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30th Anniversary DAW Fantasy
edited by Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila E. Gilbert
DAW Books, 421 pages

30th Anniversary DAW Fantasy
Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila E. Gilbert
DAW Books is owned exclusively by its publishers, Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila E. Gilbert. They are strongly committed to discovering and nurturing new talent, and to keeping a personal "family" spirit at DAW Books. Elizabeth R. Wollheim is the daughter of the founder Donald A. Wollheim.

ISFDB Bibliography: Elizabeth R. Wollheim
ISFDB Bibliography: Sheila E. Gilbert
SF Site Review: 30th Anniversary DAW Science Fiction

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

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A companion volume to the recent 30th Anniversary Science Fiction collection, this is essentially a celebration of three decades of success by the family firm that DAW Books was in the beginning, is now (despite its corporate umbrella associations), and is, thank the publishing gods, likely to remain.

Many of the authors in 30th Anniversary DAW Fantasy are "family" -- writers that either Betsy Wollheim (or her parents, DAW's founders) or Sheila Gilbert have discovered, nurtured, 'knew them when', as it were -- writers who were with DAW for many years, perhaps for decades. Betsy Wollheim speaks eloquently of the excitement of receiving a new Tanith Lee manuscript in the DAW offices, and Lee is a talent who has been in residence on many people's bookshelves for a comfortable lifetime. But it doesn't stop there. There are also the so-called 'new babies', the discoveries made in the last few years, names and reputations made by great fantasy sagas read and raised to prominence by a whole new generation of readers.

The author list reads like a Fantasy Who's Who: Andre Norton, Tanith Lee, Melanie Rawn, Michelle West, Jennifer Roberson, Mercedes Lackey. But some of the best stories in the collection come from contributors like Marjorie B. Kellogg ("The Hamlet" -- a curious tale imbued with both mysticism and a sense of deep reality) and Michael Shea ("The Rebuke", with a startling premise of a man discussing philosophy with his own Death in the run-up to the actual act of, well, dying).

There are disappointments, of course. Lynn Abbey's "It's About Squirrels", despite having a number of good lines of dialogue, never quite goes anywhere as a fantasy story, and its inclusion in this book, aside from the seemingly frivolous references to fairies and brownies, seems to be a little arbitrary. I know that Mercedes Lackey and her husband Larry Dixon co-authored a number of Valdemar books, but the ones I know best have only Lackey's name on the cover, and if a Valdemar story was to be included I would have, personally, preferred it to be one penned by Lackey and not by Dixon. The story that Mercedes Lackey herself has contributed to the collection is a whimsy of the author being called to account for her 'sins' by her characters -- something of which most authors have written some version, or have at least thought about writing. But was this kind of thing really strong enough for an inclusion in an anthology, particularly a milestone anthology like this one?

On the whole, though, I take 30th Anniversary DAW Fantasy to be first and foremost a salute to two things -- the existence of a wonderful publishing company, and the art of writing -- the solitary art, the occupation so often dismissed as dabbling, or at the very least a non-serious way of earning one's living. It is not. It is work, hard work. Sometimes it feels like it's a tougher proposition to produce one page of good prose than to go coal mining for a day.

Michael Shea's Death character opines in "The Rebuke",

People will, on the weakest pretexts, waste vast amounts of time on aimless and valueless activities. They will do this to avoid fruitful and productive activities -- even when these activities are not difficult. It is enough that they be 'work' to make them shunned.
I, for one, remain very glad that this does not apply to writers, who continue so wholeheartedly to love and not to shun their work -- the "fruitful and productive activities" -- which provide those of us who love the written word with new stories year after year.

And I wish DAW many more years of continued success of publishing more extraordinary books by that very special genre of writer -- the people with enough of a sense of wonder to enable others to follow them into the strange new worlds of their making. None of us will be around to see it, but I hope that there is a centenary anthology volume waiting in DAW's future.

Copyright © 2002 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her latest fantasy work, a two-volume series entitled Changer of Days, was published by HarperCollins.


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