I have some good news for all of you who have been waiting for A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.
It's no secret that I've struggled with this one, that the writing has been going slowly, that I've missed several deadlines. Meanwhile, I've delivered several Wild Cards books (ably assisted by Melinda M. Snodgrass) and co-edited a couple of major original anthologies with Gardner Dozois. And then there was HUNTER'S RUN, the three-way novel that I did with Dozois and Daniel Abraham. None of those were solo projects, of course. I had help with every one, a partner.
I have finally come to the conclusion that I need a partner for the DANCE as well, a collaborator to help me finish the remaining books in A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
Once I reached that realization, there could be only one possible choice -- my oldest friend in this field, winner of the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, multiple Hugo loser, the brilliant, irascible, and ever-stylish Howard Waldrop.
H'ard and I have worked together before, of course. He was part of my Wild Cards series since the beginning, writing the very first story for the very first book, "Thirty Minutes Over Broadway" (JETBOY LIVES!), and he intends to write the last Wild Cards story too, once we decide to wrap up the series. But our collaborative efforts go back decades beyond that. Howard and I first began to correspond in 1963, when we were both in high school and John F. Kennedy was in the White House, but we did not actually meet until 1972, at a convention in Kansas City, Missouri. We took an immediate liking to each other, and sat down at once to write the SF adventure classic that would ultimately be known as "Men of Greywater Station." I came up with the universe, the planet Greywater, the sentient fungus, and characters named Delvecchio and Granowicz. H'ard contributed the military expertise (he was just out of the army), and characters named Otis and Eldon. (Neither of us remembered to put girls in the story, unfortunately, which was kind of odd when you think on it, since we started writing it in a Playboy Club).
Now, some of you familiar with the Waldrop oevre may object, and argue that H'ard doesn't write epic fantasy. Tush, tush. You know nothing! Truth be told, Howard was writing epic fantasy long before I was. When the two of us were still in high school, contributing text stories to the dittoed comic fanzines of the day, I was doing superhero stories in prose, but Howard was writing great stuff about musketeers, gladiators, and a whole SERIES of stories about a Sword & Sorcery hero known only as the Wanderer, whose exploits were recorded in the sacred tomes known as the Chronicles of Chim-Wazle (okay, okay, I stole that name for my Jack Vance story, don't tell Howard). He's no stranger to swords, not at all.
Howard is as excited as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest at the prospect of us working together again, and has promised to jump right into A DANCE WITH DRAGONS and wrap it all up in a month or two, knocking out the remaining chapters with the same speed with which he's knocked out his own novels, THE MOON WORLD and I, JOHN MANDEVILLE. He has plans for some exciting new characters as well. Wait till you guys meet the mysterious knight with the three dodo birds on the shield and his three goofy serving men!! It's even possible that the Wanderer himself will make a comeback, which I know would thrill all of you who were reading about him in BATWING and CORTANA back in 1965.
Meanwhile, I'll be in the hot tube with some babes in bikinis, sipping some Irish Mist and watching my TIVO replay of the Giants victory over the Patriots in the last Super Bowl but one. Hey, maybe I should tell Howard to work in a knight called Ser Tyree...