When you’re going through your book collection for the umpteenth time, you tend to rediscover old loves. Sometimes, those loves are not as great as you remember them. Sometimes you had started loving them, never finished, and then decided that you were going to bother anyway. And sometimes, you’re taken back and inspired.
If you asked me what my first experience with the short story was, I don’t think I’d really say it was during school. I would say that it started out with an anthology I picked up at a used book store without knowing it was an anthology—I’m pretty sure I just chose it based on the cool cover.
It was called Thieves’ World, and the first book was published in 1979.
I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the stories, even though I was probably in junior high and it was not a book meant for my reading group. As with most anthologies, I enjoyed some stories better than others, but for a long time I was drawn to these books and I find that I haven’t been able to enjoy any anthologies as much as I did Thieves’ World. I have several anthologies, and while I do enjoy a few stories, I just don’t get as into them.
When I look back at this series, I think my enjoyment came from the fact that Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey did something very unique for an anthology series. There was a commonality to every story: the setting. Every contributor created their characters and wrote their story to fit within the city of Sanctuary. It was a rich environment of magic, somewhat honest and criminal citizens, royalty, and gods. And rather than focus on the adventures of a single character, the anthology had its contributors create familiar citizens, many of whom crossed over into other stories. It was the idea of showing the lives of many different people in a single setting that made Thieves’ World so unique.
If anything, I think I’d say that Thieves’ World may have contributed to my love of Terry Prachett’s Discworld series, which carries a similar format of various characters existing in one world. And from there, it was a stepping stone for what I plan to do with a lot of my writing.
Truthfully, until I’d dug up these old books with their cracked spines, yellowed pages, and assorted grammatical errors, I didn’t realize just how much of an influence they’d had on not only my writing, but my reading as well.
Hell, it even makes me want to do something similar with the talented people I know. Granted, I think we’d all need some publication credits behind us first!