Realms of Darkover®, the newest Darkover anthology, will be released in May 2016. You can pre-order it at Amazon (and it will be available at other outlets soon). Here’s a contributor interview to whet your appetite!
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of Darkover encompasses many realms, from glacier-shrouded mountains to arid wastelands, from ancient kingdoms to space-faring empires. Now this all-new anthology welcomes old friends and new fans to explore these landscapes of time and place, history and imagination.
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 fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies with numerous appearances in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword And Sorceress series and Deborah J. Ross's Lace And Blade volumes. Some of his stories have been collected in two volumes, Turn Left To Tomorrow and The Fantastikon, from Yard Dog Books. He's a former two-term president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and a founder of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He's the co-editor, along with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, of Little Green Men - Attack!
Deborah J. Ross: When and why did you begin writing?
Robin Wayne Bailey: It's a cliche for writer to answer this with "When I was a child," but that's pretty much true in my case. I remember writing a poem in third grade -- call it a Hiawatha pastiche, although I wouldn't learn the word "pastiche" for years -- but it impressed the teacher. She made me read it to the class, then to the principal who made me read it before a school assembly, then at a PTA. Then my parents made me read to to relatives. It got to be embarrassing but, on the other hand, I realized, "Hey, an easy road to attention!" So I kept at it with lots of stories and poems. I started my first novel in what was once called Junior High School, writing a spy novel mostly during study halls. About sixty pages into it, I turned my back briefly, and somebody stole my work. In a crazy, utterly dysfunctional family of wildly talented, but self-destructive people, writing became my way of standing out. Note, I did not say, "staying sane."
DJR: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world or its inhabitants drew you in?
RWB: Toward the end of high school, already a compulsive science fiction reader, I discovered a book called Darkover Landfall. The idea of a shipload of colonists going off-course and becoming lost to the rest of humanity and having to create their own culture wasn't exactly new to me, but Bradley's handling of it fascinated. I read four or five more Darkover novels after that, but must admit that I eventually drifted away from the series. But that early paperback edition of Darkover Landfall, now signed by Marion, still resides in an honored spot on my bookshelves.
DJR: What do you see as the future of Darkover? Is there another story you would particularly like to write?
RWB: This is a tough question. I'm totally delighted that Darkover has been revitalized with new anthologies and new novels from Deborah J. Ross. It's a unique world and a unique creation. But I don't want to see it locked in amber, static and unchanging. Marion, herself, wrote of Darkover as a dynamic place that over its history underwent sweeping social changes. Personally, I want to see more of that dynamism. The Comyn need to fall; their rigid control of matrix crystals and the attendant technology needs to end. The laran abilities need to spread among the general population, and Darkover needs to begin playing a more dominant and perhaps dangerous role in the Federation/Empire. Yes, this would bring a certain cultural chaos and lots of uncertainty, but stories arise from that chaos and uncertainty.
DJR: What inspired your story in Realms of Darkover?
RWB: The concept I just described has actually been the quiet force behind each of my Darkover stories. In "The Ridenow Nightmare," I told of the appearance of an unborn child whose laran powers may dwarf anything ever seen among the Comyn and the protective parents who refuse to cooperate with the Towers. Here, in this child, is a potential serious threat to the "natural order" on Darkover. In my second story, "Renegades of Darkover," I introduce the Cieloslibertat, which may be a rebel movement - or an idea in the mind of a mad man - to bring an end to the Comyn. Now, in "Sea of Dreams," I've introduced a seedy, criminal underground that operates and thrives on its own terms and who largely regard the Comyn as irrelevant to the lives of ordinary Darkovan lives. If I continue to write stories about Darkover, I'm likely to keep exploring this concept of Darkover as a rougher, tougher and increasingly less structured society, a place full of simmering discontent just waiting to explode.
DJR: What have you written recently? What lies ahead?
RWB: For now, I plan to continue writing short stories. I enjoy writing novels, but I just feel that I'm taking a break from them. I enjoy the versatility of the short story, the chance to explore a far wider variety of themes and styles. I've got a hard science fiction story called "Tombaugh Station" just out in November in Mission: Tomorrow, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt from Baen Books, as well as a more lyrical fantasy piece called "The Sea Witches" in Sword & Sorceress 30. There are other stories coming out recently or over the next handful of months, each very different. And I'm putting the finishing touches on Little Green Men - Attack! an anthology of humorous science fiction I'm editing with Bryan Thomas Schmidt for Baen Books. And of course, a novel is in the queue. Several novels, in fact. But everything in its own time