

Deb said...

Bradley is so problematic. THE MISTS OF AVALON was one of my favorite books 30 years ago and my older daughter has read it multiple times; but all of the stuff we've learned about how she was aiding and abetting child abuse and molestation makes me disinclined to read her again.

Bill Crider said...

Those stories are depressing, indeed. And in reading the introductions in this book, you'd think Bradley was a wonderful person. It might be interesting to know what the writers here think about her and those stories now.

Jerry House said...

Bradley was wonderful to us when we met her at a convention while Kitty was pregnant with our first child. The following yeaar she saw Kitty from a distance and immediately ran over to ooh and aah at the baby and the oohing and aahing continued all weekend. the revelations about her came as a surprise to us. Everyone is a combination of good and bad (perhaps -- in her case -- very bad). The only exceptions are thee and me.

Bill Crider said...

And I'm not 100% sure about thee.

Todd Mason said...

Bradley was an Extremely moody person, as well as too willing to defend the actions of her husband (and perhaps engage in a little too much similar behavior)...people we share list memberships with speak of how brusque, at best, she could be when dealing with contributors to her anthology and magazine projects. (My high-school homeroom classmate stopped gathering IMDb credits after serving as associate producer of THE MISTS OF AVALON miniseries...not sure if any camel's backs were broken in that effort.) I can believe her being gracious and great company with Jerry and his family (what's not to like?), but the record is more mixed than Jerry's experience might indicate, from all accounts. She did some important and pioneering work, and didn't Have to produce her publishing projects...and at least one other person I admire considerably more is still willing to stick up for Walter Breen, to some extent...funny old world. People really do need to get themselves in check, more often. I definitely mean myself as much as anyone, but at least I have not sunk to the Breen level of self-satisfaction at who cares what cost--which, mind you, is nothing to congratulate one's self for (not sinking to that depth of self-absorption and self-righteous disruption and at least potential damage to others). Even if, for example, Anne Sexton did likewise, and Theodore Sturgeon could be a very irresponsible fellow, and and and.

Todd Mason said...

I've yet to encounter Patton or Norman's work elsewhere. But I haven't sought it out yet...and am quite likely forgetting entries in BOTY volumes past.

Don Coffin said...

Leaving aside the personality issues, I'm struck by the 50-year time span, from Andre Norton's 1947 story to Fiona Patton's 1998 piece.

I was also surprised to see that Andre Norton was still alive then the book was published. She died in 2005, at the age of 93.