Although Robin Hobb has ranked among my favorite SFF authors for years, other than "Homecoming" and "Words Like Coins," prior to reading this collection I had never read any other piece of her short fiction. And as hard to believe it it may be, I had never read anything she had written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm.
Yeah, yeah, I know. . . Stupid of me. Especially given the fact that the strongest short stories contained in The Inheritance and Other Stories were all written under the Megan Lindholm byline. I'll definitely have to track down novels written under that pseudonym.
Here's the blurb:
A treasure trove of tales from a master storyteller—the first to feature works written under both her pseudonyms, Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm . . .
Before she became an acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, Robin Hobb received resounding critical praise for work written under the name Megan Lindholm. Though they spring from the same imagination, Hobb and Lindholm are separate, diverse identities, each with her own unique style and perspective.
The Inheritance celebrates the boundless vision of Hobb and Lindholm, bringing together for the first time classic and new short works from both names. The collection is comprised of three generous offerings from Robin Hobb, including the title story, which makes its U.S. debut here, and a brand-new tale, "Cat's Meat." Megan Lindholm contributes her Hugo and Nebula Award finalist "A Touch of Lavender" and Nebula finalist "Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man," as well as several classic and new gems.
Each piece is prefaced by a brief yet informative author's note, offering insight into each story's genesis. Fascinating, compelling, and wonderfully entertaining, The Inheritance reveals the full spectrum of skill and talent of one of the world's finest fantasy writers.
Each short fiction piece is prefaced by an author's note which offers insight into the creation of each work. At times, I found those introductions to be nearly as interesting as the stories themselves. It's always fascinating to discover how these tales came to be.
This collection starts with an unmistakable bang with Hugo and Nebula finalist "A Touch of Lavender." The Skoags are intriguing aliens, and the premise of the story made me think about the movie District 9, only a hundred times better. I loved the way music and interracial love were explored as underlying themes.
The Nebula finalist "Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man" was written for her husband's fortieth birthday. For years, the author and her husband have had an agreement. He would never read her fiction, for he knows her too well. Yet this one was the exception, and what a great and personal present it must have been.
"Cut" is a short but memorable piece on female sexuality and the extent to which society should be allowed to interfere into our personal choices. This one definitely stays with you long after you read it. . .
"The Fifth Squashed Cat" is an entertaining tale of friendship and the price one must pay for the use of magic. The funniest piece of the collection.
"Strays" is a moving piece about two young girls -- one living in relative luxury and the other in poverty -- and their unlikely friendship.
"Finis" is the author's answer to the market's clichéd vampire stories.
"Drum Machine" is a weird but engrossing tale of music and procreation.
Writing as Robin Hobb, the collection begins with "Homecoming," a piece that was originally published in Robert Silverberg's Legends II and which chronicles the first exploration of the Rain Wilds.
"The Inheritance" is the story of a young woman who inherits a talking pendant made of wizarwood. The magical artifact reveals the truth about her family and helps her regain a measure of respect.
"Cat's Meat" feature a poor single mother who must deal with the return of the man who humiliated and betrayed her. Marmalade the cat could well be Hobb's most ruthless protagonist to date!
Given the quality of the stories comprising The Inheritance and Other Stories, here's to hoping that Hobb/Lindholm will release more works of short fiction in the future. Though she is better known for her long form works, the deft human touch that imbues her novels is always present in every short story, giving each of them another dimension.