The aptly titled In Lands That Never Were is an adventure-packed 12-story anthology featuring tales of swords and sorcery from some of the genre's greatest writers, including Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Notable stories include Yoon Ha Lee's "Counting the Shapes," a singularly original tale about a heroic mathemagician who uses theorems to defeat an invading demon emperor and his army, and Le Guin's "Darkrose and Diamond," an Earthsea yarn about a young man with great magical ability who ultimately rejects an invitation to a prestigious wizard's college in order to pursue his childhood sweetheart. After giving up everything that he loves -- music and magic -- he returns home to find Rose with another man. With nothing left to live for, he vows to do anything to win her back.
Editor Gordon Van Gelder says it best: "Our need for fantasy, our wish to escape into adventures in worlds that never were, is eternal." This collection, which includes some of the best adventure tales ever published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, spans almost four decades. From Golden Age classics like Howard and de Camp's Conan tale "The Hall of the Dead" and Leiber's "Ill Met in Lankhmar" to stories from modern-day masters like Jeffrey Ford and Pat Murphy, In Lands That Never Were shows why the demand for escapist literature is indeed unending. Paul Goat Allen