I recently got a note from Peter Beagle’s Raven newsletter (slightly bologna-stained) declaring that 2009 was to be the Year of Peter’s Renaissance – with the publication of his new collection, We Never Talk About My Brother (Tachyon Publications, 2009) (and advance-reviewed in GMR in December 2008) , to mark his newly invigorated writing output. That is in perfect accord with his former tenure as our Oak King, as he has been a constant font of richness and creation the last several years.
Mr. Beagle has been steadily making short fantasy fiction his private domain recently, turning out perfect stories like a man with a magic lathe. And he just looks like a bardic king, all silver-bearded and benign. But there is a sparkle and grin in the dark eyes, one to remind you that here is a someone who probably reigned out of doors under an oak tree. With a picnic basket and a beer, preferably. He has a magician’s voice, both figuratively with a pen and literally when he speaks aloud. I’ve heard that dark, sweet voice across a crowded bar (appropriately enough) and while people usually use the phrase 'whiskey and velvet' to describe a voice that rasps – it is not always so. Mr. Beagle’s voice is deep, sweet, smooth and enveloping, like the best single malt imbued with smoke and honey. It builds the walls of worlds around the enchanted listener.
'Renaissance' of course implies that the river of his creativity had stopped at one point. Those of us who have followed his work over the years know that isn’t the case. But for a while the headwater springs were hard to find – now there’s been a flood, and a broad new channel has carved itself out into the world again. He has been creating a constant stream of stories, and seems determined to be the river of gold a bard should be. These new tales have been spinning out of his hands like new-minted coins or perfect mosaic tiles (the really good kind, backed with gold foil), ready to be assembled into still larger and brighter pictures.
Mr. Beagle is a priest-king, traditionally a figure of life and largesse.. Life flowed from his hands; Spring swelled with life, Summer was a broad road through richness and delight, and Autumn fulfilled all promises of Harvest. Winter was the dream of peace before the fireworks start over. Mr. Beagle more than met that obligation during his regnal tenure – not only putting out new work, but writing brand-new seasonal stories just for Green Man Review. We were delighted to present them in their sequential glory. Obviously, this tradition goes on with increased vigor this Spring – you can go here and thisaway for news, covers, art and assorted treasures coming and now available. We’re waiting eagerly for whatever comes next.
The Hall, cleaned and scrubbed, stands ready for the Bard and his ragtag retinue. The decorations are up — tasteful garlands of linden and oak leaves tied in and around bright, shiny ornaments in the shapes of unicorns, ravens, rhinoceroses and guitars — and candles are glowing warmly at every table as we gather round to hear Mr. Beagle take his rightful place on the stand, clear his throat, and bring a year of stories to their storied close.
This latest (and last) tale in the cycle, he tells us, is called 'The Fifth Season.' As we listen to it, with its echoes of Spring and Summer and Autumn and Winter past, and its promise of things to come, our deepest thoughts must perforce be private ones; but there are smiles aplenty to be shared.
Recitation over, Mr. Beagle's manager and accomplice sits down with him for a revealing little chat.
More is planned for the day: the master Bard has made that clear, and hopes that those who can't stay now and wait will come back to this room a little later. Not every magic trick unveils itself all at once, he reminds us, and reaches for his favorite deck of cards.
We should remind you about our special editions which are our way of looking at specific writers and other subjects worthy of exploring in-depth. Of course, we've done several editions on master storyteller Peter S. Beagle which you can find thisaway and over 'ere. Needless to say, we're very proud of the great edition on Charles de Lint we did.
We did one on the ever fascinating trio of Brian, Toby, and Wendy Froud; naturally we did one on master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien who is much loved by our staff; not to mention ones on Catherynne M. Valente, Patricia McKillip, and Elizabeth Bear
Oh, our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the now departed and much missed Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology.
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