Brief Essays on Genre
Brief Essays on Genre, by Michael Swanwick. This collection of 25 short discussions of literature includes the definition of science fiction and fantasy, why write true crime, the place of gratuitous sex in text, and the proper use of the present tense. Indispensable to the gonna be writer. The Essays first appeared on Swanwick's blog, Flogging Babel, in 2022.
Brief Essays is hand-stitched, numbered, and signed by the author. It is issued in an edition of 75, of which 72 55 47 32 24 9 no more are available for sale. Thank you for you support and interest.
The Lonely and the Rum
The Lonely and the Rum is a conversation between Greer Gilman and Michael Swanwick, that was part of the virtual programming for Boskone 2021. These two masters of fantasy explored the virtues and dissimilarities of the works of P. L. Travers, Stella Benson, Tove Jansson, and Sylvia Townsend Warner, among others. The only limit was the 50-minute programming cutoff. The transcript was lightly edited by Swanwick and Gilman.
Dragonstairs Press is very grateful to the staff of Boskone, for providing the original recording.
The Lonely and the Rum is 5 ¼ x 8 ½ inches, hand stitched, numbered, and signed by Gilman and Swanwick. The wrappers are silkscreened lokta paper from Nepal, with a cover illustration by Susan McAninley. It is issued in an edition of 125, of which 101 are offered for sale 67 59 34 30 16 are currently available.
Shipped Domestically within the United States, $15.00
Shipped Internationally, $18.00
Everything beyond this point has sold out
Dragonstairs Press only does reprints in extremely rare situations. The following publications are listed only for archival reasons.
Thank you for your interest.
Transits of Venus
Transits of Venus is a collection of seven progressively linked flash fictions about falling in love. 4 ¼ x 5 ½ inches, hand stitched, numbered, and signed by the author. Wrappers are silk-screened, recycled cotton paper from India. Written to mark Swanwick's appearance at Boskone 2023, it was issued in an edition of 36, of which 0 are available for sale.
Sold out, thank you for your interest.
The Once and Future Rye
The Whiskey that Was America
The Proceedings of the American Martini Institute A Report of the American Martini Laboratory The Once and Future Rye: The Whiskey that Was America by Michael Swanwick, with a cover illustration by Susan McAninley. This report, tracking the rise of rye whiskey, its tragic downfall, and its wondrous rebirth, originally appeared as a number of posts on the Flogging Babel blog and has since been lightly rewritten. It is a 8 ½ x 5 ½ inch chapbook, hand-stitched, and is issued in a signed, numbered edition of 80, of which 76 45 40 2 are no more are available for sale.
Domestic, 12 dollars.
International, 14 dollars.
Solstice Veritas is a collection of eight, well, true stories, memories and musings on holidays past. Written to mark the winter season last year and issued in an edition of 120, thirty seven fifteen copies are offered for sale. Each copy is hand-stitched, numbered, and signed by the author. 4 ¼ x 5 ½. Sold out.
In His Own Words
Gardner Dozois was a towering figure in science fiction, both as a writer and as an editor. He began his career as a journalist while in the U S Army. To honor that beginning, his friends and colleagues at the Pen and Pencil Club in Philadelphia gathered recently to unveil a plaque in his memory.
Marking that occasion, Dragonstairs Press has created In His Own Words, a transcription of an interview by Michael Swanwick, in which Gardner describes his (occasionally wacky) military newsman career, as well as his philosophy of editing.
8 1/2” x 5 1/2” bound in hand-made paper from Sri Lanka, crafted from recycled elephant dung. Because Gardner would have thought that was hilarious.
Hand-stitched, signed by Swanwick, and numbered, issued in an edition of 60, of which 37 15 no more are available for sale. Thank you for your support.
Domestic 12 dollars.
International 14 dollars.
Fantasia Romantica is Michael Swanwick's witty take on the romantic lives of six fictional heroines. Was Rosie waiting when Sam Gamgee came home? And what was going on with Susan Pevensie? Find out! 4 ¼ x 5 ½ inches, hand stitched and bound in one of six patterns of silk-screened Nepalese lokta paper. Signed and numbered. Issued in an edition of 48.
Fantasia Romantica has sold out. Thank you for your interest.
Rainbow Clause is a holiday romp though all the colors of Santa. (“Red Santa” seems to be many readers' favorite.) Written by Michael Swanwick, signed and numbered, published in a limited edition of 120 last year to mark the holiday season. 5.5” x 4.25”
Five Rings is Michael Swanwick's brief, whimsical take on participants in the XXXII Olympiad. Some winners, some losers.
It is 8 ½ by 5 ¼, signed, numbered, hand-stitched, and published in an edition of 32, of which 29 6 3 2 no more are available for sale.
Thank you all for your support!
Shipped Domestically within the United States,
The Book of Blarney
Dragonstairs celebrates St. Patrick's Day!
Four whimsical, cynical vignettes on the theme of Ireland's religious and literary history.
5 ½ by 4 ¼ inches. Wrapper of Nepalese lokta paper, in two different states. Decorated with an applied harp label and green ribbon. Numbered and signed by the author. Issued in an edition of 50, 11 of which were distributed to participants of Michael Swanwick's virtual kaffeklatch at 2021 Boskone.
The Book of Blarney has sold out. Thank you for your interest.
Shipped Domestically within the United States, The Book of Blarney, $12
Shipped Internationally, The Book of Blarney, $13
The Death of Aubrey Darger
The Death of Aubrey Darger is a lightly edited and revised version of the first chapter of the Darger and Surplus novel, Chasing the Phoenix. The result? A joyous romp and a complete, stand-alone story in its own right. This, and the novel, are the only records of what is probably the first time that Postutopian confidence artist extraordinaire Aubrey Darger ever died.
The Death of Aubrey Darger is hand-stitched, numbered, and signed by the author, Michael Swanwick. It was published in an edition of 100, but is now sold out.
Blue as the Moon
Blue as the Moon is another blue moon project. This is a 5 1/2” by 8 1/2” hand-stitched chapbook, numbered, and signed by author Michael Swanwick. It includes eight adult, color-coded ruminations on the many horrors of Halloween.
As with Dragonstairs' previous blue moon project, Blue as the Moon is issued in an edition of 69, available for thirteen hours. After that time, all unsold copies, and all other physical relics (drafts, paste-ups, rejected designs) will be burned. The fire will be at midnight, October 31st, and will be recorded and shown on the web.
Sales will span the blue moon, the second full moon in October. Blue as the Moon will be available from 5:54pm, October 30, 2020 (moonrise) to 7:17am, October 31, 2020 (moonset). All times given are specific to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and are Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
6:51 pm: 15 are left.
7:31pm 5 left
8:09 sold out Thank you all for your support!
Shipped Domestically, Blue as the Moon, $12
Shipped Internationally, Blue as the Moon, $14
Swan/Wolfe is the transcript of an interview with Michael Swanwick, conducted on the podcast “ReReading Wolfe” and focusing on Wolfe's place in modern science fiction and fantasy. It is published in lightly edited form by Dragonstairs Press. This hand-stitched chapbook (6”x9” 10 pages) is numbered and signed by Swanwick, and was produced in an edition of 100, of which 76 25 no more are available for purchase.
Swan/Wolfe, shipped within the United States, $12.50
Swan/Wolfe, shipped internationally, $15
Dean Swift lied! When Gulliver was lost at sea, his wife did not stay at home, wringing her hands, but went out in search of him. Her voyage to the Moon and back and what she learned in the process are recounted in nine swift chapters, inspired by the Golden Dawn visionary artist, W. H. Horton. 8 ½ x 5 ½, two illustrations colorized. Hand-stitched, signed by the author, in a limited edition of 50, of which 41 12 3 no more are available for sale. Thank you all for your interest and support. (one hour, 24 minutes)
Shipped Domestically, Gulliver's Wife, $13
Shipped Internationally, Gulliver's Wife, $15
Northern Lights was written to mark the 2018 solstice season. A collection of darkly amusing takes on Icelandic myth, it consists of four interrelated short short fictions based on the Yule Lads, the troublemaking imps of the dark northern Christmas. It was issued in an edition of 120, all signed by the author and numbered, of which 56 20 15 12 9 are 1 is no more are available for sale.
Shipped Domestically, Northern Lights, $6
Shipped Internationally, Northern Lights, $7
Cigar Box Faust
Have you ever wanted to have your own theater? Well, now you can.
Check out Michael Swanwick's Cigar Box Faust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_hEJz3dfR8
Isn't that wonderful? Now you can produce your own performance of Cigar Box Faust. Dragonstairs Press is offering everything you need to mount your own production! The theater (a cigar box), the cast (a cigar in the title role and a cigar cutter as Mephistopheles, the sun, moon, and stars– well, cutouts and glitter), an mp3 file of Swanwick reading the text, and a chapbook of the script (a limited edition, signed by Michael Swanwick and numbered)!
OK, Full Disclosure: you will not get a box of matches. Do you know what you have to do to mail matches? You will receive a box of stage dressed matches that won't actually catch fire. Real matches, you're on your own.
Signed, limited edition theater set, limited to 40 theaters, 30 12 9 8 7 4 3 1 no more are available for sale. Thank you for your support!
Domestic mailing $40
International mailing $45
The Third Frankenstein
Everyone knows there are two Frankensteins-- the one Mary Shelley wrote 200 years ago and the green fellow with the bolt in his neck created by hundreds of subsequent movie makers, comic book artists, and other collaborators. But if one reads the original text carefully, there is a third Frankenstein completely unlike anything the public knows. Michael Swanwick's new essay presents a theory so radical as to have critics everywhere snatching up torches and pitchforks for an attack on his lair.
The Third Frankenstein, by Michael Swanwick literary essay, bound in 100% cotton wrappers, 8.5” x 5.5”, hand-stitched, signed by the author, numbered, and issued in an edition of 100, of which 90 60 49 46 29 27 25 11 7 2 no more are available for purchase. Thank you for your support.
And the critics praise Swanwick's "essential looniness"!
"There is only one problem with Michael Swanwick's theory: It describes a better Frankenstein than the teenager ever dreamed she wrote." --- John Clute
"Not too much unlike Victor Frankenstein himself, Swanwick has cobbled together various bits of the corpses of old literary theories in the service of a lurching and ungainly argument: unreliable narrators meet the unreliable analyst. The fact that it occasionally makes sense should not divert us from recognizing its essential looniness." --- Gary Wolfe
Shipped Domestically, The Third Frankenstein. Eleven dollars.
Shipped Internationally, The Third Frankenstein. Twelve Dollars.
by Michael Swanwick and Sean Swanwick
In Memorium was created to mark the installation of a plaque in honor of Gardner Dozois in the Salem Massachusetts Public Library. Gardner was born in Salem and lived there until he was 18, when he left to join the Army. The text was written shortly after Gardner's death in 2018, and first appeared in the program book of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention. Michael Swanwick was a long-time friend and professional colleague of Gardner, and Sean Swanwick a life-long friend and for several years Gardner's office assistant.
The chapbook is 5 ½'' x 8 1/2”, and is handstitched, numbered, and signed by both authors. It was issued in an edition of 70, most of which were distributed to Gardner's closest friends. 21 2 No more copies are available for sale.
The Devil's Bestiary
The Devil's Bestiary is Michael Swanwick's cynical,whimsical take on twenty nine creatures of myth and fables. It is 5 ½ inch square format, with an outer wrapper of hand-dyed kozo paper, hand-stitched, numbered, and signed by the author.
Published in a limited edition of 45, of which 41 21 17 12 1 is available for sale. no more are available. Thank you for your interest.
Please note that the outer wrappers were made in two different styles, to be distributed randomly.
Dragonstairs celebrates Valentine's Day! Ten romantic, moony vignettes. 5 ½ by 5 ½ inches. Double wrapper, the outer made of Desert Rose handmade paper from Alexandra Soteriou at worldpaperusa.com, with an eccentrically placed replica of a 19th century Queen of Hearts. Brochure stitch with a red ribbon. Issued in an edition of 40, of which 32 6 no more are available for sale. Sold out. Thank you all for your enthusiasm.
Is There Something About You Irish?
2019's Irish Worldcon was the occasion of Michael Swanwick's third visit to Ireland. To note the occasion, he wrote six brief essays about the experience of being Irish American. Is There Something About You Irish? is a signed, numbered, hand-stitched chapbook, printed in an edition of 60, of which 36 29 14 8 3 are available for sale. no more are available. Thank you for your interest.
Michael Swanwick writes four flash essays about writers perhaps best known for their dragon works: Shepard, Le Guin, McCaffrey, and Swanwick. Additionally, with an afterword tying them all together. Numbered and signed by Swanwick. Edition of 50 conventional brochure binding, of which 40 27 16 6 2 no more are available for sale. Edition of 10 bound with ball python leather of which seven are available for sale. All versions are sold out. Thank you for your support.
by Michael Swanwick. (2017)
Three seasonal stories, including Midnight Journey, A Horse Named Michael, and The Mousewife's Tale. Edition of 120 copies, hand-stitched, signed and numbered, 4¼"x5½", 12 pages. 50 26 20 14 4 2 copies available for sale. Sold out. Thank you for your interest.
The Proceedings of the American Martini Institute
Report of the American Martini Laboratory
The Evolution of the Martini
Nine short essays, originally published on Michael Swanwick's blog, tracing the evolution of the martini and what came after.
Text by Michael Swanwick. Cover illustration by Susan McAninley. Hand-stitched, signed by the author, numbered.
Publication date: May 21, 2018 "Five to one"
Published in an edition of 60, of which 51 18 9 4 2 are available for sale which are now sold out. Thank you for your enthusiastic support.
“The gamut of true love, treachery, sly jibes, and deceit in five flash seasons.” —Gregory Frost , author of Shadowbridge
"Bright, brief, and pitiless—an icy shard of Swanwick to the brain." --- Greer Gilman, author of Moonwise
Five Seasons is Michael Swanwick's slightly different take on the cycle of the year. Tricksy, complex, and definitely for grownups. Five short short stories, independent but interrelated, bound in 100% cotton wrappers, 8.5” x 5.5”, five pages hand-stitched, signed by the author, numbered, and issued in an edition of 100, of which 90 71 59 47 45 28 2210 7 2 are 1 is available for purchase. no more are available. Thanks for your support.
Being Gardner Dozois
Dragonstairs Press has recently acquired several copies of Being Gardner Dozois, published by Old Earth Books.
In Being Gardner Dozois, Swanwick interrogated Dozois about every piece of short fiction he had written, up until 1999, probing what worked, what didn't and why. Swanwick's insightful questions, and Dozois's extraordinary understanding of the art of short fiction will fascinate and enlighten.
All copies have been sold.
by Michael Swanwick (2018)
Five “flash” stories, all with a lunar setting. Published in an edition of 69, released for sale on the second “blue moon” of 2018. 67 copies available for sale (publisher's and author's copies withheld) on March 31, 2018, for 24 hours only. All copies not sold by midnight, March 31, 2018 will be burned.
8½”x5½” eight pages hand-stitched, signed, and numbered, with a sodalite bead ornament.
We regret we cannot offer volume discounts for this project.
Sold out. Thank you for your support.
by Michael Swanwick. (2016)
Four of Aesop's fables, retold. Edition of 110 copies, hand-stitched, signed and numbered, 4¼"x5½", 16 pages 34 22 9 copies available for sale
Sold out. Thank you for your support.
by Michael Swanwick (2017)
Three personal stories, (one previously published on Swanwick's blog) and an afterward. Published in an edition of 50, to mark Swanwick's participation in the Fourth Chengdu International Science Fiction Conference, 2017 8½”x5½” eight pages hand-stitched, signed, and numbered
Touchstones has sold out, and is no longer available. Thank you for your interest.
by Michael Swanwick. (2015) Four brief seasonal tales. Edition of 100 copies, hand-stitched, signed and numbered, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2", 12 pages.
28 7 6 2 copies available for sale. Solstice Spirits is sold out. Thank you for your support.
Hunting the Phoenix
by Michael Swanwick. 6 1/2" by 4". Bound in archival board wrappers covered with hand-dyed rice paper, with a stab binding ornamented with a single aventurine bead. The contents include a text introduction by Michael Swanwick, and seventeen color illustrations, also by Swanwick, created originally on the iPad, as part of early planning for the novel, "Chasing the Phoenix". Illustrations include many of the major characters, and several incidents from the book.
Limited to 30 numbered copies, signed by the author, now sold out.
Depicted: Front and Front of the Oysters chapbook.
8 1/2” x 5 1/2” six pages This project consists of two essays: “Meditations on Oysters” by Christopher Morley (1917) and “Meditations on Meditations on Oysters” by Michael Swanwick. (2015) The two essays are bound in one set of covers in “tête-bêche” fashion (often [apparently mistakenly] called dos à dos). Stitching ornamented with a single grey pearl.
Limited to 50 numbered copies, signed by Michael Swanwick, with 6 3 remaining available for sale. $11 each, including shipping. SOLD OUT Thanks for your support.
Universe Boxes is a collaborative project by Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter. The boxes were assembled over several years by Porter, and the novelette was written by Swanwick.
The project has four distinct elements:
Each box is an actual cigar box, lined with astronomical charts and photomoechanicals of paleontological art. (Please note: the boxes have been carefully cleaned, bicarbonate of soda-ed, aired out, and Febreezed, but they originally held real tobacco.)
The exterior of each box has a Dragonstairs Press return address sticker and appropriate rubber-stamp-canceled postage for the item to go through the mail. (Out of concern for the contents, the Universe Boxes will be padded and shipped in larger boxes.) When each is sold, an address sticker with its purchaser’s name and address will be added. The whole will then be tied up with string.
A variety of objects have been included in each. Every box has a hand-bound signed copy of Universe Box by Michael Swanwick and a vaccine created by Marianne Porter (more on these below).
Contents of one box, identified as Coma Bernices/Pleistocene include:
red gem coral Corallium sp.
postal reply coupon
vintage German glass taxidermy eyes
Plus, of course, the vaccine and book. Some of the above items are common to all boxes but most are not. The contents of each box are unique to it.
Packing material consists of early drafts of the included story, run through a shredder.
Universe Box is a previously-unpublished 10,500 word fantasy dealing with cosmic powers, giraffe wranglers, the purpose of existence, and the most boring young man in all the universe. Physically, it is a stab-bound book with decorative paper covers, roughly six inches by four inches, issued in an edition of thirteen plus one printer’s proof. The books are all autographed by Michael Swanwick and a contents list is autographed by both the author and the publisher.
One vaccine is included per box. These are individual works of art by Marianne Porter, consisting of a glass serum bottle (2 cm x 4.5 cm) filled with specifics “against what ails you.” The bottle is sealed with a rubber stopper and topped with a crimped aluminum cap. It can be opened, but once opened cannot be resealed. The contents of each vaccine are unique to it. The one included in Coma Bernices/Pleistocene, for example, contains human hair, an agate bead, and wire.
The vaccines are part of a larger series, none of which have previously been made available for purchase.
Universe Boxes is issued in an edition of 13, of which 10 ware available for purchase. All copies have been sold.
Fallen Leaves Project
The Fallen Leaves Project was carried out during October, 2015, in multiple locations around Philadelphia, including Laurel Hill Cemetery, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Morris Arboretum, and Gorgas Park.
Michael Swanwick composed “epitaphs”, and wrote them on fallen leaves. The leaves were photographed by Marianne Porter and Michael Swanwick within a few feet of where they were found and left where they were, to be discovered by passersby. Or not. The photographs were posted daily throughout October on Twitter, Facebook, and Swanwick's blog. In total, ninety-four images were created.
Fallen Leaves is a set of albums made of hand-crafted mulberry paper, manufactured by Karin tribe members, with a selection of leaf photographs pasted in. Archival glue was used throughout. Each album contains fifteen images and no two albums contain the same set of images. Fallen Leaves is limited to an edition of twenty albums, of which sixteen twelve five one are available for purchase. Green or brown bindings are chosen randomly.
Fallen Leaves is sold out. Thank you all for your interest.
depicted: Front and inside of Season's Greetings.
Season's Greetings by Michael Swanwick. Three brief seasonal tales. Edition of 100 copies, hand-stitched, signed and numbered, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2", 9 pages. 2014.
Print run of 100. 5$ each.
Season's Greetings is sold out. Thank you all for your interest.
Solstice Fire by Michael Swanwick. Three brief seasonal tales. Edition of 100 copies, hand-stitched,
signed and numbered, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2", 12 pages 2013 Sold out. Thank you for your interest.
A single copy of Solstice Fire costs $5.00.
Three Brief Midwinter Tales . Edition of 100 copies, hand-stitched, signed and numbered, 4 1/4” x 5 1/2”, 8 pages 2012 Sold out. Thanks for your interest.
A single copy of Midwinter Elves costs $5.00. Sold out.
Edition of 50 copies, hand-folded, signed and numbered, 3" x 3", 2013 12 pages
Tumbling, by Michael Swanwick, is a twelve "page" short-short story of Lizzy O'Brien's astronaut training days. It is printed on a single sheet of cut and folded silver paper. I think it's a charming little story myself, and that Michael did a great job.
A single copy of Tumbling costs $10.00. SOLD OUT! Thanks for your interest.
It Came upon a Midnight
Three Brief Midwinter Tales . Edition of 100 copies, hand-stitched, signed and numbered, 4 1/4” x 5 1/2”, 6 pages
...“ Snowflake People ” is a profound twenty-first century contemplation of the form and function of the snowflake, as lovely a glimpse of impermanence as any of Wilson Bentley’s superb photographs (and the other two stories are pretty dandy, too). --- H. Wessells
A single copy of It Came upon a Midnight costs $5.00. SOLD OUT! Thank you for your interest.
Michael Swanwick. American Cigarettes [and] Song of the Lorelei [and] The Brain-Baron [and] The Nature of Mirrors . , , ,  pp. 4 vols., [Philadelphia : Dragonstairs Press, 2011]. Printed self-wrappers, sewn. Each title ... signed by the author. Originally published in different form in Live without a Net , ed. Lou Anders (2003).
The four stories may be read separately, and each is complete in itself. Read in order (Lorelei, Cigarettes, Brain-Baron, Mirrors) they compose a longer (if still short) consistent work. They were produced in editions of 100, and most were given away over the summer of 2011, in conjunction with publicity for the Darger and Surplus novel, Dancing with Bears (Night Shade Press).
A complete set of four costs $15.00. SOLD OUT
A single copy of American Cigarettes costs $4.00. SOLD OUT
A single copy of Song of the Lorelei costs $4.00. SOLD OUT
A single copy of The Brain-Baron costs $4.00. SOLD OUT
A single copy of The Nature of Mirrors costs $4.00. SOLD OUT
Michael Swanwick, A Midwinter's Tale
[1988 ; Dragonstairs Press, 2010]. Stitched wrappers with snowflake on upper cover. SOLD OUT 9/11/2011 PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO ORDER>
A Midwinter's Tale was written and published in 1988. The Dragonstairs Press edition was produced in the fall of 2010, in an edition of 50, signed by the author. Most copies were distributed to friends that holiday season.
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A list of all Dragonstairs Press works is available here.
Due to the limited print run and tremendous interest, Fallen Leaves sold out very quickly. If you are interested in a related project,October Leaves is still available from Blurb books.
(descriptions in part by Henry Wessells, bookman)