While wine flowed prior to a sci-fi con in ’78, Robert Asprin said to his cohorts, “Imagine if our favorite sword-and-sorcery characters shared the same settings and time-frames. Imagine the potentials. Imagine the tie-ins. What if…” the characters know of each other and their paths crossed? What if several writers agree to contribute their own characters and plots? What if the writers could use each others’ characters? Such is how the fantasy anthology Thieves’ World and its series were born.
Within the city of Sanctuary readers are introduced to Enas Yorl who is powerful but can’t undo his curse, thieving Shadowspawn who gets caught in a trap set for another, the wandering minstrel Cappan Varra, madame Myrtis who wants to bargain for her girls, and many others. They aren’t as cliché as they might seem. Because a writer’s character is shared, intonations and perceptions may seem to vary. It’s a case of he said she said. Thieves’ World is like a mystery where everyone is asked to give their account. And as Asprin said in his editor’s note, “the pecking order of Sanctuary will vary depending on who you talk to…or more importantly, who you believe”.
Those who let their arms be twisted into joining the project are:
- John Brunner- “Sentences of Death”
- Lynn Abbey- “The Face of Chaos”
- Poul Anderson- “The Gate of the Flying Knives”
- Andrew J. Offutt- “Shadowspawn”
- Robert Lynn Asprin – “The Price of Doing Business”
- Joe W. Haldeman- “Blood Brothers”
- Christine DeWees- “Myrtis”
- Marion Zimmer Bradley- “The Secret of the Blue Star”
Thieves’ World is a fun, entertaining, and enjoyable read. Some of the the writing may not be the best, but it gets points for originality. While some writers went on to other projects, new contributors such as Diana Paxon and C.J. Cherryh breathed new life into Sanctuary. Bradley’s Lythande and Offutt’s Shadowspawn continued their adventures in other novels. A friend with whom I share similar tastes exclaimed, “those are great!” I’m looking forward to reading more of the anthologies and/or the spin-off novels, of which there are many.
“We hold where I come from that no man can flee his weird, so he may as well meet it in a way that’ll leave a good story. Besides, this may not be our death day.” ~Poul Anderson,”the Gate of the Flying Knives”
Two years ago almost to the day I was introduced to the name Robert Asprin. That was quite the filk session/wake- music, stories, Glen, and a lot of laughs. He’s one of the funniest men I never met, but Robert made MarCon more memorable than it already was.
Robert L. Asprin
06/28/46 – 05/22/08
Thanks for the laughter, sláinte!