Some time ago – in the uncomfortable vicinity of twenty-five years, in fact – I was meeting some friends in a pub (yes, yes, I know: plus ça change!). Because I habitually associate with erudite dipsomaniacs, the topic turned, sooner rather than later, to what we were reading. My friends were currently in the middle of an eclectic range of books – military non-fiction, 18th century history, space opera, the latest popular science book – and then the question came to me. As it happened, I was between books; however, I’d just been to a bookshop (remember them?) and picked up something that looked interesting.
‘What’s it about?’ I was asked.
‘I have no idea,’ I replied, ‘it doesn’t say, but it looks interesting.’
And to back up my assertion, I showed them the book. The front cover bore a flash in the bottom right-hand corner announcing the book as ‘the World Fantasy Award-winning novel’, alongside a quote from The Spectator proclaiming it to be ‘Indescribably enchanting . . . a celebration of fantasy’. The back was bare apart from another quote: ‘”A new expression of the British genius for true fantasy” Alan Garner, author of The Owl Service‘.
And that was it. No description, just a haunting Geoff Taylor illustration and those two quotes. And, of course, the title and author: Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock.
I often wonder what that younger version of me would think, had he known that a dozen or so years in the future, he would be in another pub, in another hemisphere, sitting across a table from Robert Holdstock, setting the world to rights over a shared love of Belgian beer. Absent a working TARDIS, we’ll never know, but the current version of me considers Mythago Wood to be one of the greatest ever works of British (and, indeed, world) fantasy and knows for a fact that Rob Holdstock, apart from being an absurdly talented writer, was one of the nicest men you could wish to meet.
I am absolutely delighted – as is everyone at Gollancz, where Rob had many friends – to be able to share the cover for our upcoming Fantasy Masterworks 30th Anniversary Edition of Mythago Wood. I think it treats the book as the modern classic it undoubtedly is, as well as reflecting the earthy vibrancy and primordial energy of the book.
I think Rob would have loved it.
The cover design is by Graeme Langhorne, who produced the beautiful series style for the re-launched Fantasy Masterworks, and the amazing artwork is by Grzegorz Domaradzki, who is responsible for many other lovely covers in the series.
Mythago Wood will be available as a Fantasy Masterworks paperback in November this year, with a new introduction by Neil Gaiman. It is currently available as an SF Gateway eBook, which we will be updating with the new cover and introduction to coincide with the paperback publication.
Edit: Apologies for originally stating this would be an SF Masterwork – of course, it will be a Fantasy Masterwork. Thanks to Paul for pointing out the mistake.