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Esther Friesner

Tradition is a wonderful thing. It gives us a sense of history, of belonging to something greater than ourselves, but it most of all gives us someone and/or something other than ourselves to blame for the embarrassing stuff we feel compelled to do. Yes sir, every time you find yourself serving the fruitcake-that-tastes-like-a-doorstop at Christmas, or saying, "Prithee, my comely wench, but mightst thou servest me an hotte dogge with ye workes?" at a local Ren Faire, or fighting the neighborhood raccoons for property rights to a swiftly rotting jack-o'-lantern at Hallowe'en, or singing the Whiffenpoof Song at the big Harvard-Yale game when you wouldn't know a whiffen if it poofed all over you, you can always defend your actions with the proud and clarion cry: "It's a tradition!"

(You can also try blaming it on your kids, if you prefer, but that won't work with the Whiffenpoof Song. Even kids aren't that gullible.)

Now here at the Chicks in Chainmail series of hard-hitting and culturally enriched anthologies, we've got a little tradition of our own. We call it Blaming Someone for the Title of the Current Book. Your humble and obedient editor took full responsibility—and rightly so—for the series concept as well as for the title of the first book, but since then, although the concept has remained true and fixed as the pole star, the blame for the titles of individual volumes in the series has gone skipping merrily hither, thither, and yon.

So let it be known, now and for all time, that the person who came up with the title for this one is Mr. Robin Wayne Bailey of Kansas City, Missouri, a fine writer and a great American. (He also has a story in this anthology, but please note that there is no connection between coming up with a title for our fourth Chicks book and getting a story accepted. None. So don't go getting any erroneous ideas. Thank you.)

Now that we've settled that, I'd like to share with you one of the joys of Editorhood. Recently, along with the rest of the Chicks series fanmail, I received a rather . . . unique missive from a gentleman by the name of Jeffrey Tolliver who resides in the great state of Ohio. With Mr. Tolliver's consent, I now share with you a brief description of the contents of his letter:


Chicks in chain mail.


Yes, that's right, your eyes have not betrayed you: Mr. Tolliver is a talented and creative maker of chain mail armor and so, inspired no doubt by the literary splendors of this august series, he crafted chain mail for five (count 'em, five) stuffed chickens. Of the toy stuffed chicken variety. Chain mail on a roast stuffed chicken is just sick. 

I have photographic proof of this chicken bechain-mailing in my possession. He named them after the Dionne quintuplets and, in my opinion, they are darned cute. He also crafted two wonderful sets of chain mail for a pair of teddybears, Leif Bearicson and Bearic the Red and encourages us all to support our right to arm bears.

None of this is my fault either. I've got witnesses.

With stuff like that happening in the so-called Real World, you would think that the contributors to this volume of Chicks might be hard-pressed to outdo it on the strange-and-wonderful scale, but they did. You'll find tales here by some Repeat Offenders as well as by some First-Timers. You'll also find characters who have appeared in previous Chicks books cheek-by-jowl with new creations. Think of it as opening a box of chocolates, only without anyone doing a bad Forrest Gump imitation. Make it a nice, big box of chocolates, while you're at it, Godiva for preference, and go heavy on the cherry cordials. I hope you'll be pleased.

Now before I free you to romp barefoot through the rest of this volume, I'd like to take a moment of your time for something serious: This book is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Beatrice Friesner, who passed away in the autumn of 1999. She went through the Depression, World War II, taught in a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York before serving in the New York City public schools—junior and senior high—for over thirty years, and raised me. (Her own mother insisted that her daughter as well as her sons get a college education even when most people scoffed, saying that higher education was wasted on a girl. Ha!) She faced plenty of trials and adversity in her life, but she never backed down and she always put up a good, honorable fight. I consider her and her mother before her to be true Warrior Women.

I also consider this to be one tradition that is well worth carrying on.


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Title: The Chick's in the Mail
Author: Esther Friesner & Martin Harry Greenberg
ISBN: 0-671-31950-7
Copyright: © 2000 edited by Esther Friesner & Martin Harry Greenberg
Publisher: Baen Books