Myths Made Modern: Announcing The Mythic Dream, a New Anthology from the Creators of The Starlit Wood

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe are the genius editing minds behind two of the most acclaimed anthologies of recent years. The Starlit Wood, a collection of new and reimagined fairy tales, was winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, a finalist for numerous other honors, and the place of first publication for Amal El-Mohtar’s Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning story “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” as well as “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik, later expanded into the bestselling novel of the same name.  Six of the entries in last year’s Robots vs. Fairies (which is… pretty much what it sounds like: a volume of stories in which authors were asked to pick a side between the magical and the mechanical) are on the 2018 Locus recommended reading list (as is the anthology as a whole).

Naturally, we’ve been excited to see what the partnership of Wolfe & Parisien has in store for us next… and now we know.

Today we are pleased to announce the immanent arrival of The Mythic Dream, which, like The Starlit Wood, makes old stories new again. It is billed as an anthology of reimagined myths: 18 stories that are “bold reimaginings of the stories we tell about gods and kings, heroes who shaped nations.”

Below, we’ve provided a first look at the cover, with art by Serena Malyon and design by Michael McCartney, as well the complete lineup of contributing authors. But first, here’s the official summary…

These are dreams of classic myths, bold reimaginings of the stories we tell about gods and kings, heroes who shaped nations, the why and how of the world.

Journey with us to the fields of Elysium and the Midwest, through labyrinths and the space between stars. Witness the birth of computerized deities and beasts that own the night. Experience eternal life through curses and biochemistry.

Bringing together stories from the world over, eighteen critically acclaimed and award-winning authors reimagine myths of the past for the world of today, and tomorrow.

The collection will feature stories by the following all-star authors:

John Chu
Leah Cypess
Indrapramit Das
Amal El-Mohtar
Jeffrey Ford
Sarah Gailey
Carlos Hernandez
Kat Howard
Stephen Graham Jones
T. Kingfisher
Ann Leckie
Carmen Maria Machado
Arkady Martine
Seanan McGuire
Naomi Novik
Rebecca Roanhorse
JY Yang
Alyssa Wong

The Mythic Dream will be published August 27, 2019.

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Not the Last: Revealing The Unicorn Anthology

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Earlier this year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, perhaps the 20th century’s definitive take on the mythical creatures. But unicorns are far older than that—and still in the world today—fact that will be celebrated next year in The Unicorn Anthology, coming next year from Tachyon Books and editors Jacob Weisman and, yes, Peter S. Beagle—the same dup who this year won a World Fantasy Award for the fantastic The New Voices of Fantasy.

Today, we’ve got a look at the cover and the official summary, which hints at the participation of such heavy-hitting contributors as Garth Nix, Jane Yolen, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and more. See both below. The book arrives in April.

Unicorns: Not just for virgins anymore. Here are 12 lovely, powerful, intricate, and unexpected unicorn tales from fantasy icons including Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carrie Vaughn, and more. In this volume you will find two would-be hunters who enlist an innkeeper to find a priest hiding the secret of the last unicorn. A time traveler tries to corral an unruly mythological beast that might never have existed at all. The lover and ex-boyfriend of a dying woman join forces to find a miraculous remedy in New York City. And a small-town writer of historical romances discovers a sliver of a mysterious horn in a slice of apple pie.


Preorder The Unicorn Anthology, coming April 19, 2019.

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A Grave-Robber Accused of Murdering a Corpse: Announcing The Resurrectionist of Caligo, by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga’s The Resurrectionist of Caligo has such a killer premise—a Victorian-era grave robber who steals bodies for science winds up accused of the murder of one of the corpses he’s dug up—that we were sold on the book even before we heard about all the other cool stuff it packs in: a rebellious princess, blood magic, class struggles, court intrigue, a killer on the loose, and a splash of romance.

The book arrives next August from Angry Robot, and today, we’re pleased to share with you the official summary, as well as a little something on the history of those “Resurrectionists” we disparigingly call “body-snatchers,” courtesy of one of the co-authors, Wendy Trimboli. Find that essay below the blurb, and preorder the novel now.

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in an wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation.

There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

A Brief History of Grave Robbing…for Science!

These monsters of mankind, who made the graves,

To the chirurgeons became hyred slaves;

They rais’d the dead again out of the dust,

And sold them, to satisfy their lust.

– excerpt from a broadsheet ballad sold in Edinburgh, 1711

Sometimes, the dead don’t stay buried. For centuries we have tried to prevent this. We’ve locked them in tombs and iron coffins, fortified graves with stone slabs and metal cages, assembled tripwires and spring guns, set out watchmen and dogs. Still they escape, rising from the freshly churned earth or vacating an open coffin at a wake, and assisted by that fascinating gothic monster: the resurrectionist.

Resurrectionists—also called body snatchers, ghouls, or sack-‘em-up gentlemen—were corpse smugglers who haunted graveyards in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In a symbiotic danse macabre with anatomists and surgeons, the resurrectionist waltzed reluctant stiffs away from pointless rot in the sepulcher toward a new eternity on the dissection table. Exploiting common superstitions, they operated in remote churchyards where average civilians wouldn’t venture after dark. The morbid activities of these clever, fearless, and resourceful entrepreneurs of the necropolis cemented them in the public imagination, though rarely as heroes. From Jerry Cruncher in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to Robert Louis Stevenson’s titular character in “The Body Snatcher,” literary resurrectionists are a rough-and-tumble crowd.

Gothic fiction helped establish the resurrectionist’s ghoulish reputation. In fact, the word “ghoul” entered the English vernacular in 1786 thanks to the classic gothic novel Vathek by William Beckford. He borrowed the Arabic term ghūl from middle eastern folklore (probably Arabian Nights), referring to an evil spirit that lived in cemeteries and ate the flesh of the dead. Soon resurrectionists, or anyone with “unhealthy” morbid fixations, had the label “ghoul” slapped on them. In 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrated the fraught moral knot of scientific advancement. Victor Frankenstein wears the hat of both resurrectionist and anatomist as he gathers body parts to bring his corpse-creation to life. His monster, created of hijacked corpses, ironically supplies its maker with many more. Victor’s fear and rejection of his monster reflects a cultural dread about “interfering” with the dead, the same attitudes that made resurrectionists (and the surgeons they supplied) into “ghouls” to begin with.

Facing a relentless smear campaign, medical professionals in the early nineteenth century tried to boost their soured public image while also distancing themselves from the lower class of resurrectionist suppliers, whom they needed more than ever. Some gave open-house anatomy lectures, hoping to kindle in the public an interest in medical science. Unfortunately, the average layperson of the time saw dissection as the stuff of nightmares, fit only as a punishment for heinous criminals.

An offended public still didn’t faze teaching-surgeons as much as a lack of fresh bodies. The only legal supply of cadavers came from the gallows. But where a single corpse had once been enough for an entire lecture hall of medical students, new teaching methods imported from Paris required a cadaver for every student. The roughly sixty executions in Great Britain per year were not nearly enough for the estimated five hundred cadavers used in medical schools by the 1820s. In Britain, resurrectionists supplemented this meager supply by exploiting a legal loophole. Officially, corpses belonged to no one. By tossing all clothing and effects back into the coffin, resurrectionists could expect a light misdemeanor charge – if they were arrested. But as demand for stiffs grew, so did preventative measures targeting the naughty local snatcher.

Fresh wealthy stiffs couldn’t take money to the afterlife, but they could afford eternal rest. The upper class protected its dead with ingenious methods: sealed iron coffins, spring guns, metal cage-like mortsafes, and watchmen. Resurrectionists meanwhile had to go farther afield to source bodies, with unfortunate implications for disenfranchised people. British resurrectionists made business trips to poorer churchyards in Ireland and shipped bodies back to Liverpool in barrels, while resurrectionists in the United States targeted slave cemeteries with little fear of retribution. But even these desperate measures couldn’t keep the body snatching economy in the green. As the ready supply of fresh corpses continued to decline in the 1820s, opportunists like the infamous duo Burke and Hare resorted to outright murder.

William Burke and William Hare were more ghoulish than the typical resurrectionist. Though they never robbed a grave to obtain a corpse, their murder spree heralded the end of the “resurrectionist times” in Britain. They famously suffocated at least sixteen victims in Edinburgh in 1828, preying on the weak, elderly, and those easily plied with alcohol. Dr Knox, the surgeon on the receiving end, was so impressed with the freshness of the corpses they supplied, he gave them regular bonuses. Perhaps realizing he might end up on an anatomist’s table himself, Hare turned evidence on his partner Burke before fleeing town. The latter was hanged and fittingly dissected in a lecture hall before a pitiless mob of medical students, who rioted when they couldn’t all fit in the door. In the eyes of the public, every (mostly) law-abiding resurrectionist became a murderer by association – a lasting link that ensured the resurrectionist’s enduring, if somewhat misleading, reputation.

The public anti-resurrectionist frenzy following Burke’s trial paved the way for the passing of the Anatomy Act of 1832, which provided new legal sources of cadavers to medical schools. Now hospitals and workhouses could donate their unclaimed dead to science, putting British resurrectionists out of work for good. The general public still feared dissection due to religious taboos. However, wealthy philanthropist Jeremy Bentham started a new trend when he left his body to science in 1832, and the cultural stigma of dissection has faded slowly ever since.

Like many monsters, the resurrectionist isn’t quite so terrifying when we hold a metaphorical lantern up to his (or, rarely, her) face and stare him down. What do we see? Probably a fit, lower class young man with an ill-paying day job just looking to line his pockets with extra coin. He’s skeptical enough to brave cemeteries after dark, but impressionable enough to drink a pint or three afterward, to forget the clammy flesh he’s touched and sold. Perhaps, like our protagonist in The Resurrectionist of Caligo, he even covets his humble, if necessary, role in the push for scientific progress. And maybe in facing his own mortality, instead of a deathbed religious epiphany, he’ll judge the value of his own corpse-flesh and wonder, if he can just make it to a teaching hospital on his own steam, whether the attending surgeon will pay an extra quid for freshness.

Alicia Zaloga grew up in Virginia Beach not liking the beach, and now moves every few years, sometimes to places near beaches. She has a writing degree from Columbia College Chicago, and when she’s not dealing with life’s chores, she collects hobbies: plucking the E string on the bass, producing an alarming number of artistic doodles, and French beading floral bouquets.

Wendy Tremboli grew up in England, Germany and the United States, and learned to speak two languages well enough that most people can understand her. Determined to ignore her preference for liberal arts, she attended the US Air Force Academy then worked as an intelligence officer, which was less exciting than it sounds. These days she has a creative writing MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Colorado with her family, border collie, and far too many books.

Preorder The Resurrectionist of Caligo, available August 6, 2019.

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