Sorceries

- or -

The Shimmering Door
(U.S. Title)

In both countries, the Publisher is HarperCollins. This anthology of tales of sorcerers, old and new, is edited by Katharine Kerr and Martin H. Greenberg, but please note the dedication below:

Dedication

This book owes a great deal to Jo Clayton. When, last year, I was drowning in personal problems, she took this particular project in hand and kept it alive. Without all her help I might never have finished it at all. Thanks, Jo. I owe you a lot myself. Here's the book. Please do consider it yours.

When I was editing this volume, I defined sorcery in a way that set it apart from witchcraft and various kinds of "wild magic." Sorcery thus becomes a written system of magic, that is, magic which has rules, a tradition, a method of study or a procedure that's based on the intellect, not on Nature or genetic mutations (like SF psionics). This definition's very flexible -- if someone came up with an elaborate system of Nature Magic, I didn't say no -- and these Sorceries could be either historically based or utterly invented. Gender is not an issue; our sorcerers can be male, female, or some alien Other. The tone varies, too, the horrific to the action-oriented to the introspective and finally the humorous -- whatever the authors wished.

From the Introduction
by Katharine Kerr

Twenty thousand years ago, deep in the shaft of the Lascaux caves, they recorded his death. His arms flung out, he lies stiffly on the ground in front of the bison that has just gored him. He still wears his bird mask, and beside him lies his staff, topped with the image of a bird. His magic failed, it seems, at the last moment. Seven thousand years later, in another cave, the one we call Les Trois Freres, they show us another shaman. Draped in animal skins, tailed like a wolf, wearing the mask and antlers of a stag, he stares out at us while he dances at the edge of the herd. They painted Bison Man in the same cave, too.

They? Who? For all of us who hail from Europe, they are the ancestors. At the dawn of what makes us ourselves, there were sorcerers.

Or so I like to define these motifs, as a magic staff, as a shaman whose totem or fetch was a bird. Despite the overconfident pronouncements of some archaelogists, we really cannot be certain that the man with the head of a bird or the one draped with a deer's whole hide are sorcerers. Priests, some say, but again, can we be certain? We cannot even know if the ancestors separated religion from magic, if they saw any difference between sorcerer and priest, wise woman and priestess. The evidence gathered in studies like Mircea Eliade's Shamanism makes it unlikely that they did. Others call the figures gods, but had European humanity created gods to love and worship then, back in our own Dreamtime? We cannot know.

One thing, however, that Bird Man and Stag Dancer cannot possibly be is ordinary human beings. When they donned their masks and skins, they were marking themselves as something separate, someone set apart. They were partaking of an experience different from that of the ordinary hunters who cluster in the cave paintings, little figures hastily sketched beside their prey. I cannot help but think, even though I'm thinking with my heart, that if we call them sorcerers and shamans, we won't be far wrong . . .

. . . There's certainly no doubt that magic is enjoying something of a revival these days, both in the form of New Age ideas (most of which are ancient, actually,) and in fantasy literature. Tales of magic intrigue and enchant us once again. Sorcerers once more stand at the edge of the village to remind us that a strange world lies outside its walls. For those of you who find them and their craft fascinating, I have assembled this book of tales.

Table of Contents

PART I: MORNING

PART II: AFTERNOON

PART III: NIGHT

Copyright © 1996-2009 Katharine Kerr and Martin H. Greenberg. All rights reserved. No portion of this site may be copied, in whole or in part.