Fantasy & Science Fiction Review



Books To Look For
Charles de Lint

September 2003

Custer's Last Jump and Other Collaborations, by Howard Waldrop & Leigh Kennedy, Steven Utley, Buddy Saunders, George R. R. Martin, Bruce Sterling & A. A. Jackson IV, Golden Gryphon, 2003, $24.95.

Apparently, Howard Waldrop has been holding back these stories from the various collections of his that have appeared over the years, in the hope that one day they could all be together in a single volume.

Well, that day's come, and what a treasure trove they prove to be.

The presentation alone is fascinating, as each story has an introduction by Waldrop covering how he met his collaborator and some history of the story's genesis, followed by the story itself, and then an afterward by the collaborator, either building upon, or sometimes refuting Waldrop's facts. Though truthfully, there's little of the latter, as Waldrop is noted for keeping copious notes on his stories.

Also appearing throughout the volume are a series of short, somewhat tongue-in-cheek essays on the art of collaboration.

All of it makes for compelling reading, building up a portrait of Waldrop and whetting one's appetite for the main course, which is the fiction itself. And while I understand Waldrop wanting to bring them together in one collection, these stories are too good to have languished uncollected for so long.

They range from alternative histories like the title story (written with Steven Utley) and "One Horse Town" (a take on Homer written with Leigh Kennedy) through to "The Latter Days of the Law" (an eleventh-century detective story set in Heian Japan with Bruce Sterling) which I believe is original to the collection.

I've always been a sucker for the short story form, especially when handled as well and as imaginatively as they are here by Waldrop and his collaborators. And since you're a reader of this magazine of short stories (where you were momentarily distracted by this column), I'm sure you'll enjoy them as much as I did.



 

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