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Susan Casper (1947-2017) had a comparatively limited, but very intense writing career. She collaborated with some of the biggest names in the field, attempted truly daring and innovative fiction, and then slipped away from writing as quietly as she'd originally started. As Michael Swanwick says in his introduction, the reason she stopped writing is a mystery. There came a point when she simply stopped, apparently satisfied with what she had accomplished.


This collection of literary gems contains the two dozen stories that comprise Susan Casper's fiction output, as well as several of her in-depth trip reports. It has been lovingly assembled by her husband, the multi-award winning author and editor Gardner Dozois.


Table of Contents:
Introduction by Michael Swanwick
Spring-Fingered Jack
The Haunting
Spring Fever
The Clowns
Send No Money
Covenant with a Dragon
Under Her Skin
The Stray
Home for the Holiday
The Cleaning Lady
A Child of Darkness
Nine-Tenths of the Law
Djinn and Tonic
Coming of Age
Windows of the Soul
Up the Rainbow
Holmes Ex Machina
A Night at the J Street Bar
Why Do You Think They Call It Middle Earth?
Old Photographs
The Blessed Damosel
Afterword by Andy Duncan

Trip Reports:
Bermuda Cruise
World Fantasy Con, Monterey, and the California Coast—1998
Anaheim/Las Vegas/Grand Canyon—1999
Hawaii: Westercon in O'ahu/The Big Island—2000



"This collection… showcases both her talent and the potential… that was lost when she abruptly stopped writing.… The completed short stories are worthy reading for any fan of science fiction or darker fantasy.… there's a lot here for genre fans to enjoy." —Publishers Weekly


"…the stories deliver a powerful kick; Casper had the ability to bring the stuff of dreams and nightmares vividly into contact with everyday life.… If you're a lover of short fiction, this is one that belongs on your must-read list.… Michael Swanwick and Andy Duncan add perceptive appreciations. When reading the anthology, don't skip these as they offer a deeper insight into both her personality and her art." —Peter Heck, Asimov's Science Fiction


"It's entirely possible that you're not familiar with the work of Susan Casper.… Still, if you ran across one of her tales, you weren't likely to forget it. She specialized in quick little stories about very ordinary people confronted by distinctly odd situations, or looking at familiar situations from an odd angle.… This isn't a book to read in one sitting. Rather, take your time. There's a lot of variety here.… [Casper] wrote witty and informative reports of her travels… [the book includes] seven of these reports, which provide a delightful glimpse into the world of this fascinating woman." —Don Sakers, Analog Science Fiction and Fact


"It is a testament to the high regard in which she was held that this commemorative volume was so quickly assembled and issued.… The opening three stories—her first sale was in 1983—serve almost as a mini-trilogy of horror or the Weird, showing Casper's interest in eruptions of the uncanny into everyday life. Exemplars like Robert Bloch and Lisa Tuttle come to mind.… Finally, the trip reports—a longstanding fannish tradition—reveal Casper's zest for life, a keen observer's eye, and a flair for journalistic concision. These travelogues show a whimsical acceptance of the world's pleasures, with no itchy unease or greed for more than some simple relaxations in novel settings can provide.… As Swanwick has observed, Casper's career was relatively compact: from 1983 to 2003. At that endpoint, for unexplained and perhaps ultimately inexplicable reasons, with many potential tales still at her fingertips, she ceased writing, although during her final fourteen years she still had many opportunities to do so. If one can hazard a guess as to why, based on the contents of this book, I'd say that Casper felt she had plumbed most of the rewards that writing fiction at a journeyman level could provide, and then made the decision that ramping up to master class was just not an effort she was willing to make. It's a decision that others before her have chosen, and one that requires self-knowledge, sternness of character, and a willingness to let go of unrealistic daydreams. All qualities which the stories she did give us reveal she possessed to repletion." —Paul Di Filippo, Locus


"Whether she was writing about travel or over-protective mothers, unicorns or Pre-Raphaelite painters, Susan Casper always had something new and fascinating to say. She'll be sadly missed. Thank goodness we have this new and compelling collection to remember her by!" —Connie Willis (SFWA Grand Master)


"What a vivid and compelling range of stories! Terrors from childhood nightmares made disturbingly real. Wistful glimpses of a past that never was. Sly, sideways looks at venerable fictions: Oz, Middle Earth, Rumpel-stilskin, Sherlock Holmes. Casper writes with meticulous attention to detail, putting you deep into time and place. A wonderful collection." —Nancy Kress


"Susan Casper is one of my favorite writers. Her work is witty, well-observed, with a bite that you can never quite forget, much like John Collier. I come away from her stories thinking, 'I wish I'd written that.'" —Pat Cadigan


"I have only one problem with Susan Casper's fiction: there isn't enough of it. I have loved every story of hers that I've read, and, as it turns out, I've read quite a few of them. Personal favorites include 'The Stray' and 'Why Do You Think They Call It Middle Earth?', but to be fair, that's like picking the best chocolate from a Paris chocolate shop. They're all good. I simply prefer some to others. This long-overdue collection, edited by her husband, multiple Hugo Award-winner Gardner Dozois, is an act of love—and love this deep should be shared. If you've never read Susan's work, you're in for a treat. If you have, you'll be visiting old favorites and finding new favorites along the way." —Kristine Kathyrn Rusch


"An impressive collection by an even more impressive lady." —Mike Resnick


"Susan Casper lived in the real world, and so did her characters. The fantastic impinges gently on the familiar in her fiction. We recognize the bedrooms and the kitchens, the insistent mothers and the impatient children. But wait, is that really a ghost? Is it trying to tell us something? Is that woman really a vampire? Is there a way to get to Oz? With a sly sense of humor and a profound sense of the tragic, Susan Casper crafted stories that show us the wonder and terror of our everyday lives." —James Patrick Kelly


"From the dark and disturbing to the amusing an uplifting, this collection of tales reveals the evocative depths of Susan Casper's vivid imagination." —Sheila Williams (Editor of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine)


"Beautifully written and beautifully observed." ("The Cleaning Lady") —Samuel R. Delany (SFWA Grand Master)


"Finally, Susan Casper's powerful, wry, and provocative short fiction is available in one volume: a must-have collection that captures the essence of her brilliant, wild talent." —Jack Dann


"Susan's stories capture you with the first word and hold on with bloody claws until the last." —Eileen Gunn


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