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Michael Swanwick

Fiction and Excerpts [13]

Fiction and Excerpts [13]

Five Fantasy Books You Won’t Find in the Fantasy Section

One of my guilty pleasures is wandering through the “literature” section of bookstores, opening and closing books, in search of fantasy and science fiction. There’s more of it to be found than you’d expect. Some, like T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, are there because they predate the existence of commercial fantasy. Others, like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, are shelved where she made her reputation in the first place. Most, however, are present simply because even the most earthbound writers occasionally like to expand their imaginations to the utmost, to the places on the map marked Here Be Dragons, and that’s where fantasy dwells.

The fantasy section of bookstores exists for our convenience, but it pays to wander outside of it every now and then.

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Series: Five Books About…

The Dala Horse

This August, look for Not So Much, Said the Cat from Tachyon Publications. This new collection from Michael Swanwick takes a feline turn—prowling the pages with grace, precision, and utter impertinence. The master of short science fiction takes us on whirlwind journeys across planets, time, and space, where magic and science co-exist in endless possibilities. Swanwick’s spectacular offerings are intimate in their telling, galactic in their scope, and delightfully-sesquipedalian in their verbiage.

You’ll find time travelers from the Mesozoic partying ’til the end of time, and a calculus problem that rocks the ages. A supernatural horse-guardian journeys with a confused but semi-repentant troll. A savvy teenage girl wagers against the Devil, and is promptly set upon by the most unsuitable of suitors. And of course, you’ll meet Beelzebub the cat, whose subtle influence may not be entirely benign…

We’re pleased to encore “The Dala Horse,” a Original story originally published in June 2011, now reprinted in the Not So Much, Said the Cat. Long after the wars, there are things abroad in the world—things more than human. And they have scores to settle with one another…

[Read Michael Swanwick’s “The Dala Horse”]

Five Great Fantasy Books Most Fans Don’t Know Exist

One of my favorite self-indulgences is browsing the mainstream shelves of bookstores in search of science fiction and fantasy. There’s a lot of it: War-horses like 1984 or Brave New World or Zamyatin’s We. Recent classics like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Byatt’s Possession. New books that could have easily been published as genre but were not.

Here are five out-of-genre fantasies many fantasy readers have never encountered.

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Series: Five Books About…

Chasing the Phoenix

In the distant future, Surplus arrives in China dressed as a Mongolian shaman, leading a yak which carries the corpse of his friend, Darger. The old high-tech world has long since collapsed, and the artificial intelligences that ran it are outlawed and destroyed. Or so it seems.

Darger and Surplus, a human and a genetically engineered dog with human intelligence who walks upright, are a pair of con men and the heroes of a series of prior Swanwick stories. They travel to what was once China and invent a scam to become rich and powerful. Pretending to have limited super-powers, they aid an ambitious local warlord who dreams of conquest and once again reuniting China under one ruler. And, against all odds, it begins to work, but it seems as if there are other forces at work behind the scenes.

Michael Swanwick’s Chasing the Phoenix is available August 11th from Tor Books.

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Day of the Kraken

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Michael Swanwick presents a new fiction series at, consisting of stand-alone stories all set in the same world. “Day of the Kraken,” continues the epic tale of an alternate fin de siècle Europe shot through with sorcery and intrigue. (Intrigued yourself? Read the other stories, “The Mongolian Wizard” and “The Fire Gown.”)

This story was acquired and edited for by Tor Books editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “Day of the Kraken”]

Series: The Mongolian Wizard Stories

The Fire Gown

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Michael Swanwick presents a new fiction series at, consisting of stand-alone stories all set in the same world. “The Fire Gown,” continues the epic tale of magic and deception in an alternate Europe of railroads and sorcery. (Intrigued? Read the first story, “The Mongolian Wizard.”)

This story was acquired and edited for by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “The Fire Gown”]

Series: The Mongolian Wizard Stories

The Mongolian Wizard

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Michael Swanwick launches a new fiction series at of stand-alone stories all set in the same world. We begin with “The Mongolian Wizard,” a story of a very unusual international conference in a fractured Europe that never was.

This story was acquired and edited for by Tor Books editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “The Mongolian Wizard”]

Series: The Mongolian Wizard Stories

The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree

Enjoy “The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree,” by Michael Swanwick, a story inspired by an illustration from John Jude Palencar.

“The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree” is part of a five-story series curated by senior Tor Books editor David G. Hartwell. All five are based on a singular piece of art by John Jude Palencar and will be released for free on every Wednesday in March.

Read the story behind these stories or purchase all five right now in a $2.99 ebook.

This story was acquired and edited for by Tor Books editor David Hartwell.

[Read “The Woman Who Shook the World-Tree”]

Series: The Palencar Project

The Dead

Presenting “The Dead,” a story by Michael Swanwick, reprinted from science fiction anthology Starlight for’s Monster Mash. “The Dead” presents a future world where zombies take center stage not as a threat, but as a commodity….

Three boy zombies in matching red jackets bussed our table, bringing water, lighting candles, brushing away the crumbs between courses. Their eyes were dark, attentive, lifeless; their hands and faces so white as to be faintly luminous in the hushed light. I thought it in bad taste, but “This is Manhattan,” Courtney said. “A certain studied offensiveness is fashionable here.”

The blond brought menus and waited for our order.

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Series: Monster Mash on

The Trains that Climb the Winter Tree


We hope you enjoy this holiday story by Michael Swanwick and Eileen Gunn, previously available only to registrants. Don’t forget to check out the process post from Michael and Eileen once you finish! Merry Christmas!

It was the middle of the night when the elves came out of the mirrors. Everyone in the house was asleep. Outside, the city slumbered. Silent as shadows, the warriors went from room to room. Their knives were so sharp they could slit a throat without awakening their victim.

They killed all the adults.

The children they spared.

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