Just out, an all-new Darkover anthology featuring tales of decisions, turning points, love lost and found, all in the beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Stories by Jenna Rhodes, Pat MacEwen, Gabrielle Harbowy, Evey Brett, Rosemary and India Edghill, Diana L. Paxson, and more!
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Table of Contents is here.
Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover.
Robin Wayne Bailey: The first Darkover tale I ever read was Darkover Landfall, and I came across it perhaps in an unusual way. At the time, I was working in a bookstore part-time to earn college money, but I was also already a fairly dedicated book collector. Among the books I collected were DAW's yellow-spined paperbacks, which DAW was kind enough to number. I searched these out in new bookstores and used bookstores, determined to own them all, and this is how I came across Darkover Landfall. I'm not sure if I had previously read any of Marion Zimmer Bradley's earlier work, but this book captivated me. I was a sucker for a good "lost colony" story, and this proved one of the best. I remember the day we unpacked that latest DAW shipment and removing this book with its shiny cover and artwork by, I think, Jack Gaughan. It excited me then, and although I drifted away from the series after a time, it continues to excite me.
DJR: What about the world drew you in?
RWB: Several things about Darkover struck me as fairly unique, even daring, at the time the books were appearing. The blending of disparate cultures immediately stood out. The first ship that crash landed on Darkover carried an interesting mix of Celtic and Spanish colonists, and maybe a few others I'm forgetting. In so many sf novels, then and now, humans seem to be a homogeneous group without national or cultural identity. Not so, Darkover. Marion emphasized and celebrated these differences. The other thing that surprised me was her willingness to play with sexuality and gender roles. Lots of early sixties and seventies science fiction played with sex, but always of a rather tame heterosexual variety. Marion went further. Her depictions of the Renunciates and the society established by the Free Amazons was remarkable for its time, as was way in which polygamy was regarded throughout the series. Her views on homosexuality and her willingness to write gay characters into the series was also almost revolutionary, although her depictions of gay men and relationships troubled me then and continue to trouble me. But that's for another essay, perhaps.
DJR: What inspired your story in Crossroads of Darkover?
RWB: Ah, an easy one to answer. I've tried to make each of the stories I've written for the various recent Darkover anthologies different from each other and different from other stories that appeared alongside mine. With Crossroads of Darkover, I asked myself how I might best do that again, and it occurred to me that there had never been an outright horror story set on Darkover. As it happens, one of my favorite horror stories in "The Willows," by Algernon Blackwood, written in 1907. It's subtle and it's creepy. I didn't want to copy it and transfer it to Darkover, but I wanted to analyze what made that story so powerful and try to bring those techniques into my Darkover story. I loved the result, but Deborah Ross and I both agreed that it didn't quite work in a Darkover setting, given everything we already know about Darkovan history and culture. So she allowed me to rewrite "Snowquake" to make it better fit in. It's still a creepy story and as close to a horror story as I could make it. I hope readers will love it.
DJR: Is there another Darkover story you would particularly like to write?
RWB: I'm sure there are any number of other Darkover stories I'd still love to write - even if I don't know precisely what they are yet. Deborah allows me a lot of freedom to explore the themes I want and to be critical of Darkovan society where I think criticism is needed. I appreciate her as an editor very much.
DJR: What have you written recently? What is your favorite of your published works and why?
RWB: I still continue to write a lot of short stories, many for the folks at the Marion Zimmer Bradley Trust. I enjoy working with all of them,, and they seem to like my work. So I'm happy. But I'm trying to push myself in new directions, too. I'm doing some script writing on the West Coast these days, and that's been amazing and challenging. I'm back to work on a fantasy novel, also, and enjoying it a lot. A number of recent bad experiences with New York publishing had soured me on writing for a while, but once again I'm starting to find a lot of joy in it.
Among my favorite works is Shadowdance, a 1997 novel that was, essentially my coming out novel written at a time when I felt like my whole world was crashing, but instead, through the writing of that book, I found an optimism and freedom like I'd never experienced before. It's available in print, ebook and audible formats now and has endured fairly well. And of course, my Frost novels and stories are ongoing. I love writing those.
DJR: What lies ahead for you?
RWB: What lies ahead? The only answer is "Who knows?" My Fritz Leiber inspired novel, Swords Against the Storm, will soon be reprinted by Centipede Press. I'm eager to see that, as I'm quite proud of it. And more stories, of course. And hopefully, more screen work. And I have a growing desire to write a Western novel or two. But life is change and life is adventure. I'm in the Carribbean one day and Palm Springs the next or hiking in the Rockies. I cannot stop writing, but what I write - what kind of work or what genre - that's a completely open question.
Robin Wayne Bailey is the author of numerous novels, including the Dragonkin trilogy and the Frost series, as well as Shadowdance and the Fritz Leiber-inspired Swords Against the Shadowland. His short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies with frequent appearances in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress series and Deborah J. Ross's Lace and Blade volumes. Many of his stories have been collected in two volumes, Turn Left to Tomorrow and The Fantastikon: Tales of Wonder, published by Yard Dog Books. He's a former two-term president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and a co-founder of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. His latest book is Little Green Men--Attack!, an anthology co-edited with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.