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Interview: Matthew Hughes on “The Last Legend”

Matthew HughesTell us a bit about “The Last Legend.”

It’s a standalone novelette set in my extrapolation of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth milieu.  Those who read the second volume of my Henghis Hapthorn trilogy, The Spiral Labyrinth, might catch a reference as to how the story fits into the overall arc of the Archonate universe, but the story is meant to be appreciated (or not) on its own merits.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

The late and great editor Gardner Dozois had a tendency to invite me into his signature anthologies, either on the first round or if he had a hole to fill when somebody failed to deliver as promised.  When he died, he was putting together The Book of Legends, the third volume in the series that began with The Book of Swords and continued with The Book of Magic, both of which had novelettes by me.  He sent me an email asking for something along my usual lines that fit the title of the antho.

Whenever Gardner asked me for a story, I would drop what I was doing and write one.  This was partly because it was an honor and a pleasure to write for him, but also because he would always have some advance money from the publisher, and would pay authors who got their books in early.  Since I live on what I make from writing, augmented by some small pensions, I right away wrote “The Last Legend,” and sent it in.  Gardner liked it and sent me money.

Then he died and the question of whether the other invited authors would write their as-yet unstarted stories led to some confusion.  Finally, Bantam declared that the project was canceled.  I got the rights back, so I offered it to Charlie Finlay, who bought it for F&SF.


What are you working on now?

I’ve written a 55,000-word draft of Barbarians of the Beyond, an authorized sequel to Jack Vance’s The Demon Princes quintilogy.   I’ve sent the draft to John Vance, Jack’s son, and if he likes my approach, I’ll polish it up and we’ll see what can be done with it.  I’m thinking it might draw some attention, and might even be considered for magazine serialization.

After that, I’m looking at bringing back Cascor the discriminator, Raffalon’s sometime collaborator, and writing some adventures for him, in association with the characters Ioveana and Ifgenio, from the story, “The Vindicator.”


“The Last Legend” appears in the March/April 2020 issue of F&SF.

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Click on Mr. Hughes’s photo to visit his website.


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