Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Caretakers (and other business)

Call this an all-purpose post, to talk about stories arrived and upcoming. First up: "The Caretakers," a short story that's a big deal for me, as it's up at Tor.com now, thanks to the good graces and editorial acumen of Ellen Datlow, and also the graphic genius of Greg Ruth.

It is a strange little story, in the manner of Robert-Aickman-strange, and you can read it by clicking right here.

And happy news: Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, has finally outsold its improbably large print run, which means, happily, that there is a second edition coming out. But it's not just a second edition. This one will feature illustrations by my late father, Canadian landscape painter Lawrence Nickle. This has great meaning for me, as you might guess. Lawrence's work--and more importantly, his approach to working--was a signpost to me for many years. And his good-humored delving into the macabre (really, against what he understood his nature to be) was one of the greatest gifts he gave me in his lifetime. I'm delighted to see his work more widely distributed than the collectable editions that appeared at the book's 2011 debut.

Here are a couple to wet your whistle on:




There are more stories coming out in 2016, too: "The Parable of the Cylinder," in Canadian Notes & Queries, and "Murder on the Prurient Express," in Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire.  There's at least one more, the details of which I can't yet reveal, and if I can stick the landing, then as many as three more past that...

So it could be a pretty good year for David Nickle short stories, if that's your bag.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Draughtsman's Daughter

I've never written much fan fiction--not intentionally; I always had a sense that whatever my influences, they should stay influences. So if I thought well of Ian Fleming's stories, I should take lessons from them in a new work rather than writing a story about James Bond. If I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut... I should probably just recall his moral sensibilities and sense of wit, rather than try and write a story about Kilgore Trout.

But once... about 20 years ago, Michael Skeet and I sat down to write a story about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Those are the two characters that Fritz Leiber made, along with his sometime-collaborator Harry Fischer--a couple of sword-fighting rogues, one tall and strong and thoughtful from up north, another small and fast and clever, good with magic spells, from the south. The stories were classic sword and sorcery, a more debonaire take on the kinds of things that Robert E. Howard was doing with Conan the Barbarian a decade or so earlier.

If you're of a certain age, of a certain predilection, you'll know the guys I'm talking about. They were thugs, and rogues, and drinking buddies--mostly drinking buddies--two dudes in a life-long bromance, long before the term entered the parlance.

And in that spirit, about 20 years ago, Mike Skeet and I made a go of what has turned out to be a piece of Fafhrd-and-the-Gray-Mouser fanfic.

It wasn't planned that way. A long-ago publisher had put out the word that the estate of Fritz Leiber was opening up the characters for an anthology of new stories set in Leiber's imaginary universe of Nehwon. And we thought we'd make a go of it, try our hands at a genre--Sword & Sorcery--that we'd never tried. There was other business: a play on early aviation, a cheeky twist on the Arts & Crafts movement, a bit of Victorian sauce that might've gone well in The Pearl...

The anthology never materialized--at least not to our knowledge--and we never heard back one way or another in any case. And so our story, "The Draughtsman's Daughter," languished on our hard drives for what has turned into decades. It's safe to say that this story's not ever going to sell, or make us money. It is safe to say that at this point, it's fan fiction--a transformative work based on the stories and novels of Fritz Leiber.

With all that in mind, we thought we'd share it: right here.