I don’t remember what the first story I read by Michael Swanwick is. But I do remember the feeling I got as I read it.
It’s the same feeling I got when I first read stories by Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and Lucius Shepard. That amazing, wow-this-is-talent feeling.
Michael Swanwick is one of many authors I wish were household names, the likes of George Martin, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.
In his new collection, Not So Much, Said the Cat, Swanwick is just showing off. The stories are all “genre”, either fantasy or science fiction (or both).
The Man in Grey is a sort of riff on The Truman Show, highlighting the relationship of a man who is essentially a stagehand in the main character’s life. After she slips on a bottle and he “steps out” and saves her from an oncoming train, they start talking about the nature of her world. And then she makes a choice.
The Dala Horse is a Scandinavian post-apocalyptic fairy tale, and is fantastic and scary.
Something terrible had happened. Linnea did not know what it was. But her father had looked pale and worried, and her mother had told her, very fiercely, “Be brave!” and now she had to leave, and it was all the result of that terrible thing.
You can read the whole story now at Tor.com to get a taste.
There are stories here that I had read previously in two must-own collections; Goblin Lake was in Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Tawny Petticoats was in Rogues edited by George Martin (seriously, buy these books). The fact that he had a story in both these collections tells you something about Swanwick’s talent.
The fact that both those stories are in Not So Much, Said the Cat tells you something about the book’s quality.
I don’t know what else to say. This collection proves that Swanwick is a name that should be mentioned every time people speak of Gaiman, Link, Shepard, Martin or Harlan Ellison.
And Not So Much, Said the Cat is a collection that should be in every home.