Dreaming Again: Thirty-Five New Stories Celebrating the Wild Side of Australian Fiction

Dreaming Again: Thirty-Five New Stories Celebrating the Wild Side of Australian Fiction

by Jack Dann

Following the World Fantasy Award-winning Dreaming Down-Under, acclaimed editor Jack Dann gathers thirty-five of the best and brightest in a golden age of Australian fiction to pen fantastic new tales to shock, astound, and delight. The outstanding bestselling authors include Garth Nix, Terry Dowling, Sean McMullen, Kim Wilkins, Sara Douglass, A. Bertram


Following the World Fantasy Award-winning Dreaming Down-Under, acclaimed editor Jack Dann gathers thirty-five of the best and brightest in a golden age of Australian fiction to pen fantastic new tales to shock, astound, and delight. The outstanding bestselling authors include Garth Nix, Terry Dowling, Sean McMullen, Kim Wilkins, Sara Douglass, A. Bertram Chandler, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Stephen Dedman, Trudi Canavan, John Birmingham, Margo Lanagan, Janeen Webb, Isobelle Carmody, and many others.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

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Dreaming Again
Thirty-five New Stories Celebrating the Wild Side of Australian Fiction

Chapter One

Old Friends

Garth Nix

I'd been living in the city for quite a while, lying low, recovering from an unfortunate jaunt that had turned, in the immortal words of my sometime comrade Hrasvelg, 'irredeemably shit-shape'.

Though I had almost completely recovered my sight, I still wore a bandage around my eyes. It was made from a rare stuff that I could see through, but it looked like dense black linen. Similarly, I had regrown my left foot, but I kept up the limp. It gave me an additional excuse to use the stick, which was, of course, much more than a length of bog oak carved with picaresque scenes of a pedlar's journey.

I had a short-lease apartment near the beach, an expensive but necessary accommodation, as I needed both the sunshine that fell into its small living room and the cool, wet wind from the sea that blew through every open window. Unfortunately, after the first month, that wind became laden with the smell of rotting weed and, as the weeks passed, the stench grew stronger, and the masses of weed that floated just past the breakers began to shift and knit together, despite the efforts of the lifesavers to break up the unsightly, stinking rafts of green.

I knew what was happening, of course. The weed was a manifestation of an old opponent of mine, a slow, cold foe who had finally caught up with me. 'Caught' being the operative word, as the weed was just the visible portion of my enemy's activities. A quick examination of almanac and lodestone revealed that all known pathways from this world were denied tome, shut tight by powerful bindings that I could not broach quickly, if at all.

I considered moving to the mountains or far inland, but that would merely delay matters. Only the true desert would be safe from my foe, but I could not go there.

So I watched the progress of the weed every morning as I drank my first coffee, usually leaning back in one white plastic chair as I elevated my supposedly injured leg on another. The two chairs were the only furniture in the apartment. I slept in the bath, which I had lined with sleeping moss, which was comfortable, sweet-smelling and also massaged out the cares of the day with its tiny rhizoids.

The day before I adjudged the weed would reach its catalytic potential and spawn servitors, I bought not just my usual black coffee from the café downstairs, but also a triple macchiato that came in a heavy, heat-resistant glass. Because I lived upstairs they always gave me proper cups. The barista who served me, a Japanese guy who worked the espresso machine mornings and surfed all afternoon, put the coffees in a cardboard holder meant for takeaways and said, 'Got a visitor today?'

'Not yet,' I said. 'But I will have shortly. By the way, I wouldn't go surfing here this afternoon . . . or tomorrow.'

'Why not?'

'That weed,' I replied. 'It's toxic. Try another beach.'

'How do you know?' he asked as he slid the tray into my waiting fingers. 'I mean, you can't . . .'

'I can't see it,' I said, as I backed away, turned and started tapping towards the door. 'But I can smell it. It's toxic all right. Stay clear.'

'Okay, thanks. Uh, enjoy the coffee.'

I slowly made my way upstairs, and set the coffees down on the floor. My own cup in front of one white chair, and the macchiato at the foot of the other. I wouldn't be resting my limb on the spare chair today.

I had to wait a little while for the breeze to come up, but as it streamed through the room and teased at the hair I should have had cut several weeks before, I spoke.

'Hey, Anax. I bought you a coffee.'

The wind swirled around my head, changing direction 270 degrees, blowing out the window it had come in by and in by the window it had been going out. I felt the floor tremble under my feet and experienced a brief dizziness.

Anax, proper name Anaxarte, was one of my oldest friends. We'd grown up together and had served together in two cosmically fucked-up wars, one of which was still slowly bleeding its way to exhaustion in fits and starts, though the original two sides were long out of it.

I hadn't seen Anax for more than thirty years, but we scribbled notes to each other occasionally, and had spoken twice in that time. We talked a lot about meeting up, maybe organising a fishing expedition with some of the old lads, but it had never come together.

I knew that if he were able to, he would always answer my call. So as the coffee cooled, and the white plastic chair lay vacant, my heart chilled, and I began to grieve. Not for the loss of Anax's help against the enemy, but because another friend had fallen.

I sat in the sunshine for an hour, the warmth a slight comfort against the melancholy that had crept upon me. At the hour's end, the wind shifted again, roiling around me counter-clockwise till it ebbed to a total calm.

Even without the breeze, I could smell the weed. It had a malignant, invasive odour, the kind that creeps through sealed plastic bags and airtight lids, the smell of decay and corruption.

My options were becoming limited. I took up my stick and went downstairs once more to the café. The afternoon barista did not know me, though I had seen her often enough through my expansive windows. She did not comment on my order, though I doubt she was often asked for a soy latte with half poured out after it was made, to be topped up again with cold regular milk.

Upstairs, I repeated the summoning, this time with the chill already present, a cold presence of sombre expectation lodged somewhere between my heart and ribs.

Dreaming Again
Thirty-five New Stories Celebrating the Wild Side of Australian Fiction
. Copyright © by Jack Dann. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Jack Dann is a multiple award winning author who has written or edited over 60 books, including the groundbreaking novels Junction, Starhiker, The Man Who Melted, The Memory Cathedral — which is an international bestseller, the Civil War novel The Silent, and Bad Medicine, which has been compared to the works of Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson and called "the best road novel since the Easy Rider days."

Dann's work has been compared to Jorge Luis Borges, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Castaneda, J. G. Ballard, Mark Twain, and Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick, author of the stories from which the films Blade Runner and Total Recall were made, wrote that "Junction is where Ursula Le Guin's Lathe of Heaven and Tony Boucher's 'The Quest for Saint Aquin' meet...and yet it's an entirely new novel.... I may very well be basing some of my future work on Junction." Best-selling author Marion Zimmer Bradley called Starhiker "a superb book... it will not give up all its delights, all its perfections, on one reading."

Library Journal has called Dann "...a true poet who can create pictures with a few perfect words." Roger Zelazny thought he was a reality magician and Best Sellers has said that "Jack Dann is a mind-warlock whose magicks will confound, disorient, shock, and delight." The Washington Post Book World compared his novel The Man Who Melted with Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal.

His short stories have appeared in Omni and Playboy and other major magazines and anthologies. He is the editor of the anthology Wandering Stars, one of the most acclaimed American anthologies of the 1970's, and several other well-known anthologies such as More Wandering Stars. Wandering Stars and More Wandering Stars have just been reprinted in the U.S. Dann also edits the multi-volume Magic Tales series with Gardner Dozois and is a consulting editor TOR Books.

He is a recipient of the Nebula Award, the Australian Aurealis Award (twice), the Ditmar Award (three times), the World Fantasy Award, and the Premios Gilgamés de Narrativa Fantastica award. Dann has also been honoured by the Mark Twain Society (Esteemed Knight).

High Steel, a novel co-authored with Jack C. Haldeman II, was published in 1993. Critic John Clute called it "a predator...a cat with blazing eyes gorging on the good meat of genre. It is most highly recommended." A sequel entitled Ghost Dance is in progress.

Dann's major historical novel about Leonardo da Vinci — entitled The Memory Cathedral — was first published in December 1995 to rave reviews. It has been published in 10 languages to date. It won the Australian Aurealis Award in 1997, was #1 on The Age bestseller list, and a story based on the novel was awarded the Nebula Award. The Memory Cathedral was also shortlisted for the Audio Book of the Year, which was part of the 1998 Braille & Talking Book Library Awards.

Morgan Llwelyn called The Memory Cathedral "a book to cherish, a validation of the novelist's art and fully worthy of its extraordinary subject." The San Francisco Chronicle called it "a grand accomplishment," Kirkus Reviews thought it was "An impressive accomplishment," and True Review said, "Read this important novel, be challenged by it; you literally haven't seen anything like it."

Dann's next novel The Silent was chosen by Library Journal as one of their 'Hot Picks.' Library Journal wrote: "This is narrative storytelling at its best — so highly charged emotionally as to constitute a kind of poetry from hell. Most emphatically recommended." Auhor Peter Straub said, "This tale of America's greatest trauma is full of mystery, wonder, and the kind of narrative inventiveness that makes other novelists want to hide under the bed." And The Australian called it "an extraordinary achievement."

His contemporary road novel Bad Medicine (titled Counting Coup in the U.S.) has been called "a vivid and compelling vision-quest through the dark back roads and blue highways of the American soul."

Dann is also the co-editor (with Janeen Webb) of the groundbreaking Australian anthology Dreaming Down-Under, which Peter Goldsworthy has called "the biggest, boldest, most controversial collection of original fiction ever published in Australia." It has won Australia's Ditmar Award and is the first Australian book ever to win the prestigious World Fantasy Award.

Dann is also the author of the retrospective short story collection Jubilee: the Essential Jack Dann. The West Australian said it was "Sometimes frightening, sometimes funny, erudite, inventive, beautifully written and always intriguing. Jubilee is a celebration of the talent of a remarkable storyteller."

As part of its Bibliographies of Modern Authors Series, The Borgo Press has published an annotated bibliography and guide entitled The Work of Jack Dann. An updated second edition is in progress. Dann is also listed in Contemporary Authors and the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series; The International Authors and Writers Who's Who; Personalities of America; Men of Achievement; Who's Who in Writers, Editors, and Poets, United States and Canada; Dictionary of International Biography; the Directory of Distinguished Americans; Outstanding Writers of the 20th Century; and Who's Who in the World.

Dann commutes between Melbourne and a farm overlooking the sea. He also 'commutes' back and forth to Los Angeles and New York.

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