You Should Read This: The Forest of Forever by Thomas Burnett Swann

Cover for Forest of Forever, by Thomas Burnett Swann.

"I am three hundred and sixty years old and I pride myself, not unjustly, on having enjoyed twice as many lovers as I have years. I have loved Men, Minotaurs, Centaurs, and Tritons and no one has ever complained that Zoe, the Dryad of Crete, has failed in the act of love."

Here’s one of my favorite speculative fiction authors, and it was hard picking a reasonable book to represent him. I have a stack of his paperbacks, garnered over the years in used book stores and thrift shops, and they are some of the books I’ve held onto through any number of rigorous book purges.

What: The Forest of Forever, by Thomas Burnett Swann, was originally published in 1971. Many of Swann’s slim little volumes appeared during that decade, lovely retellings of Greco-Roman myths and alternate histories full of mythological creatures. Dryads, centaurs, minotaurs, and fauns fill the pages. Swann depicted same-sex relationships as a matter of fact in a way that nowadays seems well ahead of his time.

Who: If you love gentle fantasy, this is a splendid entrance into Swann’s world. Particularly for those who love mythological creatures, you’ll find a full cast, including some magical creatures invented by Swann.

When: Read this when you’re a little down. You may well find that Swann becomes one of your comfort reads. It’s not a thick fantasy by any means, (my copy is 155 pages) but if you finish it too fast, there’s a sequel to Forest of Forever, Day of the Minotaur.

Why: Read Swann for an interesting take on fantasy. I’ve always thought that his world would be a fabulous one in which to set a role-playing game. Also read him to see same-sex relationships worked in seamlessly, without the “OMG look how socially conscious I am” flavor that sometimes intrudes.

Where and how: Curl up in a corner for this one, with a mug of some pleasantly flowery tea. Be aware the time will pass all too quickly. Be aware there’s plenty more Swann out there, though you may have to hunt for some of the rarer titles.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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