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I know what you're thinking and I want you to stop it right this minute.

Don't try denying it. We both know the first thing that popped into your mind when you read the title of this book. I'd tell you that you really ought to be ashamed of yourself, but Who Am I To Judge? Besides, for all I know, you've already got a career in politics and my mama didn't raise any kids who like to pound sand down rat-holes.

Perhaps I should explain what this book is really about: It's about women rescuing men. There. Perfectly innocent. Wholesome and admirable, even. When I first came up with the title/concept for the Chicks in Chainmail series, one of my noble goals was to give the doughty Woman Warrior of fantasy fiction something different to do, a nice change from stomping around the landscape with a permanent grouch on, slaughtering any who dared oppose her (or worse, tried telling her to "Lighten up!"), and using her days off to go to the local tavern, get drunk, and have some out-of-work sailor tattoo the phrase All Men Are Worthless Scum Except For Breeding Purposes somewhere on her body guaranteed to upset her mother. (Unless, of course, she'd learned the whole stomp, slaughter 'n' swill routine from Mom herself.)

Here I must admit that when I was told that lo, the title of this book was to be Chicks and Chained Males, initially I reacted in much the same way as you did. (Yes, you did so too! 'Fess up and be done with it.) But how much greater was my startlement when I learned whence came the aforementioned title!

As those of you already familiar with these modest volumes may recall, the title of the first Chicks in Chainmail anthology (still available; buy many copies) caused a momentary access of trepidation on the part of Our Revered Publisher. This was understandable since, as he himself stated in the Disclaimer on the back of said book, he is a Sensitive, Nineties Kind of Guy.

Well, guess what? The Nineties are almost over. Maybe it's the approaching millenium, maybe it's ascribable to the ripple effect of the dreaded Y2K Bug, but for whatever reason, he is the one who came up with the title for the book you are presently holding in your dainty hands.

I think this is laudable, commendable, praiseworthy, and the rest of the synonyms in my on-line thesaurus for, as you may also recall from my introduction to the original Chicks in Chainmail, it was my desire to show the world that women can be strong and still be able to take a joke. (In fact, laughter when the joke's on you is a pretty good gauge of just how secure in your strength you are. Ever notice what happens to a whole lot of political humorists under certain military dictatorships? Ow.)

By giving us this title, Our Revered Publisher has demonstrated that Sensitive Nineties Guys can also own up to a sense of humor without relinquishing one inch of the moral high ground. Has the shining example of favorable public reaction to Chicks in Chainmail been instrumental in this epiphany? Have I, in some miniscule manner, been responsible for facilitating this cognitive evolution? Might we not interpret this consequence to signify that we have, in some fashion, rescued yet another man from the meshes of a misleading-if-well-intentioned ideology? (Oooh, I just love my on-line thesaurus!) I like to think so. It makes me quietly proud. In fact, there is one aspect above all others connected with this book and all associated therewith for which I am deeply, truly, and warmly grateful:

This time, I get the Disclaimer. It's mine, do you hear? Mine! Minemineminemine . . . mine!



Harry Turtledove studied Greek in college and has a doctorate in Byzantine history. He's been selling fiction for over twenty years, won a Hugo, and has been a Nebula finalist. None of this has stopped him from "applying" the aforementioned knowledge and experience to creating the story that follows, for which I will be deeply grateful once I can stop laughing. 

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