cover image The Best of Michael Swanwick, Vol. Two

The Best of Michael Swanwick, Vol. Two

Michael Swanwick. Subterranean, $50 (536p) ISBN 978-1-64524-112-6

Hugo and Nebula Award winner Swanwick showcases his talent for world and character building in this superior collection of 37 shorts written between 1999 and 2023. The opening of the charmingly folkloric “There Was an Old Woman...” (“Had he been a superstitious man, Darger would not have wound up being swallowed by a dragon”) exemplifies Swanwick’s ability to grab readers’ attention. “Pushkin the American” delivers a moving alternate literary history reimagining the life of the 19th-century Russian author had he been born in Philadelphia, following him on a twisty path to becoming a man of letters in czarist Russia. In a tone suitable to a bedtime story, “The Scarecrow’s Boy” recounts how a robot reacts to the plight of a child survivor of a suspicious car crash, suggesting that empathy is not limited to humans. The range of theme and style is vast—other entries reimagine Norse myths (“The Last Days of Old Night”) and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos (“Dreadnought”)—but Swanwick remains remarkably sure-footed as he dances between genres. Combining innovative plots with evocative prose, this further cements Swanwick’s place in the speculative canon. Agent: Danielle Bukowski, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)