Dust jacket illustration by Lee Moyer.
About the Book:
The world is grown strange.
Gloriana, the six-brained Queen of England, squats in her throne room at the center of Buckingham Labyrinth. In Paris, the glowing Seine may, or may not, conceal the disassembled remnants of the Eiffel Tower. A dragon haunts the high passes of the Germanic states, swallowing travelers whole for purposes impossible to understand. All these signs and portents together mean but one thing to the forgettable-faced Aubrey Darger and his humanoid canine partner Surplus.
There is money to be made.
Here are five novelettes and four never-before-collected vignettes that describe episodes from the careers of those most charming of con artists, Darger and Surplus, spiritual heirs to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser and unwitting agents of change in a world where ancient artificial intelligences scheme to destroy the descendants of their makers. The comrades’ adventures across a wildly detailed world by turns astonish and delight.
The Hugo Award-winning “The Dog Says Bow-Wow” tells the tale of the redoubtable pair’s first confidence game, played out at the dizzying heights of English society. In “The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport,” Surplus works to overcome his prejudice against Darger’s new lover, a member of that most contemptible and capricious of races, cats. Gods walk a future Arcadia in “Girls and Boys Come Out to Play,” tables are turned by the formidable woman who lends her name as title to “Tawny Petticoats,” and Darger and Surplus are separated as each attempts to thwart the machinations of a most unique AI “There Was an Old Woman,” which debuts herein.
The collection closes with “Smoke and Mirrors,” four brief episodes that lend nuance to all that has come before, expanding our understanding and appreciation of this world and of these unforgettable roguish characters.
Michael Swanwick is one of the most celebrated and decorated writers of the past forty years. His novels and short stories have won the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy, the Locus, and the Theodore Sturgeon Awards, among others. His inimitable imagination and consummate skill are on full display in this collection, so revel in the postutopian world with its finest guides. Just check your pockets afterward.
Limited: 1000 signed numbered hardcover copies
From Publishers Weekly:
“This entertaining volume collects Swanwick’s tales of his recurring roguish con artists (who previously appeared in the novel Chasing the Phoenix) and their exploits in a neo-Victorian, postapocalyptic future. Throughout, melancholy human Darger and passionate Surplus, a bioengineered humanoid canine, blithely get themselves into and out of predicaments with sanguine ease in a future in which most technological science has regressed, while the biological sciences have progressed in often terrifying ways.”
“When Michael Swanwick first introduced us to his redoubtable rogues Darger and Surplus in the Hugo Award winning “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” back in 2001, many readers immediately saw them as descendants of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, a duo whose DNA has shown up in the work of everyone from Joanna Russ to Michael Chabon… Darger and Surplus not only join the small company of SF’s classic rogues, but the world they occupy is as complex, detailed, and morally chaotic as we’ve come to expect from the best of Swanwick’s fiction.”
Table of Contents:
- Mother Goose’s Errant Sons
- The Dog Said Bow-Wow
- The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport
- Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play
- Tawny Petticoats
- There Was An Old Woman
- Introduction to Appendix:
- A Little Smoke and a Mirror or Three
- Smoke and Mirrors: Four Scenes from the Postutopian Future
- Lee Moyer
- Michael Swanwick
- 200 pages
- United States
- Subterranean Press
- Out of Print