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by Mary Robinette Kowal

Introductions serve an interesting purpose in life. Once upon a time, it was shockingly impolite to speak to someone without being introduced to them first. It served as a way to vet people, so that people of questionable character could not impose on you. Introductions also served to bring worthwhile individuals to your attention.

In many ways, a book introduction does the same thing. I am here to introduce Ken Scholes to those of you who don’t know him. My job, as it were, is to say to you, “Yes. This gentleman is a lovely. You may safely spend an afternoon in his company.”

Allow me, then, a moment of your time to give you some framework and context for the stories you are about to read. Ken is one of my first writing friends. When I had just begun to explore the world of creating fiction, he took me under his wing and made sure that I knew people at conventions.

That generosity of spirit reflects in his fiction. His characters are not all shining beacons of perfection but there is, in his stories, an essential element of optimism. Even in the darkest worlds, even the bleakest characters, have something redeeming about them. I think that’s directly related to the way Ken moves through the world.

He is also totally goofy. I have spent more than one meal with him in which I laughed to the point of not being able to breathe. That sense of play shows up from the very start in his titles, like “A World Done in By Great Granny’s Grateful Pie.” I mean . . . how much fun is that? It carries through in the stories themselves. Not that all of them are comedies—far from it—but that sense of whimsy sneaks in to tickle you even during a viral outbreak.

Ken is also a reformed preacher. I say reformed because, while he still has the power to officiate a wedding, he’s not a member of the clergy anymore. But . . . but years spent preaching have given him an innate understanding of the power of words. His text sings on the page and has an easy rhythm that not a lot of folks ever get. I say this as someone who is an audiobook narrator . . . Ken’s prose is stunning and a delight to read.

All of which is to say that, this is a man you can trust with your time. He will not waste it with stories that are without substance. He will not preach to you without also entertaining you. He will make you laugh and he will make you weep. He will make you think and he will paint pictures in your mind that will remain long after you close the anthology.

It is my very great pleasure to introduce you to Ken Scholes.

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