Back | Next

Editors' Introduction

It was simply a fortunate confluence of events. Mike had just edited a pair of science fiction mystery anthologies—Down These Dark Spaceways and Alien Crimes—for the Science Fiction Book Club. Not too long ago Eric had edited a massive collection of Randall Garrett's beloved Lord Darcy stories, the first edition in history that puts all the stories together.

In short, both of us were thinking along the same lines: science fiction, fantasy, mystery. And it occurred to us that, to the best of our knowledge, no one has yet put together an anthology of fantasy detective stories, as opposed to science fiction mysteries. It seemed hard to believe, since there are certainly enough examples out there, going back at least to the works of Poe and to the hinted-at but never-written Sherlock Holmes tale of "The Giant Rat of Sumatra." So we got together, approached Jim Baen with the idea, and got a contract—one of the very last he issued before his untimely death.

Probably the two most famous fantasy sleuths are Lord Darcy, and Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin, who appeared in 121 stories in the old Weird Tales magazine. We were very familiar with the Darcy stories, but hadn't read the Quinn stories in decades. So Eric read half of them and Mike read the other half, and we came to the unhappy conclusion that they're a little too dated and a little too clumsily written.

Having anchored the volume with one of the best Lord Darcy stories, we went a-hunting—and came up with stories by such superstars as Neil Gaiman, Harry Turtledove, Gene Wolfe, and David Drake. We resurrected a story by William Hope Hodgson, recent winner of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, which was as old as the Jules de Grandin stories but read a lot better. Agatha Christie proved long ago that the detective story is not the private property of male writers, and we picked up fine stories from Esther Friesner, Tanya Huff, and Laura Resnick, then rounded out the book with another seven stories.

We then looked at what we had. We felt they were a fine batch of stories but that perhaps something was missing. Since we each had written our own series of fantasy detective tales over the years, we decided to make this an even more unique collection by writing brand-new novelettes featuring our detectives, and start and finish the book with those two brand-new stories.

So Mike wrote a new John Justin Mallory story, which is now the sixth novelette to go along with the original Mallory novel, Stalking the Unicorn. Those have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Black Gate Magazine, and the anthologies Newer York, A Christmas Bestiary, and Masters of Fantasy. He's still negotiating the contract as we write these words, but he will be writing at least two more Mallory novels in the very near future. Eric and Dave Freer wrote a new novelette in the Heirs of Alexandria fantasy series they're doing with Mercedes Lackey (Shadow of the Lion, A Mankind Witch, This Rough Magic, Much Fall of Blood—with at least three more novels coming).

We hope you enjoy the anthology. We think the most interesting thing about it is that, given the rules of each magical venue, the authors play as fair with the reader as Dashiell Hammett or Rex Stout ever did. Which is harder than you think in a universe filled with witches, goblins, and dragons.

Eric & Mike

December, 2006


Back | Next