From 1987 through 1994, DAW Books published my four-book fantasy series, The Dance of Gods. Sales were not spectacular and fell off with each successive volume, and the books went out of print. Along the way, though, they acquired a small group of fairly intense fans, not all of whom were either related to me or were close personal friends. Frankly, although DAW did their best, the books were a challenge to describe and market, since they didn't fit with the style of fantasy that was well-established at the time. Times and styles change, though, and may have now caught up to where The Dance of Gods has been resting.
What was it about The Dance of Gods, then?
Why was The Dance of Gods such a hard sell when it came out? Some possible reasons:
• Too much plot and too many characters: the books are built around a sprawling crowd of raffish characters, too smart by half for their own good and more than a little self-reflective, in a series of overlapping and colliding storylines. Some of the cast members who appear in the first book in the series, Spell of Catastrophe (originally published as Catastrophe's Spell), include:
Maximillian, the Vaguely Disreputable - free-lance adventurer and nostalgic technologist
The Creeping Sword - hard-boiled nom-de-plume
Zalzyn Shaa - physician, occasional bureaucrat, and man with a curse
The Great Karlini - research thaumaturge
The former Lion of the Oolvaan Plain - retired barbarianJurtan Mont - youth with an unusually melodic seizure disorder
Haddo - animal wrangler and pilot
Assorted gods, revolutionaries, insurgents, servitors, and cataclysms - the traditional cast of thousands
• Insufficient reverence for traditional tropes: for example, many of the characters are less than impressed by the use of magic. Rather than experiencing a sense of wonder, they're more likely to respond to a spell casting with a muttered "yeah, whatever," and try to bang you over the head with a skillet while your invocation is still taking shape.
• An approach to magic more suited to engineers or programmers than mystics: more procedure-based than object-oriented, perhaps, but communing with nature is usually the last thing on these practitioners' minds. For that matter, I'm not sure the combination of magic-code hackers, molecular nanotech, and network-mediated consensual reality of the gods is something that could ever be summarized on a back-of-the-book blurb.
• No grand battles between good and evil: more of a struggle between self-interest and unintended consequences.
• Too funny to be serious and too serious to be funny: it's the characters, really, not me! Not my fault they approach their roles with a jaundiced eye and a sarcastic streak...
And now, here they are as fully spiffed-out ebooks ...
The four books of the Dance of Gods are now available as ebooks in both iBooks and Kindle format! Yippee!
Thanks for your interest!