Best of Michael Swanwick, Volume Two

Best of Michael Swanwick, Volume Two

Illustration By Lee Moyer
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Dust jacket illustration by Lee Moyer.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal called Michael Swanwick “the finest world-builder since Tolkien.” His first two published stories in 1980 were both Nebula Award finalists. In the decades since, he has won the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy, and five Hugo Awards. He also has the pleasant distinction of having lost more of these awards than any other fiction writer.

In a literary generation that includes William Gibson, Connie Willis, Bruce Sterling, Nancy Kress, James Patrick Kelly, and John Kessel, Swanwick stands out. Not only as the author of such outstanding novels as Stations of the Tide and the Iron Dragon trilogy but as possibly the finest and most prolific short fiction writer of his time.

The Best of Michael Swanwick, Volume Two not only matches the brilliance of the previous collection but surpasses it in invention and literary brilliance. These exemplary works are among the best short fiction of our time, whether it be genre or mainstream.

If you doubt, read this book and be convinced. It contains more than three dozen stories ranging from hard science fiction to extreme fantasy. They include the heartwarming “The Scarecrow’s Boy” and the harrowing “Huginn and Muninn and What Came Next.” The adventures of Postutopian con artists Darger and Surplus continue in “There was an Old Woman…” and those of Kapitänleutnant Franz-Karl Ritter begin in “The Mongolian Wizard.” An adolescent girl follows her father to Hell in “Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown.” New York City is revealed to be built upon mist and illusion in “Cloud.” And Trickster steals everything there is in “Universe Box.” From the hellish surface of Venus in “Tin Marsh” to the shifting lands of Chaos in “The Last Days of Old Night,” these are the works of a man whose “towering creativity,” Gene Wolfe wrote, “seems so effortless…so effortless, and so immense.”

The Best of Michael Swanwick, Volume Two captures the dazzling variety of an acknowledged master of fantasy and science fiction.

Limited: 1000 signed numbered hardcover copies


From Publishers Weekly:

“Hugo and Nebula Award winner Swanwick showcases his talent for world and character building in this superior collection of 37 shorts written between 1999 and 2023… The range of theme and style is vast—other entries reimagine Norse myths (‘The Last Days of Old Night’) and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos (‘Dreadnought’)—but Swanwick remains remarkably sure-footed as he dances between genres. Combining innovative plots with evocative prose, this further cements Swanwick’s place in the speculative canon.”


From Paul Di Filippo, Locus Online:

“…it’s perhaps for his gleeful, assured, endlessly variegated short fiction that he might yet be best recalled. And while only posterity can say for sure, we, his contemporaries, can revel in the wealth of tales without needing to judge… This latest collection affirms Swanwick’s love for the short story genre—a passion addressed in his touching introduction, ‘The Apple Tree, the Vacuum Tubes, and All the World Besides’—and the book demonstrates his admirable range and proficiency.”

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: The Apple Tree, the Vacuum Tubes, and All the World Besides
  • The Mongolian Wizard
  • The Man in Grey
  • Ancient Engines
  • Starlight Express
  • Urdumheim
  • Tin Marsh
  • Dragon Slayer
  • Steadfast Castle
  • Nirvana or Bust
  • The Last Geek
  • Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown
  • Eighteen Songs by Debussy
  • The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin
  • Moon Dogs
  • Huginn and Muninn—and What Came After
  • The Dala Horse
  • Libertarian Russia
  • Dreadnought
  • An Episode of Stardust
  • The Skysailor’s Tale
  • Ghost Ships
  • An Empty House with Many Doors
  • Annie Without Crow
  • Passage of Earth
  • The New Prometheus
  • For I Have Lain Me Down on the Stone
  • of Loneliness and I’ll Not Be Back Again
  • The Beast of Tara
  • Pushkin the American
  • “Hello,” Said the Stick”
  • There Was an Old Woman
  • The Bordello in Faerie
  • Cloud
  • The Woman Who Shook the World Tree
  • Goblin Lake
  • The Last Days of Old Night
  • The Scarecrow’s Boy
  • Universe Box



Lee Moyer
Michael Swanwick
536 pages
United States
In Print