Cover of Sister Emily's Lightship by Jane Yolen

Sister Emily’s Lightship

Most of my adult short fantasy/sf fiction has never been put in a single book. I have four story collections–Tales of Wonder, Dragonfield, Merlin’s Booke, and Storyteller, plus a chapbook that are all out of print. But my more recent stories (of the last fifteen years) have been in anthologies, magazines, journals etc. So when I wanted to collect at least half of them in a single volume, my editor at Tor blanched because short story collections never have the sales of novels. She asked if I would give them a novel at the same time, and so I wrote One Armed Queen. But alas–she forgot she’d promised she’d do the short story collection and so I got a small press publisher to look at the book. By that time I’d won the Nebula two times running–for “Sister Emily’s Lightship” and “Lost Girls.” Suddenly everybody was interested. So without having to write ANOTHER novel, I sold the collection to Tor and the editor made a sensible selection from the 50 plus stories I sent, including the two Nebula winners. And I wrote three new stories for the collection as well: “Ghost of an Affair,” “Under the Hill,” and “Speaking to the Wind.” I also wrote extensive notes on each story for an afterward.

What reviewers have said:

  • “More than any other contemporary fantasy writer (with the possible exception of Le Guin) [Yolen] has learned how to modulate the classic storyteller’s voice, and she knows that for this voice to remain authentic, it must neither be slavish nor condescending towards it sources. While other fantasy writers approach fairy tales with somber reverence or as easy material for parody, Yolen writes with geuine wit, respectfully but not too respectful, never quite withdrawing from the tale and yet never overwhelming it; she tells plenty of old stories, but she tells them slant … Sister Emily’s Lightship … is one of the more important story collections of this year.”–Locus
  • “Jane Yolen is a gem in the diadem of science fiction and fantasy.” -Analog
  • “With nary a loser in the pack, this batch will find a happy home in active collections of short fantasy fiction.” — Booklist
  • “The stories in this collection are evocative and provocative. They make the reader take a second look at the familiar – it’s almost like looking into your own mirror and seeing a different face. I will never think of Peter Pan the same way again, or the Rumplestiltskin story, or owls, and I have a new respect for fairies and djinns and the things they have to live with.” —
  • “Yolen has a particular knack for redaction, finding new resonance by retelling old folk stories from novel points of view. The Nebula-winning “Lost Girls,” for example, turns the familiar story of Peter Pan into a feminist revolt. The revisionist Snow White of “Snow in Summer” defeats her wicked, snake-handling stepmother with her own wits–no need for any prince. The ignorance of anti-Semitism brings tragedy to characters in “Granny Rumple” and “Sister Death.” Meanwhile, “The Gift of the Magicians, with Apologies to You Know Who” merges O. Henry’s Christmas classic with a cautionary tale of Beauty and the Beast. Feuding mobsters get more than they bargained for in “Under the Hill,” which Yolen playfully describes as “Damon Runyon meets the elves.” “Blood Sister,” “The Traveler and the Tale” and “Speaking to the Wind” echo older themes from Ursula Le Guin’s work, but the powerful title story, which also won a Nebula, closes this collection on high notes of originality, creativity and hope. As Yolen writes, “Stories are not just recordings. They are prophecies. They are dreams. And… we humans build the future on such dreams.” — Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Jane Yolen is a gem in the diadem of science fiction and fantasy … This long-overdue collection … You will enjoy this one.” — Analog
  • “… an outstanding collection of stories … all … beautifully written, leaving the reader thinking long after the book is closed. The stories have an O Henry-like twist at the end, but Yolen’s imagination is much bigger.” — Voya

Another online review from SF Site.

Available in paperback.